There is a little monkey named Oliver. Before he learned to read, he was just an ordinary monkey. He danced for bananas and acorns, and he scratched his head and made little cheeping noises. That all changed the day Oliver attended his first wedding.
He was a guest of sorts. One of 33 tiny monkeys who were recruited to attend. They were ordered from a large pet store, and delivered early in the morning. The idea was that monkeys would be a charming and unique addition that would set the wedding apart from any other that year. The idea was grand and daring- just the sort of idea that often ends in chaos and destruction.
Oliver perched on the counter as big balloons were filled with helium. He liked to watch the balloons stretch and grow, becoming shiny and see-through. When nobody was looking, Oliver snuck inside one of the balloons. It was so warm and soft that he curled up and went to sleep.
Suddenly, Oliver was lifted into the air and turned upside down. A metal helium pump was pushed into the balloon, bumping Oliver on his little nose. He stared at it, and suddenly helium began to rush out. It filled up the balloon as Oliver jostled and bounced around, now very frightened.
The man filling up the helium balloons was bobbing his head and staring at The Red Hot Chili Peppers video on the television. He didn’t notice the extra weight as he filled the balloon, or when he tied a ribbon to it and let it float to the ceiling. Oliver was so light that his balloon stayed aloft with the others.
He started to cheep and bounce, but still, nobody noticed. After a while, he curled up and went to sleep again. The balloon was still soft and warm.
Oliver slept and slept, all through the wedding, through the reception and the drunken guests. Through the balloons being moved outside, through the cries of delight. He finally woke up just as the balloons were being released. Again, he cheeped and bounced, and cheeped and bounced, and again, nobody noticed the tiny monkey trapped in the balloon.
With a big cheer from the guests, the balloons were released. They floated up up up over the garden, over the house, over the power lines and the steeple of the church next door, and into the sky.
Oliver was very frightened.
He floated and floated. All of the other balloons drifted away on the breeze, and soon Oliver was all alone. He put his paws up against the balloon and peered out at the red-tinted world. He sniffled and cheeped and wished very much that someone would save him.
After a little while, his balloon began to drift lower. Helium leaked out, and Oliver’s tiny weight began to make the balloon sink. He could see the blue of ocean as he descended toward a house on the shore. A sudden gust of wind blew Oliver’s balloon right inside a window of the house, into a kitchen, onto a table, and into a cup of cold tomato soup.
Soup leaked in through the little holes Oliver punched with his claws. Oliver shivered and pawed at the balloon. He was trapped inside the shriveled rubber. He cheeped and sniffled and bounced and this time, someone heard him.
A big voice boomed in suprise and a big pair of hands scooped Oliver out of the soup. The hands tore at the balloon, freeing Oliver. He sat, stunned and soggy, staring at his liberator.
The big booming voice belonged to a giant man with grey curly hair, a big three-cornered hat, a peg-leg, and an eye patch.
“Arrgggg!” bellowed the man.
“Cheeeeeeeep!!! Cheepcheepcheepcheep!!!” bellowed the monkey.
And those were the first words exchanged between Oliver and The Sea Captain.