“Two noble adventures strode deep into the heart of darkest Africa. Why would they brave this treacherous continent? How might their mettle be tested? What treasure lies in their path? When will they reach their breaking point? Who will rescue them from the brink of insanity? Where in the hedge are they?”
“Are you going to narrate our entire trip?” Woodruff asked.
“It’s likely,” Bob replied.
“A bird flew over Woodruff’s head and nearly pooped on him. Bob was not worried because of his wicked-sweet Panama hat that Woodruff foolishly mocked.”
“It doesn’t make sense to wear a Panama hat in Africa. You wear a Panama hat in South America,” Woodruff said. “And stop talking about yourself in the third person. And stop using the narratory voice.”
“Bob ignores his foolish friend and presses forward boldly through the dense jungle vegetation.”
“There’s no way of stopping this, is there?” Woodruff said.
“Nope,” Bob replied.
“The dangers of the rain forest are real and ever-present but these elect explorers eat danger for breakfast.”
“You had six waffles and a half can of sardines for breakfast,” Woodruff said.
“Fueled by desire…”
“And sardines,” Woodruff interrupted.
“…these heroes trekked where no one else dared.”
“We literally passed a bus load of tourist from Florida like an hour ago,” Woodruff said.
“Discovery was their byword and Adventure their middle name.”
“Your middle name is Carroll,” Woodruff scoffed.
“That’s a unisex name and everybody knows it, whispered the gallant gentleman explorer. Undaunted by the naysayers, this valiant voyager led them onward to destiny and to glory.”
“And mosquitoes,” Woodruff said as he swatted at the tiny insects in his face.
“I told you, you should have bribed that mosquito king in Kananga like I did,” Bob replied. “Haven’t had a bite since.”
“My integrity is worth more than a couple dozen bug bites,” Woodruff said, scratching at his arm vigorously.
“Suit yourself,” Bob said. “Usiniache mimi peke yake, mdudu!”
The swarm of mosquitoes parted and flew around Bob. As soon as he passed the swarm surrounded Woodruff.
“You don’t even know what you’re saying,” Woodruff said and swatted at the attacking mosquitoes.
“Like my granddad always said, if it ain’t bit don’t scratch it,” Bob replied.
Woodruff unleashed a torrent of bug spray on the swarm and the mosquitoes fled the humid confines of their dense jungle surroundings.
“He did not say that.”
“No one has ever said that.”
“Well, Mr. Smarterella, I just did, so there.”
Bob pushed aside a group of thick leaves to reveal a teeny tiny man carrying a bundle of sticks on his head. At the sight of Woodruff and Bob the little man dropped the bundle and ran back into the jungle.
“An African leprechaun!” Bob shouted.
“It’s a pygmy,” Woodruff correct.
“That’s offensive, Woodruff.”
“A pygmy is a term for an adult who is less than a meter and a half.”
“A meter, a barely know her.”
Woodruff stopped and shook his head. Several dark little men emerged through the bush, carrying spears. The tribesman surrounded Woodruff and Bob with the threatening spears pointed up at their torsos.
“Holy Websters!” Bob exclaimed. He put his hands in the air and Woodruff did the same as they moved to stand back to back.
“Easy there,” Woodruff said. “Friends. We’re friends.”
“Of course we’re friends,” Bob said.
“I was talking to them.”
“Unataka nini,” the diminutive leader spoke. He wore a colorful band on his head and arms.
“What did he say?” Bob asked.
“No idea,” Woodruff replied. “Try that thing you said to the mosquitoes.”
“Usiniache mimi peke yake, mdudu,” Bob said.
The pygmy warriors began shouting and thrusting their spears at Woodruff and Bob. Their little faces were contorted in anger as they yelled and spit.
“Take it back,” Woodruff said. “Say you’re sorry.”
“You’re sorry,” Bob replied.
“Not the time,” Woodruff said. They dodged the tips of the spears and kept their hands raised in surrender.
“What do we do?” Bob asked.
“Dunno,” Woodruff replied.
“Show ‘em your magic trick,” Bob said.
“What? Why?” Woodruff replied.
“You got a better idea?” Bob asked.
“Fine,” Woodruff said. “Does anyone have a quarter?”
The tiny warriors stopped growling and looked at one another.
“I’ve got a stale Vanilla Wafer from last week.”
“You told me there were no more Vanilla Wafers.”
“Do you want the cookie or not.”
“Fine, give me the wafer.”
Bob reached into the side pocket of his cargo pants and produced a small round cookie. Woodruff took the cookie and waved it around in the air in a showman like fashion. He and Bob turned in a synchronized circle so that all the little men could get a look.
“Watch carefully,” Woodruff instructed.
Woodruff brought his free hand over the cookie and quickly separated them to show the warriors his empty hands. A murmur rolled through the crowd. Woodruff reached over to the man in the colorful headband and placed his hand behind their leader’s ear. When he produced the cookie once more and displayed it for all to see, a shout rose up from the shocked audience.
“Tada!” Bob exclaimed.
Woodruff popped the cookie in his mouth and began to chew.
“It’s not stale at all,” Woodruff accused.
“Fine, I always keep cookies in my pockets,” Bob admitted.
“I knew it!” Woodruff said. “That explains why there’s always crumbs on your shirt.”
“I told you, that’s a dermatological issue.”
“More like a dessertatological issue.”
The tiny men, who had grouped together and lowered their spears, were watching Woodruff and Bob suspiciously.
“What do we do now?” Woodruff asked out of the corner of his mouth as he gazed down on the half-point hostage-takers.
Bob thought for a moment. “How about this?”
He pulled a piece of bubble gum from his cookie pocket and popped it in his mouth. After several seconds of chewing, Bob blew a big pink bubble the size of his fist. With a dramatic flick he pulled the bubble from his mouth and displayed it for the awestruck onlookers. Their leader, with the colorful headband, bowed himself to the ground and all his companions followed. They began chanting something neither Woodruff or Bob could understand.
“What’s happening?” Bob asked.
“I think they’re worshiping us,” Woodruff replied.
“What do you mean, maybe?”
“Well, this could go one of two ways…”
“Well, either they are worshipping us, like I said,” Woodruff began. “And we’re going to be taken back to their village, fanned with palm fronds, feast on their bounty and riches, and live out our days as gods. Or…”
“Or…?” Bob questioned.
“Or they’re praying to a pagan deity who requires human sacrifice,” Woodruff continued. “And they’re going to take us back to their village, rub us down with wildebeest lard, cook us, and eat us.”
“I’m allergic to wildebeest lard.”
“We’ve got to get out of here.”
“I don’t want to be rude,” Bob said.
“Are you kidding me?” Woodruff asked.
“What if we wait to see what lard they’re going to rub us down with first?”
“We need a distraction,” Woodruff said as the men rose up from their prostrated position. The pink bubble gum bubble in Bob’s hand popped and collapsed against his fingers. Bob hurled it over the sea of tiny heads into the bush.
“Run!” Bob shouted as the men turned to watch the pink blob fly through the air.
Woodruff and Bob turned around and plunged through the thick jungle vegetation. Woodruff turned around and saw Bob was also looking behind them.
“Are they coming?” Woodruff asked.
“No,” Bob replied. “And I think their little chief is eating my gum.”
They continued to run for several minutes until they were sure they had traveled to a safe distance. Woodruff raised his arms up, put his hands on his head and tried to draw in deep breaths. Bob doubled over and placed his hands on his knees while he panted at the ground. After their racing hearts calmed, they both turned and looked back the way they had come.
“Our heroic adventures barely escaped with their lives from the menacing jungle horde. Humbled, wiser but no better looking, because, seriously, how are you gonna improve on this action.”
Woodruff rolled his eyes. Bob reached into the side pocket of his cargo shorts, pulled out a Vanilla Wafer, popped it in his mouth and began to chew.
“Can I have a cookie?” Woodruff asked.
Bob’s eyes grew big as he sheepishly swallowed the masticated wafer. “That was my last one. Scout’s honor.”
He crossed his heart and covered the opening to his cookie pocket with his other hand.