Saturday, January 23, 2010

Nation Mesmerized By Sarasota Courtroom Drama

A judicial melodrama played out in a Sarasota courtroom late last week that wrestled away the nation's attention from the earthquake in Haiti, the legislative struggle over health care reform, the continuing economic woes and, surprisingly, the shakeup in late night TV, with a case that showed off the best that Sarasota has to offer--love gone wrong, a bitter divorce, personal accusations, a contested paternity, high-powered attorneys in a pitched battle for high-priced stakes, wads of cash, Hollywood, a mother's love and a cute factor of 85 on a scale of 1 to 10.

It's the heart-wrenching tale of Eli, the chimpanzee that everybody wants.

The case revolves around the disputed custody of the primate between Mike Casey, who contends that Eli was born at a chimp farm he formerly operated with his ex-wife, and Eli's current love interest, a Sarasota monkey maven with a moniker straight out of Tinsel Town, Virginia Valbuena, who has been caring for the monkey and counters that she adopted Eli from a California wildlife park. Casey wants a DNA test to determine Eli's true parentage because the mini-ape is worth a cool 65 grand to him and he wants to prove the little guy came from his chimp farm.

Valbuena, on the other hand, views Eli as more than just chimpanzee chattel to be fought over by two sparring spouses. She and Eli have developed a familial bond stronger than the almighty buck that is at the core of Casey's case. How do you put a price tag on love? Other than what you might be able to score on the North Trail on a Friday or Saturday night....

Citing care issues, Valbuena lobbied to bring the precocious primate into the courtroom, testifying that "no one would notice the difference between him and an 11-month-old baby "unless they looked closely.'" Mothers of 11-month old babies everywhere are mobilizing to slap a defamation of character class-action lawsuit on Valbuena just as soon as her chimp case is closed. Several religious groups from across the state are also considering a legal challenge to the "human-like" treatment the chimp is getting, arguing that they have already proven Darwin's theory wrong and that this is an abomination to all "Christian custody-challenged children everywhere."

Following lengthy legal wrangling and emotionally-charged testimony, the judge decided against swabbing some spit from the mouth of the monkey to determine his DNA and is witholding his judgement pending more information. Thus, Eli was returned to the custody of his handler, the vivacious Miss Valbuena, in a tender moment on the steps of the courthouse, much to the delight of the gathered throng of media, papparazzo and various other hangers-on.

Then, in an instant, the Kodak moment turned into an afternoon of horror as the normally docile Eli, frightened by the crush of humanity around him, the noise and the flash of the cameras, changed from a cuddly ball of fur into a raging maelstrom of death and destruction.

Eli flung the horrified Ms. Valbuena over his shoulder and charged through the crowd, slashing stunned Sarasotans in his wake. He made his way up Main Street as police poured from their headquarters across the street from the courthouse, reluctant to fire upon the monkey-run-amok for fear of hitting Ms. Valbuena.

With police cruisers blocking his way on Main, Eli headed back toward the bayfront only to be met with more arriving police, forcing him up Rt. 41 in a desperate bid for freedom, only to find that artery choked with despairing senior citizens, concerned that the chaos would preclude them from their favorite early-bird dining establishments. The frantic fugitive had but one avenue of escape remaining--UP!

Eli rumbled his way up the well-manicured drive of the Ritz-Carlton Hotel and began to climb with the desperation of a wanted felon, climbing ever higher in a hopeless attempt to leave his would-be tormenters behind and find a safe haven for his beloved Gini and himself. Upon reaching the very top of the edifice, Eli soon realized that his escape was to be temporary at best, as below, the crowd swelled with angry townsfolk, police on overtime and hotel guests complaining about the monkey and screaming woman with the heaving bosom in front of their windows, blocking their panoramic views of picturesque Sarasota Bay for which they had paid a premium to procure.

Sarasota Police Chief Peter Abbott put in an emergency call to the Venice airport, requesting aerial assistance to bring down the chimp and was put in immediate contact with Phantley Boggs, commander emeritus of the Retired Air Aces of Argonne. Commander Boggs had but one question for the chief, "Have you cleared this with City Manager Bartolotta and the Police Advisory Panel?" Upon confirmation of same, the RAA of A scrambled their squadron of Handly-Page aircraft to confront the wayward primate.

As the airplanes buzzed angrily about the head of the beleagured chimp, he tenderly placed the petrified Valbuena out of harm's way and prepared to do battle with the relentless enemy. The guns of the planes spit fire and death as they again and again swooped in toward the solitary figure perched precariously atop the parapet. With ever increasing futility, Eli tried to swat away this winged menace while they poured volley after volley of deadly fire into his furry little body.

Eventually the merciless adversary proved too much for the star-crossed chimpanzee as he clutched his breast and, losing his grip, tumbled down, down, down the side of the luxury hotel, crashing to the unforgiving pavement below.

It was there that Eli, the chimp, drew his final breath.

As police units from Sarasota P.D. stood with their feet resting upon the crumpled corpse of the chimp (ostensibly just to keep Eli from getting up and hurting himself), a reporter asked Chief Abbott, "'Twas it beauty killed the beast, Chief?"

"No, lad," Abbott wistfully replied, "I fear 'twas the plenitude of bullets from the water cooled .303 Vickers machine guns of the airplanes and the blunt force trauma suffered in the fall from the roof of the building, you moron."


  1. Virginia must have been the gorilla his dreams.

  2. Waiting for those juiced up, steroid-enhanced baseball players to start spring training here; it'll be gorillas in the mitts......

    Back to you, Bluz.