04 March 2011

The Weremonkey of Prati

Taunt not The Weremonkey of Prati, for you are crunchy & taste good with ketchup.

Last summer found Will & I sharing a room, which is another story in and of itself. Let's just say that we would occasionally engage in somnambulistic ass-grabery, myself out of habit from 5 years of sleeping next to someone and Will probably because my laziness vis-a-vis depilation duties made his sleepy subconscious think that there was hot hirsute man-meat in bed with him.

Being summertime in Rome where AC is considered hazardous to one's health, the windows were more or less constantly open. One night when Will was out of town for the weekend, just as I was about to pass the border into Morpheus' realm I was jolted back into full wakefulness by some drunk-ass tourist screeching like a fucking monkey somewhere nearby. The hoots & screeches of this primate wannabe echoed throughout the quarter for about 30 minutes. No big deal at the time. I'm accustomed to late night drunken tourist shenanigans. Hell, I've taken part in more than my fair share.

The following night though, gave me an inkling that this might not be your average run of the mill drunken tourist, as once again just as I was nodding off, the screeching began, bouncing between the neighbourhood buildings like an acoustic super ball. When this continued for a week, I came to the brilliant conclusion that this was no tourist.

Some places have werewolves; Prati apparently has the occasional Weremonkey.

Over the course of the following week, I became the Jane Goodall of Prati. I noted that if there was a late evening summer rain shower, Weremonkey did not make his nightly appearance. He would never begin earlier than half past midnight, but no later than 1.30am. I would stick my head out the window trying to get a glimpse of the elusive faux simian, to no avail. I sounded out some other friends that live in the area; they too had heard the stylistic warblings of the Weremonkey.

But I kept forgetting to mention it to Will, as he typically went to sleep earlier than I did and never woke up when Weremonkey began his nightly serenade.

One night Will & I were returning from our local bar. We headed up a street perpendicular to ours that perpetually seems like the City of Rome forgot to pay the light bill. We turned the corner to our street and stopped facing the portone of our building as Will dug his keys out.

And that was when the screeching began.

You know how you can mentally triangulate where something is spatially via the doppler effect? Shivers ran down my spine & the hair on my arms stood straight up a microsecond before I consciously realised that the fucker was directly across the street from us.

Let me just interject here that I am totally spoiled living in the center of Rome. While pickpocketing may be frequent, the incidence of violent crime is really low in comparison to other places I have lived. I can count on one hand the times where I felt mildly apprehensive about my surroundings. Unlike other places I have lived, 99.9% of the time wolf whistles or catcalls in Rome are generally not cause for me to shove my keys in between my fisted fingers.

By now familiar with the tone of his nightly meanderings, without turning around I started slapping at Will's arm. This was angry screeching. Weremonkey was pissed off.
Freaked out beyond all belief, I dragged Will inside, slammed shut the portone and then sprinted up the stairs, still dragging a bewildered Will behind me.
"What the hell is wrong?!"
Goosebumps still in effect, I caught Will up on the Weremonkey's antics. He said he too had heard the Weremonkey once or twice and we officially dubbed him "Weremonkey" at this point. The next morning Will filled in a few more details of the previous evening's close encounter.
"So, I didn't want to tell you this last night since you were so freaked out. But when we walked up to the portone, Weremonkey snaked his head from out behind a car across the street before he started screeching."

This was accompanied by Will's eerie impression of said gesture. Apparently we had invaded Weremonkey's territory, hence the angry pissed off screeching. I began musing on possible self defence measures.
"Next time he scares the living crap out of me when I enter the building, that fucker is getting a silver banana in the nads."

"Where are you going to find a silver banana in Rome?"

"I've got a silver vibrator; think that will work?"

That night when Weremonkey's nightly routine began, I once again stuck my head out the window. Lo & behold I finally spotted him as he made his way up a perpendicular street. Weremonkey did indeed lope around the quarter like a monkey, hunched over & arms swinging. Mucho creepy.

The following night marked the beginning of two weeks worth of evening summer rain showers, which meant no Weremonkey. By the time the rain disappeared, so too had Weremonkey.
And like that, poof. He's gone.
- The Usual Suspects

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