Publication date: 13 March 2020
The below story is one which touches on monkey wrenching and which, it so happens, is set in the same year that Hayduke Lives! was being penned. The story was written by the author when he was nine or ten years old for a school project on the rainforest of Brazil. It was originally titled 'To the Heart of the Amazon' and it is reproduced here with minor edits.
The story leaves many unanswered questions, such as why a native New Yorker thinks in metric units and appears to be so fond of British words like 'blimming', or why a free-thinking adult seems to be bound to the idea of a fixed lunchtime as if he was still at school. The author can be forgiven, though, for the ecological inaccuracy of having a gorilla living in the New World. He was obsessed with these animals and therefore took any opportunity he could to write about them.
The story ends rather abruptly, suggesting that the young author had not started on it until the last possible minute. Plus ça change…
It is June 6th 1989. The heat is overpowering in the Brazilian rainforest yet it is raining. I have come down from the States from my home city of New York to stay for a bit. I am a scientist studying this rainforest for new species of animals and plants.
I will just park my Land Rover. I think I've seen something. I'll take a cutting off this plant and take it back to the laboratory in Kiw Au.
I'm about three kilometres from Kiw Au but I'm just outside the only other civilization for miles around, a town called Ca Ouri. So while I'm here I might as well go and have a look around Ca Ouri.
I think this is the only way into Ca Ouri. It is such a narrow road. I hope I don't meet anyone coming the other way. This road is much worse than an American farm track and it's much thinner. It's a wonder I haven't met anyone coming the other way. Ah, what's that in the distance? I think it's a market.
This place is so strange. There aren't any cars here and everyone's walking. In this market the stalls are totally different to the ones in the US. Ah, the vegetable stall. I need potatoes and carrots for my casserole tomorrow. Next, the meat stall. Chicken is all I need here I think.
Right, that's just about everything. I'll go and find out whether they've got a pub in Ca Ouri. There's some kids playing on my car. "Oi, you get off!" They won't get off. I'll just have to get into the car and drive away.
This looks interesting. The sign says La Ca Ouri Bar. That obviously means 'the local'. There isn't a car park anywhere. I'm beginning to think that they don't have many cars in the rainforest.
I'll just park my car here. This pub door's a bit hard to open. It's blimming locked. I might as well go home now. I'll remember not to go to that pub again. Well at least nobody's playing on my car this time.
It's getting a bit dark now so I better hurry. Six forty-five – is that the time? I thought it was about five o'clock.
I'm back at my hotel at last. I think I will go and settle down in my bedroom and have a nice meal and go to bed.
A great discovery
It's nearly breakfast time. I better be going downstairs once I've got my camouflage suit on. I think I'll have guavas and manioc bread, an Amazon Indian tradition.
Today, I'm going out exploring the forest near the river and that's what I need the camouflage suit for. I will need some binoculars as well. I'll just go upstairs to get my pair. I'm probably going out for quite a long time so I will need a packed lunch to take with me. They sell one here so I might as well buy it now. It was dark last night coming home, but today I'll be able to admire the scenery. I will stay on the Kiw Au side of the bridge because there wasn't anything special about the other side, by Ca Ouri.
The first thing I noticed when I came to the rainforest was the height of the trees. They're about fifty metres tall.
It's around eleven o'clock now so I will do a little bit of exploring, and then I will have my lunch. First I will go to see Scorpion Swamp.
The swamp is massive. It's about a kilometre wide and I can only just see the other side through my binoculars. I don't think I'm staying for long as I've seen some crocodiles that look very vicious. Next I will go and see the river by the bridge. It's about a three kilometre drive and it's half past eleven so I will have to be quick as it will be lunchtime soon.
There are some nice tropical fish in the river and some piranhas. Also, there's a parrot flying above me. I think it's trying to tell me to drive away quickly – there's some danger coming. I better do what it says, but how can it talk?
That was a close shave. It is lunchtime now. I've got a green banana (I don't particularly want that), some type of fish sandwich, and some sort of herby thing. There's a monkey coming towards my car. Perhaps it'll want my banana.
"What did you say?"
"I said thank you."
"But monkeys can't talk."
"This one can."
"Are there any other animals who can speak?"
"Well, just about everyone can speak, but only the parrot and I can speak in your language."
"How many of you are there in total?"
"Well, there's seven in our group."
"Can I go and see them?"
"Well, I don't see why not."
"Where are they, then?"
"Just over here. Come on!"
"It must be paradise here."
"Well, yes, there's everything you could possibly want."
"And it's so quiet, isn't it?"
"Well, not exactly."
Meeting the animals
"What can possibly be wrong with the rainforest?"
"Well, it's a long story. It all started years and years ago when people came here to chop down the trees for timber and to clear the land. The Brazilian rainforest started to rapidly decrease and now all that's left are little blobs."
"But surely you can do something?"
"You must remember that we're only animals. We can't just go up to some stranger and ask them to help. This is why we need you to help us."
"Me! Why? Can't you go and get somebody else?"
"Like who for instance?"
"I suppose I'll have to help you. But how?"
"Well, we'll need to call all the other animals around for ideas. Plus it's better to work in a team, I say.
"My name is Mogo, by the way. What's yours?"
"I would like to introduce you to Pippa the Parrot, the only other one who speaks the human language. John, this is Pippa. Pippa, this is John."
"How do you know how to talk so much of our language?"
"We picked it up from the people who are destroying our land."
"Well, I think that we better call a few more animals and then make a plan. Pippa, you go with John and get Gussie the Gorilla and Trevor the Toucan. I will go and get Mr and Mrs Crocodile and Sid the Snake."
"What about Harry the Hummingbird?"
"Harry left the jungle a long time ago… Right, you know who to get, Pippa?"
"Gussie the Gorilla and Trevor the Toucan."
"Well, let's go then."
"Oh ooooh ee oh oh eeeooh (Gussie come here)."
"Oh hello Mogo. I've just come here to get Trevor. What are you doing here?"
"I've come to get Sid. See you again soon."
"Kee kee cuck keeee (Trevor come here)."
"Right, John, we've got them now so let's go back."
—"John, Sid and I can climb up the vine steps, cross the rope bridge, and go down the wooden slide I made from some pieces of curved wood that were lying around. Then we'll be in the secret cave.
"Trevor and I can fly up there."
"That leaves Gussie and the two crocodiles. How are they going to get up there?"
"They're not. We'll have to leave them behind and tell them what happens in the meeting later on."
"Ooh ooh oooooh ah ah oh ooh aaah? (Do you mind if we leave you behind?)"
"Eeh, ooh ooh ahhh (No, not really)."
"Snapp crackk snappppp? (Do you two mind staying?)"
"Snap (Not really)."
"Come on John. Up the vine steps and across the rope bridge."
"Where does the vine lead to if you go all the way up?"
"To our secret spy platform."
"OK then. First let's appoint a chief. It can't be Gussie or Mr or Mrs Crocodile if they can't come to our meetings. And it can't be Sid or Trevor because they don't speak the human language. So who would like to be chief?"
"I wouldn't mind being chief."
"I think we'll have to have a vote."
"You can vote for one person apart from yourself."
"John, who do you vote for"
"Pippa, who do you vote for?"
"And I vote for Pippa."
"OK, a tie so far. And Trevor has got lost. So whoever Sid votes for will be the chief."
"Talking of Sid, where has he got to?"
"Pippa, you go and ask him who he votes for…"
"… He votes for me, so I'm chief!"
"I've been thinking about an idea to make them go away. We could make their machinery not work properly by messing around with the motors, and they will just think the wood's too hard to cut down and so they will move away."
"Tomorrow it will be."
A day to remember
"Now, if we're going to do this today we better get a move on."
"OK. I'm going to draw the plan in the mud here. I will fly ahead and tell you when to come. John can run and hide behind a tree while the two crocodiles and the snake distract the tree cutters. Then John can go and do the thing to the machinery, and Trevor can fly and tell Gussie to come if we need his help…. Me and my big mouth, not giving you a chance to talk! Does anyone else want to say anything?"
"Yes, there is one thing."
"What's that John?"
"I haven't been on your side all along and now I've got you here I can capture you two and take you home and do some research on you. I will become rich and famous by getting you to talk on stage."
"Well, we just won't talk."
"I'll make you."
"You just see…" ■