Enoch and the Gorilla: an Alternate Ending.

The still of early morning was broken up by the cooing of silver doves drinking from dirty puddles next to the highway. The hairy figure sat still as a corpse, staring unflinchingly at the cityscape. A van approached in the distance, with two figures in the cab. It recognized one of the men, and snorted. The man who was the master of ceremonies leaped out of the van and waved his arms, visibly upset. ???We??™re worried as hell; how??™da doors open

Its poisonous growl did not impress. ???Yeah, I hear ya; musta been a helluva night,??? the man said. The black creature stared in disbelief as the two figures spoke and gestured. What had become of the man with ugly eyes He must have fallen out of the truck, out of sight somewhere along the highway. Who cares, anyway

???We??™ve lost two appearances, and we??™ll be late for a third. Let??™s get goin??™,??? said the driver as he slapped the back of the Gorilla??™s head. The men had no interest in talking to the man under the mask. They just wanted to make sure that the Giant Jungle Monarch would be able to appear in person to the next scheduled event.

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It stood up, scanned the dewy foliage of the adjacent forest, and briefly placed a rubbery hand to its head. A sharp, electric tingling swarmed its face as its swollen eye rubbed painfully against the mask. The pain, however, quickly went away. The shaggy figure then began walking confidently toward the back of the van.

Looking out the barred windows of the van, Gonga observed the line of people patiently waiting to get a glimpse of the beast. The County Fair smelled of damp hay and farm animals. Children swarmed a cotton-candy stand in front of the House of Mirrors.

???Come one, come all,??? the man roared into a paper cone. ???Who will be the first to greet the Giant from the Jungle??? The truck doors slammed open as if the beast had somehow managed to escape. The dark creature seemed agitated as it leapt from the van and followed the man who held him in chains. Growling as it approached a small platform, it climbed up, stood upright, and began to beat its chest. The crowd distanced themselves momentarily from the frightful sight.

A young lady in a flowery dress and a red belt hesitantly stepped forward. As she approached the platform, the beast sensed a calming peace from her graceful walk and gentle demeanor. She was unafraid to look the beast in the eye, and looking closely, she understood that the beast was in pain. Noting the blackened swelling under its left eye, she raised her hand and placed it on the beast??™s cold, rubbery cheek. After a deep exhale, Enoch Emery managed to murmur a quiet ???Thank you.???

The intent of this alternate ending is to continue the transformation of the beast beyond the narrow concept that animals must be savage. I start with the doves to hearken the return of the beast to peace. Although they perched in muddied waters, the elegant doves can fly off and find better drinking elsewhere.

I continued using O??™Conner??™s reference to the ???transformed??™ boy as ???it??™. The beast remains present until the gentle touch of a human hand. Enoch Emery reemerges as the beast disappears. The human hand becomes his salvation, just as he had earlier imagined by shaking the hands of people who came to see the beast. The boy has then completed a cycle which changes him from boy to beast (shown by his envy and ability to murder), back to a human.

I also continued using vocabulary that would conjure up images of the jungle to which the beast is thrown into: snort, dewy foliage, swarm and roar. The language is very visual and precise. I realized that O??™Conner??™s writing is not full of flowery description; however, it is very efficient at bringing out a very concise image.

I deliberately chose to cast the two men who find the beast in a negative light. Their true interest is getting back on stage to make money, rather than the health of the performer. The lack of care demonstrated by the two men makes us question who monstrous beast truly is.

O??™Conner??™s short stories naturally tend to leave the reader imagining alternate endings. In the case of Enoch and the Gorilla, the reader understands that a transformation has been made, but the story ends with the gorilla simply sitting down on a rock. The reader must imagine what happens next.


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