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PART II: Chapters 4 and 5
The ship was absolutely beyond Elmer's conception that he couldn't even ask questions about it. I think anyone else in the world, under similar circumstances, would have been terrified when we finally took off from that lonely Siberian forest.
The whir of the propellor, the roar of the exhaust, the wild careening of the take-off must have had some effect on Elmer, but he never showed it by so much as a a bat of an eyelid. He had all the appearance of a blasé young man of today.
I had given him an old suit -- breeches, field boots, and a leather coat. He was smooth shaven now. After watching us shave every day, he had insisted firs on being shaved and then learning to shave himself. The transformation had been most astounding -- from Man Mountain Dean to Adonis with a few snips of the scissors and a few passes of the Gillette!
When I looked at him and thought of the civilization that he was about to crash for the first time. I felt sorry for Lilami. Pretty soon she would be scarcely even a memory. But I didn't know Elmer -- then.
Well, we finally got to Moscow, and there was Hell to pay about Elmer. No one believed our story blame them. But what got me sore was their insistence that we were all spies and counter-revolutionists and Nazis and Fascists and capitalists and what have you that is anathema in Red Russia.
Of course, Elmer had no passport. We tried to explain that they weren't issuing passports in the Pleistocene, but we got nowhere. They wanted to shoot us; tut the American ambassador came to our rescue, and they compromised by shooing us out of the country and telling us to stay out. That suited me. If I never see a Red again, that will be far too soon.
After our experience in Russia, Lord and I decided to keep our mouths shut about Elmer's genesis and antecedents; so we arrived in America shrouded in a pall of silence. As a matter of fact, we smuggled Elmer into the old U.S.A., and after that we had to keep our mouths shut about him. What else could we have done? After all, there is no Pleistocene quota.
When we got home, I took him to my place in Beverly Hills; and told people he was an old friend from Schenectady.
He had been greatly impressed by the large cities he had seen. He thought skyscrapers were mountains with caves in them. As intelligent as he was, he just couldn't conceive that man had built any thing so colossal.
It was a treat taking him around. The movies were as real to him as death and taxes. There was a cave-man sequence in one we saw. Elmer really showed signs of life then. I knew he was having difficulty in restraining himself. He was just honing to crawl into one of those prop caves. When the heavy grabbed the leading lady by the hair and started to drag her across the scenery. Elmer hoisted himself into the aisle and started for the screen. I grabbed him by the coattails, but it was a lap dissolve that saved the day.
One night I took him to the wrestling matches at the Olympic. We had ring-side seats. The Lone Wolf and Tiny Sawbuck (237 pounds) were committing mayhem on one another. It seemed to get Elmer's goat.
"Do you call those great warriors?" he inquired; then, before I could do anything about it, he vaulted over the ropes and threw them both into the third row.
The Lone Wolf and Tiny Sawbuck were sore, but the audience and the promoter were one hundred per cent plus for Elmer. Before the evening was over, the latter had signed Elmer up to meet the winner, and a week later Elmer stepped into the ring with Tiny Sawbuck.
I'm still laughing. Tiny is famed as a bad hombre. He knows all the dirty tricks that the other wrestlers know and has invented quite a few of his own. He didn't have an opportunity to try any of them on Elmer. The moment they met in the centre of the ring, the man of the old Stone Age picked him up, carried him to the ropes, and threw him into the fourth row. He did that three times, and the last time Tiny stayed there. You couldn't have hired him to come back into that ring for the world's largest purse.
About the same thing happened in boxing. I had been giving Elmer some preliminary instruction in the manly art of acquiring cauliflower ears. By this time he was well known as a wrestler. Every Wednesday he had gone to the Olympic and ruined a few cash customer s by throwing opponents at them. That was all he ever did. He never wrestled, he never made any faces; he never gave the other fellow a chance. He just picked him up and threw him out of the ring, and kept on doing it until the other man decided to stay out.
The boxing promoter approached me, "Can he box?" he asked.
"I don't know. He can't wrestle, but he always wins. Why don't you find out? I have one thousand bucks that says he can put any of your white hopes to sleep."
"You're on," opined the promoter.
The following Tuesday the fight came off. I cautioned Elmer. "Don't forget ," I admonished him, "that you're supposed to box, not wrestle."
"I hit?" inquired Elmer.
"Yes, you hit; and hit hard."
"Okey-doke," rejoined the man from the Old Stone Age. "Bring 'em on!"
They shook hands and retired to their corners; then the bell rang. The white hope came charging out like the Light Brigade at Balaclava, and he got just about as far. Elmer swung one terrific right and the white hope was draped over the upper rope. That was the end of that fight. Others went similar ways; then the producers notice Elmer.
One night, while we were still negotiating for a contract, we went to the movies. Lorna Downs was the star. The moment she came onto the screen, Elmer sprang to his feet.
"Lilami!" he cried. "It is I, Kolani."
The heavy was insulting Lorna at the time. Elmer leaped toward the screen just as Lorna made her exit into the garden. Without a moments hesitation he tried to follow her. That cost me one hundred fifty denarii.
It wasn't so much the damage he did to the screen as the hurt to the theatre manager's pride. He mad the mistake of trying to eject Elmer by force. That was a mistake.
After they had gathered the manager up from the sidewalk and carried him to his office, I managed to settle with him and keep Elmer out of jail.
When we go home, I asked Elmer what it was all about.
"It was Lilami," he explained.
"It was not Lilami; it was Lorna Downs. And what you saw was not even she; it was a moving picture of her."
"It was Lilami. I told you that I would find her."
Lorna Downs was in the east making a personal appearance tour in connection with her latest picture. Elmer wanted to go after her. I explained that he had entered into a contract to make pictures and that he would have to live up to his agreement. I also told him that Lorna would be back in Hollywood in a few weeks. Now came a new phase in Elmer's career. He suddenly became a social lion. Men liked him nd women were crazy about him. The first time he went to the Troacero he turned to me and asked "What kind of women are these?"
I told him that, measured by fame and wealth, they were the cream of the elect.
"They are without shame," he said; "they go almost naked before men. In my country their men would drag them home by the hair and beat them."
I had to admit that that was what some of our men would like to do.
"Of what good is a mate in your country?" he asked. "They are no different from men. The men smoke, the women smoke. The men drink; the women drink. The men swear; the women swear. They gamble; they tell dirty stories. They are out all night. They cannot be fit to look after the caves and the children the next day. They are only good for one thing; otherwise, they might as well be men. One does not need to take a mate for what they can give -- not here where it is so easy to get.
"In my country such women are killed. No one would want children from them."
The ethics, the standards, and the philosophy of the Stone Age did not fit Elmer to enjoy modern society. He stopped going out evenings except to pictures and fights. He was waiting for Lilami to return.
"She is different," he said.
I felt sorry for him. I didn't know Lorna Downs, but I would have been willing to bet she was not so different.
At last Lorna came back. I was with Elmer when they met. It was on a set at the studio. It was in the middle of a scene, but when he saw her he walked right off the set and up to her. Never before have I seen so much happiness and love reflected in a man's face.
"Lilami!" he said in a voice tense with emotion and reached for her.
She shrank back, "What's the idea, big boy?" she demanded.
"Don't you know me, Lilami? I'm Kolani. Now I have found you we can go away together. I have searched for you for a long time."
She looked up at me. "Are you his keeper?" she demanded. "If you are, you'd better take him back to the college and lock him up."
I sent Elmer away, and then I talked to her. I didn't tell her everything, but enough so that she understood that Elmer wasn't crazy, that he was a good kid, and that he really believe that she was the girl he had known in another country.
He was standing a little way off, and she sat and looked at him for a few moments before she answered, then she said she'd be nice to him.
"It ought to be good fun," she said.
After that they were together a great deal. It looked very much as though she were falling for him. They went to shows together and dined in quiet places and took long drives.
The, one afternoon she went to a cocktail party without him. She didn't tell him she was going; but he found it out, and along about seven o'clock he walked in.
Lorna was sitting on some bird's lap, and he had his arms around her and was kissing her. It didn't mean a thing -- not to them. A girl might kiss anyone at a cocktail party -- that is anyone except her husband. But it meant a lot to Elmer.
He was across that room in two strides. He never said a word, he just grabbed Lorna by the hair and yanked her out of the man's lap; then he picked the fellow up and threw him all the way across the room. He was the original cave man then, and no mistake.
Lorna had been drinking, of course; and, of course, she was furious. Elmer reached for her. "Come!" he said.
She struck down his hand and slapped his face. "Get out of here you big boob," she screamed, "you tank-town Romeo -- get out and stay out. You're washed up. I'm through with you."
No one ever saw Elmer alive again. I was called in this morning to identify his body. It was just where they had found it -- in the frozen meat room of a cold storage warehouse.
A note addressed to me was pinned to a lapel of his coat. It didn't say much in words but it spoke volumes.
"And don't thaw me out again."
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