TARZAN'S IVORY BRIDGE
Tarzan had suffered some serious injuries in
his lifetime, including a bullet wound or two. The most obvious wound was
the scar on his forehead, where a bullet had grazed him as a young man.
It still turned flaming red every time he was angry.
But Tarzan was thankful that, in all of his
adventures, he had never lost a limb, or even a finger. But the longer
you live, the more likely it is that something will finally happen to you,
and now he was faced with a problem that was most problematical for the
Tarzan was toothless as the result of an encounter
with The Little People.
The Littles were the descendants of John Little
of England, foremost member of Robin Hood's band of Merry Men, who had
fled Sherwood Forest after the death of their outlaw leader, when a new,
evil king came to the throne and oppression broke out anew.
The Little group had fled to Central Africa
to carve out a Little homeland in the jungle wilderness. But they had retained
many of the old ways, including their large stature and what Little fighting
ability they had.
It had happened one day when Tarzan chanced
to come upon a Little stream and started across a log that spanned the
banks just as a member of the Little clan was approaching from the opposite
direction. Since neither would yield the right-of-way, a battle ensued
aboard the log in midstream and, though Tarzan used all of his fighting
skill, he was unfamiliar with the way the Littles brandished staffs, and
the thick, caber-like, multi-purpose implement easily broke Tarzan's spear
in two. Several rough blows to his head had shattered all of his teeth
and sent him splattring into the relatively shallow water beneath the log.
Tarzan had not given up, though. Spitting teeth,
he had sprang back onto the log and charged into his foe full force, managing
a grin as he heard the giant involuntarily expelling all of the air in
his chest cavity as the two of them went back into the brook.
From then on, they had become friends. Tarzan
found out later that the log incident had been planned in advance, as Little
scouts had seen him coming. It was a rite of passage for the tribe, and
their only way of accepting new friends.
That, however, did not solve the problem Tarzan
now had with his missing and broken teeth. Other steps would have to be
And now Tarzan was walking out of the dentist's
office in Roonga City and into the waiting room, where Jane put down the
magazine she was reading and smiled, saying to Tarzan, "Okay John, give
me a big grin so I can see that new set of choppers."
Tarzan responded with a slight grimace. Being
Tarzan he had, of course, refused any novacaine, perferring to experience
the whole range of sensations when the last remaining chunks of teeth,
some broken off at the gum line, were dug, pried and wrested from his mouth.
The dentist and his staff had marveled at Tarzan's
ability to withstand the excruciating agony. There was no question that
it hurt like the Devil. Tarzan had immortality but that did not mean he
didn't suffer pain. But years of going barefoot in the jungle, with little
sharp rocks, broken-off tree twigs, and thorns constantly stabbing into
the bottoms of his feet, had given him a high tolerance for torture of
"Sorry, no grin," he told Jane. "But I'll give
you a nice smile. Trouble is, the bloomin' dentures they made for me don't
fit, so they have to be relined. They won't be able to do that until the
gums heal and the stiches come out."
"Oh Tarzan," she said, "How long will that take."
"Shouldn't be more than a week," he said. "It's
okay. I can get along fine without the teeth for a few days. But it means
I'll have to be pretty much on a diet of soft food, since I can't chew.
And I'll be blowed if I'm going to be a gummer."
"Just soft food?" asked Jane.
"Yes," sighed Tarzan. "You know...pudding, yogurt,
soup...and, oh yes [Tarzan smiled] ice cream."
"A whole week without Bara the deer, freshly
killed, the warm blood dripping from your jaws as you rend the succulent
meat with your teeth," asked Jane, her eyes tearing up slightly.
"Well obviously, Jane, since I don't have my
old teeth, I won't be doing any rending until I get my replacements."
Jane brightened. "Well, if you want to go out
and kill a Bara and bring it back, I can always stick some in the blender
and grind it down to a bloody, gooey mass for you. You know, like baby
The scar on Tarzan's forehead not only
turned red in reaction to that, but it was pulsing in intensity like a
traffic light. "Jane," he said, "Tarzan does not eat baby food."
Jane's eyes widened. "Oh...I'm sorry Tarzan.
I won't mention it again."
"That would be good," said Tarzan, as the redness
in the scar began to fade.
"But Jane," he added.
"Yes Tarzan?" she said hopefully.
"You can get the ice cream churn going when
we get home and use that all you want."
EDGARDEMAIN: Celebrating the literary legerdemain
of Edgar Rice Burroughs