Get your primate nasty on here...
Get your primate nasty on here... EMPPhotography/gettyimages.com

I know, I know, the priest is an ape, and an ape is not a monkey (apes do not have tails). But how can we miss the similarities between the priest in this New York Post story and the monkey in Tommaso Landolfi's brilliant novella, “The Two Old Maids”?

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This is what the priest did on a church altar in Louisiana:

Rev. Travis Clark was busted after a passerby saw the lights on later than usual on Sept. 30 and peeked inside Saints Peter and Paul Roman Catholic Church in Pearl River.

The unidentified witness saw the half-naked priest having sex with the two women, who were dressed in corsets and high-heeled boots. The altar was also adorned with stage lighting, several sex toys, and a cellphone mounted on a tripod that was recording the act.


What was the monkey, named Tombo, seen doing at the altar in “The Two Old Maids”?
Reader, do not condemn me: Tombo was saying Mass. By now he was beastically devouring the consecrated host and drinking the sacred wine. And at this point I am gripped by another hesitation. I don’t know whether I have the right to tell all and to disturb good souls to such an extent; but in the end I am compelled to report the final abomination of that abominable night. Seized by a sudden necessity, Tombo dropped the sacred chalice and let it roll on the altar’s slab; and then, against a corner of the tabernacle . . . and I must find some way of saying it . . . he
micturated on the altar.

Look up "micturated" if that word doesn't speak to you.

If you're unfortunately in the dark about the great 20th century Italian critic, translator, and writer, Tommaso Landolfi, and also his novella, which the English reader can find in Gogol's Wife: & Other Stories, then you do not know what you are missing.

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“The Two Old Maids" remains the best work by Landolfi, who translated Russian stories into Italian, and who had an imagination and style that basically made Gogol and Poe and Borges into one.

Set in a "disheartening quarter of [an Italian] city which itself was in many respects disheartening," it concerns two elder women who own a monkey that their dead brother brought from one of his voyages—probably to Africa (the monkey's name is certainly African-sounding). Tombo becomes the lost brother, and in some sense receives the love that the old maids would have directed at their younger brother. But then it is discovered that at night the mischievous monkey escapes from his cage very easily, goes down to the neighborhood church, and does the nasty on the altar.

What do the old maids do with the monkey after seeing this desecration? If you do not know, you must read the story. It is funny, sad, and, best of all, fantastic. But what will become of the priest, the luckless ape? "Clark, who was ordained in 2013, was suspended from the archdiocese after his arrest."

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