|Heaven Knows, Mr. Allison|
Sunday, 27 November 2016
Robert Mitchum and the Monkey in Zen City
It was some time before he (Robert Mitchum) saw Huston again, crossing paths with him again in a hotel bar in London. John gave him the reproving fish eye.
“I’m pretty disappointed in you, Bob,” he said. “Turning me down like that.”
Mitchum said, “What are you doing with that creature, John?”
Huston had a little pet monkey with him at the bar. The monkey’s red-striped penis was extended and the director was plucking at it as he stood there, a drink in the other hand.
Huston smiled. “Well, kid, I think he likes it.”
All was forgiven, the friendship continued. Huston soon
That bizarre meeting between the two heavy drinking swashbucklers is described in Lee Servers’ brilliant bio of Mitchum, Baby I Don’t Care.
It inspired me to pen an unlikely encounter in Zen City, Iso:
“Evening, Baron,” I say, nonchalantly. “What’s up with the monkey?”
The Baron goes to fetch a schooner in a proper thin glass. “Bernard?” he says. “He’s still traumatized. So, I’m trying to coax him back into normality.”
“Bernard the monkey is traumatized?”
“Last night we had two blokes in here,” he explains. “This Dutch roughneck from an oilfield down Java way and this Cochin gunrunner. They started arguing over our cigarette girl. Next thing you know they got into a terrible argument here at the bar and started knocking seven bells out of each other. Then there was an awful scream as the Cochin bit off the Dutchman’s ear. He ran outside, clutching the side of his head and blood everywhere. Like Vincent van Goff. Next thing, the Dutchman roared back in with this bit of piping in his hand and knocked out the Cochin who’s still got the ear between his teeth. The Dutchman grabbed his ear, carefully wrapped it in a hankie, put it in his pocket and staggered out. The monkey was sat here the whole time and saw it all.”
"And now Bernard is completely traumatized?”
“Yeah, hasn’t spoken a word since.”The monkey looks up and I swear to God the little blighter is smiling at me.