The Green Gorilla.
(Author's note: This is a re-working of a piece originally put out on WB by myself under a Nome-de-plume a couple of years ago.)
This one is absolutely dedicated to Ms Rosie Smith, the (older) thinking man's dream fantasy reviewer!
The Green Gorilla
There was once a giant green gorilla that talked. It stood ten and a half feet tall, its body covering was bright green all over, and it lived right in the middle of the jungle, right in the heart of darkest Africa. One day (no one really knows how) a famous great white hunter got to hear of the giant green gorilla that talked, and vowed to find it. This all took place a very long time ago you understand, long before wildlife conservation and safari parks and stuff like that was invented.
So the famous great white hunter organised a great expedition to go into the jungle which was much more extensive in those days than it is now to search for the giant green gorilla that talked. He had native bearers and a big tent, and cases and crates and boxes, even a mahogany thunder box (that's a portable sit-upon loo carried by two natives with long poles) plus a collapsible canvas shower cubicle. For weeks on end the famous great white hunter and all those native bearers hacked and slashed and tramped and plodded their way through the steamy hot jungle in search of the giant green gorilla that talked. It was very tiring work, and every night they all huddled around a camp fire excepting for the famous great white hunter who kept to his own private tent where he drank lots and lots of whiskey.
After a month and three-quarters they still hadn't found it. And the natives started getting restless. They complained that they felt nervous so far away from their village, and thought that finding the giant green gorilla that talked might bring some terrible mojo down upon them all. The famous great white hunter told them to behave as any well bred Englishman would behave, and drank even more whiskey.
Then suddenly early one morning in a small clearing right in the very centre of the jungle right in the heart of the Dark Continent, the giant green gorilla that talked stepped out from the trees right smack bang in front of them …!!! The natives were terrified! “B'wana! B'wana! It's the giant green gorilla that talks! Ayeeee …!” And flinging down their loads all at once, the whole lot of them turned and fled in a blind panic straight back up the very same track they had hacked out of the jungle to get thus far. Left alone to face the giant green gorilla that talked single-handedly, the famous great white hunter did what any well bred Englishman (back in those days) would have done. He shot it.
However, no sooner had he done so than he realised there was now a fresh problem. With the natives having all run away how was he to get the dead giant green gorilla that had talked back out of the jungle and thereby back to England to have it stuffed where it would then make him even more famous? In the end he could think of only one viable solution. So, taking a good firm grip on the late giant green gorilla that had talked's left ear, he dragged it all the way. It took him another month – and a dry one too because all the remaining whiskey bottles had got smashed when the native carrying the box they'd been in had flung it down along with all the rest.
Back in England nearly a year later and the giant green gorilla that had talked was finally ready for its great unveiling! Joseph Paxton's Crystal Palace up on the hill at Sydenham had been hired for the great event, and lots of very famous people were going to be present, including at least two past presidents of The Royal Geographical Society, Charles Darwin, Crown Princess Beatrice of Swabia, and possibly (though still to be confirmed) Isambard Kingdom Brunel. “This will make me even more famous than the King of Siam!” the already fairly famous great white hunter confidently told his young daughter Europa, who was ten. But oh dear ...! It was the ever observant young Europa herself who pointed to the stuffed giant green gorilla with a rather worried frown.
True, the taxidermist had done a fantastic job. The giant green gorilla looked every bit as bright and green and ferocious (all ten and a half feet of it!) as it had done the moment it stepped out into that jungle clearing almost a year before. But for the first time the famous great white hunter noticed something which he had somehow overlooked before. During the month long drag back out of the jungle it appeared that the bright green hair of the giant green gorilla's knee caps had become badly scuffed and in some places all but completely worn away altogether. Very unsightly. With the great unveiling due in less than two hours time there was not a moment to be lost!
The famous great white hunter pressed a brand new gold sovereign into little Europa's hand. “Go at once to the taxidermist's shop and get two new pieces of green fur big enough to cover the knees. We'll get the housemaids to sew them on directly, and no one need be any the wiser. Be as quick as you can!”
Young Europa darted down the Italian marble steps of the great town mansion, through the double iron gates with the stone lions set atop their pillars, and set off down the High Street. The Taxidermist Shop was at the farther end of it. On the way she would have to pass by The Doll's House Shop.
The Doll's House Shop was run by Mr Chuckles, who had a jolly, round, red face. He had just finished setting up a brand new pink and yellow doll's house - which he had received from his supplier in Ceylon only that very same morning - in pride of place right in the front of his shop window. Pink and yellow had always been Europa's most favourite colour combination. Despite the utmost urgency of her errand she slowed down. Then stopped altogether, turned around, and went back to take a proper look.
The little doll's house was just so exquisite! A hall, a drawing room, a dining room with two tiny little silver candelabras upon the table, even a little breakfast room! And family bedrooms with rugs and tiny little four poster beds upstairs, and even, yes, little hard wooden bunks for the servants high up in the unheated garrets! Just so perfect! And oh, but she'd give anything to own it!
The brass bell above Mr Chuckles' door tinkled as, despite herself, Europa entered the shop.
“That? That's nineteen shillings and eleven pence, madam,” jolly red faced Mr Chuckles beamed in answer to Europa's enquiry. Europa bit her lower lip, the gold sovereign feeling as if it were all but burning a hole through her tightly clenched hand containing it.
Mr Slider the taxidermist was a thin, sallow man with shifty eyes (Europa thought) and big, grey mutton chop whiskers. His counter was of bare, scrubbed wood. Carefully cradling the doll's house now wrapped in stout brown paper secured both ways by white string within the crook of her arm, Europa used her free hand to hold up the change she had received from Mr Chuckles.
“Please could you give me two ape knees for a penny?”
Copyright Terence Hugh Hazelton, 2009 and 2011
Published on writebuzz®:
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