Most people think a club is a club, but nothing could be further from the truth. There’s your common or jungle club, the kind you use when you want a date. Then there’s your self-defence club. This is the one you use when somebody or something attacks you. Then you get the professional club. My preferred model is the 45 Magnon, but there are others equally good, and as effective.
One of those was swinging towards my head and I saw it, but too late. I ducked, but it still connected with the top of my skull, and I saw those bright shiny things that float in the night sky. And then oblivion.
My name is Magnon, Cro Magnon, Pea Eye, and I was in a whole heap of trouble.
I woke up with a pounding head and realised I couldn’t move. I didn’t open my eyes; I wanted them to think I was still unconscious. They were talking, but it was nothing of any importance; nothing that could help me find a way out of this mess I was in.
I opened my eyes and groaned and one of them said, ‘He awake! Call boss feller.’
They slowly came into focus and I looked at them; studied them really, and they were a disreputable bunch of baboons. And immediately I knew who was behind this. Kameleonise! He came in, his henchbaboons behind him. He was dressed in a polar bearskin, real fancy, and I was in big, big trouble, because he was smiling and jovial.
‘Heh heh heh, my…interfering friend that…doesn’t know how…to mind his…own business.’ He smiled at me, his eyes looking in different directions, his head seeming to be composed of two different sections. ‘Would you like…to punch me…in the mouth…now?’
‘What, and dirty my fist?’ A Pea Eye without a wisecrack is worthless, especially at a time like this. He nodded to one of his baboons, who hit me on top of the head with his elbow. I nearly passed out again with the pain of it.
‘Heh heh heh, you…think you are…clever, with that mouth…of yours. Now we will see who…is going to be laughing…heh heh heh!’ He turned his head. ‘Anallanall!’ he shouted, and this really creepy guy came in, wearing a bearskin with skunk interwoven, and crystals in his ears.
‘So, this is the clever fellow who wants to destroy our little enterprise!’ He turned to Kameleonise. ‘You did well, and I always reward those who do well. I think you deserve a quetzcotlus landing strip at your cave.’
‘The only landing you’re going to doing, pal, is yourselves in hot lava,’ I grated out. A Pea Eye can never afford to lose his razor wit: he might as well give up his job.
Anallanall laughed, a high-pitched laugh, like a hyena. There was quite a resemblance as well, and I told him so. He came over to me and squatted down, looking me in the eye. ‘You’ve got a big mouth for someone who’s in so much trouble.’ He put his forefinger against my forehead and pushed my head back against the cave wall. I don’t mind telling you, it hurt like something really bad!
‘You’re a tough guy when I’m tied up,’ I said. ‘Why don’t you untie me and try that again?’
‘You don’t understand, Mr Magnon, I don’t have to do anything! You are the one who seems to be in a spot of bother.’ He turned to Kameleonise. ‘I want you to take him up to the edge of the volcano and hang him over the edge. He’ll hang there and wonder when the liana’s going burn through, and it’ll give him time to consider all the rash actions he’s indulged in, and how many clams he’s cost me.’ He looked back down at me. ‘I’ll see you around, Mr Magnon! Oh no, I forgot, I won’t. Enjoy the rest of your life, Mr Magnon!’
For once I was stuck without a wisecrack. ‘Sabre tooth got your tongue, Mr Magnon?’ he asked.
‘No, but when I’m finished with you, you’ll wish a sabre tooth had only your tongue!’
He laughed delightedly. ‘It’s such a pity I have to kill you, Mr Magnon, it would be amusing to have you around. I won’t be seeing you again, and I promise I won’t shed a tear when I hear of your rather untimely demise.’
‘Heh heh heh, what…do you have… to say now?’ said Kameleonise, but I just ignored him. I was desperately trying to work out a plan of action. I’d just realised that, although he was referred to as number one, he was not the boss. He thought he was, but Anallanall was pulling the strings. Aside from saving my own hide, I had to stop these two; once and for all.
I must have passed out, or fallen asleep, but I was awoken quite rudely by the baboons picking me up bodily and carrying me, all trussed up. Out of the cave and up the mountainside. I say mountain, but I mean volcano. It was no use even struggling. These baboons knew how to tie knots.
It started getting warmer and I was beginning to sweat. I could feel the rumble of the volcano, but the baboons just carried on, all the way to the top. There was no sign of Kameleonise; he wouldn’t be here, where there was any chance of danger. I thought of a plan, and desperately hoped it would work.
I forced a laugh. One of the baboons said, ‘Why you laugh. You go die, is not funny.’
‘I’m laughing at you guys!’ I laughed again. ‘Boy, those two are playing you guys like bamboo sticks!’
‘You shut up,’ said one, obviously the leader. ‘Boss tell us to burn you, we burn you. Now, no more from you!”
‘Okay, I get the picture!’ I laughed again. ‘You guys sure must be getting a lot of clams to believe what those guys tell you, but it doesn’t matter.’
They stopped and put me down on the ground and glared at me, ‘What do you mean, doesn’t matter?’
‘You’re never going to get a chance to spend the clams, that’s what. Those two are using you. I heard something a while ago about Kameleonise and Anallanall getting rid of all the baboons, because they want to replace you with their people.’ I shrugged as much as my bonds would allow. ’But if you’re happy working like that, who am I to stop you.’
They put me down and glared at me suspiciously. ‘What you mean?’
‘They put in BEE…’
‘What being BEE?’ asked the leader, aggressively.
‘Baboon Equity Employment. It means all the good jobs must go to you. Is that happening?’
The leader shook his head. ‘No. All they give us is dirty job. Like this one. You feel how hot it is already? If we fall in when we hang you up, we die also.’
‘That’s what I mean!’ I said triumphantly. ‘Did they ever pay you your clams for the work you do?’
Again he shook his head. ‘No. They keep it. They say they look after it for us, and it will get more.’
‘That’s what I mean! I pay my gorillas for every job they do, and not only with clams. I give them food and bearskins and tools. Why don’t you untie me and come and work for me?’ I was desperately hoping this would work. They talked amongst each other, while I lay in an agony of anticipation. I was on an ant nest.
They turned to me. ‘If we free you, we come work for you, your gorillas no fight us?’
I felt a surge of hope and would have jumped up if not for the lianas that bound me. Also, the ants were going to work on me. ‘If you free me, you come to work for me and the gorillas won’t fight with you, because you’ll all be friends. You guys are clever, the gorillas are strong, so you’ll make a good team. What do you say?’
Again they huddled together, talking too softly for me to hear. At the rate this was going, they wouldn’t have to take me to the volcano: the ants were doing the job for them!
‘Okay, we untie you, and you take us to gorillas, make us friends.’
They untied me and I jumped up so fast they got into fighting positions, then they saw the ants and started laughing, rolling around on the ground and holding their sides. I didn’t need my famous wit to make them laugh!
‘What we do now?’ they asked.
‘First, we take you to my gorillas, and then you can help me make a plan to catch Kameleonise and Anallanall. This time they’re not going to get away with their tricks.’ They all nodded and murmured agreement and we made our way down the mountainside and back to my cave.
When we got to my cave, I told them to take a seat on the floor while I summoned a pterodactyl and chiselled a quick message, which I attached to his leg. He flew off and I turned to the baboons. ‘You guys want some fermented pineapple juice?’
They jumped up and down in excitement and I went into a smaller cave at the back and brought out a gourd of pineapple juice, which they drank with great gusto. Then I sent a few of them off to gather some fruit and nuts, and perhaps an oviraptor or two for dinner. I was really hungry!
They were out when Bluey came in. She said, ‘Why did you send a pterodactyl for me? Why didn’t you just come and seem me?’
I told her the whole story and then my plan. ‘I don’t know, Cro,’ she said. ‘It sounds kinda dangerous.’
‘Danger is my middle name,’ I said, not realising that I was creating a trend.
She came over to where I was sitting and leaned down over me, that furry valley making me want to grab her and club her right there, but I restrained myself. I stood up. ‘Bluey, you know how I feel about you, but this is not the time, or the place. Let’s put this scum away for good, and then it’ll be just you and me.’
She smiled beguilingly, her canines glistening slightly. She was some broad! She kissed me and then left, and I waited for the baboons to return, and I wasn’t disappointed when they did. Three oviraptors, bunches of bananas and more nuts than we could eat, but I put the oviraptors on the fire, cut up the fruit and we had ourselves a feast.
Then I told them of my plan.
They were really excited, and I got another pterodactyl to take a message to the gorillas, who arrived a while later and bristled with aggression when they saw the baboons. ‘Calm down, guys!’ I said. ‘These guys are working for me now as well, so you’re going to work together.’ I told them what had happened, and they joined us in the feast.
I told them to keep me in sight when I left the cave, but to stay out of sight themselves. When I got to Crashamanka, you would have sworn Kameleonise owned it, the way he was sitting and giving orders to my monkey waiters. Anallanall was sitting with him and they were having a good old laugh.
As I watched, Bluey walked close to Kameleonise’s rock, and he grabbed hold of her, pulling her down onto his lap. She struggled, but he held her down effortlessly, fondling her as if she were his. I signalled my guys and we swarmed into the place, surrounding them and their pathetic bodyguard. I pulled Bluey off his lap and slapped him. Hard. Then I turned and poked Anallanall in the eye.
‘What is the… meaning of…this?’ he asked furiously. ‘Grab him before…he gets away!’ he said to the baboons.
‘Too late, pal, they work for me now.’
He looked at me in horror, his eyes going independently from side to side, while Anallanall sat holding his hand over his eye.
‘You see this lady you molested? She’s mine,’ and I slapped him again, hard enough for his double head to wobble, and his eyes to go round and round. ‘You are finished, pal!’ I turned to Anallanall and hit him as hard as I could on top of his head with my knuckles. He cringed as I hit him. ‘It’s a different story when I’m not tied up, isn’t it? Do you still want to keep me around for your amusement?’
They looked at me in fear. ‘I thought not. Well, I’m going to solve your problem. You don’t have to ever see me again. Your erstwhile employees are going to take care of you. And they’re not going to be gentle, as they were with me. I believe the velociraptors are hungry, and these gentlemen know how to deposit you there without endangering themselves. Enjoy the rest of your lives.’
The baboons tied the both up, leaving their legs free, and led them out of the cave, protesting that they hadn’t really meant to hurt me, Kameleonise protesting that he had only harmlessly been flirting with Bluey, but I ignored them and said to Skram, ‘Start playing, Skram. Play some really happy music. Drinks on the cave for everyone!’
The monkey waiters were run off their feet serving roostertails and other drinks, while I took Bluey into a little alcove with animal skins hanging over it. ‘Well, Bluey, it’s finally just you and me.’
She kissed me hungrily and I thought, ‘Life can be pretty good, especially if you’re a Pea Eye.’