The cruise ship entertainment that season was the Sensational Véronique Cartier and her performing monkey Billy Bob, a charming little macaque who guaranteed laughs from the women and children, while his mistress melted the hearts of the men with her sultry voice and hourglass figure.
What a clever fellow, that monkey – thought Monsieur Magnifique as he watched the show from the shadows of the ship’s cabaret room – he was on vacation for once, and not performing – and what a beauty his mistress is… a formidable double-act if ever I saw, and I should know, being in a somewhat formidable entertainment partnership myself.
He thought then of his partner, Petit Pierre, tucked up in his suitcase in their cabin, a cold compress to his head, his pale face paler than normal, quite ill from some malady affecting only ventriloquial dummies, alas, there would be no midnight thievery until Petit Pierre recovered… but it was then that a plan came to Monsieur Magnifique’s mind, as the Sensational Véronique Cartier launched into a stirring version of Non, Je Ne Regrette Rien, with Billy Bob leaping about her feet.
It was easy to hypnotise a monkey once you got the wretched thing to sit still for more than a minute; capturing Billy Bob from the cabin of the Sensational Véronique Cartier had been more troublesome, luckily the singer was a sensational sleeper as well as performer, and before long Monsieur Magnifique was instructing Billy Bob to swing and leap about the ship’s hull in search of open portholes, through which he wriggled into the cabins of wealthy passengers to steal as much jewellery and cash as his tiny primate hands could cram into a satchel.
It was easy to pin the blame on the monkey once word got out the next morning there had been a series of burglaries; Monsieur Magnifique simply ensured that Billy Bob was wearing one of the plundered silver necklaces, a gold wristwatch and a tiara… how Petit Pierre smiled at the news of Monsieur Magnifique’s ingenuity, and he, his health restored somewhat by the jangling of jewellery and gold coins, hadn’t had to lift a single wooden limb!
Later that morning, a mob of furious passengers abducted poor Billy Bob, beat him to within an inch of his life, then tossed him overboard – much to the protestations of the Sensational Véronique Cartier, who was confined to her cabin by the captain and arrested by the authorities at the next port of call.
See, hear, speak no evil… written by Ford, June 10, 2022.