Editor’s Note: Although Dr. Maxwell Reneldi will never be immortalized in wax at Madame Tussauds or even respectfully remembered by a stone marker, the explorer’s adventures symbolize bravery in the face of conflict. The following account was lifted from Dr. Reneldi’s personal journal, discovered two days after the his kayak overturned, killing all nine crewmen.
The neck of an elephant is thick and powerful. This thought I entertained (with a jazz trio and sizeable relish tray) as I bobbed carelessly on Muambo’s head.
Gliding through the moist jungle foliage, the elephant appeared content, joyous not to be carrying a waltzing chimpanzee at a charity circus in Cleveland.
Still not totally comfortable with controlling the beast, I occasionally twisted my toes in the wrong direction, causing the creature to trod obediently into a tree and glide backwards through a figure eight.
“Sorry Muambo!” I yelled from atop his cranium, “I’m still learning!”
Glancing over my shoulder, I noticed Omay, my servant, needed rest. He struggled to balance the supplies and mule on his back.
Years ago, I saved his life during an expedition in which I charted most of the Ruuotiyi Desert.
The heat melted the sand the day I discovered Omay. Lost and alone at an oasis, he attempted to drink from the pool. But, terrified upon seeing his reflection, he retreated from the water.
Omay, you see, had the semblance of a sea otter. I comforted the boy to the best of my ability. I lectured on the variety of nature. I spoke of inner beauty.
Then, I taught Omay to drink with his eyes closed.
In return, he pledged eternal allegiance.
Omay’s stomach growled, causing a jungle boar to charge our party. It was time to stop and eat.
A sharp pain streaked through my foot as I began to dismount. My toes curled inward, clenched into a podiatric fist, and began thumping Muambo’s neck like a bongo.
Obeying my spasmodic commands, the creature reared onto its hindquarter and danced the cancan. After 10 high kicks, he stopped, twirled, and practiced several aikido moves on an approaching rhinoceros.
Controlling an elephant is nearly impossible with piercing toe cramps. Throughout the elephant’s body improvisation, Omay’s loud cackle grew fainter and fainter. The beast shuffled deep into the dark, humid jungle.
I clung to Muambo’s neck like Jack to the beanstalk during a wind burst. Hot elephant breath churned from the creature as his trunk swung back and coiled around my waist.
I flew gracefully through the air, stopping only when finding a rare jungle boulder.
Bouncing from the rock like a pinball, I landed on a bed of soft jungle moss.
And fell unconscious.
The natives danced comic circles around the pot of water in which I stood. The sounds of drums and century-old chants echoed through the trees as a large warrior poked my ribs with a dull spear.
To my dismay, I was surrounded by several members of the Waabasa Tribe.
The garb of my captors was informal, even plain.
The gentlemen wore aardvark skins loosely around their waists. Necklaces fashioned from baboon incisors decorated their necks and wrists. Tiny bones, possibly human, jutted proudly through their noses.
Several men had painted their cheeks with colorful swipes, emitting the appearance of a thinner jawline.
The women stood aloof, a slight distance away. Many pounded jungle vegetation and saliva into a side dish for the main course.
The dancing became methodical. The rhythm quickened.
Miraculously, I freed my left foot, allowing me to tap to the beat.
The noodle in my shirt pocket began to soften.
A hulking tribesman yielding a crude steak knife approached, smiling, and smelling. I noticed an awkward gap between his front teeth which reminded me of my first violin teacher who overdosed on rosin.
I closed my eyes.
The ugly tribesman laid dead at the foot of the pot; a poisonous dart had pierced his jugular vein. The tribe surrounded him, pulling the death bullet from his neck in bewilderment.
Members of the tribe scrambled wildly about the grounds.
A flock of rednez flapped out of a giant mazardi bush.
Suddenly Omay, riding effortlessly on Muambo, crashed into the village. Bodies scattered from the charging elephant’s path.
Reaching the pot, Omay ordered the beast to lift me from my confinement. We disappeared into the night, much to dismay of the hungry tribe, who no doubt had to order out.
Fanning Omay with my right hand, I feigned a smile and fed him imported cherries with my left. He seemed pleased to be back with his family, living in his village, and having me attend his every need.
My mind was constantly occupied with thought of escape. He saved my life, that is true, but I could not tolerate this routine much longer.
“There are flies around my nose!” Omay yelled.
I shooed them away, hoping they’d return soon. I envisioned myself sneaking out of the village late at night. I could steal a horse and be at a telephone in Brionay in two days. Then I could make my way to ….
Omay gasped loudly, his eyes instantly growing to the size of cantaloupes. Springing upright in his hammock, he choked again, this time more desperately.
His face turned blue.
I sprung to his rear, clenched his stomach, and pulled inward, hoping to clear his trachea. Omay lay motionless and I thought I had acted in vain.
I pulled again. A squealing, whining, irritating noise sounded from his head as a tremendous cherry pit flew from his mouth. It landed a few yards away in a pile of dust.
The Next Journey
We are two miles into the Southern Territory, known to the natives as “Tiero Prunaas” or “Death Swamp.” My camel is holding up fairly well.
I wish I could say the same for Omay, who trails by a quarter mile; carrying two heavy bags of sand I jokingly told him were supplies.