FROM A NOCK TO A NICK
Tarzan of the Apes heard the low growl and, because it was
accompanied by a ticklish vibration in his abdominal cavity, he knew it
was the rumble of his stomach and not that of one of the many jungle
It was time to eat and, as if commanded by some
beneficent deity, the scent of Bara, the deer, was almost immediately
wafted to his finely tuned nostrils.
But was it Bara after all? The scent was familiar yet,
at the same time, somewhat different. It seemed to include the smell
of tanned leather, metal,peppermint and perhaps even the aroma of
freshly baked chocolate chip cookies like those Jane had made for the Waziri
kids the other day.
His nostrils also told him it wasn't just one animal,
but a small herd, so his chances of success in bringing one down
He at last sighted his quarry and, swift as Ara the
Lightning, loosed a bolt from his bow, sending it unerringly toward its
But before the arrow could strike, all of the deer magically
leaped into the air, and, amazingly, appeared to be towing a huge contraption.
"Curses," muttered Tarzan, in mild jungle Billingsgate,
"they were just a little too lively and quick."
ONE NIGHT IN THE JUNGLE
Jane had arranged some chestnuts, roasting on an open fire.
“That's a nice blaze," said Tarzan. "The fire is so delightful.
You would even say it glows.”
Jane herself glowed at the compliment, then looked toward
the open window and asked Tarzan: "Do you hear what I hear?"
Tarzan had a keen sense of hearing but he kidded Jane:
"Hear what?" he said.
“Oh surely Tarzan you can hear the sleighbells ring, are
“Yes, I hear that," said the ape man. "It sounds like
a song, a song high above the trees. Do you want me to investigate?”
"Please," said Jane.
"You can count on me," replied Tarzan.
Brightly shone the moon that night. It shone through a
light rain, but heedless of the wind and weather, the ape-man placed
his ear to the ground. There was a distinct "thumpety thump thump"
sound which Tarzan identified as a small herd of Bara the deer and
some other large object.
Then, from up on the housetop, Tarzan heard a whistle,
the snapping of tanned leather and the sound of sleigh bells jingling
as something soared over his head.
However, misfortune seemed his lot because, at that moment,
the ape man was peppered from above with a deluge of spilled candy
canes which, in the misty rain, had become moist and were sticking
to his body, naked but for a loin cloth. "Ugh," he snarled, ripping
the offending sugar-laden cylinders from his skin, "These have all
the tender sweetness of a seasick crocodile."
Annoyed, he began stomping the confectionaries into the
ground so they were indistinguishable from the rest of the jungle
Jane hurried from the bungalow. "We've had a visitor.
Come look under the tree." She saw the ape-man's face and stopped
short: "Is something the matter?"
“Not any more Jane," said Tarzan, swallowing a stray chunk
of candy which had become lodged in his gums. "From now on, our troubles
will be out of sight.”
A SNACK FOR SANTA
Jane carried the glass of milk into the living room
of Greystoke Manor and set it on the end table. John Clayton looked at
it and grimaced, then took another sip of his martini. "What's that for?"
he asked. "We expecting a visit from Hopalong Cassidy?"
"It's for Santa," said Jane. "It's a tradition
to leave a snack out for him. Especially when he has to come such a long
way to get to our home in the middle of nowhere."
Jane returned a few minutes later with a plate
of warm chocolate chip cookies and set them beside the milk.
“There," she said. "Now it's time for bed. Coming, John?
Long after Jane had fallen asleep, her husband
lay on his back, staring at the ceiling, his jungle-trained eyes picking
out every minute detail, even at night.
At last he arose. He wrapped his weapons-laden
loin cloth around his waist and fastened it with the velcro strips Jane
had sewn on. Then, he leaped lithely out the window, crossed the lawn,
and disappeared into the forest.
Before long, the ape man returned, the corpse of
Bara, the deer, slung over one shoulder. He skinned the animal outside
the manor, then slipped inside and lay the carcass on the drain board.
With the hunting knife of his long dead sire, he separated several choice
cuts and tossed them into a frying pan, which had been warming on the stove
while he was accomplishing the other preparations.
About 15 minutes later, the steaks were done to
his satisfaction. He did not like to ruin his own meat with heat, but he
understood that others actually preferred it this way. He placed the steaks
in a warming dish and covered it with a lid to keep the heat in. Then,
he placed it next to the cookies and slipped off to bed, where he slept
soundly as visions of the blood of the kill danced in his head.
At about 3 a.m., a weary Santa stepped from the
Greystoke fireplace and immediately noticed the inviting aroma of the deer
steaks. "Ah, fresh meat!" he exulted. Brushing cookie crumbs from his beard,
acquired in several thousand other stops, Santa lifted the lid and licked
his lips. He doffed his mittens and, without bothering with the niceties
of the Greystoke-crested silverware which its owner had laid out, grabbed
a chunk of venison and sank his teeth into it. An expression of utter delight
passed over his features.
Chomping and slurping, Santa spent about 10 minutes
ravenously consuming the rest of the steaks. But now something strange
seemed to be happening. The Greystokes had left the lights on in the sitting
room which held the fireplace and Christmas tree, but now it seemed to
be slowly getting dimmer.
Santa glanced up and saw several moving bodies
which were now between him and some of the lighting fixtures.
They were his reindeer.
"At it again, eh Santa?" said Donner, menacingly.
"You promised you would eat no more of our relatives,"
said Blitzen, in a threatening whisper.
“C'mon guys," said Santa. "It was already dead. And cooked.
What was I supposed to do? It would have gone to waste.”
But the reindeer moved closer. Some were pawing
with their forelegs. A couple of others were rubbing antlers with their
teammates to sharpen them.
“No," trembled Santa. "No...I didn't mean anything...I
A blood-curdling yell split the air. The reindeer
froze. then, as one, they turned and romped from the room and dashed away
to the housetop, where the elves began hitching them to the sleigh again.
Santa looked up, relieved, as he beheld the Lord
of the Jungle standing in the room's doorway, his arms folded, a slight
smile on his aristocratic features.
“Thanks, ape man," said Santa. "I thought I was a goner.
The reindeer; they go crazy sometimes. But they'll be all right now.”
Santa reached his finger up to his nose and headed
toward the fireplace, but the jungle man suddenly stood in his way.
"I think your reindeer can stand to wait a little
longer," he said.
Santa stopped, puzzled at first. Then, he seemed
to catch the ape man's meaning.
“Sorry," he said. "In the excitement, I forgot.”
He immediately started pulling things out his pack
and laid them beside the tree, and then filled the stockings belonging
to the various members of the Greystoke household.
He turned with a jerk and gave his host a wave.
This time the Jungle Lord did not stop him as he moved to and then rose
up the chimney.
A moment later, Clayton could hear a faint whistle
and then the sound of harnesses and hooves as Santa achieved liftoff.
He turned to go back to bed, but stopped when he
saw the noise had awakened Jane. She stood at the doorway in her night
dress, her slightly mussy blonde hair cascading over her shoulders.
"John, what was all the -- " Then, she saw the
presents and the bulging stockings. "Oh, it's Santa. He's been here!" she
giggled like a school girl. Then, her eyes fell on the untouched cookies
and milk. "Oh...he didn't eat his snacks."
"I think he had other things on his mind," her
husband said. "Don't worry about the snacks. I'm sure Korak and Meriem
will make short work of them at breakfast."
CHRISTMAS MORNING AT GREYSTOKE MANOR
Having not grown up with the thrill of visits from St. Nicholas,
Tarzan was rather indifferent about Christmas per se, but he did, over
the years, gain a fondness for the holiday as a time of seeing friends
and relatives and enjoying the convivial gatherings and fine food. He
also entered into the spirit of gift giving and receiving.
This year, there was a special package for him from Jane,
and he had no doubt about what it contained. It was in a box about
eight feet long and 4" by 4" in height and width. Of course, it could
have been something like a fishing pole but Tarzan was convinced
it was something which he could use to catch, not only fish, but
other game as well.
When Christmas morning arrived, Tarzan at last was handed
the rather heavy package and he attempted to feign surprise when
he opened it and found it was exactly what he suspected -- a new
spear. But he was surprised at the craftsmanship.
It was one of the heavy war spears handmade by Muviro, with an extra
long and extra sharp blade. It had perfect balance and an intricate
design of hunting scenes along its length. On the end it was labeled
"Special Edition, 1 of 1," and was signed by Muviro.
"Thank you, Jane," Tarzan said, giving her a hug and a
kiss as Muviro beamed proudly. "I can't wait to test it out," said
the ape man. And, so saying, he whirled and flung the spear across
the room toward Korak. It stuck fast in the wooden back of the chair,
about one-half inch from Korak's left ear, the end making a humming
sound as it vibrated from the force of his throw.
“Good one, Father," laughed Korak. "But is that all the
closer you can come?”
With that, the son of Tarzan yanked the spear from its
position, spun it around, and sent it whining across the room toward
Tarzan, to brush the hair on the back of the ape man's head as it
zoomed past and lodged itself in the wall.
"Not bad, son," grinned Tarzan, "but wait'll you see this..."
Tarzan turned to reach for the spear but Jane, sitting closer to the
wall, beat him to it. She wrenched the spear from the wall and grinned
broadly, looking from Tarzan to Korak.
“My turn," she said. "After all, I've been called Diana
of the Jungle. Let's see what I can do with this thing.”
She cocked her arm to throw the spear, then stopped short.
The seats of both Tarzan and Korak were empty!
Outside, Korak tore the ribbon off a fresh pack of Pall
Malls and offered one to Tarzan. "Thanks, son," said the ape man.
"There's nothing quite like a good smoke to settle our nerves."
A BOXING DAY SURPRISE
JOHN CARTER AND THE TOY GUN
Dejah Thoris gasped as John Carter shot through the window
and stood before her.
"John, you startled me," she said, placing a hand to calm
her throbbing heart. "...but welcome back from earth. Did you bring a new
Mars book for me?"
“The Deluxe Manuscript Edition of Princess won't be available
until January," said the Warlord. "But this toy pistol might tide you over
-- it's a prototype of one Disney had planned to market as a tie-in with
the John Carter movie, but for some silly reason they changed their mind."
"Sounds like a rare item," said Dejah. "Where'd you get
"From an insider at ERB Inc., " said Carter. "They had
a couple and gave me one as a Christmas present when I dropped in there
a few days ago."
Just then, a Warhoon burst in, leveling a pistol of his
own. "Die, John Carter," he snarled.
Carter turned quickly and pressed the trigger of the toy
gun and a green ray shot out and evaporated the Warhoon.
“John," gasped Dejah, "do they make deadly toys for kids
“No Dejah," explained the Warlord, "The Consumer Products
Safety Commission would never let them get away with that. On Earth, this
is just a glorified, battery-powered flashlight that has a green lens in
the barrel, but Barsoom's lesser gravity makes it into another deadly weapon
for our home arsenal."