back on it all, I'd have to say it was the tigers. Definitely
the tigers. Quitting smoking was certainly the farthest
thing from my mind that morning as I left camp after a nourishing
breakfast of roots and berries. It was the 3rd day of the
hunt, and we had been following their spoor without ever really
catching sight of them. It was beginning to annoy me, as though
they were playing some damnable cat and mouse game. Then I
remembered "They're tigers; what other kind of game *would*
a mating pair; fiercely cunning, aggressive, and mindlessly
horny ( the very qualities I so prized in myself as a youth).
They had already laid waste to the village of Eyesore, a remarkably
shabby little hamlet on the banks of the Oldman River, carrying
off assorted livestock, pets and a few negligible small children.
The pet owners had collected a small reward fee, and though
I was just passing through, I was the only man with a rifle
and a pith helmet for miles around, so I'd been hired to find
the tigers and put a stop to their antics. (One would hardly
call them hijinks or shenanigans...)
all day, pausing only for a nourishing lunch of grits and
pebbles. It was terribly hot; the sort of heat that makes
you say "Good Lord, it's hot!" right out loud, regardless
of whether or not there's anyone there to hear you and agree
or to simply refute your claim. If someone did happen
to hear you talking out loud to yourself, chances are they'd
be too drained of energy to pay it any mind. It was that kind
Rajiv, was a plucky lad. It was actually a rarity to find
one like him amongst the locals. He stepped right up and said
"I am gifted with pluck. Please to choose me." Because
of his heavily accented speech, however, I thought he was
suggesting that I have sex with him, and a savage brawl ensued.
Eventually the mistake was cleared up, and I had to pay several
villagers for damages to their huts. The assembled throng
celebrated with a ritual meal of hoops and garters, (cooked
over a hogshead of real fire). Rajiv soon proved himself an
invaluable guide and companion, and I was delighted to have
his company as we pressed on deeper into the jungle in search of the tigers.
for a light snack of chutes and ladders before crossing a
dry stream bed. I was peering at what was undoubtedly a fresh
and recent pile of tiger droppings, and called back over my
shoulder "Come look at this", to which Rajiv replied
"AAIIIIIEEEEEEE!!!!" which was not the response
I was expecting. When I turned to see what the devil he was
talking about, he was nowhere to be found. That damned funny
accent again! I supposed he'd just stepped back into the treeline
to have a pee....
returned. I filled the time just before sunset, meanwhile,
by munching on the small packet of rhythm and blues I carried
in my duffel. Darkness fell, as it always does, because even
in remotest India the laws of gravity and astral physics apply...
I made camp, built a roaring fire, had my evening meal of
tucks and rolls, and fell deeply asleep. My last conscious
thought was "God; that's a long pee!"
awakened by an unspeakably foul blast of rank, hot air in
my face. My first waking thought was "Rajiv needs to
floss more often" -- and then I heard the growl. I froze.
I opened one eye just a slit, and scanned the campsite. The
tigers had come in during the night and shredded everything.
As I peeped from beneath one semi-closed lid, I saw the female
sitting by my head, sniffing inquisitively at the remains
of last night's dinner in my moustache. Across the clearing,
meanwhile, the male fumbled my last half pack of Marlboro
Lights out of the remains of my knapsack.
NO YOU F**KING DON'T!" I shouted, scrambling to my feet.
"GIVE ME THOSE! THAT'S MY LAST PACK!" She and her
mate, spooked by the noise and sudden motion, both reared
back, allowing me to spring nimbly across the distance between
us and snatch at the pack on the ground. They were on me in
a flash! For the rest of the morning and well into the afternoon
it was tooth and claw against boot and knuckle. We rolled
and screamed and shrieked and grunted and flailed and clenched
and kicked and panted and howled and thrust and... well, I'm
becoming aroused just describing it.
we all ran out of steam and lay there gasping for air. This
was due both to the exertion and the fact that we were *all*
heavy smokers. Once we all calmed down, the tigers told me
their tale, which was even more sordid than one could imagine.
Their government, in league with Phillip Morris (and the evil
cadre of faceless agents who target people on quit smoking
support newsgroups by sending them coupons for free cigarettes),
had launched a hideous new animal testing program. They were
attempting to gauge the addiction potential for their new
"Predator" brand extra-strength, high-tar, increased-nicotine
cigarettes. This pair had been forced to chain smoke Predators
for months, and were completely hooked. They had escaped from
the secret government lab in Cumoniwannalaya, and had been
on the run ever since.
we wouldn't have eaten those kids, but it's Day Three for
us-- and we've got the munchies something fierce!" said
the male. I felt so bad for them, I offered to not only call
off the hunt, but to share my last pack of cigarettes with
them. They eagerly agreed and I shook one from the tattered
pack, lit it and took a deep drag, passing it to the female,
who grinned at me. Have you ever seen a tiger grin? Have you
ever shared a cigarette with a tiger? Both things are quite...unsettling.
First of all, they slobber all over the filter, so it's just
completely gross and you don't want to put it in your mouth
when you get it back. Secondly, a tiger's grin doesn't really
inspire mirth. Or confidence... After two drags, they snatched
it away from me and finished it themselves, and then the heavier
male swiped me a thunderous blow with his forepaw which knocked
my head against the tree trunk. Everything went black
as I fell backwards over the remains of the campfire and dimly
registered a cracking sound and a pain in my leg......
awoke, they were gone. So was my gear. So was my rifle, and
my helmet and my boots and my pants and...everything else,
including the last of my cigarettes! I tried to stand, and
realized my left leg was badly broken (have you ever heard
of a leg being "well broken"?), and I had to drag
myself into the trees to find a suitable limb to use as a
crutch. I found another small, sturdy stick to bite down on,
to assuage my pain. Fortifying myself with a hurried, nearly
Bergmanesque meal of cries and whispers, and grimacing in
pain, I began hobbling back in the direction I'd come from
3 days earlier.
journey took me several weeks, during which time I passed
out frequently from the pain. I had no cigarettes to take
my mind off the throbbing pain in my leg, but I found that
biting the stick really helped distract me a lot. Fortunately,
the nicotine passed out of my system rather quickly, and the
accompanying jitteriness, rage, crying jags, random swearing,
and sudden depression helped me keep a sharp focus on the
trail ahead of me. I couldn't smoke; I just had to keep moving
along that trail... I finally limped into the village and
collapsed by the well, and was soon carried to the local clinic
over 2 years ago. I no longer feel the urge to smoke, but
there have been some lasting side-effects from the incident:
I burst into tears when I hear Creedence Clearwater Revival's
"Run Through The Jungle"; I black out if I see a
box of Kellogg's Frosted Flakes, and I have become addicted
to this damned stick! I have to take it everywhere and gnaw
on it. My wife left me, I got fired from my prestigious, high-salaried
job, and have become an outcast who lives in a paper box behind
the grocery store and has to sneak into the Public Library
to use the computer to read the messages on this newsgroup. Hey--it still beats smoking.....