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ADVENTURE IN A-MINOR

It was humid enough to make an aardvark yawn. Monkeys were screeching wildly in the treetops high above us and a variety of little winged creatures were enjoying my sweat and my blood. A skull-shattering headache contributed to the sensation that I had stumbled upon Lucifer's den. Cursing, I hacked viciously at the tangle of vegetation with Thabo's home-made panga. It was as blunt as my grandmother's dentures. Sweat was streaming down my face, my neck, my back, and into uncomfortable crannies.

I turned around and faced Thabo, who was watching me with a vague twitching of his scarred lips. He was a black monolith of a man, towering at least six inches above me, but for the moment his size did not intimidate me. I looked at him venomously.
'So you think this is funny?'
His smile froze with surprise at the antagonism in my voice. He opened his mouth as if to answer, then prudently shut it again. Red spite blistered my reasoning. I could kick myself for ever dreaming up this escapade. Chasing after the ruins of a bygone civilisation? Romantic fool!

The desperate situation manifested itself in the person of Thabo. Thabo, who is supposed to know his way. Thabo, who claimed he is the best guide around. 'Here I am in the middle of a mosquito-infested jungle, trying my damnedest to find a way out for us, and you find the time to stand there and snigger? Why don't you tell me the joke, as well? Then I can also laugh my head off while we perish in this bloody hell!' I yelled at him and discarded the panga with disgust. 'Mister Sanders, I think you are not feeling well. Maybe we should rest,' he said soothingly. He took off his gigantic backpack and dropped it to the ground.
'Oh you are so observant, my friend. You are right; I am not feeling well, at all. Thanks to my dung-for-brains, lazy-arse excuse for a guide, that's why,' I scolded.

I slumped down among the knotty vines and ignored the stung expression that crept into his face. He hesitated, then crouched quietly next to the backpack. The monkeys still screeched incessantly, grinding into the tortured depths of my mind.
'Damn those monkeys!'
I stared violently into the treetops and tried to machine-gun them with my eyes. Thabo gazed upwards uneasily. 'Our forest children are upset,' he dryly commented.
'Are you related to them, or something? I can somehow imagine that your grandfather was an ape.' I sneered as I drained the last drops from my canister.

He then turned his face towards me, and I could see death in his eyes. His outstretched hand found the discarded panga and he jumped at me like a wounded leopard. He was upon me before I could even unclip the cumbersome .38-Special from my holster. Instinctively, I put up my left arm and rolled over, trying frantically to loosen the revolver. The panga swished past my ear and thudded into something solid behind me. A sudden thrashing made me look up. The panga was embedded in the flat head of an enormous cobra. Thabo was towering over it, delivering the final coup-de-grace. I guiltily slipped my hand from the holster and stared with awe at the squirming, dying snake.

Thabo pointed upwards with a bloodied hand.
'That is why our forest children were complaining.'
'I...I see. Th-Thanks, my friend.'
He looked at me with a million-year stare.
'And no, Mister Sanders, I am not related.'

Etienne A.  Marais   1993