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The World is a Jungle

by Gabriel Timar

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Book Four: The Real Jungle

Trousers and a Buffalo

Gabriel Timar recounts stories and anecdotes from his family history and his adventures around the world. Some of the names, dates and places may have been changed, but the essence is a true memoir.

Duke took me to Jeff’s office. “Gabriel needs a rest. Can you take him hunting?” he asked.

“Of course, Brunhilde is coming next month for a week, and I am taking Heidi out, too. By that time, Gabriel’s new guys will be here and he can take a little rest,” Jeff said.

“I don’t know,” I said.

“Nonsense,” Jeff snapped. “I’ll take you to the gun club and see if you can point a rifle in the proper direction.”

Next morning, after overcoming my initial nervousness, I hit the target accurately with the heavy Remington bolt-action rifle.

As we sat down for lunch in the Thorn Tree Café, Jeff said: “You shoot well. If you run out of engineering work, I’ll hire you as a hunter.”

In a couple of weeks, the new engineers arrived and I was much relieved. I set them up. The office was working like a well-oiled machine. Now I could accept Jeff’s invitation for a short hunting trip.

“It is only a week, but it will be exciting, I guarantee you,” he said.

“Who is coming?”

“The client is Brunhilde, the wife of a German sausage baron. She looks like the Valkyrie, six feet tall, very well proportioned and an excellent shot. Her husband regularly comes to Kenya on business. While he talks sausage in Nairobi, and unwinds in the company of a variety of Kikuyu and Somali ladies of easy virtue, he unloads Brunhilde on me for a week of hunting. This time, she wants to shoot a buffalo.”

After meeting Brunhilde and Heidi, Jeff’s latest flame, we headed for the bush. As Heidi and Brunhilde were veterans of the hunting safari, for the amusement of the women Jeff explained the essence of the trade to me.

“In the hunting business, nobody uses air-conditioned house trailers, even though they would be most practical. You see such a camp would destroy the client’s illusions.”

“I love the tents,” Brunhilde said. “They are so romantic.”

“Yeah,” Jeff replied, “tents have many advantages. For example, I do not have to explain the ever-present cockroaches and the other bugs, because they go with the Great East African Plateau. Furthermore, in the tents, nothing drowns the sounds of the wilderness.”

“I remember Irving, my first hunter,” Brunhilde said. “He set up his hi-fi just outside my tent, and treated me to the original soundtrack of a Hollywood oldie, the Nabonga, which featured a built-in-the-studio jungle, sound effects, and a stunt man in a gorilla outfit. I recorded it and took it home, thinking I had the original sounds of Africa.”

“How did you discover the fraud?” Heidi asked.

“He made a mistake by leaving a few bars of the background music on the tape. I noticed it and I started the research. Although it cost me a few thousand marks, I had it nailed.”

“Did you ever confront Irving?” I asked.

“No, because by the time I came back, Jeff and his buddies had fixed his wagon.”

“We managed to have his license revoked. I understand he moved to Alaska and takes people hunting for polar bear,” Jeff said.

“He deserves it,” I added. “It is so cold there...”

We arrived at the camp and the ladies went to their tents to unpack. Jeff and I were sipping cold beer in the shadows.

“This camp seems familiar. I have seen it before,” I remarked.

“It is possible. Duke designed it. When we were at UCLA, he watched many movies related to hunting in Africa. He also visited the studios to learn about the filmmakers’ concept of a romantic hunting camp in Africa. This is it.”

“You certainly put a lot of thought into every detail,” I said.

“One has to, because the competition is fierce. I could build a more efficient camp, but this satisfies the expectations of my clients. Perhaps our romantic camp layout is the reason for the return business we get from the other side of the Atlantic. Let’s go and watch the ritual of the shower.”

It immediately clicked; I remembered Janet Leigh using the bucket on a bamboo stick used in the camp shower. Jeff had copied it from one of the hit movies! The parts of Brunhilde’s legs visible during the procedure compared favorably with many Hollywood stars present and past.

In the evening, we feasted on venison with iced wine.

In the morning, I killed my first game in Africa. It was a young Grant’s gazelle, and the steaks were excellent.

It took two days to find the proper trophy-quality buffalo. When we were ready to go out to shoot it, Jeff warned his client. “Look, Brunhilde, this is dangerous. Don’t worry, just stick to the plan; Gabriel and I are going to cover for you.”

We found the buffalo all right, and approached them on foot from downwind. When we were near enough, Jeff pointed at the place for Brunhilde to shoot from, and marked his position next to a stunted tree. He also selected a place for me.

“Listen, bwana,” he whispered, “don’t shoot unless Brunhilde misses and the buff is charging or running for the thicket. I don’t fancy going into the bush, dragging a wounded buff out by the tail and administering the coup de grâce at the feet of my client.”

I nodded.

Wading through the bush, we peeled off as we reached the spot selected by Jeff. I was to the right of Brunhilde. However, contrary to Jeff’s advice, the huntress suddenly changed her mind and decided to move in closer. By this time, Jeff was behind her. I saw him trying to work his way forward, but he was too far off to the left of Brunhilde.

Next, the lady stepped on a dry branch, which broke with a loud crack. This made the buff nervous, but instead of stopping and shooting, Brunhilde kept going. As she kept her eye on the buff, she tripped on something and fell. Her gun went off.

This was enough to upset the most complacent buffalo: the bull charged. By this time, Jeff was completely out of the picture, and the bull accelerated like a racing car at the starting line. I fired, bringing it down, and shot the thrashing buff a second and third time, to make sure.

By the time Jeff got there, the buffalo was stone dead, lying no more than three meters from the ashen-faced Brunhilde. She had twisted her ankle and could not stand up. Jeff and I had to carry her to the Land Rover.

That evening, we consumed several whiskies, and somehow Brunhilde ended up under my mosquito net. It was a pleasant surprise, and I had no reason to complain. To preserve her reputation, she happily limped back to her own tent around five in the morning, inadvertently wearing my trousers. She blushingly returned the item after breakfast.

Copyright © 2009 by Gabriel Timar

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