2 Welcomed in triumph
A sense of eager anticipation had tingled in his loins .. since the news that the canoes had been spotted. A manly shape strung out between.
Like wildfire the joy had spread. With eagerness the village had emptied .. man, woman and child .. rushing excitedly to the riverbank. Hailing their return. Joyously welcoming the hunters’ triumph.
How many years had they languished in their shame? Because of that hated interfering fool, the apeman! Robbed of wealth. No longer feared. Their true greatness denied, the butt of the jungle’s laughter.
With his capture that all changed. With this revenge he was sending out the signal. The apeman was finished. The Nanoosa were on the rise again.
The foot pressing his face into the earth let up. Tarzan raised his head. Straining up to see his old rival towering over him. Looking like a cat that had got the cream of the milk. Nkonu didn’t object when scowling Tarzan started to push himself up, rising to his knees. He looked self-assured. Pleased with himself. Willing to grant his captive some slack. Looking like he could afford that gift.
But when a snarling Tarzan attempted to rise to his feet .. dared to go up on one knee .. a hand grabbed Tarzan by the scalp. A beefy warrior twisted his hand in Tarzan’s hair and wrestled him back to his knees. The riverbank broke out in loud ecstatic cries. The joyous sounds that Tarzan was hearing around him were not cries of welcome. They were jeers. Applauding that a humiliated Tarzan was being forced down to his knees. Made to kneel before their chief.
Behind Tarzan felt hands on his ankles. Binding them. He should have resisted. But he had greater concerns.
“What you up to, Nkonu?”
Tarzan had crossed paths with Nkonu a number of times. None of them good. This tribe was always up to something. Always something bad.
“What you dragged me here for?”
Nkonu retorted with a self-satisfied smirk. The smugness on his face could only get right up Tarzan’s nose. He growled.
“Don’t be like that, Tarzan. It’s been some time.”
Nkonu’s glistening eyes invited Tarzan to look about him. To see the cheering tribe assembled around the river bank. Everyone from the while tribe had come to see this prize piece of game brought back from the hunt.
“Look. Listen. They have missed you.”
He saw Nkonu open his arms. He watched as his eyes encompassed the tribe. Assembled on this river-bank to welcome Tarzan brought as their captive. His expression appealed to the cheering people strung along the river bank. A look that said, Tell him, how we have missed the apeman.
The jeers that erupted gave Tarzan his answer. He was hated here. The hatred behind those cries told Tarzan that Nkonu and his tribe were at one in this. He had this tribe eating out of the palm of his hand. No amount of defiance, jibing and challenging their chief was going to win them over on Tarzan’s side. Nkonu had his tribe licking out of his hand .. because he was giving them what them craved. Tarzan captive, helpless. A dead man. If Tarzan wanted to wriggle himself free .. there’d be no counting on winning this tribe over. To come out of this alive .. he’d have to come up with something else.
The best Tarzan got from his old rival was a shrug. A “you-see-how-it is” gesture. A “they’re loving this” look. A “seeing you return like this .. you’re making their day” smirk at Tarzan on his knees, bound hand and foot. Nkonu raised his smiling head to his tribe, acknowledging the jeers of hatred poured down on Tarzan from all sides.
A kick in his back surprised Tarzan. He couldn’t stop himself .. falling forward onto his front. His bound hands went out. To stop his face from smacking into the dirt. Another kick into his backbone .. Tarzan reacted instinctively .. he threw his hands forward .. trying to control his fall.
Hands were on Tarzan’s bound wrists .. pinning them down. A body landed forcefully on his back. Driving the wind out of him. Aware then of hands grappling on his legs. Lifting his lower legs. Rope had already been tied around his ankles. Desperate .. knowing he was being attacked from all sides .. Tarzan struggled back. But hearing a surge of laughter all around from the tribespeople. There seemed to be an untold number of men going for him. He was pinned down by the weight on his back. Maddened by desperation. But his struggles were getting him nowhere.
A hard smack in the back of his neck .. Tarzan bawled his surprise into the dirt. Hands on his lower legs .. he felt the ankles tied together .. his legs raised. Something being passed between his calves. Wood… A long pole. Pushed an endless long time between his bound lower legs. Passing up his back. In front of his head his hands were being lifted. That self-same pressure. The wooden pole being passed between his bound wrists. A long pole .. pushed through from his bound ankles .. along the length of his back .. passing through Tarzan’s wrists in front.
The weight peeled off him. The pressure of fighting hands let him go. The men sitting on his back had released him. The hands fumbling around his ankles had freed him of their grip. Tarzan made himself rise. He couldn’t. Pinned down. He tried to twist over. No chance.
He was skewered. Speared out on a long pole. His muscular body stretched out on a tree-length spit. Like a wild pig over the fire. Lying on his front. A pole running the length of his back. Shoved through his ankles .. pressing down on his back .. running through the wrists stretched in front of his head. A pig skewered on a stick.
Trapped. Tarzan tried to lift his head .. to see how he stood. He couldn’t. The pole up his back kept his head pressed down. He tried to twist. Tried again to roll on to his side. But he was impossibly constrained. A pole passed between his raised lower legs .. it travelled the length of his back .. it pressed his shoulders down .. it kept his face crushed into the dirt .. above his head the pole passed between his bound wrists. Skewered. A human sacrifice stretched out on a stick.
“You see, apeman …..”
The cheering had gone mad. Nkonu’s mockery broke through. Shouting down at Tarzan through this laughter and cheers. His smug voice added to the universal jeering.
“ .. how long they have waited ……”
Tarzan’s ears will filled with maddening ululating.
“How much they have waited. To have you back. For this.”