Thus Simians started their double life: one found, one MANufactured, one organic, one artificial, one as is, one rearranged. Their lives above ground and below it (slightly different at the outset) soon saw rapid, radical, irreversible change—materialistically. Psycho-spiritually, both domains remained constituent—thanks to Mung, who saw the Whole, who strove to maintain and to cultivate Primate Primitivism.

‘It is not enough,’ she counseled from her nest of borrowed flora, ‘to keep pace with Man in pursuit of so-called Progress. Knowledge need not lead to alteration of environment. Witness whales and dolphins, wizards of the Undivided Sea, who put intelligence to a nobler use.’ She stopped to pick a mango, tried to pierce its skin with teeth grown dull, too dull, alas, to manage… ‘Should I utilize a tool, a knife? Or starve because I’m frail?’… then let it drop to the forest floor, her audience likewise browsing, munching—albeit rapt (if seeming scattered) all-attentive to their Guru, whose address was broadcast mutely, via telepathic rays. ‘Or pluck another, riper, softer breakfast, live within Life’s limits, learn the lessons aging teaches through decrepitude? Mm, delicious!’ Having found a feast conducive to an Elder’s weakened molars, Mung let chewing stand for insight; it was wise to savor food, allow ones Taste, like each and every sense, to underscore the Present, to accentuate the moment at which Past and Future merged. She ate contentedly, felt bacteria go to work inside her entrails, felt a buzz from sugar breaking down, a hum as it joined her bloodstream, felt the pulp collect and knew that it would help to bind her feces, felt each unseen organ carrying out its function—squeezing, slackening—peristalsis done as by a team of miniature masseurs, felt fond, familiar, fused with that which spawned at Earth’s first spin, Life’s advent, revolutions that declared Existence "circular."

‘Is it by accident or design that Day and Night hold sway by turns, that Sun then Stars illumine Sky,’ Mung asked rhetorically? ‘Drought and Downpour rotate. Schemes, beyond these patterns, wane. Perhaps the Cosmos copies Chaos, yet, as songs arrange cacophony, might not sense derive from nonsense? We have wit, my brethren, intellect. It behooves our Race to think, to understand—not bend experience from its native sphere, warp contours; better celebrate how we fit in this complex Orb.’

Late morning sizzled. The jungle air commenced to sweat, the beasts and birds to swelter. Fur and plumage shone with dappled highlights, Sun consuming shade as flame eats tinder. Motion, sluggish, lent the scene a luscious lethargy. Fruit grew ripe, in lazy apposition. Dew gave rise to steam. Aromas, thick and sweet and pregnant with a golden haze of pollen, wooed the nostrils, sued the sinuses for a peace as deep as sleep, each breath a dose of bliss, each inhalation soothingly narcotic—unprepared to cope with civet cunning, creeping, crouching. SNATCHED! The monkey nearest Mung was seized by claws, then jaws that clenched so swiftly nary a ‘yelp’ escaped the throttled windpipe; Death took quick possession. Pulse of predator overpowered prey’s like drums engulfing murmurs, one heart thumping, one gone silent, one triumphant, one unnerved—become a meal, in gory gulps, relieved of consciousness.

Panic… Grief… The troubled troupe could only save itself, superior smarts no contest; cats were lightning quick (The watch; what happened to the watch?), their fangs decisive (No doubt napping.); hunger honed the lurking feline’s lethal edge.

‘Why this youngster,’ Mung bemoaned, ‘when I am older, slower, feebler? Even Nature lacks consistency. Chance makes mockery of the Rule. Ought we adhere to it at all, if every case brooks contradiction? Is it not a useless exercise to infer, debate, concur?’ She asked herself, but others eavesdropped (Simians rarely cloaked cognition). ‘Death can easily baffle souls turned self-important, self-aware. Who ought take precedence; Cat or Monkey? Does the fact that we will mourn our loss make Cat’s gain less propitious? No, my tribesmen, brains do not confer supremacy, nor does brawn; they are coequal, when the world is balanced, corresponding virtues—or a vice-exposing mismatch when the world is out of whack, as it is now, or as it will be; I have dwelt among the Uprights. I consider them a species dispossessed of common sense, who shits upstream with such impunity as to shock the most conservative, who abuses kith and kin as rival dog packs, wages war, designs sophisticated weapons used, in peacetime, to intimidate, but, in either role, adept at dealing widespread devastation—ironic for a creature so aghast at Life’s finale. Uprights fret about expiring more than any living thing. They will not worship gods save those that guarantee them immortality. Immortality(?) in a system that relies on growth/decay, that needs polarity for the planet to revolve? Do not they realize that to die is to ensure regeneration?’ Here Mung paused—the telling crunch of bones, in the tree across, grown grim, a humbling counterpoint to her highfalutin discourse.

Diffident, of a sudden (she mistrusted her "sagacity"), Mung (reminded of her audience) saw their open-mouthed regard. A curious awe marked their expressions, as they ventured out of hiding, as their faces shifted left—toward where Mung sat before the mishap—to the place where she perched now, far right, at a distance so removed it seemed improbable, given the speed with which the cat had pounced, impossible. Mung had crossed a span too wide for even youthful limbs to leap, the more remarkable since she had not leapt at all—had merely BLINKED—and, in an instant, had, by some means, been transported.


The Pair...