Staring at the little shirts in my hand, I knew if he’d been small enough to fit into those clothes when they’d crashed here, then he’d been all alone for most of his life.
Damn near my entire lifetime.
It broke my heart all over again.
And it explained why he was naked as the day he was born now.
I checked the insides of his shirts, hoping his name might be written on the inside tags of one of them because my own mom had done that with most of Jason’s clothes when he was younger.
It was the only way to have any hope of getting them back when he would strip down to his underwear at the lake at a moment’s notice and forget to put them on again before coming home.
But there wasn’t any name in any of these outfits to give me any idea of who he was.
Or who he had been.
Poor baby Jesus.
But I needed to figure out something to call him other than Monkey or Jesus. The first was just too weird and the second, well…
If he was Jesus than that would make me Jezebel, given the hussy-like dreams I’d been having about him.
Turning at the sound of my name – sort of – he smiled at me and put his hand on my chest, while repeating it again in a softer voice.
Maybe to make up for how hard he then squeezed my boob.
So maybe I wasn’t the only one who thought I was a hussy.
But given the look on his face – more fascinated than wicked – I figured he was just intrigued by the differences in our bodies.
So I tried to keep that in mind when I removed his death grip from my boob and put it back on his own boob-less chest, saying more to myself than him, “What am I going to call you? I doubt ‘Monkey’ was put onto your birth certificate.”
And as if to prove me wrong, he beat on his chest with his fist like an ape and agreed, “MONKEY!”
Sweet baby Jesus.
It was easier to talk to Sully.
Looking for the bright side, I settled on the fact that at least he was communicating with me at all and his native language must have been English for him to know the word ‘monkey’.
It was a start.
But since my bright side was getting darker by the minute, I quickly rifled through the remaining suitcases and grabbed what I thought might fit him from – who I assumed was – his father’s clothes. We would just have to dig through it come morning.
I had no idea of where we were in relation to the beach where the ship was stranded, so I made my way back out of the plane and looked around, trying to get my bearings.
Mt. BP was still visible, but we were on the wrong side of it and given the sun’s placement in the sky, I knew we were east of where we needed to be.
And then I stopped short, realizing I was still thinking in terms of ‘we’.
Would he want to come with me?
Did I want him to?
Where had he been sleeping on the island?
I didn’t think it had been the plane. And considering I was almost positive the bodies in the cockpit had been his parents, I sure hoped he hadn’t.
But either way, I knew I wouldn’t be spending the night in the plane and we hadn’t passed any Hilton hotels – or even a Super 8 motel – on the way here, so the ship it was.
And – admittedly – I was still a little freaked out, thinking there might be monkeys on the island that weren’t naked Jesus giants.
Using my internal navigation tools – calibrated to a tee over the last eight years – I figured we were well over a mile from where the ship was beached.
Well over a mile, through thick underbrush.
With my machete still lying on the ground where I’d dropped it, when a certain naked Jesus giant had kidnapped me, it would be hell trying to make my way back. Especially now, when the sun was setting.
If only I could fly through the trees.
Like a certain naked Jesus giant.
His method of travel explained why there weren’t any defined paths anywhere I had seen, so while I mentally cursed certain grabby naked Jesus giants, he then proved to be telepathic as well because he suddenly appeared at my side, looking contrite as he said, “Sookie?”
Looking up at him, in spite of him being a full grown man now, I couldn’t help but see the little boy he must have been when they’d crash landed here.
How scared he must have been. How hard it must have been for him to just survive.
How lonely he must have felt, doing it all alone.
So there was no malice in my tone, when I softly smiled back at him and mimicked, “Monkey?”
We would have to come up with something better than that, but it would do for now.
But since the word monkey had still been lurking in his memories, I wondered if there would be more and dropped to the ground, using my finger to carve a picture in the dirt.
Pointing at my crude drawing, I looked up at him and said, “Boat. We need to go back to my boat.”
I had to repeat it a few more times and add some waves at the bottom and Sully flying in the sky above it before he finally seemed to cotton on to what I was getting at. I wasn’t really sure if he would want to go with me and I tried really hard to not think too much about whether or not I wanted him to come along.
Not because I didn’t want him with me.
But because God had already reminded me to be careful what I wished for.
And after my dreams of a certain naked Jesus giant the night before, I knew things could get messy.
My underwear was proof of that.
But I didn’t have long to ponder because before I knew what was going on, I was thrown back over his shoulder and on my return flight, via Jesus Airways.
At least I had the luggage to hold onto instead of Monkey’s cheeky monkeys that time.
The bright side.
I was full of it.
Among other things.
We eventually landed with another hard thud at the edge of the beach and he helped me disembark his bark-less tree-like body, while I glared up at him and said, “You could warn a girl!”
But he didn’t appear to notice my glare or my harsh words because he couldn’t seem to take his eyes off of the boat.
Back when I still thought he was a hallucination, I’d thought I had felt like I was being watched, but I couldn’t be sure if that was the case. I suppose I’d been right, considering he’d known where I wanted to go based off of my scribbles, so I didn’t understand why he looked so gobsmacked now.
Maybe he’d thought I was a hallucination at the time?
Whatever the reason, it wasn’t like I could ask him. So I just gestured for him to follow along and said, “Come on.”
Walking over to the boat, I waded out into the knee deep water and tied the handle of the suitcase to the rope dangling from the pulley up above, so I could pull it up to the deck after I climbed aboard.
Monkey Jesus was still standing at the edge of the water, staring up at the boat, so I looked back at him and said, “Like this.”
Grabbing onto the rope ladder, I carefully climbed up the side of the ship and when I reached the railing, I looked back towards the beach to tell him it was his turn.
Only he wasn’t there.
Had he really been a hallucination all along?
When my eyes landed on the suitcase still waiting to be pulled up, I knew he wasn’t, so I called out, “Monkey?”
Hearing my name being called out from right in front of me, I yelled out, “Jesus!” and would have fallen off of the ladder if a rough callused hand hadn’t grabbed ahold of my wrist, making my eyes shoot forward to my savior.
Only to get an eyeful of his dangly bits.
Save me Jesus…
He pulled me onto the deck, like I weighed next to nothing. And while I could use a few more pounds to fill out my frame – eight years at sea wasn’t the easiest life there was – I wasn’t a waif.
Thank you Jesus for not giving me dangly bits to let him know how turned on he’d just made me.
And having had an eyeful, I was also thankful I’d brought along that suitcase full of clothes for him and made it my first order of business.
He needed to be dressed to keep my mind out of the gutter.
While I went about pulling the suitcase up to the deck, I vaguely noticed he’d disappeared on me again. If I hadn’t seen the airplane for myself, I might have just assumed he was an alien, with the power to teleport.
It would explain how he’d made it onto the deck before me, without me noticing.
But if it really was my mind playing tricks on me, I didn’t want to know anymore. I liked having company again that wasn’t of the feathered variety.
I didn’t care if he only lived in my head.
Once I had the suitcase in hand, I set off in search of him and found him in the wheelhouse. Moving to stand alongside of him, I nearly said something to get his attention, but remained silent when I looked up into his eyes.
He might not have said more than three words in our time together, but there were a thousand of them flickering behind his eyes.
Eyes that took in every nook and cranny surrounding him, with his hand occasionally reaching out to touch whatever it was that caught his attention.
If I had to put a name to his expression, it would be dreamlike.
The only explanation I could come up with was that he’d never seen the inside of a ship before. And my heart lurched, wondering if there had been times that he’d seen other ships out at sea from his forced isolation on the island.
So close and yet so far.
My hand automatically reached out to touch his arm, wanting to assure him – and maybe myself – that he wasn’t alone anymore.
Neither one of us were.
His head turned towards me at my touch, with his eyes seeming to clear of the fog behind them. And despite him only knowing three words, I couldn’t help but ask, “What’s wrong?”
I hadn’t really been expecting an answer – all things considered – but his face screwed up in concentration, until a single word was finally forced through his lips.
“North?” I asked, excited that he was saying something new.
Or, perhaps, just excited that I was coming to understand his monkey-speak.
I couldn’t be sure what ‘north’ had to do with anything, but he angrily shook his head and said, “Nnoorrthhmmaahh…”
“Northern?” I guessed. “You can read?”
It would be weird that he could read, when he couldn’t remember how to talk all that much, but the ship’s name was the Northern Star.
It said so right there on the wall where his eyes were locked onto.
He growled, seemingly frustrated and hearing him do it, I was frustrated too.
Albeit, for different reasons.
I really needed to get him dressed.
But before I could make him my Ken doll, he took off out of the wheelhouse, with my feet following along behind him.
If I didn’t know any better, I would have said that he’d known where he was going because he navigated the small hallways with ease, bypassing the other cabins until he reached the smallest one.
So maybe it had been my wishful thinking that my bunk was where he would want to end up.
After all, it had been years since I’d even been inside of a church.
He stood in the doorway just looking around the small room, while I wondered if he was so attuned to his animalistic side that he’d scented his way there.
Because, of course, I was crazy enough to think it would be my scent he would trail after.
A girl can fantasize…
Especially when his ass was still on display.
I was a horrible person.
Just as I was about to suggest he get dressed – I’d burrito his ass in the sail of the ship, if I had to – he stepped into the room. Moving the pile of books I had stashed on the floor at the foot of my bunk, I watched as he ran his fingers along the wooden floorboards.
My mouth then fell open – catching flies, Gran would have said – when he pressed down on the wood, revealing a secret compartment hidden underneath that I’d known nothing about.
So being telepathic wouldn’t have helped him find it.
The whispered, “How did you…” had barely left my lips, when he reached inside and pulled something out.
A stuffed toy monkey.
Brushing the dust and cobwebs from the fur, he held it up and smiled, like he was staring at a long lost friend, before looking back at me and saying, “Cheetah!”
What else would he name it when ‘Monkey’ was already taken?
It was an easier question to ponder, rather than how he’d known it was there all along to begin with.