feet landed behind me.
was no need to turn around.
we were the only living people who knew where the cabin was.
Instead I stared at a snake that had wrapped
itself around the knob of a door made by good old British craftsmanship 100
snake, that symbol of ultimate evil, was on guard duty.
had rotted the wood so instead of risking a snake bite, I kicked the door off
its hinges. The snake quickly slithered toward me but changed course when the
man behind me growled.
went into the musty, cob-webbed cabin, me on two legs, the Duke of Greyminster
on all fours. A lizard darted past the rotting wooden toys on the floor and I
heard him gulp it down.
makeshift double bed that had a tarantula on it and finally faced him.
didn’t disappoint. The last time I saw him, during that interview that
kick-started the biography I would write, that would let the world know he was
real, he was dressed in the height of fashion circa 1970.
he was dressed as a Jungle Lord should be.
loin cloth. A knife in a scabbard hanging from a belt. A bow and arrows slung
across his broad shoulders.
he also looked more primitive than the figure painted on the covers of the
His hair was matted, and his gray eyes blazed
out of a mud and blood covered face. Scars criss-crossed his bronzed stomach,
chest and back.
the covers. He had the body of an Olympic swimmer even though he had 90 years
didn’t have access to the Eternity Root that grew in a part of the jungle no
white man or even African tribesman had penetrated.
the things unmentioned by Meridian Phillps in the novels. Because it wasn’t
necessary. Readers didn’t mind their fictional heroes
being permanently 30. Forever in their prime.
mind because this, along with tales of men the size of one’s thumb and lost
colonies of Roman centurions with lizard tails, made him seem a figment of
years of painstaking research to find out that the figure currently crouching
in front of me was the real ‘Wilde of the Jungle.’
take it you got my letter.”
he said in a clipped British accent that had an undertone of one only an
anthropologist could identify. “You have a wonderful economy with words.”
else would have not understood what I wrote:
“I found the crime scene.”
And that was where we were; in a
jungle cabin that a shipwrecked British family had built a century before.
take it the book isn’t going well,” the Jungle Lord said.
Writer’s block. But not the usual kind. I haven’t run out of words. It’s a
matter of whether to include this and shatter people’s illusions about you,
especially those who believe in you, or leave it out and let you remain the
romantic noble savage of Meridian Phillips books.”
pulled out a cracked leather-bound book with yellowed pages peeking out.
knew what it was. He paled underneath his deep tan, and growled and retreated
on all fours like a cornered cat.
rumors were true,” he said in a whisper. He swallowed hard.
“Yes. Your father hid it well. And it made it
into your creator’s hands but not until the 8th novel."
looked at one of the wooden toys. It was a ship, and you could barely make out
the Union Jack painted on it.
“Did he know you were real before he wrote the
the Jungle Man said. “My friend, in his cups, told him the story the British
government tried to keep quiet.”
not all of it.”
I met Phillips once and liked him too much to tell him what was necessary to
survive in the jungle.”
gestured at the bed.
happened here was not about survival.”
didn’t seem to hear me. He was looking out of the doorless frame into the
thought they were apes,” he said, smiling in a way that was the closest he
would come to looking nostalgic.
father drew them in the diary. They were closer on the evolutionary scale to
humans, rather than apes.”
They were what you Yanks call ‘Bigfoot.”’
felt in the back of my khaki pants to make sure the pistol was still there. I
gave myself less than half a chance of surviving this.
I had to go through with it.
was still gazing out of the cabin into the jungle.
probably extinct now. I tried not to love them. To see them as simply my
gray eyes blazed at me.
didn’t have to go through what I did! I wasn’t an infant as Phillips wrote in
the first novel. Had I been, the Kregahs would have eaten me on the spot.”
actually. Daddy started on me when I was six. I think he would have eventually
resumed our ‘relationship’ after the shipwreck. Away from the eyes of my
mother, of course, even though she once came upon us in the dining room of the
castle with me bent over a table. It was only a matter of time before he took
me into the bush.”
then the Kregahs came when I was outside the cabin, and I gladly took to the
trees with them.”
left my parents alone for 6 months. And then when they gave up looking for me
and yet felt nice and safe, we came back.”
body started itching. I wanted out of there because I had read what happened
next in his father’s diary.
“Why your mother?”
eyes seemed to flash red for an instant.
didn’t try to stop it! She would rather let him keep at me than get me away from
his groping hands and risk the scandal of being a divorcee.”
dear old Dad left me a legacy. I had developed a taste for what we did, albeit
I wanted to be the one doing the thrusting, and the male Kregahs and later the
warriors in the African tribes were more or less happy to oblige.”
took his knife out of the scabbard. It was whittled thin from age and constant
use. I guess he was sentimental about it even though it was his father’s
to suffer. So the best way was to make him watch. As we dragged what was left
of her out of the cabin and into the bush, I saw that his mind had snapped. He
was cackling and drooling in the corner.””
the cabin and somehow knew which corner it was.
wanted him to
live with the memory of what we did to her. I gave it a year and then when I
came back the son of a bitch had shot himself. He died with a strange smile on
out why until I learned about the existence of his diary after someone found
it. The Kregahs, with their limited intelligence, later told me they saw white
men go into the cabin and carry away a book.”
I tossed him the diary. What the hell. It
wasn’t like I would be walking out of here, pistol or not.
killed him that day and not let him live for a while. During that time, his
sanity, or whatever you want to call it, came back enough for him to write
about what happened to his wife. It’s all there. In cold print.”
out my gun and shot him when he smiled and licked his lips.
His eyes gazed at the bed.
“Did Philips know?”
“Not at first. As
I said, he didn’t get a hold of the diary
until the 8th novel. That was why he killed himself. Because you were nothing
like the heroic image Phillips presented to the world.”
His knife was now pointed
I had mere seconds left,
but I had to know.
“Did you eat your
dead father also?”
“Just his heart. I
left the rest for the Kregahs.”
“Was he your last
“Oh no,” he
said, grinning. “But you will be the latest in
a long line of them.”
He launched himself at me
had the gun out, fired and missed.
Capshaw is a writer
based in Florida. His novel, The
Stage Mother's Club, came out in
June from Dark Edge Press. Here is the link: