THE WRATH OF LA
La loved the new bathroom that Tarzan had provided for her.
When the ape man had reached the point in time when he was welcomed to Opar by La, and grudgingly accepted by the men, he was able to stay for longer visits and, on one of those occasions, he had asked to use the bathroom.
Tarzan was directed down a passageway and was disgusted at what he found there. To say the Opar bathrooms were primitive was an understatement. The urinals were mere holes in the rock floor and the area leading up to them was liberally decorated with puddles of urine left by those beast-men who weren't quite able to make it. This posed a challenge for the barefooted ape man in even getting close enough to the proper receptacles.
That's when he decided that La, at least, needed a decent bathroom.
And it was also true that Tarzan felt just a bit guilty at all the gold he had taken from the city's secret vaults over the years, even though the Oparians were ignorant of the existence of any treasure, and unequipped to properly handle it.
So it made Tarzan feel better to spend some of his riches, thus gained, on making things a bit nicer, and more sanitary, for the high priestess of the city.
Tarzan paid for new plumbing fixtures, a proper septic tank and drainfield, and brought in a contingent of skilled Waziri warriors who had acquired expertise in plumbing, building and finish work in order to install the improvements to their village that some of the gold had purchased for them.
Tarzan had thought that La might appreciate a bathroom decorated in a teal and coral motif, but, when La looked through the catalog of colored fixtures, she went right for the red and black.
Tarzan donated gold ingots to be melted down for the fixtures in the sink, tub-shower and for the flush handle on the toilet.
At last the bathroom was finished, and Tarzan, often the proper British gentleman, brought Jane in to instruct La in the proper use of each feature.
Twice a year, Tarzan sent the Waziri in to drain the septic tank, put new washers in the fixtures and make sure the toilet wouldn't run when it was flushed. He also paid for new shipments of soap, shampoo and soft-textured toilet paper.
But there was only so much Tarzan could do without staying at Opar 24/7, and one day La stormed out of the bathroom fuming with rage.
“Where is he?" she shouted. "Where's Budj?”
Budj was the latest in a long line of high priests and, as a courtesy, La had extended bathroom privileges to whoever was the current holder of that rank. Usually, the high priests didn't last too long at Opar, so she was regularly training new officeholders in the proper use of the bathroom.
Oparians scattered in fright as La stormed down a corridor, screaming at the top of her lungs while drawing the jeweled sacrifical knife from her belt. "I'll kill him! I'll kill him!"
At last she reached the altar and noted, with satisfaction, that the sun was just minutes away from reaching its zenith, its rays streaming through the roof opening at a steep angle.
Budj was over by the altar, conferring with a couple of fellow priests.
"Seize him!" shouted La, pointing her finger of fate toward the doomed Budj, while she noted with satisfaction the stupid grin dropping from his mouth full of half-rotted and missing teeth.
“Bind him to the altar. The sun god awaits his sacrifice.”
Others began streaming into the sacrificial chamber, realizing that La had now found an outlet for her anger.
She approached Budj, who squirmed helplessly in his bonds, a look of complete bafflement below his sloping forehead.
“La...." he moaned. "La....why?.......why?”
"Silence, defiler!" she seethed, plunging the knife down at full throttle. "If I've told you once, I've told you a hundred times: Put the seat down when you're done!!"
1. Thanks to Tarzan's generosity, La, High Priestess of the Flaming God, now had a decent throne.
2. Jane explained to La how to do the paperwork to finish the job.
AN ENCOUNTER IN THE DESERT
It had been a long time since Tarzan had attempted to cross a desert without so much as a canteen looped with a thong around the hilt of his father's hunting knife, and thus he was beginning to feel the physical effects of his long trek and, in addition, high in the sky was the circling form of Ska the buzzard.
Well he remembered a previous occasion when he had lured Ska down, close enough for him to grab, kill and eat the scavenger, and survive. But the flesh of Ska was not desireable and Tarzan was not yet at the point that he was ready to partake of it.
At least he thought not.
As the day pressed on, and the sun ascended higher into the sky, he began to feel woozy in a way that fooled him into not realizing what was actually happening to him. In fact, he was feeling a kind of euphoria so that, even when he pitched forward and landed with a thunk in the soft sand, he did not fully comprehend what was occurring and, in his delirious and hallucinatory state, began to move his hands into the warm earth as though embracing the soft body of his mate.
Tarzan was well on his way to becoming a clinical case of disorientation and was essentially, helpless. But he was saved from a visit from Ska merely due to the fact that he had been overcome late in the afternoon. And, before Ska felt it was safe enough to venture down, the beginning of the cool evening had lowered the temperature slightly, just enough to cause the ape-man to stir.
His senses returned and soon he was once again his old self. He realized with chagrin that he had actually been asleep and at the mercy of desert denizens. However, Ska was nowhere in sight.
Tarzan had no way of knowing it, but his swoon was not entirely the result of a hot sun and paucity of water. Rather, it was a combination of unusual phenomena which had come together at this time, and in this place, to cause an anomaly in time and space, one that would have a significant effect on the life of the ape-man. He arose and looked at the darkening sky. It was different somehow. Tarzan of the Apes was no astronomer, but long familiarity with his environment had impressed a sense upon his mind of the way the night sky was supposed to look, just the same as you and I, while perhaps unable to name, let alone spot, every constellation, would none-the-less notice immediately if viewing a radically different arrangement of heavenly bodies.
In the distance Tarzan could see a prominent string of rocky land which he did not recall having seen before. However, it might offer a spring of fresh water or other shelter, and so he began heading toward it at a trot which he could keep up for hours.
As he jogged on he was not fully aware that he was on another world and that the steady beat of his steps upon the surface were calling, summoning a massive unearthly creature of which Tarzan knew nothing.
But soon, it became obvious that something was heading his way. In the distance he could see sand mounds moving, seemingly on their own, and feel the quaking of the ground as something unseen was obviously moving toward him.
Although Tarzan did not know what was threatening him, he did know he would have to fight it. Drawing the hunting knife of his long-dead sire from its scabbard, he stood still, facing the as-yet unseen menace. And then, as he watched, it emerged from beneath the surface and he could see the giant round opening in the behemoth's front, encircled with row upon row of menacing teeth-like objects.
The ape-man smiled grimly and clutched his knife tighter. He waited as the creature, which resembled an impossibly giant Histah, advanced upon him. He stood there until, to an observer, it would seem he had tarried too long. But this was Tarzan, and he knew what he was doing. When the gargantuan destructive machine was within feet of him, the ape-man ran quickly to the side and then along the length of the monster, which seemed to stretch as long as a pair of Nairobi freights. Noticing the bark-like hide of the creature, he spotted footholds and quickly scaled the cylindrical body to its topmost point. Then, locating a vulnerable-looking crevice between sections of the thing's layered hide, he stabbed his knife again and again into the opening while the creature writhed in surprise and agony.
At last, it stopped moving and lay still.
Tarzan stood atop the beast and, lifting his head to the strangely arranged heavens, gave forth the victory cry of the bull ape.
Having vanquished the foe, Tarzan leaped from atop the carcass of the dead thing and landed lightly on his feet. To his surprise, he saw that a group of men had surrounded him. They wore dark clothing that appeared to be survival suits of some kind although their design was unfamiliar to the ape-man.
"He has slain a big one, Muad'dib," spoke one.
“Yes, Stilgar," replied the one whom he had addressed. "He shall pay dearly.”
“You make it sound as if I have committed a crime by defending myself," said Tarzan. "Who dares challenge Tarzan and what is that crime?”
“Who we are is not important," said his adversary. "But as for your crime, you have upset the delicate ecological balance of Arrakis. Now, you shall die by my kris knife.”
The aggressor produced a wicked-looking blade. Tarzan smiled grimly, still holding in his hand the perfectly balanced hunting knife of his long-dead sire.
The one called Muad'dib began moving toward him. "Soon we shall harvest your water," he said, "and the dried husk of your body will crumble to dust and mingle with the soil of Arrakis to replace what you have taken."
"Well I'll be Dune’d if you do," said Tarzan, bringing his own blade to the ready.
ALTERNATE & ANACHRONISTIC ERB HISTORY
NO. 3: THE CONSEQUENCES OF A CHOICE
(Somewhere...at a time unknown, in a parallel universe)
"Why didn't I go with Tarzan?" ERB wondered.
He tossed down the latest copy of Variety and muttered: "The press just can't get it right."
"What do you mean," asked Rothmund.
"They're always leaving out the darned hyphen," said ERB. "They're writing it as Tublat Zan and sometimes they even refer to him as just Zan, as if Tublat was his first name.
“Why O why didn't I just follow my gut instincts and name him Tarzan?”
- - - - -
The Story Behind the "What If":
Actually, the first name ERB thought of for his jungle hero was Zartan. After rejecting that, he thought of calling him Tublat-Zan. Fortunately, he settled on Tarzan. Tublat became the name of one of his ape foes. For more information, see:
The name "Tublat-Zan" survives, though. The image accompanying this post shows a bottle of something called Tublat-Zan, but the maker also put the name of "Tarzan" on the bottle! (Not sure if this stuff is still on the market or not!)
Used by the company WITHOUT the artist's permission
ONE EVENING AT GREYSTOKE MANOR
Tarzan was trying to look casual, but Jane nonetheless had noticed the shovel he had in his hand as he walked past the living room, down the hall and toward the back door.
She waited a few moments so it wouldn't be too obvious she was following him, and then put aside her knitting, batted the cat off her lap and quietly walked down the hall and opened the door into the back yard.
"Tarzan, what are you doing?" she demanded.
The apeman looked up somewhat guiltily from the hole he had been digging. Already, lying around on top of the small piles of dirt, there were several blobs of putrifying meat.
"I was hungry and just thought I'd have a snack before bedtime," Tarzan said.
"Well I wish you'd keep your kills in the refrigerator instead of burying them in the backyard," grimaced Jane, holding her nose.
"Old habits die hard," Tarzan explained.
“What have you got there," said Jane, moving closer in spite of the stench. "You need to throw that Pacco and Horta into the hen yard. It's too decomposed to be safe to eat. The Bara is probably okay, though. It looks like it's only been in there a couple of days and there aren't too many maggots on it yet.”
"As you wish my dear," said Tarzan.
"And don't eat so much that you get an upset stomach," she cautioned.
“I won't," said Tarzan. "I just want enough to take the edge off my hunger.”
“All right," said Jane. "Well, I'm going to turn in.”
"I'll be along shortly," said Tarzan.
Jane hesitated in the doorway. "And Tarzan...," she said.
“Do brush your teeth before you come to bed.”
THE ILLUSTRIOUS QUEST FOR THE GRELL
We found the old map taped beneath the keypad of a Modest Steinway piano in the city of Boris Vallejo, Calif. It showed a route through the Great Jesse Marsh to the Wheatley fields beyond, where we expected to find another map at the Mark of the "X."
After two Weeks we arrived, and on the Gray Morrow we Dug Wildey to unearth the map to the location of the holy Grell. We had heard a Romero that it was worth a Small Fortunino. All we could think about was getting Rich, but the Juhre was still out on whether our cause was Wright.
Once we had the second map, we made a Corben copy of it and used the Edson transmitter to send a Sigloff to recruit a crew of Stout men. We rented a Cardy to take us East, where we set sail from Hampton roads in a Schoonover the sea toward St. Thomas.
Our sturdy craft was a former Whelan vessel and Karl was the Comendador. He was ably backed up by Russ, who was Manning the sextant, and Richard, as Hescoxswain, on the wheel, both guided by the Stahr. Sam was the Glanzman, a post not officially authorized, but helpful for maintaining the canon.
Hartley winds gave Powers to our sails; our Coleman provided light and cooking heat.
Many of us were land Lubbers. It was rough, with nothing to eat but Oldham, seasoned with Celardo and washed down with Joe. The stuff had Fred constantly Arting and Dave kept leaning over the side to Hoover, thus feeding the fish as well as the Segrelles which flew in our wake. Charles did use a Schenck to spear some Herring to help vary our diet.
The nights were cold, and Frank about Frazetta’d his rear-end off and the other Frank, along with Norris, Reinman and Berdanier, had a constant Paul about them.
Thankfully, in that latitude there was no danger that the ship might Grind on a Berg. So no one griped except for Mahlon, who was constantly playing the Blaine game.
And so, the trip itself was far from a Frolich.
Once at St. Thomas, we switched to a large Gallegoeon with room for more food and a cargo hold large enough to carry back any treasure we could pillage besides the Grell. We hoped to find some masterpieces by Leonardi and some Rubies (More, the better). At last, by George, we spotted the isle of Kaluta. Michael rowed the boat ashore without it Kwapiszing. There, guided by the map, we entered the Henry Valley and found the Palacious, Ivie-covered temple of D’Achille surrounded by a Wall of Wood. Fortunately, there was no full Monahan that night so we were safe from the Woolley Wolfman who Stockton'd the area.
But the chief Abbett, a direct descendant of St. John, came out of his Hoban, leaning on his Kane. He was a poor excuse for a Parsons, telling us, "You must Neal before the Gollub."
We Krenkeled at the thought. "O Shaw," said Barclay. We began to Jusko for Battle positions.
Just then, a stunning girl, a Fairchild in Royer robes with Florese in her hair, stepped out of the Reeds, beyond which lay the Crandall Barry bog where she had been gathering fruit for offerings. Jeff was of a mind to start Doten on her until she hauled out a Dulin knife, Studley’d with jewels, and Champney'd their cause: "We Will Burne you on the altar; then we'll be Burian your ashes if you dare touch the Grell."
Howard was Chaykin at her words and the rest of us were apprehensive to say the Leist. Then they began to Chase us like Spiegles dive-bombing for Jack rabbits and we ran O'r land, obviously toward the sea. Courage? We seemed to have no Mo Leff.
It would have been nice to have the Grell but not at the cost of our lives, so we quickly huddled to Foster an escape plan and then Maxonized our opportunities to get back to the ship. Alas, the islanders had been Pettee enough to sink it and none of the skeleton crew had been Sperry'd.
But we managed to flag a passing sloop, the John B., and were able to shove Hoff, man, in the Nik of time. But just for spite, we fired a parting shot at the island from the ship's Carnon.
"Wyeth did it have to happen that way?" we often asked ourselves on the way home. The experience would ever Caws a Thorn in our side.
Bill Hillman, Ron de Laat and Michael Tierney have all done extensive research in compiling lists of those who have illustrated something, or many things, in the world of ERB, and I have benefited from their research in having a little fun writing the story above.
The efforts of Bill and Ron are found in the ERB Artists Encyclopedia:
And Michael's can be found in his massive four-volume "Edgar Rice Burroughs 100 Year Art Chronology," and also available at amazon.com
My story doesn't contain the names of all the ERB illustrators, but the article would have been much shorter without the research done by these dedicated ERB fans.
ALTERNATE AND ANACHRONISTIC ERB HISTORY
NO. 4: THE STUDIO STORY CONFERENCE
(Somewhere...at a time unknown, in a parallel universe)
B.J. Throckmorton, president of Throckmorton Pictures, tossed a first edition of “Pirates of Venus” onto the table and smiled at the small group around it.
“You've all had a chance to read it," he said. "We just finalized the contract with ERB and we start filming next month. Johnson, you'll be responsible for writing the script so make sure you take notes during this brainstorming session.”
"Right B.J.," said Johnson, clicking his ball point.
“Well," said Throckmorton, "any ideas?”
“I like it B.J. I like it real well," said Bronson, "but I'm concerned about the locale. Venus? Everyone knows that Venus is uninhabitable. I'm afraid we'll lose credibility before we even start filming.”
“He's got a point," said Johanssen. "Why don't we just change it to an earth location. Easier on the special effects budget, too.”
“I suggest Africa," put in Bronson. "We can shoot it on the back lot where we shot that Gorilla vs. the Pygmies movie.”
“Done!" agreed Throckmorton. "What else?”
“I don't like the idea of this girl named Duare," said Ronson. "I'm not even sure I'm pronouncing it right. I'd like to see something a little more plain Jane.”
“Why not exactly that?" said Bronson. "Let's just call her Jane.”
“Makes sense," said B.J. "Got that Johnson?”
"Got it, chief," said Johnson.
“If we take it off Venus," said Ronson, "that means we can't have giant spiders. What'll we replace 'em with?”
“How 'bout apes," said Johanssen. "We still have lots of costumes left over from our last flick.”
“But those are gorilla costumes!”
“Gorilla Padilla," said B.J. "Public don't know the difference. Monson, you haven't said anything. Do you have any input for us.”
“Just the name of the lead character," said Monson. "Carson? People will think this is a western, a movie about Kit Carson. We need to change the hero's name. Make it a little more exotic.”
"I like the two syllables," said B.J. "Simple to say. Maybe just change a couple of letters.
“How about Tarson?" asked Ronson. "Instead of Tarson of Venus, we can call him Tarson of the apes.”
“Naw," said B.J. "Tarson sounds too much like Tarzan. We don't want people to think this is a Tarzan movie. Let's go back to Carson. Or maybe...Carter?”
“Carter," said Bronson. "I like it.”
"But this is the 21st Century,” said Swanson. “Why not have a woman play Carter, kind of like a female Captain Marvel. And we could get Carter to play Carter!”
“Carter who?” asked Ronson.
“Helena Bonham Carter,” said Swanson. “And instead of battling the apes she could actually be an ape!”
Johanssen got out his calculator and started running numbers. “That’s gonna cost us in the makeup department,” he said.
“But we’ll make the money back, and more,” said Swanson. “The old Planet of the Apes movies showed people will pay good money for stuff like this.”
“That’s i!” exclaimed B.J. “We’ll change “Carter” to “Planet” and call it a reboot of a proven winner.
"But what'll E.R.B. think about all the changes we've made," asked Ronson.
“Who cares what he thinks!" said B.J. "Our contract gives us permission to change anything we want. After all, we're the professionals and we want the movie to be a success!”
ALTERNATE & ANACHRONISTIC ERB HISTORY
NO. 5: FILM RIGHTS TO THE MONSTER MEN
(Somewhere...at a time unknown, in a parallel universe)
Ed strode into the offices of ERB Inc., fresh from his morning ride around the ranch on his favorite horse.
“Guess what?" Rothmund said as Ed came in the door."We got a letter from Universal Studios; they want to buy the rights to film The Monster Men.”
“Great!" said Ed. "They've got a studio full of the greatest monster actors in the world.”
“Yes," said Rothmund, ticking off his fingers. "There's Karloff, Lugosi, Chaney, and Elsa Lanchester, who could play Virginia Maxon.”
“I might have something to say about that last one," said Ed. "She's getting a little long in the tooth. It doesn't matter as much with the guys.”
“Well, it certainly sounds like you can name your terms," said Rothmund, grabbing the letter again. "Oh,” .he said. “There's a second page. I didn't see it before.”
"What's it say?" asked Ed.
Rothmund was reading silently, his lips moving as his eyes rolled down the page. He began to frown.
"What's the matter," said Ed.
"Uh...you may not like who else is going to be in the movie," he said.
“Well, don't drag it out. Tell me!”
“The...uh...working title is Abbott and Costello Meet the Monster Men.”
"Tarzan, I hear something," said Jane.
"I know," Tarzan said. "I heard it half an hour ago. Just another safari."
"Shoot," Jane said. "First it was a safari once a year, then every six months, now we're getting one a week. And the natives are pretty restless because you keep calling the elephants to wreck their villages to rescue the hunters. I would think the escarpment would be a barrier to most safaris."
"What escarpment?" said Tarzan. "There have been so many safaris that they've pretty much worn down the cliffs and it's an afternoon stroll to get here now.
THE TIME BANDIT
Tarzan timed each of Numa's movements with expert calculations while it crept up on innocent Bara, the deer. As the great lion erupted in a blurry, tawny flash and brumbled forth a great roar designed to paralyze its prey with fear and indecision, a grass rope dropped around its head and the ape-man, at the other end of the rope, pulled it tight and stopped the cat in its tracks.
"Spring Forward on my lunch, you interloper," screamed the ape-man, dropping onto the lion's back with knife in his right hand, "I never did like Daylion Slayings Time."
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