I ran down the hall past the front room. I ignored the screams and hollering of the rioting chimps. I knew Leon and me could get ’em soothed once we got in.

Into the kitchen. Still a mess from breakfast, of course. When did Leon and I have time to clean up? I fumbled in the fruit bin ’til I found what I wanted. I pulled two bananas from the bunch and, holding one in each hand, went running back to the front.

I held the bananas out the screen door. The chimps were closing in on Leon, bumping up and down on their haunches like movie chimps, ready to make their attack.

“ Leon, get inside,” I said. He slid along the wall till he came to the door, then practically dove into the house.

I held open the screen door with my hips and raised the bananas. “Come and get it, dudes. Breakfast. A special breakfast for my favorite buddies.”

The chimps stopped hopping and stared at the bananas. Like they were actually thinking about what was the best thing to do.

“Come on…” I urged, waving the bananas at them. “Come on…please…please…”

“Is it working?” Leon called from behind me in the hall.

“Think so,” I said.

“I’m gonna beat ’em to death when they get in here,” Leon said. He clanged the shovel head on the floor.

“No, you’re not,” I said softly. “No more talk like that. I mean it, Leon. We’re gonna keep our jobs. And we’re going to forget this ever happened.”

Leon stepped up beside me. “I don’t believe in forgetting,” he said.

I waved the bananas. The chimps finally took the bait. They stepped toward the door, reaching out their arms. I pulled back a step. The chimps followed. Back a step into the hall. Yes! Sweeny and Bo stepped in through the door. Yes!

Into the front room. The other chimps fell silent, as if stunned to see their pals again. Yes…yes…“Welcome back. Come on, boys. Here are your lovely bananas…”

Sweeny took his banana. He examined it like he’d never seen one before. Then he raised it high over his head-and with a real powerful thrust, jammed it deep into Leon ’s good eye.

Leon staggered back. His hands shot up to his face. He didn’t make a sound at first. Then he began to howl like a swamp dog caught in a gator trap.

He dropped to his knees. He gripped the banana in both hands and pulled-and the eye came out with it.

I guess I froze or something. It was just so sick. I don’t know if I could have done anything about it or not. But I didn’t.

I just stood there with my mouth hanging open as Bo took the shovel, pulled way back on it and slammed the back of the blade into the side of Leon ’s head.

I heard a crack and saw Leon ’s neck snap back. Leon made a sound like a hiccup. Then red stuff started to pour out of the side of his face. Like what happens when you squeeze a tomato.

Leon folded up and dropped onto his side on the floor, all bent and twisted, blood puddling under his head. I knelt down beside him, shook him a bit, but it didn’t take long to see he was dead.

Was I next?

Struggling to breathe, I jumped to my feet. Before I could back away, Bo handed me the shovel.

Oh, thank God! I thought. But I didn’t have much time to feel relieved. Cuz the screen door flew open, and in came Charlene, followed by Dr. Nell and a bunch of other staff workers.

Charlene’s eyes went to the floor and she saw Leon and all the blood and his messed-up face. Then she let out a scream that hurt my ears. “Oh, no. Oh, no. I had a feeling I shouldn’t leave you two on your own!”

I saw what Dr. Nell was staring at. The bloodstained shovel in my hand.

“Now, wait,” I said. “I didn’t do it. Really. It wasn’t me! I got a roomful of witnesses!”

I waved my hand around the room. I gestured to all the chimps that sat there watching the whole thing. “I didn’t do it,” I said. “I’ve got a roomful of witnesses.”

The chimps stared at me.

“You guys can all talk,” I said. “I know you can. Tell Dr. Nell what happened here.”

The chimps stared at me. They didn’t move. They didn’t even blink.

I turned to Bo and Sweeny. “Tell ’em,” I said. “Tell ’em the truth. Tell ’em who did this. Come on-talk!”

Bo and Sweeny lowered their eyes to the floor, like they were sad. Then they pointed their fingers at me, and began to rub their pointer fingers together, back and forth.

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