The Gorilla Bandit


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Tom Jacobs dealt with his hatred for gorillas in the only constructive manner he knew. He stole them.

This hatred was birthed early in his life. When he was only eight years old, Tom was vacationing with his family at a big city zoo. While at the zoo, they went to see the gorillas.

Tom was eating a snow cone. It was cherry, Tom’s favorite. As he was eating his cone, Tom got too close to the gorilla cage. Tonka, the gorilla, was in a poor mood that morning, and not having a snow cone of his own, he hawked a goober on Tom’s.

Thick yellow-green phlegm oozed down Tom’s snow cone without Tom’s knowledge or consent. As Tom’s father and Tonka looked on, Tom took a great big juicy bite.

After that, whenever Tom and his family went out for a snow cone, his dad would ask, “Would you like some gorilla snot with that?”

Oh, how Tom hated gorillas.

The idea of stealing them, for fun and profit, first entered Tom’s head in high school. His science teacher was doing a unit on gorillas, the worst five days of Tom’s life. That week Tom’s teacher expressed the notion that if a gorilla were released from captivity it would lead a shorter and much less fulfilling life. Tom decided right then and there that once high school was over, he would lead a long and satisfying criminal career — releasing gorillas from captivity. He would teach those nasty apes not to put phlegm on little boys’ snow cones.

Three weeks after graduation Tom stole his first gorilla.

After paying off the security guard who let him into the zoo, Tom immediately took the gorilla into the nearby woods to release it. He laughed uncontrollably as the ape sat in front of him looking confused and forlorn. Tom rubbed his hands together in anticipation of future conquests. He looked into the gorilla’s eyes, intoxicated by a feeling of superiority. The gorilla returned Tom’s stare, and promptly sneezed on his face.

Tom stormed out of the woods in disgust.

He stole two more gorillas the next week. One he released on a beach, the other in a desert. Soon, he was stealing up to three gorillas each week. He hit upon the idea of selling them to new owners. He would then steal them back and release them. Gorilla carcasses were turning up everywhere, and Tom’s bank account was growing. All seemed to be going well for Tom until one day in June.

Tom was watching the evening news, waiting for the next dead gorilla report, when he learned that a special investigative unit made up of animal rights activists was being formed. Its sole intent was to capture, and/or humiliate, the “Gorilla Bandit.” The name of the new unit was the “Ape Force.”

From that point onward, life was pretty hard for Tom. He liked his new nickname, and even had a tee shirt printed up to wear on raids, but the Ape Force foiled every attempt he made to release more gorillas. They also very nearly caught him on more than one occasion.

His most recent occasion was a particularly close call. He was just about to lead a large male gorilla named Bertrand out the employee entrance of the zoo. Suddenly, they were surrounded by a small band of Ape Force activists. Tom shielded his face to keep from having his picture taken by an outstretched camera phone. Another activist took that opportunity to cover Tom’s chest with the dough of unbaked banana bread. The stupid Ape nearly chewed off Tom’s left nipple before he could get away.

“What I need,” Tom said the next day, rubbing his chest, “is a way to distract the Ape Force while I make off with the gorillas.” After much contemplation, Tom came up with his new plan.

Tom formed a political action committee and started getting gorillas elected to public office. They ran on a new ticket calling for equal rights for all species. Even the Ape Force dismantled in order to run “get out the vote” campaigns.

Soon slogans like “He’s an ape, but he’ll do!” and “Vote for me, my opponent’s only human!” were echoing across the land.

The day finally came when every last, living gorilla in America was elected into office. Tom was ecstatic. He expected the bewildered beasts would shrivel up and die due to the rigors of public office.

A year passed with no gorilla deaths. Tom began to worry. He was terribly disheartened to learn that the gorillas were actually thriving in their new positions. Worse yet, the apes’ constituents loved the jobs they were doing. The animal rights activists, encouraged by this turn of events, began campaigns to get donkeys elected to office.

That was when Tom Jacobs decided to drop out of society. He got a job at the local zoo, dressing up in a gorilla suit to fill a vacant position.

Last election day, after the newest jackass was elected to Congress, Tom was in a less than pleasant mood. A small boy passed in front of his cage holding a cherry snow cone. Just for fun, Tom hawked a goober on it.

Copyright 2007, Eric Calderwood
Revisions and additional material Copyright 2017, Eric Calderwood

Note: Neither of the animal species depicted in the above story are intended to represent any particular political party.

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Fighting Lessons


Writing is lonely work, and I still have to pay the bills. If everyone who visited this site chipped in a dollar or two, it might not change the world, but it sure would cheer me up. Thank you in advance!


Cat Fight

Everybody knows Wayne Carroll is the toughest boy in the eighth grade. That’s me by the way, Wayne Carroll. So, when my little brother Deacon ran from a fight on his first day of junior high, I knew I had to do something.

I tried encouraging him, telling him that he’s not as little as he looks, but when Jake Fuller, one of the kids in Deacon’s grade, got mad at him, he ran away again.

I was hoping that it was just some sort of passing weakness that my little brother was showing and that it would wear off soon enough. But I was wrong.

One day, just as school got out, Deacon managed to tick off a new boy named Roy Werner. Roy was about to pound him, but right then Mr. Werner pulled up in his old black Caddy to take Roy home.

“Tomorrow,” Roy said under his breath. “After school!” Then he jumped into his dad’s Caddy and smiled as it roared away.

I watched Roy and his dad drive off and made up my mind. I was Deacon’s big brother, and it was my responsibility to teach him to fight.

Not that there was all that much of Deacon to work with. Not only was he short, but he was so skinny he could hide behind a telephone pole. But I hoped that knowing the right techniques would make up for his size.

I knew if I was going to teach Deacon right, we’d have to go someplace where no one could laugh at him. I turned off the road from school and headed into the woods.

“Where’re we going, Wayne?”

I didn’t answer. I just kept walking.

Deacon, always the curious type, followed me every step of the way. Finally, I stopped at a small clearing.

The first thing I had to do was teach Deacon to stand his ground.

“You stand right there and don’t move,” I told him.

He stood there.

“Now, pretend I’m Roy Werner about to fight you,” I said. “What do you do?”

“Run!” said Deacon.

“Oh, no, you don’t!” I said, grabbing him by the shirt collar. “You stand right there and look him in the eye.”

Deacon just stared at me like he thought I was crazy.

“OK,” I said, moving on, “what you need now is the proper fighting stance. Put out your right foot and hold up your right hand.”

Deacon just stood there some more.

“Move it!” I yelled.

I guess I startled him, because he jumped, and when he put his foot out he soundly stomped mine in the process.

“How’s that?” he asked, as he looked up at me.

I tried not to moan as I pulled my foot out from under his. I decided to get this first lesson over with in a hurry.

“Good!” I told him. “You’re doing it right.”

Deacon wrinkled his brow. “What am I doing?”

“You’re standing your ground,” I said. “You’re not budging an inch, and you’re staring me down. That’s how you do it!”

“I’m so short, how am I going to stare down at anybody?”

“Aw, it’s just a figure of speech, Deacon,” I said. “Now come on, let’s get to the next lesson. You’ve got to learn to block punches.”

“Block them!” he shouted. “Why block them if I can avoid them altogether?”

I sighed deeply. “You can’t avoid them if you’re going to stand your ground. Now come on.”

I stood him up with his back to a thorn bush.

“Deacon,” I said, trying to put some menace in my voice, “If you try to get away from me instead of blocking these punches, I’ll shove you right through that thorn bush!”

I had his full attention, so I began. I went slowly at first, “fake-punching” him and showing him how to block the punches. When I thought he had the idea, I started punching a little faster and aimed at his head.

He did really well, blocking a few punches, so I started punching even faster. Just when I thought Deacon was actually going to learn something, he ducked.

I had been leaning toward him, expecting his arm to stop the force of my blow. When my arm encountered nothing, I went flying forward. I tripped over Deacon and landed soundly in the middle of that thorn bush.

The bush cut me all over. I was a bleeding mess. I almost gave up on Deacon’s lessons, but the thought of everybody at school seeing Wayne Carroll’s little brother run away from another fight set my mind back to its task.

“All right then!” I shouted at him, wincing and clawing my way out of the thorn bush. “It’s time you learned how to punch!”

He just stared at me again. With new determination, I took his hand and started bending his fingers into a fist. Then I paused and tried a little reverse psychology.

“Hey, Deacon?” I asked.


“If I teach you how to fight good, you’re not going to go around picking on people, are you?”

His eyes brightened, and he looked at me like I was just about to reveal the secret that would make him the second toughest boy in Laurel County.

“No,” he said excitedly. “No, Wayne, I won’t pick on people, I promise. I’ll only use it to defend myself.”

“Good,” I said, satisfied that my plan had worked. “Because I wouldn’t want to be responsible for turning you into a troublemaker.” I squeezed his fist into a tight ball. “Be sure to keep your wrists straight. Now, punch me in the stomach.”

I braced myself for the blow, and while I was waiting I thought I felt a light breeze blow my shirt around. Then I realized it was my brother’s punch!

“OK,” I said, even though it was definitely not OK! I paused for a moment trying to figure out the best way to encourage him. “Alright, now, step into your punch and this time put a little more force behind it.”

Deacon tried again. Only, this time, he tripped over his own feet. I bent over to catch him as he fell and his arm flew straight up in the air. His fist caught me right in the eye. The force of the blow flung me backward and the side of my head smashed into the limb of a nearby tree.

I lay with my back on the ground and stared up at him. I could feel my eye swelling shut and a large knot forming on the side of my head. This, combined with all the scratches and blood from my altercation with the thorn bush and my still-throbbing left foot, made me feel like I had been trounced by a dozen boys. I had no doubt that it made me look that way as well.

“I think you’ve got the idea,” I managed to mumble. “Let’s go home now.”

I picked myself up and started limping toward home. Deacon followed.

On the way, we met a group of boys who were friends with Roy Werner.

“What happened to you, Wayne?” one of them asked me with wonder in his voice.

“Deacon beat me up,” I grumbled. I ignored their stares and open mouths and limped on home.

Well, Deacon never did have to fight Roy, or anyone else either. He’s got a reputation bigger than his brother, and no one wants to mess with that.

As for me, I decided never to give fighting lessons again. It’s just too risky. Besides, I’ve got more important things to figure out, like why Betty Lassiter winked at me during lunch yesterday.

Copyright 2017, Eric Calderwood

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