Lady Wimpleseed-Prissypott # 22: Just when you think things can’t get any worse

Previously the S. S. Twit sank and our heroine found herself swimming for land. Back in Chapter 14, we were introduced to big game hunter Johnny Eager and his sidekick. They were up to their necks in rhinoceros poop.

Johnny Eager, our big game hunter, dropped the branch. At the toes of his shiny black boots lay the rhinoceros. Two shots and the beast had gone down. Johnny looked over to the spot where the shots came from. Walking toward him in a pith helmet and a khaki outfit was a woman he was very familiar with.

It was Mata Hari. Behind her followed a man. The woman raised her rifle again. She aimed. She pulled the trigger twice. Johnny looked over and saw his sidekick fall to the ground. Johnny jumped up and ran over to his friend.

Karl was on the ground dying. He looked up at his friend with a plea in his bright blue eyes. Then he died.

Johnny turned and rushed the woman. “You bitch,” he yelled. As he came within a foot of her, a rifle butt smashed down onto the back of his head.

“I wouldn’t advise that,” a toothless Scumbag Higgins said. He was someone Johnny knew as a smuggler and a poacher and an all-around worthless hyena of a man. He would steal from his mother if there was a buck in it. You could look the word “scumbag” up in a dictionary and there would be a picture of Scumbag Higgins.

“Johnny, Johnny.” Mata Hari looked down at the big game hunter on the ground and smiled. Her accent had changed from the previous episode when she was introduced to the Lady P. P. as well as the Reader. She often changed her accent to fit the occasion, depending on who the listener was. It was German now. “Guess that’s why they call you the Eager Beaver, ja? I did not think I was going to need a bodyguard. I thought you loved me. Oh ja, that is right. You love this body, do you not?” She moved her hands up and down her body, her tailored khakis hugging her curves tightly, leaving nothing to the imagination. If there was one thing she always did, it was to show off her curves. It usually distracted men long enough for her to do her business which was always no-good.

“Bitch,” Johnny said, then sat up and rubbed the back of his head. His face was flushed with anger. He tried to stand but couldn’t quite pull himself up on his legs. His head hurt and so did his wrist.

“Sit there, buddy,” Scumbag said. “When the lady says you can get up, you can get up. You don’t try anything or you’ll get a mouthful of this.” He pointed his rifle butt at Johnny.

“Now, now, Scumbag,” she said. “Johnny is our friend. He is going to help us out, aren’t you, Johnny? I didn’t know that you could spell mein middle name.” Mata Hari had no friends, only associates. As soon as she got what she wanted out of Johnny Eager, she’d leave him to Scumbag. “Am I not right, Johnny, you can spell and you are my friend, ja?”

“Why did you do it?” Johnny sat on the jungle floor. “I knew you were a cold-hearted bitch. But I didn’t expect murder. Why did you murder Karl?”

Mata Hari squatted down and the cold steel of her eyes met Johnny’s eyes. “I had not met mein quota of men today. Your friend made my quota. Now let’s get down to business. You have my package?”

“You sure you want my package?” he said, looking straight into her eyes, then between his legs, then back into her eyes. “How do you know you can trust me?”

“Oh, I know I can trust you,” she said, drawing a knife from her belt. “I want my diamonds and you have them.”

“You aren’t afraid I will get the best of you?” Johnny glanced over at Scumbag Higgins.

Scumbag took out his hunting knife and began to free the horn from the rhino. He looked up at Johnny. “You think you can take me, Eager? Try it. Just try it.”

“How can you be such a slime?” Johnny said, then picked himself up off the jungle floor. “That rhino had more honor in him than you and all your friends. Friends who almost got us killed. Selling us those crappy weapons. They both misfired. I plan to carve the nose off the face of that friend of yours who sold me them weapons, que pas?”

“Right. First you’ve got to buy yourself some cojones.” Scumbag returned to his task.

Johnny managed to get to his feet. The red went to his face. The adrenalin shot through his body. Before Scumbag knew it, Johnny was on top of him. Eager grabbed Scumbag’s rifle and slammed the butt down into his adversary’s face once, twice, three times.

“You …,” Johnny said. “Damn you, you.” He raised the rifle once more. Click. Feeling cold steel against his head, he stopped and turned. Mata Hari had aimed her rifle at the back of his head.

“I do not shoot you, Johnny,” Mata Hari said. “But I think you had better stop.”

Johnny dropped the rifle, turned back to Scumbag Higgins. The scumbag, Scumbag, was dead.

“He’s dead,” Johnny said. “And I don’t think even the hyenas will want to use him for a meal.” He suddenly realized how dark it was getting. The jungle was coming alive with the night. “We’ve got to get back to camp. That’s where the diamonds are. You can have your damned diamonds, then you can leave me in peace.”

“Such a waste, Johnny,” Mata Hari said and pointed at Scumbag Higgins. “We could have used him. You know how I hate waste.” She came from a long line of people who did not waste anything. Even suicide. Her father, General Hari Kari kept committing suicide but it didn’t take because suicide was such a waste.

“If you hated waste, why did you waste my friend?” Johnny stood up. He went over and threw Karl’s body across his back. “Let’s go.”

“He was a threat,” Mata Hari said as she followed Johnny Eager, big game hunter, back to his camp. “You did not know he was a spy, ja?”

“Who was he spying for?” he said, listening to the jungle sounds growing louder around him. He was relieved when he saw his camp’s fire through the bush ahead.

“I am not sure but he was spying. Stop.”

Johnny stopped in his tracks. “What?”

She pushed the barrel of her rifle into his back. “Before we get to camp, I warn you not to try anything. I will find the diamonds with or without you.”

“The sooner I am rid of you the better. You get the diamonds and get out of here and leave me to my hunting. Ja?” He pushed through the bushes.

“Ja.”

Several native carriers were eating around a fire.

Johnny Eager walked into the camp and dropped his friend’s body onto the ground. “It’s just us weenies, fellows,”

“Well, if it ain’t Johnny Eager,” a familiar voice came from the edge of the camp.

“I should have known that where she is you wouldn’t be far behind, Kruger.”

The native headman started to move toward his weapon. Kapitain Kroger Kruger pulled out his pistol, a krugerand, and pumped four gold bullets into the headman. The native fell.

“Enough,” Johnny said.

Mati Hari walked over and put her arms around her comrade. She kissed him hard on the lips as Kruger watched the Eager Beaver.

“Darling, what took you so long?” she said.

“I had some business to take care of.” Kruger said.

“Now, Johnny,” she said, “you give me my package. We will give you your payment, then we are gone. In the morning.”

“Good riddance,” Johnny said. He walked over to his tent and went inside, picked out a map from his personal papers and went back outside.

“Here.” He handed the map to Mata Hari.

“What is this?” Kruger asked.

“Johnny, Johnny,” she said. “Where is our diamonds?”

“It’s a map to your diamonds,” Johnny said, the light glancing off his face. “You didn’t think I was going to leave those diamonds lying around for anybody to pick up, do you?”

Kruger’s half lit face looked at Mata Hari’s shadow. “It makes sense to me. Let’s get some sleep and we’ll dig them up the first of morning. We’re taking your tent for tonight, Eager. And don’t try anything. I am a light sleeper, ja.”

Just to make sure that nothing happened, Kruger tied Johnny and the carriers together. He tied them with knots that had knots and more knots. When he was sure they were secure, he joined Mata Hari for some r and r in the tent.

Early the next morning. the native carriers buried Karl and the headman into two deep holes that they had dug during the night. Johnny said a few words over each of the bodies and the carriers filled in the dirt. Then the three set out for the diamonds. Johnny leading, then Mata Hari with Kruger. The native bearers in the rear carried everybody’s stuff and grumbled about the black man’s burden.

Next Week: England learns about the sinking of the S S Twit and the loss of Lady P P.

Lady Wimpleseed-Prissypott 14: Where’s a Tarzan When You Need Him?

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.

Kwack!

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.”

Crack.

“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.