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Aric Owen and his Monkey Mayhem
The morning before Aric shot the monkey, he awoke to find himself bathed in sweat, a headache already cutting its way into his skull. He had just spent almost 20 hours flying from New York to the New Delhi International Airport. Today he still recalls that time as “one of the most restless, uncomfortable days of my life.” Aric was about a year out of college. After spending much of his life enamored with India and all it had to offer, he finally decided to experience it first hand. From the quaint, three-room hut he had rented from one of his father’s friends, Aric could look out on the lush jungle oasis that sheltered him from the urban environment of Delhi.
He stumbled out of bed on that first day, with the claws of jetlag tearing away at him, his aching body unaccustomed to the humid, tropical heat. He decided he wasn’t ready yet to bust out exploring, but only wanted to fulfill an itching ambition that could be accomplished right from his porch. He made himself a cup of tea from the multiple tea bags already stocked in the cupboards, grabbed the BB gun he had hauled half-way across the world and sat down in the green, cushioned chair in the shade of the porch deck. He could spot a few roof-tops and laundry lines, but mainly all he could see, surrounding him on all sides, was a beautiful mass of greenery. He sat there with a faint smile listening to the overlapping calls of birds and bugs and waiting to see a monkey come into range.
Today, as Aric sits across from me with his faded blue jeans and a touch of grey at the temples, he tells me with a twinkle in his eye of what he was waiting to do while sitting in that green, cushioned chair. “Hunting monkeys was something my friends and I had fantasized about. We would go to the gun range and shoot clay pigeons and joke around, pretending they were monkeys. My friends were jazzed to hear about my trip because they knew I might finally get a real chance. By the way, I have no idea how this monkey interest started.” He chuckles before continuing. “Excited myself, I promised them I would definitely do the deed, and this first day was a great opportunity to lounge around and wait for a monkey; they’re everywhere there.”
So Aric relaxed and waited. After a couple hours he spotted a light auburn monkey crawling along the rooftop of a garden shack about 80 feet away. Bursting with delight, he cradled the gun, took aim, felt his finger cup the trigger, and fired.
“It was a perfect shot. I hit him right in his side.
The monkey spun a little and slid down the roof, trying to stand. After futile attempts to get to his feet he lay there on the edge of the short rooftop.
“I thought I would be overjoyed that I had finally shot a monkey, but as I watched the pathetic little thing struggle, I was surprised at how much pity I felt.”
Aric walked over to him and, almost in awe, watched up close as the monkey lay heaving in desperation. Aric tried to lift him up but the monkey bared his teeth and growled.
“I tried to help it, but it was a feisty little thing.”
Not knowing what he could do, for fear of being bitten or infected, all he could do was hope the monkey would heal in time.
“The rest of that day I felt horrible and couldn’t bring myself to look at the monkey. I stayed inside and hung out on other side of the house.”
He went to bed that night, trying not to think of the helpless monkey lying right outside. The next morning he was relieved to see the monkey was gone.
“I figured maybe it managed to slide off the roof and somehow limp away in the forest. I’ll admit, the odds are my shot eventually killed it. I’ll never know, but I’ll always imagine that it survived.”
As Aric wraps up, he chuckles even as he winces, and adds, “But don’t worry, that was ages ago. Who would have guessed that I would end up with a degree in zoology and spend the last thirty years working with monkeys at the Santiago Community Zoo.”