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Unknown enemies stalking in the night
Strangers Stalking in the Night
| Category: || General Fiction |
Posted:|| April 9, 2012 Views: 287|
I scooted over behind a pig pen for safety and leaned there a moment. Crack! A rotten board gave way, and I fell sideways into you know what only worse than any what you can know! My whole left side was saturated with indescribable slop! What now? A killer after me, pigs buddying up to me like I was one of their own; what else could go wrong? Well, at least I still had the map! Or did I? In a panic, I patted my person persistently to perceive the presence of the map. Ah yes! It was in my pocket, on my unpolluted side, thank goodness!
I left the pig pen hastily, fearful lest the natives get wind of my movements, or perhaps the pigs in this case. I had to get to a place of safety, sanity and sanitation. I needed a bath! Just then, a foot long Boa constrictor fell on me from a low hanging limb. I threw him off, thankful that I hadn't come by here a few years later!
I stopped in front of the once grand hotel on main street. I know I didn't mention that we had a hotel earlier because it's not much to write about. The old sign had just had it's border painted in a bright red around the faded letters that spelled out The Grande Hotel. The red border seemed a desperate attempt to recapture better times. Kind of like an old lady in a nursing home slapping on some garish lipstick to get the attention of the "new boy" at the dinner table.
I walked in sideways, very conscious of trailing a little "juice" on the faded lobby rug thus improving its faded design as well as sealing its dirt. The odor I brought with me was very apparent to it's wearer, but did not immediately draw attention from the sleepy deskman who had his own formidable entry in this stinky war.
An overhead fan was whirling lazily above the check-in desk, directly over where I stood. I was vainly hoping its weak efforts would drive my clinging vapors in every direction away from me. I continued standing slightly sideways as I waited for Lightening, the night clerk, to finish his game of solitaire
A hound dog get up from the shadows of the rear of the room, cast a reproachful eye at me and then forced his way out the double screen door entrance. I felt like Jack Palance, entering the bar in Shane.
Suddenly, the night clerk woke up with a jerk. The wedding ring on his finger suggested that his wife had the same experience every morning.
"Yuk! What's that SMELL?"
"I think the wind shifted and is now coming from the direction of downtown Grenco", I replied politely, eyes tearing from the unbearable intensity of the stench enshrouding me.
"This IS downtown Grenco"!
"I rest my case".
"What do you want?"
"A room with a bath, now."
His suspicious, beady, bloodshot, red-rimmed, washed-out green little pig eyes squinted narrowly at me. He reminded me of my third grade teacher, only he had more attractive eyes. Finally, he said, "5000 Grenco greenies for the night and double if you don't use the bath right away. You ain't foolin' anyone!"
The price was cheap even for Grenco, and I was soon drawing a hot bath. As I was prying the sliver of dirty soap from the filthy soap dish, a gunshot rang out and a picture on the wall shattered. It wasn't that great a picture, just a routine landscape but I leaped anyway to turn out the solitary bulb. Its dim light had been just enough to define squalor in my mind for the rest of my life.
As I lay there in the stinking darkness ... no wait. As I lay there stinking in the darkness, every sense in my body on full alert, I thought back to my happy home which I had left so many long years ago. I thought of my brother and how we roamed the fields and woods, happily hunting for berries and nuts. Or was it that everyone called us nuts for looking for berries on ball fields? Oh well, we were poor but unhappy, forced into relying on each other for companionship. We used to fight all day long.
But I put old times away and took up the business at hand. I guess memories help you to put things in their proper perspective. It was good to be back, even if it meant facing a killer somewhere in the darkness. Kinda like waiting for my angry brother to get home to try and get even with me for some supposed slight of the day. How did I know Billy's bike would seize up again when I let him rent it? How can people hold grudges like that?
Suddenly, I realized that though I couldn't see the killer, he could SMELL me! Unless he was one of those unfortunate people who were born with no olfactory glands -- BANG! A board splintered beside my head! I guess "killer" had been born complete after all!
I slipped out of my slimy shirt, balled it up around a doorstop, and flung it across the room. BANG! BANG! I leaped at the figure, suddenly faintly visible, as he stood confidently to his feet, sure that he had killed me. As I grappled with him, I hissed in his ear, " The reports of my death have been greatly exaggerated!" I always loved that line of Mark Twain, and figured I could use it here in Grenco where they think literate is something you carry bodies to the hospital on after they have been mowed down by the car.
Imagine my amazement when he threw me through the window and hissed back, "Out, foul spot"! My hasty exit hurt my body as much as the "foul" thing hurt my inner child!
I thought for a moment about coming back with something from Poe about a guilty heart but couldn't remember it. Not wanting to be killed, or worse, shamed in a great quotations smack-down by a citizen of Grenco, of all people, I leaped to my feet and ran through the night shirtless, clutching my money and map in my soiled pants with my soiled hands. It began to rain, hard.
I suddenly realized I didn't know where I was running to, let alone from who I was running. A shot rang out and shattered the window of Macy's right next to me! I know it sounds crazy but it's true; some people have no respect for Macys! I kept running, but when could I stop? Where? Who would take me in and why?
I wrecked my brain trying to think of a refuge from the killer or killers that were after me as I continued running in the now torrential rain. At least I would be clean again!
Finally, I stopped, leaning against a giant hammock tree, head thrown back, gasping for air. Soon I was choking on the water gushing down my throat, so I closed my mouth. A simple thing, but here in the jungle, little things often make the difference between life and death. One learns, or drowns. Jungle smarts, we call them.
I was still looking up, and now no longer distracted by the choking water, I gazed in awe at the massive, sweeping boughs above me. Suddenly I remembered an old movie starring Efram Zimbalist and Deborah Kerr called King Solomon's Mines.
They too had been chased by angry natives (I could relate) and took refuge in a huge tree out of sight of their enemies. They fell asleep. Then in the morning when they woke up, they looked at each other and kissed! It was beautiful! Before coffee even!
I began climbing this friendly tree, thoughts of the beautiful Ms. Kerr streaming freely through my head, like Elsa the lion, running through the grass when she was finally given her freedom. Soon I was asleep high above the path and far from the eyes of my ruthless enemies.
I continued to dream of Deb (by now we were on a first name basis) but they were troubled visions indeed. I had the uncomfortable feeling that Efram Zimbalist Jr. (playing the character of Alan Quartermain)was watching my every move with increasing displeasure. Deb was openly showing that I was not just another monkey in a tree to her, and the big celluloid Bawanna didn't like it one bit!
Morning came, and completely caught up in the beauty and warmth of Deb, I threw caution to the wind and puckered up for her morning kiss. At that moment, I would've fought Zimbalist Jr. AND senior for her affection. Out of the corner of my eye I saw MR. BIG SHOT MOVIE STAR handed his elephant gun by his number one boy, while numbers two through two thousand grinned and applauded down below! He pointed it right at my head and pulled the trigger! Crack! Just missed me! I didn't know whether to taunt him for his poor marksmanship or to be quietly grateful for it. I chose the latter, but I was mad.
"Stop!" I yelled. "she's chosen me over you, now take it like a man! Your being jealous and angry will never change her mind!"
I was pretty proud of myself for being willing to die for Deb; it's amazing what love will do to a man.
" I don't care about her, she's just another actress. I'm ticked off at you for not getting my name right in this story. I'm Stewart Granger, NOT Efrem Zimbalist, senior or junior! You're supposed to be a writer, get your facts straight! Zimbalist Senior was a world class violinist, while Junior was a second rate actor, often mistaken for me!"
I ignored the setup because now I was even madder! I am a stickler for accuracy as any of my legion of fans will gladly attest. Efram or Granger or whatever had gone TOO FAR this time! I was getting ready to charge him, whether he had an elephant gun or an aerosol can of OFF, I didn't care anymore!
But then, my new darling, Deb, stepped in to defend me. Tiny fists clenched (I estimate approximately 2.5 inches across, fully formed) she seethed with rage! Her MAN had been insulted and she was having no part of it from what's his name! It's amazing what love will do for a woman!
"How dare you?" With clipped British accent, she poured out a stream of white hot verbal invectives at the target caught in the cross hairs of her indignation. "Just another actress indeed! You just can't stand it that they chose Richard Chamberlain for the remake of King Solomon's Mines! Ha-ha! He's better than you ever were! And you want to take out your anger and spite on this second-rate writer of pulp fiction, this literary equivalent of the Paparazzi! Shame on you! Shame on you for dragging the name of Allan Quartermain through the mud! No wonder they chose Richard Chamberlain!"
Although her standing up for me was not exactly going the way I had anticipated, I admired her spunk. (Spunk is a word that was used in more genteel times of women who had guts. Genteel is a word .. oh never mind, look it up). Her hard-ball delivery had a pitch or two miss the home plate, but I was still prepared to give the thumb to ol' Quartermain on a called third strike!
However, the effect of her onslaught on Granger was remarkable. He hung his head in abject surrender to the truth of her words. Then slowly lifting his handsome tear-streaked face as the years seemed to roll away, he said, "You're right".
Men, husbands, boys, brothers, sons, take note right here. The way to a woman's heart is not jewels, candy, flowers or flattery; none of those. The two little words, "You're right" (OK, three little words if you want to quibble over a contraction, for crying out loud) will melt the heart of any true member of the tender gender worthy of the name "woman". Then, and only then, will she wear the jewels, put the flowers in water, accept the candy and enjoy the flattery .. at an expensive restaurant before the play.
Suddenly, my fickle darling was in the arms of Alan Quartermain, and she was young again and he was too and they were passionately kissing RIGHT IN FRONT OF ME and murmuring apologies and "I've always loved you, and I've missed you so much my darling" and lots of other pure RUBBISH! (The lingering effects of Ms. Kerr's ever so brief stay as an object of my affection no doubt brought about this choice of the common English usage of the noun "rubbish" for our American "baloney!")
Now I really was awake, hanging on to a branch ten feet lower than the freshly broken one that had been my sleeping quarters. Slowly, I climbed to the ground, now gingerly testing each branch, having learned by experience that you can't tell a branch by its lover. Finally on the ground, I took stock. I was a mess, but at least I no longer stunk. Even so, Deborah Kerr and Stewart Granger had sure looked a lot better on the morning after their sleepover in the tree tops! Ah, Hollywood!
A voice behind me said softly, "Need any help?"
I jumped a foot. But it was Bob, my number one boy from many safaris into the remotest parts of the jungle.
"Bob"! I almost sobbed I was so glad to see a friendly, smiling face! "Yes! Yes! Yes! I do need help, and you are just the man I need!"
"Good", said Bob, "now pay me for all those safaris into the remotest parts of the jungle!"
I couldn't help noticing that the smile on his lips died quicker than the polite applause at a Joe Biden speech. Suddenly, he was carefully fingering his razor sharp spear. Quickly, I reached into my pocket and gave him a dollar in American. "Sure, sure, I was looking for you! I wanted to pay you! Glad we ran into each other"!
"Not so fast", said Bob, his eyes colder than Attila the Hun on horseback on a bad hemorrhoid day, " Did you take out taxes and social security?"
"Bob, I keep telling you, that's only if you live in the States."
Bob struggled with that for a while, then his usual good nature prevailed. "Ok", he smiled. "I won't kill you today and I'm ready for work."
"Good , because someone is trying to kill me, and although it's dangerous, I need you to watch my back ..... COME BACK HERE YOU ... YOU ...COWARD! Ha-ha! I DID take out withholding and Social Security and NOW I'm keeping it!"
A dark cloud settled over me along with the dust stirred up by Bob's hasty departure. I was alone. Again. Naturally. I brushed off a beetle that was making it's way up my arm. Born to run, what a boss idea. I broke into a determined lope for I knew not where, to meet I knew not who, for a reason I did not understand.
That sounded so romantic I wanted to get it in there, even as I held the briefcase containing the map securely in both hands, as my athletic body ate up the feet.
|The book continues with Home stinkin' home. We will provide a link to it when you review this below.|
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