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Story ID:10447
Written by:Frederick William Wickert (bio, link, contact, other stories)
Story type:Story
Location:Tokyo Honshu Japan
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By Fred Wickert

While stationed in Tokyo, Japan I was given a monkey. The guy who had him was returning to the States and he was not allowed to bring his pet monkey named Cheetah in to the country with him so he needed to find a home for him. I had a Japanese girl friend who later became my wife. She lived with a family who had an enclosed back yard. I already had a black Cocker Spaniel they allowed me to keep there so I knew I could keep the monkey there too.

Cheetah was a lot of fun. I had a 20 foot chain he was attached to by means of a dog type collar around his waist. We had a small house built for him that was attached to the back wall of the house. He slept in there and he stayed in there when it was raining.

There was a sliding window that opened from the kitchen next to where his house was attached to the wall. He had an empty soup can with the lid removed. When he was hungry, he tapped on the window with the can. Tae opened the window, took the can from him, filled it with food and gave it back to him. He usually sat on the roof of his house or the cross bar of the clothes line to eat the contents. He could drink from a bottle and whenever he wanted water he was given a small bottle of it. Sometimes we gave him some fruit juice as well.

Cheetah enjoyed playing with my dog Blackie. He ate a variety of things and a favorite was watermelon. The land lord had a gold fish pond in his Japanese garden. When taken there, Cheetah could actually swim under water and he held his breath so long one wondered if he was really a fish in disguise.

The house was a very nice Japanese house and was on the corner of an intersection in a residential area. It was a quiet and pleasant neighborhood. Each house was surrounded by the combination of a wall or fence, and tall shrubs grown so close together they were like a tight fence.

Many of the Japanese homes had sliding doors and windows. Traditionally most Japanese homes did not have beds at that time. They had very little furniture at all. The floors were covered with straw Tatami mats. When it came time to sleep, a pad like a quilt or comforter was unrolled on the floor. A pillow was with it and a sheet and another comforter over that. That was the bed and what people slept on. In the morning when they got up for the day, it was all rolled up and put away in a closet. If there was no closet, it was placed against the wall.

One warm summer night, at the home of one of the neighbors a man about sixty years of age prepared for bed. While he bathed his wife unrolled their bedding on the floor. When they were ready they retired on the floor. The top comforter was not used as it was a very warm evening. Due to the heat, a sliding window had been left open a little way.

The sixty year old gentleman woke up around two thirty in the morning. He was puzzled as he felt an unaccustomed weight on his chest. The weight was not a comfortable feeling and he was puzzled as to what it could be. He could feel some movement on his chest. He had a small amount of hair on his chest and he could feel something moving around in the hair. He was suddenly frightened, thinking it was something supernatural, and he let out an involuntary scream.

The weight on his chest instantly was gone. His wife, awakened by the scream distinctly saw the form of a monkey exit the opened window. Of course that explained everything. The existence of Cheetah in the neighborhood was not secret. This same gentleman once before was having meat delivered to him when the meat man had his cooler box on his motorcycle robbed of some steak by a monkey in the neighborhood.

The next day my girlfriend had a visit from the manís wife. She explained what had happened and wondered if we allowed Cheetah to run loose. Tae explained that we did not, that he had somehow got the chain off during the night and she apologized. Later, she went to buy a gift, took it to the man who was the victim, and asked and received his forgiveness.

If it were not for the good humor and understanding of the Japanese people, I could have been in great trouble because of Cheetah. When Tae and I got married she of course had to move to different quarters. The land lord liked Cheetah and asked if he could have him since I was not going to be able to take him to America with me. I was happy Cheetah was going to have a good home and readily agreed.

After I brought my bride to America, she kept in touch sporadically with the wife of the Land Lord and we got Cheetah reports. If he got in to any more mischief we did not learn of it. In old age Cheetah became lame with arthritis like so many of us do. He finally passed away after more than thirty years living at the home of the Morita family. Not many years after he passed away Mr. Morita followed. The next to oldest daughter, my favorite of his children married a man from Germany and went to Germany to be with him. After all that we lost touch, but as with us all, life goes on until it is over.

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