Monkey Island

Getting Ready for the Trip

We were interrupted from our deep thoughts by my wife, Lulu, who accused us of staring blankly at each other. OK, so we had forgotten what we were thinking about for a few minutes, it can happen to any group of guys planning such an adventure as ours. An adventure to Monkey Island Lake. This was no ordinary lake, it was a doughnut shaped lake in the middle of the zoo. We included among our members my out of state guests George and Ralph, plus myself, Oatmeal Jack. We had planned to sneak onto Monkey Island in the middle of the lake, so named for the Howling Monkeys that live in the trees. We had been obsessing over this particular lake for a very simple reason, it contained huge carp. We know it contained lots of Big Fat Carps because we had gotten bored Friday and went to the zoo to watch the monkeys throw poop at the visitors. That’s when we noticed these huge golden carp swimming under the trees. The zoo had the good sense to install a gumball machine at the waters edge full of floating fish biscuits so that visitors could put in a quarter and get a biscuit to feed the carp. What a marvelous idea, the carp were already pre-chummed for us and since no fishing was allowed they wouldn’t be hook shy. We returned that same day after breaking open my piggy bank and getting all my quarters out. We emptied the gumball machine of its biscuits, little did the zoo keepers know the devious plan that was hatching right under their noses.

After Lulu had left us alone and we were once again fully alert we got back to our planning. Monkey poop was a serious concern, one we easily felt we would defeat with camouflage rain coats and rain beanies on our heads to shield us from overhead attacks. The carp in this lake were truly BFCs and worth having to endure the monkey smell for a night that would surely find us exhausted at sunrise from reeling in huge carp all night long. The lake fortunately had a footbridge we assumed for use of the monkey keeper to feed the noisy little beasts so at least we wouldn’t have to swim across the lake and disturb the carp in the middle of the night. We would travel light and live off of Snickers, Twinkies and Surges. My biggest concern was with Ralph who is known to be able to fall asleep by the shore and is almost impossible to wake up unless you turn his bite alarms to full blast. Ralph and Georges concerns were over my undeserved reputation to snore louder than their bite alarms. George has demonstrated that he can sleep anywhere, even on an old smelly slimy carp-unhooking mat. With these concerns to worry us we knew we would have to make an excellent plan of attack.

The Plan of Attack

We saw how the monkeys paid attention to the zoo visitors and since we are smarter than a bunch of average monkeys we figured to could keep them busy by dumping a big pile of bananas on the island. Little could we imagine just how much the monkeys would like our bananas or how fast the little buggers could eat them all, but we were about to find out. The night zoo guard turned out to like his Budweiser more than he did walking around the zoo in the dark with all the animals, he even shut his windows so he could, we assumed, hear his TV better. Lulu would dump the three of us and our pile of gear off next to a little swamp that drains the zoo. From there, under the cover of night and the sounds of the nighttime calls from the zoo animals we would use our remarkable woodcraft to thread our way through the zoo and finally to Monkey Island. Once on the island we would take turns, one keeping an ear and eye out for trouble and the other two catching loads of BFCs. Our faces would be painted in camouflage makeup and our rain hats and jackets would also be standard BDU camos. We would each carry one rod, a sports bag full of rigs, sling shots and our share of the fish biscuits, snacks and bananas. Then before sunrise, under the cover of the zoo animals calling out in anticipation of breakfast we would slip quietly and unseen back through the swamp.

The Walk In

Lulu drove up to the swamp and ordered us all out of the truck immediately. It seems Ralphs bottle of Monster Crab he was planning on boosting his baits with accidentally opened in his tackle bag. The smell was deafening, I don’t know what we would have done if Ralph and his gear were in the front of the truck with us but he was in the back. If it had broken open in the front Lulu might have just beaten Ralph about the head, as it was she just gagged and pulled away saying she hopped she remembered to pick us up on time in the morning.

One thing became very clear, it was dark. We had decided to leave the flashlights behind in favor of woodcraft, but we had forgotten how dark and creepy swamps could be. We walked single file through the brush on the edge of the swamp, keeping a large mound of dirt between the zoo and us. We discovered too late that it wasn’t a pile of dirt, but was instead a big pile of elephant crap, but not until George had climbed to the top of the pile and then sunk down to his belly button. Few things smell worse than fresh elephant poop, one of them being George. After we rescued George from the dirt pile and scraped the worse of the smell off of him we resumed our trek.

As we were crossing a small crick Ralph let out a loud hoot. George grabbed Ralph and covered his mouth with the cleanest of his hands but Ralph showed no signs of shutting up. I didn’t think anyone heard his hoot because it was so high pitched, but apparently the dingo’s in the zoo heard it and they all joined in with Ralph. Ralph jumped free from George and started to dance around in the swamp. We immediately determined what had made him hoot, a big snapper had grabbed his sneaker on the end with all of his toes. All his dancing did nothing but make the snapper even more determined than ever to tighten his grip, the turtle might have thought he just had a years dinner in his jaws if he could just hold on until Ralph stopped jumping around. Ralph grabbed the snapper firmly by the shell and the snapper clamped its shell tightly shut and firmly on Ralph’s fingers. Unable to remain balanced Ralph and his new friend tumbled into the mud. Finally we got Ralph’s sneaker off and he had all of his toes. Seeing how there was no meat left in the sneaker the snapper spat out the shoe and grumbled his way back into his mud.

As we continued our stealthy approach I noticed I was beside a chain link fence of some sort. I stopped to study what was in the fence, it looked like just a bunch of bushes. All of a sudden the bush noticed I was standing there and reached right over the fence and pecked me savagely with its huge sharp pointed beak. I know ostriches don’t seem to be mean birds when they are standing around bored during the day in the zoo, but they are terrors at night. And, believe me, getting pecked by an ostrich in the middle of the night would make anyone screech out loud. George came at me with his dirty hands to shut me up but almost got pecked himself, so at least I was saved from having to wash my face. Good thing we had decided to bring a clean change of clothes. Just getting to the island was getting on our nerves.

Island Bound

We thankfully made it to the bridge to Monkey Island without further mishap. By now we were a little worn out from our simple walk into the zoo. Clearly this fishing trip was going to be good, we could here the carp rolling in the lake. Thusly energized we carefully made our way over the bridge one at a time, slowly so as to not make the bridge squeak too much and to keep from waking up all the cute little monkeys. The first thing we did was to dump our bananas into a big pile in the middle of the island. Unfortunately for the monkeys all of Ralphs dancing about had squished the lot of bananas into banana pudding. Maybe monkey liked them better already peeled and mushed.

We made our way to the waters edge and could barely contain ourselves, carp were jumping and rolling everywhere. George had drawn the first watch so Ralph and me set up. To use the biscuits as hookbaits we had decided to simply use rubber bands to keep the biscuits on the hook. We both took out our slingshots and quietly fired a few dozen fish biscuits out into the night. We cast out and all sat down beside the lake, hidden behind the brush. It was very quite, all we could hear was the carp rolling out in the lake. A few of the zoo animals would grunt or snuffle and an owl even hooted above us in the trees. Then a lion roared and scared the crap out of us, just what we needed to keep our sharp edge for the rest of the night.

I must have dozed off, the exertions of the trip in taking its toll on me, plus the carp were in the middle of the lake and we could only cast half way out because of all the trees, you would think the zoo would trim them back a little. Soon we hoped the carp would wonder over to our floating baits. I must have been dreaming, but I thought I felt something wet wiggling in my ear. Thinking it was nothing but a bug or even George playing a joke I reached up and grabbed a little hairy arm. Horrified to even yell for help, I turned and stared straight into the face of one of the cute little monkeys. The look on my face must have scared it very bad because it jumped straight up and climbed to the top of his tree before I even began to start cussing it roundly. George and Ralph claim they take me fishing for the entertainment value, more likely because I am the only one with a truck big enough to haul all of our junk. You would think that they wouldn’t laugh so much at someone who didn’t mind hauling them to the zoo to catch carp in the middle of the night, especially when they still needed a ride home. The Wet Willie administered by the monkey was all I needed to keep me wide awake for the rest of the night.

The long night wore on and the carp were still jumping and rolling in the middle of the lake but so far had refused our offerings. As things quieted down again it was now my turn at watch. Keeping a constant vigil I eyed the shoreline for problems in the making. The stress of such a constant vigil instantly made me sleepy and I was just resting my eyes to acclimate to the darkness when muffled grunts began emanating from Georges swim. Ralph and I ran over to the aid of George and found him sprawled on the ground with a snake as thick as your arm wrapped around his head. Luckily for us the snake had squeezed shut Georges mouth so that his curses never made it off the island. The snake was determined, at every attempt by us to pull or pry it off of George it would redouble its efforts and squeeze even tighter. Not wishing to loose George to the snake, and even more important not to have to carry his share of the gear back through the swamp, we came to the only decision possible in such an emergency. I picked up a big stick, Ralph steadied George while I started to beat the snake with the stick. It took quite a few wacks with the stick as the snake was very tenacious. As it was dark a few of the wacks might have been delivered after the snake released its deadly grip but before George got his breath back. You would think someone whose life you just saved would be more thankful and not grab their own stick and try to wack their rescuer.

We returned to our swims amid a howling chorus from the monkeys who must have thought our battle with the huge snake was entertaining. It was now Georges turn to keep a sharp eye out for trouble, and snakes. Ralph began to fire some biscuits out with his slingshot but something funny was happening, they never plopped in the water. Intrigued, Ralph fired a few more biscuits out towards the lake and they never landed on water. Then the moon peaked out from behind a cloud and sitting in the tree above Ralph was a family of monkeys. Ralph fired another biscuit out to the lake and a monkey reached out and caught it in the air. Ralph was furious, we only had 20 dollars worth of biscuits with us and still hadn’t caught a carp yet. Ralph figured he would chase the monkeys off by shooting at them with his sling filled with gravel. He fired a good load up into the trees. The monkeys scattered. Ralph returned to firing out biscuits until it started to rain. Funny how it only rained on Ralph and not the rest of us, funny how warm the rain was too. The monkeys had queued up to pee in unison on Ralph. That really made Ralph mad, he was so beside himself with rage he began shooting at the monkeys with biscuits. They ate them as fast as he could shoot, which made Ralph madder and even more determined to knock them out of the trees with the last of our biscuits. Obsessed with the monkeys Ralph fired the last of the biscuits, George and I standing under cover from first biscuits and then warm monkey pee.

At last out of bait we emptied our pockets of change and with a pitifully small handful of quarters made Ralph exit the island, sneak his way to the fish biscuit gumball machine and replenish our bait. While watching out for potential problems that always seem to follow Ralph we began to hear paper tearing, the kind of sounds made when Twinkies and Snickers are unwrapped. The furry little bastards had come out of the trees after Ralphs futile but viscous assault to scrounge all of our goodies. They couldn’t figure out how to get the Surges open so they just threw them around to each other like a football. Finally one of the smarter of the beasts learned to open the Surges with his 2 inch long fangs, how did we miss those fangs during our scouting trip?

The Retreat

As Ralph was passing the lions cage on the way back from getting bait the lions roared and Ralph dropped the precious biscuits and forgetting stealth ran straight for the bridge. Upon seeing their favorite tormentor the monkeys began to howl as a group, which made the lions roar even more. Soon the orangutans, tigers, elephants and who the heck knows what else were all hooting, bellowing and trumpeting for all they were worth. It was getting more than a little noisy and was getting on our nerves. We surmised all the noise would put the carp off the feed and decided to call it a night. In 5 minutes we were repacked and at the bridge. Suddenly a flashlight from the guards’ shack shone through the night and played on the monkeys who were tailing us through the trees. There was nothing to do but jump into the lake and hide under the bridge. I thought I saw a log go drifting by us, but then the log turned and opened its mouth, its wide mouth full of big freakin teeth. Thinking quickly I shoved Ralph at the log, he being bigger and stronger than either George or I. Ralph displayed his amazing physical agility by simply stepping on the log and jumping to shore and running for the gate after flattening the guard. Ralphs departure made it clear it was every carper for himself. I was carrying the rods and thrust Georges rod into the logs mouth and we skipped stepping on the log and just jumped right out of the water and onto the bank. We hit the ground running and soon overtook Ralph, the three of us running blindly through swamp to our extraction site. We finally slowed down and found a quite shelter in a privy to rest and recuperate. Georges wristwatch beeped, it was only midnight. We would have a long wait for Lulu to rescue us.

By Oatmeal Jack, Feb 2000, Potomac River, MD, USA

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