Attached to Animals
by Edward Burger
part 1 of 2
I was taken to a small enclosure and tied against an emu. We were tied facing each other, chest to chest. It was a bizarre experience. The emu kept bobbing its head, trying to get a better look at me, trying to get its head far enough away so it could work out what was going on. A lot of tussle went on, though in the emu’s favour. I was half lifted, half dragged, as it ran backwards around and around the enclosure.
Then my back was tied to the chest of a gorilla, and every time it beat its chest, it pummelled my chest instead. After a while I became insensitive to the pummelling — so much pummelling must have toughened my skin — and I got into the habit of hollering all the time.
Did I mention that this gorilla was mute? Well, I became the gorilla’s voice. Whenever there was a confrontation with another gorilla, my gorilla would pummel my chest and I would holler as loud as I could. My hollering did seem to have an effect on our opponents. All that pummelling made my voice really reverberate. I sounded just like Tarzan.
And then I was tied to the chest of a crocodile. It was very frustrating for the poor thing. It couldn’t reach me with its mouth and couldn’t even touch me with its claws; its belly was so slippery, I simply moved aside whenever the claws came near. But I did get forced underwater for long periods and near drowned on several occasions. I also received bad gravel-rash.
The worst instance occurred when an antelope was crossing a river. My crocodile was basking high up on the riverbank, lying on top of me, when it saw this antelope; first the crocodile spun around, grinding some very sharp stones into my flesh, and then it made a crazy dash for the water. I was cut up so bad I actually relished having the antelope’s warm blood and guts spilt over my wounds.
Then I was tied to the chest of a squirrel, and because I had become accustomed to being dragged around by whatever animal I was tied to, I just lay there. The squirrel had a difficult time. It managed to pull itself across to my side till its forefeet could touch the ground, then it tried to drag me along. Its tiny paws scratched frantically at the ground. But not only didn’t it move me, but I would not have even noticed its efforts if not for the fact that it urinated on me.
Then I was tied to the chest of a snake, and it couldn’t go anywhere either — but it sure felt good when it tried. Then my luck changed. We happened to be lying beside a river when a water rat came out and the snake grabbed it. The snake gave it a fatal bite to the neck, then dragged it onto my face, stretched it’s mouth over the rats face, and proceeded to consume it.
It was a lengthy operation. Bit by bit the snake worked the rat further into its gullet. Slowly, the sopping wet rat was dragged over my eyes, nostrils and lips. I didn’t like having the rat’s wet fur on my lips. It was smelly, covered in grit, and infested with lice. What’s more, the snake kept belching. Whenever the rat moved further down its gullet, a horrid smell inundated my nostrils. It was most unpleasant.
And then I was tied to the underside of a St Bernard. It was one that was trained to rescue people who are stranded in the snow. Things were going alright until the whisky ran out. The St Bernard set off to find more and I became something of a snow plough as my head cut a path through the snow. It was a tiring journey for the dog who continuously drooled onto my face.
We came upon several innkeepers who each, no doubt, had barrels and barrels o’ whisky in store, but they paid us little heed because, I assume, they thought it was my responsibility to look after the dog’s needs. I tried to explain my predicament, but it’s hard to make an impression on someone when you’re under a dog.
* * *
A carpet decorated with leaves can be as dense as a forest floor. It can conceal all kinds of strange forms. Leaves sometimes bunch together to form what could be called a leaf-shoe. This is particularly the case when leaves bunch around a foot. I was walking through a particularly over-leafy carpet when I became so encumbered that I thought I was part of the carpet. I was at least able to see the carpet from a different perspective.
I felt, for example, that I was covered in more than just a single layer of leaves. The layers seemed endless. There were damp layers and there were crusty, brittle layers. Some leaves were so damp and soft that, with just the slightest wiggle of my toe, the leaf-fibre became unstuck from the veins and flapped around like a piece of loose skin. My toes and feet advanced through this forest of flapping skin, and my whole body followed suit. Then I came across a tiny leaf-insect, and it cut off my head.
This sort of thing has happened before. I frequently become embroiled with an animal in some form of intimate episode, and I am also always losing my head. Occasionally it happens that both occur within the same episode.
For instance, I once had my head bitten off by a shark; we had developed a loving relationship, yet we were a bit of a mismatch so we decided that the best thing to do was for the shark to bite my head off.
I also lost my head to a Tasmanian tiger, but I was rather confused at the time and I’m not sure if it really was a Tasmanian tiger, since they are supposed to be extinct. Then I had relationships with a group of penguins, a horse, and a (normal) tiger, but didn’t loose my head, but then I did lose it when it was symbolically chopped off by a murderer’s words.
When I lost my head to the leaf-insect, I didn’t know I had lost it at first, I was so covered in leaves. My entire body was covered in so many leaves that when the leaf-insect chopped my head off, I thought it had chopped off just a few leaves — until my head realised that it was no longer attached to my body.
What’s more, the back of my head had become stuck to the face of the leaf-insect. This was problematic for the leaf-insect because every time it wanted to eat, it was my mouth that got the food. Whenever it sensed food, it ran up to that food, yet my head always got in the way. My head got so well-fed that it grew a new body. And so it was that I regained my freedom, and I could walk around, except that I had a leaf-insect stuck to the back of my head.
So I got my old body and draped it over the insect in an attempt to conceal it, and I walked around like this for several months. But after a time the weight of my old body became a burden. Leafy veins spread over my face, my veins of blood became veins of chlorophyll, and slowly I lowered my face into a bowl of salad dressing, and the dressing seeped up between my layers, drawn inwards and flowing like a flood of water through an irrigation system. My head was crowned by a wreath of lettuce leaves and my brain was the heart of this lettuce, but it was also a paté, surrounded with salad, transformed by a flood of canalfed dressing into what could best be described as a very tasty dish indeed.
* * *
On another day, I was standing on the rim of a deep, narrow chasm. My toes were over the edge and I was swaying, dizzy from the height. I swayed forward, my eyes following the cliff-face down as it disappeared into darkness.
Slowly I looked up again and saw a tiger on the cliff-edge opposite. She was a large old tiger, and she was preparing to leap across. I was worried that she might not make the distance so I held out my hands, ready to catch her in case she fumbled.
Then she leapt. She flew right at me, grasped my chest with her splayed claws and then hung off me. She was dangling over the edge, unable to gain a foothold with her hind legs. I tried to pull her up but she was too heavy. So I descended into the chasm with my back against the cliff wall. I was hoping to find a ledge where the tiger could stand and unhook herself.
But our descent was slow and painstaking, and after several hours we still hadn’t come across a ledge. The further we descended, the darker and colder it grew. At least my lower regions were kept warm by the tiger’s breath. The tiger was motionless. She appeared to be in shock, so I spoke to her in soothing tones and hummed sweet lullabies.
But the weight of her claws had stretched the flesh of my chest. What if my flesh couldn’t hold out till we found a suitable ledge? What if there was no ledge and we had to descend all the way to the chasm floor? My flesh could tear before we reached it and the tiger would fall to her death.
Copyright © 2006 by Edward Burger