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Volume 4798

by John Martin

The Diplomacy of Tarzan

Tarzan didn't exactly lie to Chief Anub, but he didn't tell the whole truth, either. And that truth was that, after helping the tribe build the new bridge, he was famished for a good haunch of a raw, freshly killed, Bara the Deer, and wasn't in any mood to partake of the villagers' meat, which they were sure to ruin by burning it in the fire:

Tarzan the Tree-Hugger

  To one unfamiliar with the jungle, it may have sounded like a faraway swarm of bees, but Tarzan knew at once that it was the ugly sound of roaring chain saws.

  "Loggers! In my jungle!" he grimaced and, with Tarzan, to think was to act. Even as the thought entered his mind, he was already racing through the middle terraces on his way to the source of the sound.

  Within minutes Tarzan arrived at a clearing -- a freshly made clearing, he noted -- as several aboreal giants lay at awkward angles on the ground and two timber cutters were sawing away at the remaining two standing trees, the smell of fresh sawdust mingling with the aroma of gasoline exhaust.

  Big Joe Branson nearly bit his cigar in two at the startling sight of the ape man, dropping from the trees alongside the clear-cut area. His partner, Red Sawyer, was similarly transfixed. Both men shut off their saws and stared at the nearly naked stranger.

  "What the---" said Sawyer.

  Tarzan folded his arms and glared at the two men.

  "What do you think you're doing to my friends, the trees, in my jungle?" he demanded.

  "Your trees? Your jungle?" rejoined Branson. "This jungle is the property of the regional government and, as for what we're doing, we're cutting down the trees on this timber sale that we bid on fair and square."

  "If you have the right to cut these trees, then you must have paperwork," smiled Tarzan. But the smile disappeared when Branson reached inside his sweaty shirt and said, "I think I do. Right here." He extracted some folded documents and handed them to Tarzan. The ape man frowned. He had encountered his worst nightmare: Legal loggers!

  "Looks like you win," said the ape man. "But I plan to stand here and keep an eye on you until you're done."

  "No problem," said Sawyer. "Just keep out of the way so we don't drop a tree on you."

  Tarzan stood back, as requested, and let his eyes roam around the fallen trees, occasionally plucking a no-see-um from the air as it flitted by and jabbing it into his mouth to keep up his nourishment.  As he observed, he recalled happier days, racing through the middle terraces of those wooden playgrounds. The men finished cutting down the two other trees, then moved over to the prone giants and began the limbing process.

  "What do you do with those limbs you cut off?" asked the ape man.

  "After we yard the trees outa here," said Branson, "we get the D-9 in here and pile the limbs up for a big slash burn. After that, new trees can be planted."

  "Hmmmm," said Tarzan. "Some of those limbs are pretty straight and would make good spears. Mind if I take a few?"

  "You can darn well have as many as you want," said Branson. "We could care less."

  "In that case, I'll take 'em all," said Tarzan. He pulled his cell phone out of his loin cloth and dialed. Tarzan had never wanted to carry a cell phone on his jungle jaunts but at Jane's pleading he had finally started doing it, and now he felt naked but for a G-string if he left the bungalow without one. It came in handy, too, when Jane needed him to pick up something from the Bwana Bazaar on the way home.

  Jane answered the phone and he began speaking. "Jane," he said, "would you ask Muviro to send 50 Waziri to this location. You can track where I'm at on your gps. I need some muscle to get some wood home."

  "What kind of wood?" Jane asked.

  "Wood for spears," he said. "The Waziri need some good, fresh limbs for those. What isn't used for that can be used for firewood. Always need more of that."

  He ended the call and noticed several large piles of sawdust around some of the tree trunks. "What about that stuff?" he asked. "My wife could use it in landscaping."
  "All yours," said Sawyer.

  "Great," said Tarzan. "You people doing any more logging besides this?"

  "We've got about two weeks work ahead of us," said Sawyer. "If you and your men want to follow us around and clean up after us, that'll be great."

  "Will do," said Tarzan. "When I'm not busy stopping the rape of the forest I spend a lot of time recycling."

Nkima’s Reality Check

  Tarzan didn't like what he was about to do, but it had to be done.

  Kala had told him not to hire relatives, but out of loyalty he had put his little monkey cousin, Nkima, on the Greystoke payroll anyway. But too many times, when Tarzan desparately needed to get a message to Jane or the Waziri, the little monkey had failed him, becoming distracted by a delicious insect, or being so frightened at a Histah near-miss that he would drop the little stick with the note and forget all about his mission.

  Nkima shuffled into Tarzan's office and sat down dejectedly. It was as if he knew what was coming.

  "Thanks for making time for me today," said Tarzan.

  Nkima thought to himself: ("C'mon Tarzan. We both know I'm on your payroll. I have no choice but to be here.")

  "You know, Nkima," said Tarzan. "We've been together a long time, you and I. Had some great times together."

  Nkima looked up, a tear in his eye. He knew what was coming next.

  "But times change," Tarzan said. "My needs have changed and I have to let you go. But listen, you're welcome here at Greystoke Manor any time. Be sure to drop by and let us know how things are going with Shekima and the kids.

  "Here's something that should last you for awhile until you get on your feet," said Tarzan, handing the little monkey a grocery bag full of unshelled, unsalted peanuts.

  "Thanks, Tarzan," said Nkima. "I'll never forget working for you. And, don't worry. We'll be okay."

  The monkey took the bag and, since it was larger even than him, dragged it out of the office after him.

  Tarzan sighed and turned to his computer to see if anyone had posted anything new on erblist.

  The peanuts would last them a couple of weeks, but Nkima knew he had would soon have to find a source of some cash to tide them over until he could find a new job, and jobs didn't grow on trees in the jungle.

  Unfortunately, he was about to discover that financiers liked to be sure, in advance, that the applicant would have a way of paying them back:


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