In the gorilla you are alone -- people don't regard you as human and animals find you just plain scary. The gorilla I came to realize as I stood there on Madison Avenue was the safest place I had ever inhabited. Beautiful women walked by and I had no need to compare myself to them, my insecurities were obliterated by my apeness. Men in their own gorilla suits brushed past me, their summer gabardine sparked against my black llama and if anyone felt a thrill, it was not apparent, it was too unseemly to be admitted. And then the dog walker appeared, I saw him round the block and head straight for me. I wondered if I should cross the street to avoid the confrontation, but then I caught my breath and decided to stand my ground. He was a good looking boy, the dog walker, New York gay in his leaf green t-shirt, gym body, skinny black jeans, grey Pumas, and a stride made for walking dogs. The dogs were so numerous they couldn't be counted and together with the boy they made one great creature, like the snakes living off Medusa's scalp, like a grand octopus, they cleared everything in their path, tongues and tails and the clattering of paws, no stopping to piss, no time for that, none at all, they were maniacal -- and this was before they saw me. It was the Irish terrier who started it, he pricked his auburn ears and his eyes went black, and the quiver of his hackles sent a fire through the pack and the boy was no longer the master of his fate. The dogs were on me and we were a storm of hair -- my placard went to the curb, and I followed. as the dogs rolled me -- a Dane, a beagle, a bulldog, a long haired dachshund, a Dandy Dinmont, a gigantic pinkish poodle with skin disease, a dalmation, two chihuahuas, a Scottish terrier, a black and tan coonhound, and finally the Irish. The leashes alone were deadly, I was strung up like a captain of her ship by mutinous sailors, and the boy kept saying, "No, no, no! Leave it! Leave! It!" And as quickly as it started the dogs began to whine and back off -- they brushed off their coats and regained their composure, and then their formation, the leashes unraveled and they were gone, like a hallucination. I lay on the sidewalk for a moment and my cell phone began to ring, "weedle weedle weedle weeeeee" but I couldn't answer it . . . it was in the bottom of my napsack, under the manuscripts. I would never know who it was.
"Can I help you up?" I rolled over from my gorilla belly to my gorilla hip and there stood a man who looked like John Updike, my literary hero.
"Yes, please." I said and realized these were the first words I had uttered since becoming the gorilla. The man picked up my placard and handed it to me and gently removed a crushed paper cup that had become stuck to my pelt.
"That was quite a mauling they gave you, are you okay?"
"Yes, I think so. A little embarrassed, but I'm okay."
"What's this about a book?"
"Huh?" I had completely forgotten about the placard, about my mission. Mr. Updike pointed to the placard, "Oh, yeah, the book! My friend's book. This was sucha bad idea."
"Maybe so, but is the book any good?" I paused to answer this question, because I wanted to blurt out all sorts of wonderful adjectives regarding the book, but then I wondered how believable it would be, coming from a gorilla who was just attacked by a pack of dogs on Madison Avenue. I decided to take my chances, "Oh yes, it's a damn terrific story. I wouldn't be out here, like this . . . if I didn't believe in the book."
"Do you have a copy?"
"I do, I do! Here in my napsack . . . but my friend specifically told me to only give the book to someone who could actually help him. Could you help him?"
"Well, I could, but I have to read it first, decide for myself, you know, gorilla good review or not." Mr. Updike winked at me and I practically swooned, because well, he was such a perfect gentleman.
"You will have to take it out of my napsack, I can't do a thing with these ape fingers . . . " He gently unzipped my napsack and I felt as though we had just gotten home from a dinner party crowded with the literary elite and I was tipsy and he was having trouble with the zipper, so he took one more drag off his cigarette and put it in the silver ashtray on my vanity and smiled into the mirror over my shoulder and tried again, and this time the zipper on my evening dress glided down my spine and . . .
"While I'm in here, do you need anything? Your phone is blinking . . ."
"No, just zip me back up. My friend should be returning any time now. With Italian Ice."
"Alright then," and Mr. Updike zipped the napsack closed and patted it, "here's my card. I'll be in touch. Do be careful, this jungle is no place for a sweet gorilla such as you my dear." And then he was swallowed by a yellow taxi and I held the card tightly. Wouldn't J. be proud of me? Oh golly!