The supervising ecologist left the cab and prepared on foot to make the turn onto Fordham Road, first being careful to monitor the sidewalk for anything which might pierce his bare feet. When he got to the nadir, rather than enter the zoological park, he crossed Fordham Road to the Bronx Botanical Gardens. A chalk trail showed him the way to the meeting in the catering office of the Pine Tree Cafe. He opens the door, and enters through the kitchen- shocked to see Kesha at the meeting.
“Hello, love. I was wondering when we would see each other again. It would be impossible to forget Yucatan.”
“Kesha.” The scientist walked an air-kiss over to the pop star. “Yes, it was one place the lemurs are happy. They also seem pretty happy to see you perform. So, is this really going to happen? How long has it been since the last time?”
“March 5th, 1953, to be exact. And the answer to your first question is up to you. You’ll have to decide what’s good for the lemurs and good for the rats.”
As the ecologist and the popstar are talking, Walter Dubiel Jr. is told by James Kitchener, Kit, to begin. The ecologist stole a glance at his cheat sheet and started the ceremony.
“We are here charged in deciding the fate of one of our own; one of us is putting the lemurs in danger. An orangutan is running the show on one side of our jurisdiction and a baboon on the other. And one of us is keeping things from healing naturally.”
Leeanne Berger stood up. “It was me who read him in, right in his face. I found him selling carpets or used cars or something, or was it used carpets? I knew he was dicey. I took a chance. He was fine when he was funny. He made a significant advance in communications. Then he lost all elements of humor and look at what we have now. I feel responsible. Kit, I’d like to take the prosecution.”
“Leeanne, you’ve volunteered for the prosecution,” Kit said. “Will someone take up the cause of defending Quickie Limburger?”
Kesha stood up. “We’re both in show biz. I’ll be happy to play Devil’s advocate.”
Kit nodded to Dr. Lachelle Tetreault, a tiny and spicy Cajun pediatric surgeon. It would be her job to bless the proceedings and confirm that the subject was, in fact, one of them, and subject to their justice.
“My fellow monkeys,” she began, using the traditional invocation. “I am here to certify that Hudson “Quickie” Limburger is a monkey like us, has been read in to the responsibilities incumbent upon the monkeys, and as such, is subject to the duties, norms, ethics, and protocols of the Congenital Tail New World Clade, including penalties for violating those protocols and ethics. We’ve all heard Leeanne describe her reading in of the subject. My job is to report the circumstances of the subject’s connection to the New World Clade, as opposed to his merely having a pseudotail.
“I’ve researched his genetic line,” Dr. Tetreault continued. “‘Jefferson Limburger’s father also had this enhancement, yet it did not stop him from having a military career during World War II. Walter, you can attest to the fact that our enhancement does not indicate a lack of physical prowess. Your dad played for the New York Yankees for years, and carried the nickname ‘Monk.’ I went as far back as the family of Johannes Limburger in 18th Century Germany. My research indicates that under King Frederick Wilhelm I, the intermediary between the Holy Roman Empire and the nascent modern Germany, there was an indication of a regiment named the King’s Own Tailed Dragoons. Johannes was a member of this unit until political maneuvering convinced him to leave for the New World in America. There is little doubt that today’s subject is, in fact, congenitally a member of our clade. It is my opinion that we are well and truly justified in any action we deem necessary under our rules.”
Kit broke protocol by applauding, but everyone else joined in. He turned to Lachelle.
“That is some job of research, Dr. Tetreault. Better even than the dossier on Stalin. Leeanne, would you like to begin?”
“Thank you, Kit, Leeanne said. “Along with the tremendous advantages bestowed upon us as a consequence of being members of our genetic clade, we have accepted the responsibility of protecting the interests of the lemurs and yes, even the rats. Perhaps especially the rats.
“The subject freely accepted the challenge of ‘being better off than you are.’ He did become far better off than he was, personally, but did he become a better person? Quickie Limburger has used his enhancement for personal gain, which is not specifically against our strictures but also to sow division among the lemurs and foment incitement among the rats. Feminazis. The birth of the echo chamber in his ‘mega dittoes.’ The fallacy that five percent of the territory is pulling a wagon carrying the other 95 percent. The mobilization of the rats to oppose safety regulations as fascism. His role in the Contract on America. The list goes on.
“And then there is his personal life and its intersection with Lemur justice. Lachelle, you know how much drugs a man has to take before he becomes deaf as a stone. It’s a lot of drugs, isn’t it?”
“Leeanne, it is an awful lot of opioids needed before you go deaf, it’s true,” Dr. Tetreault said.
“Ordinarily, an addict would die before going deaf. His weight may have offered him some protection on that.”
“Thank you, doctor, said Leeanne. “But worse than his habits were his public flouting of Florida law. Doctor shopping and over-prescribing were illegal. But now all the rats, at least the ones who aren’t following Quickie, know that the rich may escape justice. Kit, Walter, this man has to go.”
Kit stood up but remembered protocol and did not applaud. “Kesha, it’s your turn.”
“Thank you, Kit. I agree that Leeanne’s list is damning. But look at the good he’s accomplished. AM radio was practically dead when he arrived, nothing but sports, religion, and endlessly repeating the news. And Quickie brought it back to life. Not only that, he enhanced it. For the first time, listeners could email their comments and questions into a radio show. Quickie may have invented the echo chamber, but before him, there was no chamber at all. Today we have a choice, stay in our own chambers or go out and look at what different people are saying. Quickie brought value, and that should be considered in our deliberations.”
Kit thanked Kesha and resumed mediating and presiding. “Walter, you’ve heard both sides. What is in the best interests of the Zoo?”
“Quickie’s issues are no business of ours. And lemur justice is something we’re not supposed to, ahem, monkey with. Quickie is smart for sure, even in comparison to other monkeys he’s smart, and he’s certainly hard working. He made himself better off than he was. But my job is to analyze the balance of The Zoo. Quickie’s net effect was to have the lemurs vouchsafe the insecurities of the rats so they would vote for the right lemurs. This is how we got to our present predicament. The rats are voting to choke their children and grandparents to death and to submerge their own houses. None of us here put a lot of stock in the Bible, but the story of King Saul is instructive. The prophet picked him because he was the tall guy in the crowd. And he turned out to be a manic depressive with rapid-cycling bipolar disorder. He had to go. At least he had the good graces to do himself in. Quickie is not the type to fall on his own sword. We have to get him out. We need to replace him.”
Walter finished the last word by theatrically pointing his thumb down.
“Okay,” Kit said, resuming his presiding role. “Who are we going to replace him with?”
Leeanne stood up. “Sylvia Berger Eisenhauer. She’s on Montana Public Radio. She’s one of us. She’s a conservative, but not a wingnut. Her bit is how if any legislation can be reduced to differential equations, it should be debated strictly on the efficacy of those equations in solving whatever problem is being legislated. It means no more paying $500,000 a pop to save a $50,000 job. Her show got picked up by NPR. And she also has the highest-rated winter wheat marker analysis show in the country, for what that’s worth.”
Kesha asked her, “Berger? Any relation?”
“Third cousin, once removed, I think. I met her at a few weddings and Bat Mitzvahs. Anyway, she’s the one to do it.”
As usual for Monkey Meetings, the opinion of the expert was accepted unanimously. He assembled his ritual accouterments and headed back out onto Fordham Road, hoping he could catch a cab.