Wednesday, 2 November 2011

THE MONKEY TREE by Sean Patrick Reardon

The first time I encountered Sean Patrick Reardon's fiction - on TKnC as it happens - I knew this was a writer with a very unusual voice. Since then I've discovered that he appears to invest so much emotion in whatever topic or genre he is tackling that I for one, come away quite dumbstruck.

Sean's Hellicious Halloween contribution The Monkey Tree can't fail to touch your heart. Let's climb...


THE MONKEY TREE by Sean Patrick Reardon

“Good evening old boy,” The voice proclaimed, sounding like that of an elderly Englishman.

“Who’s they-ah?”  Thomas replied, with a tinge of a Maine accent.

“Tis I, Sir Alistair Oakwood, your neighbor of more than eighty years.”

“I don’t know anyone by that name, the only thing I see is the oak tree.”

“Then it appears, by your acute sense of deduction, you have solved the mystery my good man.”

“Hello, Mister Oakwood.”

“Is that all you can manage to say to such an ardent sidekick? After all, I have known you since your infantine beginning in the year nineteen-ten, when I was but a young strapping lad of some twenty years.”

“I’m sorry sir. As you can imagine, I was very startled after all these years of silence, to hear a voice.”

“Indeed, and I certainly understand your astonishment. Now that you know who I am, I am under the assumption that your surname is Monkey, as that is all I have ever heard bandied about when you were the subject of conversation.”

“I do not mean...to laugh...at you Alistair. My amusement comes from your misunderstanding of my...name. It is actually Thomas Edwin Coppinger. Monkey is a name that a young boy gave me many years ago. And from that day on, I was only known as the Monkey Tree.”

Their conversation and laughter continued, until the sun started to stir from its daily hibernation.

“Isn’t this splendid Alistair?” Thomas waited for a response, but none came.

***

The landscape had repainted itself into a grand morning. The sky was flawlessly blue without even the hint of a blemishing cloud and the soft breeze stirred the mild, late October air. It was a glorious day that would surely segue into a perfect night for trick or treating.

The new friends thought about each other and what they would talk about, if they ever got the same chance they had under the cover of darkness.

Neither of them questioned why they were graced with this special ability. They just appreciated and reveled in it. They hoped when evening came, the magic would return.

***

By mid-afternoon, the weather had taken an unexpected, drastic turn. The sunless sky was dominated by layers of ominous, coal-black clouds, mixed with a hodgepodge of dark, silver disruptions. A raw, penetrating wind added to the gloomy pall that had overtaken the land.

From the front yard of Thomas’s lot came a steady, piercing, BEEEEP, BEEEEP, BEEEEP sound and within minutes, the large truck came to a stop twenty feet from him.

 Two men got out it and stared up at Thomas. Both wore thick leather gloves. The larger of the two men held a rope and a saw, while the other maintained a steadfast position at the base of the truck.

The larger man wrapped the thick rope around his waist, slung the saw over his back like a troubadour, and started his ascent up Thomas’s body, climbing limb by limb, until he reached the upper most section.

He paused momentarily to look at a makeshift platform made of wood and nails that traversed two of the thick branches. He noticed the initials T.E.C. followed by 1972 were carved into the wood and 1983 was written in what looked like red marker.

“You all set up there?” The man on the ground yelled up to his partner, while holding tightly to his end of the rope.

“Yeah, let’s do this,” He shouted.

Both men secured their industrial ear muffs. The man in the tree wrapped his legs around Thomas and pulled the ripcord on the saw, bringing it to life.

***

Alistair could only watch in a palsied, state of shock as each piece of Thomas’ defenseless, vulnerable body was lacerated, severed, and fell to the ground. Alistair’s soul ached with the thought of the suffering and agony that was being inflicted on his new friend.

The butchering continued as Alistair’s feelings of anguish transformed into complete detestation toward the assassins. If he just had the means, he would deliver the ultimate retribution to repay this gratuitous act of savagery.

When the executioners finished, confident that the death sentence had been meted out appropriately, they stood among the carnage of sawdust, severed limbs, needles, and pinecones.  The smaller man walked toward the truck with the Grim Reaper’s tools of their trade.

The big man stood gloating in the morbid remains, preparing to light a celebratory cigarette. As he raised his head from the match, his facial expression slowly transformed from one of satisfaction to astonishment. He stood motionless and mesmerized as if in a trance.

His mouth involuntarily opened and the cigarette cascaded end-over-end as it fell to the ground. He tried to speak, but could only muster a few unintelligible words.

The smaller man turned and caught a glimpse of his silent partner and the blank stare on his face.

“Hey, what’s going on? Are you alright?”

The big man raised his arm in a slow motion and pointed toward Alistair. The small man looked to the spot where his partner’s finger pointed, and his face reshaped itself into a slack-jawed expression.

Both men stood, frozen like ice sculptures, and stared at Alistair as all his leaves started to fall from his branches, like he was being disrobed by the most ferocious winter storm. All of his beautiful, six pointed leaves that minutes before were a colorful mix of orange, yellow, and green, had turned brown, crisp, and lifeless.

The men were left standing in a knee-deep pile of mortified brown leaves as the final one fell and drifted to the ground, like the last tear from an eye whose source had been exhausted by sadness. Both men, still unable to move, were unsure of what had just happened. The silence was broken by a cracking sound, that within seconds, became an ear-splitting eruption as all of Alistair’s limbs came crashing down in a thunderous detonation, crushing the two men’s bodies.

____________________


BIO: Sean Patrick Reardon is the author of the crime thriller novel "Mindjacker". He's blogging at: http://seanpatrickreardon.blogspot.com


23 comments:

  1. Arboreal solidarity, with their roots entwined - makes you wonder. Nicely told.

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  2. Oh Sean Patrick ~

    This thriller sure branched out to stump all odds ... from the felled but not failed ending, leafing me in a quiet state of wonder. I wondered how your word-pile let me hear accents, view an unblemished blue and feel how pain crunches.

    To paraphrase Reardon, I 'just appreciated and reveled in it. I hoped when evening came, the magic would return.' Wonderful bedtime tale for your kiddos too. ~ Bravo, Absolutely*Kate

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  3. Sean Patrick - the first twist was realizing Thomas was also a tree, and the emotion just started ratcheting up from there. Alistair's revenge is perfection. I felt like I was standing there (on a log perhaps) watching the two men freak out as the tree took its retribution.

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  4. really liked this.
    First pumpkins, now trees, it just gets better.

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  5. Looks like Merlin's relatives are among us still. And I ask why not trees? After all (if you're codger enough to remember or have a search engine) Buster Brown lived in a shoe, that's his dog Tige -- he lives there too. Story made me feel that mythic sense of wonder real strong, S.P.

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  6. Now that was a real treat I wasn't expecting. Trees as heroes? Awesome imagining. I felt the magic of this one at my core.

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  7. Nice build-up to this satisfying ending! Loved that you took this horror, gave it memories, friendship, and revenge. Well written and executed. Great job, Sean.

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  8. Great voice, I never met a tree I didn't like.

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  9. Thanks everyone, for taking the time to read my story and commenting. You are all very kind to do so and I'm lucky to be a part of such a great group of writers. The Monkey Tree did exist and was my home away from home as a kid. This was inspired when my parents had to make the heart-wrenching decision to cut it down, about 10 years ago. It was unhealthy and would have destroyed their house, if it fell.

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  10. Alistair is one righteous tree.
    ======================
    Detectives Beyond Borders
    "Because Murder Is More Fun Away From Home"
    http://www.detectivesbeyondborders.blogspot.com/

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  11. Glorious. Fantastic story Sean.

    Loved it!

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  12. Nice work, Sean, that was so unusual. What a great read!

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  13. Peter, Graham, Luca, and Julie- Thanks for the read /comments, means a lot. It was kind of cool to write something different, but I really miss the music, drug use, profanity, and torture ;)

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  14. What, a tree can kill someone, but it can't swear and smoke dope?

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  15. Peter, what do you think I spent my time doing in the tree?

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  16. Delicious.

    'The landscape had repainted itself.' - wish I'd come up with that one.

    x

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  17. Eat your heart out Ents. Terrific piece of writing.

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  18. Wow, Sean.

    I thought I'd read it all, but this was really something, bud. Can't recall anything like it - totally unique, profound and touching. So a hat tip for stretching your creativity. Not sure how many of us could've pulled this one off, but you sure did, and some.

    The great thing is, it's a tale for all. As was touched on above, I can see a version of this in a kids book... think about it...

    Best,
    Col

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  19. Charlie, Nigel, Keith, and Col: Thanks for the feedback. Each of you and all the other writers in the crime circles, I have, and will always, admire and look up to for your talents. I respect you all immensely as writers and people!

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