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Adventure Suspense Coming of Age

The sweltering humidity dripped from the broad green leaves of the huge trees that blocked out the sun,

yet did nothing to block the heat.

Even the cries of the Macaws and the many species of monkeys, seemed tired and worn.

A dugout canoe,

old, patched and battered..

drifted slowly into shore...

None of it's three occupants bothering to paddle...

the native guide,

Gre'gorycolmantz...

a tribal elder from the Wa'syatchoo tribe,

still very isolated in the deep Ecuadorian jungle...

held his carved wooden paddle in the water,

just to steer it to shore.

When the canoe slid quietly into the narrow inlet....

silence rained momentarily...

As if Mother Nature,

Herself....

Had temporarily suspended all motion or sound...

To observe the coming events.

the other native guide....

Umbikutiz...

In the front,

Stepped carefully into the shallows...

Warily observing everything around him...

Especially in the water...

The snakes...

Huge...

one of the village children,

swimming carelessly past the ruled borders...

Had been snatched suddenly by a huge anaconda...

Never to be seen again...

He dragged the canoe halfway up the leaf shrouded bank,

And tied it securely to the closest tree.

Then the second occupant...

The only Caucasian...

Stepped gingerly onto the bank.

"How long will we be here.. Umbikutiz ?

"Not know...up to Kandosnell...

He say..never travel river in middle of day..

too much heat...

too much dangerous animals...

too much enemy tribesmen on river..."

"Well,

can you ask him how long he plans to be here, and what he plans for us to do...

I would still like to make up some time on our journey..

and it is what..3...4 days inland?"

"Kandosnell no here...

Here tribal elder"

Umbikutiz turned to the last man in the boat,

bent over,

seemingly unconcerned,

"Gre'gorcolmantz...

que planes tienes ?"

The addressed, just looked up slowly...

then continued what he was doing...

"He say nothing..senor..."

"I saw that....does he ever reveal his plans?"

"Not too much..senor"

"Well..

Nature calls.."

with that..

Alex Leavandonkee...

a tall, lanky young man...

Newly graduated from the University of Pittsburg...

a Professor of Biological and Ornithological Studies...

And a newly appointed Junior member of the Board of The Leavandonkee Foundation...

now headed by his widowed mother,

The Majority shareholder.

shouldered his way through the screen of drooping leaves...

already wet before he had gone eight steps...

Walked behind a big palmetto,

and untied the buttons on his khaki shorts...

His urination bringing a long sought relief...

he pulled a faded cloth, from his back pocket,

and swiped at his dripping head and hair...

The cloth not helping much.

Again...

for probably the sixth time today..

He tried his Sat Phone...

No reaction at all...

Like all the other times...

Frustrated,

he shook the phone vigorously and tried again...

To no avail...

He placed it back in his pack...

Over two days and no contact...

didn't satellites work around here?

"Bossman...

Gre'gorycolmantz want know if you want eat...

or rest...

we wait here for rest of party before move ahead"

"How long will that be?"

"Not know...

When they get here...we know"

Gre'gorycolmantz say...

I make fire...

if you no hungry...

we need to keep away biting bugs.

I will unload all else later"

Once the goods where laid out,

in the shade,

around the canvas "tent",

and a small smokey fire...

doing it's best to stay alive with the quantity of damp green leaves constantly replenishing it...

Was sending its smoke off to be lost in the damp shadows...

The three men squatted around a small box...

sipping at the banana flavored stout the Ecuadorians called beer...

"Bossman...

why you come all the way out here...

By yourself...

You not regular person travel jungle..."

"Right now...

Umbikutiz...

I am not at all sure...

I was supposed to be on a fact finding exploration to find out if there truly is such a creature as the three horned Yak..

and bring one...or hopefully a mating pair...

if they exist..

Back to our Odd Animals of the World Park...

we hope to preserve and protect species of animals nearing extinction...

And we have also converted it to a bit of a park...

where families can view these seldom seen rarities...

Before they do become extinct."

"why you want do this?

why you not just leave animals in jungle..

better chance to live longer.."

"Well...

I don't...

Never did..

I think like you...

But mother wants to have this rare species included in our protection...

So she sent me...

probably as a test...

but she promised me a back up team and constant communication...

you know...you can always talk to her by using phone.

Now, truly...

I have no idea what to do next...

Wait until I can talk with her...

Or the team finally joins up with us?"

The stillness was ruptured by the snarl of a leopard...

very close...

It didn't seem to bother the others...

But Alex had read too much about hungry leopards,

not to feel queasy deep in his gut.

seeing the look on his face...

Gre'gorcolmantz began to chuckle, and spoke to his tribesman...

"Bossman...

Gre'gorcolmantz say...

why you so worry?

Cat not hunt us...

we hunt cat."

"NOW?"

"no, no...

when tribe need skin or tooth or claws,

or big cat come around village...

Not hunt now....

we only wait..."

A shifting of the slight hot breeze blew the "smoke" right into the middle of the men.

again...the tribesmen seemed unaffected...

but Alex began coughing uncontrollably...

suddenly,

a loud buzzing sound permeated the area...

"THE PHONE...THE SAT PHONE!!!!..."

and Alex ran quickly to get it before it could "die" again.

"Hello...hello...who is there...

Hello...is anyone there..."

A brief burst of static was followed by the clear voice of his mother...

Alex...

This is your mother...

How far have you gotten?"

"Mom...

What the hell..

this phone hasn't worked for over two days...

And now...deep in the jungle...

You call me?

why? and how?"

"Alex...

the phones have been working all along...

I just had nothing to tell you."

"WHAT....

YOU COULD HAVE ANSWERED ALL MY CALLS...BUT YOU DIDN'T

How did you know they were not distress calls...

In fact, I am in a bit of distress right now.

I have no clue where we are...

What we are going to do next..

Or when..,

I am at the mercy of a tribal elder who not only can not speak a word of English...

He will not even allow me to know our plans...

And I know the begger is always laughing at me.

When can I expect the rest of the team...

and supplies...

And how long am I supposed to look for this mysterious yak?

"If you listen carefully,

I will answer all of your questions...

and make everything perfectly clear.

You, my son...

where never supposed to find this Yak...

In fact...

there is no such creature...

That is probably why the Indian is laughing at you"

"then..

What am I doing here...

where is the rest of the team and supplies...

we don't have much decent food left...

I was hoping to try the local food...

But I was also hoping I could eat it...

They even eat worms for chrissake..."

"Alex...

No one is coming...

Nothing is coming...

No one even knows exactly where you are...

And sadly...

Never will."

"what...what do you mean?

You sent me out here in the first place...

You said I needed the experience...

Like dad...

and you were confident I could do the job...

and if there is no such creature...

why AM I out here...

wherever the heck "here" is?"

Alex...

Our dream of collecting rare species of animals and putting them into what is basically a circus...

we were even in the process of buying a private island...

And profiting by flying in the curious...

those rich enough to afford a "Safari" right here in America...

Has fallen by the wayside...

Our...MY...company is going broke...

I have had to sell off over 20 percent of my personal shares just to live...

Now...I no longer have a majority of shares...

and any combination of three or more Board members can veto everything..

even shut the company down...

We lost almost three million dollars last quarter..."

"So...

that is bad...

But what does it have to do with why I am here?"

"Alex...

You are my...our...savior...

When you became a member of the Board,

you automatically became insured for Ten and a half million dollars...

Double Indemnity if you should meet an accidental death...

Or go lost or missing...

You are both.."

'WHAT?'

WHAT ARE YOU SAYING?

You sent me out here to DIE...

to "disappear"...

For money?

How much did this "hoax" cost you...

MOTHER?"

"Alex...I guess it is time you learned...

when your father did...he started drinking...

A lot...

That was how he ran into that bridge abutment...

Drunker than a skunk...

And broke...

He was going through the Family Trust like Julius Caeser...

and chasing every skirt in town...

He left me damn near destitute...

Alex...

You ARE NOT MY SON...

You are the son of Professor Hechman...

a visiting acadamatician we had called in to consult in the early stages of our plans...

Turns out the man could really "consult"...

Sadly he will never get the recognition he deserves...

"YOU are just part of my "refinancing" plans for this company...

When it is viable again..

I am going to dump the whole shithload..."

"So...

I am here to get you the Insurance money so you can destroy all of our family plans...

MOTHER...............OH MOTHER.

WHAT WOULD YOU SAY NEXT??

February 03, 2021 08:10

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