When I was a child I loved old Tarzan movies. I wrote this reminiscent of those times.
|From the Back of an Elephant
This is not a happy story, although it starts for the happiest of reasons; it starts with the end of a joyous wedding and the beginning of an enchanted honeymoon to a wild and adventurous continent called Africa.
Charles Wayans was young and dashing—rich and powerful. His marriage to Marilyn Stone, a mere Hollywood actress, set his family and business associates whirling in an air of uncertainty over who would be next in line to inherit the Wayans’ vast fortune. A fortune, that at this very moment, wavered to-and-fro from the back of an elephant in the deepest, darkest jungles of Africa.
“What do you think, darling, isn’t it magnificent?”
“Yes, Charles, oh yes! I adore it…simply adore it!”
“I knew that you would, my love. Africa is a land lost to time. Nothing changes here. The people stay primitive, the animals fierce and wild.”
“What of the natives, Charles? Are they all friendly?”
“There are many different tribes. Most are friendly, but some keep to the old ways and customs. They have been known to kill anyone who trespasses upon their lands.”
“Oh, Charles,” she shuddered, moving closer to him. “We won’t meet any of those will we?”
“No, no…of course not, darling. We will skirt around the borders of their lands. There’s nothing to worry about.”
But she was worried. She didn’t like the way the natives looked at her—the way they whispered to each other whenever she walked by. It was as if they had never seen a white woman before.
That evening they camped along a river. The head litter-bearer had said the lands across the river belonged to the Watuzi peoples, and that they were afraid to enter it.
As the sun began to set, Charles watched a large group of boar on the opposite side of the river approach the water’s edge. Reaching for his rifle, he took aim and fired. One of the boar let out a high-pitched scream, and then fell, its back legs kicking as if it were still running away with the others.
Our guide rushed over. “No! That is Watuzi lands. That is Watuzi boar.”
“Whatever do you mean, old man? It was a perfect shot. Get some of your men over there and retrieve it at once.”
“No, bwanna, they will not go. The Watuzi forbid it!”
“Oh, poppycock. You get some men over there immediately, or there will be no money! Do you understand? Nobody ever tells Charles Wayans ‘no’. I want that boar over here and dressed out for tonight’s dinner. Now, get moving!”
The frightened guide, with wild, superstitious eyes, stared across the river as if the devil himself waited there, but eventually brought the boar into camp and prepared it.
After they ate, Marilyn and Charles retired to their tent and listened to the sounds of the jungle.
Sometime during the night, the Watuzi attacked. Marilyn saw white eyes that floated curiously above her head, and then a myriad of rough hands pulled her from her cot and dragged her screaming across the river and through the jungle.
The next morning, she awoke to the incessant beating of drums, and her hands tied behind her back to a pole. Staked out beside her was Charles, his head hanging heavily upon his chest. A large circle of Watuzi warriors danced naked before her. Some wore skirts and arm bracelets made of brightly colored plumage, and chanted an eerie guttural song as they swayed to-and-fro.
Then several warriors came forward and untied Charles. They pulled him to his feet and slapped at his face and head until he began to wake. Marilyn screamed to him, but, before he could turn, they savagely pulled him away.
She watched as they forced him to his knees before a large flat stone stained black. They leaned him over the stone and tied him there, his head hanging over the side.
A huge boulder, crisscrossed with hand-woven vines, hung from a massive branch of a large tree. Several of the natives pulled the stone back until it reached its highest arc. Then, upon a signal, they released the stone and it swung heavily toward Charles.
Marilyn saw it hit the altar dead center like a sledge hammer, heard the thud of rock against rock, saw the fine spray of blood and brain and skull. His legs jumped and twitched, much like the boar, and then lay still. Marilyn screamed, but her voice was lost among the celebration of the Watuzi.
She struggled weakly as they came for her, tied her roughly to the stone still wet and red with new blood.
Then the Watuzi became silent as if of one mind. Marilyn heard the low whistle of the boulder as it cut through the air.