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Two grief-stricken Manhattanites have frantically papered Park Slope with fliers offering hundreds of dollars for the safe return of their closest companion — a beloved monkey doll named Bongo.
Bonni Marcus and Jack Zinzi said their best friend went missing on Sunday night during a routine outing to their favorite Flatbush Avenue restaurant, El Gran Castillo de Jagua.
The disappearance occurred around 7 pm, as Marcus and Zinzi were walking from their car near Seventh Avenue to the eatery.
“I walked over to the restaurant, sat down, ordered the food, and reached into my pocket to put Bongo on the table — and saw that he was gone,” Zinzi said. “I tore the car apart. I was in a bad way. Bongo really means a lot to me, so I kind of broke down.
“It happened so fast, because I couldn’t have been in the restaurant 10 minutes before I realized he was gone,” Zinzi continued.
“Somebody must have come along and thought he was as cute as I know he is.”
It’s unclear if police have been notified, but any decent gumshoe would have no problem tracking down a missing person with this description: Peach skin, jet-black eyes, perpetual smile stitched on his face, eight inches tall.
The doll has been a constant part of Marcus and Zinzi’s lives for 10 years now. The two adults are devastated enough to offer $500 to anyone who has happened across the wayward Beanie Baby.
The reward appears on fliers posted all over the area, with “Help Me Get Home” hastily written in black Sharpie.
Marcus, 47, and Zinzi, 58, are not in a romantic relationship with each other, but they regard Bongo as the son they never had.
Zinzi, a Park Slope native, bought Bongo at a discount store upstate a decade ago. He doesn’t recall the name, but he can’t forget the moment.
“There was a whole bunch of stuffed animals, and Bongo caught my eye,” he said. “I thought it would be a great gift for Bonni — and we both became a little attached to it.”
Marcus felt the same way.
“Bongo’s simply a member of our family,” said Marcus, who uses the term “mother” when talking about her relationship to the doll. “We take him everywhere, we talk to him.”
Everywhere? Bongo accompanied Marcus to a Hindu hermitage in the Bahamas. And he was there whenever Zinzi, a manager at a Manhattan apartment building, played handball in Coney Island.
The chances of finding this absent primate are slim, but the dynamic doll-doting duo is optimistic. Since Monday, when the fliers went up, two people have called — one Samaritan saying that she placed Bongo on a traffic meter after discovering him lying on Flatbush Avenue, the other mentioning a separate Bongo sighting at the corner of Union Street and Eighth Avenue. In both cases, when Marcus and Zinzi returned to the site, Bongo was gone.
Nonetheless, they remain vigilant.
“I’ll do whatever it takes to get him back,” Zinzi said.
Residents of Park Slope don’t know what to make of the mysterious fliers.
“It must be some kind of joke,” said Maureen Hormaza. But when told that it was not, in fact, a joke, Hormaza’s heart melted.
“It’s very sad and touching,” she said. “Wow.”
Then again, this is New York, where sympathy is doled out with an eyedropper.
“What’s the big deal,” asked Tyrone Williams, who works in the supermarket nearby. “Get another teddy bear!”
Anyone with information is asked to call (917) 224-3049.
©2011 Community Newspaper Group
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