If all else fails, grab a branch and swing. Or up a tree without a poodle.
Previously our heroine on board the steamship S. S. Twit.
Meanwhile in another part of the world, the tall and handsome American big game hunter Johnny Eager stood in the jungles of darkest, deepest, dark Africa. Eager was a young man of extraordinary intellectual acumen. And he had lots of muscles to flex too.
His women friends called him the Eager Beaver because his gun often went off way way too soon. At his side was his always-there sidekick, his Tonto to Eager’s Lone Ranger, his Watson to Johnny’s Sherlock Holmes, the incredibly loyal and true blue Norwegian Karl Lutefisk.
Now you’ve heard the phrase, dear reader, “up to your knees in elephant poop.” The two men stepped out of the jungle and onto the veldt grassland. They sunk into the grass and up to their knees in elephant poop.
In the distance and aways off stood a rhinoceros. It was what we call a “biggun” South of the Mason-Dixon. It was a real biggun. The rhinoceros saw them. They saw the rhino. The rhino lowered its head. Johnny dropped to his knees. And you guessed it. Johnny was up to his waste in elephant shit.
The beast charged. Johnny Eager aimed his rifle at the rhino. The rhino charged hard down upon the big game hunter Johnny Eager and closed in fast. Click. Johnny’s rifle misfired.
“He is charging” the Norwegian Karl Lutefisk, Johnny Eager’s sidekick extraordinaire, yelled at the top of his lungs.
“Don’t you think I know that?” Johnny yelled back. He jerked a bullet from his belt.
Karl stood nearby, helpless. He was tempted to raise his weapon and shoot at the charging rhino. But that would anger his friend. Johnny Eager always liked to handle these situations on his own, no matter the consequences. It was a matter of pride. In that brief moment before the rhino reached Johnny, the Norwegian reflected on the number of times his friend had said, “If a man can’t take care of himself in times of danger, he doesn’t deserve to live.”
Before Johnny could finish reloading, the rhino barreled down on him with a charge sounding like thunder. Johnny’s eyes met the beast’s eyes. The beast reached him, its horn touching his chest, its breath an ungodly stench. A thought ran through Johnny’s mind. “My God, the fellow needs a dentist. At least, get some toothpaste and mouth wash.”
Johnny grabbed the horn and used it to propel his body six feet in the air. He flipped onto the back of the monster. His knife was out and slamming into the thick hide of the animal.
The tree branch caught Johnny Eager in the gut. It threw him toward the sky. Flying through the air, Johnny reached out to catch something. Anything. His hand reached and felt something solid. He grabbed desperately for it. It was a second branch. It stopped the big game hunter.
Stopping in midair that way is not a pleasant thing. But it sure beats the continued flight. After all, Johnny didn’t have wings.
His left hand grasped the branch tightly. Looking down, he saw the rhinoceros below him, snorting, digging into the ground, waiting for gravity to catch up with Johnny’s body. The beast looked up at Johnny. It had a grin on his face, almost seeming to say, “C’mon down. It’ll be a fair fight.”
“Right,” Johnny said to himself. Then he yelled out, “You okay, Karl?” He did not know what direction to call for his friend, so he yelled out at the jungle.
A still small voice came from above and aways off . “Ja. I am okay, ” it said. “I should have shot the beast.”
“Well, shoot him now.”
“I cannot,” Karl said. “My gun is down there and I am up here. After you jumped off his back, he came for me. I tried shooting him.”
“I didn’t jump. Got a branch in the gut.”
“My rifle misfired.”
“Mine too. It’s almost as if it had been planned by those fellows who sold us the guns. If we ever get out of this bitch, we’re going to have a powwow with them.”
Johnny’s right hand reached up and joined his left hand. With both hands around the branch, he looked down. The rhino, pacing back and forth, was only a few feet below Johnny.
The beast looked up, then stalked away, acting like its mind had turned to other things. It was still on Johnny. It turned back toward the big game hunter and stood still and watched.
“Don’t know how long this branch will hold,” Johnny said. “And even if it holds, I don’t know how long I can hold on. Where’s that rifle?” His eyes searched the ground below. He must have thrown it aways off when he jumped on the back of the rhino.
Hanging onto the branch, he felt naked without his weapon. If some of his hunter friends came by and caught him without it, he would be laughed out of the Big Game Hunters’ Big Game Hunting Society, a fate worse than death for a big game hunter. Well, not worse than death. But it was still pretty bad. He would be the butt of jokes from Timbuktu to Cape Town.
“We’ve been in bigger scrapes than this, ja,” Karl said, trying to pep his friend up. “We can figure this one out too.”
The only thing that would pep Johnny Eager up was for that rhino to be chased from there to the River Styx. “Not lately. Not lately.”
“Don’t tell me that your luck has run out. No, I will not believe it.”
“Damn, where’s that gun?” No rifle below, just a big assed rhinoceros.
“What did you say?”
“I am trying to see where my gun is.” Sweat dripped down Johnny’s forehead, almost blinding him. He blinked, trying to get the sweat out his eyes. “I have an idea.”
“Hope it is a good one.”
“Come on down and get closer to my branch level,” Johnny said, his hands, his arms growing tired. “And be careful. I know how you’re afraid of heights. If you fall, we’ll be up a tree without a blunderbus. Oh, that’s right. We are up a tree without a blunderbus.”
Karl began his descent. The sounds of the jungle were changing. In the distance, he heard a lion roar.
“It’s turning night,” Karl said. “Maybe he will leave.”
“Don’t think so. Tell you what,” Johnny said. “the next time he moves under me, I am going to drop onto his back.”
“Are you crazy? That monster will kill you.”
“I can’t wait for him to leave. When I drop onto him, I am going to grab the knife. It’s still in his back. I’ll pull it out and slam it into his eye. If I go deep enough, I will hit his brain.”
“You think you can hit the brain?” Karl asked, still making his way down toward his friend.
“Let’s not take any chances. When I drop, I am going to yell, ‘Now.’ At my yell, drop out of the tree, grab your rifle and shoot the bastard. We have to do this before it gets completely dark or you won’t be able to see him.”
“What was that?” Karl called over to his friend. He was now on the same level in the air as his friend.
The rhino looked up at Johnny Eager, then snorted and grunted its way back to the ground under Johnny.
“This damn branch is going to break any minute now. There he is. He’s getting close. Are you ready?”
“Give me a minute to get further close to the ground.”
“This is no time to take your time. Hurry.” Johnny heard the wind move through the branches.
“I am ready,” Karl said.
The rhino had stopped to check something out one tree over.
“Okay, here goes. Hey, down there, you dumb bastard. Get over here. Hey!”
“Is he coming?” Karl asked, his vision of the rhino blocked by several trees.
“Course not. Any other time and he’d be right under me,” Johnny said to Karl, then yelled at the beast. “Hey, hey you.”
This time the rhino seemed to hear Johnny Eager, big game hunter extraordinary. He approached Johnny’s tree. If Johnny had ever needed luck, this was the day. If things didn’t go perfectly, he was a ding-dong-done-daddy. He’d be hunting in those happy hunting grounds in the sky.
Crack. The branch broke.
Johnny fell, the tree branch still in his hand. Down, down, he went. “Now,” he yelled his cue for Karl to make his move. Down Johnny went and hit the rhino’s back. He faced the rhino’s tail. Quickly he spun around and whack a branch hit him in the face. He held onto the rhino’s back, grabbing the knife. He jerked on the knife. It did not give. The rhino was speeding away from Karl. Johnny jerked on the knife again. It came loose from the rhino’s hide.
The game hunter raised the weapon, then he tumbled off the back of the beast. Johnny’s body slammed into the ground. Hearing the rhino behind him stop his charge and turn, Johnny jumped onto his feet. From behind a tree, he saw Karl raise his musket and pull the trigger. Nothing happened. The Norwegian pulled the trigger again. Johnny’s left foot gave and he fell to the ground. His head turned and saw the monster only a foot away. It had death in its eyes.
Bam! Bam! Bam! Gunshots. The rhino dropped inches from from Johnny.
Johnny looked at the place the gunshots came from. Walking toward him was a familiar figure.
Next Week: Daddykins gets involved.