Frank's Demise by Joe Blevins

By Joe Blevins
One man, 100 monkeys, 100 chainsaws. I'd put "monkeys" up there with "pants" as one of the most effective comedic words in the English language. Joe Blevins knows his effective comedic words and here, he assembles them once again for your entertainment. (CL)

In the end, it wasn't the booze, the cigarettes or even the heroin that killed Frank Calloway. It was the chainsaw-weilding monkeys.

Henrietta, Frank's wife, was against the whole plan from the get-go.

"What do we need one-hundred monkeys wielding one-hundred chainsaws for anyway?" she asked... and not without reason.

Frank never did have a good answer to that question. He'd just mutter something about "God's will" and shoo Henrietta away with a casual flick of the wrist. Henrietta eventually stopped asking. "For better or for worse." That was the promise she'd made on their wedding day, and she was a woman who kept her word.

The credit card bills were staggering. Even with Frank's second job at the Dairy Queen and Henrietta's in-home electrolysis business, the Calloways simply could not afford all those monkeys and chainsaws, not to mention the monkey food, the monkey cages, the monkey ashtrays, the chainsaw lubricant, and the dozens of other incidental expenses.

Sure, Frank could have asked his brother Robert to lend him some of the money, and he could have auctioned off some of his valuable "Welcome Back Kotter" memorabilia on Ebay. But Frank believed in the ethos that a real man does not go begging like a dog, and the loss of his mint-condition, never-been-played-with, still-in-the-box Juan Epstein action figure would have been too much to bear.

So Frank stole.

It was a simple scheme, really. He'd read the obituaries in the newspaper and find out when certain funerals were taking place. Who attends funerals? Relatives, of course. Relatives who would be OUT OF THE HOUSE for at least a few hours. Got it? Frank would jimmy open a ground-floor window, sneak in unnoticed and fill a satchel with jewelry, electronics, and any cash he could find.

Despite being a doughy 47-year-old man, Frank proved a natural at home invasion. He was invisible. He was untouchable. He was like a damned ninja. Frank soon quit both his day job at Kinko's and his night job at Dairy Queen to devote himself full-time to robbing houses. He would explain to Henrietta that he was simply "maximizing" his "full profit potential."

This is what eventually allowed him to buy the monkeys and the chainsaws. It took several months, but Frank could see "the Plan" was gradually coming together. He vowed never to let the monkeys anywhere near the chainsaws until he had at least 100 of each commodity. He converted his basement into a monkey habitat and kept the chainsaws in a storage locker downtown.

Of course, like just about any person, Frank had certain moral qualms about stealing from grieving families and pawning their prized possessions to buy monkeys and chainsaws. He sometimes wondered if the end justified the means. This is what led Frank to find solace and comfort in the booze, cigarettes, and heroin I alluded to earlier. Whether he actually found solace and comfort in these things, I do not know.

What I do know is that on April 23, 1987, the Stamford Police found "a god-awful mess" in the Calloways' otherwise-normal suburban home. The neighbors had complained about the noise coming from the house, and the police expected the case to be a routine domestic disturbance.

Routine it was not. A disturbance it definitely was.

The first officer on the scene, one Craig Smittens, described it as "a cross between 'Se7en' and 'Every Which Way But Loose.'"

"I've seen a lot of sick stuff, man," Smittens told Barbara Walters in a televised interview, "but this monkey chainsaw thing... well, I just don't know. I just don't know, man. This ain't right. This ain't right at all."

That was a long time ago. Since then, of course, there have been major reforms in both the chainsaw and monkey-selling industries. Today, you can't buy a chainsaw that doesn't carry a warning sticker that says: "NOT FOR USE WITH MONKEYS." And you can't buy a monkey without a warning sticker that says: "NOT FOR USE WITH CHAINSAWS."

You can thank Frank Calloway for that.

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This is tee-rific! I had forgotten how much I liked this one, most specifically for the matter-of-fact way in which all is laid out. Great stuff and well paced. I thought it was worth commenting on to bump it back onto the front page, as this is the month for being "Unloosen aware" and all.

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This page contains a single entry by Joe Blevins published on June 17, 2002 6:12 PM.

JUWANNA MANN: a Club 11 review by Mike Wargo was the previous entry in this blog.

The Society of People Who Look Just Like Me by Craig J. Clark is the next entry in this blog.

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