Tony Diamonte stared over the manuscript at Willie for a few more seconds. Willie simply sat there at let Tony mull over what he had just heard. The monkey sitting next to Willie stopped grooming itself for a few seconds and smiled at Tony.
Tony sat forward in his chair with a loud creak. "Willie, we've known each other for how long now?"
"A few years, and have I ever been wrong?"
Tony didn't answer that. He had first met Willie seventeen years ago while still a junior assistant to the publisher. While Tony wore the proof that his wife's cooking continued to improve, Willie hadn't really changed at all over the years. Sure Willie's hair was receding leaving a bit more of a widow's peak, and the bags beneath his eyes hung a bit heavier, but he still looked just as weasely and greasy as the first day they had met.
Still, Willie had produced some top-notch talent along with some real dregs. That was the thing about him, it was genius or insanity, feast or famine, but this was the first time it was ever man or beast. Granted, times were tough, but Tony never expected Willie to try to con him. At least not a second time.
"Tony, I'm tellin' ya, this is him! This is the one that they have always talked about! This is the monkey that typed Hamlet!"
"And he wants a book deal."
"You gotta admit, Tony, it's good stuff."
Tony picked up the thick manuscript again and thumbed through it a bit. It was set in 1920's Africa. The hero was a strong, square jawed adventurer. The girl was a smart and sassy nurse. They meet, fall in love, and as the chapter ends he sweeps her into his arms and tenderly eats the nits out of her hair.
"I don't know, Willie, the first chapter has nice character development. I mean we could probably get Mike to do a bit of editing and... what the hell am I saying? For Crissake Willie, He's a monkey!"
The chimp got up, walked to a typewriter across the cluttered office and clattered away on the keyboard for a second. He pulled the sheet, climbed back into his chair and handed Tony the result.
Technically, I'm an ape.
Tony just stared at the sheet. He turned to Willie. "He understands English?"
"Better than the last two guys I found. I'm telling you Tony, he'll make us both millions." Willie leaned in close, "and I've talked him down. He's a steal! I mean he's happy with only a minimal advance and a percentage..."
The typewriter clacked away again.
I prefer a more Zen lifestyle. I write for my muse.
A part of Tony was very creeped out. The other parts, however, knew a good deal when they saw one. He turned to Willie and asked, "Does he have a name?"
Clackity-clack-clack-clackity-clack-clack *ding* Zzrrrrrp!
Tarzan. I think it will appeal to marketing.
"Willie bring that typewriter closer so Tarzan doesn't have to get up all the time? Set it on the corner of the desk. There are some phone books on the cabinet over there. I'll get Alice to buy a higher chair for next time. Can you reach? Good. Ok, ok, I admit I'm a bit intrigued by this deal. But you got to admit, there's gonna be problems."
"Well, is he trained?"
"What do you mean?"
"I mean, do we have to worry about accidents on Regis?"
Tarzan looked embarrassed. Willie looked disappointed. "Tony, I told you he's better than the last two guys I brought in."
"What about personal appearances? Can we get him on Letterman?"
If he straps a camera on me he gets a facefull of happiness.
Tarzan sat back on his chair and glowered with his arms folded. Tony got the not subtly implied threat. "Ok, I'll make sure to talk to his people."
"So," asked Willie, "do we have a deal?"
"Maybe. Where can I get in touch with Tarzan?"
This time both Willie and Tarzan shifted uncomfortably in their seats. "Uh, well, about that. My landlord has this no-pets policy, and you know my rent situation."
Plus it smelled funny there.
Willie snapped back, "Quiet you!"
"Then the hotel manager threw out El Cheapo here after he and an employee got into a disagreement"
I just ordered room service. The bellboy wanted a tip. I'm an ape, I don't carry change.
"You couldn't grab a couple of bucks off the desk?"
Tarzan was starting to get worked up. Tony held up a calming hand and they both settled for the time being.
Tony stared at Willie, then at Tarzan while his mind turned.
He pressed a button on his intercom. "Alice? Is Mike in Editing still looking for a room-mate?"
"I think so, Tony."
"Tell him we found one for him."
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