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Story ID:10440
Written by:Frederick William Wickert (bio, link, contact, other stories)
Story type:Story
Location:Tokyo Honshu Japan
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By Fred Wickert
I was stationed in Tokyo, Japan in the mid 1970ís. One of the guys had a pet monkey and he was going back to the States. He was not permitted to take him to the USA so he was looking for someone else to take him. I volunteered. I had a Japanese girlfriend and she had a room with a nice family and they had an enclosed yard. I already had a cocker spaniel she was keeping there for me and I was sure they were going to allow the monkey to stay there as well.

The monkey was named Cheetah. He had a collar similar to a dog collar around his waist and there was a light weight 20 foot long chain attached to it. We hired a man to come and build a little house for Cheetah. He had previously built a dog house for Blackie, my cocker spaniel.

The area was where the clothes lines were and Cheetah could have great fun climbing around on the clothes lines when there was no laundry on them. There was a sliding window there in the back wall of the house that was in the kitchen. Cheetah had an empty soup can with the lid gone. When Tae, my girlfriend fed him she put his food in the can, passed it out the window to him and he sat somewhere close by holding his can and eating the contents. When he was hungry he had the habit of knocking on the window with the empty can. When she opened the window he handed her the can. That was a signal he was hungry and wanted to be fed.

Cheetah was a curious little fellow and had to investigate everything. He was amazing at getting open small bottles and jars. Sometimes there was a small bottle or jar Tae could not open. She let Cheetah have it and he had it open in minutes. Cheetah loved to steal things from the dog. Their chains were just long enough they could reach each other with about two feet overlap.

The Japanese had a bread they called Copay Pong. It came in white or dark. The dark was the color of Rye Bread. When Tae went to the market she took Blackie with her. There was one shop that always gave him a Copay Pong. They were the size and shape of a Submarine roll and were much like Italian bread. Blackie never touched that bread in the market. He carried it in his mouth until he got home and only then did he eat it. Cheetah often stole it from him. If he destroyed it before we could get it, we gave Blackie another one.

The family house where Tae lived was at the intersection on the corner. Across the street the house faced and on the other side of the intersection, was a house on the corner. Then another larger house stood farther up the street beyond that. The market was a few blocks away and there was a butcher shop there.

The butcher shop made deliveries. The man had a motorcycle. There was a luggage rack behind the seat. Strapped to the seat was a wood box that had two sliding doors on it. The bottom of the box was filled with ice. On top of the ice was a slotted wood rack. They wrapped cuts of meat in paper, much like the white paper deli counters in American stores use. The content and other information was noted on the package. A number of packages were placed on the rack above the ice, the sliding doors closed and they were delivered to the customer by motorcycle.

One day the larger house across the street and back from the corner house on the other side of the intersection had ordered some beef to be home delivered. The man parked his motorcycle in front of the house, took the delivery for that house out of the box, slid the door closed and went to the door of the house to make his delivery.

When he came back to his motorcycle he was startled to see a monkey sitting on the seat of the motorcycle, casually eating a piece of raw beef steak. The other steak in the package together with the ripped paper it had been wrapped in was lying on the ground by the back wheel of the motorcycle. Both sliding doors on the wood box that contained the other packages stood open.

The man inquired to learn where the monkey came from and came to the door. Poor Tae met him at the door, learned what had happened, went to catch Cheetah and apologized repeatedly. She regained custody of Cheetah and paid the damages. She offered more for his trouble but the man was understanding and refused to accept more payment than his losses.

Cheetah had got the chain off his collar somehow. I eventually had to attach the chain with a pad lock. It was the only way I could keep him from getting loose. Many times I have wondered how the shop owner explained to the steak customer why their cuts of steak were so late being delivered that day. I have also wondered if the customer when getting the explanation speculated on whether or not the shop keeper had a drinking problem.

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