The Fear of Monkeys - The Best E-Zine on the Web for Politically Conscious WritingRed-Shanked Douc - Issue Thirty-One
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Purple-faced Langur from  Bjørn Christian Tørrissen - Own work by uploader, The Red shanked Douc is a colourful Old World monkey which sports maroon-red "stockings" and white forearm length gloves above black hands and feet. The golden face is framed by a white ruff, which is considerably fluffier in males. The eyelids are a soft powder blue. The tail is white with a triangle of white hair at the base. Males of all ages have a white spot on both sides of the corners of the rump patch, and red and white genitals. The red-shanked douc is thought to be found only in north and central Vietnam and Laos. They are an arboreal and diurnal monkey that eats and sleeps in the trees of the forest and are found in a variety of habitats: from lowland to mountainous terrain up to 2,000 m, deciduous, primary and secondary rainforests, in the mid to upper levels of the canopy. Its diet consists mostly of leaves high in fibers and they prefer to eat small, young and tender leaves, but they will also eat fruit like figs, buds, petioles, flowers, bamboo shoots and seeds. A long, slender monkey, the male has an average head and body length of 61 cm, and the female averages 54.5 cm long, with a tail that measures 55.8-76.2 cm. Males weigh on average 11 kg, and females 8.44 kilograms. Females reach sexual maturity at about 4 years, while the males reach it at 4-5 years. They have a lifespan of about 25 years. Although noisy when untroubled, they can flee soundlessly through the trees and away from danger if startled. In contrast to their noisy travel, doucs spend most of their time quietly eating, digesting their bulky food, dozing and grooming each other's fur. Before mating, both genders give a sexual signal with the jaw forward, eyebrows raised and then lowered, and a head-shake. The female makes the first move, lying face-down on a branch, eyeing her chosen mate by looking over her shoulder. The male returns with a stare and may turn to look at another spot he considers more suitable for mating. Mating takes place from August to December. The pregnancy lasts between 165 and 190 days, resulting in the birth of a single offspring just before fruiting season of some favorite foods. Twins are very rare. The young are born with their eyes wide open and they cling to their mothers instinctively. In captivity, other group members may look after an infant, and other females may even suckle it. In one study, an orphaned infant was fed by two females in the group and also cared for by a male. They are threatened throughout their limited range by habitat destruction and hunting. Native people hunt it for food and body parts, which are used in traditional medicine. There is also a very lucrative and illegal wildlife trade for the red-shanked douc. During the Vietnam War, their habitat was heavily bombed and sprayed with defoliants like Agent Orange.


Necktie Party


Stephen Baily

"Happy birthday!"

The frown he'd been investigating the want ads with turned into a scowl when he opened her present.

"Of all things, why this?"

"I know you hate them," she said, "but I thought one might come in handy if you're offered a job where they're required. Besides," she continued when he'd finished cursing, "for someone who refuses to have anything to do with ties, you have to admit you've been pretty obsessed with them lately."

"Not with all ties. Not with ties in general. Just his."

He closed the newspaper and pointed to a picture of me on the front page in which I was sporting an elegant striped four-in-hand.

"Whenever you see him, he always seems to have on a different one--have you noticed?"

She thought it over for a moment. "You could be right."

"My guess is he never wears the same one twice."

She laughed. "You're not suggesting he throws them away after a single use? I know he has more money than God, but why would he do a thing like that?"

"Maybe he gets off on the idea that, with what each tie he trashes sells for, you could keep an entire favela in Rio in beans for a month."

So offensive did I find this conjecture that, though I usually make a point of keeping clear of domestic disputes, I felt compelled to step out of the photo.

"You're right that I wear my ties only once--why wouldn't I when I own several thousand?--but to jump from that to the conclusion I throw them straight in the garbage is ridiculous. Okay, so if my ties were like the one you've got there--which I assume was made in a sweatshop in Bangladesh and cost under twenty-five dollars--I might not bother to hang on to them. But, as it happens, they're hand-cut by skilled craftsmen from the finest silk, so why would I be so stupid as to toss them when I can resell them at a big profit?"

She nodded. "I'm pleased to see you're into recycling."

"As a lifelong friend of the environment, you bet--and all the more so because you'd be surprised how much collectors are willing to fork out for a tie that's been in contact with my person. They'll double their bids, too, if the tie is soiled, so I never worry about the sauce from my double cheeseburgers dripping off my chin. Needless to say, I make out just as well with my dirty socks--and still better with my BVDs."

This brought him to his feet. "I don't know how you sleep at night."

"Like a log, on satin sheets that fetch a small fortune when I offer them online. But look, I realize you're going through rough waters right now--"

"As if you could begin to understand what it's like to be broke!"

"--so, on this special occasion, to prove I don't hold grudges, I hope you'll let me do something for you that should help keep you afloat."

Before he could stop me, I snatched the tie from him, blew my nose in it, and handed it back.

"Many happy returns!"

Stephen Baily has published short fiction in some forty journals. He’s also the author of ten plays and three novels, including “Markus Klyner, MD, FBI,” which is available as a Kindle e-book. He lives in France.
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