The Lady and the Love Seat
When I awoke, it was night again. I had no idea how long
I had slept or what time of night it was. I tried the door, but it was
still locked. I moved to the window and looked out and saw a chilling sight.
There was Greystoke, inching his way down the wall to a point where he
could grab a vine from off a nearby tree. Then, he swung on the vine to
make a running landing on the ground below. He dropped the vine and sprinted
into the surrounding verdure.
"What manner of man is this?" I thought. I knew he had
some wild ways but I had never read anything this bizarre in the books
about him that I had thumbed through prior to making my journey here.
This, for some reason, scared me half to death and I determined
I had to get out, no matter what. I tore up the Disney Tarzan bedclothes
and braided them into a rope, then cinched one end to the window. It reached
close enough to the ground below that I knew I could make it. I was pleased
to see that we had apparently had visiting hyenas, as my product from earlier
was not to be found and there was no danger of my stepping in anything.
I tossed down my overnight bag and then slid down the
rope. I reached the bottom safely and grabbed the bag and headed to my
Jeep, but then I remembered that my briefcase, the gold bars and real estate
contracts were all still on the card table. I could not leave without them.
The front door was not latched. Probably no need to do
that in a remote and foreboding place like this. What prowler would venture
here after sunset? I went inside and saw what I sought still on the table.
As I reached for my satchel I heard a lilting laughter come from behind
me and turned to see a blonde woman clad in a sparkling gown worthy of
Oscar de la Renta.
"I bet you're Jane," I said. A look of disdain crossed
her face. "Oh, sorry," I said. "I mean Lady Greystoke." She smiled. "Much
preferred," she said. "You must be the real estate broker."
"Yes," I said. "I am Jonathan Van Seward. But please,
just call me Jon.
Your husband and I completed the paperwork the other night
and now I am preparing to go on my way."
"Oh, don't go, Jon," she implored, suddenly looking concerned.
"Uh, why not?" I asked. "My work here is done and I have
other responsibilities." I was wondering if I should just shove past her
and head out the door.
"We get so little company," she pleaded. "And my husband
is away so much.
I would desire thee to at least sit by the fire with me
a little while and...talk."
My heart melted at this simple plea and her eyes seemed
to gaze at me with a passion that I could not understand. Oddly, I also
felt a bit of an inexplicable dread. But as a moth drawn to a flame, I
allowed her to take my hand and lead me to the love seat before the fire.
The Look at the Lavalliere
"Your neck is so, so...interesting," Lady Greystoke said,
I didn't know what to say. Women had been known to remark
on my Charles Atlas body and my movie star face, but my neck -- with its
rather prominent Adam's apple -- had never before seemed to be the object
of female attention.
"Yes, rather nice neck," I responded, at once feeling
as if I had said something stupid, like a schoolboy. "It, uh, helps me
keep my head on straight." Now I felt really embarrassed. Couldn't I think
of something more clever to say than that?
She peered at me intently, opened her mouth slightly,
and licked her lips.
I reasoned that the dry air of the nearby Savannah, blown
to the vicinity of Greystoke Manor by prevailing winds, had probably given
her a case of chapped lips, though she hid it well beneath her bright red
lipstick. It was then I noticed that she, like Lord Greystoke, had incisors
that seemed just a tiny bit longer than is normal. But it was probably
just my crazy imagination.
In any case, I was getting pretty uncomfortable with the
This was, after all, Greystoke's wife and here I sat on
the couch with her, closer than a man and woman should sit when they belonged
I thought of my mousy little sweetheart back home who
waited faithfully for me to return.
Nervously, I began to finger the little cross on the chain
around my neck, as I thought of my little Minnie who had bought it for
me in Barcelona.
As the light from the fire reflected off the silver cross,
Lady Greystoke spotted it and lurched sharply backward. An expression of
utter horror and revulsion gnarled her lovely features and she gave out
with an ear-numbing screech.
But then her voice grew hard with contempt, and she said,
"Where did you get that, you thief?"
I was nonplussed. "But, this is mine," I said. "What do
you mean, thief?"
"That was given to me by my father, Professor Porter,"
she seethed. "And you have tried to leave the house with it." She jumped
to her feet and ran to a small ornate casket on an end table and opened
it. "See," she said, "It is no longer here." Then her face reddened as
she pulled out an identical cross on a chain. "Oh," she stammered. "I'm
sorry. I guess you have one just like the one he bought me in Barcelona.
Please forgive me."
"Quite understandable," I said, although I had to extract
my handkerchief from my pocket and dab at the sweat on my face.
At that moment the door opened and Lord Greystoke himself
stepped into the room. "What's going on here?" he asked.
The Lord Lays down the Law
Lord Greystoke glared at me. He snarled, "What are you
wiping off your face, lipstick? Have you been imposing yourself on my Jane?
"And what's the meaning of this!" he shouted, and I felt
queasy as I saw in his hands the remnants of the Disney Tarzan bedding
I had shredded for my escape.
Lady Greystoke gasped and began to sob. "That blanket
belonged to Korak's baby," she said, a tear streaking down her face, disrupting
some of her makeup.
"I'm sorry. I'm sorry, Greystoke. I mean Lord Greystoke,"
I said. "I felt like a prisoner and I had to get out of that room. But
you locked me in."
"Of course," said Greystoke, "but that was for your own
security. In spite of my best efforts to keep him out, my house monkey
sometimes sneaks into the rooms of guests and steals their stuff. All you
had to do was turn the deadbolt latch if you wanted to get out."
I could say nothing. I hadn't even thought to look for
a deadbolt. I felt like an utter fool.
"I know you know where the bathroom is," he added. "but
my sensitive nostrils alerted me to the fact that you had dumped your waste
on Lady Greystoke's petunias and I had to go out and clean it up."
At that, Lady Greystoke's eyes widened and she looked
at me with loathing and disgust.
"I, I feel terrible," I said. "I am so sorry, Lord and
Perhaps it was the seductive influence of that vintage
lime that got my mind befuddled."
"So, now you're blaming your inappropriate behavior on
the wonderful repast which I provided you last night," said Greystoke.
As he spoke, he began to thump his chest and then started
ripping off his clothing until finally he stood before me, naked but for
his boxer shorts, which appeared to be stained yellow with urine and cluttered
with dark spots of unknown origin. Then, I realized it was really a leopard
skin loin cloth which he wore beneath his stately fineries instead of underwear.
"Never forget that I am also Lord of the Jungle," Greystoke
said. "And as such I put up with no tomfoolery around here."
"Really, Lord Greystoke," I attempted.
"Lord of the Jungle!" he interrupted.
"Uh, yes, sir, Lord of the...uh...Jungle. Yes indeed.
All I can do is apologize and assure you that, if you will allow me to
depart, I will make haste to see that our transaction is recorded by the
Bank of London as soon as I can make it to the telegraph office in Nairobi."
"Ah yes." Greystoke suddenly smiled in a not-too pleasant
manner. "We must proceed with our business in spite of everything. When
the transaction is official, you must send me a message." He looked meaningfully
at his monkey. "My little manu shall accompany you. You can...uh...impale
the message on his sharp stick and he will return it to me...eventually."
I looked at the monkey, which was staring at me, its teeth
bared as it held one end of a pointed stick in its right hand paw continually
slapping his left palm with the other.
Greystoke went on. "I must ship some rather large...boxes.
I myself will be traveling with them."
"Don't forget about my boxes, too," Jane reminded him.
"Fifty of yours and fifty of mine."
"Of course, my dear," he said, smiling at her. Then, to
me, he added, "I look forward to coming to your land. I will miss the jungle
creatures to which I am so accustomed, but perhaps the countryside of England
will provide me with a more challenging kind of...hunting."