So I am sitting in this bar with a large monkey or a smallish ape. It's late and the place is mostly empty. The monkey and I are both worse for wear. I am idly drawing little figures of eight on the bar with a melting ice cube and the monkey is compulsively eating peanuts from a small bowl, one at a time. The bartender sets us up again with the air of a man who wants to go home. He does want to go home. But I am still talking to the monkey. And the monkey is nodding his head. He's heard it a million times already tonight.
I've started lying again. And it feels great, you know? Not great, really, but kind of good, you know... okay. And that's all you can hope for, really, isn't it? In this world. Okay.
I ask the monkey if he knows why I quit – lying – if he wants to know why I quit lying in the first place if it feels so good to be lying again now, and he's nodding his head like he wants to know, although he's always nodding his head. Just something that he does. And anyways, he already knows, because I already told him. About a million times.
She left me. About six months ago now. She left me about six months ago now and when she did I knew that if I really loved this woman, if I wanted her back, I would have to stop lying and start telling her the truth. Start telling everyone the truth. It would hurt and it would be like being naked, but love and lies don't mix. They don't mix at all. Who're you loving when you love a liar? You know?
The monkey blows a raspberry, puffing out his cheeks. He knows what I'm talking about. He looks like he hasn't shaved in days and he's got a little bald patch of angry skin on his shoulder where he keeps on scratching. Some kind of condition. He says it's stress. Work.
The thing was though, when I first started telling her the truth, it was like... and now I'm waving my hands in the air searching for some kind of gesture that can express what I mean... Sex, I guess. But really, really good sex. Between a man and woman. None of your monkey stuff. Hooting and red asses and whatever else you do.
And I was walking the streets like I was ten foot tall, man. It was such a rush. It was a weight off like you wouldn't believe. It was coming clean. But it was like a drug too. The truth. Telling the truth. That rush. That's the crazy thing. It was coming clean, but it was like a drug too.
People were smiling at me, just strangers. On the street. Smiling. Like you were a cute little kid again and the sight of you just made people smile. Because you were still pink and fresh and not dirty yet. I mean, you were dirty, you got dirty, but not really dirty, not like... fully grown adults, you know?
I couldn't stop. I was hooked. I was telling her the truth about everything. I told her about last summer. I showed her my websites. Stuff she didn't need to know about. Strictly speaking. She took it in her stride. She was more proud of me than disgusted. Ten foot tall, man, ten foot tall. So I kept going. Told her about anglicizing my name, dropping the ovich. That threw her. More than the porn. Thought it would be obvious, but it threw her. I mean, look at me.
The monkey looks at me, bleary-eyed. He lights up. No one's going to care at this hour. He's scratching. He keeps scratching at that angry patch of his. You want to leave that alone, man. You seen someone about that? Get your work to pay for that, they're the ones that should be paying for that. Not some cream from Walgreens, either. A specialist is what they should be paying for.
The monkey blows a big cloud of smoke like he don't care. The bartender looks up from whatever he's doing with an evil eye. Don't worry about him. He don't like monkeys in his bar is all.
You know, I don't think I told the truth since I was ten or twelve years old and told the teachers at school these are not my mom and dad, my real parents are dead. I remember how that tasted. It didn't taste bad. It was hard to tell the difference, really. Everyone my whole life had been telling me that these two... people... were my parents and now here I was saying that no, they weren't and still the sun was shining. Birdies were still singing and the planets and the heavens weren't coming crashing down. That's how it started. That was a rush too, man. That was a rush too. I could do anything.
But I guess it's called a rush because it doesn't last very long. And pretty soon then you want another one. But the great thing about lying is it's there, there's always another one. It's a fucking dream, an inexhaustible supply. I say that in... ex... haustible... and swipe up the monkey's Camel soft-pack. Not like this shit. He shrieks. Cool it. Take them. Take them.
Whereas the supply of truth is strictly and very much limited. Only so much truth to be told, my monkey friend. And when it's gone, it's gone. Ain't no more. And I went through the whole fucking lot of it with that woman in, like, six months. We were both hooked on it. It was one of those dysfunctional relationships. It was all about truth. And when it was gone... What I said. It was gone. I woke up one day and my whole life was just empty wraps scattered all over the house. No more secrets to reveal. All of the cats were out of the bags.
She didn't stick around. It had been going a little downhill for a while, anyway, you know, so. She was building up a tolerance. Like the first time I told her the truth, it was like, wham, blown away, right on the floor, sex. But then that didn't happen anymore. I'd tell her some truth and it was not much of a big deal anymore, she was just expecting it now.
So you started lying again.
Yeah, I started lying again. How'd you know? I tell you this already?
Try to recapture that old magic.
But it didn't work.
No, it didn't work.
And now you're lying again sometimes, and sometimes you're telling the truth, and it doesn't make a monkey's. The thrill is gone. It all tastes the same.
Sometimes I tell the truth and I know it up here, in the mind, that it's the truth, but in the gut, nothing. I can tell the difference. If I think about it. I'm not stupid. But no hard-on. No whoosh. No rush.
Still, you're working.
Yeah, I'm smiling at the nice people.
We got this thing at work now, right. They show us a picture of these, like, three blocks. Different shapes. In a certain order. And then they give us real blocks and they want us to put them in the same order that we just saw in the picture. Right? They got us hooked up and they're writing everything down. And when you put the blocks in the order they want, you get a nice drink of... grape juice. No. Blackcurrant. And when you put the blocks in some other kind of order, you get a big fucking electrical shock. It's not rocket science. It's three blocks. But sometimes you put them in the wrong order and get yourself a shock just for the hell of it. Who cares, you know?
You want to get yourself another job, man. Like a bellhop or something.
Not wearing a uniform.
Or a zoo.
A zoo ain't no job.
In a zoo.
The monkey shakes his head. I'm always telling him he should get a different job.
It goes on like this for a while more. Then we leave. Touch knuckles. Good night.