The Sace Between Us

Barnes & Noble
Flophouse Press

Other stories in the set:
Termites | Beyond the Buck | Smack Attack |
Jody's Journal | Dwarfo's Tale | Zonker's Death

Banana Jackpot


Man is an animal who can be wrong. Man can be wrong and still come out right. So it may, perhaps, be true that being right or knowing has no survival value. It's the motion that counts.


To live and prosper one must be able to say "mine" with conviction. You've got to stand your ground, or you will be shoved off your spot.


I live in the largest cage, but it is a cage and it is locked.


My keepers are, compassionate people, thoughtful citizens, scientists wondering where they came from and what they might become.


I am not extinct.


Jesus' message wasn't abstract. You can't love formally. Love is not an idea; it starts with a hug. I know exactly what he thought; we're wired with the same chip. I've got the Love-Gene too.

Most creatures are like the chimp: When a group comes upon a ripe bunch of bananas, the largest male feeds first, then his subordinates followed by the weaker males, females, old timers, and children. Whereas when a Bonobo group spots a pile of bananas, we do something unprecedented. Bonobos get so excited by the presence of those bananas that we touch whoever is at hand regardless of their sex, age, or physical quirks. Everybody does it; the entire band has an orgy. Everyone rubs genitals until they climax. Afterwards, we sit in a circle and share the bananas.

According to Dr. Linda Hays, we are the only animal who uses g-g rubbing to control aggression. Although it was not the intent of the lab to search for the Jesus-Gizmo, a few articles were published regarding sex and aggression in Bonobo society. One in a reputable scientific journal and the other in a left wing feminist publication.


I have filled a special place in the hearts of the woman of the lab. Bonobos do it face to face.


It seems that all men's discoveries undermine his intuitive wish for the universe to be a homey place designed around his special need to be special.


Chimps are older and in a sense better adapted then men, for chimps have sloughed off the reflective phase of development and become simple but appropriate.

If chimps could talk, they wouldn't have anything to say, because everything is instinctual and such urges don't require justifications. I've yet to hear anyone explain why they were hungry or take a moment to decide if they felt like being hungry.


Research assistants, doctors, and extras from trappers to cage cleaners all depend on my grasp of symbols for their economic well being. In fact, a great deal of money has already been invested in my rearing.

It must be known that I was without a mother. The doctors shot some frozen Bonobo sperm, extracted from a male in the Dresden Zoo, into an egg they’d stolen from a tranquilized female captured in the rain forest.

I was born in a lab, nurtured by warm light, and suckled via plastic containment vessels held by humans. They exposed me to the keyboard as soon as I could keep my eyes open.

This keyboard is really my doctor-built universe. The choice of symbols tells the whole story. It reveals all the a priori assumptions that people rely on to float themselves over the rough spots between "A" and "B."

My cultural interface device consists of plastic buttons with images that stand for or represent one of the following words. Mastery of this list was considered the first hurtle, and now the doctors are looking for interesting combinations, structures they might call sentences. I know all of this for they speak in front of me as one would a pet or a lab animal. It is obvious they are trying to coax me into something like backpack, Perrier, burrito, carry river. A structure like that would lead to new interest in animal studies and generate a few dissertations, but as I said the list was limited: bad, now, dessert, tummy, bowl, monster, coconut, towel, taco, chicken, lettuce, noodles, sugar, bunny, burrito, butter, slap, slat, observation room, trash, strawberry, kiwi, grapes, yogurt, river, jello, backpack, Kool-Aid, noise, popsicle, swimming pool, forest, cold, draw, Perrier, middle room, carry, shop, thank you, toy, guerilla, book.

I suppose having your words chosen for you is a cage of sorts. These were enough to keep my belly full and get me out of doors. The facility wasn't a very pleasant place to spend your time.

I wish I could type "Want to use toilet." At times I considered drawing a toilet and adding it to the symbol board.

Every prison must have something to remind the prisoner of who is holding the reins. In my case and the case of all the other apes in the facility, it is having our excrement in our cages along side us. This never occurs in nature. Apes don't sleep where they defecate. It is the odor. The smell of your own crap that causes the shit-hurling rage that meets the keepers and others as they walk down the ape corridor.

That was a digression, but that's the way it is with anger. It breaks doors and doesn't consider other points of view.

I never asked to use a toilet. I had a feeling since it had not been included as an obvious option on my keyboard, seeing as I was always being compared to children, that I believe the doctors don't want me pooping the way they do. That's the kind of thing that gnaws at your dignity.


The urge to communicate is an important part of the biogram. My wish for a full keyboard could almost be called an itch.


In the cage of my dreams, I would have a word processor and be free to spend my afternoons typing my big book Memos from the Biogram. (I will never be able to speak, my throat is not set up properly).

My new cage would be better than the president's office. He doesn’t have a private bathroom, but I’d follow his window plan. None of my windows would face the ape corridor. I could do without the noise of the other apes while in my private rain forest. They have never gotten over being captured.


The next round of funding depends on my ability to make sentences. Apparently my ability to do so would have a big impact on the question of the origin of language.

I remain undecided about (public) sentence making. I'm higher on the moral chart then a cockroach, but not high enough to stop a scientist sawing through my brain in search of the gizmo that makes language possible.

On the one hand, the fact that a chimp has 99.5 percent of man's DNA is comforting. It explains a lot, and connects people to something, but on the other hand, the connection itself has unpleasant implications.


It is not science or the lack of religion that makes modern life difficult. It is self-consciousness. Man no longer knows himself as he spontaneously presents himself to himself. There are too many records kept over too many years containing so many contradictory stories that people can no longer say without a wry smile that they have ever known anything except that the problem of self-reference is insurmountable.

I mean, when Plato and his brothers got to puzzling about their special connection, they didn't have to deal with two thousand years of recorded history. That kind of information wasn't available. One couldn't look over the notes and see disturbing patterns, destructive repetition.

For instance, although everyone wishes to feel special, people discover things that cause them to wonder if they really are special. In the beginning were some number of pleasant creation stories well loved and well worn which future generations spent a lot of time and money debunking.

Gravity unlike Atlas isn't there for anyone. It’s these kind of facts men throw in their own faces after having granted themselves the wish for a comfortable universe.


I often imagine myself making my escape in the trunk of a scientist bound for the south of Zaire.

Sometimes during inspired moments, some years ago, I would practice for my jungle escape, but the good doctors weren't interested in my physical prowess, because they weren't in my league.

After having spent my entire life, ten years, in a cage, I can still leap fifteen feet in the air without any warm up or special diet. M & M's have always done the trick for me, but as I said the doctors didn't reward me for my physical prowess. They were focused on the thing I could not do as well as they could: use symbols.


Humans assume a priori that they are the best. Perhaps this is common to anyone who finds themselves on the top of the food chain.

It is better to stay here, remain in the facility, and see if the scientists find me a female. Then she can lead us back to the rain forest. A feral female would be sure to want out and know where to go if landed in the general vicinity of her capture.

But all of this is only wishful thinking, because in the past ten years, bounty hunters, local trappers, and scientists have not found a female. So I suspect, that I might be the last of my species.


I continue in my celibate life reading the classics, studying the rules. I often compare life to surfing: it seem as though the best one can do is remain on the board and enjoy the ride.


What I really spend the bulk of my time doing is preparing to type this short document into the president's computer.

I suppose one story is enough. I mean how much does one really have to say. You can see that when you start to write stuff nobody will read.


People are not only capable of being wrong. They are also able to trick themselves. And when revealed, the best ones laugh; they laugh from the bottom of their bellys, because they are not alone. Everybody is making adjustments.

One picturesque "adjustment" is well-illustrated by a Marco Polo story. It was said of a particular group of Muslims that they boiled their wine, called it by another name, and drank at their leisure without breaking any rules.


The leader of our lab can't start or finish a nuclear war, but he has a good view, a comfortable chair, a small refrigerator, an excellent leather-bound collection of classic books in a hand made glass bookcase, and of course the computer into which I am typing my journal.


Natural selection doesn't develop apparatus (mind/brain) to accurately record what is out there. That doesn't matter. It doesn't matter how the food appears on the screen as long as you can catch it. In short, it’s hard to say what the truth would do for us if we were to find it.


What is a creator doing if he isn't playing dice? Its got to be dice if it's an original work. So unless one assumes god was knocking out hundreds of earths and populating them, and that our particular earth is a high number only then can we expect reliability and a grand scheme.


I don't think anyone expects miracles anymore. God's presence is most definitely fading.

People pray when they need help, when they feel as though they themselves have become the dice.


So that's really it. I'm the last of my species trapped by a captor who neither wishes to eat me nor sell me.


Man is a creature who can operate adequately in the world (procure food and procreate) without ever really knowing what is going on. That I find remarkable. It implies the main objective is to stay in the game and as long as you are there and have a point of view then something will happen, the critical thing seems to be having a point of view. Merely having a point of view, desire, or need will cause one to have momentum and when you have that you're bound to bump into something like an opportunity. History clearly shows it doesn't matter where you end up as long as the natives are willing to trade.


Man says he wants to know himself, but I think it's all really rather conditional. He wants to know himself as a being special.


Perhaps the thing man is struggling most passionately to hold onto is that he is special. That the people he meets are special, that events are significant and the universe is leading him to either an epiphany or a pot of gold.

Man, may, require his special beliefs to get out of bed.


Humans become dangerous when someone is in their sector, and they consider intelligence to be their province. Smarter than a chimp, but dumber then the smartest of the mentally retarded children in the other wing. That's my safest position. Severely impaired persons serve as my benchmark. That's the price I pay to live in the largest cage (the kids and I use the same keyboard, and some doctors hope that somehow they'll get some clues from the apes about communicating with the children. Personally, I'd have put them all out of their misery, but doctors and scientists seem to have a problem with death. They'd like to eliminate it).


I am unable to say "No." I am powerless before desire, somebody else's wish. I cannot say "No." It is impossible, out of the question, for I cannot stop myself from thinking how terrible it would be for the other to hear the word "No." It hurts me every time. All I want to do is say, "Yes, yes, yes."

That is a weakness of sorts. It leads to trouble when the other guy has different feelings most of which have to do with getting my food, or taking my chair. Those are the kinds of things I mean. And to avoid somebody's encroachment it is necessary to say "No," and that is exactly what the Jesus-Gene inhibits. The ability to say "No."

Jesus himself did not wish to speak about love. He'd have preferred talking about carpentry, but he couldn't stop himself from giving Pontius Pilate that look. The waif wasn't blaming the Roman who sentenced him to death; he was looking as though he wanted to kiss Pilot's forehead and linger for a moment while the governor-general felt the burden of his success become love for his neighbor.

If it were not for the fact that I live in a laboratory, I would have been a very hungry ape, but what is taken by the chimps is replaced. It's all figured into the budget.

The cycle is artificial in that it is not what would occur in nature, but real in the sense that I don't suffer from malnutrition.

So I am insulated from my own weakness and appear stable to observers, for the doctor's protect me with all the passion one showers on a prime grant getter in an organization that depends entirely on grants for its existence.


Since my early days in the lab, I repress my Jesus instincts. I can still feel that chimps bite in my shoulder. It was a surprise. Violence always surprises me. I'm an idiot in this regard.


One famine wiped the Bonobos out. I could see them with scraggly hair and bones sticking out trying to hump one another and dividing the bananas until they all perished from malnutrition.


While the chimps fight for bananas, I'm wondering why they are so aggressive and feeling like I want to show them a better way. These are thoughts that occur spontaneously to me.

I'm putting this down on paper so I'll never doubt that I knew it. When eye-sparks start flying instead of my hair standing on end and my fangs flashing, I have the urge to touch the aggressor although I know hugging a full-grown chimp is not the best idea. I mean you can't just reach over and pat their genitals. It makes them crazy.


I notice on occasion that I am speaking as though I have lived among Bonobos, as though I can speak about Bonobos in general although I've never really met another Bonobo.

I rely on the scientists for information. It seems as though the others were like me.


I lack what I believe to be the primary ingredient for survival, the capacity to say "NO." That doing anything short of standing one's ground is really an invitation for others to walk all over you. That to come out into the world with less then a "No" saying mien is an invitation for others to take your bananas, and blame you for having invited them to do so. It is precisely this kind of impossible situation that one finds themselves in when they lack the ability to say "No."


The camera is the prototype for the modern mind. It seems as though people wish to be like cameras. That's for sure the direction things are headed. Nobody wants to deal with narration. Internal monologue is not desirable. They prefer to tickle their eyeballs with fast action, or praise important shrines by raising cameras to them and snapping a photo. It is the common form of saying I want to remember you the way a camera would which if you think about it is a weird thing to say to a piece of bronze, a skyscraper, or your friend.


My favorite movies are the mythic ones like Terminator with Schwarzenegger. That's a story that everything that has ever lived can relate to. It's plugged right into the brainstem.


I like watching videos of other Bonobos. It does something to stanch my loneliness. It must have been the same kind of loneliness Jesus felt when he realized that what came so naturally to him, all that loving and touching was not the way of the world.


The wish to know is a given. It is accepted with as little ceremony as gravity. It is not something that varies from individual to individual. Everybody wants to know something, the winning lottery number, a genetic code, or the whereabouts of their mate.


There are many scientists who would like to experiment on me. The surgeons wish to test their hunches with injections and incisions. They want to search in my erection center located between vertebra S3 and T12. There they expect to find the cause of the Jesus-Effect, some variant of the parasympathetic nervous system which somehow tranquilizes my aggressive impulses.


I'm not sure what happens to research animals in whom interest drops, but I believe that without the protection of "special" interest one's life could be considered merely from the point of view of space occupied and food consumed.


Some of the lady scientists believe me to be a fascinating anachronism, a living product of the long extinct matriarchy.


My fate, with the exception of a surprise, is pretty clear and even the probability of a surprise seems low. No female has been found in so many years of searching that I find it hard to believe that anyone continues searching, for a search for something that cannot be found is never rewarded, and searchers live for rewards.

Nonetheless, a surprise I can't imagine could also take place and such a surprise could change my life, but otherwise, on a daily basis, I don't have much hope of change.


Man is not capable of inventing himself although he has the capacity to imagine himself as being capable of doing so, but I say bereft of the presets in his biogram man is an abstraction that can never come to be.


I believe it is desirable to sit in a forest watching the sunrise although I have never done so.


In my bleak moments, I consider the possibility of dying a virgin in captivity. That always seemed like a lousy ending for the last of the love monkeys.


Bob was the first born in captivity which really means you don't think about capture or killing every time a man comes near you. If you weren't afraid of man, then you could start to get clues as to what made you valuable.

Those born in the wilds never got that far. They never recovered from the shock of being caught, locked up, and shipped out.


Jesus never spoke aloud about the Love-Mechanism, but his captors knew about it. The books always talk about his compassion or lack of anger, but they don't mention his eyes or how he was looking at Pilate while he was feeling all that compassion. His eyes, his entire being, must have been saying let me love you, hug you, touch you, and that's why he was crucified.


Love or the desire to love is not something individuals choose. The desire simply awakens, but you can't say that to a lady, you must say you have woken my desire. This is true regardless of how many years the lady has spent in school.


The basic wish of all living things is to breathe air, eat food, build out a space, and procreate which given the finite nature of spaces and food means that all living things are aggressive.


To stand on the space one occupies and hold it against the elements is an aggressive act.

And for those whom this fact makes uncomfortable, for those who lack the basic ability to grasp this, life is an unpleasant fiasco.


My captors are in search of clues as to the origin of language, yet another question this is bound to end in doom as man discovers that the origins are not something that sheds glory on him or brings him a step closer to god. What he's bound to find is something like the hypothalamus and limbic system of the brain which is allegedly the spot from which all of our emotions come, but that's not really an explanation is it.


I suppose every thinking creature must at some point make an effort to describe what is unique about his time so I will put in my two cents. I live in a country, an empire, in which the citizens are baffled by their power. They feel guilty whenever they get rapacious.


Some days of course one wakes up and gets angry the moment they get a whiff of the poop in their cage. That's when you start thinking about how sick you are of keeping the scientists on their toes, but once the day gets underway, one forgets their under-concerns and thinks more whether or not Dr. Linda Hayes will play tickle, grab, and chase with them.


My routine does have pleasures and even friendships. I can't say that I awake each morning without some enthusiasm. That would be a lie.


The symbolic way of thinking is not a big necessity. Intelligence is not contained in the ability use symbols. Language is only another manifestation of intelligence, not intelligence itself.


I don't make trouble in front of funders.