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Crashamanka Blues

06 March 2014, 19:08

Some people think it’s easy to kill, but I’m here to tell you that it never is. It’s sometimes necessary, but never easy. To me, the worst are those who take pleasure in it. For me it was a dirty job that had to be done, and if I was the one chosen to do it, then so it would be.

My name is Magnon, Cro magnon, Pea Eye.

I try never to do the actual killing, but sometimes I think of myself as an exterminator, and this was one of them. This Neanderthal had been making a pest of himself with this lady for a while now, and had been clubbing her for a while now without her consent. Then he’d got together with some of his friends and gang-clubbed her, which was why she had come to me.

If she’d gone to the cops, Olchap would have insisted on going the legal route and confining them in a little cave. My way was more direct. She had more knobs on her head than I had customers at Crashamanka, so for me, I decided this was going to be personal.

I got Pee Jin to lure him to Crashamanka under some pretext, then I would do my stuff.

And it wasn’t going to be pretty.

Skram was playing Rock and Rock Music, and the place was alive with noise and celebration. I was in my little alcove, counting clams, when the zebra skin parted and Pee Jin was there. ‘They’re here, boss,’ he said. No small talk with him.

‘Point them out to me,’ I said. ‘Then leave the rest to me.’

He nodded and opened the zebra skin a crack and pointed out these five Neanderthals, big and ugly, like all of their kind. But no match for my gorillas. I closed the zebra skin and said to him, ‘Call Fossey and tell him to round up the gorillas and wait outside.’

‘Sure thing,’ he said, and left. He would be back soon, I knew, and then there would be trouble: bi-i-i-i-ig trouble, and those Neanderthals were going to know all about it! I wandered out to the bar and ordered a drink and stood surveying the crowd, watching the Neanderthals out of the corner of my eye.

Pee Jin appeared in the cave opening and disappeared again, and I took the hint and followed him out. Fossey was there with about twenty gorillas: that was plenty. I indicated with my head for them to follow me and we headed inside and surrounded the Neanderthals without their noticing. Then I tapped the ringleader on the shoulder. ‘Let’s take a walk outside,’ I said.

He looked down at me. ‘Why?

I pointed at the double-barrelled club I’d taken from Sandy’s goon. In case you’ve never seen one, I’ll describe it to you. It really is vicious! It has a normal handle, but then forks: the one fork is a conventional heavy-duty club, the other an ankylosaurus tail, full of spikes. He looked back up at me and turned to see the gorillas surrounding him and his friends.

They put down their coconut shells and turned without a word. I could see they were scared, and I wanted them scared. They’d scared Fan Nee plenty and a whole lot worse, so now it was their turn to feel the pain, and there was going to be a whole Pangaea of it!

We got outside and he said, ‘What’s this all about? We come in here for a peaceful drink and you harass us! Is this how you treat all your customers?’

He was blustering because he was scared, but he had no idea what was going on; why he was being picked on. So I told him. ‘You and your friends have been doing a bit of unwelcome clubbing and, in fact, gang-clubbing at least one lady I know of. She came to me, and now you’re going to get a taste of your own medicine.’ I was still talking when I swung the club and he didn’t even see it coming.

He dropped in a heap, head bleeding profusely from the spikes. His friends were not faring much better, even though the gorillas were just using light clubs. The thing is, gorillas are immensely strong, and when they club you, it’s an ugly thing to see.

They were mostly unconscious now, and we tied them up securely, then waited for them to awaken properly. Once they’d returned to full consciousness, I brought Fan Nee out to see them. ‘These guys are never going to be bothering you, or anyone else, ever again, Fan Nee. Have a last look at them.’

She went over to the ringleader and spat on him, and he cringed. He tried blustering again. ‘I’ve never seen this lady before in my life!’

‘We’re not the cops, pal. We know what you did and her word is proof enough.’

‘What are you going to do with us?’ he yelled in terror.

‘Take you for a swim.’

He looked puzzled. ‘A swim?’

‘Yeah. In tar. See how you enjoy it.’ I nodded to the gorillas and they picked them up and we headed for the tarpits. It was quite a way from Crashamanka and it was dark when we got there, with no light, not even from those things up in the sky, so we trod very carefully, making sure our eyes were fully accustomed to the light. Suddenly the clouds parted and that big shiny thing came out behind the clouds, and we could see the tarpits. The Neanderthals started moaning piteously, but I hardened my resolve.

We threw them in one by one, leaving the ringleader for last, and we waited until we saw their heads disappear. Luckily they struggled, so they sank more quickly, but it’s never a pleasant sight. We walked back to Crashamanka in silence.

Olchap was waiting for us when we got back. ‘What did you do?’ he said, in anguish. ‘You’re the guy who gave me the job of straightening out the cops, and now you break the law yourself! Why didn’t you call me? Don’t you trust me?’

I looked at him in silence: he was right. I’d asked him to take over the job, and here I was, taking the law into my own hands.

I called Fan Nee over. ‘Tell him what happened.’ So she did: in gory detail and I could see him cringe when she became graphic, but I wanted him to hear it from her. She finished her story and we stood in a group, looking at each other in silence.

He shook his head sadly. ‘As bad as it is, Cro, there’s no excuse for what you did, and I’m going to have to arrest you.’

My gorillas started growling, and I told them to back off. ‘You want to arrest me because I got rid of gang-clubbers?!’

‘No, Cro, I don’t want to arrest you: it’s the last thing on Pangaea I want to do! But we set up a system of law here, and you put me in charge, to make sure the folks can live in peace. If I let you get away with what you did, we go back to the old ways. Is that what you want?’

‘No, it’s not what I want. But if I’d captured them and brought them to you, what would you have done?’

‘I would have listened to her story, then listened to their story and made up my mind as to who was being truthful. If I felt she was being truthful, I would have put them in the little caves for a long time, maybe for life.’

I sighed. ‘That’s the problem. You would have listened to her story, then theirs, and because there were five of them, they would back each other up, and she would have been called a liar, so you would have let them go.’

‘Maybe…’ he said hesitantly. ‘But that doesn’t make right what you did. You took the law into your own hands, and I can’t allow that. I don’t want to arrest you, and I can’t force you to come with me, but I’m asking you to come peacefully.’

‘Are you going to put me in one of those little caves?’

‘I’m going to have to, Cro. I can’t treat you different from the others, or folks won’t respect the law.’

I sighed, a long, shuddering sigh and said, over my shoulder, ‘Skram, keep an eye on the place, I don’t know how long I’ll be gone.’ I walked back with Olchap, feeling the weight of the world on my shoulders. I had asked Olchap to take over the cops and he’d done a wonderful job of it, and then I’d gone against the agreement. It was a long, long walk and he handed me over to one of his cops, who put me in this little cave and slid a stone across the opening. It was dark inside, and cold, and I suddenly felt fearful.

No wisecrack or Pea Eye training was going to get me out of this one!

I think it was about two days later when the stone rolled away and I blinked in the light. It was Olchap! ‘I need your help, Cro.’

I held up my hand to shield my eyes from the glare of the rush torch he was holding. ‘Help? With what?’

‘Fan Nee’s disappeared, and her family came to me. We’ve searched high and low, but we can’t find her. I’m prepared to release you if you help me out on this, but you have to bring the culprits to me. You can’t dispense justice yourself. Deal?’ He held out his hand and I took it.

‘Deal,’ I said. I straightened my back and every bone in my body hurt. I followed him down this maze of passages till we got outside into the daylight, and my eyes actually hurt from glare. I turned to him. ‘I’m free?’

‘You’re free; no lianas attached, as long as you keep to your side of the bargain.’ I realised again what a good choice I’d made, putting him in charge of the cops. Olchap was a good feller; there was none better. Now I had to hope Fan Nee was alive, and that I could find her.

I slowly made my way to Crashamanka, and the noise was a wonder to behold. Skram was playing Neanderthal Man, and I was tempted to tell him to stop, but hey, we had Neanderthal customers, so I let him continue.

I was sitting in my alcove, sitting my drink, utterly exhausted, when the zebra skin parted and Pee Jin entered. ‘Any news?’ I asked him.

He looked grim. ‘Yup, and it’s all bad.’

‘How bad?’

‘We found her body: she’d been clubbed and left to die.’

I felt a surge of anger boil up inside me. ‘Who?’ I asked through gritted teeth.

‘I believe it’s your enemies who watched when we threw the Neanderthals in the tarpits.’

‘Do you have any idea who they are?’

‘No, I don’t have an idea: I know.’

I sat forward eagerly. ‘You know?!’

He nodded. ‘And you’re not going to like the answer.’

‘Why not?’

‘You remember those baboons we didn’t throw in the tarpits? When they heard you were in the little cave, the decided to hit you in the place it would hurt you the most: your pride in protecting your customers.’ He looked at me intently; he could see my emotions churning within me.

Baboons! No-one could ever call me a specist, but baboons were as low on the species list as it was possible to be. In my mind, the only good baboon was a dead one. But I’d promised Olchap I wouldn’t be dispensing my kind of justice any longer, so what was I going to do? This screamed revenge!

Suddenly an idea came to me: I wouldn’t have to do anything myself. I could have it done, without ordering it, and no-one could point a finger at me. One thing was certain though: the baboons had to go.

Pee Jin took me to the place they’d found her body, and there couldn’t be a more desolate and lonely place to die. It was high up on the slopes of the volcano where nothing grew and the ground was hot underfoot. ‘Where’s her body?’ I asked.

‘It was so badly mangled, we threw it straight into the volcano. We didn’t think Fan Nee would have wanted anyone to see her that way.’ He studied me hard. ‘Did I do good?’

I nodded. ‘You did good.’ I walked off a ways to be by myself. It was bad enough when those Neanderthals had gang-clubbed her, but this was straight-out murder, pure and simple. And it was because they wanted to get back at me, but I had an advantage: they thought I was still in the little cave.

We went back to Crashamanka, where I sat in deep silence in my alcove. I decided on revenge, but the kind of revenge Olchap couldn’t disapprove of. And it was going to send out a message to every baboon on Pangaea. O-o-h yes it was!

That night I slept a troubled sleep, tossing and turning, my bedrock feeling even harder than normal. When I awoke the next morning, after eventually falling into a deep, troubled sleep, I knew what I was going to do. This was going to be revenge of the worst sort, and any baboon who wanted to enter our area wouldn’t think twice, but many, many times, before he set paw here again.

I made my way up to Crashamanka, where Skram was tickling the bamboos like crazy. I didn’t know where he got the stamina. He was playing Sandal in the Wind, and the people were rapt in attention, listening to him.

I went to my alcove and one of the monkey waiters brought me a drink, and I sipped on it slowly. I didn’t have to wait very long for Pee Jin to make his appearance. ‘Fossey’s outside,’ he said. I got up. The gorillas didn’t feel comfortable in these confined spaces, so I went out to him. He was there with his whole clan, fifty or sixty of them, and they were angry!

‘What boss want?’ he asked. I told him exactly what I wanted and, I don’t know if you’ve ever heard a gorilla laugh, but you’re missing something if you haven’t. It’s a coughing, wheezing sound, but it sure is infectious, and eventually we were all laughing, in spite of the recent tragedy.

The gorillas went off to fetch the ingredients and I went back inside to wait. And it was a good long while before they came back, loaded down with all the ingredients necessary to make this work.

Meanwhile, Pee Jin had put out the word that Crashamanka was unguarded and fair game to anyone who wanted a lot of clams, so the trap was set. And we didn’t have long to wait. We were all lying flat in the bushes surrounding Crashamanka when we heard the distinctive sound of many baboons approaching. The troop must have numbered forty and they were in high spirits. They believed they were going to crash Crashamanka and take their final revenge on me.

Oh boy, were they ever wrong!

We rushed them and pinned them down, knocking them out with light clubs and tying them up. They were lying in a heap and we got the obsidian blades Fossey and his guys had gathered and shaved them all, top to tail, and what a sight it was, but there was more to come.

Once we’d shaved them all, we painted them in vertical stripes. Yellow down the middle for cowardice, green on the left for the jungles they came from and black on the right for the colour of their hearts. Now they looked as ridiculous as it was possible for any animal to look and, when they woke up and saw what we had done, they screamed in horror.

‘Even when the hair grows back,’ I said, ‘you’ll always have those stripes to remind you of how bad and stupid you are. And if you ever come into this area again, the other folk will laugh you to shame, or perhaps even kill you.’

They ran off screaming, bumping into each other, in their hideous colours, and I knew I’d won a major battle today, and it was once again a good day to be a Pea Eye.

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