Back when I was a teenager growing up in Howdyville, our resident ape expert was a pleasant old fellow by the name of “Apes” O’Malley. He lived on a beautiful, rustic ape farm about half a mile out of town, where his apes had plenty of room to play and take long nature walks. Some days I would get off the school bus near his house and drop in to watch him teaching his apes things like basket weaving, astronomy, and truck driving.
On this particular day, I knocked on his front door and an ape answered. “Is Mr. O’Malley home?” I asked.
The ape let out a jovial laugh. “Sure, and ’tis me!” Apes said, taking off his ape head. The new ape costume he’d just devised was super convincing. “Come on in, lad!”
We went into the kitchen, where an ape dressed in a frilly apron poured me some lemonade. This ape’s name was Lemonape, because making delicious lemonade was his specialty. I drank the whole glass down in one long gulp. Sure enough, it was the best lemonade I’d ever tasted that was made by an ape.
I let out a long, resounding belch, and Lemonape got scared and jumped out the window with a shriek. Apes laughed and waved it off. “He’ll be back in time for his soap operas,” he said. “I’ve more important things on me mind, laddie.” He leaned forward conspiratorially. “Would ye be interested in seein’…me giant apes?” he said in a low voice. “Me special…RADIOACTIVE giant apes?”
“Nah,” I shrugged. “I have to go home now and mow the lawn. Or my dad won’t give me my two dollars and I won’t be able to go to the moving picture show this weekend.” Yes, those were the “good old days”, when kids really knew how to have fun!
“That’s okay,” said Apes. “You’ll probably be seein’ them soon enough as ’tis. For you see, I’ve already released them, ha ha, all forty of ’em.” He danced a little jig, which looked funny since he was still wearing his new ape suit. “They’re be destroyin’ the whole town any time now.”
“APES!” I cried, aghast. “Why? WHY did you do that?”
“Oh, I guess I just went a little crazy,” he said with a weird giggle. “Don’t we all go a little crazy now and then?”
“Well, yes,” I admitted. “But with most of us, it doesn’t involve giant, radioactive apes.”
Apes was considering this when suddenly we heard all kinds of sirens coming from the direction of town. He smiled brightly and clapped his hands. “That’ll be me apes!” he chirped. “Already on a rampage of terror and destruction, bless ’em!” He scampered over to the TV and turned it on. A news bulletin was showing live images of the giant, radioactive apes smashing their way down Main Street. One of them started jumping up and down on City Hall, reducing it to a useless pile of kindling, while another kicked over the toy store and stomped on it, ruining Christmas for all the youngsters of Howdyville.
But one question still burned in my mind. “Why are they doing this, Apes?” I asked. “I thought you only raised peaceful apes!”
“Oh, I got ’em good and mad before I let ’em loose,” said Apes. “I told ’em that people are evil, and that the whole town is evil, and that EVIL MUST BE DESTROYED!!!” Apes had suddenly worked himself into a state of extreme frenzy, shaking his arms over his head like an actual ape. It was clear to me that he really believed what he’d told his oversized super-apes–that Howdyville and all the people in it were EVIL!
“Apes, you need to get ahold of yourself!” I commanded, rapping him on the nose with a wooden spoon that I’d found on the kitchen cabinet. He stopped short, blinking his eyes, and all at once his head seemed to clear. “Saints preserve us!” he said in a sorrowful voice. “Whatever have I done?”
“You’ve unleashed giant, radioactive ape disaster upon the town and its citizens, Apes!” I said, pointing to the TV. At that moment there was a horrifying shot of a giant ape trying to have sex with Howdyville’s leading Ford Lincoln-Mercury dealership. In the background, two more apes were playing soccer with the Old Folks’ Home. The lethal radiation that their mutated bodies emitted had already wilted much of the town’s decorative flora, and the paint was melting off scores of historic buildings.
Apes held his head in his hands and bawled like a baby. “I dinna mean it!” he cried. “I was only tryin’ to create special fun apes for the people to enjoy…and suddenly, me neighbor’s dog was tellin’ me to unleash the apes on the human race!”
I looked out the window. There, sitting in the front yard, watching the house, was Biff Wilson’s dog, Jethro. Damn that dog! I thought. This was all his doing!
Lemonape had returned and was tending to the distraught Apes, pouring him some refreshing lemonade and microwaving a couple of burritos for him. I grabbed the nearest tape recorder and hastily scrawled a message on a piece of paper. “Here!” I said, shoving the paper into Apes’ hands. “Read this!”
Moments later I was speeding toward town in the mustard-yellow 1964 Volvo that Apes used to drive to Piggly-Wiggly on Sundays. I screeched to a halt in front of the football stadium, raced upstairs to the broadcast booth, and plugged the tape into the public address system. The apes were already smashing their way into the stadium by that time, stomping all over the bleachers and wrecking the beautifully-manicured playing field with their huge ape footprints. Another few seconds, and I would be smushed by one of those huge ape feet!
Apes O’Malley’s voice crackled over the loudspeakers. “ATTENTION, APES! IT’S ME, APES O’MALLEY! I DINNA MEAN IT WHEN I SAID THE TOWN AND ITS LOVELY PEOPLE WERE EVIL! IT WAS THAT BLASTED DOG JETHRO’S DOIN’! HE TOLD ME TO TELL YA THAT, AND I JUST WENT A LITTLE CRAZY AND DID IT! BIFF WILSON AND HIS DOG–THEY’RE THE EVIL ONES! SPARE THE TOWN! DESTROY BIFF WILSON AND HIS EVIL DOG JETHRO INSTEAD!”
The giant radioactive apes instantly ceased their destruction of the town and headed off down the road toward Biff Wilson’s house. They tore it up but good–in no time there was nothing left but a splintery smudge–and they stomped on his vegetable garden and all his trees, too. Then they used his barn as an outhouse, rendering it and the entire surrounding area uninhabitable for the next 57 years. Biff Wilson was never seen again. His dog, Jethro, is thought to have escaped and made his way to a more populated area. Some believe he is now Ted Kennedy’s dog. Others think he may have gone to Hollywood and is behind several of the more notorious celebrity feuds such as Eminem vs. Britney Spears, Lindsay Lohan vs. Hilary Duff, and “Screech” vs. “Horshack.”
Apes O’Malley was held responsible for the massive destruction and put on trial. He was found guilty on all counts, despite his “I just went a little crazy” and “the dog told me to do it” defense, and was sent to the notorious Alcatraz prison, where he became known as “The Apeman of Alcatraz.” During his second year of incarceration he made a daring escape attempt escorted by a group of apes in guard uniforms. They were almost to the prison gates when the smell of bananas from the cafeteria drove the faux guards nuts. Apes O’Malley was returned to his cell with an extended sentence, while the apes were rehabilitated and allowed to continue working as guards.
My indirect role in the events at Biff Wilson’s house, thankfully, went unnoticed. Since I didn’t get blamed for anything, and the apes didn’t destroy my house, I pretty much developed a near-sociopathic ambivalence toward the entire incident. “All’s well that ends well”, as they say. The giant radioactive apes died horribly of horrible natural causes soon after the rampage, and now form The Great Howdyville Ape Landfill. All the other apes on Apes O’Malley’s ape farm ran away and are still roaming the countryside, weaving baskets and serving lemonade to terrified campers.