Part 1 of 2: A Visit from Tarzan
Naked but for a loin cloth, Tarzan of the Apes dropped
from the limb that overhung the cottage, his feet sinking to the calves
in the snow on the structure's roof.
He sniffed the air, catching the distinct scent
of Bara, the Deer, although this aroma had a slightly different tang than
the smell of Bara to which the ape-man was accustomed. Being in another
part of the globe, he was not surprised at the difference. But basically,
Bara was Bara and the ape-man had gone for awhile without sustenance.
Understandably, he allowed a brief vision of a
haunch of Bara, dripping with fresh blood, to momentarily dance in his
But Tarzan was not here to hunt Bara, at least
not at this very instant. He had another mission.
Stepping to the edge of the roof, he made the easy,
12-foot jump to a snowdrift below, just outside the door of the cottage.
He noted the bright yellow light streaming from within the diamond-shaped
windows on the door and sides of the home, like something out of a Thomas
Kinkade painting. The warmth within, suggested by the appearance of the
lights, prompted Tarzan to give in to a slight but only momentary shiver
from the effects of the icy cold. Jane had recommended that he wear a bit
more attire for this particular adventure, suggesting his old fleece-lined
RAF flight suit, but Tarzan always felt more comfortable in what he regarded
as his natural coverings, no matter what the weather. It would not have
been the first time that Tarzan had experienced the cold but perhaps, he
admitted to himself, not quite this cold.
Tarzan stepped to the door and knocked. A moment
later, it was opened cautiously and a two-foot high creature peered out
and looked up at him.
"You must be Tommy Tinker, Santa's chief elf,"
The door opened wider. "And you can only be Tarzan
the ape-man," the elf grinned. "Come in! Santa, look who's here!"
Tarzan stepped inside, his feet enjoying the feel
of the multi-colored braided rug, no doubt pieced together by Mrs. Claus
in the off-season. At a table across the room sat a portly, genial-looking
man with a flowing white beard. He was dressed partly in fur, from his
waist to his boots, but his top half was covered by a white, quilted long
underwear shirt. A pair of red suspenders completed his ensemble. Before
him on the table were piles of paper and opened envelopes and a large ledger,
in which he had been writing with a Parker Jotter.
"Tarzan!" boomed Santa, his enormous gut quivering
like a bowl of fresh gelatin in a Royal Navy galley. "I didn't figure on
seeing you again until I got to the Greystoke Estate this year. Have a
chair," he said.
Tarzan accepted as Santa roared out to Mrs. Claus.
"Mama, will you get us some hot Tom & Jerrys and some cinnamon rolls.
I bet this fellow is hungry."
"You might say that," said Tarzan.
"How's Jane?" Santa asked. "And Korak, Meriem,
"They're all doing great," Tarzan said, "and they
send their greetings. Speaking of the Waziri, it's them I wanted to talk
to you about."
"How'd those Waziri kids like those action figures
I gave 'em last year," asked Santa. "You know, those ones of the native
guys with white, feathered plumes on their heads and a 14-K gold-plated
bar for each hand."
"They loved them," said Tarzan. "The kids are
always playing Expedition to Opar with them."
Mrs. Claus appeared with a silver tray on which
sat the two steaming mugs of creamy batter, the fumes from a generous portion
of rum complimenting the bouquet of the sprinkled nutmeg.
Tarzan needed no shot of courage as he prepared
to broach the subject of his visit, but nonetheless was grateful for the
fortifying effect of the drink. He took a couple of slugs before coughing
uneasily. "Uh, Santa," he said, "The Waziri kids would like some action
figures again this year. That's why I came to the North Pole early, to
let you know in plenty of time."
"Well, time is always a factor," said Santa. "It's
November already and the elves are as busy as a grave-digger in Florida.
"What kind of action figures do they want," asked
Santa. "More natives with gold bars? GI Joes? Marvel Comics characters?
"Well," said Tarzan, fidgeting slightly, "they
want action figures of...me."
"Ohhhhhh," said Santa. He looked slightly embarrassed.
"You know, of course, that there hasn't been much demand for Tarzan action
figures lately, so there aren't any in the regular stores. Most of them
are at jacked-up prices on the secondary market, and they usually go begging
in the Dum-Dum and ECOF huckster rooms because everyone who ever wanted
one has already got one."
"I know," admitted Tarzan. "I was just hoping
that if I told you early enough, your elves might be able to adapt some
other figures to pass for Tarzan characters."
"Say," Santa stroked his beard. "You might have
something there." Santa brightened. "I know just what I'll do! Don't worry
about a thing. Go on back to Africa and tell the Waziri kids to expect
Santa with his usual bag of goodies on Christmas Eve."
"Will do, Santa," said Tarzan. He drained the last
of his Tom & Jerry and stuffed the half-eaten cinnamon roll into the
leather pouch he always carried, right next to the hunting knife of his
long-dead sire. "I'll be going now. Take care."
The chief elf rose but Tarzan waved him off. "Oh
don't bother Tommy. I'll let myself out."
There was a momentary chilly blast when the ape-man
opened the front door, but then he stepped out, closed it, and it started
to warm up inside again.
"How we gonna fill that order," said Tommy, looking
with some frustration at Santa.
"That's why I'm Santa and you're an elf," the fat
man said. "Here's what I want you to do. Go to Room 324-A, where we keep
those action figures that Disney surplused to us after it decided to go
a different direction on its big budget bust of 2012. Get some black fabric
spray and make the white apes into black ones, and rip out the black hair
on the Princess figures and get some decent dresses and blonde wigs for
them from the Barbie accessories closet. Lose the chest harness on the
guy and cut his sword down to knife size. His hair is okay but trim his
leather loin cloth to show more leg."
"What a great idea, Santa," said Tommy. "I didn't
think we'd ever be able to get rid of those."
"We'll have to think of something else to do with
those green monstrosities, though," said Santa. "Too many limbs to pass
Tommy was rubbing his hands with glee, but noticed
that Santa was now frowning, a worried expression crossing his normally
"One more thing, Tommy," Santa finally said.
"Before you start in on those action figures, do
me a favor and go out to the stable and do a head count on the reindeer."