Fifty Gorillas by Paul Kavanagh
There were fifty Gorillas in the jungle and we had to catch them.
The Gorillas killed little boys and little girls and women and men and old men and old women. When the Gorillas needed food the Gorillas killed horses and goats and dogs. The Gorillas were always hungry and always killing.
There were three thousand of us to catch the fifty Gorillas.
We received special training because the fifty Gorillas were very dangerous. We were trained how to use guns and how to throw grenades and how to set traps and how to sleep and how to eat and how to read the jungle. The jungle was a very dangerous place, just as dangerous as the fifty Gorillas. We trained on how to disappear in the jungle, how to turn into a tree, a snake, an ape, a tiger. We trained on how to build a hut, a fire, a bath to wash in, how to jump from tree to tree. We trained in jeeps and trucks and we trained how to jump out of helicopters. Some were trained to speak and think Gorilla. Some were trained on how to track Gorilla. Some were trained on how to fix the violence and how to save lives. The Gorillas were very violent. Some were trained on how to speak out against the Gorillas. We were trained on how to catch the fifty Gorillas.
Jet planes and helicopters flew over the jungle looking for the Gorillas. The Jet planes dropped bombs and the helicopters sprayed bullets into the jungle.
We have to go into the jungle, said the General.
The three thousand were split into three groups. One group would come from the left, one group would come from the right, and one group would come down the middle. It was decided that the Gorillas would be pushed into the mountains. Some Gorillas prefer the mountains, but the Gorillas we were hunting preferred the jungle, they were jungle Gorillas, not mountain Gorillas.
They tell you about the claustrophobia but they never tell you about the fear that the world has been turned upside down. You stop but the jungle keeps moving. You look up but really you are looking down. There is no death in the jungle only renewal. You fall down you pick yourself up.
We set up camp.
The botfly plants its eggs on a mosquito and the mosquito gives you the eggs and the eggs hatch and the next thing you know you have maggots under the skin eating their way out, said the Priest.
Some burrow the other way, said my brother, smiling and exhaling smoke through his nostrils.
Infection and death, said the Priest.
Tell them about espundia, said my brother.
I once knew a man that caught espundia, said the Priest. The parasite had been passed on by the sandfly. He turned to pulp and worms. He was searching for the Rafflesia flower.
We broke up camp.
Days turned into weeks and there was no sign of the Gorillas.
Even in sleep we could not escape the jungle, it influenced, swayed, orchestrated. Its vines and fronds grew out of the heart.
Gorilla one: The Gorilla was crouching on the river bank. The Gorilla’s trousers were down around his ankles. The Gorilla looked as though he was suffering constipation. Between strains, the Gorilla splashed his arse with water. Fearful, somebody threw a grenade. Within the cloud appeared butterflies.
Gorilla two: The Gorilla ran out of the jungle with his gun pointed at us. He was shot and then shot again. He dropped into the river, dead.
Gorilla three: The Gorilla had a machine gun and the Gorilla sprayed the jungle with bullets but the bullets went over our heads and a single shot to the head killed the Gorilla.
Gorilla four: The Gorilla hid behind a tree but the machine gun cut down the tree and cut the Gorilla in two.
Gorilla five: We caught the Gorilla and the Captain asked the Gorilla a few questions and the Gorilla lied and so the Captain shot the Gorilla in the back of the head and we carried all the dead Gorillas to the river and threw them into the river and the river carried the dead Gorillas away to the sea.
A lobster in a tank, in the corner of a famous restaurant, sees a finger pointing at it and so it stands up and says to the other lobsters in the tank, Why me, and the other lobsters in the tank say, Why not you, what makes you special, said the Captain.
The fight went on all day and all night. The Gorillas were very brave. The Gorillas killed a lot.
Gorilla six: See Gorilla ten.
Gorilla seven: See Gorilla ten.
Gorilla eight: See Gorilla ten.
Gorilla nine: See Gorilla ten.
Gorilla ten: We caught the Gorilla. We tied the Gorilla’s arms and legs and we stood the Gorilla on a box, under a tall tree, and we placed a noose around the Gorilla’s neck and then we kicked the box from under the Gorilla’s feet. The Gorilla was struggling and so we pulled on the Gorilla’s leg until he stopped struggling.
You enter the interior. The rhizomes grow with alacrity. Through the boughs, leaves, vines you see blue sky, nothing more than specks, but still it is blue sky. At the nadir, you say, softly, blue sky come with me. Death is a slow affair, painful, very slow. You keep going round and round. You stop but the ground beneath you carries you like the butterfly on a train of ants. Round and round. They tell you about the claustrophobia but they never tell you about the fear that the world has been turned upside down. You stop but the jungle keeps moving. You look up but really you are looking down. There is no death in the jungle only renewal.
Gorilla eleven: Afterwards, we found out that this Gorilla was female. The female Gorilla was very brave and very dangerous. The female Gorilla killed a lot. When the female Gorilla ran out of bullets she pulled out a machete and the female Gorilla changed with the machete held heavenward. They took the machete away from the female Gorilla and cut the female Gorilla down into little pieces.
Gorilla twelve: It is surprising how much blood there is inside a Gorilla. We watched the Gorilla bleed to death.
Gorilla thirteen: This Gorilla was unlucky. The Gorilla was hiding up a tree. We were leaving the area. A loud thud made us turn. The Gorilla fell out of the tree and broke its neck.
We came upon the neck bone and full head of a giraffe. The Gorillas had killed the giraffe and cooked the giraffe and consumed the giraffe. Some cried. The General cried the most. We were ordered to make camp and drink. We found palm-trees and tapped the palm-trees and then we drank one hundred and fifty kegs of palm-wine.
Gorilla fourteen: My brother showed me a trick. My brother put the head of the Gorilla in a bag of lime. The Gorilla inhaled and exhaled. The Gorilla inhaled. The lime had turned to cement in the Gorilla’s throat.
Gorilla Fifteen: The Gorilla was beheaded.
Gorilla Sixteen: Beaten to death.
The spider bit the boy and the boy asked why the spider had bit him and the spider looked at the boy and said because I am a spider and so the boy took off his shoe and crushed the spider and the boy’s father asked the boy why he had killed the spider and the boy said, Because father one day I will grow up to be a Gorilla, said my brother.
Gorilla seventeen: Used for target practice. My brother lost a week’s wage.
The fighting spread. The Gorillas were fighting hard and pushing all three columns back. The Gorillas killed a lot. There were bodies scattered everywhere. A lot of our friends were butchered.
Gorilla eighteen: See Gorilla twenty.
Gorilla nineteen: See Gorilla twenty.
Gorilla twenty: Some engineers decided to make a machine. They cut down trees and sawed through the wood. They hammered nails into the wood. They constructed a chamber. They pushed the Gorilla through the chamber. My brother pointed to the handle and I started to turn the handle. I could hear the razors, the knives, the hammers, the saws, the machetes, the scythes working; I could hear the hacking, sawing, cutting, slicing, carving.
You need to go faster, said one of the engineers.
I worked myself into a glistening sweat. The Gorilla started to appear. Little pieces of the Gorilla fell off the conveyor belt. From the slits on both sides of the machine, matted hair and crushed bone and pulped muscle and intestines and brain in thick liquid oozed out. We fed the cubes of Gorilla to the horses and the dogs.
Gorilla twenty-one: Scalped McCarthy style.
Gorilla twenty-two: We found a Rafflesia flower in an opening. It was soft, spongy. The air around the flower was rancid. I saw a ring on a wedding finger. The vexed flies bit us and sucked upon us.
Gorilla Twenty-three: The Gorilla had a fever. The sick Gorilla had been left behind by the other Gorillas. The doctor took a look at the Gorilla. The doctor shook his head and gave his half-smoked cigarette to the sick Gorilla. After a few pulls on the cigarette the Gorilla was shot in the back of the head.
Gorilla twenty-four: Stabbed with a thousand knives.
Gorilla twenty-five: The Priest talked the Gorilla to death.
Gorilla twenty-six: It was three-two and in the sixty-third minute and the referee had awarded a free kick on the edge of the box and the wall was forming and the goalkeeper was orchestrating and the free kick taker was eyeing the goal when the head fell apart.
Gorilla twenty-seven: The Gorilla was starving, on the verge of death. A skeletal head, which could hardly move, was resting on a small rock that jutted out of the vegetation. The Gorilla breathed unevenly and was febrile and confused. We didn’t know what to do with him, somebody wanted to shoot him, somebody wanted to string him up, somebody wanted to stab him, slit his throat, garrote him, but we just stood around him. My brother stooped to one knee and poured water into his mouth. We decided that the Gorilla was in need of a prandial orgy. We found a lot of food. We stuffed the food down the Gorilla’s throat. The belly expanded and still we stuffed the Gorilla. All kinds of food were pounded into the Gorilla’s mouth. The Gorilla swelled. The Gorilla produced funny noises. The Gorilla exploded.
Gorilla twenty-eight: The Gorilla was shot in the back.
Gorilla twenty-nine: The Gorilla was shot in the back.
Rocks jutting from the vegetation appeared more frequently. We were moving closer to the mountains. For five days and nights we had chased the Gorillas. The air was thick with Gorilla smell and we could hear the Gorillas. They cursed us and damned us and threatened us. Finally, exhausted, the Gorillas took a stand. They bunkered down between jutting rocks. Tall rocks, cavernous. We took cover in the thinning trees. For three days and nights we exchanged gunfire and grenades. We did not kill one Gorilla. The Gorillas killed a lot. If it had not been for the Priest many within our ranks would have deserted. The Gorillas roared and most within our ranks shit themselves with pusillanimity.
Collect the dead, said the General. We need to do something.
We are losing, said my brother.
Do you prey? asked the Priest.
Words are spores. Sentences are rotten tubers. You are nothing more than an anthropomorphic parrot, said my brother.
You sound like a Gorilla to me, said the Priest.
My brother tapped me on the shoulder with his machine gun. I turned.
God was once very small, said my brother. The monk that traveled with the Conquistadors was frightened of losing God because God was so small so he housed God between the pages of a book. It was a small book. The monk was able to carry God in the small book and stuff the small book into the pocket of his robe. God must have been so small because only the monk could hear the words spoken by God and the monk had to repeat the words so everybody could hear what God had said. The monk was very careful with the book and he allowed nobody to touch the book. No matter how dangerous it was the people could not help themselves, they had to be near God. They traveled great distances to be near God and to hear the monk relate God’s words. One day somebody touched the book and the monk got very angry and he ordered the Conquistadors to butcher all of the people.
My brother was shot between the eyes and he fell down dead.
Gorilla thirty: Said the priest.
A jet plane flew overhead, bending the trees, the sound reverberating in the rocks.
Gorilla thirty-one: See Gorilla forty-one.
Gorilla thirty-two: See Gorilla forty-one.
Gorilla thirty-three: See Gorilla forty-one.
Gorilla thirty-four: See Gorilla forty-one.
Gorilla thirty-five: See Gorilla forty-one.
Gorilla thirty-six: See Gorilla forty-one.
Gorilla thirty-seven: See Gorilla forty-one.
Gorilla thirty-eight: See Gorilla forty-one.
Gorilla thirty-nine: See Gorilla forty-one.
Gorilla forty: See Gorilla forty-one.
Gorilla forty-one: The jet plane dropped a huge bomb. The explosion removed eyebrows and hair from arms and legs and gave many permanent perms. We found legs and arms and heads in the trees. The rocks were no more.
The mountains were serrated, snow-capped, hazy in a soft pellucid blue. The Gorillas tried to climb the mountains. We caught the last of the Gorillas on a ledge. They were starving and dehydrated and febrile and confused. The wind careened and howled and snow fell.
Gorilla forty-two: The Gorilla had a terrible tooth infection. After the pulling of the tooth, the Gorilla bled to death.
Gorilla forty-three: A trepanning. The evil spirit was successfully removed. The Gorilla bled to death.
Gorilla forty-four: Strappado Villon style.
Gorilla forty-five: Leeches were applied to certain parts of the Gorilla’s body. The lechers grew to the size of cabbages. The Gorilla was left a skeleton.
Gorilla forty-six: The Priest called it Cauterisation. Hot pokers were inserted into all the holes of the Gorilla.
Gorilla forty-seven: The Gorilla was secured inside the belly of the Brazen Bull and the wood we had collected was lit and the flames licked the Bull’s sagging belly and the screams from inside the belly of the Bull escaped through the smoking nostrils.
Gorilla forty-eight: The Gorilla got to experience the delights of Iron Maiden.
Gorilla forty-nine: The Guillotine.
Gorilla fifty: Crucified.
© Paul Kavanagh
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