Creative Writing on a Modified Ending for Josh Pryor’s “Monkey in the Middle”
Josh Pryor’s Monkey in the Middle can be only described as vastly amusing, unique and liberal. This is because the book is a fusion of a futuristic world but is depicted in the modern times—well, in not so modern times as even the Gulf War and the war against Saddam Hussein is set as its historical background. The book centres on the life of Dutch Flowers, a talented and yet slightly neurotic and very much paranoid war veteran who undertakes a very dangerous mission to find out the crimes committed in a scientific lab in Los Angeles. The lab is actually very advanced in its practice and research that it specializes in experimenting on chimpanzees. Yes, chimpanzees. But these animals which are thought of as the most intelligent of all animals and are closest to human beings are different as they are genetically modified and made to think, act, speak and live like normal human beings. In fact, they function as normal human beings already in a way that they can even plot, plan and commit crimes and get away with it. This is why Flowers is called on the case as monkey killings become rampant in the laboratory and the crime is believed to be done by another modified monkey. The book ends in Flowers saving the day by finding out the real perpetrators and even saving some monkeys in the process. But most significant perhaps is his rather satisfactory relationship with Lorelei who gives his much need happily, sexually-gratifying ever after.
The Real Ending of Josh Pryor’s “Monkey in the Middle”
In the real ending of the book, Flowers gets to end up with Lorelei and their relationship as a happy couple is depicted wherein Flowers gets to have his romantic ending. However, things are not looking good for the monkeys as they are still used and abused for the spare organs they can donate to humans: “Get this; Janus said Blight was trying to organize some sort of organ bank dealing exclusively in animal parts for humans” (Pryor 218). In fact, Maurice, one of Flowers’ new found monkey friend and the “pet” companion of Lorelei is one of the victims as he, meaning Marcel, gets sicker and weaker over the loss of his kidneys, even if he was provided human kidneys as a replacement for his own, a procedure that stirred the whole world but which is futile as Marcel is not saved in the end:
“Blight lasted only a year after the transplant”.
“We’ll be lucky if Marcel makes it long,” she confirmed sadly. “The procedure is intended only as a holdover. We’ve been trying to locate him kidney from another chimpanzee for some time”. (Pryor 282)
While Flowers gets his redemption for solving the crime at the lab, he manages to not save everything as the secret behind the depleting organs (and numbers) of the modified monkeys still persists.
A (Rather) Dramatic Modified Ending of Josh Pryor’s “Monkey in the Middle”
The sun was peeking into the horizon when I groggily drove into the drive way. I barely slept last night due to Blight’s death. Lorelei was by the door and gave me a smile that rivalled the sun and all my tiredness suddenly vanished—the same way a box of donuts disappears in the hands of a pot-bellied police officer. I stared at that face, at that smile and silently thanked all the chimpanzees in the world for her. No matter where you look at it, Lorelei would not be here with me if I was not given that insane case—well, perhaps they give me that case because I was slightly insane myself but I would never admit that out loud.
Lorelei was here because I told her she and recuperating Marcel was better off staying in the safety of my house. I pitied Marcel for his plight but in the back of my mind, I was grateful that he is sick and is staying in my own house—at least I can coax Lorelei here on pretence that I wanted the best for Marcel. In a way, I do want Marcel to get well and be fully healthy and strong as a—well, an ape—but I could not help thinking that if Marcel was not here I would not be getting mind-blowing sex every night…I mean, that I would not be able to spend time with Lorelei.
“Where were you last night?” she sweetly whispered as I embraced her and inhaled her scent and stopped midway—she greatly smells like a monkey. We go inside the house and into the kitchen to talk so Marcel, who is now recuperating in the living room with the best medicine possible—cable TV in high definition—is not disturbed.
“How is he?” I courageously asked. I do not want to know if he is getting worse because I knew it would make Lorelei sad. But I would not want him completely well either because it would mean that she would have to leave. It’s not every day a man gets to find a sexy woman capable of uncomplicated satisfying sex.
Lorelei bit her lip and furrowed her eye brows, thinking about Marcel’s condition. We were silent for a while before I realized she did not want to give me an answer. Maybe because she was expecting that I should know already just by assessing her mood. How typical of a woman to think that men can be mind readers.
I change the topic and talk to her about Blight who was found dead at the Arts. I did not tell her how saddened I was by his death even if he was not that pleasant to me and to the monkeys. But I think somehow she understood because she goes to me and sit on my lap as if to comfort me.
“You know what is going to happen to Marcel right?” She pauses to incline her head towards the living room where Marcel is sleeping. “He’s going to end up like Blight.”
“I know”. And I don’t want to think about it because I know it would cause you grief.
“Isn’t there something we can do for him—before he…” her voice falters at this point, “…leaves us?”
“I am sure there is something we can do for him.” I try to make light of the situation. “What about giving him more cable channels?” Stupid. Stupid. And because neither of us laughed, we just kept quiet.
We stayed there in the kitchen for a long time—she on my lap, thinking and me, with my arms around her, wondering why we just couldn’t go straight to the bedroom. Music unexpectedly blares in the background—Marcel must have woken because suddenly the television is on.
We were both lost in thought and oblivious to our surroundings because we did not hear anyone approach us. All of a sudden, Marcel was in the kitchen doorway. Lorelei stood from my lap in shock and I bowed down from the pain her head brought to my jaw. I was rubbing my jaw while Lorelei stepped towards Marcel, oblivious to the pain in her head—and I wondered if the impact of her head and my jaw colliding even hurt her at all. I frown and turned to look at Marcel who does not seem sick at all.
He was standing in the kitchen doorway and was giving us a smile that rivalled the sunlight streaming into the kitchen windows. I had the sudden urge to smile back. I knew then that everything was going to be damned fine: Marcel, Lorelei, the chimpanzees in the lab—even my sex life.
An Explanation on the Changed Ending
The ending of the book does not need to be changed in my opinion since it depicts a rather amusing and redeeming ending for the neurotic protagonist, Dutch Flowers. However, there is still a melancholic and dark feeling with regards to how unfair the chimpanzees were treated and how their problem of being experimented on and abused is still unsolved. Moreover, Flowers’ friendship with the monkeys could have been more long lasting: 131 saved him but he was unable to establish any form of communication with him, Marcel is sick and getting sicker by the day (until he finally expired) while even Blight (who served as an antagonist in some way or another) died.
Over all, I was quite satisfied with the ending, but there are a few things I would have changed—a little on the plot regarding how Marcel was depicted and how Flowers had a gap with all the other chimpanzees but mostly, on how the author depicted Flowers as a cynical, neurotic and sarcastic character that is reminiscent of the character in that famous television series, House, M.D. Just like the character of House, Flowers is trying to be groovy with all his descriptions and humour and most of the time, it does work. However, there are also times wherein he could have saved his dry humour and sarcasm for another time. Although this can be described as Pryor’s own writing style which is amusing, entreating and unique, still, there can be slight modifications made in the perspective of the narrator/protagonist since the perspective also controls how the reader would address the entire book. The tone, language used, metaphorical allusions and comparisons of the narrator/protagonist create the atmosphere of derision that Flowers is so famous for. Thus, I changed the ending by tweaking the plot a bit and by greatly modifying the perspective of the narrator/protagonist—and this has made such a significant difference.
Pryor, Josh. Monkey in the Middle. New York: Carroll & Graf Publishers, 2003. Print.