My name is Magnon. Cro Magnon, Pea Eye.
Nothing gets the pulses racing like a really juicy case, and this was promising to be one. A Pea Eye’s life is mostly pretty boring. Don’t believe every cave painting you see. It’s not all dames and danger; it’s mostly boring, repetitive work, some ape cheating on his wife, some trader taking more than his due, that sort of thing. But this one promised lots. Lots of excitement, lots of clams and, who knew, maybe a broad as well.
It seemed a gang headed by a big ape called Anallanall was blocking off the paths and making the people pay clams to use them. And, as usual, the cops were doing nothing. In fact, the cops were part of it. The head honcho, a big ape called Chameleon Eyes, was expanding his cave high up on the mountainside from the clams that were coming in from this racket.
The problem was, they’d sent a bunch of gorillas to flatten the path and make it really smooth, but then we discovered that Anallanall was making the people pay their hard-earned clams to travel on this path. The worst was, his gorillas had messed up the other paths so badly, that it was almost impossible to travel on them.
A pterodactyl flew into my cave and waddled up to my desk, with a message on his leg. This was the second one today. The lady who had come to see me, had sent the message, and it was urgent. Chameleon Eyes headed up this organisation, Apes Noir Clowns, and she had received threats to prevent her continuing the investigation.
I put on my veloceraptorstalker hat and made my way down to our rendezvous. The lady was waiting for me when I got there, and I could see she was nervous: she’d sweated right through her bearskin. But the smell really got my juices flowing!
Her name was Too Lean, but it was a misnomer: she had curves in all the right places, and just enough fur to make it interesting. This could spell trouble! She had been investigating Chameleon Eyes and Anallanall and what she’d found was frightening. They were trying to shut her up, and had brought in a bunch of Barbary Apes for muscle.
She told me OrangOUTA was trying to get them to free the path again, but it wasn’t working. They were also blocked every way they went. The worst was, all my witticisms had dried up, and for a Pea Eye, that’s enough for him to lose his licence. I strained my brain trying to come up with a wisecrack, but nothing came. What was I going to do?
Just then, Chameleon Eyes came out, not walking, but being carried by a bunch of Barbary Apes waving blue crystals above their heads and forcing everyone to give way. ‘These guys are like a Triceratops in a pottery cave,’ I said, out of the corner of my mouth and Too Lean laughed. I sighed with relief: the wisecracks were back.
‘There must be a way to stop them,’ she said and I looked at her keenly.
‘What’s your interest in all this?’
‘I care for the people and apes of this area and all the clams they get are being taken from them by Chameleon Eyes and Anallanall. It’s not only that they charge them to travel on that path, Chameleon Eyes has a special path going up to his cave, and I wish you could see that cave! It’s got crystal stalactites, a special viewing area where you can look at cave paintings, and I don’t just mean cave paintings. He has Neanderthals painted in various colours and they move around in front of the painting, so it looks as if the whole painting is moving. One of his concubines even has a special little cave he had dug for here, where she sells bananas and other fruit.’ She looked around to make sure we weren’t overheard. ‘They even sell fermented barley in a blue shell. I don’t know where they get all the clams, but I’m relying on you to shut them down. I’ve got all the information you’ll need.’
‘Don’t you worry,’ I said through gritted teeth, ‘By the time I’m finished with them, those Barbary Apes will be carrying him on his back and those crystals will be red. With his blood!’ I decided humour could be spiced with a touch of grit, and she looked at me in admiration. She might have been paying me a lot of clams for this operation, but she was also paying me a lot of attention.
I found a stool archaeopteryx I’d been dealing with for years now, and I paid him two clams, then said, ‘What’s the low-down on these low-lives?’
He looked around carefully, to be sure we weren’t being observed, then said. ‘Here’s the story. They’ve got a whole bunch of Brontosauruses leaning over the path, and Barbary Apes on their backs, counting the people when they go along the path then, when they get home, they tell them they went under so many Brontosauruses and they owe so may clams. It makes me sick, I tell you!’
Now Yog was not a guy to show any emotion except fear, but he was angry, and that interested me.
‘What is it that makes you sick?’
‘I know you don’t think of us stool archaeopteryxes as having feelings, but we do, and I got a family to feed. I gotta walk miles to collect clams to trade for other stuff, and then these apes take the clams away from us, for a path we trampled!’
I looked at him in astonishment. I always thought they would dinorat anyone out for a couple of clams, but there was something decent inside there. It just went to prove; you really didn’t know anyone. Now I had to find Too Lean and lay the goods on her.
I know the cops don’t have a high opinion of us gumsandals, but that was nothing compared to the opinion we had of them. They were just lucky pigs hadn’t evolved yet, or we’d have a name for them.
When I found her, she looked scared and the smell of musk was overpowering. If she hadn’t been a paying client, I woulda got stuck in right there and then. ‘What’s the problem?’ I asked.
She hugged her elbows and looked around carefully before saying anything. ‘They’re onto me,’ she said. ‘They know I dinoratted them out and now they’re coming after me!’ Her canines glinted vaguely in the dim light and I was moved to a feeling of protectiveness I seldom felt.
‘Don’t worry about it,’ I said. ‘I’ve worked out a way to get Chameleon Eyes out of his cave, and once he’s out, my gorillas will take care of his Barbary Apes.’
‘What are you going to do?’ she asked.
‘I don’t want to tell you, because if they catch you, they can make you talk.’ She nodded in fearful understanding.
I sent out a call to all my henchapes to gather all the archer fish they could find and bring them to me. Alive!
Later that day, good as their word, they arrived with about fifty archer fish, swimming in half coconut shells. This was good, and fitted my plan perfectly. Now I had to find some nice thin vines. I tied the tails of the archer fish together, then held them by their tails and squeezed. It looked magical! Streams of water came out all around them and looked dazzling in the sunlight.
I took a walk up to Chameleon Eyes’ cave and was stopped on a number of occasions. This was going to be tougher than I thought. I convinced them I had a gift for Chameleon Eyes and they let me through. Eventually I got to the cave and saw exactly what Too Lean meant.
It was huge! It had a flattened path leading all the way up to it, and Barbary Apes keeping watch all over. My henchapes were going to have to be sharp!
Eventually I was shown into the presence of Chameleon Eyes, where he sat on a rock covered in Sabre Tooth skins. He looked really mean, with his chameleon eyes and double head, but I managed to smile and showed him my gift. I lightly squeezed the tails of the archer fish and stream of water came shooting up into the air. He gasped in delight. ‘Showah!’ he exclaimed.
He held out hand and I gave him the archer fish and he held them above his head and squeezed their tails and the water cascaded down on his head. ‘No more sick!’ he cried in delight.
That’s what you think, I thought to myself and took a rock out from under my bearskin and hit him on the side of the head. His eyes straightened. I hit him again and he fell down in a heap and, as his apes rushed me, my henchapes, huge gorillas to an ape, came down the mountainside and swinging into the cave, beating the daylight out of those Barbary Apes.
We tied them all up with lianas, then called Too Lean. ‘Where’s Anallanall?’ she asked and, I must admit, the thought hadn’t even crossed my mind. As she was speaking, the cops turned up, tripping over each other, asking for bribes, the usual stuff, then wanted to arrest us!
With so many of my henchapes around, they didn’t dare, and took Chameleon Eyes and his Barbary Apes out of there. I only found out later that they let them go, but at least they were out of our lives.
The path was free again and the Brontosauruses were free to continue grazing in peace, with no-one to disturb them.
Too Lean touched my arm and handed me the clams. ‘Thank you for everything you’ve done.’
Well, I can tell you, it was hard on me, but I let her walk out of my life. A Pea Eye’s life can be hard, but it can also be rewarding.
‘Yog,’ I said. ‘Go back to your family and tell them they’re free. Oh, and here’s another two clams.’
He looked at me so gratefully that tears sprang to his eyes. I thought for a moment that Yog hurt, but then I realised it was pure gratitude. Sometimes doing good is its own reward. I was sure some smartass in the future would claim that as his own, but remember: you read it here first.
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