(The Saga of Caveman Hom, Episode 4)
Next day me, Hom, tell wife Gel about big men meeting. Me say Chief Boz think women make big trouble, so he want make rules, stop trouble. Me tell Gel of Tra – he man who think he woman! Me say Chief Boz want make Tra King of Women, so he supervise other women.
Then if Tra hear bad women, he hit with stick, report to Chief. Me tell of men-only vote. Boz win, new rules pass. But we catch Tra cheating so Boz say vote not count. Gel say never mind cheating; men-only vote illegal! Me agree, hang head in shame. Me sorry.
But me warn Gel, me think men not care vote illegal. Many men want stop women talking, stop always laughing at men willy. So me think another vote come, again men-only. Maybe rules pass, no cheating – then big problem for women.
Me know vote still illegal, but men bigger, stronger – so what women do? Situation bad. Gel understand. Me look eyes, she angry. But still much love. We hug, kiss. Then she get up, leave cave, go visit wise woman, name Krone.
Me stay cave with children. Me help children mix paint, make picture of cat on wall of cave. Paint make big mess. It fun!
Krone live in forest, in special cave of sticks, leaves. She mother of Hom, but she not want live with tribe. Sometimes she visit, but she not stay long. She not interfere. She good woman, but she strange. Krone like walk in forest, talk to plants, animals. She hug trees.
When woman give birth, Krone come. She make medicine. She sing song. After few days baby safe, mother safe. Then she go back to forest. Everybody know Krone – everybody respect.
Some men fear Krone, but they silly. Me know she have power, but me not afraid. She strange, but she still mother. Me always love mother.
Night fall. Me light fire, skin rabbit, make soup for evening meal. Gel return, hug children. We kiss. She see picture of cat, she laugh. Soup ready, we eat. Children tired, soon sleeping. Gel sit with me by fire, want snuggle. She not speak of visit to Krone.
But Gel ask favour. She say, ‘Tomorrow, you go, collect grub from bark of tree. Collect many nuts, berries. Try catch pig. Soon we have visitors.’ Me curious, but me not ask questions. ‘No problem,’ me say. ‘Me fetch water too.’ Gel smile, but she sad. More snuggle. Then sleep.
All next day me gather food. Me get many fat grub from tree, also nuts, berries. Me also catch pig, and few rabbits, easy! Me good hunter, but me know me not that good. Me just lucky.
That night Gel ask more favour. She say, ‘Tomorrow here is meeting, woman only, in afternoon. Top secret. Me want you cook, serve food. Me not want women go hungry.’ Me agree. Then Gel say, ‘Meeting dangerous. If Chief find out, he angry! It dangerous.’ Again me agree.
Then Gel ask, ‘You have friends? Good men? You trust friends not tell Chief? Then you ask friends, come, bring spear. Keep watch. If other men come, they warn women. Women run, hide. We not want fight. But if fight, good men protect women.’
Me think careful. Me say, ‘Yes, me have friends. Me know Gai, he not like rules. Gai have special friend Fab, he same – like sex only men. Me think they help women. Maybe other men also help. Me ask, but careful. Asking dangerous. Few is better.’
Gel very happy, she give big hug. ‘You clever,’ she say. ‘You understand. Me trust.’ Then she want snuggle. Then sex. Me like! But after, me worry. It long time before sleep.
In morning me leave early, go find Gai, Fab. Me ask help – no problem! All agree. Me also find friend Ali, he agree too. Ali promise bring son, name Cul. Cul have keen sight, sharp ears, he good at climbing. He hide up tree, keep lookout.
If other men come, Cul make noise like call of owl. Then we hear, we know men coming. We warn women, they hide. Then good friends of Hom come quick to cave, sit by fire, make loud boast about big willy, sexual prowess, skill at hunting pig.
Ali think this fool other men easy; they not think women meeting, they go away. But if not, if trouble, then no problem – we fight! Ali very good with spear.
Me think this good plan. Me hug Ali, promise repay favour. Then me go back to cave, light fire, prepare food for big secret women meeting.
Me roast grubs on fire, dip in sauce of sweet berries. Friends spread out, keep watch for men. Cul climb tall tree. Soon women come, small groups. Me put grubs on sticks, offer women. They take. Me skin rabbit, make soup. More women come. Me offer more grubs while soup cooking.
Women talk quiet. Me not listening – hear few words only. Some women leave before soup. Some stay eat. Me keep out of way – me not want trouble with women. After women eat, some soup left. Me put in coconut and take out for friends.
Me also bring few grubs, nuts, berries. Friends happy, like soup. Me go back to cave, cook pig. Women come, women go. Always small groups, quiet talking. Always thank Hom for make good food. They say it very tasty.
Night fall, and soon all women gone. Only Gel left. Me go fetch friends, we sit by fire, eat last of soup, finish pig. Much laughter – we worry for nothing. We happy, sing songs of friendship.
Then come big shout! Man come running to cave! Ali reach for spear – he ready for fight. But no need – it only Foo, man who expert on worms. He very upset – he crying! He say Chief Boz injured very bad! Me afraid. Me think maybe women attack Chief Boz.
But no. Foo say Boz spend all day eating old plums. Plums good to eat when old – all boozy! Everybody know Boz very fond of boozy plums – he always eat many – he like pissed up feeling. But this time he eat many many – he have big argument with eldest son, Buz.
Buz tell Boz he man now – he want make spear for hunt pig. But Boz say no, Buz not man, he still only little boy – weak like woman. Buz argue with Boz – he say he not weak, he strong! He say he big enough kick Boz arse into next solstice! Boz say ‘Oh, you think you big man now?’
Boz point at big rock – he say Buz, ‘You think you real man? You pick up rock! You throw. Then I throw. We look how far rock go. Then we know who is biggest man in cave!’ Then Boz eat more plum. But Buz pick up rock easy – he strong! And he throw rock far.
Boz impressed – he stand up, but he so boozy he fall down. He get up again. He go with Buz to where rock land. It go far – Boz smile. He tell Buz maybe he man after all. But maybe not, he say! He make Buz carry rock back to cave.
Then Boz pick up rock – he strong too! But he still pissed out of mind. He try throw rock, but grip fail. He drop rock on foot – he scream! He fall over, bang head. He get nasty gash, much blood. But much worse – now foot all smashed up.
Buz scared – this bad injury! He scream for help. Foo hear, come running. He see foot, he very afraid – bones all broken. Foo think foot ruined. He think fast – he think of wise woman, Krone. He think maybe Krone can fix foot with herbs and magic song.
Foo say he not trust magic, but it only hope for Boz. But Foo not know where Krone live. He not know forest. He not like walk through leaves. He scared of snakes and spiders. He scared of Krone. But he know Krone is mother of Hom, so he come here, find Hom, ask help fetch Krone.
Me agree fetch Krone quick. Me pick up spear, run through forest to cave of sticks. When me arrive, she there waiting. She lean on long stick. Stick have animal skin tied on top, filled with herbs. Krone say me, ‘Hello son. Is problem?’
Me kiss. “Hello mum,’ me say. ‘Yes, Chief Boz drop rock on foot. He hurt bad.’ Krone nod. She say, ‘We go, but me old. Walk slow.’ Me say no problem. Then Krone point at tree. ‘You want plum?’ she say. ‘Plum good. Very ripe.’
Me not want plum, but me never rude to mother. So me pick few plum for journey. Krone hand over clean animal skin for carry. Me wrap. Then we go. It not take long. It dark, but Krone know shortcut – go straight to cave of Boz.
Boz lie on floor of cave, he very pale. Me see gash in head – it not so bad, no bleeding. But when me see foot, me nearly throw sick. It real mess! Krone see foot, she hiss through teeth. She know this bad. She ask Boz wife, Min, go fetch water, heat on fire.
Min go. Then Krone slowly sit down. Me hear bones creak – she old. But she not complain. She open animal skin, take out herbs. She peer close at Boz foot. ‘This very nasty,’ she say. Boz groan. ‘Please Krone,’ he say. ‘Help me. If you help, me send fresh meat every day.’
Krone laugh. ‘Me not need meat,’ she say. ‘Me have plenty food. But me here to help. Me use herbs, ease pain. Me clean wound. Maybe you not die. But foot never heal – that me know. Foot finished.’ Boz start to cry, but Krone sing song of healing.
She stroke Boz head, gentle. Slowly, he calm. Soon Min bring hot water. Krone crumble herbs in water. She wash Boz foot. He scream, but Krone sing as she work, and soon screaming stop. He asleep.
Krone take wet herbs, pack around foot, wrap with leaves. Then song finish. Work done. Krone say Min, ‘See water with herbs left over? Keep hot. When Boz wake, he drink. He feel better, sleep again. He probably survive.’
Min very happy hear this, she cry, she jump on Krone with hug! But still bad news. Krone say, ‘Boz survive, but he never same. He invalid now. Tribe have problem – need new Chief. Tomorrow, we must begin election ceremony.’