Saturday, August 6, 2016

Miss Jean Louis in the Congo: An Oral History

As I sit here, alone, I can't help but reflect on my time with Miss Jean Louis.  It was all too short...

It was hot, I remember, as it generally is in the depths of the Congo.  But that day I recall a heat so stifling, so oppressive, I thought I might drown in the air itself.  Then I remembered I have a tendency to be needlessly dramatic and snapped out of it.  It was early morning at the campsite, and my team of fellow explorers and I marked down our ninth day of being horribly lost in the jungle.  None of us had remembered to barter for maps days earlier in the village we encountered before beginning our expedition to recover the Lost City of the Black Anaconda, so I guess we deserved it.  It was Perkins who had the idea of carving marks into a nearby tree to denote the number of days since we had given up hope of ever being found.  He had wandered off shortly after and we hadn't heard from or seen him since.  Another victim claimed by the great, merciless unknown.  

So there were just three of us left.  Just myself, and Feinstein, who had begun endlessly blabbering some nonsense about talking, killer apes, and Horner, who mostly sat around and complained about how hungry he was.  I noticed his eyes had recently taken on a sort of murderous gleam.  I slept uneasily those long, hot nights. 

I had snuck off from our pitiful little fire, still smoldering from the night before, to eat one of my last miniature packets of peanuts in private.  I had begun to question Horner's motivation for his concern about my health, and certainly didn't want to tempt him with a snack pack.  As I sat there with my peanuts, all manner of nasty insects crawling over my sticky skin, when....she appeared from the brush.

She was a vision with a machete.  Dressed in eighteenth century safari gear.  I maintain that snatches of Eye of the Tiger reached my ears as she came into view.  Her savage beauty pierced my soul like a thousand arrows (though it could have also been hunger pangs) and then she spoke with a voice to rival a choir of a thousand angels, the most beautiful symphony, or even Bon Jovi.  

"Hey," she said eloquently.  She lowered her machete.

'Peanut?" I replied, just as eloquently.  And by the grace of the gods, she shrugged her beauteous shoulders and reached her heavenly fingers into the bag, drew out three peanuts, and passed them through her lips, the lips that had already bewitched me.

"Thanks.  Hey, you don't look so hot." she said appraisingly, clearly taking in my disheveled appearance, ripped shirt, muddy trousers, and unkempt hair.  "I'm Miss Jean Louis."

Transfixed, I struggled to answer her name with my own.  Before I could, we were both startled by something crashing through the brush to the right. As we looked, Horner came into view, out of breath and furiously screaming. "You have peanuts?! How DARE you, you traitor, you scum, you mother fu-"

"Excuse me, what in creation is going on here? I have plenty of food if you guys are hungry," she said, turning to her pack.  At that, Horner lunged at her like a rabid animal, and I was forced to restrain him in most heroic fashion. After the brief kerfuffle, I explained our situation, and she rose to the situation immediately, because she was so decisive and driven and beautiful.

"Well, I'll just continue on to the village and send help for you, as you seem too starved to travel, and I suspect you may be hallucinating," she said as the alligators behind her, dressed most handsomely in tuxedos, continued to juggle the flaming chickens.  Perhaps I was hallucinating.  "Just stay here and you," her lips hypnotized me as her eyes continued to burn into mine, "you share your peanuts with that dude."

While I had no intention of sharing my peanuts with anyone but Miss Jean Louis, her ability to show kindness to such a peanut-grubbing brute as Horner moved me.  With that, she disappeared into the jungle, machete slashing at the overhanging leaves.  It was three days until the search party found us.  I never saw her again, but dream of her every night.  Thank you, wherever you are, Miss Jean Louis.

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