[Tiffany 1st place]
Once Upon the Best and Worst of Dark and Stormy Nights
By: Tiffany D. Davis
Long ago, before nebulous once upon a times, four score and seven years, and tempestuous dark and stormy nights, there existed a group of individuals known as Hack Writers. A curiously desperate breed of man, they'd forge crocodile laden swamps, swing from prickly jungle vines and cross vast, waterless regions in search of the most glorious of intangibles... Inspiration.
For the most hackiest of Hack Writers, Inspiration was, most often, not very easily found. So, these poor souls customarily limited their quest to the most potent source of Inspiration in the literary world... The golden haired monkey.
Legends told of him dwelling in a mountain range in Tibet, sporting a fissured monocle, ink-stained fingers and a slightly chewed number two pencil behind one ear. Few were fortunate enough to find him. And most of that few, upon departing from the distant mountain range, abandoned their wits behind and returned to civilization mumbling incoherent things about "the best and worst of times" and "dawn's rose-colored fingers touching the sky".
Now it just so happened that, every now and again, a person with no particular interest in Inspiration at all would happen upon the golden haired monkey's place of dwelling. It was not a dark and stormy night, but rather a mild and balmy day, slightly cloudy with a small chance of rain, when a young, English actor spent his final vacation day traipsing across Tibetan mountaintops. A slightly built and delicate-featured man, he spent most of his time away from the theatre in fruitless endeavors to build up his scrawny legs; he'd had enough of being typecast in female roles simply because his legs looked unbecoming in tights.
He ran across the monkey, naked and sunbathing on a crag. It was a rather awkward situation at first. He cleared his throat to announce his presence.
"Who in bloody hell are you?" the monkey sputtered as he struggled to sit up.
"By god, you can speak... My name is Will. I'm an actor, vacationing on the mountainside. Do you live in these parts?... Do you have a name?"
The monkey reached for a towel that lay beside him, an impatient scowl on his face. "Yes, as a matter of fact, you're trespassing on private property as we speak..." He quickly wrapped the towel around his midsection. "And to answer your second question, my name is Remy."
"Yes, Remy. My mother gave birth to me in the back of a taxicab with the aid of a French cabdriver... Long story, but I've got plenty of them."
Will's eyes widened. "Wait a minute, I've heard about creatures like you. Do you grant wishes?"
"Heavens no, at least not full-time... Part-time evenings and weekends, maybe. Much too draining, that wish granting thing." Remy donned his monocle.
"You're a talking monkey, for pete's sake, there's got to be something else you're capable of."
The monkey stuck his pencil behind his ear. "Not a thing... At least nothing an actor would be interested in."
"C'mon, just tell me. Or grant me a wish. I'm sick of being an actor, it's not like I'm any good at it."
"Well, what do you want to be?"
Will bit his lip and creased his brow, as any bad actor would, to show he was deep in thought. "Well if I wrote the plays, I wouldn't have to star in them, now would I?"
The semblance of a smile traced the monkey's face. "So you want to be a writer, do you?"
"Yes, please. Make me a writer."
"Okay, as you wish... you're a writer."
Will puckered his brow once more. "That's it? Don't you need a wand, or a special dance, or to utter some sort of magic chant?"
The monkey sighed and retrieved the pencil from behind his ear. Half-heartedly he moved it back and forth in the air between himself and the simple young man. "Er, bippity, boppity, boo."
"Yes," said Will with a smile, "that sounds about right... I'm even starting to feel a bit differently. Quick, hand me some writing paper and that pencil of yours."
"I'll do you one better," said the monkey, snapping his fingers.
Before he could blink, Will found himself behind a large oak desk, a feathered pen in hand and writing paper spread out before him. He sat that way for hours, feathered pen in hand and writing paper before him, until his neck and back developed a crick and his scrawny legs cramped up beneath him. It wasn't until the twelfth hour that he began to break down.
"Monkey... Monkey... Little, odd golden haired monkey!" he wailed.
"The name is Remy," the monkey snapped as he materialized before him, sans towel and clothed in a satin, red vest and emroidered silk slippers. "R... e... m......Oh, what's the use. What is it, you fool?"
"It didn't work." Will hurled the feathered pen down in disgust.
"Don't be so hasty," said Remy. "Let's see what you've got here." The papers rustled as he grabbed them up from the desktop; his mouth moved silently as he read. "Mm-hmm... a ha... yes, well, I see the problem."
"What is it?"
"You asked to be a writer... you didn't ask to be a good one."
"I shouldn't have to... You should've automatically known... " Will stammered in frustration.
"Now can you see why I don't grant wishes that often?" Remy straightened his crooked monocle and tossed the papers back onto the desk.
The young man paced behind him, scarcely paying attention anymore. "I just need one good idea. One good plot, a captivating theme... some Inspiration."
"Well, you're in luck, that happens to be my thing."
"What is your... thing?"
Reaching into the breast pocket of his vest, Remy retrieved a business card. With an eyeroll, the young man accepted it. He read out loud, "Remy Remington. Inspiration Counselor. No idea too big or too small. By appointment only."
"Now read the back and you'll find your Inspiration."
Will flipped over the card. "Boy meets girl... boy and girl fall in love... boy and girl's parents hate each other... conflict ensues." The writer turned to the golden haired monkey and said, "That was certainly an easy theme."
"Yes... Simple, yet brilliant. I've got plenty more like that. You can have them all. I'm about to retire from the Inspiration business and take up nude sunbathing full-time."
Will frowned. "Then where, pray tell, will the world look to for Inspiration."
The monkey shrugged dismissively. "Why to the written word, of course. And the only thing new under the sun will be this naked, sunbathing monkey." Remy snapped his fingers and, instantly, they were back outside on the mountaintop. "Well, good luck to you, and for heaven's sake please use my ideas wisely, Willie-boy."
"Thank you, and uh, the name is William... William Shakespeare."
"Yeah, well, whatever... Again, good luck to you."
And the monkey was gone.