Tuesday, September 9, 2008

Sam Bonner and the Gibbons

As bad as the morning had been for Sam Bonner, for one gibbon, it was going to be worse.

It started unremarkably. Cozily ensconced a hundred feet up in a leafy bower, he awoke to find an immensely long arm heaving him over the edge of his nest. For an intolerable moment, half asleep, he imagined branches slapping him in the face as he flailed his way to an eager forest floor. Flopping to a stop at the end of his tether, he started from his morbid reverie, dangling helplessly below as the apes gleefully pillaged his meager possessions. Spinning gently in the rain of debris, he saw one brown-furred face leering down at him with an expression and fistful of feces that said unmistakably, “This was my idea, human.” Only one problem: Sam knew that face.

Hours later, trotting through the undergrowth in his walrus-hide leggings and hard-won Juleleloh spear—the one on him while he slept, the other flung to the ground by the gibbons—Sam headed for the fig he knew was part of many tribes local range, neutral territory where disputes were minor. A fig he’d been at the bottom of, the day an alpha gibbon violated the unspoken accords, commandeering every ripe fig and taking a single bite, letting them fall onto a hungry Sam Bonner, below. He knew he’d celebrate his triumph this day at the fig, impressing any females with Sam’s tweed hat and canned goods.

The tree was as he remembered it, and it was the work of minutes to jam his spear into a crevice and wedge himself into a crack, pulling down branches and leaves to cover himself, unmindful of biting insects. He would wait all day, if necessary, but a bill would be paid. This was Sam’s forest, and no brachiating primate could say otherwise without the reaper getting his due.

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