The man has a monkey under his arm. The shoulder of his suit on the side where he balances the monkey rises like rippled sand dunes; the lapel to that side slides outward; and yet the other side looks practically normal. You would not perhaps think this unusual out of town, but here in the city it is common for monkeys to go leashed. You never see a man carrying a monkey. Yes, I have seen monkeys being pulled along in wagons and carts and once in a wheelbarrow. But, in the city, such intimacy of putting one's monkey under one's arm is definitely unsettling, vaguely obscene.
Here, we have low rails on the subways for our monkeys. Monkey rest stations are stored in most alleys. You can hire a boy to watch your monkey while you go to lunch.
There is absolutely no reason to break social norms as far as monkeys are concerned. We have all contingencies planned for. City Services has an adviser in each municipal department to deal with monkey affairs. Citizens are given a manual, "How, and How Not, to Consider Your Monkey." It cites references to the appertaining city codes.
So, there is this man with a monkey under his arm. He wears an ordinary business suit, and is not otherwise outstanding. He stands at the entrance to the crosswalk and the monkey's arms and legs slither about as if the connected monkey is simply bored. You can see people look away to avoid the monkey's face. In his striped shirt and coveralls, this monkey looks as though, with a more conventional owner, he could blend in with all the city's other monkeys, be happily straining at the end of a leash, or clinging to the monkey railing in the subway. He could even be brooding from the edge of anyone's fire escape, having been let off to run some unimpregnable errand.
I know, when the light changes, the man and I will pass. I will come within inches of him and his social nonconformity. He seems so easy with the weight of the monkey, so unaware of the eyes of a city block foundering on him.
And I have to decide: do I walk past him to his side with the monkey, or his side without?