Once there was an old, gray-haired man named Professor Tom Tumnus who had a monkey for a pet.
He met the monkey at the Grantville Circus after the rascal’s performance with an organ grinder. Since the organ grinder said he was retiring, he was looking for a new owner for the monkey.
“Anyone want to adopt this adorable creature? He’s yours for a nickel,” the organ grinder said.
“My students would love you!” Professor Tumnus said, putting the monkey on his shoulders.
Squinting and giggling, the monkey grabbed the professor’s eyeglasses, trying them on for size.
“He’s yours for the keeping! Just to let you know, he plays the tuba,” the organ grinder.
“Even more wonderful! I play the piano,” Professor Tumnus said, tossing him a nickel.
“I named him Monotone. It seemed like a good name for a monkey,” the organ grinder said.
“Monotone, nice to meet you. You can help me teach my English classes. I have students who need inspiration, and you might just be the perfect motivation,” the professor said.
The organ grinder packed up Monotone’s things and put them in a sack for the professor.
“Don’t forget his tuba,” the organ grinder said, handing him the instrument. “He can’t sleep without his tuba! He’s bananas! Absolutely bongo bananas!”
“Bananas? Why would you ever say that? Is that his favorite fruit?” the professor asked.
“Banana cream pie, banana dumplings, banana pudding! Bananas!” the organ grinder said.
“Good gracious, I’ll get a fast-growing banana tree for inside my home,” the professor said.
By the time Professor Tumnus and Monotone reached his home, the moon had come out. The monkey sat on the professor’s shoulders, laughing, and pinching his ears for fun.
“Now you can sleep on the couch tonight until I set up a regular bed for you,” the professor said. The professor gathered pillows and a blanket for the couch, placing the tuba on the floor near his piano.
“See you in the morning, and we’ll have some bananas for breakfast,” the professor said. Monotone curled his monkey tail around his fingers and jumped on the couch. The professor grabbed a book from the shelf and headed up the stairs, yawning.
Now, what the organ grinder didn’t tell the professor was that the monkey had a few bad habits. They weren’t bad habits like biting his fingernails, burping in public, or knocking over glass vases with his tail.
Instead, it was sleeping with the tuba like it was a teddy bear and snoring into the instrument. As the monkey cuddled up on the couch with his tuba, he fell fast asleep and blew right into the tuba’s mouthpiece.
“Err . . . . err . . . err . . .” blew through the tuba and all throughout the professor’s home. The monkey lay on the couch snoring away, blowing into the tuba one very long monotone note. The note carried itself through the professor’s open windows into the neighborhood.
“What in the world?” the professor yelled, running down the stairs half-asleep in his robe and pajamas. “Stop playing that blasted instrument! My neighbors are going to be banging at my door any minute!”
The professor ran to the monkey and grabbed the tuba from him, wiping the spit off the mouthpiece.
“How can you sleep like that? No one else can sleep, especially not me!” the professor said.
Monotone rolled over, blubbering away, until he realized he no longer held the tuba at his side. Then he sat straight up, opened his eyes wide, and bounced on the professor’s shoulders, grabbing the tuba. He crawled back on the couch and assumed his original position with the tuba at his mouth.
“Err . . . err . . . err . . .” the tuba rang throughout the professor’s living room, rattling dishes on the mantle.
“Bananas! I’m going to feed you some bananas!” the professor said, scrambling through the kitchen.
He ran to the fruit bowl to find a handful of apples and oranges and one solitary banana.
“I hope this does it. Maybe he’ll eat it and fall asleep,” the professor said, peeling the banana for Monotone.
The professor held the banana at Monotone’s nose until he smelled it, grabbed it, and gobbled it up. Then he put the tuba right back at his mouth and continued to snore into the instrument with one long note.
“Oh, no! No . . .” the professor said, plugging his ears with his fingers and shaking his head.
Despite putting his fingers in his ears, he heard banging on his front door. He peered through the curtains on the front windows to see a crowd gathered on his porch.
“Yes . . .” he said, cracking the front door open and sticking his nose through it without removing its chain.
“What’s going on? We can’t sleep!” said neighbor George Parker, standing on the front porch with earmuffs on.
“I didn’t have any ear plugs at home, so I tried wearing my earmuffs,” he said, taking the gear from his head.
“Is your fire alarm going off?” said another neighbor, Bettie Jane Brown, who had her hair rolled in curlers. She wore fluffy bunny slippers and a pink bathrobe with tissues sticking out from its pockets.
“I thought your fire alarm was going off, so I called the fire department!” Bettie Jane said, sneezing.
A red fire truck with the siren blazing pulled up in front of Professor Tumnus’ home. The firemen jumped from the truck with their hoses and broke the chain on the front door with an axe.
“Wait a minute!” Professor Tumnus yelled, as the fireman ran through the front door spraying water. “It’s not my fault! Go find the organ grinder who sold me this monkey for a nickel,” he said. “He forgot to tell me that the monkey doesn’t sleep without snoring into his tuba. I’ve been hoodwinked!”
The fire chief sprayed Monotone with his fire hose until he stopped playing the tuba.
“Maybe that will do it?” Fire Chief James Scott said, removing his hat and wiping the sweat from his brow.
Monotone shook the water from himself, giggling, and jumped on the fire chief’s shoulders.
“I’m going to find the organ grinder,” Professor Tumnus said to the firemen dressed in their red suits. “Stay here with the monkey. Feed him some apples or oranges if you think it might help.”
Professor Tumnus and the neighbors marched down the street to the circus tent to find the organ grinder.
“I hope that the organ grinder didn’t skip town!” the professor said to the neighbors.
When the professor and the neighbors got to the circus tent, the organ grinder’s trailer was nowhere to be found.
“What am I going to do with a monkey who plays monotone melodies at midnight?” the professor cried.
“Maybe he should just ride the fire truck all night long with his tuba?” Bettie Jane said, fixing a curler.
“Now, that’s not a bad idea, but the firemen would have to agree,” George said, holding his earmuffs.
When Professor Tumnus and the neighbors returned to Monotone, the monkey sat on the firemen’s truck.
“We’ve been trying to teach him to use the fire hose. We thought he’d get tired out,” Chief Scott said.
“Well, the organ grinder skipped town. So, we have a new citizen of Grantville,” Professor Tumnus said.
“I can’t go through this every night! I want to throw a curler at the monkey,” Bettie Jane said.
“Can’t you just use a mute? I used to play the tuba in grade school. My parents bought a mute,” George said.
“That’s a good idea, but it might not be enough to quiet him down,” Professor Tumnus said. “I think the best idea is that the fire department adopt him overnight. He can help me with my students in the day. During the night, he can sleep in the fire truck with his tuba and snore all night long with the mute.”
“Not a bad idea, but I’m bringing him back to you for bananas first thing in the morning,” Chief Scott said. “He doesn’t like to eat apples and oranges. You better invest in bananas. Everything bananas!” he said.
“Technically, magnesium and potassium in bananas might act as relaxants,” George said. “I used to teach high school science, so I know random things like this. Everything bananas!”
After that night, Professor Tumnus grew banana trees like bonkers in his backyard and in every room of the house.
Monotone had a night job with the fire department, asleep in the fire truck with his muted tuba. He loved to wash the fire truck with extra bubbles in the moonlight and polished the fire pole by sliding up and down it. Monotone even befriended Spots, the old Dalmatian at the fire station, whose ears perked up every time he saw the monkey.
He also became known as the best literature assistant in academia. The students were drawn into the lessons more than ever. And no one missed a wink of sleep in Grantville, except when the mute fell off the tuba.
“I don’t think Monotone means to bother people with his tuba playing,” Professor Tumnus said to the neighbors. “It’s just the way he sleeps, not as soundly as we would like, but at least we have put good use to his bad habit.”
Copyright 2017 Jennifer Waters