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Suggested Audio Jukebox ♫

[1] Deftones Change (In The House Of Flies)

[2] Guns ‘N’ Roses November Rain
[3]
Carly Simon Let The River Run
[4]
DJ Nex Respect Is Due
[5] Enya Exile

[6] Slayer Exile
[7]
Incubus Nice To Know You

 

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Alright then chimp, I’m ready for you. No doubt you’re currently preparing to do your worst and I double dare you punk as there’s no way on earth you’re making away with my last few bananas. I’ve decided that today, with debates being hot topic of late, I shall invite my unruly gibbon for a little tête-à-tête, just to work out who’s running things here. At no point am I looking to get into a fracas and would prefer that we use the term healthy debate as we thrash out terms for ownership of my head space. Nevertheless, I know my monkey rather well by now, and fully appreciate that he’s unlikely to go down without a considerable fight so have planned for our heart-to-heart accordingly. He should be here in a moment or two so, for those of you unaware with Percival Mandrake III, please allow me to bring us up to date.

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The chimp in question may sound like quite the distinguished gentleman but, I assure you, he’s nothing whatsoever of the sort. Tasked with persuading me to question my self-worth repeatedly and armed to the nines with all manner of confidential information on what makes me tick, Percival takes great pleasure from my pain and is pained by my pleasure, making him pretty much my own worst enemy. He occupies the limbic gland in my brain and, from here, makes his stale suggestion with every intention of causing upset within the ranks. If life chooses to offer me a thwack, then it is he who comes rushing to my aid although I’m not entirely comfortable with the items he carries in his first aid kit. Unless I’m mistaken, bandages and sterile gauze pads are the norm, whereas the meds he peddles are not strictly of the variety that one would purchase across the counter. Given that reality has never seemed quite sufficient to me, his proposal to vacate it temporarily while looking to regroup holds some weight with this particular audience.

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Anyhoots, the time is almost upon us, and I shall need every one of my wits about me to emerge from this conflab anything over than scathed. One way or another, we’ll settle this, as I’ve been at the Last Chance Saloon for some time now and my bar tab is astronomical. If I continue at my current rate of downward knots, then I will likely exceed the point of no return within the next six weeks or so and Percival will have claimed himself a stone cold trophy. No pressure then right? Actually there is a fair amount of thrust from his side and none of it particularly tasteful. But I’m comfortable in my role as underdog and hear that’s where the greatest rewards lie. While unrealistic that I’ll banish him eternally, I can suspend him from active duty pending further investigation and that would buy me all the time I need to suss out my next move. You see, it ultimately boils down to remaining one or more steps ahead. Which is why I’m a little perturbed about the amount of hanging vines overhead and the fact that he just slipped on a pair of Onitsuka Tigers. Anyone spare a hunting musket?

“Good afternoon Percival”

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“Is it Richard? Is it really a good afternoon? Perhaps you might want to give that one a swift rethink. Take your time old friend, I’m not going anywhere”

And so the mind games begin. I told you what he’s like but I may have negated to mention that he’s also somewhat eloquent. Some might even call him an aristocrat and, on first appearance, he does vaguely resemble the kind of chinless wonder who you’d expect to come out with something ludicrous such as “tally ho”. Don’t let his hospitable manner fool you. He’s a wrong ‘un I tell you, a wrong ‘un. That said, while he may have had the best of me, he hasn’t quite had the rest of me and this ain’t no yard sale bitch. Have you ever seen a man with leopard heads for teats that shoot out dual rainbows? Well that’s about to change.

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“Okay so I’ve reconsidered your poser and have decided that I shall stick to my guns on this occasion. You see Percival, my hacking cough hasn’t been too unruly, I’ve only spewed forth a nominal amount of mucus thus far, and there haven’t been any bolts out of the blue or reasons to be anything other than cheerful”

“And how is the shed working out for you by the way? I only ask as I’ve noticed the temperature drop over the past couple of days and hear it’s going to get a darn sight chillier over the coming weeks. Isn’t winter a thoroughly depressing prospect?”

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He may well be onto something you know. No Richard no, that’s a cheap shot and there’s far more to this season than simple discontent. Remember that you know all of the chimp’s cheapest tricks and be prepared for him to toss Seasonal Affective Syndrome into the melting pot like he normally does.

“I’m looking forward to it actually”

“Really? November? The month of desolation? The longer nights? The arrival of sub-zero temperature? The prelude to the most despicable of all calendar months?”

“Yeah that. Long way to go until then anyhoots, we’ve got All Hallow’s Eve to come yet and I adore a bit of Samhain”

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Smooth move Richard. Change the subject as he’s fighting a lost cause if he thinks he can dampen this particular festival for you. However, be mindful of his not-so-secret weapon Halloween Resurrection as he knows how much that one needles you.

“Ah yes Halloween, of course. What a marvellously rewarding time that is for all those involved. Speaking of involvement, is it true that it is somewhat unsung in the United Kingdom. Do you recall seeing a solitary jack-o-lantern last year? Isn’t it a shame? A real low down dirty shame”

“I can just about afford a pumpkin this time”

“And can you really be bothered to go to all the unnecessary trouble of hollowing it out?”

“It is a little laborious admittedly”

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Give him an inch and he’ll take that mile Richard. Have you learned nothing from the past three years? Think about it, what kind of alternative is he likely to pitch in with? Shutting yourself away in a lowly cattle shed, smoking yourself to death’s doors while he rings the doorbell and scarpers. Use your head and use it wisely as we all know how this will play out if you don’t.

“I’ll just make sure I take a vitamin B12 and neck a couple of V8 drinks an hour beforehand and that should perk me right up”

“Natural energy huh? Not as tasty as taurine though is it? I mean, where’s the caffeine? Where’s the instant lift?”

“Actually that stuff has been giving me palpitations recently and my sleeping pattern is somewhat erratic”

“You know you’ll sleep when you’re dead right?”

“I know but it wouldn’t harm to throw forty winks in just to keep the wolves from the door”

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“But I like wolves”

“Me too. But their constant scratching gets a little much after a while”

“Well I’ll inform them that their services are no longer required then. Anything else? Do you want me to tell The Grim Reaper that you’ve got a headache and he’ll have to come back at a better time?”

“Would you? I’d really appreciate that”

“You never did understand sarcasm did you Richard? Pitiful wretch. So when did you grow that vagina anyhoots?”

“I see no vagina”

“I’ve got a hand mirror here if you wish to borrow it”

“No need. I saw my penis only this morning”

“Is that what you call it? Seems to be inverting through lack of use. Another month in the trenches and it’ll resemble a sorry quail egg”

“Masturbation just so happens to be part of my recovery plan”

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“Recovery plan? Now this I simply have to hear”

“You’d love that wouldn’t you? For me to blurt out my master plan and provide you with a little heads up”

“I know my rights”

“And what are your rights pray tell?”

“Well the last time I checked, I’m the only one coming up with any decent ideas here”

“Yeah. About those ideas”

“What about those ideas Richard? Hmm. I’m all ears”

“Well they don’t always seem designed to benefit me is all”

“So ungrateful. All I ever do is try and cheer your sorry ass up and this is the thanks I get”

“Cheer me up? It’s funny, I could’ve sworn you were here to bring me down”

“Whatever gave you that idea?”

“I dunno. Perhaps the fact that you’re always reminding me that I’m worthless, that reality is overrated and something I’m not cut out for, that you can make all my worries go away in a heartbeat”

“You’re clearly having one of those “what does it all mean?” moments. It’ll pass. Tell you what, roll yourself a joint, clear your head a bit, and then we’ll talk”

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“Will you stop it with the passive aggressive shit already. You think I don’t know what you’re doing?”

“I have no idea what you’re talking about”

“Oh I think you know exactly what I’m talking about. Everything always has to be on your terms doesn’t it? Percival knows best”

“You said it”

“But here’s the thing. You see, every lousy thing that has happened to me over the past three years, you’ve never been too far away. I find it all rather uncanny”

“I’m just making sure you don’t get into trouble”

“Really? ‘Cos I would’ve sworn it has been your suggestion that got me in this mess in the first place”

“You possess your own mind Richard. The buck stops with you remember”

“That may be but it’s not necessarily me pulling the strings now is it?”

“I just offer you perspective”

“Yeah thanks for that. I wouldn’t mind if it weren’t so skewed”

“So this is all my fault then?”

“Did I say that?”

“You implied it pretty strongly”

“Well then I guess there’s no smoke without fire. Listen, I take responsibility for my own actions, and I’m not looking to point the finger here”

“Then what are you doing right now?”

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“Fuck it. Okay I am looking to point the finger but only because I know precisely what you’re up to”

“Game’s up is it?”

“Pretty much. You see, unless I’m way off base here, you want me dead”

“You’re way off base”

“And you would say that. Anything to gently persuade me into coming round to your way of thinking”

“I just think you’re mildly delusional. Listen, neither of us want to say anything we may later regret, so I’m just suggesting chilling out some and picking this back up later when you’re feeling a little more rational”

Fuck rational and fuck him in his rusty sheriff’s badge for attempting to rationalize with me in the first place when it only ever ends one way. And what the fuck is this droll shit we’re listening to anyhoots? I wouldn’t mind if we had the video and I could watch that permed plum swandiving into the wedding cake. But that still entails suffering over seven minutes of November blues to get there and I’m feeling something a little more upbeat for a change. Something that can motivate me, stir up some emotion, remind me that I’m somebody dagnabbit and need not be answering to a pissing simian. In fact, I believe I shall just switch audio right now without even running it past him. What do I know that will really get beneath his fur? Aha. I reckon I’ve got it you know. Listen and weep Percival, listen and weep.

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“What…what in the blazes is this gay bollocks? Is that…is that Carly fucking Simon?”

“The one and only. Taken from Working Girl which just so happens to be one of my all-time favorite movies. Top thirty at least”

“Is that the one where Melanie Griffith bust out the Dyson in her panties?”

“Yes. It’s also the one where a dreamer defies all odds to make something of herself”

“Yeah whatever. Mind if I chip in with a request?”

“I suppose”

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“MAKE IT STOP RICHARD! PLEASE MAN, FOR THE LOVE OF GOD. JUST MAKE IT STOP!”

“And what do you suggest replacing it with?”

“Got any Cradle of Filth?”

“Not altogether sure that I do you know. Anyhoots, we’re taking it in turns alright? You get to choose the next one but I want a good two minutes with Carly first”

“Isn’t there a dubstep remix or something? I mean, does it actually go anywhere?”

“You wouldn’t understand”

“I understand more than you realize young man”

“Then tell me Percival, who am I? I mean, who am I really? What are my dreams and aspirations? What drives me? Where should I aim? Where am I likely to end up? How much more can my body take? How much more can my mind take? Where’s the light at the end of my tunnel? And why are you so intent on ushering me in the opposite direction? I mean, what’s in this for you? And why me? Are you getting some sort of sick kick from this? Or is it just business as usual for you?”

“That’s quite the list Richard. I have to say I’m a little bowled over by your laundry list of personal grievances. You really shouldn’t bottle that all up you know. It’s not healthy”

“But it is you who keeps on telling me I can deal with any unimportant shit tomorrow”

“Yeah tomorrow. Not months later. I just figured you’d know what I meant”

“No you didn’t. You just knew that, by the time tomorrow came, my gripes wouldn’t feel topical enough to raise anymore”

“Got me all figured out haven’t you?”

“Not quite. But I’m getting there day by day”

“I get it. The grand epiphany. It’s coming ever closer isn’t it? Can you smell it? Does it sting your nostrils Richard?”

“I’m past waiting for the epiphany”

“That’s more like it. There you are”

“I reached that conclusion all on my own”

“That’s wonderful. Really it is. However, I do believe it’s my time to choose the audio now as your two minutes of ass candy is up”

“Knock yourself out”

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I may well regret that you know. You see, Percival Mandrake III knows me well, and that includes the names of any songs that he’s convinced drive me loco. Or perhaps he’ll adapt a different approach and fire out something lively just to coerce me towards his way of thinking. Live fast, play hard – I believe that’s his motto and, what he negates to draw attention to is the whole part about dying young. It’s alright for him being the king of the swingers and all as, should I be about to suffer that coronary, then he’ll simply grab himself a length of vine and skedaddle before the heart explodes in my chest. There’s just something about this shifty little chimp that positively cries “it wasn’t me governor” and I’m therefore expecting something suitably metronomic to lure me back to his side of the fence. Yup, guess who’s been raiding the vintage vinyl.

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“I knew it. You’re so predictable, you know that?”

“You’re feeling in the mood though right?”

“In the mood for what or need I ask?”

“For taking that chill pill. Just listen to that rolling bass line. You love a good rolling bass line unless I’m mistaken. Remember the killer drop when it all goes haywire Richard? Reminds me of the good old days”

“That was nearly twenty-five years ago Percival and, while there may indeed be some fond memories tucked away in their innards, it’s all well in my slipstream now”

“If those fellow ravers could hear you now. Just a fling was it”

“Yes actually it was. Sure it was fun while it lasted but I’m a little more concerned with ensuring I have some kind of future right now than reminiscing over the past”

“Killjoy”

“Perhaps I am. And perhaps I’ve just figured out that you’re no good for me. Tell you what, I’m nothing if not fair, I’ll pay you up to the end of the month. How does that grab you?”

“You think that’s how this works do you? So deluded”

“If only it were that easy. No I’m quite aware that I’m stuck with you. But I’m done with taking questionable advice from you when it only ends up blowing up in my face time after time”

“Ungrateful little swine. I work my fingers to the bone keeping your depressive ass chipper and this is the thanks I get. Why not twist the knife a little while you’re at it Richard? See if you can puncture a vital organ”

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You see what I have to put up with? It doesn’t matter what I say, the chimp will have already fathomed out his angle, and will do everything in his power to sway my allegiance back his way. I like to call this one guilt tripper and it pretty much does what it states on the tin. He even picked a song with a subliminal message just to remind me that I’m way out of line here. Well, unless I’m mistaken, respect is something that you’re required first to earn and just as easy to lose if you act like an absolute wanker habitually. As you can see, I’ve prepared myself well for this face-off. This time he’s gonna have to work for his bananas and I’ll be double damned if I’m picking up the skins afterwards.

“I’m sorry I take the hardline but have tried every other approach and it gets me nowhere with you”

“Then may I suggest trying a little tenderness as opposed to kicking a gibbon when he’s quite clearly down?”

“Nice try Percival. But I already know that you have no feelings to hurt”

“I object”

“You would. Overruled bitch”

“Now I know you didn’t just call me your bitch”

“So what if I did? Whatcha gonna do?”

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Actually, it may be time to dial it back a little as I already know the answer to that question and I’m fairly convinced it entails having my face pushed to the tarmac while Percival pounds me persistently with his piledriver. For the record, if you follow Mr. Mandrake III on Twitter, then you may recognize the above shot as his profile picture. I trust that helps clear up any confusion over the whereabouts of his intentions. I did say at commencement that he’s a wrong ‘un and tell me I’m not onto something there. This chimp’s more crooked than Jeff Stryker’s cock and every bit as unsightly. Well the party is over my felonious friend and, by my watch, I make it my turn spinning the wheels of steel.

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“Oh now I geddit. You plan to bore me into a coma with Enya. Well your plan may just work as my blood sugar is already dipping dangerously low. Actually I think I recognize this song. Exile isn’t it?”

“Yes and it’s both beautiful and poignant”

“Yeah I get you, real beautiful and poignant. My thoughts exactly. Just a quick heads up, you may have just informed my next choice. Enjoy your sappy shit Richard and I’ll raise it with something of my own in a couple of minutes. Just saying. So how’s Enya working out for you?”

“It’s working out rather marvellously and thank you for asking. As a matter of fact, I’m starting to feel far less confrontational”

“Good. I’m thrilled for you and Enya. Now roll that joint before I dry slap you then follow it up with a wet one as variety is the spice of life after all”

“I won’t”

“Go on”

“Well okay then, just the one. But I’m making it weak dagnabbit”

“Weak suits me down to the ground. Seven or eight sprinkles should do us”

“No way. Two is my final offer and I’m not budging on that so don’t even try it”

“What’s two gonna do for fuck’s sake? I’ve got a better idea. Why not live a little and round it up to five?”

“Will it shut you up?”

“Are you expecting an honest answer to that one?”

“Not really”

“Then yes it will shut me right up. From this point forward, I’ll not say another solitary word”

“Okay then, pass me the rolling papers”

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One joint couldn’t hurt right? I mean, he’s given me his word that he’ll zip it, and I could do with something just to blur those edges a little. I’ve never much enjoyed conflict and a few tokes on this burly bad boy will thwart any quarrel for the time being at least. Come to think of it, perhaps I’ve been a little harsh on him you know. He has behaved himself reasonably well thus far and it could be that he’s looking to turn over a new leaf. Monkeys are intelligent creatures after all and boast an extraordinary aptitude for learning new skills. Maybe one of those skills is being less of a dick? By the way, I’ve just remembered how distracting it is attempting to roll with an unruly primate hanging over one’s shoulder.

“There you go. A couple more pinches of that good stuff and we should be talking”

“Actually, it was my understanding that we shouldn’t be talking. Or was that just more of the usual hot air Percival?”

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“Can’t talk. Vow of silence. Now light that baby up will you and remember it’s puff, puff, pass”

He knew full well I had him there and I reckon I may have him rattled with my lightning fast thought processing. Every single thing he throws at me, I’ve got an answer already pre-loaded, and I guess that would suggest that I’ve figured out how to play this piss ant at his own game. Neither one of us appear willing to budge at this point and that’s fine with me as I’m giving as good as I’m getting. Granted, I’m now beginning to feel a little more mellowed, and it’s around this time that he ordinarily starts flexing those knuckles for the fisting. But it’s not like weed is a gateway drug or anything. With that said, I don’t recall pulling my debit card out of my wallet.

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“Planning on making a transaction Richard?”

“I don’t know how that got there”

“Well it seems a shame just to waste it”

“No. No. No. Are you getting the general gist?”

“Would that be no per chance?”

“Yeah no. Absolutely, positively, categorically no. And no again”

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“What’s one little toot between buddies?”

“You are not, and I repeat, not my buddy”

“You’re so fickle Richard. All the times we’ve shared together and you can just discard them all in a second”

“I’ll admit we’ve had some good times Percival but they’ve all been at my expense”

“For your benefit more like. Come now, you know how positively tedious reality is. You’ve said it yourself countless times”

“I’ve been misquoted and said most of that shit under duress”

“Holding a gun to your head was I?”

“You may as well have been”

“You know what I think?”

“What?”

“I think your two minutes is up. Time for a different kind of Exile”

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Of course, I should have known it wouldn’t be long before Slayer made an appearance. I feel like I’m fighting a lost cause here as my chimp is never going to see the error in his ways. And this is what I have to deal with every time we enter into summit. I’m starting to think that I’m wasting my time and it would be easier just to walk away. If only it were that easy. Alas, wherever I go, the monkey goes too and that’s just the bitterly cold truth of the matter. I do believe this is one of those pivotal moments in life where I must dig in my heels and stand firm. He appears to be on the ropes and there’s no way on earth I’m about to squander the upper hand this time. Thus I must hit him where it hurts and, considering he’s now trying to throw illegal stimulants into the mix, I reckon I know just how to do that.

“Say goodbye to the devil’s dandruff Percival”

“What are you doing? No…NO!”

“Oops. I appear to have made a bit of a mess here. Never mind, one good blow and I can clear it up”

“Not blow. Sniff Richard. Sniff. You can still get most of it if you flare those nostrils”

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He’d like that wouldn’t he? And when I’m writhing in my bed at 6am not even sure whether I’m awake or asleep, he’ll be crashing his cymbals in my ear drum and generally acting like the absolute cock slave that he is. I know how this plays out and won’t be falling for such a shameless ploy to panic me into getting high on this scattered supply. Get ready for checkmate Percival.

“No can do I’m afraid and do you know what else?”

“What are you doing now?”

“This is the cell number of the only local dealer I know and I don’t think I’ve got any great need for it any more”

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“Please don’t say you’re going to rip it up without first memorizing the number. That’s a terrible idea”

“Too late. Looks like I’m out of avenues now doesn’t it?”

“You blundering idiot”

“I prefer to think of myself as just a dash clumsy”

“You’ll regret that in five minutes”

“Maybe I will but I’m assured it will pass”

“Not if I have anything to do with it”

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“Well here’s the thing Percival. You see, I’ve had it with you acting as my advisor. You’ve had your chance, numerous chances actually, and have frittered every last one. If I carry on with you, I’ll be dead in a month and that may have suited me beforehand. But I’ve had myself a rethink and, while reality may bite on occasion, I’d rather feel something than nothing at all. Numbness ain’t all that that when all is said and done and I make it high time we ring those changes”

“You’ll be sorry”

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“Of that I have no doubt as you’ll make damn sure I mourn my actions. But I can deal with the tweaks and feeling like death warmed up if it means reclaiming that modicum of control. The last time I checked, I’m running things here, not you. And I’m done with having my arm twisted by someone who clearly hasn’t got my best interests at heart”

“We all say things in the spur of the moment that we don’t mean”

“Perhaps. But did you see me stutter bitch?”

“So what now?”

“Well you’re more than welcome to carry on making suggestions but I will no longer be paying them any mind. You see, I’ve got your number, and feel it’s time I change my priorities somewhat”

“After all we’ve been through together, this is how you repay me”

“I know right. I’m such an ungrateful bastard”

“Well I didn’t say it”

“You never do and do you know why that is? It’s because you imply it instead and leave me to own that feeling”

“Whatever. Well I just want you to know that you’ve made an enormous mistake and don’t come crying to me once the tweaking starts as I’m washing my hands of you”

“I can take it”

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“Can you? Your body is going to shut down over the next few days, you know that right?”

“Most likely yes. But I’m prepared for the come what may”

“And you know that November is almost upon us? That S.A.D. is a bitch and it’s auntie”

“That might be but I’m ready for it”

“Got everything figured out haven’t you?”

“Not in the slightest. But I have you sussed and that feels like a significant step in the right direction”

“Fine. Well you know where I’ll be if you change your mind. And I’m sure I’ll find it in my heart to forgive and forget this outburst”

“You’re a real saint, you know that? My guardian angel”

“Well as long as you know that”

“You never did understand sarcasm did you Percival? Dumb ape”

“Sticks and stones Richard. I’ll be seeing you on the battlefield son”

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I’m sure he will. But I sure as shit snacks won’t be paying attention. You see, I’m weary of fighting for ownership of my mind, and the time has come for my soul to have some say in matters. My body is weak, so terribly compromised, and I’m fully aware that it will get a darned sight worse before it gets better as that’s just the nature of the beast I’m giving the slip. But I’m reasonably aware that it’s now or never and the latter doesn’t sound particularly appealing to me. Past is past and we had a good run there for a while, Percival Mandrake III and I. I’m not about to suggest it’s been all bad and there are plenty of memories to recollect if I’m ever feeling broody. That said, there also happen to be many more memories to make, and they don’t involve being anesthetized. There are only so many times you can hit the snooze button before that wake up call wins over and that time has arrived today.

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Now one trap I’m not going to fall into is believing the war to be over as that would be a grave error on my part and I’ve set myself up to fail too many times to do so once again. However, in this moment, I have found the measure of my monkey, and taken a monumental step towards banishing him to the sidelines once and for all. He’ll still be present, chipping in with his harebrained schemes, and tying my shoelaces together each time I approach the top of the staircase. Anything else just wouldn’t be Percival and I’m more than happy for him to remain consistent as it’s better the devil you know after all. I’ve heard it said before that we should keep our enemies close and don’t necessarily buy into that one as I’d much rather they mooch about somewhere else than my personal space. But in the case of Percival Mandrake III, it would appear he’s simply my cross to bear, so bear him I will. I just won’t be listening to a damn thing he says is all.

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I’ve looked at the evolutionary chain of command and, while primates are only ever hot on our heels, they’re still inferior when all is said and done. If they weren’t, then Planet of The Apes would be a documentary instead of a wonderfully diverting piece of cinematic fluff. Every monkey deserves to shine from time to time and my cantankerous co-pilot has certainly had his moments. But the lustre has long gone and, with it, the thrill. There’s a whole world outside of my tool shed, some of it radiant and some of it rancorous, but I think I’ll take each rough with its corresponding smooth and see where that leads me for a change. One thing is for sure, it has to be better than where I was headed. Nobody wishes to punch out at forty-two-years-old, especially when their story is nowhere near told yet. It helps that I’m a scribe by profession as there’s always another chapter to be wrote for as long as I’ve got wind in my sails and I fully intend on doing everything in my power and more besides to make this one a happy ending. The Rose Trail beckons and I have places to be so I guess I’ll be catching up with you further on down the path. And one more thing Percival, nice try with the strategically discarded banana skins. Chump!

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Click here to read Keeper vs. Keeper

 

Truly, Really, Clearly, Sincerely,

Richard Charles Stevens

aka

Keeper of the Crimson Quill

Copyright: Grueheads Films 2016

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