xxxxxxxxxxxxxxx MONKEY SHINES
xxxxxxxxxxxxxx from Two Ghosts
by Lyn Rochelle
I was ten years old and believed in telling
the truth. Yet there I was on my way home
from the park with my girlfriends, Evie,
Marcia and Joan, making up the very best lie
to tell my mother.
Earlier, after school, it being the first day of
Autumn, we dropped our books off, then met
up at the candy store. We lived near
The Bronx Zoo and decided to hang out there
for a while. An overpass separated the
Zoo from the Botanical Gardens. Boosting
ourselves onto a large stone, we spotted
Monkey Island on the river below,
about a hundred feet away. There were some
Orangutans romping and scratching. We started
to yell and scratch and called them some rude
names. Then a gorilla saw us and we were
convinced that he would find a Tarzan vine,
swing his way up, and eat us. Headline in the
Daily News the next day:
FOUR WONDERFUL GIRLS EATEN BY ENORMOUS
GORILLA. FAMILIES MOURN.
We decided to go back to where the playground
and ball fields were. Maybe we'd find a ball that
someone had lost and toss it around. The
grass was still mostly green, but some
of the trees had rusty leaves flying off them.
We rolled in them, and scrubbed ourselves with
the crunchy little bits, still making gorilla sounds.
I was wearing my brand new brown corduroy
pants with a blue belt around my waist.
Yet the pants kept slipping and I hated them
because I would never grow fat enough for
them to fit, being the skinniest kid on earth,
according to my Mom. And brown was not my
Looking for treasure, we sifted through leaves
that we kicked into a crumbly pile. A small
square appeared in the heap, a picture of a
glamour girl smoking a cigarette. It was a
book of matches.
Since all of us lived in apartment buildings
along Pelham Parkway, we never shared the
all-American autumn ritual of leaf burning.
Until that day. It seemed like fun and it was
what they did in those small town movies,
before the hoedown. A little voice in my head
started yelling, " Don't play with matches".
Sounded like Mom.
We lighted a match, set it to the leaves.
Nothing happened. Screeching at each other
for a chance, Evie then singed her fingers,
and the match fell with a puff of smoke. Joany
did better, striking and holding a flame, which
she threw into the pile as we all screamed,
"Lucky Strike". We turned into Indians, dancing
and whooping as the fire started to spread. A
Park Ranger was heading our way.
I jumped onto the burning ground. I would
smother the flames with my shoes. A slight wisp
of orange caught my hated brown corduroys.
I was glad for a split second, then sanity took over,
and I started to scream. The Ranger pulled me off,
patting down the left leg of my trousers. For a
Park Ranger, he sure knew some bad words. He
told us to leave the park and that I'd better have
a good story for my mother.
Goody-two-shoes Marcia said my mother would
kill me. Evie said I should just run away to
Hollywood. Then I thought of a thoroughly
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