Alistair was never one to listen to advice, helpful or otherwise; so it was no surprise to anyone when he began to feed the monkeys.
‘What’s the big deal?’ he said, as they lurched slowly towards him with bared teeth and long skinny arms. One of the little ones jumped on his back and Alistair laughed; the monkeys laughed too but the rest of the walking tour weren’t so impressed.
‘Be careful, Alistair,’ said the man with the baseball cap and the bright red bum-bag. Alistair laughed again when another monkey swiped the bag of fruit from his hands and ran up a tree, closely followed by another three of his mates. They pulled apples and bananas from the bag, turned them over in their hands, then grinned and began to eat.
Alistair shrugged at the monkeys surrounding him. ‘That’s it lads,’ he said. They stared at him, heads cocked in interest.
‘Waaack,’ one of them said.
‘Alistair, we’re going back down now,’ said the woman with the unsuitable shoes.
‘Yes, yes,’ Alistair said. ‘Off you go, I’m fine… just chatting to my brethren here… good old Barbary Macaques.’
‘Waaack, waaack,’ chimed the macaques.
‘I’ll just get myself a drink, then I’ll be off,’ Alistair decided. The monkeys cleared a path for him, and as he opened the door to the café, three of them ran inside and grabbed packets of crisps from the display stand next to the counter. The waiter screeched and the monkeys scarpered, chittering as they went.
Alistair stood outside the café as the door swung shut. He could see all the sunburnt tourists inside with their ice creams and their cheese sandwiches and their mouths hanging open.
‘Filthy beasts,’ he lip-read one of them through the glass. He turned back to face the monkeys. They watched him, their simian faces etched with anticipation.
‘Waaack?’ One of them said. Another proffered a furry hand. Alistair took it and was pleased to find it soft and warm. He felt the human-like fingers wrap gently around his own.
The troop began to walk and he allowed himself to be led.
‘Waaack,’ he said.