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Isobel & the Bonobo
by M. J. Nicholls

When Isobel walked out on me, taking the quadriplegic bonobo with her, I thought she would never return. I was plagued by visions of furtive banana peeling in the afternoon, monkey lovers scrabbling up trees and chasing squirrels, transgender apes nibbling on salted nuts as the barrier between simian and human sexuality was erased. I called Girlfriend Direct.

“Excuse me. This Isobel you sent me – she walked out and took my bonobo with her,” I said.

“Yeah, that’s common. Our contractors are partial to pygmy chimps. Sorry – no refunds.”

Irateness consumed me. I ate this irateness with peeved chips and vexed beans (with a side helping of livid ketchup) and got to work on grouping various species together according to their shin size. The idea was to create a harmonious Darwinian shin unity, and hopefully win Isobel back when she realised I was shinnier than that crippled bonobo.

I started with the gnats – nature’s Jacques Tati. At first, I found their wibbly-wobbly knees rather amusing (chuckles such as ha-ha-ha-ha and ho-ho-ho-ho left my mouth) but then I realised something – these gnats were proficient slapstick performers. The gnat I captured was Chaplinesque in his ability to bend backwards and time his falls in such a natural way that unstoppable laughter was the only result of his insectean antics. I auditioned another nine gnats for a production of The Great Dictator.

After nine months rehearsal, three months spent working on the choreography, another five months to raise support funds, I was ready to take the production to Isobel. She was living out in the Copper Belt with the bonobo, hunting requiem sharks that had emigrated from the sea to the desert. I rang her doorbell and the bonobo answered.

“Oh – you,” he said, puffing on a stogey. “Isobel’s in the kitchen.”

I found her by the breadbin filleting a Greek orphan. No words could convey my passion for this 3.67 woman (plus 2.90 P&P), so I let the gnats work their magic legs. Isobel put down her carving knives and watched with that detached rapture women who can’t take anything seriously have when they know something wonderful and important is taking place, and want to appear respectful despite their frivolousness.

Afterwards, she applauded, ran up to the lead gnat, snogged his antennae off and eloped with him to Juarez. I hunched back into the sitting room, goggled my eyes at the bonobo and asked: “Wanna defy evolution?”

“OK, mister,” he said, showcasing his bum.