by Jan Fitzgerald
‘This is not the Tooth Fairy perched on the end of my bed,’ Joe backs up against the wall, gazing at the gorilla.
‘It must have a name, so I can politely ask it to go away.’
The gorilla leans forward and looks intensely into Joe’s face.
My name is Bett Noir, she says without moving her lips, then bares a set of teeth like the white keys of a piano.
Joe’s life became full of avoidance.
His wife observed the changes with concern.
‘Why do you always go around the clothes line on the way to your car?’ she asked one day.
How the hell could he tell her a souped-up purple Morris 1100 was now parked behind his car? One with an African flag.
He’d tried to persuade Bett Noir to park her car in the garage first, but instead she’d taken him on a hair-raising chase after a truck carrying Bonito banana boxes.
Joe screamed as the speedo went into the red.
A police car finally drove them into the kerb.
‘Are you out of your tree?’ the officer said.
‘Sir, it was the guy in the monkey suit!’ Joe staggered out of the car.
‘Yeah right!’ said the officer. ‘Saw that movie last week!’
Bett Noir threw back her head and beat her chest.
Joe devised a plan. If he renamed the gorilla in his head, she couldn’t be summonsed and find out where his shoe factory was. That brought relief for months. Until he signed an incoming parcel and saw his address. Game over.
He looked up to see Bett Noir behind his biggest industrial machine. Reels and bobbins were going ape shit.
Pay your staff peanuts, she grinned, this is what you get!