(The Saga of Caveman Hom, Episode 9)
Autumn continue. Leaf turn red, then fall from tree. It pretty. Day still warm, but now rain fall often, wind strong. Night cold, and morning have bite. Winter come soon.
One day come big noise from forest — it screaming! Someone hurt very bad. It sound like man. Maybe big mountain cat attack! But this strange. We see big cat from distance many time. At first we scared, but she never bother us. Me think she not like eat human, she prefer deer and goat. This good news for tribe.
There also small cat in forest. They good at hiding. Sometime small cat creep slow to fire, try steal fish. Mostly she not succeed — when dog see cat he woof, cat run. Sometime cat lucky, but we not mind small cat — she harmless.
Big cat different story, she deadly. Me think she know we good hunter, so she stay away. She not same like small cat — she wise. She not want trouble with human. So why she attack now? It not make sense.
But this not time for thinking — it action! Me jump up quick with other hunter. We grab weapon, move fast through forest. Scream come again — we run to noise. Me hope it not too late. If man screaming, it mean he alive. Maybe he lucky, like cat. It still chance.
We find man at place in forest where tribe build special cave from stick and leaf. This private place for smooching. Sometime me come here with Gel for make loud sex. It better sex than cave. Always in cave is other women. Maybe they make harsh judgement of sexual prowess? This big worry for all men. So tribe happy for cave of stick. We not discuss detail, but everybody come here for private smooching. If cave occupied, we not mind wait. But we discreet.
But now in cave is no smooching. Cave broken! Man lie on ground nearby. He still screaming, but now it weak. He covered in blood. It look like man fall onto cave. Sharp stick pierce body — it poke through side, under arm. It very bad injury. Then me see Arca. She hold bow with arrow ready. It point at other man. He sit on ground with hands on head. He tremble. He not injured, but very scared. He turn head at noise when arrive, but Arca not move. She keep arrow pointed. Then me notice, Arca not wear loincloith — she naked! Me look for Cheri, but me not see.
‘Where Cheri?’ ask Ali. He think same like Hom, but he ask first.
‘In cave,’ say Arca. ‘She safe.’
‘These men try join in,’ say Arca. ‘We not want. So men attack.’
‘It not true!’ say man who not screaming. He speak in silly voice, but he sound familiar. Me look closer. Me recognise — it Foo! He expert on worm, from old tribe. But now he wear coconut on chest, like man who say he woman.
‘Foo,’ me say. ‘It Hom!’
He turn, he see me. ‘It good see Hom again.’
‘Why you speak in silly voice? Why you wear coconut on chest?’
‘Me woman now,’ he say. ‘Name Fooella.’
Now me notice Foo wear many small flower in hair. Some flower pink, some blue. Flower pretty. But flower in hair bad mistake for Foo. He not pretty man, but now flower show truth — if he woman, it worse.
‘What this?’ Ali laugh. ‘You make joke?’
‘Me serious,’ say Foo. Then he jerk head toward injured man. ‘You remember man, name Pev? Now she woman too, name Pevette. This mess her fault.’
‘You, Pevette,’ say Arca. ’Stop noise or me kill Fooella. Then me kill you.’
Me look again at injured man. He wear coconut on chest, like Foo. Me move closer, for see face. Me recognise — it really Pev! He also have flower in hair, but it few. Maybe rest fall off in fight.
‘Pev,’ me say. ‘What happen here?’
But he not answer question. ‘Pev gone,’ he groan. ‘Me name Pevette.’ Then he sleep sudden. Me bend down, examine wound. It very bad — me hiss through teeth. But when me look close me have small hope. Stick go through side, but it not hit lung. Maybe it not hit any organ. It possible he survive.
Me turn to Ali. ’Go fetch Gel,’ me say. ‘Quick!’
‘Me bring Chief too,’ say Ali. Then he go.
Me say Arca, ‘We have spear. It no need shoot Foo. Hom, Gai, Cul — we all here. We good hunter. Foo not escape.’
‘Fooella,’ say Foo. ‘Me name Fooella!’
Arca glare. ’Me want kill now.’
‘That murder,’ me reply. ‘Me not know what happen, but he no more threat. He only annoying.’
‘But he try… he try…’ Suddenly Arca lower bow and cry. ‘Cheri,’ she sob. ‘Cheri!’
Cheri crawl out from broken cave. She also naked. ‘Me here,’ she say. ‘Me have bruise and few small cut. But me no problem.’
Arca drop bow on ground. She run forward for hug Cheri. Hug last long time. Then Cheri crawl back in cave of sticks. She pull out loincloth. ‘Here,’ she say. ‘It chilly. These warm.’
When Chief Fem arrive with Gel, Arca and Cheri wear loincloth. Fem bring twine of deer sinew — it very strong. She hand twine to Gai. She point Fooella. ‘Tie him,’ she say. ‘And make strong. Me not want escape.’
Gai take twine. He tie hands of Fooella. Then he tie feet. Me help. Cul watch close. He keep spear ready for kill Fooella if trouble. Arca pick up bow and arrow, she also watch ready. But Fooella not make trouble. He only cry.
Pevette still unconscious. Gel go quick, examine wound. She shake head. ‘It bad,’ she say. ‘It possible treat, but first me need remove sharp stick. Then much blood come, me need work fast. So me not pull stick yet. Me need prepare.’ Then Gel fetch cauldron and herbs. She light fire, boil water in cauldron. By now arrive whole tribe. She ask fetch two hide of deer, now dry and ready for wear. We fetch. Then Gel say, ‘Me treat here, but it need shelter for make warm. Cave need fix.’
Fem agree. ‘But this difficult,’ she say. ’This man — name Pevette?’
‘Pevette in way.’ Fem point. ‘He lie on cave. If fix cave, need move.’
‘Me know,’ say Gel. ‘Me nearly ready. Me wait only for boil. Then it time pull sharp stick. Me clean wound, stop blood. While me do this, tribe fix cave. When cave ready, in go Pevette. He stay here for night. Me also stay.’
‘Me understand,’ say Fem. ‘But what if he wake? Maybe he try kill. Me think it need guard. Who volunteer?’
Me speak up, but Fem smile. ‘Not you, Hom. You husband of Fem. This smooching place. Me worry you distract Gel.’
‘Me not distract. Me guard!’
‘Word final,’ say Fem. ‘Who else want guard?’
In end, Fem choose Ali and Cul for guard. They good with spear. She also choose Cal. She good with arrow, and have good temper, always calm.
When water boil, Gel drop hide of deer in water. She add herb. Then she stir cauldron with stick. Steam rise with smell of herb. Gel sniff air, then nod. ‘Me ready,’ she say. ‘Time for move.’
Tribe take position for lift Pevette. Ali slide hand under body, take hold of sharp stick. ‘It slippery,’ he say. ‘Much blood.’
‘That nothing,’ say Gel. ‘You see.’ She pull hide from water. She put handful of herb in mouth. She chew. Then she take position by Pevette, near wound. ‘Ready?’ she say.
‘One,’ say Gel. ’Two. Go!’
Now tribe lift. It take much strength. We grit teeth. Ali hold stick firm, he pull. Slowly, stick move. Pevette open eye, he squeal like pig on spear. At last stick come out. Blood gush hard. Tribe lower gently to ground. Then Gel do medicine. She move fast. She spit out herb in hand, she press in wound. Pevette make bad noise of pain, then he sleep again. Gel wrap hide around body, she make tight with twine.
Meanwhile, tribe work hard, fix cave of stick. Bivi supervise — she design cave, so she know what do. We follow instruction, but sometimes there mistake — then Bivi angry, she shout! She say she not know we so stupid. She say it miracle we survive! Tribe smile. Everybody like Bivi. She small, but she fierce! Nobody argue — only fix mistake, then continue. We work fast. Night come soon. But we lucky. Cave finish in time. Bivi inspect. It messy work, she say, but it enough for use. She tap cave with foot. She say it sturdy. Tribe proud of work. Maybe cave messy, but we not mind. It still good.
Pevette still sleeping, but he groan in sleep. Gel brew more herb in cauldron for use later. But first we need move Pevette into cave. Bivi have idea. She take many stick, tie together with twine. It make long platform for carry. Tribe lift Pevette gentle, put down on platform. This time he not wake. Then we carry platform into cave, leave there. Gel fold more hide. She reach over, lift head of Pevette, then place hide under. Then she go back to cauldron.
‘What think?’ ask Fem. ‘He live?’
‘Me not know,’ say Gel. ‘Wound bad. In morning, me look again.’
Fem nod. ‘Me understand,’ she say. ‘Medicine always uncertain.’
‘Life uncertain,’ say Gel. ‘It work of Nature Spirit.’ She smile. ‘Medicine same.’