By Attila Zønn
“David,” Ludy said. “You ever hear of a thing called a bonobo?”
“It’s some kind of monkey.”
“No it’s not. It’s an ape.”
“No it’s not. There’s a big difference between a monkey and apes. They’re desperate creatures.”
“Monkeys have tails, apes don’t,” he said.
“How does that make them desperate?”
“Then you mean dis-parate.”
“Whatever. You know what I meant. Just forget it.” He fell silent and sulked.
“Alright what about the bonobo?” I said.
“Forget it,” he said, and turned his face towards the car window.
“Go on,” I said. “Now I’m wondering about this great insight you’ve gleaned from the ape world.”
“Are you going to nitpick every word I say?”
“No, I won’t. I promise. What about the bonobo?”
“Okay, the bonobo.” He stopped. “They are our closest relative in the ape world. There’s bonobos, chimps and humans. We’re all from the same tree.
“I was watching this show the other night. You know the amazing thing about the bonobo? All they do all day is fuck. Yeah. One bonobo meets another bonobo and…they fuck. You got big bonobos fucking little bonobos. They don’t care. What a life. Swinging from the trees and fuck whenever you feel like it. No games. Just ‘Hey, how are you?’ and bangity bangity bang. To them it’s as natural as breathing. And everyone—everyone looks after the young. You know why?”
“Because they don’t know who the fathers are.”
“You’ve seen that show?”
“It’s only logical in a promiscuous society, that everyone takes responsibility for the young.”
“I think it can only work on a small scale, in a jungle somewhere, with primitive people.”
“Yeah. That’s right. I saw a show on that too. And there’s no jealousy, no resentment, just straight out banging anyone any time. Civilized man is too uptight.”
“I don’t know about no jealousy. The culture they’ve adopted probably frowns on outward expression of those feelings.”
He nodded, then opened the car door. “Open your door,” he said. “Let some of this natural air in here.” I pushed my door open. A cicada buzzed somewhere.
“The sound of summer,” Ludy said. He sighed. “Isn’t Nature wonderful?”
“Is it? In nature, all animals do is eat and shit, and procreate when the season’s right. The small creatures are always on edge because there’s a big creature that wants to eat them. It’s eat or be eaten. What’s so wonderful about that?”
“There you go again. Throwing a wrench into everything I say. It gets fucking annoying.”
“If you love nature so much, maybe you can come back as a bonobo in your next life.”
He laughed and shook his head. “I’d rather fuck a woman than an ape.”
We sat in silence.
“Hey, maybe tomorrow we’ll go to my uncle’s old farm. We’ll have dinner in Orangeville.”
I should have felt full after that burger, but suddenly I felt empty. There was no way I could handle another squandered day with this guy.
“What if tomorrow never comes?” I said.
“What are you talking about? There’s always going to be a tomorrow.”
“Not for everybody,” I said.
He sighed. “Isn’t this peaceful?”
It wasn’t peaceful. It was a waste of my time. I sat pondering my situation.
“Yeah. My uncle was an alright guy,” Ludy said. “He was an alright guy.”
“How did your uncle manage to own a farm?” I said. “Was he a farmer in the old country?”
“No, he was a marble extractor. He drove a big excavator. After they sliced the marble from the mountain, he’d pry the piece apart. Did it for years. Hated it. So he came to Canada and got a job with this old German farmer…Siegfried was his name. Cranky fucker. But he and my uncle got on great. After Siegfried dropped dead — he literally dropped dead. He walked out of the barn, stopped, and dropped. Well after he died, he left everything to my uncle.”
“No. They were close.”
“Didn’t Siegfried have a family?”
“No, no, it was just the two of them on that farm.”
“Just a thought. Two guys on that farm all by themselves…”
“Don’t go there.”
“I’m just thinking…”
“Well stop thinking what you’re thinking. It wasn’t like that.”
“How do you know what it was like when they were alone?”
“Why would somebody leave such a big investment to a worker unless—”
“My uncle was no fag!”
“How would you know? You were too busy playing with a cow.”
“David, stop it! My uncle was tough as nails, a no nonsense wop, and he had girlfriends. Lots of ’em.”
“He probably got off having you young boys up for the summer.”
His eyes widened. “Oh, now you’re treading on some dangerous territory, my friend. My uncle never put a hand on us. Me and Fred used to skinny dip down in the stream and he never came with us.”
“He was probably watching you from the front porch.”
“There’s no way he could see us from there.”
“Then he was at a second-floor window with binoculars, watching your little fat ass and licking his lips.”
He shoved me.
I fell out of the car backwards onto the pavement and hit my head. Ludy jumped out from his side and came around the front of the car. He looked down at me and pointed. “See what you get?” he said. “See what you get when you badmouth my uncle?”
I stood, a little dazed, my heart pounding, saw the smirk on his fat face and took a swing at him but missed. He swung and connected at my shoulder and knocked me back.
“This is good,” he said. “I’ve always wanted to punch that ungrateful, smarty pants shit right out of you. Come on!” He stood braced with fists out.
I reached into my pocket, pulled out the Nano and pointed it at him. His eyes bugged out of his head. He raised his hands and backed away. “Come on now. David!”
I pulled the trigger but it didn’t fire — the safety was on.
Ludy took off and ran alongside the edge of the cliff to a path that lead to the bottom. I released the safety and walked after him.
There was a large rock jutting out from the cliff near where Ludy had gone down. Standing on that precipice, with that pistol in my hand — I felt like God and Satan in the same body. Indecision came over me. But how could I go back from this now?
I was tired of seeing his face, hearing his voice and being a victim to his constant ploys to impinge on my time. I looked at the sky and breathed deep. I’d always wondered why someone would commit a murder they’d never get away with. Now I knew. I had to rid myself of this burden.
Ludy jiggled his way down the slope, over ran, tripped and face-planted into the ground below. He got up bloody-nosed, saw me above and for a moment he stood defiant and gave me the Italian salute. I pointed the gun at him. He screamed and tried to evade my aim by zig-zagging, but I followed every move. I fired, but missed.
I made my way down the slope but when I reached the bottom, I couldn’t find him. There were rotted tree trunks and thick brush to my left and the stream rushed to my right.
“What were you going to do tonight, Ludy?” I called out. “Were you going to go home, put your feet up and watch Animal Planet? Whatever you were planning, that’s not going to happen. You’re dead, Ludy. No more nature for you. You’re going to be fertilizer now.”
“David.” His voice reverberated and came from everywhere. “Have you lost your mind? I’ve always been your friend.”
“Fuck you, Fiorini. You’ve always been a pain in the ass.”
Even though I was armed I felt vulnerable. Where was he? There was a crackle and movement just behind me to my left. Ludy burst on me and knocked me down. He straddled my chest and squeezed his thumbs into my throat. He growled. “You fucking little ingrate! I’m gonna massacre you!”
I tried to swallow. I tried to breathe. I still held the pistol and put the muzzle against his side. He tried to swat it away as I fired, but it bit. He screamed, put a hand to his side and screamed again. I pointed the gun at his face. He grabbed my arm and tried to pry the gun from my hand. I fired, but missed, the bullet flew past his ear. He jumped off me and ran, holding his hand to his side. I lifted myself onto my elbow and fired. I clipped his ear. He screamed and ran towards the stream holding his side and his ear. I fired again. Missed. I stood. Fired again. Hit him in the leg. That knocked him down.
He screamed, “Mamma! Mamma!”
At its deepest point, the water was at my knees, and cold as it rushed passed me. Ludy was trying to dog paddle his way across to the island. I fired again, square at his back and I must have hit him because he stopped paddling and the current took him.
His head came up. He cried out, “I can’t feel my legs!” He violently splashed his arms, trying to fight the current.
He grappled for a rotted tree trunk, grabbed it and held on.
I was on him now, put the pistol to his head and fired. Click. I fired again. Click. I hit him on the head with the pistol. I tried to pry him off the trunk but he held on fast and cried out, “No! No!” at every yank.
I hit him on the back of the head with the pistol and hit him, and hit him, and hit him until he loosened his grip. I pushed his head under and stood on his back. He thrashed and shook and bucked until he was dead. I dragged him out of the water and sat on the sand.
Copyright©Attila Zønn 2020