Of all the caves in all the dives in all the world, she had to walk into mine.
My name is Magnon, Cro Magnon, Pea Eye.
Skram was playing a tune on some pieces of bamboo when she walked in. She lit up the place like the reflection of the sun off silicone, and darkened my heart like a mudslide. She walked over to Skram and leaned over him.
‘Play it Skram; that song you always used to play. Play “As millennia go by,”.’
I remembered her from La Bria. Those tar pits sure were something! She had been wearing an off-the-shoulder bearskin that set my pulses racing. But she was here now, in my place, the last place on Pangaea I wanted her to be. I called my place Crashamanka; it sounded sophisticated.
This was not what I wanted, but most of all, I didn’t want her to see me. We’d had a stormy love affair years before, when it seemed the whole world was going to pieces. That was why the La Bria tar pits seemed like paradise to us. It was a few wonderful months, but now she was here again, and Skram was playing those bamboos like there was no tomorrow.
I turned my back on her and ordered another shot of fermented crab apple juice. It was sour, but it hit the spot. I felt a hand on my shoulder and turned around. It was her. ‘Hello, Cro, ‘she said huskily. ‘Aren’t you going to buy a lady a drink?’
‘Sure,’ I said, equally huskily. ‘What’ll you have?’
‘Don’t you remember, Cro?’ she asked teasingly. I remembered alright! How could I forget? It had taken me years to get over her and here she was, opening all the old wounds. I ordered a pineapple roostertail for her, served in the hollowed-out pineapple, with a little miniature palm tree on the side.
She sipped it and looked at me under lowered lashes, her brow hardly protruding. I’d forgotten how breath-taking she was. This was some sophisticated lady. He fur was so fine it resembled down, and that off-the-shoulder bearskin was doing its thing. I could feel my throat tightening and my heart thumping: she really had the goods on me!
‘What are you doing in this part of Pangaea?’ I asked.
‘I heard you were here and I came looking for you,’ she said calmly.
I felt my throat dry up and cleared it before asking, ‘Why were you looking for me?’
‘I’m in big trouble,’ she said. ‘And you’re the only person I could think of who would be able to help me.’
I sipped on my drink and looked at her, long and hard. When we’d been together I hadn’t been a Pea Eye, so who had told her, that she would come looking for me? ‘Who told you I’m a Pea Eye?’
‘Word gets around,’ she said looking steadily at me, her canines protruding slightly. I felt dizzy with the scent of her; a heady mix of sweat and crushed flowers.
‘So what help do you need from me?’
‘My people are in trouble, and I don’t know who else to turn to,’ she said.
‘What kind of trouble?’
‘There’s this big ape, Kameleonise, who won’t let my people work. They want to hunt and pick coconuts and pineapples and the like, but he won’t let them. He says only his people are qualified to do it, so the people have to pay clams for the food.’
So, Kameleonise was back. I thought it was too good to be true when I’d run him out last time. I didn’t even think to ask her about payment. This was about setting things straight, even if it hadn’t been her asking for help. I straightened up from the bar and said, ‘I’ll do it.’ I wasn’t going to let this double-headed monster get away with more mayhem.
‘Oh, thank you, Cro!’ she cried, the tears starting to her eyes. She dabbed her eyes with a rabbit foot and wiped her face with weasel fur. She sure was sophisticated; you didn’t meet dames like her in every cave.
I left her there, in the den with Skram, and did some nosing around. It was Kameleonise, alright, no question of that! He’d started a movement called BEE, Baboon Employment Equity, which meant that only baboons could be employed, and the people had to pay good clams to get the food and coverings they’d always made for themselves.
It seemed he’s also built himself a new kind of cave, one that stood out by itself and couldn’t be approached from any direction without being seen. This was going to be tough.
I had a plan brewing, but it was going to be tough to implement. I carved out a message and tied it to a Pterodactyl’s leg and sent him off. He knew exactly where to go, and I had some planning to do, but I could do nothing without my band of gorillas. They were tough and could rumble with the best of them. But first, I had work to do.
I found a deformed coconut, good and hairy, and a liana which I covered with hair as well. It was time to get into disguise, a disguise that would fool the baboons and let me get close to Kamelionise. He would remember my face from the last time, when I had presented him with the archer fish, so my disguise had to be fool-proof.
When the leaders of the various bands of gorillas turned up, I was gratified to hear them growl threateningly at me. The disguise worked!
‘Calm down, guys, it’s me, Cro,’ I said, holding out my hand.
Fossey put his head on one side and looked closely at me. ‘You had me fooled, boss,’ he said, with a laugh. The others joined in, circling me and admiring my disguise. I then gathered them around and told them of my plan and they jumped up and down with excitement. They were chafing for action and they wanted to get back at Kamelionise and his gang of baboons.
I went out that evening in my baboon disguise and waited for a work party, then joined them, trying to behave as badly as they did, and doing a pretty good job of it. I saw the cave in the distance and was impressed, in spite of myself. This was some cave!
As I went in past the guards, I let out a whistle and all the baboons turned to look at me. They’d never heard a baboon whistle before. They weren’t suspicious, they were too stupid for that. They were fascinated!
And while they were staring at me, six quetzalcoatlus, loaded with my gorillas, flew in and the gorillas bounded down and went at the baboons, clubs and lianas flailing and fur flying. I left them and headed for the cave. Kameleonise was just coming out to see what all the fuss was about, his little archer fish hat perched upon his double-up head.
‘What…is going…on here?’ he said, looking up from his notes. ‘And… who are…you?’
‘I’m your worst nightmare, pal, and I’m running you out of here, once and for all,’ I said through gritted teeth, and whipped off my disguise.
‘You!’ he said, recoiling, looking around for help, but all his baboons were either unconscious or dead, I didn’t really care.
‘Yep, it’s me, alright, and you, pal, are finished: once and for all!’ I punched him flush on the mouth and he went down in a heap, his archer fish falling off his head. ‘Here’s lookin’ at you, squid,’ I said.
The cops eventually arrived and wanted to arrest me for trespassing, but my gorillas outnumbers their puny force, so they backed off and took Kamelionise away, but I had a funny feeling I hadn’t seen the last of him.
I was leaning up against the bar, sipping my crab apple juice when she walked in, and my heart skipped a beat. She walked so erect she made me erect. She stopped in front of me and looked levelly at me. ‘Thank you, Cro.’
I said, with a feigned insouciance, ‘Think nothing of it. Scum like that need to be wiped off the face of Pangaea. Things are going to be a bit hot for you for a while, so I’ve arranged a flight out of here on a quetzalcoatlus headin’ out.’ I held her hands and she kissed me gently.
‘Thank you again, Cro,’ she said.
‘Aw, now you’re makin’ me blush!’
‘I mean it, Cro. I just wish things could have turned out better.’
‘Don’t worry, honey, we’ll always have malice. That’s how I stay in business.’ I watched her leave with a heavy heart, then turned to Blooey, one of the more attractive Neanderthal girls in the area.
‘Well, Blooey, this looks like the beginning of a beautiful friendship.’