I've Affected Chris Richards

"You've affected Chris Richards," says the man with the red face and the out-of-time coat. His face gets redder and redder. "You've affected Chris Richards... sales all over the world... plummeting... you've saved a generation - you've actually affected the sales of C.R. - you've affected Chris Richards..."

You struggle to concentrate. Yes - of course. That's why you came to Pyrgos. You came to infiltrate the group distributing C.R. all over the world. MI6 sent you to try to put a dent in the sale of Chris Richards. You remember the video footage of young people who couldn't stop dancing and then footage of them an hour later being wheeled into hospital, absolutely high on Chris Richards. The whole world was going C.R. crazy. Mexico had nearly been split in two due to all the fighting. The Dutch economy had virtually collapsed because of all the executives high on C.R.. In Britain the government had fallen due to the revelations about various ministers and their attempts to cover their tracks - everything led back to C.R.. 

However now you've arrived and seriously dented the market. But at such a cost - to gain the bandits' trust you had to take huge quantities of C.R. yourself. When you made your getaway your only way of keeping hidden the bag after bag you'd taken was to swallow them. One of them must have burst inside you. You're absolutely off your face on Chris Richards.

"The monkey," you say. You can feel the sweat pouring down your face.

"There is no monkey," says the man with the historic coat on.

"He likes mouldy fruit... please, give him some. I don't know if they do any here - it may insult the chef."

"There is no chef," says the man with the historic coat on... but then, maybe he isn't wearing a historic coat? The room is spinning.

"Listen to me," he continues, "you are very, very ill. You've done a heroic but foolish thing. We're keeping you here. It may take several months to get you well again. There may be periods when we don't allow you to eat anything. This is for your own good. You must drink plenty of water. The world owes you - you've affected the international sales of Chris Richards. You should be very proud. Sleep now."

*      *       *        *         *          *           *            *             *              *               *                *              

It is three months later. You've been released from the hospital. You're almost back to normal but you've been advised to take it easy, stay off work for a while and stay well away from dangerous places.

You've decided to return to Greece. You sit there with your sunglasses on. As you turn to the west to face the cliffs far above the azure blue waters of the Ionian Sea, the scorching summer sun sets before you in a cascade of golden flame. The monkey smiles and joins you. He has brought a picnic. You smile back. You know he is not real - he is just a C.R. flashback but you've been told he's no danger after all this time.

"I've brought us some things," he says and begins to spread out the goodies. You were expecting something mouldy but no - there are kebapche, banitsa, musaka...

"We were interrupted at the Bulgarian restaurant," he says, "so I thought I'd give us the meal we should have had then."

You smile your thanks, wondering if in real life people are watching you smile at nothing. The food tastes amazing. It's difficult to believe it's not real!

"I'm glad you're enjoying it," says the monkey. "I thought you could do with something really special for your final meal. Chew your food carefully - it may be your last."

You look around you, puzzled. You realise that you're sitting on a ledge halfway up a cliff teetering perilously over the Ionian Sea as it crashes unforgivingly against the rocks 40 metres or so beneath you. There is a crowd of worried people above you including a policeman speaking frantically into a walkie talkie. Nearby is his car with the emergency light flashing on and off, on and off.

"You might as well eat up," smiles the monkey. "I've gone to a lot of trouble. When the time comes, you won't know anything about it. And remember - you've affected Chris Richards."

"I've affected Chris Richards," you say, pleased with yourself.

Your simian friend raises a glass. You allow your mind totally to drift into his world. You raise your glass to the monkey. "To us," you say, "and all who are like us."

*   *     *       *         *           *             *               *                 *                   *                     *                    

The couple had just arrived. Already someone had tried to spoil their trip by saying that someone had once gone over the edge and that the body had never been found and that a monkey had been seen scampering away and all the usual superstitious seaside holiday nonsense. Neither he nor she wanted to think about any of that. They just wanted to enjoy the amazing view with their arms around each other as though there were nothing else in the world.

"To us," he said, holding his glass up behind her and bringing it round to his lips.

"And all who are like us," she giggled, raising her glass up behind him and putting it to her lips.

As they turned to the west to face the cliffs far above the azure blue waters of the Ionian Sea, the scorching summer sun set before them in a cascade of golden flame.

* *  *   *    *     *      *       *        *         *T H E         E N D*         *        *       *      *     *    *   *  * * 

The End

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