4 -- That's the Breaks, You Snakes
"I think I already have the answer to my question,"
said Tarzan. "It's obvious to me that you have some control over Histah,
so it's a pretty safe bet that you're the one who sicked the slimey snakes
on me this morning."
"Excuuuuuuse me!" Trictor corrected him. "Snakes
are not slimey." He seemed a bit irritated at the characterization rendered
by the apeman. Tarzan inwardly smiled. He needed to rile the snake man
up a little bit to try to get him to lose his focus.
"Oh yeah?" said Tarzan. "I imagine if you cut one
open you'll find plenty of digestive slime up and down their unholy interiors."
"Cut? Cut open one of my snakes!" Trictor ejaculated.
"You are a really horrible person to even say such things."
He was so preoccupied with what Tarzan was saying
that he didn't notice that the snakes had begun having a hissing fit on
the mountain again.
Tarzan was enjoying himself. "Well, you know what
I always say, Trictor."
"What's that?" he asked.
"The only good snake is a bled snake, and I've
got just the knife to make them bleed!"
So saying, the apeman whipped out the blade of
his long-dead sire and threw it expertly across the room, where it pinned
the asp to the wall.
"You killed Clarence!" cried Trictor. "He was my
only asp." He stood up, staggered, and braced himself on a chair, breathing
deeply until he got control of himself.
"Now, you will die the death of a thousand bites,"
"Sorry, been there, done that," said Tarzan. "And
I can't be running around the jungle looking over my shoulder or stopping
to inspect each crooked branch every time I go through the trees, just
to make sure there isn't a stray snake lying in wait. So I'm going to have
to end your power over these creatures once and for all."
"And just how do you propose to do that," said
Trictor, folding his arms, again oblivious to the rapidly rising decibel
level of the snakes around the house.
"Your snakes will do it for me," said Tarzan.
"Hah!" said Trictor. "The snakes are my servants.
They obey me! They will never attack me."
"Ah contrare, mon--" Tarzan started.
"Shut up!" roared Trictor. "How dare you! I am
not your friend! I --"
It was Tarzan's turn to interrupt.
"You really ought to let a person finish what he's
saying," said Tarzan. "You might learn something. I wasn't going to call
you mon ami. I was about to say 'Ah, contrare, mongeese are on the way'!"
Trictor's eyes widened in fear. "No!" he said.
Tarzan's grin grew wider. Suddenly Trictor became
aware of the commotion the snakes were making. He knew instantly that something
was wrong. He heard the sound of stark terror in the tempo of the hisses.
The door burst open, knocked down by a horde of
mongoose charging into the room. Bing backed himself into a corner. Benny
was torn apart before he could react. Only Slamdunk seemed unfazed. He
was resting on a ledge high above the band of mongeese.
The furred little cobra killers closed in on Bing
but seemed to deliberately leave him a path open to where Trictor was standing.
It was as if Bing understood. He had a chance, and only one chance. He
moved toward Trictor faster than a garage mechanic sliding on an oil slick
and planted his fangs in the man's stomach. He let his venom flow and then
loosened his grip and shot toward the door, the mongeese allowing him safe
passage, then following him outside.
Trictor clutched his stomach and dropped to the
floor, thrashing wildly. Slamdunk took notice and dropped down, then began
slithering to where Trictor lay in agony. The snake handler's eyes opened
wide in terror at the realization of what was about to happen to him.
Tarzan retrieved his knife and wiped it on the
tablecloth, then stepped over Slamdunk and walked to the door where he
saw the mongeese dispersing to help their fellow mongeese finish off the
snakes which still survived on the slopes of Snake Mountain.
By this time, even Bing was in a fight to his death,
his temporary reprieve good only for inside the cabin. Once outside, he
was on his own.
In the language of the Great Apes, which is known
to all of the jungle folk, Tarzan thanked his mongoose friends and bade
On the breath of Usha the Wind, he could detect
the faraway scent of his other regular jungle companions, Jad-bal-ja, The
Golden Lion; Nkima the Monkey, and Tantor the Elephant, now in good company
with his Minions of Mongoose.
"I guess Trictor wasn't the only guy in the jungle
who knows how to train wild animals," he mused.