Darrell’s 10th birthday party is tomorrow. All he wants is a parade. He has spent the last few weeks lining up his toy monkeys in honour of the parade he is sure he’ll get for his birthday. He has asked for only one thing, a parade of monkeys. He falls asleep wearing his monkey pajamas, buried under his simian blankets clutching a stuffed white-headed capuchin.
The next morning he races downstairs. He runs straight into the kitchen and his mom tosses him a banana which he gobbles down before asking when the parade will start. “Oh Darrell, we talked about this,” his mom says in a soothing voice.
Darrell looks at his mom considering his options. “It can happen!” He yells as his lip starts to tremble. “It is realistic,” he says as he runs out of the kitchen. He spends the rest of the morning reading The One and Only Ivan perched in the branches of a tree.
The party is in full swing before he drops out of the tree. He is drawn to the laughter of his friends playing pin the banana on the monkey. His backyard is rich with yellow and brown decorations: streamers, balloons, candy, bananas, chocolate cake with lemon icing, and several gifts wrapped in various shades of yellow and brown. “Darrell, Darrell,” cries the voice of his little cousin Sally. “Darrell open this, I got this for you. It’s a new Curious George book.”
Darrell opens his gifts. He tries not to show his growing disappointment by pushing the corners of his mouth up into a smile. He opens with mock eagerness knowing these packages can’t possibly hold a parade. He opens a Donkey Kong game, 2 new Curious George books, and a shirt with a mandrill holding a banana and the caption reads “Eat This.” He also gets a strange board game called Tree’s & Bananas as well as passes for a day trip to the zoo. All great gifts and feels happy about that, but he feels sad too.
He is sitting alone in the tree after the party and pretending to read when the branches of the tree begin to rustle. He is startled when his Aunt Enya pops up and sits on a branch beside him. Aunt Enya shares his love of monkeys and is ostracized for it. However, Darrell didn’t expect her to be a tree climber as well.
He sits staring open mouthed at her. She laughs and makes a loud monkey call, a whoop followed by a loud chattering. Before Darrell can ask if she has eaten too many bananas she looks at him and winks. “Sorry I couldn’t give you your present earlier Darrell, but this is something special that I know you will appreciate.”
Suddenly a furry upside down face is in front of him. Just as it registers in Darrell’s mind that it is a monkey face, the monkey snatches his banana and disappears into the branches of the tree. “Shh,” says his Aunt. “Do you hear it? Look through here.” She reaches out and parts the branches.
More monkeys then Darrell can count are swinging down out of the trees and landing in his backyard in a strange formation. He can hear a rhythmic banging and looks for its source among the monkeys. The monkeys start moving, not just moving but marching. Some are playing drums attached out in front of them so that they can bang and march, while others are cartwheeling and rolling. Other monkeys have sticks that they are throwing into the air. Several monkeys have bags of yellow and brown confetti that they are tossing wildly over everyone’s heads.
They march around Darrell’s backyard in a zigzag pattern. Darrell sits trancelike watching. The noise and the money calls have to draw some other person’s attention, but nobody can be seen in the backyard or house windows. His Aunt is laughing and clapping beside him. “Great job, great job,” she yells.
The monkeys march on for a few more minutes. Slowly one by one they start to swing up into the trees and disappear from sight. When the last monkey is gone Darrell turns to his Aunt, but she just winks at him and swings down out of the tree.
Darrell smiles to himself as he digs in his packet for his banana cookies. Although he knows he will probably never see anything like it again he know he will never forget it.
By Shari Marshall – 2017
Note: I found the notes for this story idea and they were from 2006. Big thanks to Daryl and his comment about a parade of monkeys.
Stay tuned for Darrell’s next monkey adventure, coming out this fall!