8FOLD/APES: Journey Into... # 4, The Ballad of Johnny Banana!

Tom Russell milos_parker at yahoo.com
Wed Jan 31 22:05:53 PST 2007



   The first thing he notices (upon entering the
judge's chambers) is how different they all look.  The
prosecutor has a slim sly sickly build and a long
sharp ugly nose; his attorney is short and broad all
over, including (and especially) his handsome,
dignified nose; the judge looks more like the
prosecutor, only with more folds in his hideous soft
white face; Johnny supposes the prosecutor is a little
taller, though it's hard to tell with his terrible
posture; by contrast, Johnny's attorney has a noble
slump and, also, his fur is darker, though all three
are balding and so it's hard to tell: and Johnny
wonders, not for the first time, if these "peepull"
are not so different from apes after all.  (The
thought makes him shudder.)
   The judge looks at the tiny paper in the tiny blue
folder, and Johnny adjusts his tiny necktie and shifts
his weight between his two tiny chairs.  Johnny's
attorney puts his tiny furless paw on Johnny's in a
touching, pitiful gesture of reassurance.  The
attorney's paw is hardly big enough to encircle and
single digit.  Like an infant.
   It's a little easier to think of them as offspring
or pets, though at the same time it's less comforting:
after all, that puts his fate in the paws of infants!
   The judge speaks: such a soft, unpleasant sound. 
"Mr. Whitaker raises a valid question, Mr. Proctor,"
he says to the prosecutor.  "What, exactly, are you
charging Mr. Banana with?"
   "Supervillainy, first degree," says the prosecutor
   "Don't waste my time," says the judge.  "The SV
charge is always filed in conjunction with an actual
crime.  Not by itself."
   "First time for everything."
   "Your honour!"
   "I do not find you amusing, Mr. Proctor."
   "There's no precedent against it..."
   "Nor any for it.  It'd be like indicting people on
a RICO charge for selling lemonade."
   "With all due respect," says the prosecutor,
withdrawing two heavy stacks of tiny paper from his
briefcase.  He paws one to the judge and the other to
Johnny's attorney.  Johnny peers over the attorney's
bald head and squints at the miniscule type long
enough to confirm its place of origin.
   "This animus curiae is from Johnny Banana's home
reality," explains the prosecutor.  "He is wanted on
Ape-Earth for many crimes, including racketeering,
robbery, kidnapping, extortion, murder..."
   "Jurisdiction," sing-songs Johnny's attorney.
   "Any of these crimes occur in Detroit?"
   The prosecutor sighs.  "No, your honour."
   "Then you're not trying him for it, not in my
   The prosecutor quickly comes up with another stack
of paper.  "This is a motion to transfer this case to
the federal prosecutor."
   His cell, like all things on this earth, is too
small.  He spends his nights on the floor because the
slender bunk will not hold him.  The floor is cold,
but that's not unpleasant; his rest is disturbed
instead by the subtle sense of gathering
claustrophobia: the sink and the bunk leer at him from
above, the incessantly running toilet next to his
head, the sunless walls and steel bars (the latter
charged with electricity, should he try to bend them).
   And despite all this, he is not unhappy.  Yes, he's
cramped and uncomfortable.  This whole earth is
cramped.  But the smaller the pond, the easier it is
to be a big fish.
   And that sleepless thought is sweeter than any

   "Your honour, there's no extradition treaty between
the United States and the Ape-Earth, and, indeed,
between the United States and any other reality..."
   "I agree, Mr. Whitaker," says the judge.  "I hereby
rule that--"
   "One moment more, your honour," says the federal
prosecutor.  "I am announcing my intention to move
this over to the Department of Immigration, as Mr.
Banana is not a U. S. Citizen and therefore here
illegally.  I ask that he be kept in custody until
they have formally taken over the case."
   "Your honour, my client has been rotting away in a
cell for months since he was savagely beaten,
completely unprovoked, by--"
   "Unprovoked?" says the prosecutor.
   "-- unprovoked, by Docrates and Anti-Man.  He has
committed no crime, and it is ridiculous to--"
   "Sorry, Mark," says the judge.  "Mr. Banana will
remain in custody for the time being.  He'll be
Immigration's problem now."
   "Don't worry," whispers his attorney.  "I think I
have a plan."
   The plan involves postponing the immigration
hearing, which means Johnny has to spend even more
time crammed in his cell.  It also entails no less
than three doctors.
   They draw his blood, strip off his clothes, run
their paws through his fur.  They give him bananas and
observe his reactions to a kitten.
   Johnny hates kittens.  He pets it anyway.

   "Mr. Banana is not a citizen of the United States. 
He did not immigrate her legally, and so, the duty of
the court is clear."  The prosecutor (tall and bald,
just like the last two, are they all tall and bald
here?) holds his paw in the air, one digit
dramatically poised.  "He must be deported.  It's the
law, pure and simple.  And, I may add, the costumed
hero Darkhorse has already offered to escort Mr.
Banana back to his home reality."
   "Duly noted.  Mr. Whitaker?"
   "What Mr. Supinger says is true: my client is not a
citizen, nor did he immigrate here through the proper
channels... The proper channels, that is, for humans. 
My client is not a human being.
   "He is an animal.
   "Though he can speak, and though he is dressed as
one of us, he remains, genetically-- and thus
legally-- gorilla beringei grauen: an ape and
therefore not a human being.  Immigration laws are not
applicable to animals."

   The judge retires to his chambers to look over the
doctors' notes.  Two hours later, he emerges with his
decision: Johnny Banana shall be set free.

   "So, Johnny," says his attorney as they stroll
through the courthouse, "what now?"
   "Got no money, no friends, no debt.  No rap sheet.
   "It's a clean start, Mr. Whitaker.  I like that.  A
fella with nothin' tying him down can go a long way if
he puts enough energy in the right direction."
   "I wouldn't be so sure about that 'no debt' part,"
his attorney says smugly.  "There's still the matter
of my fee."
   "Hmm.  How's about I don't crush your skull in my
paw, and we call that even?"
   The lawyer starts laughing.  Johnny puts his paw on
the little man's head.  "You're not joking."
   "Nah, I'm not," says Johnny.  "How's about you give
me bus fare?"
   "As a, as a loan?"
   "As a gift."
   "You, you should be c, careful, Johnny," stammers
his attorney as he reaches into his wallet.  "Just
because you're free, doesn't mean you got carte
blanche.  They catch you in a crime... well, they
don't incarcerate animals on this earth.  Here, they
destroy them."
   "Yeah," says Johnny, releasing the head.  "But
they'll have to catch me doin' somethin', first."

   He sits at the back of the bus, one paw primed for
the emergency exit.  He isn't expecting any trouble,
but he's learned over time that it's better to err on
the side of expecting.
   They're mostly grandmothers, with a few blossoming
granddaughters thrown in for good measure.  They stare
at him without even trying to hide it.  Like he's an
animal.  A monster.  A predator.
   Like he'd want anything to do with these furless
frails.  He smiles because in this case, the slang
fits: human frails are frail.  He'd snap 'em in two
with just a friendly hug.
   Whether it's warranted or not, they're still
staring.  They're still afraid.  Well, so what?  If
they're gonna stare, give 'em something to stare at! 
If they're gonna be afraid, then control it.  Name it.
 Exploit it.
   He stretches his front right arm along the length
of his seat, resting it on the rim.  He spreads his
back arms a little, lets the paws dangle and stretch
out onto the floor.  He rests his other front paw in
his lap and slumps lasciviously.
   The stares increase in tremor, and Johnny knows
that tonight, each and every one of these human girls
is going to go home to their mates and tell them about
that dark furry monster of a male on the bus.  And the
next time they get mounted, they're going to think
about that gorilla they stared at, and how he stared
   "Easy to be a shark when ya swim with the guppies,"
he snorts loudly and suddenly. 



Well, this leans more heavily onto the vignette side
than most things I write, especially for 8FOLD.  Feels
a bit unfinished, and that's because it is.

It started as a Green Knight story but it never quite
held together, mostly because the Green Knight wasn't
really in it. :-)

I feel kind of obligated to produce something for Apes
Month, and so here it is.  I also tried to address
something of the legal system in the Eightfold
Universe, and now that I think about it, the
Supervillain charge should probably result in a
different court of jurisdiction-- a Super-Court where
the superheroes and villains alike could testify.

We'll be seeing more that in the future.

Anyway, I think it works, as far as vignettes go.  But
what I think isn't nearly as important as what _you_


.         __________
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        |    TOM     |
         \ RUSSELL  /
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