We got our hands on a truck and began trudging up the coast to Mahajanga. Sebastian was reluctant to let me drive but as he was hammered on toaka gasy, it made the best sense. Well... until I ran over a heard of goats. I may have been a bit squiffed, hammered, swacked, high, boiled, drunk, inebriated, you get the idea, I was happy. He was a little pissed but as I mentioned earlier, Aye-Ayes are terrible drivers so I really blame him for being, I don't know, nicely irrigated with horizontal lubricant, more than me for the small error in driving.
"What the hell happened?" He was really pissed.
"Well... they just jumped in front of the truck." I fibbed.
"Jumped in front of the truck? A whole heard of goats, just lept in front of the truck? Do you think I'm stupid?" Well that particular question was, in fact, stupid because it's obvious that he's with the fairies right now.
"Well, maybe it was a suicide pact. You know, they wanted to die together and demonstrate their opposition to the communist oppression of the farm. 'Tear down the fence' they yelled just before I squished them." Another small fib. Goats speak Swahili and I really have no idea what they said.
"Oh my God! Your HIGH!"
"Well..." Crap, busted "not exactly 'high' per say. More buzzed if you will. I had to make a pit stop and supporting the local merchants was important. And well... they had some herbal teas that were quite tasty and I had no idea they were made from wormwood and hemp. No clue. Honest." Another fib. Oh hell, it was a lie. Needless to say Sebastian was not happy giving two-hundred bucks to the farmer for suicidal goats and the farmer was less that thrilled with receiving two-thousand dimes but at the very least we were able to keep moving. He drove for a while.
* * * *
"The dimes are still an issue? I thought that was addressed a while ago"
"Look... I have no idea where the dumb ass gets the dimes, I'm not interested in using dimes and frankly, if he wants to run his money through the dishwasher to clean it that's fine with me. Besides, something like eighty-percent of all twenty dollar bills has cocaine on it. I'd wash the crap too."
"Coke, Really? But dimes are so... I don't know... dimey? I'll need to keep thinking about that one. Please... do go on."
"Golly thanks... gee wiz boss it is sooo nice of you to allow me the privileged to continue. Golly gee shucks."
"Sarcasm is not helping here. Keep it nice."
"I do NOT like you. You are picking apart everything I have to say. If you would focus on the story and Sebastian more you would be better off. I am starting to get pissed."
"Are you threatening me?"
"No... just pointing out your behavior. You are more interested in ripping apart my story than you are in helping Sebastian. You could care less about him and more about destroying me. Keep it real doc, you're being a jerk."
* * * *
As I was saying before the interruption, the farmer insisted that we take a few dozen peppers and a few bottles of tekanga so there was no need to make too many stops. We did rest in the coastal town of Manambolsy and had dinner with a family living there. The food was wonderful, sea bass and squid if I remember correctly, and the family was more than polite. They did appear rather nervous when we asked about Barry Schmelly. Whether they knew anything or not was unclear. What was clear, was that they had no intentions of discussing Barry or even mentioning his name.
We had a restful sleep in the hand tied hammocks behind our host's home... well, it was restful for me, Sebastian could not get comfortable and kept trying to use me as a pillow. We loaded the truck and began the last leg of our trip to Morombe. As we reached the half way point the road was washed out and we had to take a small detour through a wonderful forest thick with lemurs, indris and foliage. It was a delightful place with the smell of earth and sea air floating just in front of our noses. Unfortunately, we had to break down as far as possible from anywhere. Leave it to Sebastian. Not that the truck breaking was necessarily his fault but seriously, what are the chances that the fuel tank would simply fall off the truck. Though I will give the man credit for creativity along with creating a fine cheese sandwich however, he was planning to fix the truck himself and all he needed was some string. Do I use idiot too much? Perhaps, but only when needed. He headed off into the edge of the forest against my recommendation. He never listens.
"Wheeeee!" Not so much the shout of a man. More like a high pitched whine of terror being emitted from the throat of a twelve year old girl. I ran quickly, unsure of what the issue was but knowing full well that it was probably a ridiculous mess of some sort and as usual, I was right. He had himself caught up in a man eating tree. A tree with an insatiable need for an human eating, people devouring life style. I should mention here that either the tree was not truly a "man" eating tree or it loosened its standards and was now a "man screaming like a little girl with her undies in a bunch" tree. Pathetic. The tree doesn't even have teeth!
"What the hell is happening" He shrieked... again.
"Well... It appears your are being eaten by a tree. Not so much eaten as gummed really. The tree will wait until your a bit softer before it eats you. Few days at the most." I was in a clear position of power.
"What? Get me the hell out of here!"
"What do you have for the tree in trade? They will only let you go if you trade them something."
"Holy shit! I don't know! How about a nice Aye-Aye! How long will it take to tenderize your little ass?"
It was clear that he wasn't thinking clearly at all. The trees in Madagascar are many things but none of them would ever dare mess with an Aye-Aye. Way too risky. Besides Aye-Ayes have historically tender butts. The nerve.
"I'll speak with the tree and see what I can do but I make no promises. After all... I'm 'only' and Aye-Aye."
We had a nice conversation, and yes the trees can talk in Madagascar. We chatted about family, friends and plans for the summer; he wasn't traveling this year. We shared a laugh or two at Sebastian's expense and I explained that I was comfortable taking advantage of Sebastian's good nature and would be most appreciative if he would give me my pet back. After some more small talk and an agreement that I would send him a picture of a giant red wood from the states, I don't judge, Sebastian was lowered to the ground. All in all it was a painless process for me though Sebastian was a bit unhappy with the whole thing. He should have stayed away from man eating trees. That's just common sense.
* * * *
"Okay wait... that is too much. A tree that eats people? Be a little realistic."
"No shit? Pathetic people like you are he ones that rape the forests and leave trees for dead. Yip Yap. I need to get on with the story and at the rate I'm going the tree will have eaten Sebastian then you'll have a freaking mess wont you?"
"So now your telling me that you had a conversation with a tree. That is supposed to make sense?"
"Well maybe not for a plonker such as yourself. Have you ever been to Madagascar? No. So unless you would like to take a trip down there soon I suggest you shut the hell up and let me tell the freaking story!"
"Now now Bentley," Great now Sebastian is getting involved "Just tell the story and answer the questions as they pop up. You can loose the vociferous attitude. Just be nice."
"Fine. Whatever. Your a dolt too. But I'll continue."
"Well it really is my story not yours. I think you're loosing focus on what I want and need. I'm the one that wanted to be here, to talk to the Dr. not you. What are you afraid of?" As Sebastian was speaking I was counting the number of ceiling tiles. He's right, I know what's best for him, he doesn't, thats why I'm slowly taking over.
"Fine fine, just go back to sleep and I'll keep it real."
"So it's okay for Sebastian to jump in when ever he wants to but it's not okay for me to speak with him?"
"Bingo doc. I'm going to continue."
* * * *
Once free from the tree we continued our trek North, finally reaching the shore of Morombe. Okay wait... this is really bugging me... I need to insert something here. Why the hell does everything have to be so freaking difficult! A few days prior I was content drinking beer and fondling every hot poodle that strolled by, and yes, they love to be fondled. Now here I was knee deep in chaos searching for the ingredients of a cheesecake. There is absolutely no reason to do this. For some reason I had the prophetic feeling that the cake is only the start of something important. If not for my life than for the life of Sebastian. Though I haven't known him for too long at this point I am pulled to his aid by something far greater than myself. I just knew that this was not about the vanilla, but about him. His quest for understanding his role in society or even his role in his own community may be the larger issue. Or perhaps he just wanted to get laid and figures this is one way to get there.
The tree is an excellent example of his stupid thinking. The tree would most likely have let him go soon enough but to Sebastian, he had no sense of waiting, planning or simply discussing the situation. No sense in the greater picture beyond himself. He went immediately to screaming like a little girl and what did it get him? Jack shit. He really needs to get hold of his emotional stability. I know the guy lacks confidence and has a difficult time with social skills but crap. He needs, no, humans really need to take a step back from their own little slice of hell and understand that chilling out and settling down is a much better way to go through life. People need to live their life like it matters. Just an observation. The need to live their life for the sake of bringing prosperity to those less fortunate. How pathetic humans look when they place what they have created above the spiritual, when the weeping of a nursing mouse is silenced by the slam of a trap or a box of D-con. Respecting ones position in life is critical. Embrace it or change it but holy shit... quit bitching about it. Wow... I got a little off track there. But the relationship Sebastian had with the tree illustrates that. If he would have just chilled everything would have been fine. Yip yap.
The repairs to the truck were only temporary and as soon as we approached a cluster of shacks we pulled in and went in search of some proper materials to finish fixing the gas tank. It was an odd bunch of ramshackle huts and miscellany sitting atop a deciduous floor. Nothing was wrong specifically, yet there was a very uneasy feeling, eerie and far too docile for my comfort level. The first thing I noticed was how diminutive everything was. Not tiny but miniature, as though children were living here. But there was no activity to speak of.
We continued to explore the area and found a small fire still burning and on top of that a tiny pan filled with fried pistachios. Since there was clearly no one around I helped myself. I do love pistachios and well, I wanted them. While I was filling my tum tum Sebastian continued to look for something that would hold the truck together for a few hundred kilometers. He had some luck in locating wire and some additional twine. All in all it would be enough to hold the tank to the truck. If only it were that easy. Remember, Sebastian is a harbinger of bad luck. Do not blame the Aye-Aye for this one!
It was a small rustling at first and then a full cacophony of the forest shaking and rattling, screeching with distant rambling voices and shrieking its secrets. Completely unnerving, the noises had a horrible effect on my Chi. Sebastian was close to wetting his pants; I simply used the bush. Louder and more focused. "cha-cheep... cha-cheep... cha-cheep." It was scary as hell if I do say so myself. We were not going to linger there any longer. We had what we needed and we could repair the truck someplace, anyplace else.
We scampered to the truck and started the engine. Of course it immediately stopped running and the sound suddenly quit. Now it was dead silent and way creepier than the noises. I had no idea what was happening, perhaps I pissed someone off over the pistachios. Hell, I'd gladly pay for them! Golly it wasn't that many and I didn't even leave a mess! My panic was getting out of hand and Sebastian finally let go and wet his pants. THUMP with the fulmination of the ages. I wet myself at that one.
On the hood of the truck was a Kalanoro. A three foot tall, smelly, hairy, toothy critter with hideous feet pointing backwards and a clear problem with drooling. Not simply a bugaboo, these little bastards are real and nasty. Okay... I'm guessing this was not about the pistachios. Thank God, I love the damn things but I'm not willing to die for them. A Kalanoro can eat hundreds of them and never get full. If you want to attract a Kalanoro, my mum always said, fry pistachios. We were knee deep in their village, if you can call it that, and they were pissed off to say the least. They are very quiet creatures and are only seen on rare occasions, such as Valentines day, of which we were no where near, apparently they like chocolate and lame greeting cards from the West as well. "So now what?" I say to myself. Then I say "This sucks!" and Sebastian agreed.
We had no idea what they were interested in doing. We assumed they were interested in disemboweling us and using our entrails for fish bait but then I remembered that they are not into fish and would rather just eat us. That was of no comfort to Sebastian; he wet his pants again. Snicker. However there was something they wanted and it was up to me... the "Ferocious Aye-Aye from Mahajanga!" to solve our little problem. Hey! Chill with the looks. It's my story I'll tell it like I want! Besides... I can kick some butt when needed. This time however... I simply threw poo.
Yeah yeah... I know... It is something that chimps and lesser primates tend to do when confronted with fear and panic. I picked up the defense when studying karate in Japan a few years ago. There was no way I could spar with those oriental fellas but when I launched a mitt full of crap at them they bailed. Cool. Besides, what the hell else could we do at a time like this. These little bastards were looking a bit cranky and were more than ready to feast on Sebastian's tender parts and most likely mine as well. I threw poo.
I scampered from the truck through the window, and was on the roof in no time. With a sphincter of steel I loaded up on the poo of death and began throwing turds with an effort never witnessed by man nor beast. One poo, two poo, the dejecta emerged with rage and fury. "AHH-EEE." that was me screaming... "AHH-EEE... eat crap you nasty beasts!" After what felt like an eternity I finally regained my composure and was prepared to view the chaos and destruction that my poo tossing left in its wake. They were eating it as only a merdivorous animal could and were clinging to the notion that we would be a most tasty snack. Sebastian was able to get the truck started and drive away from the malodorous mayhem I left behind. I looked back from my perch on the top of the luggage rack and they were still eating my crap. Goofy bastards.
"You threw your feces at them." Sebastian was in awe I could tell.
"Yup. Worked too. I knew they loved the stuff." One of these days I will tell him the truth. Maybe but doubtful.
"Then what was with all the screaming and shouting? You sounded like you were preparing to kick their ass and instead you simply fed them lunch. You are such a bad ass Bentley." So he didn't buy it this time.
"You don't know addle-head! You poop on demand and toss it at someone. Come on. Go for it!"
"Fair enough. Now what?"
"Off to Mahajanga I suppose." I was more than a little tired and really wanted to get home. So we drove. Drove through the swarms of rabid mosquitoes. Drove through jungle thick with the stench rot and decay. Drove on paths made by little more than migrating lemurs. Drove exhausted. The road, if you can call it that, offered Sebastian the opportunity to observe raw nature. Nature in the most unfettered state. I honestly believe that good old Chuck Darwin, I can call him Chuck, would have had way more fun here than on that crappy archipelago on the other side of the continent.
The rest of the trip North was uneventful, thank God. We did have the chance to stop and repair the truck, I was able to find some tasty giraffe beetles, Sebastian declined a neck, and I met up with some friends that hung in the area. Sebastian never did change his pants; he just figured they would dry. I was getting rather tired of the mess he was dragging me into and I looked forward to getting home, finding Artemis and getting this damn bean thing taken care of. I knew that this stupid cheesecake held some sort of power over Sebastian, I just had no idea what it was, to what extent or why. But I was in this for the trip and out of sheer morbid curiosity.