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.
"WHO IS TARZAN?" A REVIEW
"The Literary Ape-Man, Secret Agent, Science Fiction Adventurer" is the subtitle of David Lemmo's new book, "Who Is Tarzan?"
I imagine that most readers probably think of him first as that literary character. The science fiction aspect may come to mind when thinking of entries in the canon such as "Tarzan and the Ant-Men" and "Tarzan at the Earth's Core." And probably the secret agent role comes to mind primarily in "The Return of Tarzan," when Tarzan specifically takes a job for a few chapters as an agent for the French secret service.
But Lemmo contends that Tarzan is actually operating as a secret agent, primarily for the British government, in many of the other books in the series as well. I had never thought much about that but Lemmo cites specific passages to back up his claims, and I found it fascinating to consider how Tarzan managed to spend years being a secret agent who actually managed to keep his role "secret" for the most part.
One of the Tarzan stories by Edgar Rice Burroughs that ranks high in the likes of many fans is "Tarzan the Untamed," and Tarzan certainly acts at least as an unofficial secret agent in the early part of the book as he passes intelligence about the Germans to the British Army in Africa during World War I. But Lemmo sees a more official role than what one might presume, noting that the story starts with what is thought to be the death -- at German hands -- of Tarzan's wife, Jane, and later is found to actually be a kidnapping.
At the end of the book, Tarzan is acquainted with a message intercepted from Germans that refers to the kidnapping, saying, "Lady G will be of more value to the High Command alive than dead."
Lemmo then asks: "Why would the capture of the wife of a civilian English Viscount farmer be of 'value' to the German High command? In the context of Tarzan's Intelligence Department connections, the Germans' desire to capture the famous Tarzan of the Apes...makes much more sense if he also is part of the secret agent community."
Another example Lemmo cites is in "Tarzan the Invincible," where the intrigue is with the Russians, Stalin himself having ordered the assassination of Tarzan, Lord Greystoke. Writes Lemmo: "Tarzan is in the thick of international politics and secretly investigates the invasion of the country of Bungalo: 'Nor did many of his own people know wither he had gone nor why -- not even little Nkima, the close friend and confidant of the ape-man.' Not even hs Waziri."
There are more examples than that, certainly, but I'll cite no more as the fun is in coming across them while reading Lemmo's book.
And, there's much more besides, as Lemmo makes frequent comparisons with Tarzan to mythic heroes of the past, as well as noting the elements of future science fiction that Burroughs blended into his novels.
And that's just the first section of the book. Lemmo goes on to discuss other aspects of Tarzan, including the fascinating situation that existed for many years when comic books and Sunday comic pages were, for the most part, portraying Tarzan as an intelligent human being who spoke and reasoned as a modern-day man, albeit while being able to employ fantastic jungle skills, while at the same time the movies were, in essence, "dumbing down" the ape-man by putting him in the role of "an illiterate, vine-swinging brute."
Lemmo also spends time on various aspects of Tarzan fandom and the future of Tarzan. On the back cover of the book, Lemmo lists even more role for the ape-man than he does in the sub-title: "Savage Ape-Man, Secret Agent, Science-Fiction Adventurer, Paranormal Investigator, RAF Officer, Family Man, Viscount and Immortal."
For both knowledgeable fans and novice seekers of "everything Tarzan," Lemmo's book delivers with excellence.
Lemmo has also written another book about the ape-man, "Tarzan, Jungle King of Popular Culture," as well as books "Whatever Happened to John Drake?" and "The Incredible Adventures of Mushroom and Fungi. Volume One. Frankenstein Stories."
TARZAN AND THE LEPRECHAUN
The little fellow never saw it coming.
He was flitting merrily through the jungle, dancing an Irish jig, when he was flattened by a huge weight and felt an arm encircling his neck.
"Make no sound," said Tarzan of the Apes, whose sensitive, jungle-honed nostrils had smelled the green mint breath of the Leprechaun coming from miles away and had lain in wait for him.
The Leprechaun, Barney O'Blarney, felt the cold steel of a knife on his throat. "Now I've caught you," seethed Tarzan. "You have to tell me where you've hidden the pot of Opar gold."
The mini Munchkin had no choice. By the laws of the runes of Eire he was, indeed, bound to show the ape-man the way and so they trekked several hours over jungle trails until they came to an old oak tree, around which Tarzan tied a yellow ribbon.
"I have to go back to Greystoke manor to get my shovel," said Tarzan. "But I know what is and isn't mine, and that ribbon had better still be there when I get back."
"It will be," said the Leprechaun.
Tarzan was gone about an hour and when he returned, O'Blarney was lounging peacefully. However, the Leprechaun had also tied 100 yellow ribbons around a hundred other old oak trees nearby.
"You thought you could fool me with that old Leprechaun trick?" he snorted. "I didn't really need a ribbon at all. This old tree, like every tree in the jungle, has its own distinctive spoor. My nose tells me where the treasure is buried."
"You win," said the Leprechaun. "I guess you can dig it up now."
"I'm not digging it up," said Tarzan, throwing the shovel at O'Blarney. "You are."
- - - - -
HAVE A HAPPY ST. PAT'S!
"You know, you're my best friend."
"You're my best friend, too."
"I feel like I can tell you anything."
"Of course you can."
"You've probably been wondering where I've been the past six months."
"It did cross my mind."
"Most people would not believe me, but I know you won't laugh. I have had the most incredible adventures in a faraway place."
"How far away and how incredible?"
"Would you believe I have actually been to another planet?"
"Well, that might be hard to believe, even for a friend. But I'm willing to listen. How do you know you were on another planet?"
"Many reasons. The gravity was different. It was similar to ours, but not quite as limiting. The sky at night was totally different, and there were at least four moons that I know of. And the ways of the people, and animals I saw...like nothing you find on Earth."
"And how did you get to this...uh...planet?"
"I don't know. I was in England, and had an opportunity to explore an abandoned castle in Druid country. At least, I thought it was abandoned...but the strangest thing. I went into a cell in the dungeon and there was this strange-looking device just sitting in the middle of the floor. I would think others had explored this castle before me, yet no one had apparently carted this off. I almost felt as if I should run away, but instead I was strangely drawn to touch it, and when I did there was this blinding flash that knocked me flat and I woke up on this other planet, though it took me awhile to realize it was another planet."
"And what kind of incredible adventures did you have there?"
"Well, that would take awhile to tell. I really need to sit down and put it all in a book, but there's no way I have the talent to write something like that."
"Me neither. I'd be happy to help you out, but I couldn't write my way out of a wet paper bag."
"If only there were someone to help me."
"There might be...there's this man who lives a couple of towns over."
"Oh, he's an author. He writes stories of fantastic, amazing adventures that people have had on other planets, on strange, exotic locations on Earth, and even in lands inside the Earth."
"Wow! How does he find out about all these stories?"
"Oh, people seek him out because they know he's not judgmental and will give them the benefit of the doubt. But the man's no fool. He doesn't just take people at their word, although he is a good judge of character. But he'll usually demand some proof, such as actual records, diaries, and so forth; things they may have brought back from their adventures, or perhaps some kind of supernatural experience that would only be possible if someone were telling the truth. And sometimes he gets the stories from relatives he trusts."
"Do you suppose he would believe me?"
"He might. You can at least ask him, tell him your story, see what he says. I'll write down his name and address so you can locate him okay. Don't wait too long, though. I think he's in his mid-70s. He may be getting weary of hacking away at a typewriter."
"Right. Well, my Woodland Hills Class of 1940 has a 10-year reunion coming up on Sunday, March 19, so I'll arrange to stop in and visit him the following Monday."
"Great. Good luck. I'm anxious to read your story."
JOHN CARTER AND THE LANDED GENTRY
(Just might be a song in here somewhere)
“John! John! Sleepyhead. Supper's waiting for you!”
John Carter opened one eye and looked up at the blonde beauty leaning over him.
For just a moment, he had to reorient himself. He was married to this woman, and he loved her. But for what seemed like forever, he had been pursuing a raven-haired beauty on another planet.
Good night! It had all been a dream: Six-limbed green men, giant apes, strange flying contraptions and two moons illuminating the evening sky.
He couldn't have been asleep more than 20 minutes, when he had dropped on the couch for a quick nap after working in the family fields plowing all day and supervising his daughter as she chopped cotton. But, my, how that 20 minutes had been filled with the wildest stuff.
But here was his wife, Sarah Jo, gazing down at him with that big smile. For a second he was tempted to reach up and grab her and pull her down for a big kiss. But his daughter, Billie Jo, was in the room and would be embarrassed if he did that. Besides, he could see that Sarah Jo had just applied a fresh layer of lipstick and, though she loved him unconditionally, she'd probably be just a little chagrined if he did anything to change the carefully sculpted look she had achieved to present to him across a centerpiece of southern fried chicken.
He shook his head to try to clear the remaining images from his dream, and swung his legs to the floor and then, stepping over the sleeping Woola, launched himself at the table. Billie Jo was already there with that big, broad smile beneath the blonde hair that matched her mother's.
"Boy that smells good," said John Carter, looking over the spread of chicken, vegetables, and hot, fluffy biscuits,. "Mmmmmmm," he said. "Pass the biscuits...PLEASE!"
Next, he reached for the chicken platter and began selecting pieces for his plate. He looked at his daughter and asked, "What you been doin' today, sweetie pie!"
"Pickin' flowers," she smiled.
"You spend a lot of time pickin' flowers up on that ridge," grinned her dad. He looked at the bouquet of daisies in the jar on the table. "Very pretty," he said.
Sarah Jo raised an eyebrow: "Did you remember to wipe your feet before you came in the house?"
"Yes, Mommy," she grinned.
John smiled at Sarah Jo. "So what's new on this fine June day in 1866," he asked her.
“Well," she said, "Dahjeelah and Thad Sabin are coming over tomorrow, the third.”
"Ah, the cream of the local landed gentry," said John Carter. "What do they see in the family of an ex-Confederate soldier and cotton farmer?"
"They're just very nice people," said Sarah Jo. "And your friend Tarl Tarkenton is coming over later tonight with that wagon load of wood you traded him for those bales of hay."
“Yeah, I saw him at the sawmill yesterday," said John Carter. "Now how 'bout passin' around those black-eyed peas?”
"I know they're your favorite," said Sarah Jo, handing him the big bowl.
"You know, I think I smell something really good," said John Carter.
“Eat your dinner first," Sarah Jo chided. "Then you can have a slice of that pie.”
"And after I eat that, I might have another piece of apple pie," John Carter said.
“You deserve it dear," said Sarah Jo. "You work so hard.”
“Yeah," said John Carter. "And tomorrow, there's five more acres in the lower forty I've got to plow.”
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