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Tell It to the Monkey-Flash Fiction by Bernard Onken
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Dark Tales from Gent's Pens

Bernard Onken—Tell It to the Monkey

Art by Steve Cartwright 2021

Tell It to the Monkey


by Bernard Onken



“Mr. Lantana?”

“Watching a game here, kid.”

“We can maybe watch and talk?”

“You’re ruining prison softball for me, kid.”

“Mr. Lantana, if you speak to Jim Red, to fix my situation, I can trade you something. How ’bout it?”

“Naw, kid. Not interested.”

“I have a spell for you, yes?”

“A spell? You’re Romani, that it?”

“A three-wishes spell.”

“Yeah? I can wish myself out of here?”                                    

“It only works to change a past mistake. You have to wish to undo things.”

“And there’s three of them.”

“Three is the number.”

“You’d be thinking backwards for each one.”

“That’s why it is not so easy.”

“You guarantee this works.”

“It will. You’re a monad.”

“Now you wait a minute.”

“No, it’s nothing bad. Everyone is. We can reverse through space and time without breaking apart.”

“Haw! Kid, you make my day interesting. I’ll fix it with Red. I’ll say you’re my long-lost cousin, capisce?”

“I am grateful, Mr. Lantana.”

 “When do I get my wishes?”

“Wait until tonight. Then for each wish you say gnok-gnik.”


“It’s the spell that works in America. King Kong backwards.”


“Watch yourself, Victor. These things are a trap. Say I wish I didn’t clip Tony and we start over, and then boom, Tony clips me. That’s how it works. It’s irony. Think I just fell off some tomato truck? OK, OK. Moment of truth. Gnok-gnik. I wish I was found not guilty.”

“Hi there, Vic! God, I’m so, so glad you got clear!”


“Who else, lover? You expecting Sofie Coppola?”

“I got clear? Yeah, yeah. Wow.”

“What is it, Vic baby?”

“Andrea, you’re looking great. I mean really great, like . . . . Let me be careful here.”


Gnok-gnik. I wish I had married you, that time.”

“Vic! A very helpful guy called me just out of the blue to talk over our tax form and dot the i’s as he put it, and I told him he left out the garages and trucks and all the stuff in the warehouse, in case we get to deduct that.”


“After these five years together, could anyone be the wifey to you I am?”

“It’s like I don’t know you.”

“Vic, you’re such a pisser. Anyone needs me, they’ll find me at Short Hills.”


“Victor, pally, talk to me.”

“What, Gio.”

What is we been taking missed opportunities right up the tailpipe. We need to diversify. Now, I can get us a deal where we’re moving industrial waste down the Yangtze River, puts us in for a six-, seven-figure cut. We get the venture funds by pulling everything out of AC.”

Gnok-gnik. I wish I never went in with this guy.”


“Vic, I need a minute.”

“What, Tully.”

“Vic, we’re way behind with the expenses. We’re getting murdered since Gio made his moves with the vending machines. We weren’t watching and now it’s too late, show’s over. Then he’s also taken on some loan contracts backed by the Chinese. His operation has us frozen out.”

“Lemme have a look.”

“Shows the numbers right here.”

“That’s all my cash.”

“That’s kind of my point, Vic, I didn’t—"


“You better sit down a minute. There’s another thing. Our people have word the U.S. Attorney’s office is about to sequester your holdings. And, ah, they’ll also lock the accounts.”

“Is that right?”

“Vic, please listen closely. If you give yourself up, cooperate, it’ll clear the slate. After a little easy time, you’ll be back. Gives you a chance to plan a new start.”

This is how guys get rolled over?”

“Vic, we need to focus a minute here.”

“Vic, Vic! I’m back! I had five vodka Red Bulls at lunch! Such a pisser! You ever throw up Red Bull? It’s like throwing up throw-up!”

“Andrea, would you excuse us for right now?”

“Something’s got to give, Vic. You need to take action.”

“All right! Then talk to the attorney.”

 “It’s for the best.”

“One day on the outside and I’m straight back in. Lousy rotten U-turn.”

“One day? What’s that mean?”


“We’ll wish for the best, Vic.”

“Tell it to the monkey.”



Bernard Onken’s Jersey crime stories have appeared in Switchblade, Mondays Are Murder, Shotgun Honey, Near to the Knuckle, and Mysterical-E. He is a writer and editor, lately working for Google.

It's well known that an artist becomes more popular by dying, so our pal Steve Cartwright is typing his bio with one hand while pummeling his head with a frozen mackerel with the other. Stop, Steve! Death by mackerel is no way to go! He (Steve, not the mackerel) has a collection of spooky toons, Suddenly Halloween!, available at Amazon.com.    He's done art for several magazines, newspapers, websites, commercial and governmental clients, books, and scribbling - but mostly drooling - on tavern napkins. He also creates art pro bono for several animal rescue groups. He was awarded the 2004 James Award for his cover art for Champagne Shivers. He recently illustrated the Cimarron Review, Stories for Children, and Still Crazy magazine covers. Take a gander ( or a goose ) at his online gallery: www.angelfire.com/sc2/cartoonsbycartwright . And please hurry with your response - that mackerel's killin' your pal, Steve Cartwright.

In Association with Black Petals & Fossil Publications 2021