The Fear of Monkeys - The Best E-Zine on the Web for Politically Conscious WritingThe White-Thighed Sirili - Issue Thirty-Six
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The White-Thighed Sirili  from Christiano Artuso The White-Thighed Sirili is arboreal and lives amongst the sub-montane forests and swamp areas of the Thai-Malay Peninsula, the Riau Archipelago and Sumatra. Their diet consists of seeds, fruits and leaf shoots. They have also been seen consuming flowers. They are characterized by the white patches located on the outside of their legs--which is what gives them their name-and they range from 41-69 cm tall and weighting 5-6.7 kg. They have a brown-grey fur coat on their backs, with white fur covering their bellies and dark fur on their head. Their tails--typically covered in dark fur--can extend roughly 58-85 cm. Compared to adults, infants are born with very light fur with crosses of dark fur along their arms and back. They live in small unimale-multifemale groups. After mating, females give birth to single infants to which the group of females care for. Due to their arboreal lifestyle, reliance on detection of predators is vital. Male group members are able to call or display a distraction for predators to protect group members. Their current status is near threatened. They are mainly affected by agriculture, harvesting of wood, as well as hunting. In regards to logging, the production of access roads into forests has increased the deforestation rate by 8% which reduces their habitat and creates a huge reduction of seeds, leaves and fruit available. To compensate for their lost food supply, they have been found to raid crops on the plantations--for instance, leaves of the oil palm--which increases reports of capturing and killing the primates. As well, they are sometimes kept as pets or used in the entertainment industry and that has led to their decimation in some regions of their domain.


Sam the Poontang Man


James Hanna

Samuel Mazzetti needed a hustle. He was homeless, broke, and out of options. Nobody wanted to buy his paintings, and his disability claim with the Veterans Administration had been stalled for over three years. Why isn't anything coming my way? he wondered. Perhaps it was because he looked like what he was: a burned out Iraqi War vet. With his crooked teeth and piercing eyes, he also resembled a troll on the prowl. So he sang Bob Dylan's "Clean Cut Kid" when he panhandled for change on the sidewalks of San Francisco. "I was a clean cut kiiiid," he sang, "an' they made a killer outta me, that's what they did."

But Samuel had never been a clean-cut kid. After dropping out of junior college in Fresno, he had stolen from Walmart, boozed with the Hells Angels, and peddled meth outside high schools. After selling several caps to an undercover cop, he found himself faced with a typical Hobson's choice: he could serve three years in the Military--help Uncle Sam fight its wars--or put in the same amount of time behind bars. A risk taker by temperament, Samuel had opted for the Army and was sent to Iraq as a member of the 43rd Combat Engineers. A year later, suffering from hypervigilance and a chronic case of the shakes, he was given a medical discharge.

"You been smokin' too much weed," his counselor at Swords to Ploughshares told him. "A dude who thinks he can squeeze the government ain't livin' in the real world. Now I can get you a place to flop, I can get you methadone, I can even hustle up food stamps for you. But I can't help you stick no VA claim. If the country took care of its veterans, it'd be too broke to fight its wars."

Convinced that his case was hopeless, Samuel gave up on his VA claim and began to look seriously for a hustle. He tried pimping for the whores on Polk Street, but his scraggly hair, unkempt beard, and haunted stare only discouraged prospective johns. He strummed his guitar in Civic Center Plaza, but his voice was so hoarse from nerve agents that no one put money in his tip jar. He even took classes at City College, hoping to improve his painting, but his work was too embryonic to provide him an income as a street artist. "You do have ability," an instructor told him, "but it'll probably take you another five years to develop any kind of style."

Unfortunately, Samuel did not have the cash to bring his art to fruition. His biweekly General Assistance checks, amounting to $400 a month, were barely enough to keep him self-medicated on pot. His only option was panhandling.

One afternoon, while Samuel was sitting outside an adult video shop on Sixth Street, a sketchbook in his lap and a Nehi soda in his hand, he was struck with the germ of inspiration. It did not come in the form of a bountiful Muse, hovering lovingly over his head, but a randy gentleman of fifty in a pinstripe suit. Glancing at Samuel before entering the shop, the gentleman rolled his eyes. "If my wife pulled down my fly now and then," he complained, "I wouldn't be coming here all the time."

Samuel began to draw as the gentleman entered the store. His hand roamed of its own accord, and a sketch leapt to life on his pad. In a matter of minutes, he drew a buxom woman on a bearskin rug, her legs obscenely spread. He printed beneath the picture, A BROAD ON THE FLY WILL LAY DOWN FOR HER GUY.

As the gentleman came out of the store, a dozen DVDs in his hand, Samuel handed him the sketch and winked. He then held up the bottle of soda. "Spiked," he grinned. "Just fifty clams, man."

"Highway robbery," the gentleman snapped, but he forked over a Grant for the bottle of soda.

"Put an ounce in her morning coffee," said Samuel. "She'll be balling your brains out by noon."

* * *

Flushed with inspiration, Samuel scrounged up some wooden boards and built a peddler's stand. He then drew a dozen more sketches. Sketches of waitresses, milkmaids, and nurses--all on their backs with their legs lewdly spread. FLY ME TO THE MOON, the captions read. JUST FIFTY DOLLARS A FLASK. By the end of the day, he had sold a dozen more bottles of Nehi. The drawings he gave away free of charge since advertising pays.

Of course, some of his customers came back to him, accusing him of fraud. "You call this Spanish Fly?" they griped. "She didn't do nothing but burp."

But Samuel, a born merchandiser, knew how to spin a setback. "The effect is cumulative, maaan," he drawled. "Ya gotta break down her resistance. Slip her a dose every day for a month, and she'll gush like a garden hose." Then he sang them "Gonna Fly Now," the theme song from Rocky I, and handed them another sketch. Inspired by that infectious ditty, those customers wanting their money back doubled their investments.

Soon, precariously soon, Samuel became a one-man corporation. He took out an ad on Craig's list, he put a website on his iPad, and he e-mailed dozens of sketches to adult online magazines. Sketches of housewives, schoolmarms, and meter maids-all of them spreading their pussies and spouting like Moby Dick. TO OIL UP YOUR CHICK, COME TO HOWARD AND SIXTH he wrote beneath the sketches. Horny patrons came flocking to him, and he sold hundreds of gallons of Nehi, which he displayed in nondescript bottles. In a matter of weeks, he was driving a Lexus, living at the Marriott, and dining on oysters and quail. And he changed his name from Samuel Mazzetti to Sam the Poontang Man.

* * *

Only in America, Sam thought as he sat at the corner of Howard and Sixth and lit a Habano Cigar. Only in America--the land of the quick fix--can a tramp with delusions of grandeur become a celebrated doctor of love. Only in America can a street bum aspire to the ruse of the politician. If one doesn't get hung up on scruples, he mused, the American Dream ain't dead. And to think I wanted to hang around Paris--learn how to doodle like Dali. Bummer, man.

Opening his box of charcoals, he drew another sketch. It was a sketch of the Statue of Liberty, holding up a bottle of pop. GIVE ME YOUR PRUNE TWATS AND FRIGID, he wrote. I'LL SOON HAVE THEM HUMPING LIKE WEASELS.

A day after he posted this message online, a band of women descended on him. Women with a bone to pick. They were carrying placards displaying some of Sam's sketches with Xs drawn through the middle. "No easels for weasels," they chanted as they paraded in front of his stand.

A natural politician, Sam rose to his feet and held out his hands like Jesus. "Ladies, ladies, ladies," he cooed in a voice as gentle as down. "A broad on the fly will do well by her guy. He'll treat you just like a queen." He then grinned like a grape-eating possum and danced a little jig. And he sang them a song he had been working on to expand his customer base. A jaunty little ditty, which he sang to the tune of "My Bonnie Lies Over the Ocean."

He'll buy you that poodle you're wanting.
You'll get that vacation in Rome.
He's gonna be generous and fawning.
You just gotta grease up his bone.

Unimpressed, the women set his stand on fire and smashed every one of his flasks. And Sam was left to realize the vulnerability of a dream. As he watched his stand smolder, sweat beaded his brow and he shook like a morning drunk. Unless I can handle the fallout, Sam thought, I'm gonna be back on the dole.

But providence was not yet done with Sam. As he scrambled about, snatching his drawings from the flames, a figure emerged through the smoke. A towering man with a barrel chest and arms as sinewy as ropes. His eyes were cold and intuitive, his face was scarred and tattooed, and his head was so bald and shiny that it glittered like a jewel. He looked at Sam the way that a lion might gaze at an antelope.

"The fuck are you?" Sam asked him.

The man grinned broadly, winked like a headlight then rescued a sketch from the fire.

Sam's heart began to hammer. "Don't mess with my hustle, man."

The stranger blew on the sketch as though cooling a cup of coffee. It burst into a flower of flame. He dropped the sketch to the sidewalk and shook his polished head. When he finally spoke, his voice was so deep it seemed to arise from a well. "You're tryin' to soak pussy that wants to stay dry. Just what kinda hustle is that?"

"Them bitches are gonna be gushing," Sam bawled. "They're gonna be flowing like streams."

"You some kinda rainmaker, son," the man boomed. "You seem to believe yer own jive."

"I'm the Poontang Man," Sam stammered. "I make the rivers rise."

The stranger chortled, a menacing laugh that sounded like rolling thunder. "If I was you, motherfucker, I wouldn't be buildin' no ark."

Sam shook his head. "Dude," he protested, "you got no jive at all. Yer gonna need more 'an putdowns if ya wanna bid for my soul."

The stranger put his hands on his hips and glared; his eyes reddened like burning coals. "Dog, I ain't makin' no offers. I don't want yer pissant soul. I got a million more just like it and they ain't worth a pinch of shit."

"So why did ya come here to pick on me, man?"

"Cuz I want you to pick up your game. If ya wanna spread lies and depravity, dog, ya oughta be doin' it right."

* * *

Faced with the forfeiture of his dream, the collapse of his fortune, the loss of his very identity, Sam decided to collaborate with the stranger. As they sat on a bench in the Yerba Buena Gardens, the stranger suggested a campaign. "My man, you can fix up that soda pop stand, but them ballbusters are gonna return. What choo plannin' to do about that?"

"Give 'em free samples," Sam joked.

The stranger clucked his tongue and glowered. "If you want a hustle, you gotta have muscle. That's elementary, dog." He waved his hand and a mist arose-a cottony, silvery veil. As the mist evaporated, a startling sight replaced it. Sam's peddler's stand was completely rebuilt and surrounded by a pack of feral looking youths. Their red bandanas, loose-fitting sweatshirts, and crooked tattoos denoted their status as Norteños, one of San Francisco's toughest gangs. They were selling Sam's flasks to passersby, raking in hundreds of dollars. And nobody was approaching them with complaints.

"They'll take fifty percent of your gross," said the stranger. "But now you got yer protection, dog, and now you can make you a mint. That poontang oil sells better 'an crack. Sheeit, it ain't even illegal."

As Sam looked at the sight, his heartstrings hummed. He observed himself standing among the Norteños, bathed in a pearly light. A couple of cherubs floated above him, holding a streaming banner. Sam's eyes grew misty as he looked at the banner: it was spangled with stars, alive in the wind, and it bore the profoundest of tidings. Sam the Poontang Man's his name. Oiling pussy, that's his game. And the voice of the stranger, accompanied by the peal of trumpets, was singing from on high.

It ain't about mom's apple cobbler.
It ain't about freedom of toil.
It ain't about wastin' a dollar.
It's all about reapin' the oil.

Stunned by the light, Sam covered his eyes. "I-it's beautiful man. Like a Grateful Dead concert. I've never seen anything like it."

"Sheeit," said the stranger. "That's just lesson one. Now we gotta talk diversity of product." He waved his hand and another mist billowed. When the haze disappeared, Sam's stand was replaced by a giant department store.

The stranger waved his hand yet again, and they were standing inside the store. Sam saw hundreds of bottles aligned upon shelves like troops awaiting inspection. The bottles varied in size according to the degree of titillation they promised. Trickle, River, Torrent, Monsoon, the different labels read.

As Sam's eyes caressed the bottles, he felt a lump in his throat. "Fantastic, man," he cried. "It's like Fifty Shades of Gray."

The stranger laughed. "There ain't nothin' but soda in every one of them bottles. So you gotta keep changing the packaging, dog, if you wanna keep selling that crap."

"What happens if customers figure that out?"

"We'll just point 'em to something else." The stranger gestured to a display case secured with a ratchet lock. The case contained hundreds of eyedropper flasks arranged like a jewelry display. A cheerful sign, placed above the case, testified to the uniqueness of the product: Give your bitch a single drop, and she'll treat your knob like a lollipop.

"A knee high lollipop." Sam chuckled at his pun.

"That soda is all they got in 'em," the stranger snorted. "But if we keep them fuckers thinkin' with their cocks, that ain't gonna matter for shit."

"What happens if sales start to peter?" Sam mused.

"Dog, we're ready for that." The stranger pointed to another display case. This one was filled with water pipes, hookahs, and clear plastic pouches crammed with leafy concoctions. The sign boldly proclaimed the thrill that awaited whoever might purchase these items: When she takes a puff of Poontang Grass, she'll only want it in the ass.

The stranger folded his arms and grinned like a henhouse fox. "Nehi mixed with oregano-a hundred dollars a baggie. Just keep on changing the staging, and yer gonna stay a rich man."

Sam shook his head. "You're scaring me, dude."

"Watch," the stranger replied. He waved his hand a fourth time, and they were standing outside of the store. This time, Sam could not see the entrance: there were so many patrons mobbing the store that they couldn't all squeeze through the door. Above the store was the cause of the ruckus: an enormous neon vulva pulsating like a heart. One day sale before we bail, the racing letters proclaimed. Six bottles for four hundred dollars. Everything must go.

"We actually raised the price," laughed the stranger. "But them dipshits ain't figured it out."

Overwhelmed, Sam fell to his knees. He clutched the stranger's hands and blubbered like a child. "Thank you man, thank you," he wept. "I was blind, and now I can see."

The stranger chuckled and patted Sam's head. "Dog, that's just lesson two." He clapped his hands and the mist returned. "Now we gotta talk damage control."

When the veil disappeared, they were standing in an enormous television studio. Technicians were broadcasting videos of bimbos posing in front of Old Faithful; publicists, sitting at tables, were answering dozens of phones. And a loud and buoyant anthem echoed throughout the room.

If your bitch won't baste your ham,
Take a little trip to the Poontang Man.
Don't be flustered. Don't be foiled.
It's your right to get her oiled.

The stranger danced a soft-shoe then snapped off a sharp salute. "You'll have to become an icon, son, if you wanna keep beating the heat. Like Hershey Bars, Nike, and Coca Cola. Don't nobody criticize that shit, dog, 'cause it wouldn't be patriotic."

Stunned, Sam looked at the television screens. His heart was so full of wonder and pride, it was all he could do to speak. "Motherhood, baseball, apple pie." He recited these words in a reverent voice, like an infant saying his prayers.

As he looked at the screens, a Fox News broadcast replaced the shots of Old Faithful. A mob of angry women was confronting the National Guard. The troops slowly corralled the women, pushing them backwards, smashing their placards, and hauling them off to meat wagons. And the voice of a Fox News commentator boldly lauded the troops. It was clear from the partisan tone of the spiel that women unwilling to bob for knobs, get fucked in the ass, or otherwise go with the flow were simply un-American.

"Bitchin'," Sam stammered. "Incredible, man. Never in my wildest dreams."

"You're gonna be a household name," said the stranger. "You'll be big as Chevrolet."

Sam felt as though he were floating on air as he stared, transfixed, at the televisions. The Fox News cameras were now focused on hordes of pro-Sam demonstrators. And a commercial sung by the Mormon Tabernacle Choir was shaking the entire the room.

Sam, Sam the Poontang Man.
He's the savior of the land.
If your pecker ain't been christened,
Sam's the one to get it glistenin'.

* * *

Enthralled by his newfound celebrity status, Sam began an iconic lifestyle. He joined the Knights of Columbus, he dressed in red white and blue, and he rented a condominium high upon Nob Hill. And he continued to diversify his product. Soon Poontang Man Kool-Aid and Poontang Man Mouthwash were common household products. So meteoric was Sam's rise to success, so unremitting his cash flow, that the Republican Party featured him in an infomercial--a hallowed illustration of what rugged individualism might still accomplish. And when the inevitable imitators arose--dirtbags who hawked their brand of fly at a mere ten dollars a flask--Sam's publicists quickly denounced then as charlatans, crooks, and bums. Sons of Sam, the spin doctors dubbed them, which shut every one of them down. Deprived of nuisance of competition, Sam lived like the greatest of kings.

But the prickly agenda of fate had another surprise for Sam. One day, a troop of beetle-browed men walked into his department store. They were wearing gray sharkskin suits and they moved as though they were one. Their eyes were so hollow and sunless, their movements so oily and coiled, they might have been the tentacles of an octopus.

Standing behind a counter, Sam gave them a foxy grin. "Gentlemen, what'll it be?" he purred. "Poontang Man Shampoo or Poontang Man Gel? If you soften her thatch, she'll spread open her snatch."

The beetle-browed men merely looked at him with a hard collective stare. They seemed utterly indifferent to Poontang Man Gel or whatever else Sam might have on sale. Their menacing air and asexual eyes were like an arctic chill.

One of them opened a briefcase and handed Sam a document, a hefty ream of legalese that weighed nearly half a pound. As he scanned the pages, Sam's hands started shaking as though he were back in Iraq. These men were attorneys. He was being sued by the American Pharmaceutical Industry.

* * *

His hands still trembling, Sam locked up his store and fled down Mission Street. Was his dream at an end? Would that pack of goons succeed in shutting him down? He felt the same panic he'd felt in Iraq when an IED laced him with shrapnel.

Determined to hide, Sam commando crawled into Yerba Buena Gardens. But the neatly trimmed trees and well-trodden lanes afforded him no consolation. Only the towering waterfall, pummeling slate-gray rocks, provided him a moment of solace. As he sat on the wall beneath the waterfall, he saw the stranger approach him. His stride was hurried as though he were late for an appointment.

Making no comment, the man blew his nose then sat on the wall next to Sam.

Sam looked at him with teary eyes. "Do you know what the feds are doin' to me, man?"

The stranger nodded woodenly.

"So you gonna make 'em stop?"

The man sighed like a furnace and looked at his shoes. "No can do, dog," he said firmly. His voice was as heavy as lead.

"How come, dude?"

The stranger bridled. "You really gotta ask? "

A revelation popped like a signal flare in Sam's chaotic mind. "You made 'em a deal for their souls," he gasped.

"'Course I did, dog. A long time ago. A contract's a fuckin' contract, my man--I can't go breakin' it now."

Sam puffed out his chest. "Then I'll take 'em on alone. Those pill peddlers ain't closing me down."

The stranger gripped Sam's elbow as though saving him from a fall. "Think 'bout what choo sayin', dog. That's the biggest drug cartel in the world, an' you're treadin' on its turf."

"They ain't no match for the Poontang Man."

"Really?" the stranger replied. "They hook millions of folks on opiates. They fix prices all over the land. They take the last dollar from widows and don't even blink an eye." He looked at Sam with pity and sternness. "So what choo think they're gonna do to you?"

"I'm Sam the Pooner," Sam sputtered. "Nobody messes with me."

"No, you ain't, dog," the stranger said gently. "You're a pissant that just got lucky."

The stranger cracked his knuckles then took a giant breath. "Dog, I don't say this too often, but you got you a bit of talent. Why not do somethin' with it and leave the swindlin' to the pros?"

"I ain't no goddamn Picasso," Sam bawled.

"You don't gotta become one, dog. Become a pop artist, maybe, or even a goddamn Norman Rockwell." The stranger chuckled generously and slowly rose to his feet. "Do somethin' else with your pissant soul, and I may just come back and pluck it."

Sam listened to the waterfall as he watched the stranger leave. His eyes were darting like minnows, his brow was chilled with sweat. The stranger's gentle remonstrance had seized him like a wave.

* * *

Real plutocrats do not heed warnings. They forge ahead incautiously and rule with sightless fists. But Sam, a Renaissance man at heart, was made from a different mold. He longed to stand on the bank of the Seine and sketch the bridges and boats. He longed to practice his brushstrokes while sitting in sidewalk cafés. And he hungered to sell some paintings on the terrace outside of the Louvre.

And so he closed up his department store and emptied his bank account. The bulk of his money he donated to the Wounded Warrior Project. A few weeks later, passport in hand, Sam caught a flight to Paris. It was time he got serious about his art.


James Hanna wandered Australia for seven years before settling on a career in criminal justice. He spent twenty years as a counselor in the Indiana Department of Corrections and has recently retired from the San Francisco Probation Department, where he was assigned to a domestic violence and stalking unit. James' familiarity with criminal types has provided fodder for his writing. James' short stories have appeared or are forthcoming in Old Crow Review, Sandhills Review, Edge City Review, Fault Zone, Eclipse, The Literary Review, Red Savina Review, The California Writers Club Literary Review, Zymbol, The Sand Hill Review, Empty Sink Publishing, and Crack the Spine. Three of James' stories were nominated for the Pushcart Prize. James' novels are available on Amazon in both paperback and Kindle. His debut novel, The Siege, depicts a hostage standoff in a penal facility. Call Me Pomeroy, James' second novel, chronicles the madcap tales of a street musician on parole who joins Occupy Oakland and its spinoff movements in England and France. He does not join for political reasons but to get on television, attract an agent, and land a million dollar recording contract. Grady Harp, Hall of Fame Reviewer, calls the book an instant classic. A Second, Less Capable Head and Other Rogue Stories, James' third book, includes "Fruits' which was published in Issue 24 of The Fear of Monkeys. BookViral writes: "A Second Less Capable Head delivers one of the most powerful and cutting collection of stories you will ever read."

“Sam the Poontang Man” was first published in Empty Sink Publishing.

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