Ozark Organ Grinder Monkeys

Organ grinder photo by W.C. Brown taken in 1896There was a greatly heightened sense of anxiety that gripped the small southwest Missouri Ozarks town of Noel.  The tension seemed to float through the air just as a low and eerie fog might hover close to the ground.  Three suspicious and menacing looking outsiders had been seen lurking about in the darkness of night.  The three were observed rummaging through outside garbage receptacles, gathering together in isolated alleyways and skulking behind closed businesses.  What evil plans could the three have and were they conspiring to commit despicable deeds? These questions had to be answered, and answered quickly, so desperate pleas for assistance went out to the only one that could help, Rusty.

Rusty knew full well that the logical place to begin the investigation was with the interview of a witness, so he decided to contact someone who had reported seeing the three, Lisa.  Rusty drove to Lisa’s house and upon arriving, and before walking to the front door, he opened his folder.  Rusty wrote down questions he would ask such as; Where were the three seen?  How tall were the individuals?  Did they have any distinguishing features?  Did Lisa overhear any sounds they may have made, etc.

Rusty knocked on the door and after a brief moment it was opened by a middle-aged woman known to Rusty as Lisa, “Hello Lisa”, Rusty greeted her, “Hi Rusty, come on in”, “Thanks” he responded.  Rusty asked where and when the suspicious looking trio was seen.  Lisa answered, “In the alley behind several businesses on the south side of Main Street, and East of the railroad tracks”.  “It was late last night, sometime after midnight”.

Rusty asked, “Can you describe the individuals you saw to me”?  “Well sure”.  “As I reported, there were three of them”.  “They were small, fury, and had cat-like tails; you know your ordinary looking monkeys, like the ones you would expect to see with an organ grinder”.

Rusty turned his head away from Lisa and didn’t utter a single word while at the same time covering his mouth with his hand and clearing his throat.  He held back a smile, and even a laugh that wanted to push itself out between his tightly pinched lips.  “I see” Rusty said as his voice cracked a little, “Organ grinder monkeys”.  “That’s right, plain old organ grinder monkeys” Lisa reiterated.

Rusty, the town’s animal control officer, assured Lisa everything possible would be done to locate the three outsiders and after obtaining more bits of descriptive information said goodbye.  Rusty was familiar with the breeds of dogs and cats, and knew the habits of possums and raccoons but he would be the first to admit he possessed limited knowledge regarding the habits of “Ordinary organ grinder monkeys”.

Recognizing his shortcomings, Rusty called an Arkansas based expert in exotic wildlife.  Rusty described the threesome to the expert and was advised that, based on his description, it appeared the animals were most likely Capuchin Monkeys, considered to be the most intelligent of the new world monkeys, and they had established residence in Noel.  These monkeys are native to areas of Latin and South America and the social animals live in troops.  The creative creatures are diurnal and arboreal, and with the exception of an afternoon nap, they normally forage for food during the day and sleep in trees at night.  Rusty was informed that the monkeys easily adapt to their surroundings and may have changed their eating and sleeping routines due to the human presence.  Rusty asked what measures could be incorporated to capture the elusive threesome and the expert replied, “Good luck, these are very intelligent little fellows and capturing them will be next to impossible.  You know, they’re organ grinder monkeys”.  Rusty thanked the gentleman for his assistance, and overt absence of reassurance.

The alleyways and trash receptacles behind the town’s Main Street businesses were searched with nothing of evidentiary value alluding to the monkey’s presence being found.  Rusty searched long ago forgotten and unoccupied basements but the monkeys were nowhere to be found.  It began to bear a resemblance to the many reported sightings of Sasquatch, the Loch Ness monster or even Elvis Presley; many reported seeing them but where could they be?

The ever patient animal control officer now plans to install motion-activated cameras at various secretive locations throughout the city in an effort to capture photos of the trio of small primates.  The results of those efforts are yet to be obtained.

Rusty continues to receive reports of sporadic sightings of the Capuchin band with their long tails following them as they run and jump throughout the alleys.  As Rusty makes his daily rounds throughout the city he can’t help but notice that his eyes are now frequently drawn to the roofs and treetops as he searches for the three monkeys, and the quest continues.

As for the doubters and skeptics, if you find yourself near Noel keep a watchful eye out for the trio of furry scamps.  You can’t miss them; they look like organ grinder monkeys.

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