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Volume 7078

PART III: Dec 12-16
Written in the Spirit of OB and St. Nick
by John Martin


Dec. 14: Chapter 1 -- A Visit from Rokoff's Ghost
Dec. 15: Chapter 2 -- The Ghost of Christmas Pabst
Dec. 16: Chapter 3 -- The Ghost of Christmas Presents
Chapters 4 and 5 are featured  at ERBzine 7079

December 12: 
“...and a patridge in a pear tree....”   Jane's soprano voice had finally  completed the last, agonizing verse of the repetitive Christmas song. As  Jane waltzed into the living room at Greystoke Manor, Tarzan made a  conscious effort to unclench his teeth. He tried to effect a somewhat  jocular tone as he said:

"Jane, if I hear you singing "      The Twelve Days of Christmas" one more time I'll go crazy."

"But Tarzan, it's such a delightful song," Jane replied.

"It's a preposterous, repetitive  song," said Tarzan. "What would anyone even do with a partridge in a pear tree, let alone 10 lords a leaping. I see enough of that when the adjournment gavel comes down at  Parliament. Now, five golden rings, that has some promise. They could be  melted down into ingots and stored in our vault."

"Really, Tarzan," said Jane. "You need to show some Christmas spirit. What about six geese a laying? You do enjoy a couple of big fried eggs at breakfast, along with a rasher of raw Horta bacon."

"Breakfast?" said Tarzan. "That's why God made chickens.   Goose eggs have never done anything for me except leave me with a spell  of amnesia. And who needs twelve drummers drumming when we've got the Waziri living next door with that incessant thumping on their tomtoms until 2 a.m. every morning!"

“Well," said Jane, "if you don't like the song why don't you try writing some new lyrics for me to sing?”

"Now that's an idea," said Tarzan. He sat down at the piano  and began plinking away at the familiar melody, stopping every few bars  to write lines on a piece of paper.  Just as Tarzan had a knack for  learning new languages, he had also developed a flair for learning  musical instruments. He taught himself the piano after first learning  the guitar, taking a few lessons from Korak, who had been taught to play by his barracks buddies in the Army. Once Tarzan had gotten the hang of  the instrument, he had quit the lessons and gone ahead and become fully  proficient on his own, just like many of his fans in the Edgar Rice  Burroughs community.

At last he finished and spun around on the piano stool, smiling  at Jane. "Okay, listen to this," he said. Jane sat down with a look of eagerness on her face.

Tarzan began singing: "On the first day of Christmas, my dear Jane gave to me (Tarzan looked lovingly at Jane and she tilted her head  and smiled back.) "...a slain bara in a tall tree."

“Oh Tarzan," Jane frowned. "Be serious!”

"All right, all right," said Tarzan. "Here's the real song. On  the first day of Christmas, my true love gave to me, a snobbish butler with a goatee..."

"Tarzan! That's enough!" Jane said. "Anyway, we already have a maid."

“Okay. Okay. All kidding aside. Here's the song.”

Jane folded her arms. "It better be," she warned.

Tarzan grinned and sang, "On the first day of Christmas, my true love gave to me...a monkey and a calliope."

“Oh, why did I even suggest this," said Jane. "This is preposterous!"

"Thanks for agreeing with me, my dear," said Tarzan, crumpling up the paper with the notes he had made. "I told you it was a preposterous song."

December 13: 

'Twas Christmas in Opar and all through the halls
The beast-men were banging their heads on the walls,
Impatiently waiting for Santa to come
With rooty-toot-toots and rummy-tum-tums.

The goblets for guzzling the blood of the kill,
Were stacked by the chimney for Santa to fill.
The big Christmas tree was garnished with things
Like bones from their victims, along with their rings.

La in her trappings had finished a feast,
Along with ol' Budj, her latest high priest.
When down in the valley she heard such a noise,
She jumped from her throne 'long with some of the boys.

They shot through the hallway and out the front gate,
To see who the fools were who'd come, tempting fate.
The sun in the heavens shone down from the sky,
Revealing a Scout troop just then passing by.

"Seize them!" cried La, and they jumped at her will.
The sun god would would surely be pleased by this kill.
But the Scouts were all proving so lively and quick
They made all the beast-men appear to be sick.

The Scouts scampered to, and the Scouts scampered fro,
The beast-men had no clue which way they should go.
La shouted and shrieked but it did her no good,
And soon all the Scouts disappeared in the wood.

'You incompetent fools," La told her patrol:
“Santa will bring you all nothing but coal!”
And then in a twinkling La stood, mouth agape,
Upon hearing the roar of a massive bull ape.

"It sounds like mangani," she said, "but it's not.
"It's Tarzan the ape man, the one we've all fought.
"Get all your sad rear-ends back up to the halls;
“We'll ambush the fool when he enters our walls.”

They hid in the closets, the niches and clefts,
Then entered the apeman with hustle and heft.
He was clad in a loin cloth of dead leopard hide,
And weapons, like tinsel, all shone from his side.

The blade of a knife he held tight in his teeth,
And his lasso was looped in the shape of a wreath.
A quiver of arrows was slung on his back,
And the bow in his hand had no instance of slack.

His eyes, how they glittered 'neath eyebrows so hairy,
His muscles were rippling; his essence was scary.
The teeth in his jaw were gritted with pow'r,
And he looked plenty ready for this very hour.

He was fit as a fighter, a formidable foe.
And the beast-men could tell they were in for a row.
He knew they were there, 'cause their bodies were smelly.
They feared for their lives; their knees turned to jelly.

The look in his eyes gave them cause to retreat,
And they made for the exits on cowardly feet.
He said nothing more, but turned to their treasure,
Grabbing some gold bars, and jewels for good measure.

Then blowing a kiss to the ravishing La,
He made for the door with a final "Ta Ta!"
He paused at the gate as he listened to hear,
The jingle of sleighbells on flying reindeer.

Santa was guiding his team by its halter,
Straight toward the opening high o'er the altar
As seagulls and pigeons let loose from on high,
So did the reindeer from up in the sky.

Their droppings fell earthward like new fallen snow
As Santa looked down and exclaimed, "Ho Ho Ho!"
And then he called back as he went on his way:
"Nothing for beast-men of Opar today.

"I heard what my elves said; I checked my list twice.
"They're naughty in Opar; a far cry from nice;
"They're miserable curs; their minds are impure;
"They rate nothing more than my reindeers' manure."

La shook her fist and gave out with a groan,
Then eyeballed the splatters surrounding her throne'
Tarzan just grinned and then made his egress,
While La yelled at Budj: "You! Clean up this mess!"

December 14
Chapter 1 -- A Visit from Rokoff's Ghost
Rokoff was dead, to begin with.

Tarzan didn't think Ed Burroughs would ever write a story that began with a line like that, but a story had to begin somewhere and, after all, it was true. Rokoff was indeed dead, killed by Sheeta the panther while Tarzan stood by, a cold expression upon his face, and watched.

Since then, Tarzan had gone on to build a decent estate in Africa and was considered a highly successful English gentleman farmer and rancher.

Tarzan and the friendly tribe of Waziri warriors worked hard to maintain their oasis in the midst of Africa. Someone coming on the scene with no background information would probably have assumed that Tarzan was the white overlord of the black natives, and that he ruled them with an iron hand.

That, of course, was not true, but not everyone knew it.

One who did not know it was the ghost of Rokoff himself, who automatically assumed that everyone else was just like him. This spirit appeared to Tarzan a few days before Christmas in a predoomed attempt to frighten the wits out of him. As Rokoff should have known, Tarzan doesn't frighten easily, if at all.

"What the heck do you want?" Tarzan asked Rokoff's ghost.

"I want to be any place but here," the ghost replied. "But I've been ordered to tell you that you need to be a nicer person."

"I thought I was pretty nice already," said Tarzan.

"That's debatable," said the ghost. "You're going to have three visitors over the next three nights, who will teach you something about how to treat your fellow jungle denizens."

"Next three nights?" groaned Tarzan. "I have the patience of a crocodile lying in ambush. But I'd rather get this over with quicker. Can't the visitors all come tonight?"

"We'll see," said Rokoff. "But it isn't my decision."

Next: The Ghost of Christmas Pabst

December 15
Chapter 2 -- The Ghost of Christmas Pabst
Early the next morning, about 1 a.m., a spectral figure entered Tarzan's room in Greystoke manor, awakening him while Jane continued to snore. The ghost was clanking chains and making "Oooooo, oooooo" sounds.

"Who are you?" asked Tarzan.

"I am Kulonga, the Ghost of Christmas Pabst."

"Pabst?" said Tarzan.

"Blue Ribbon," said the Ghost. "You know, Pabst Blue Ribbon Beer."

"Ah yes," said Tarzan, "I remember watching the commercials on TV years ago when we were visiting Jane's father in Baltimore. That tune will be stuck in my head forever: What'll ya have? Pabst Blue Ribbon...and so forth...."

"Yes, that commercial was in the past," said the Ghost. "But the beer is still around, so Pabst isn't quite yet a thing of the past. Now come with me and I'll show you something of your pabst. I mean past."

"Wait a minute," said Tarzan. "You were a cannibal. You were never in the U.S. How would you even know about Pabst Blue Ribbon?"

"We're given information on a need-to-know basis," replied Kulonga. "As the Ghost of Christmas Pabst, I needed to know that."

"I see," said the ape-man thoughtfully. Tarzan followed the ghost through the jungle. They seemed to be floating and it was extremely foggy. At last the mist cleared and Tarzan looked into a native village where people were dancing in joyous celebration and consuming gallons of intoxicating native beer, the African equivalent of Pabst Blue Ribbon.

"I remember that," said Tarzan. "It was my first party with the Waziri."

"Yes," said the ghost, "but as the evening went on you got a little carried away and consumed too much. Disgusting. Dancing about, naked but for a loin cloth, and even that was hardly sufficient covering with all of the wild gyrations you were doing."

Tarzan smiled. "I guess I did lose a little bit of self-control that night. But, you know. After all I'd been through...unlucky in love...twice, getting the heave-ho off of a ship, and then the exhilaration of returning at last to my jungle, and finally finding a bunch of decent people I could hang with, rather than a bunch of hairy, smelly apes or (he looked meaningfully at Kulonga) a bunch of revolting cannibals.... I guess I did a few things I shouldn't have. I even killed one of my beloved elephants. It could happen to anyone. Besides, except for some wine in the evenings with Jane, I pretty much stay away from the stuff now."

"Yes, yes," said the ghost. "We all have our rationalizations. And speaking of that, you'll have to excuse me now. But remember, you may be the perfect specimen of a man, but you haven't always been perfect in your behavior."

Tarzan found himself back in bed, and quickly drifted off. He awoke with a start at 2 a.m.

Next: The Ghost of Christmas Presents

December 16
Chapter 3 -- The Ghost of Christmas Presents
"I thought you were out of my life forever," Tarzan said to the  apparition which had suddenly appeared in a puff of smoke at 2 a.m. in  his bedroom in his jungle home.

"You're a bit hard to recognize because you're all grey and  sparkly, Kerchak," said Tarzan. "But I notice they let you keep your  smell. I'm guessing you're here as the ghost of Christmas Presents,  since the last one to show up was Kulonga as the ghost of Christmas  Pabst."

"Correct," said the ghost in the language of the Mangani. "I am  Kerchak and I am here to remind you that Christmas is a time when people  give each other presents. Even I occasionally offered a she-ape a  delectable beetle or grub. But you, Tarzan, you have never quite gotten  into the spirit of the season. You don't go to malls, Walmart, or even  look on ebay for stuff. When was the last time you took pity on a  starving group of unsuccessful white hunters and dropped a dead deer  into the middle of their campsite? When was the last time you left a  little of your latest kill for jungle scavengers, rather than selfishly  burying it so you could greedily dig into it later? When was the last  time you used some of the gold from Opar to set up some social programs  for the Oparian children rather than just depositing it in the Bank of  London to splurge on yourself?"

"Children?" asked Tarzan. "What Oparian children?:

"Well, you know La was scared to death she was going to have to  mate with Cadj or one of the other high priests," noted Kerchak.  "So, that must be the way they repopulate themselves. By having children."

“Maybe," said Tarzan, "but in all my adventures there, I never actually saw any children.”

"Well, that doesn't mean there aren't any," said Kerchak, "and  like children everywhere, they yearn for something under the tree."

Tarzan started to argue, but the ghost disappeared into nothingness.

Next: The Ghost of Christmas Looter

Chapters 4 and 5 are featured  at ERBzine 7079

Click for full-size promo collage

By John Martin

ERBzine 7076
PART I: Dec 1-5
ERBzine 7077
PART II: Dec 6-11
ERBzine 7078
PART III: Dec 12-16
ERBzine 7079
PART IV: Dec 17-21
ERBzine 7080
PART V: Dec 22-25


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