Imagine you’re standing in a large open field under a suddenly darkened cloudy sky. All of a sudden….BOOM!!! Deafening thunder followed by massive lightning reaching from the sky like a neon skeletal claw grabbing at anything within reach, scorching the field just inches from where you are. This has happened many times before, you know what comes next.
Here comes the rain falling in sheets and wind that blows it sideways. You look in the distance and see shelter. A small wooden cabin. Desperately, you run as fast as you can against the wind and sheets of rain. It takes all your strength, going against the grain, taking the hardest path but if you stop, you will be burned alive, if you open your mouth too wide, you’ll swallow enough rain water to drown you standing up.
Another massive streak of lightning just misses you but you’re closer to the cabin now and you feel strong because you can see shelter. You get to the cabin and to your surprise it’s open!
When you get in, there are others huddled together. They make room for you and wrap their arms around you. They know what you’ve been through. You feel safer than you did outside.
The storm passes as quickly as it came and sunlight streams in through the cracks in the wood. If you leave through the door you came in, you know another storm is inevitable. You can’t go through that again. There’s another door on the other side of the cabin. One you didn’t see before.
You’re unsure of what’s out there but the people you’re with assure you it can’t be worse then where you were. You take comfort, they know what they’re talking about. You feel hopeful and warm. You’ll all go together.
You open the door and step outside….BOOM!!!
Just trying to imagine what someone crossing our border only to be detained in worse conditions than our prisons must feel like. I tried to imagine holding a baby or if you’re like me and don’t have children, your pet or your elderly family member who can’t run as fast but I can’t. It’s too painful.
The second wave on the buffet was well underway. Zta and Bleech were no where to be found. I couldn’t imagine where they were. The line for mammoth was just getting longer and longer. It almost seemed like an assault! It had been a while since I had served so I wasn’t as quick as Roon. Or Bleech even!
I was now picking up meat with both hands and plopping it down on any plate I saw. It was a swarm of furs, beards, plates and hair! Homo’s were getting impatient and now, no one was controlling the line! There was something happening in my chest. A small animal pounding it from the inside? Was I the first pregnant male and about to give birth? Through my chest!? I couldn’t take it so I dropped the meat down on the buffet and tried to organize them.
“Everyone will get more mammoth if you just stand in a line! Remember earlier? When you all stood in a line?”
Silence. I could hear the flicker of flames from the torches to the heating pits.
Then, aggressive grunting, hair pulling, Homo’s pushing each other and grabbing all the meat they could! There hadn’t been anything like this since a neighboring tribe accused us of walking on one of their flattened paths. They sent their flatteners to un flatten one of our paths and resulted in almost everyone from both tribes grunting and hurling balls of snow at each other. Que told me about it so it might not have been as dramatic as he made it out to be but I do remember a lot of frozen beards that day.
I looked over at Keen, who was just rolling his eyes and started putting out his fire under the broth. Someone started pounding on the buffet slab. I couldn’t see who through all the grabbing and pushing.
Zte! Where was my precious little Zte! I don’t know what came over me but I jumped up onto the buffet slab and right into the angry mob. I had to find her! I started pushing Homo’s furiously to get through but someone grabbed my hair! Then, my beard! Through all the chaos, I heard someone shouting a word.
Whomever was grabbing me, let go.
Fight!? All Homo’s were now heading out of the cave chanting “Fight! Fight! Fight!”
La, Lom’s wife, pointed at me and screamed, “Your fault!” Before storming out. Surely it wasn’t! I had to remind myself of that because I did have a tendency to blame myself for any feast related fiasco.
Joog and Keene helped dust me off and pull the meat out of my hair.
“Look at this cave!!” LOOK AT IT!” Joog was now kicking chunks of meat into piles. The table was in shambles.
Keen was putting out the last of his warming fire. “It’s just Lom and Pol. Lom apparently bumped into Wen on the way to the buffet disaster we’re going to have to spend all night cleaning now.”
He was right. There was meat everywhere. Even on the walls! No way we could leave it overnight!
“Why don’t we just invite those asshole Erectuses in! We’ll tell them the meat is raw but it’s covered with dirt. They’ll jump around like idiots and clear this place out in seconds!” Joog was being sarcastic but he may have come up with the perfect solution!
We heard shrieking coming from outside. I panicked when I realized I still didn’t know where Zte was.
I ran outside. I almost fell to the snow when I saw Zta, Zte and Bleech, watching the fight. Thank the branches! Thank the ice!!
Pol and Lom were circling each other, growling and occasionally lunging at each other. This was how all hunter fights started. They’d fight to the death.
I joined Zta, Zte and Bleech. “They all rushed the buffet. There’s meat everywhere. No one can go back in there.” I told Zta, making sure not to sound like I was in anyway blaming her for takingso long with the Erectuses.
“I’m sorry. The Erecti didn’t trust us. We had to get Roon.” Zta picked Zte up.
“No no! I’m not blaming you! It’s just there was no one to make a line!” I hoped that sounded convincing. I was about to say more but Zta shot an angry glare at me so I decided not to.
“Erecti?” A disembodied voice came from behind me. Bleech jumped back. It was the old woman with our boys. “I like it! Easier to say! And quicker! Multiple Homo Erectus. Erecti! Good job sweetheart!”
“Thanks mom.” Zta handed Zte to me as she reached for the twins. “Pol and Lom are at it again.”
The old woman groaned like she was about to die, finally, but then something completely unexpected happened.
She started pushing Homo’s aside and made a path right into the fighting circle!
Pol had grabbed onto Lom’s beard. Lom was trying desperately to loosen his grip by swatting at Pols hand. Pol held tight and swatted Lom back.
“No! YOU stop it!!”
Pol took his pocket spear from his fur tie.
He threw the spear into the snow, untied his tie, then stuffed it into Lom’s mouth! Some Homo’s couldn’t bear it and turned away.
Que threw up.
The old woman grabbed them both by their beards. “Boys! BOYS!!” She pulled them apart. They were still swatting at each other but they were to far away fromeach other to make contact.
“STOP THIS RIGHT NOW!!” The old woman yelled so loud that later on, some would claim a large stampede of mammoths were very close by.
Pol broke free from her grasp. “But he…”
“NNNNOOOOOO!!” This time her voice was not only loud but high pitched. There was complete silence.
“Lom! Say you’re sorry to you brother!!”
“But, he’s the one…”
“SAY YOU’RE SORRY!!!”
This time, even I had to cover my ears and I had one year old twins that would have screaming matches daily!
“Sorry…” Lom mumbled something into his beard after saying this.
“What was that!?” The old woman tightened her grip on Lom’s beard.
Pol snickered. The old woman turned her attention now to him.
“Sorry! I’m sorry too!”
“Good boys. Now hug!”
Pol held his arms out reluctantly.
The old woman was having none of this. “Lom! You’re the older brother! You’re 15! Act like it!”
Lom dragged his feet in the snow but he did hug Pol. It wasn’t long before they were crying in each other’s arms.
Everyone cheered for them, some cried themselves and depending on how into the berries they’d gotten, hugged each other as well.
It was the perfect ending to maybe the best feast of my life! Roon had survived his injury, everyone had quickly forgotten about my poorly designed face mud, Zta was there to witness our daughter growing up before our eyes and most of all, a hunter fight with no death! There had never been two hunters that were angry with each other and worked out their differences with words! Completely on their own! With no interference!!
As the hunters were working out their issues, Zta had arranged the drummers around the main fire pit to lure everyone there, and had sent Bleech to bring the Erecti to the banquet cave to eat all the meat that was on the floor and walls. Joog, Keene and I dragged the rest of the broth and berries to the village center where we all celebrated right up until the sun came up!
After the initial rush at the buffet, things quieted down. Homo’s sat, drank, laughed, cried (mostly the hunters).
I was about to go relieve Zta at the buffet when I saw a small group gathered by the entrance. They were all hunched over gesturing to each other. Every so often, one would look around. I knew exactly who they were. Small foreheads, pronounced jawlines, very hairy. Erectuses from the upper caves.
One of them saw me looking at them and they all turned their backs pretending to look at the cave drawings. They nodded and pointed like they understood what the drawings meant but we all knew they didn’t.
I pretended I didn’t see them, most of the other villagers would get really upset if they knew they were there. I knew they were looking for Roon, who’s mother’s father was Erectus. He’d always ask for a break around this time to go outside for “fresh air”. He would sneak them a bundle of raw meat and berries. They weren’t great at making fires. Good thing they all had so much hair.
I was about to go back to the roasting pit when Bleech waved at me. I saw he had a bundle in his hand, Zta quickly put her hand over it.
I got to the buffet to talk to him. “Ummmm….. can I go breath air?” He asked. He was nervous and almost used the hand he was holding the contraband to wipe sweat off his forehead. Zta stopped him.
“Sure! But make sure you go around the side of the cave.” That was Roon’s hand off spot.
“You know what? I’ll go with him!” Zta gave him a slow wink and a smile when she said this. She knew about this arrangement, I had complained about it the first few times it happened. The first time, she got angry with me saying they were Homo’s too even if they weren’t excepted in our sophisticated society. She was right. We all had Erectus inside us. My father’s father’s mother was one.
“Good idea! I’ll watch the buffet!”
I watched nervously as they made their way to them. I looked around to see where Que was. If anyone would notice this was happening it would be him. Thankfully, he was at the broth station downing small cups of fermented berries with a couple of the other flatteners. I knew I’d get a “What happened last night?” from him the next day.
I winced when I saw Bleech cup his free hand around his mouth and say “From Roon.” His free hand was facing the wrong way. Anyone could see what he was saying. Thankfully, Zta jerked her head toward the outside and she pushed Bleech in the right direction. They waddled after her.
“Maybe they’d like a welcome drink! Or how about a nice fur brushing!” Joog sneered as he dropped off more meat. He shot a disapproving, “This guy! Right!?”, kind of look at Keen, who was nearby stirring his broth. Keen shook his head. The one thing they agreed on. Keen referred to them as “waste thrusters”. Sadly he had a point. They were pleasant enough but they really didn’t know what to do with their own waste. They gathered it in their hands, held it straight out then just dropped it. They had at least learned to rub snow on their hands to wash it off. Still wouldn’t shake hands with one of them.
You’d think I would’ve lost my appetite thinking about all this waste, but the meat looked mouth watering. I could tell Zta had done some extra basting.
Lom and his wife La came back to the buffet for seconds. “Medium rare.” I was grateful I’d missed the initial, “Why can’t I have a rare piece!”, rant Lom was famous for.
I moved the meat around trying to find the most undercooked piece when I did something I shouldn’t have. “Sorry to hear about….” Wen cut me off with an overly aggressive “Shhhh!” You didn’t want to mess with a hunter wife. I looked at Lom who was clearly caught off guard. His eyes and mouth wide open. I could see he was about to tear up. Wen took his plate and held it out for me to drop the meat on. As soon as I did, she lead him away but not before giving me a serious death stare.
My husband and I lived in East Harlem for 6 years. It was our first apartment together. It was great in the beginning because we had a place together.
Close proximity to NYC’s upper east side, great restaurants and bars, a 6 minute walk to Central Parks European gardens. Absolutely beautiful even if you had to walk through the ghetto to be there.
The sixth year, we had a deadly gas fume situation. I had gone to my parents house in the suburbs for Christmas and came back to gascious fumes. My husband had lived in such squaller that he didn’t even notice it. My other neighbors had lived the same way or were illegal and didn’t want to call the authorities for fear of being deported.
Growing up in the comfortable burbs and believing I deserved all America could offer, I called con Ed and was instructed to open all windows and wait outside. It was about 20 degrees. I called my landlord who told me not to call con Ed.
I already had and they showed up within the hour. A technician took a carbon monitor into the building and immediately evacuated everyone. There was a deadly amount of carbon trapped somewhere.
Here we were. All tenants, outside in the cold. The landlord sent someone to open the basement where the boilers were.
Con Ed turned everything off. Heat, hot water. The exhaust wasn’t working. The firemen were called. They did their own assessment, apparently if I hadn’t called, everyone in the building would’ve been dead within the hour.
This put in motion the most difficult time I’ve ever experienced in a NYC apartment. About a month of going back and forth with my landlord and con Ed. My landlord had hired her own technician who diagnosed the problem one way, where con Ed sent their own technician who diagnosed the problem another way.
New Year’s Eve, I got a call from con Ed to come to the building for a reassessment. This is after me calling con Ed constantly, it had been a week with no heat or gas, that means no hot water or stove.
They came, my landlord gave me the code to unlock the basement for them. I had so much hope. When the technician showed up I said “Thank God! We’ve all been without heat and hot water! There are children here! And elderly people!”
I let him in to the basement, not gonna go into what I saw down there. It looked like a hostage was being held there. I’ve pushed that down because I have no idea what to do about it.
He looked at the meters and told me there was nothing he could do.
“Can’t you just flip a switch!?” I pleaded.
No, he couldn’t. That was going to be a very cold New Years for all tenants, and would continue for weeks to come until the landlord’s technician and con Ed’s technician come come to an agreement of how to describe what the problem was.
Semantics! We were all freezing, microwaving three tupper ware containers of water in order to bath, all because of fucking semantics!
You’d think we’d not owe rent during this time but no, we did. We all did.
It eventually got sorted out. Cutting through red tape as we all lived like squatters paying thousands of dollars to be in close proximity to the upper east side and the European gardens it wasn’t safe to venture out to.
That’s New York! Damned if I don’t still love the bitch!
Things were going well. Everyone had their welcome drinks, Keene had moved on to the broth station. That’s where Homo’s go to get drinks for the rest of the feast.
There was a little tension between the hunters and they were still a little sad about losing Ja, but everyone else seemed in good spirits.
I went to the back cave to check on the mammoth. Joog was stressing out as usual. “What part of put the meat on the platter don’t you understand!?” He was yelling at Bleech.
“You said Put the meat over there. There is here.” Bleech pointed to the slab of mammoth meat laying on the cave floor.
“WOW! WOW!” He turned to Zta. “I can’t!!”
Zta put herself in between them. “It’s fine, we have more meat, I’ll make sure it goes on the platter.” Joog shook his head and went back to carving the meat. Zta looked at me, crossed her eyes, stuck her tongue out and pulled on something like a fur tie. She did this when the kids were fighting. Always hilarious!
She had everything under control so I made my way back to the feast. I could hear her talking very slowly to Bleech. In his defense, there was in fact, here. Joog was on a mission to change that, I never understood why.
In the main cave, a couple of the ground flatteners had started banging on what they called “drums”. They had just started doing this earlier in the moon cycle. They used large hollowed out stones and stretched antelope skin over the top. Normally they would bang on them with bones but this time it was branches with more skins tied to the ends. It was fantastic! It sounded like the sound was coming not from the top, but the middle! I couldn’t help tapping my toe!
All of a sudden, more Homo’s were tapping there toes! Some even put their hands on their hips! I don’t know what came over me but I not only put my hands on my hips, I bent my knees! The old woman was off to the side doing something ridiculous. I want to say bringing her hands together, then apart then together again? Some of the actual women did something similar but it made sense. It made yet another sound! We’d later call this “A dance set”.
It was turning out to be the greatest feast of all time!
Zta and Bleech carried the mammoth meat out. Fresh off the bone! Everyone was excited. I did my usual job, made sure it was one Homo behind another, not just a bunch of Homo’s pushing each other to get to the meat.
“The hunters got into the fermented berries early, better keep an eye on them. Some of the wives too.” Que jerked his head toward the back of the line where the hunters had gathered.
The hunters always had before feast berries and Que always wanted me to “keep an eye on them”. Nothing ever happened except falling in the snow. I didn’t take this seriously.
“Goo! Gooo!!!” I heard Zte calling from outside the banquet cave.
I nodded for Zta, who agreed to take Roon’s place to signal Joog to start carving the mammoth but not before sharing the proudest moment of our lives. Our little girl! The youngest signaler in Homo history! All future Homo’s would know about this. Definitely going on the cave! Even if I had to draw it myself.
Zta silently told me to stay cool.
“Gooooooooog!!!! Zte was giving her last signal, framed by beams of light from the setting sun, standing in the middle of the cave entrance, arms straight up in the air. That’s the drawing! I felt myself about to tear up. Zta had warned me against this. Don’t make her feel like it’s a big deal. She just wants to be part of the team. Treat her like part of the team!
I realized she was calling my name. I told her to call me, but I didn’t say how. Normally she’d call me Da, but now, she called me by my name. “Gooog”. She wasn’t there with the r’s yet. I couldn’t be more proud! Later on, I’d take her on break with me and let food fall into my beard. I’d let it pile up then act surprised that it was there. That got her every time! She’d be laughing for moons!
Zte ran to Keen who had placed stones near the entrance for her to stand on. Her next job was to hand out welcome drinks. He mimed scooping the drinks into hollowed out stones, Zte practiced holding them up then giving them out.
So steady! Such a welcoming smile on her face! She even said “Hi!” each time she pretended to give one out! I’d never seen that!
The mammoth was roasting, welcome drinks made, all the torches were lit. Ja was going to signal, and both Zta and Zte were helping Bleech get the buffet table ready. It looked amazing! Zte went and picked some berries and gathered some moss and Zta made this bountiful looking design.
I went outside to check the progress of the village square. All the paths were flattened, the stones arranged. Everyone was out and working hard.
“Gonna be a good one!” Que snuck up behind me. “One for the caves!”
I had to agree with him there. If Roon made it through, I could describe everything that happened and he could make an excellent cave drawing!
“How’s Pol and Lom?” I had to ask, the curiosity was killing me.
“Well, now their wives are involved.”
This was terrible news! Once the women got involved things were really going to get messy.
“Oh by the way, Ja died. See you in a few!” Que turned to go.
“Whoa, whoa whoa! What!?”
“Yeah, A little while ago. He’s already in the pit. Put him there myself. A real shame! Only 10! Would’ve made a great hunter.”
Nooooo!!!! My signaler! Had to prevent any further deaths at least until the feast was over!
“How did this happen!?”
“Well, I wasn’t there but I heard he tripped over a rock, not on one of my paths! He landed on his hands and one of them got bent the wrong way. He said he just twisted it and he started walking but he fell again!”
“Oh no!” I checked the paths for protruding rocks.
“This time he fell backwards. When got up, his foot slipped. He didn’t fall but he kept slipping and sliding. He kept saying he was fine, but, when he was headed toward the extras cave….
I tuned him out when I spotted Wen, Pol’s wife and La, Lom’s wife. This couldn’t be good. It looked like they were squaring off! Wen must’ve said something outrageous because La started laughing. I thought for sure Wen was going to lunge at her but she started laughing too! This was going to get ugly quick!
Nothing I could do so I turned my attention back to Que. “…. he fell right into the whole, the hunters hadn’t covered it yet.”
“The extras hole!?”
“Yeah, he fell in between the tusks.”
I waited for him to finish but typical Que, he wanted me to ask. “And he died?”
“No, when he tried to climb out, he slipped again and fell right into a tusk. Went straight through.”
“He was dead before that.”
We both gasped. We turned around and saw the old woman.
“I was following him but he was slipping and sliding away from me. The initial fall had actually killed him but it wasn’t quick. I saw him die when he got up.”
Que and I were terrified.
She looked right at Que! “You don’t remember me instructing you on how to get him out? The hunters were all crying? Literally just happened!”
Thankfully, she shook her head and hobbled away.
“Alright buddy! Gotta go! Almost time for the parade. See you at the feast!”
I left Que to tend to the paths and headed back to the banquet cave. Almost no time to find a signaler! I saw Zte watching the children gather their bundles of twigs for the fire. She wanted so much to be involved. If only there was something I could give her to do! She knew the business in and out. Her mom and I talked about it all the time.
I’ve always loved stories. The stories that people tell. When I moved back home after my first epic fail at adulthood, at 22, I made bank as a stripper but it was nothing more than blood money.
Locally, there was one store that was open 24/7.
It was one town over,a five minute drive.
I’m a night owl, so I went there all the time. For wine coolers, chips, ice cream….ect. The man who was always there, I came to know.
He was a musician in his country. He always wanted to be a musician but his family had other plans for him. They had arranged a marriage.
He went along with this because he had to but he never lost sight of his musical aspirations.
He had some success in his country as a musician, he was the lead singer in what I think was called the Tigers, but it wasn’t good enough for his or her family.
He moved to the United States, with his wife and young son, and took a job in a convince store with the prospect of owning it.
He had no interest in this. He was an artist. A musician. I wouldn’t have known this until he played a video in his store. I loved it. I asked who that was, and I got to know things I never would have imagined.
I went to his store night after night. I saw something in him that I recognized. An artist that no one saw or listened to.
We would talk about music. I would play him things, like Simon and Garfunkel, Sisters of Mercy, Soundgarden, Kate Bush, and he would play me things. The difference was that what I would play was from other artists, he would play things he came up with.
I started to feel like this was inappropriate, given his wife wasn’t there. I told him this, he agreed.
The next night, when I came in, his wife was there. He played videos of the Tigers, his musical group. To my surprise, she danced, she fully supported his dreams and had dreams of her own. To dance. She had no formal training but she danced in his videos.
It turned out that this arrangement between him and her was a good one.
However, this was impossible, they both needed to make money and had to do whatever necessary for both families.
Neither of them had the luxury of pursuing their dreams.
I wasn’t in a position to do that either but at least I could dream about it.
That’s the difference.
I think about this couple all the time. What has became of them? Were they able to reconcile family duty with their dreams? This was 20 years ago, so what of their son?
People come into your life, you think, randomly and you need to pay attention to them.
I thank the Tiger and his wife every day. They remind me how lucky I am. I may have society to tell me what I need to be but as an American, I can choose. At least I can choose.
Joog and I were getting the roasting pit ready for the mammoth, throwing kindling down at the bottom. I was dreading having to talk to the hunters. Maybe Joog could do it?
“I’m not talking to the hunters. They’re all ridiculous.”
I was shocked! How did he know I was….
“You always try to make me talk to them. Never gonna happen.” Joog jumped into the pit. “I’ll arrange these.”
Joog hadn’t had time to find a signaler and now we had to find another server! He seemed calm but I knew he was freaking out inside.
“Fair enough. I’m gonna check on the guys.” On my way to the front cave, I made a mental list of all the villagers. There had to be at least one Homo I could trust! What would Zta do?
When I got to the front I saw Zta! “Heard about Roon.” She studied my face mud. She did that thing Zte hated, licked her finger and rubbbed my forehead. I noticed Keen snickering as he was grinding berries.
“What’s the plan?” She asked. I didn’t have one. “Well, Joog is trying to find a signaler, Yaan’s dead, and I guess I need to find another server… where are the kids?”
“With my mom.” I always forgot about her mom. Most parents never lived to see their children grow to adulthood, 12.
I heard Zte giggling. I suddenly felt a presence. It was unfamiliar and uncomfortable. Terrifying even! I turned slowly to my left and there she was! The old woman!
“Groog! She has your kids!” Keene spoke out of the side of his mouth as his body was frozen in fear.
Zta threw her hands up. “Seriously!? How do you always manage to forget about my mom! She comes over literally every day!”
“The mammoth is here!” Bleech called from outside.
“Go, I’ll watch things here.” Zta held her arms out for Zte. She gathered the little girl up and headed to the roasting cave.
I passed by the old woman holding the twins. I did my best not to make eye contact. She just watched me, following me with her eyes. Some kind of curse! I sped up.
When I got outside, I told Bleech to stand by. He did, literally, he just stood still eyes wide open. I reminded him to keep breathing and made my way over to our delivery.
The hunters were almost finished unpacking when I got to them. You could cut the tension with a sharpened rock! Que was there, of course, flattening way out of his zone. I might as well use that.
“What’s going on?” I needed to tread lightly with hunters. They were highly emotional.
“Pol and Lom won’t even look at each other. It’s affecting all of them.”
I approached them, acted like I knew nothing. “Hey guys! Big one!” They all stopped what they were doing and just stared at me. “Right. I’ll take the middle parts and maybe the hind parts?” We could roast the middle medium and the hind parts well done. I was getting hungry just thinking about it.
Pol spoke up. “You might want to keep an eye on your welcome drinks…”
Lom threw his head back and groaned.
Pol ignored him. “Some of us can’t handle our fermented berries.”
Everyone looked at Lom who grabbed Ja and whispered something in his ear.
Ja clearly didn’t want to relay whatever message he was given but he was after all an apprentice and a messenger. “We’ve all gotten drunk from berries but not all of us are..” He glanced at Lom who urged him on. “…small speared Cro Magnon Neanderthals who can’t take a joke and misunderstand everything.”
There was a collective gasp from everyone except Pol. He grabbed Ja. “I’m not the one who refuses to piss in front of anyone!”
Ja turned to Lom. “He’s not the one who…”. Lom cut him off. “Because I’m a civilized Homo!” He got a little too close to Pol. “And by the way…I was talking about your spear!” He held his up. “Your actual spear! It’s too small! All it does is poke! It’s supposed to spear! That’s why it’s called A SPEAR!!”
Pol was seething like a Sabre toothed tiger. I had to step in.
“Hey guys, you know what? I’ll just grab my team, we’ll take the roasting meat inside. If you guys could just take the rest and bury it the extras hole, Que? You’ll help them right?”
Que excitedly nodded his head.
“If I could borrow Ja, just to get the meat inside that would be great!”
Pol and Lom grunted aggressively while the other hunters grunted in agreement.
As they were dragging the extra meat away I had a thought.
“Hey Ja, how would you feel about signaling me when the kids light the main fire at the parade?”
Ja rolled his eyes, typical 10 year old. “Yeah, whatever.” A current moody teenager and moody hunter in the making.
I turned back to the banquet cave and saw Bleech and Keene watching us. I waved them over and we all dragged the meat back to the roasting pit.
When I got outside I saw the hunters coming back. They’d caught a particularly big mammoth.
I saw Joog shaking his head, scratching on his tablet close by. I rushed over to him.
“I need to talk to them. Roon needs an old woman.”
“Of course he does.” Joog rolled his eyes.
Joog was off to find an old woman and I was on my way to the butchers.
Maig, the butcher was sharpening his axe when I got to him. “Heads up. The hunters are all out of sorts today.”
“Yeah, Lom and Pol. I heard.” I regretted it as soon as I said it. Really no time for drama.
Maig stopped sharpening. Que clearly hadn’t gotten to him yet. “What happened with Lom and Pol?”
I saw the hunters getting closer. Pol at the front. He looked angry. To be fair he always looked angry but this was different. “Lom got drunk and said something about Pols’ wife.” I couldn’t believe I had just said that. Zte had always said that Que told me things because he knew I would tell everyone. Apparently, she was right.
“Well, can’t wait for those two to get into the fermented berries tonight!” Maig was practically giddy. I needed to get out of there before I inadvertently caused anymore issues. “Maig, do me a favor. Tell them to take the tusks and the fur to the storage hole and make sure it’s covered. We’ll get to it in two moons. Thanks buddy!” I hightailed it out of there.
When I got back to the main cave, the old woman was wrapping Roons’ ankle with snake skin.
“She put moss inside it!” Bleech was nervously watching the procedure chewing on his finger. I gave him my stern look. I had told him time and time again not to do that at work. We handle food! We had all recently discovered that our hands, if placed in the mouth, can make us sick and most likely die.
The old woman fastened the snake skin onto Roons’ ankle and gestured with her head for me to meet her out of earshot to talk. Everyone gasped, including me. I’d always forgotten that old women could talk.
She turned her back to the staff who were all looking our way. She leaned in. “He’ll live, probably, but he won’t be able to walk. It will be more like a hop. Probably no use to you today. I’ll check on him later. If it swells, it will have to come off, if not, he should be fine in a couple of days.”
Yep, down two men!
“And listen…” she went on, “Tell your Neanderthal friend he doesn’t need to “catch” me. I have a clearly marked etching on my cave indicating that I’m available for healing any time.”
I just nodded. Honestly, I remember her words but they didn’t exactly make sense to me.
“AND, I don’t need to be dragged! I can walk unlike your idiot cry baby over there!”
Then, I think she hissed and hobbled out of the cave. We all just stood still until she was gone. It took a while.
Keen let out a long held breath. “Useless! Don’t know why they won’t just die like men over 30!”
I agreed but there was no time to get a conversation on the matter going. The meat would be there soon and I had to prep the back cave.
“Keen, get the broth going, Bleech, can you help Roon to his cave? Come right back and set the bowls up by the front, right there.” I pointed to the compartments on either side of the main cave entrance.
I motioned for Joog to follow me to the back cave.