Monday, October 10, 2016


Like the professor who bought a monkey with a tuba for a nickel, sometimes you get more than you bargained for, but if you think creatively, you can often find more than one good solution to a problem.

A professor buys a circus monkey for a nickel, thinking he’ll inspire his English students. But the monkey comes with a tuba, which he sleeps with, and snores into, sending out a long loud monotone that disturbs the neighbors and even brings the fire truck. Finding they can’t return the monkey, the professor has a great idea. Monotone the monkey can sleep at the fire station with a mute in his tuba and help keep the fire truck polished; in the daytime he’ll help the professor in his classes. Everybody wins, except now and then when the mute falls out of Monotone’s tuba. 

Old Professor Tumnus bought Monotone the monkey at the Grantville Circus from a retiring organ grinder for a nickel, thinking the monkey will be inspiration for his English students. The organ grinder warns him the monkey plays the tuba. He packs up Monotone’s things, hands the professor the tuba, and tells him the monkey can’t sleep without his tuba, and bananas are his favorite fruit. On the way home the monkey sits on the professor’s shoulders, laughing and pinching his ears for fun. The professor tells the monkey he can sleep on the couch for now and gathers pillows and a blanket, placing the tuba on the floor. Monotone curls his tail around his fingers and jumps on the couch. The professor heads upstairs, yawning.

As the monkey cuddles his tuba like a teddy bear, he falls fast asleep and blows right into the tuba’s mouthpiece—one very long monotone note that carries out into the neighborhood. Half-asleep, the professor runs down the stairs and grabs the tuba from the monkey. Monotone sits straight up and bounces on the professor’s shoulders, grabbing the tuba. He assumes his original position on the couch with the tuba. The professor tries to feed the monkey a banana, but he puts the tuba right back and snores with one long note. The professor hears banging on his front door and finds a crowd gathering on his porch, including George Parker wearing earmuffs and Bettie Jane Brown with her hair in curlers. She called the fire department, thinking the professor’s fire alarm was going off. A red fire truck with the siren blazing pulls up. The firemen jump from the truck with their hoses and run through the front door spraying water. The fire chief sprays Monotone with the fire hose until he stops playing the tuba. Monotone shakes the water from himself, giggling, and jumps on the shoulders of the fire chief.

Professor Tumnus and the neighbors march down to the circus tent to find that the organ grinder has gone. When they return to Monotone, he sits on the firemen’s truck. The professor suggests the fire department adopt Monotone for overnights, and the monkey can help him with his students during the days. Professor Tumnus grows banana trees like bonkers in his backyard and in every room of the house. Monotone has a night job with the fire department and sleeps in the fire truck with a mute in his tuba. He loves to wash the fire truck and polishes the fire pole by sliding up and down it. Monotone even befriends Spots, the old Dalmatian. He also becomes known as the best literature assistant in academia. And no one misses a wink of sleep in Grantville, except when the mute falls off the tuba.

Copyright 2022 Jennifer Waters

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