Story Go Round 07/05/2002, round 2, #3


A. Woolcot looked out at the heavy rain falling on the Kenyan savannah. The expedition was 4 weeks in waiting, and the porters were growing restless. They were also growing rice, but Woolcot cared little for such things. His eye was on the prize - a chance to dig in the dirt. His mother never let him play outside, and now here was something much larger in scope. The lead porter, Amah, signalled to him that the supplies were crammed to dangerous density in the lorries.

A. Woolcot lit his trademark cigar, and decided they would push on on the morrow, to leave the trucks behind. As much as these new inventions cost, the elephants were more reliable - his Egyptian years had never needed such things. He retired to his tent to play Mahjong with his three sons till nightfall. He slept easy that night, enjoying the steady torrent beating at the canvas.

The next morning he found everyone gone, the camp was deserted but for some Germans, Hanz und, no, not Franz, but Karl-Heinz, poking about in the leftover bags. "It was the lions," one fine Aryan specimen said proudly to him. "You shoulda never hired savages. Superstition gets them every time."

"There's not one left behind?" he asked, but his eyes were already cataloging what remained - this had happened before. All it took sometimes was a tribal story or odd weather and a couple days for the idea to ferment, and then the best you could hope for was that some of them would return for the second recruiting. He moaned in despair, and his sons reflexively started massaging his shoulders.

The porters and other native members of the expedition had indeed been frightened off by a sign. The sign read: Toxic Dumping Ground, and it was posted in the ground not 5 feet from A's tent. He thought they couldn't read but he had been wrong. They had been taking community college courses and thinking big. Now, how would he ever find the African KEMLB AHARASHIITA-MULGAWAYISTA. The thought gave him sudden resolve, and an anger.

"We go on. Now!"

"But Father, who will carry all our supplies?"

"Well," he paused, "The Strongman!" Of course! The Strongman. They'd forgotten about him, since he'd never been let out of the cage they brought him it. But he could easily carry it all, and some to spare. He'd been quite handy in the escapade with the Sultan in Alabama.

A. noticed one of his sons, the middle one he'd always favored fiercely, trying to hide under his hat. It wasn't working, but it told his father everything he needed to know.

"Junior, do not tell me you forgot to pack the Strongman. " A. said far too calmly.

"Dad, I used the wrong hypo. I thought I had the one with vitamins, but it was filled with Draino for the sink. I was going to say something, but you were so wrapped up in your rare creature. And I'm just a child ... the 41 year old whined.

No porters, no strongman ... Woolcot grabbed his cane and rifle, and strode out of camp alone, leaving all behind. The KEMLBAHARISHIITA-MULGAWAYISTA would not escape him. Not now.

Amber is purple; John is pink; Alan is blue; Terry is orange