The Mon-Key To Happiness
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"This is horrible, absolutely horrible," said Tim Wilson as he examined the reports about the newly found exotic critter. He had not heard much about this so-called Wondertainment before, but he already despised what he was reading. Animals were on this Earth to be treated as our friends, not our toys. "Has anyone checked to see just how bad its health is?"

"No, sir. Walter has not cooperated with our attempts at taking a closer look at him. He is very sick and very afraid," said one of the WWS volunteers standing beside Tim and in front of the ape's provisional cage. Tim looked at the footage of the poor critter, sulking in a fetal position in one corner and rocking back and forth.

"Has he displayed any significant hostility, though?" asked Tim, trying to hold back a terrible wave of pity from messing with his thoughts.

"Not yet. He just slowly walks away from everyone, and sometimes covers his face like he's trying to hide," said the volunteer.

Tim shook his head, this was a lot worse than he expected. "Open the cage and let me in. Remain on standby, I'll tell you if you need to come help me."

"But sir, he's still a gorilla, he could hurt you very badly if you're not careful!"

Tim placed his hand on the younger man's shoulder and gave him a reassuring smile. "My boy, that gorilla is a lot more afraid of us than we are of him. I know what it's like to feel alone, I can reach out to him. Have faith and open the cage, please."

Reluctantly, the younger man pressed some buttons on his computer and opened the cage. Tim entered the habitat, escorted by a few members of the MTF Castaways. Walter immediately picked up on the smell of humans and turned around to face them, a fierce scowl on his face. He tried to bare his rotten fangs, but his weak display only made Tim feel more sorry for the ape.

"Stand back, he'll feel threatened if we approach all at once." Tim walked toward Walter at an even pace without sudden movements or too much eye contact. He laid down a bowl of clean water in front of the ape, and calmly backed away. Walter's scowl only deepened and he knocked away the bowl, spilling water everywhere.

"It's fine everyone, bring me some water bottles so I can refill his bowl." After his assistants did so, Tim sat in front of Walter at a respectable distance. Eventually the ape felt thirsty and went toward the bowl, staring with suspicion at Tim the whole time. Walter had trouble picking up the bowl due to his cymbal hands, and began crying.

Tim raised his hands in a defensive gesture as he got closer to Walter, ever so cautiously. He needed to show he had no intention of hurting this animal, but doing so could go wrong with even the slightest miscalculation in his movements or body language. Tim remembered his lessons from his master, and concentrated on emptying his mind of all evil and impure thoughts. His muscles relaxed, his breathing became steady and his gaze shone with a kindness unseen in common men.

"Hey there, buddy. It's alright, it's alright, I'm not gonna hurt you."

Tim was now within arm's reach of Walter, and lifted the water bowl for the ape. The critter remained still and quiet for several moments with a confused look on his face. They met gazes, and there was a long and terrible pause. Walter lowered his guard and accepted the offering.

"There you go, you're safe here," Tim comforted. "We're here to help you. I'm gonna leave for now, OK? Don't be scared." Tim picked up one of the teeth that had fallen from Walter's mouth and placed it into a zip lock bag for the veterinarians to examine. In the following days, Tim would bring water and soft foods for Walter, and the ape eventually allowed his caretaker to put some ointments on his gums and teeth to relieve the pain while a more definitive treatment was devised. After a week, Walter took Tim's hand and walked out of the cage.

"You are very sick, so I'm gonna need you to let my friends help me take care of you, OK?" said Tim as he made gestures toward the entrance to a clinic where volunteers were waiting to examine Walter. Tim believed that even though most animals cannot understand human languages, it was a fact that they could easily detect the emotions behind the words. Walter was no different, and showed great hesitation to go anywhere unknown without Tim. With all the patience in the world, Tim obliged.

The checkup revealed extensive mechanical and surgical modifications to Walter that by all rights should have killed him. Tim breathed in sharply through his teeth as he looked at the X-rays. He was so absorbed in discussing treatments for Walter with the volunteers that none of them noticed when the ape picked up a plastic ball with his feet and threw it at Tim. He was annoyed by that for a moment, but then he heard Walter laughing for the first time.

That was all Tim needed to return the laughter. "See, you're getting better already!" Tim threw the ball back at Walter, and the two of them played for a minute or so before Tim told his new friend that it was time to go the dentist, much to the ape's dismay. Tim unfortunately had other matters to attend to, which left Walter uneasy.

"Don't worry, Walter. You're safe with us," assured Tim as he hugged his friend. When he was done with his various tasks, he returned to Walter's new cage only to find that the ape had stolen crayons from the clinic and drawn a crude but endearing representation of Tim on the wall. The kind man did not have the will to scold Walter for it, and asked the volunteers to let the drawing stay for now.

After that, Tim began to teach Walter sign language so they could communicate. Walter could only do it with his feet, so there were a few hiccups here and there. But the kind man would always reply with positive comments and assure his friend that he was doing great.

Eventually Walter became comfortable enough in his new home that he was allowed to see the other critters there. The mimic centipedes would grow hands to tickle him, Sampson played fetch with him and he was completely awestruck by Caddy. Walter eventually asked to see what Tim's "cage" was, and for a moment the kind man didn't understand. He then laughed and showed Walter his office.

The room was simple and rustic, and every piece of furniture had its origins checked to make sure no fauna or flora had been abused in their creation. Several scientific prizes and credentials could be seen along souvenirs from the globetrotting of his younger years. But by far his most prized possession was a picture that always remained on his desk. In the picture a younger Wilson was beside a serene old lady in India, both surrounded by researchers and animals.

Walter pointed at the picture and asked who that was. Tim was taken aback, his mind flooding with many memories and his heart filling with nostalgia. "Oh, her? Well, Walter. I have many friends nowadays, but it wasn't always like that. I used to be kinda like you, with no one to look after me. People wouldn't care too much about me for the most part, so I had to take care of myself. It was a lonely life, and I started wanting to become a scientist so people would admire me and give me the attention that I wanted so badly. But when that didn't make me happy, I started traveling to find where it all went wrong. That is when I met Mrs. Parvati."

He had to fight back tears, but Walter hugged him and said "It is OK to be sad". Tim hugged him back and let the tears flow. "You see, Walter, I used to be a very arrogant person. I thought that people owed me things because I was smart, but Parvati showed me the truth that was in front of me all along. It's not about me. We're all in this together. You and me, the birds and the trees, everyone. She became like a mother to me. I knew a lot about animals, except how to love them. That I learned from her, among many other things. She is in a better place now."

Tim chuckled. "I know I'm just one man, and one day everything I've done and everyone I've loved will be gone. But you know what? That's a bunch of guano! I am making others happy while I'm here, and that is good enough for me."

That was when Walter did something that Tim never thought the ape would do after being treated like a toy for so long. Walter began playing music for Tim, a song which he recognized as Philip Philips' "Home". Tim smiled from ear to ear and sang along with the melody. The world was filled with demons and trouble for sure. But as long as he was alive and having moments like this, it didn't really matter.

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