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Kristine Hayes

The Man In The Monkey Suit: A Modern Fairy Tale

 I was a recent college graduate, and I’d been looking for a job for more than six months when I finally broke down and asked my Dad to introduce me to his friend who owned a store at Mall of America. Although I told him not to, Dad really talked me up to the guy, telling him what a great writer I was, how I could re-write all of their copy and bring in more customers. Much to my horror, they hired me sight unseen. The receptionist called on Friday with a job offer, and I was told to report to the Gold Dudes office in the basement at the mall first thing Monday morning.
      I spent the weekend watching television commercials for the Gold Dudes and working on ideas. It wasn’t hard to come up with improvements. The plain blue background would be a great place to start. I didn’t have any specific objections to the owners reading the copy in their commercials, but I had to wonder who wrote the copy. It seemed like something that a group of monkeys could have come up with, given enough time. As I typed out page after page, I tried to keep an open mind about who I would be working with. Still, I was eager to have a real job, and, by Monday morning at eight forty-five I was standing outside the Gold Dudes office with my stack of ideas tucked neatly inside my portfolio.
      Turns out, I could have spent the weekend sleeping. The receptionist barely said hello before ushering me into a windowless back room and thrusting a grimy manila folder into my hands. The folder held a detailed job description, the copy for the previous print and media ads, and oddly enough, a letter from my predecessor. 

Dear whoever you are,
         It has recently come to my attention that my services are no longer needed here. I am writing you this letter in the hopes that you might succeed where I obviously failed. This is my advice; ignore it at your own peril.

         1. Don’t bother with any original ideas. As strange as it may seem to you now, the ‘Dudes’ want their commercials to look that way.

         2. Don’t just parrot back the ideas that the Dudes throw out at team meetings. Trust me; they’re on to this trick.
         With this advice, I expect that you will last much longer in this position than I did.

            Good luck to you.
                                                                                                 Fin Snubbly

I puzzled over the letter for several minutes before I moved on to the rest of the folder’s contents. It took me until lunchtime to work my way through the job description. Most of it seemed pretty reasonable, but there was one section that stood out:

      Deadlines at Gold Dudes are to be strictly adhered to. All new copy must be submitted by midnight on the fifteenth of each month. The Gold Dudes believe in providing employees with all of the necessary tools to complete their tasks, therefore, from the thirteenth to the fifteenth each month twenty-four hour shifts are allowed. Please note, however, that overtime pay is strictly forbidden.

As the weeks passed, I put my first day out of mind and concentrated on learning my new job. I didn’t start to have a full-blown panic attack until the fourteenth of the month. Every idea that I had offered had been rejected, and although I followed the suggestions I was given for revision, I never seemed to get it right. Reluctantly, I began my first 24-hour shift. At some point in the night, I dozed off at my desk. I woke with a start and, as I was wiping a string of drool from my chin, a person dressed in a monkey costume walked past my open door. Costumed characters were not an unusual sight in the basement hallways at the mall. The theme park had at least a dozen different characters performing on any given day. I looked at the time on my cell phone and was relieved to find it was only three in the morning. I rushed to the doorway, thinking I must have been seeing things. The monkey was leaning against the wall next to the men’s room door.
      “Excuse me,” I said. “What are you doing here?”
      “Me?” he replied. “I could ask you the same question.”
      “I work here,” I said. “I doubt you’re working at this time of night.”
      “Working?” he said. “Is that what they’re calling it these days?”
      “Look,” I said, “I don’t want to fight with you, and I have a deadline.”
      “Yes,” he said, “I know all about that. Actually, that’s why I’m here. I can help.”
      The monkey reached behind his back and produced a sheaf of paper. He handed it over and waited patiently while I read it. 
      “This is perfect,” I said. “Where did you get this?”
      “Never mind that,” he said. “What will you give me for it?”
      “What do you want?” I asked, hoping it wasn’t money.
      “You’re a writer, right?” he said. “I have work that could use a little editing.”
      I knew there was no such thing as a “little editing,” but I was desperate.
      “Sure,” I said. “No problem. Just let me know when.”
      From behind his back he produced another sheaf of papers.
      “Now is good for me,” he said. “I’ll be back at 7 a.m. to trade papers.”
      I worked diligently through the rest of the night, finishing just before the 7 a.m. deadline. We swapped papers without a word and I stopped upstairs to drop of the proposal before heading home to sleep. Strange as it may seem, I didn’t think about the previous night’s events until I got to work the next morning and turned on my computer. There was an email from my boss in my inbox. It read:
     “Great job on the proposal—the Dudes loved it—glad to see you’re finally catching on.”
      But, I wasn’t catching on. The second month was a repeat of the first month. Once again, I found myself pulling an all-nighter and once again the man in the monkey suit appeared. He held the stack of papers above his head as I made a grab for them.
      “I need something more from you this time,” he said.
      “What more do you want?” I asked.
      “I notice you’ve been working on a novel,” he said.
      “Yeah, well, it’s just something I’ve been fooling around with,” I said.
      “I’ll take the novel,” he said.
      I hesitated. The novel was nowhere near done, and the chances were slim that anyone would want to publish it. Still, it was my work, my heart and soul. I thought about the deadline. I needed this job.
      “Sure,” I said. “Why not. You can have my novel when it’s done.”
      “Great,” he said, handing over the papers. “I look forward to reading my novel.”
      This is where my luck changed. The proposal caught the eye of one of the senior vice-presidents and I was given a small promotion. Thankfully, my new position didn’t have a monthly deadline.
      Several years passed, the economy got better, and I moved on to a better job at a different company. I had all but forgotten the man in the monkey suit. The work on my novel had been steadily progressing, and it looked like a few publishing companies might be interested. While I liked my job, I was desperate to find my way out of corporate America and into the sane world of the arts. My novel was my key to this new world. I was excited when the time finally came to send my work out. I stayed late at work, waiting for everyone else to leave before printing out copies and preparing them for mailing. Just as I was sealing the last envelope, the man in the monkey suit appeared.
      “You’ve got the wrong return address on that,” he said.
      I was so startled that it took me a minute to reply.
      “You can’t be serious,” I said. “That was a few pages of work. This is a novel. It’s not the same thing at all.”
      “A deal is a deal,” he said. “Hand it over.”
      I fell on my knees and began to cry. Big, fat tears stained the front of my dark, double-breasted suit.
      “Please,” I said. “Please don’t take my novel.”
      “This is not fair,” he said as he shifted from foot to foot. “I hate to see a grown man cry. I’ll give you one last chance. You guess who I work for, and I won’t take your novel.”
      I began with a list of publishing houses. “Random House, Harper-Collins, Penguin, Houghton Mifflin Harcourt, Scribner,” I guessed.
      “Not even close,” he said.
      I talked for hours, naming every company I could think of that had anything to do with publishing. The man in the monkey suit just laughed.
      “You’ll never guess,” he said. “But you can keep trying, I’ll be back next Friday to look at your list. If you don’t have the answer by then the novel is mine.”
      I spent most of the next week compiling the list. By Wednesday, I had over five hundred pages with what I thought was every possible answer. Then, while doing some last-minute research on Friday morning, I glanced up at the television during a CN&N report on the novelist King Kirtland. According to CN&N, Kirtland, who has written an astounding 23 novels this year, uses a stable of writers to “flesh out” his ideas. I couldn’t help but wonder where all these ideas came from. In a flash of inspiration, I added Kirtland’s name to the list.
      Friday night came and the man in the monkey suit grew more confident with each wrong answer. I was getting a little worried as I got down to the last few answers.
      “Enron, Bear Stearns, Linens and Things?” I asked, thinking he could be unemployed.
      “No, no, no, he said. “You’re at the end of your list. The novel is mine.”
      “Wait,” I said. “I have one more guess. Is it King Kirtland?”
      “Not fair,” he said. “NOT FAIR!”
      He continued to yell and stomp his foot until building security, hearing the ruckus, came in and escorted him from the building. I’m happy to say I never heard from the man in the monkey suit again. A publisher picked up my book later that year. I am currently working on a second novel.

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Kristine Hayes is a creative writing major and a senior at Metropolitan State University. She steals time away from pressing obligations to indulge in art, gourmet cooking, and organic vegetable gardening. She spends the rest of her nearly non-existent free time studying the world around her. She believes that Mark Twain said it best when he said, “When we remember we are all mad, the mysteries disappear and life stands explained.”