[Paul/sushi 4th place]
The monkeys benevolent gaze was all that kept Vicki Harnett from going crazy. Her boss had called three times in the last hour, demanding to know how the project was going. It was going well, no thanks to his continual meddling.
Vicki leaned back in her swivel chair and stretched. Pictures and crayon drawings sent in by young fans covered the office walls. Photos of her sisters kids sat atop a shelf. The place of honor, in the tiny offices other chair, was reserved for the golden monkey.
It wasnt really golden, just off-yellow; a stuffed toy with big, brown eyes. Vicki was in her third year at Kartoon Kreations, and the monkey had never moved from his chair. She recalled that the nighttime cleaning crew did move him once, but a friendly note had taken care of that.
Victoria! Her bosss voice crackled over the intercom. The client has been hounding me all day. We needed that cartoon series proposal an hour ago!
Vicki sighed. Mr. La Paz wasnt a bad guy, just high strung. He didnt react well to pressure, causing the staff to wonder how long hed last. One wag had even suggested finding La Paz a job in some remote area, miles from any telephone service.
The Wacom graphics tablet on the desk in front of her displayed several doodles, and the poster-sized sketch pad off to her left held some possible titles and names.
Its not that hard, Vicki told the monkey. Write out a title and some names, draw the main character, then outline a theme. We did it before, with Wilson Boffo and the Planet Rangers. The kids love him! Once I get the main stuff down, the rest just flows, you know what I mean?
The monkey remained silent, as always, but Vicki knew he understood. Mom was right, insisting I take you, she told him. I thought it was dumb, bringing a farm house doll to the big city, but with the jerk guys I keep meeting around here, youre the best friend Ive got.
As if to underscore her point, Mr. La Paz stuck his head through the office door.
Well? He walked in and tapped the poster board.
Some possible ideas I just wrote.
He picked up the Wacom tablet. Luckily it was a wireless model, so he didnt cause any damage. Whats this? He poked the screen.
Character themes, she replied, doing her best to stay polite.
Vicki looked at the monkey, trying to lose herself in his shiny glass eyes. Outlined by the fluorescent lights, she could see an image of La Pazs face, upside down, in the tiny simian globes.
Youre my best writer, Victoria. You can draw, too. I dont know how I put up with- La Paz pointed at the monkey -your unusual ways, but youve come through for Kartoon Kreations plenty of times before. He turned away. Ill be in my office.
Seeking calm, Vicki looked along the walls, from pictures to postcards. Kids, were not going to let you down. Im doing this for you. Ill be honest, for my paycheck, too. Not for . . . She gestured at her bosss retreating back.
At that moment a thought struck Vicki. A vision of La Paz, upside down in the curving glass spheres. I know! She snatched up the tablet and began drawing fiercely.
An hour later, Vicki presented her idea to La Paz. He forwarded it to their client, a major cable network, whose representative loved the idea.
It was Thursday, and suddenly La Paz was acting very generous. Vicki, great work, he said over the intercom. Why dont you take Friday off? Ill email you if anything comes up.
Thanks, boss. I have lots to do at my apartment. Vicki organized her materials, then reached for the graphics tablet. All the files would be locked, for security.
There it was, bright and bold, on the tablets screen: her new cartoon hero. Captain Zap, savior of Alhambra. A sort of Zorro with superpowers. Each day he flew into Alhambra, and saved the town from some calamity, but his home was a rustic cabin in the hills. An idyllic place, where intercoms and graphics tablets had yet to be invented.
The writer turned to the golden haired monkey and said, That was certainly an easy theme. Vicki laughed. With your help, my furry little friend.
It seemed to her that the toy answered. Captain Zap of Alhambra, the monkey intoned, and chuckled. I wonder if La Paz will catch on?