Lady Wimpleseed-Prissypott # 27: Land of the Deadski

Previously, at the urging of Haggismarshe’s butler, Benjamin Patrick Nutt, the ghostest with the moistest, leaves the Manor House. He rides his horse to the Realm of the Dead to find out if Lady P. P. is indeed deceased. In other words, will she be around for more adventures?

Before B.P., thousands of spirits lined up for their assignment in the Great Hall of Mother Death, a parade of souls hoping for the best. Some returned to the world of humans and houses to haunt. Some would be flung out into outer darkness for the gnashing of teeth that was their reward. Some would get a rerun as another earthly being, maybe a human being, maybe an animal. Some went on to the Light and the Beyond. Above each spirit was a sign acknowledging where they died. The spirits moved forward.

B.P. began his inquiries with a howdy here, a howdy there. He stopped and conversed with each group of ghosts. “We’re from Transylvania. Vampired. Bite didn’t take, damn it,” one group said. “I was bit by a werewolf. I bit him back,” one spirit said. “A lion had me for lunch.” “Fox hunting, the fox spooked my horse.” “Boat sank.” “Bird shat on me.”

“Died in my bed,” one whispered, hoping only B.P. would hear.

“Lucky bastard,” a number of the others did a synchronized shout.

One spirit from the dark jungles of Africa relayed the following story: “I was with this woman in a cave. The sexiest damned woman I ever encountered. Name of Mata Hari. I gave her the bag of diamonds she came for, took her in my arms, kissed her hard on the lips, saw this flash at the entrance, pulled my gun and shot her partner. Not once, but twice. Her partner, a fellow called Kaptain Kroger Kruger, dropped dead.

“Then I felt this pain in my gut. She pulled the knife out of me, then she drove it like a stake into my heart. Always knew how much she loved to stick it to people but I didn’t think it would happen to me. After all, when you have the charm of a Johnny Eager, women just can’t resist. Damn, can you pull this thing out of me?”

B.P. grabbed the hilt. He had been through this before. It took super-human strength to get the ten arrows out of him. He pulled. He pulled. He pulled and felt the knife move ever so slightly. He jerked hard. The knife came out, and whish. It disappeared.

“Thanks, man,” the man with the tale said. “By the way, my name is Johnny Eager. In your travels, you haven’t seen my Norwegian sidekick, Karl Lutefisk, have you?”

“Can’t say that I have? When did he die?”

“Weeks before I bit the dust,” Johnny Eager said.

“Then he won’t be here. These are the ones that died the day you did. He has passed on to his assignment.”

“Darn, I was hoping to see him one last time. Would have meant a lot to me. By the way, why aren’t you in line in this parade of parades? Since it’s a parade, I was wondering when we would get uniforms. Always did like uniforms.”

“No uniforms,” B.P. said. “I have already received my assignment. Been there one hundred and fifty years already.”

“Then why would you come to this place again? It’s kind of spooky, don’t you think? Oh no, what is this stuff?” Johnny looked down at his gut. Green gook was pouring out. “Man, how do I stop these runs?”

“Grab the ether on either side of the wound and pull it together. You have to hold it that way for quite some time for it to heal. Unless you go on to the light and then beyond. Then it’s poof and you’re healed. I came back here on an urgent errand. My mistress has disappeared. I am here to find out whether she survived a shipwreck or died. Oh, there it is. Up front. The shipwreckees are next to reach the Assignment Desk. Got to go.”

Johnny Eager pinched his gut together and stopped the green gook. B. P. hurried to the sign written in flashing neon, “S. S. Twit.”

“Next,” the spook at the Assignment Desk called out to the Twit group.

The first to move forward on the conveyer belt was the captain of the steamship, Captain Pedro San Cristobel. A hook grabbed him and flung him into the outer darkness. Suddenly he was falling.

“You abandoned ship,” Assignment Guy said and stamped his papers.

One by one, each of the passengers and crew were pulled forward. One by one, each was sent on his or her assignment. The belt drew Wongway Wongway to the Assignment Desk. A. G. looked up from his Book of Assignments and at the ship’s pilot with a quizzical look on his spooky face.

“What are we to do with you, Wongway Wongway?” A. G.asked. “What are we to do with you? It has been an eternity since I have seen someone like you. Your whole life you couldn’t do anything right. Your karma kept messing up your karma with one thing after another.

“Then it wasn’t my fault,” W. W. said.

“Your spirit has always been like this. You escape prosecution because it really isn’t your fault. You keep going back. Then you’re back here at this desk. One hundred, two hundred, three hundred times your spirit has been through this. If I send you back, it won’t matter. You’ll screw things up again. If I send you on to the light and then beyond, you will force the light to go out. We haven’t had one of you in a long stack of forevers. We can’t afford it. If we send you back for a haunting, nope. I can’t take that chance. You’ll disturb all those there already. What are we going to do? Step aside. We’re going to have to give this one some thought. Once the once-over is over, we’ll know what to do.”

Smythie Smathers, Crepe Suzette, Sgt Mack Truck, Studdley Duddley, Pipsqueak Pimplesquat, all pulled forward for their due. Each sent on their way to do the cosmos’ business. The sign “S. S. Twit” disappeared into the abyss and finally B. P. reached the Assignment Desk.

“Was there a Lady Marye Caterina Wimpleseed-Prissypott on the manifest?” he asked A. G.

“You know I can’t reveal that, Young Man,” A. G. answered, staring at his next group’s manifest. “It’s strictly against regulations. We cannot break the Second Amendment of the Fourth Addendum.”

B.P. gave him a questioning look.

“You know, the Privacy Addendum. Now out of the way. Next.”

B.P. looked sad, very sad. His head hung in resignation. What was he going to tell his fellows? They would be howling, running amuck for centuries, driving all human occupation away from Haggismarshe Manor House. Eventually the house would be cursed by the Higher Ghostess With the Mostest. Into outer limbo, they would go. To howl, scream and run amuck forever. Oh, the pain. If a ghost could have shed tears, B.P. would have shed tears.

“Can I help you?” a short man with Chinese features called. Yet they weren’t Chinese. They were Oriental, yet not Oriental.

“I am afraid not,” B.P. said. He turned toward the conveyer.

“I think I can help you,” the short man with the ambiguous features said.

“How?” B.P. looked at the short man afraid to hope.

“You are looking for someone that was on the S. S. Twit?”

“I am.”

“I was on the S. S. Twit,” Wongway Wongway said. “It was my fault the ship sank. I was the ship’s pilot. Who are you looking for?”

“No. You can’t be the ship’s pilot.”

“I certainly was. Who are you looking for? I met everyone in the group.”

B.P. stood beside the conveyer belt, its passenger sliding behind him. There was hope, lots of hope in his ghostly slots that used to be eyes. He couldn’t believe what would have been his ears if he had ears. He didn’t, of  course. Ghosts don’t have ears. “She is Lady Marye Caterina Wimpleseed Prissypott of Haggismarshe. She may also be known as Viscountess dat Renalla-Macedoni, Marye Caterina Olgastoya. Everybody calls her ladyship Lady P.P. She also has the nick of Double M and her maiden name is Mary-Mary Smith. Have you seen her? Did she go down with the ship?”

“Hmmmm,” the spirit Wongway Wongway thought, then said, “The name is familiar. But no, she did not go down with the rest of us. She was not with the group that went down with the S. S. Twit. Somehow she escaped. She was only one of two out of one hundred and fifty souls. The other, the internationally famous Tootles “The Tootler” Tootle Lou. Somehow she sang her way out of that disaster.”

A. G. looked over at Wongway Wongway. He curled his finger and beckoned the pilot over to him.

“We are sending you into the Light and Beyond.” A. G. smiled, his faith in the System restored. The System had never failed him before, and it had not this time. “Your help for our ghost friend there, that reveals that you have a compassionate heart. It seems that the cosmos has done you an injustice by saddling you with your ill fortune. Whatever your past, you are ready for the Light and the Beyond.”

Wongway stepped through the door, into the light, and was gone, none of his soul lingering behind. The Cosmos had decided to test him and he had passed that test. Wongway Wongway was on the other side of the Beyond and Beyond.

Assignment Guy pointed his finger at the ghost from Haggismarshe Manor. “Now go.”

B.P. fell through the floor of the Assignment Room and into the saddle on Paul Revere’s back. The horse’s feet touched down onto the plank. He walked between the raindrops. B.P. showed his pass before the invisible wall. It divided. On the other side, the ghosts and the servants waited for him. They saw the big smile on his apparition, and they knew. It was the happiest news. Lady Marye Caterina Wimpleseed Prissypott of Haggismarshe was alive, perhaps alone and injured somewhere, but alive. Yes, she was alive.

Next Week, Barcelona or Bust.

Advertisements

Lady Wimpleseed-Prissypott 25: More trouble in the jungle

Previously the Ghosts of Haggismarshe found out that Lady P. P. had disappeared. She was possibly dead.

Back in the jungle, the night was one enormous sound, so loud that Mata Hari and Kruger could barely sleep. So loud that the noise was enough to scare the cojones off Kruger if he had cojones. But all those lion and tiger and elephant sounds were the romanticism of the jungle for Johnny Eager. It was his song.

Early the next day, the three were up and setting out for the diamonds. Mata Hari in the lead, taking directions from Johnny Eager on which way to go, then Johnny and Kruger following with the native carriers in the rear.

To say that the trail to the diamonds had curves would be the same as saying that Mata Hari had curves. Of course, the woman had curves and what curves she had. Johnny Eager had seen curves on other women. Mata Hari’s put all those curves to shame. Johnny watched her curves wiggle their way along the curves of the jungle trail.

Kaptain Kroger Kruger shoved his krugerand up Johnny’s caboose. “On, you huskey,” the cold steel intimated. So, on the party trekked their trek. Even with the map, it would have been hard to find the diamonds. Without Johnny, it would have been impossible. The map was only the first half of a puzzle. The second half was in Johnny’s brain. He was the only one who could interpret the map and find the diamonds.

It was a long way to Temporary where the gems were hidden. A long hard way indeed. This was one of those times that the Eager Beaver was not eager. Johnny was in no hurry to get to those diamonds.

On and on, the company marched, negotiating their way through the flora and fauna, the massive overgrowth and all the other jungle stuff that you might expect to find in a jungle. On and on, they marched down the long and winding road and up the yellow brick road, following trails that had not been followed since following began. They caught up with Terry Cognito and Terry N. Cognito, the Cognito twins, and passed them by. The native carriers followed, singing their national anthem “One Ton of Tomatoes” to the tune of “Guantanamera”.

The group managed to slip through the country of the Kwabanzi and avoid the tribal war with the Jujus, a war that had been going on for at least one hundred years. They missed Stanley and his I-presuming encounter with Doctor Livingston.

The party bypassed the territory of Tarzan. They were not interested in a close encounter with the notorious Ape Man. Sometime back, Jayne had divorced him and returned to England. “He’s never home,” she complained. “Boy and Cheetah need a father. He’s always gone somewhere, swinging on those damned vines. He knows I can’t keep up. But he does it anyway.” She took old Tar for everything he had, including the tree house he built in the middle of the jungle. She had rented it out and gone back to England for a decent English life.

In his loneliness, Tarzan was now on his third marriage. You really don’t want to know about his second marriage. Besides it was annulled. But this third marriage was not working out any better than the other two. The new bride, everybody said, had the face of a gorilla. That was because she was a gorilla. And she had old Tar on a short lease. He was getting a bit fed up. If he wanted a boss, he would have stayed with Jayne. These days he was plain peeved and a peeved Tarzan was not a pleasant fellow to come into contact with. So, the company went out of their way to avoid his territory.

When they came to the famous Victoria Falls, they stopped to admire the scenery. “One heck of a falls,” Johnny pointed out. While there, they stopped in for some grub at the Restaurant at the End of the Galaxy. It was a restaurant all Africa knew about.

“Time to go, ja,” Mata Hari said, touching the pistol at her side, a Wise & Heimer .45. They left the restaurant, stuffed to the gills if they had been fish. Of course, they weren’t fish but they were still stuffed.

On they trod. Through the kingdom of the Suk of Sukatash. Past several posts of the French Foreign Legion. They encountered potentates potentating. The journey was enough to make Mata Hari regret the evil work she had gotten herself into. If only she could relax. After all, it was the style to spend a while on the Nile. But on they went. Until one day, Kruger had had enough.

“I have had enough,” Kaptain Kroger Kruger said, pointing his krugerand at Johnny Eager’s heart.

“Oooo, you’ve had enough,” Johnny said. “You’ve had enough? I have had enough. You and your krugerand stuck in my back all this way. I am getting tired of it.”

“If we do not arrive soon,” the kaptain said, “I am going to start seeing that my bullets arrive in a place where the stars don’t shine, capeesh?”

“Boys,” Mata Hari said in her best Mae West accent. “We’ve come this far. Let’s not fight. I like my men alive and kicking. As I always say, it’s not the men in my life. It’s the life in my men, big boys.”

Johnny knew he couldn’t keep the charade up much longer. If he didn’t show them the diamonds, he would be a ding-dong-daddy and he’d be dead. The one thing Johnny knew was that he did not want to be dead. In his book, dead was not a good thing. Not a good thing at all.

Besides the soles of his boots were wearing thin. He needed a new pair of boots, preferably black and shiny. The ladies all loved black and shiny boots, and Johnny loved the women. He was tired of this cat and mouse, and he was ready for that new pair of boots. The worst that could happen: he would be dead. And he didn’t plan on being dead. At best, he would get his money, then he would buy his new boots.

“Alright,” Johnny said. “I will show you where the diamonds are. There’s one thing though.”

“I knew my krugerand would konvince you,” Kaptain Kroger Kruger kommented.

“It was not your gun,” Johnny said. “It was my boots. I need new boots. My feet are killing me. And I want this ridiculous trek over. So, what about it? Will you go along with my deal?”

“It is possible,” Mata Hari said, studying his eyes, studying for a trick. “What is your offer?”

“I will show you where the diamonds are. Kruger, you can’t come along.”

“Why should I go along with that deal?” Kruger said.

“Ja, why should he go along with that, Johnny?” Mata Hari said.

“Because you’ll never get the diamonds,” Johnny said. “I will never tell you.”

“I will just shoot you up until you tell us,” Kruger pointed his krugerand at Johnny’s leg. “And I will start with your third leg. How would you like your wiener to be schnitzelled ? Then there would be no Johnny for the ladies, ja?”

“Go ahead, Kruger.” Johnny reached over and grabbed the barrel of the krugerand and pointed it at his package. “Go ahead. I will guarantee you will not get the diamonds. Capeesh?”

“Hold it, Kroger,” Mata Hari interjected. “He means it. He would let you blow off his wiener rather than tell you. I say we agree to his offer.”

“You’d better listen to the lady.” Johnny smiled at Kruger.

Kruger shoved his gun into his holster, then stared at Johnny. “I don’t trust him.”

“Well, I don’t trust you either,” Johnny said.

“We will do it your way, Johnny,” Mata Hari said. “But no crossing doubles.”

“No double cross,” Johnny agreed. “You make sure you have my money ready when we come back.”

“If you cross us, I will hunt you down,” Kruger said, “and you will die a horrible death. I know things and I shall use those things on you.”

“It’s a deal,” Johnny said. “Get your gear, Mata. We’ve got a bit of a walk to take.”

Johnny Eager and Mata Hari gathered up a canteen and some beef jerky. “Let’s go,” Johnny said.

The two of them walked out toward the morning sun. They had a half day’s hike out into the open, then up a hill and into a cave. That was where the diamonds were. Johnny was hoping her greed would help him pull off what he was hoping to pull off.

But why were these diamonds Johnny Eager had hidden in a cave in the heart of Africa, why were they important.? Well, they were extra special diamonds. And they were purchased for an extra special purchase. Johnny Eager had only been the middleman, transporting them from a Boer in South Africa to Mata Hari.

Mata Hari belonged to an organization known as the Wah Wah League. The Right Reverend Henry Wah Wah formed the organization as a way to enforce his anarchist theories. He recruited a few hundred anarchists to join him in an effort to bring down governments everywhere.

Through the use of terrorist tactics, the governments would eventually yell “ouch,” and give Henry Wah Wah what he and the Wah Wah League wanted. Unfortunately the Russians discovered the Right Reverend in Moscow and executed him. However, and there’s always a however in these sorts of stories, his reign of terror was not over. Two of his disciples took over the leadership of the league. They were Mata Hari and The Mighty Paddington, the Iranian Cubist Assassin.

The two had changed his strategy. Now they were out to turn governments against each other, then those states would go to war. In achieving this, they were using WMD, Weapons of Mudpie Distress. They were assassinating with mudpies.

Their henchmen gave leaders of countries mudpies in the face. The victims died of embarrassment. When someone said that a politician got a pie in the face, they meant he really got a pie in his face. This tactic worked on leaders of state everywhere save one place. The United States of America. Everybody hit with a pie died from embarrassment but not the Americans. Nothing embarrassed them. Nada. As Buffalo Bill often told his audience, “That’s show business.”

What do diamonds have to do with mudpies? They were special diamonds produced especially for mudpies. I know, dear Reader, you think I am making this up. But ’tis true, ’tis true. In a ceremony created by the Right Reverend, he ground up these special diamonds into the mud.

Once they were ground up in the mud, he baked an especially potent mudpie that really embarrassed folks. The diamonds provided a solvent that glued the mudpie to the victim’s face. The only way to get it off was plastic surgery.

Several months earlier, the league had used up their last diamonds. They had ordered a new batch and Johnny Eager was hired to pick them up. Mata Hari was supposed to get them from him and take them to the league’s headquarters in Barcelona. Johnny Eager and Mata Hari stood on a hill overlooking a savannah.

“The diamonds are here, ja?” Mata Hari smacked her lips in anticipation. “My package is here.”

“There are packages and there are packages, Mademoiselle.” Johnny smiled at her greedily. “You sure are one hell of a package. No reason we can’t trade packages. I will give you mine and you can give me yours.”

Then he turned and walked up the side of the hil. She followed him into the dark heart of a cave. Johnny reached over and grabbed the woman by the waist and took her in his arms. He kissed her hard. She kissed him hard. Their bodies met. Then she pushed him away.

“Where are my diamonds? If you don’t give me my diamonds, I will kill you myself.”

Johnny loosened his hold on her. He walked further into the dark and returned minutes later. In his hand, he held a bag of diamonds. He also held a gun. She reached out to him. She felt both packages, one of gems, another cold hard steel.

“Man, I love your packages,” she said, taking the diamonds, moving the gun out of the way. She leaned over and kissed him. Kissed him hard. Her body close to his. His body close to hers.

“Let’s do it, Johnny,” she whispered into his ear. “And let’s do it with a verb.”

He wrapped his arms around her and the two lit up the cave with their passion.

Then Johnny pushed her body aside, raised his cold steel revolver and fired.

Next Week: A ride to the other side and back again.

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.