LITHUANIAN QUARTERLY JOURNAL OF ARTS AND SCIENCES
Volume 43, No. 3 - Fall 1997
Editor of this issue: Violeta Kelertas
Copyright © 1997 LITUANUS Foundation, Inc.
THE UNINVITED GUEST
My life was set, quiet and uneventful until that one morning when I answered a knock on my door and discovered a monkey huddling on the steps. I was surprised/ almost alarmed, but the monkey looked so fatigued and meek that my apprehensions subsided. As I stared at him in amazement, the monkey let out a mournful whine and addressed me in a soft and imploring voice. "I am chilled and worn out. Look, I'm chattering with cold. Kindly allow me to warm up under your roof."
"I would gladly take you in," I said, "but my place is small. You, no doubt, require a lot of space. Why not look somewhere else?"
"How can you be so unkind," whimpered the monkey. "I won't stay long. Al I want is to rest up a bit and then I'll be on my way again. I like to keep moving, you know. I'll try hard not to inconvenience you."
"All right, all right. Come in."
As I was still uttering these words, the monkey made a swift leap into the foyer and an instant later landed in the middle of the living room. He looked around, sniffed the air, touched a few things, shook its head and made strange clicking sounds with his red tongue. I just stood there and stared at him in amazement.
"Would you have something to eat? I am positively starved." He swallowed greedily in anticipation and again clicked his red tongue.
"How about washing up?" I said. "You are quite dusty from the road and your hands are not exactly clean."
"Oh yes, you are quite right. I almost forgot," he apologized.
"The door to the bathroom is to the left. There you will find soap and a clean towel."
"Your hospitality overwhelms me," crooned the monkey. "Is there enough hot water?"
"Yes," I replied. The red faucet."
The monkey slipped into the bathroom and I went to the kitchen to prepare breakfast. From the bathroom came sounds of splashing water and happy babbling which occasionally turned into screeches of delight. I fried eggs and bacon, sliced some Dutch cheese and made fresh coffee. I even took out a white cotton table cloth. After all, I said to myself, I have a guest.
While I was thus busying myself, the bathroom door swung open and the monkey bounced back into the living room. His shaggy fur was neatly combed and he smelled of my aftershave. There was a noticeable change in his appearance which made him much less objectionable.
"Please excuse me for having used your comb and your cologne," he said. "I simply adore this brand and could not resist the temptation."
"You're welcome, sure," I mumbled meekly. "Breakfast is ready. Take a seat. I have nothing special but more than enough for the two of us."
The monkey plunged into a chair and having noticed that I was holding a fork he picked one up himself although it was obvious that he didn't have the slightest idea what to do with it. I could barely conceal my amusement as I observed his attempts to handle the unfamiliar instrument. He first scratched his nose, then his ears, and then, at last, tried to pick up the bacon. The fork continued to slip from his grip and he finally slammed it on the table, gulped down the coffee and scooped up the eggs and the bacon with his fingers, shoving everything into his mouth. He swallowed with the haste and greed of someone who had not eaten for days. His greasy lips made funny noises as his huge, strong teeth dug into the cheese and the bacon. Watching him, I couldn't help thinking that with such teeth he could chew up just about anything he set his mind to. This thought made me uneasy.
Within a few minutes the monkey succeeded in devouring everything I had placed on the table. I was left hungry but I didn't hold it against him. Let him eat, I said to myself, the poor creature is famished.
After breakfast my guest asked for a cigarette. He placed one between his teeth and another behind his ear. Having stuffed himself, he now looked flushed and animated. His shaggy fur began to shine.
I just sat there, waiting for him to thank me for the meal and take his leave. But the monkey showed no signs of leaving. On the contrary, he appeared to feel very much at home. I was annoyed, yet lacked the courage to tell him to go. Besides, I didn't want to hurt his feelings. I am an amiable and peaceable person and I was brought up to treat a guest with courtesy. My parents and grandparents prided themselves on their hospitality. Every visitor found food and shelter under their roof. As I had some work to do (I was finishing an article for a scientific journal,) I excused myself and sat down at my desk. The monkey, meanwhile, was examining my library. He demonstrated a particular delight in illustrations. He shook his head, giggled, whistled, and at times broke into squeals of laughter. He had absolutely no respect for books.
"Kindly put the books back on the shelves," 1 said sharply. He was agreeable. "Sure, sure. Don't get all worked up!"
I tried once again to concentrate on my article, when a heavy volume hit me smack on the head and then crashed to the floor. The monkey was rocking with laughter.
"What do you think you're doing," I yelled, jolting from my desk.
"I am so sorry," he giggled with an innocent expression on his face. "It was just a joke. 1 won't do it again, I promise. Bad habits are hard to break."
"This is definitely going too far," I shouted. "You've barely arrived here and you're already turning into a nuisance!"
"Take it easy!" retorted the monkey. "Relax!"
He lit a cigarette, blew the smoke into my face and rolled up in the easy chair.
I again resumed my writing but this time I stayed on guard for a new surprise attack. Yet all was quiet. After a short while I heard the sound of loud snoring. The monkey was fast asleep. The lit cigarette lay on the arm of the chair where it was slowly burning a hole into the cover. I picked it up and put it into the ashtray. I tiptoed because I did not want to wake him, but this was hardly necessary. He slept long and hard and woke up only as I was finishing supper, perhaps from the smell of food.
The day was nasty and rainy. The monkey stayed for supper. He ate less than in the morning. He was so congested that he gasped for air and at times let out a heavy groan. I was almost sorry for him and asked him if he needed a doctor. He shook his head, no, he said, not necessary.
I told him that it could sleep on the sofa and retreated to my bedroom, but I could not fall asleep. All kinds of thoughts went through my head. There was no denying, I was sorry that I had let him stay. Yet I also knew that I couldn't have put him out on such a night. Well, let him sleep in peace, I finally told myself, tomorrow he will leave of his own accord.
From the living room came the sound of monotonous snoring and I too finally fell asleep. The night passed without further incidents. In the morning, however, I was awakened by an unfamiliar noise. I rushed into the living room and found the monkey on top of the bookcase. He had wrapped himself in my robe.
"Good morning," I snapped. "I don't think you should be wearing my robe without permission!"
"It was cold," he said calmly. "However, here it is." He took the robe off and threw it at me. "I never thought you would be so selfish. You have no compassion for others and don't know how to share."
I felt guilty and didn't know what to say. After my tactless outburst it was impossible to talk about his departure. He himself showed no signs of hurrying. As I had some errands to run, I decided to go out and leave him at home by himself. Later I was sorry for having been so shortsighted and naive. The sight which faced me upon my return was indescribable. I just stood there immobilized as I stared at torn books, slashed pictures and broken dishes.
The monkey was drunk. He had demolished my entire liquor supply. The door to the bar cabinet was wide open and on the floor lay pieces of broken bottles. With a cigarette between his teeth, the monkey was sprawled over an easy chair. He was producing strange babbling sounds.
This was more than I could bear. In a fit of rage, I grabbed him by his shaggy coat.
"Out, out," I screamed. "Get out of here!"
"What?" howled the monkey. "How dare you turn me out! I'll show you!"
He attacked me head on. We began to wrestle in earnest and soon fell to the floor. It had never occurred to me that the monkey could be so strong. He kicked me, strangled me, and even tried to tear off my ear. I fought hard and was almost getting the upper hand (I was back on my feet) when he made me trip and then knocked me down, hitting me on the head with an empty bottle. I lost consciousness and recovered only late in the afternoon. The monkey was peppering me with bottle corks. He was laughing like a maniac.
"Do you want to try again?" he jeered. I said nothing.
"Look here," he announced. "I will stay as long as I wish. And don't you dare to complain or I will report you for having abused me and you will get into real trouble. Next time you will think twice before hurting me!"
His threats intimidated me. I picked up the pieces of broken glass, swept the littered room and placed the books back on the shelves. Then I locked myself in the bedroom. The monkey kept banging the door but could not knock it in- The door was solid, well-built.
Gradually it became clear to me that the monkey was here to stay. I moaned in despair and could barely control my tears. I felt totally helpless and utterly devastated.
The monkey's insolence grew with each passing day. He wore my suits, tried on my most expensive ties and rummaged through the house, turning it into a pigsty. All the while he kept swearing at me in the foulest language. He found an endless variety of ways to ridicule me but I clenched my teeth and was resolved to wait it out.
It took me a while before I realized how naive I was. The monkey didn't have the slightest intention of leaving. Every day he picked new quarrels and played new tricks on me. His pranks became meaner and meaner. My life-long hobby was a collection of butterflies which I treasured above all else. When the monkey discovered it, he deliberately crushed the butterflies and scattered the dust all over the floor.
I developed a heart condition. My resolve to resist was weakening. I lost weight and succumbed to attacks of acute pain. I was on the verge of a nervous breakdown. My hands trembled and my memory began to fail me. I would go to the kitchen and forget why I was there. My life became a ceaseless nightmare.
Something had to be done. One day I made a decision. I packed a few of my most important belongings and moved to a tent at the outskirts of our town. I have been living there ever since. Once in a while I crawl out and look at my house which looms in the distance and the monkey seems to be on top of the roof, sticking his tongue out at me.
Translated by M.G. Slavėnas
From: Šiaurės vitražai. Vilnius: Vaga, 1970.