(The Saga of Caveman Hom, Episode 17)
Pevette not die. After many days in cave of sticks, wound heal enough for move to big cave. Pevette still weak and much pain, but we careful — we tie leg to big rock, and guard watch close. Gel continue treatment, and he gain strength. But when tribe make plan we not discuss detail in big cave. We not trust. We not let him hear.
Sentry keep watch over mountain pass. Every day we test drum when sun rise, and again when fall. It big drum, made from hide of goat, stretch tight on frame of stick. It have good sound loud or soft. Sometimes we make strong beat, tribe dance. But we not dance long — it too cold, and alarm important. We not want surprise attack. So we make other drum for dance.
Soon come snow. Tribe wrap warm, huddle in cave. Hunting continue, but success grow rare. We lucky for dried meat and mushroom for add to catch. In evening we make weapon, we make rope.
Mat teach counting to rest of tribe. He give name to fingers of hand. Each name same like number. He make tribe hold up finger, say name. He say this counting, but it easy! We repeat many time til boring. Then Mat make few mark on ground. He ask tribe count mark same like finger. At first we confuse, but in end everybody learn count mark with finger.
Then Mat begin other hand — he try teach more number for finger there! But this too much counting for tribe. Only Tix have patience for understand. Mat not mind. He say tribe learn much counting already. In future tribe not think counting special. Instead it come easy, like walk in meadow. Then it big help for tribe. Everybody laugh — he crazy! But Mat not mind. He have good sense of humour. He laugh too. But me think he right.
Wound heal slow but steady, and soon Pevette better enough for help tribe. He make shoe, he make tool for scrape hide. He scrape. He work slow, but careful. He still tied, but he not make trouble. He cheerful.
Once night after eat, Fem say, ‘You, Pevette. Soon you better enough for walk. When snow melt, you return men tribe.’
Suddenly Pevette stop smiling. He stop stitch shoe for look up. ‘Men tribe?’ he say. ‘Why me want that?’
‘Why you not want?’
‘It many reason,’ say Pevette. ‘For start, it no boobies there. Only coconut.’
‘What wrong coconut?’ ask Nizzi.
Pevette shrug. ‘It nothing wrong. It good for eat, or make bowl for soup. Hair of coconut also good for make string. And milk tasty. But it never replace boobies.’ He smile. ‘Me like woman tribe.’
‘It plenty boobies here,’ say Fem. ‘Me admit.’
‘Boobies nice,’ say Pevette. ‘But it more.’
‘It also punani,’ say Min.
‘That true. But it more again.’
Pevette think for while. Then he say, ’Woman tribe have good Chief. Also dog. Me always like dog. He friend. When he go over mountain, me sad. Me very happy see dog again. He remember! When he see Pevette, he happy! He woof. He lick face! Me happy too.’
‘So,’ say Fem, ‘you want stay women tribe?’
‘You stay for dog, and big dream of boobies?’
‘No,’ say Pevette. ‘That not it. Now me have bigger dream.’ He sigh. ‘Me want family. This good place. To me it feel like home.’
‘What really happen men tribe?’ ask Min. ‘Why pretend you woman?’
Now Pevette continue work on shoe. ‘It strange thing,’ he say. ‘But we scared of Tra. He rule with strength. He give stick to Henn and Schmenn. He say all men bad, need hit with stick. They hit! Men not like, so we decide we women, same like Tra. Now Henn and Schmenn not hit. This good — we think we solve problem.
‘Then Tra say he woman who like sex only woman. We also like sex woman, so say again we same like Tra. But this big mistake! Now Tra want plenty sex everyone. We not want sex Tra, but we afraid Henn and Schmenn. So Tra get plenty sex. He very happy. But most men miserable. Sex Tra not same like sex woman. Me know it not wrong, but for me it feel wrong. It go against Nature Spirit in heart. And worse — when first me have sex Tra, he look eyes. Me know he see truth — it feel wrong. Me not want. But this only make him happy. Because me not want, he want sex more.
‘This scare me deep. And after sex, me throw sick. When Tra see, he hit many times with stick, he shout, he scream insult in ear. He make me clean sick. He spit face. Then he kick ribs and throw out.
‘After that, me careful. Me pretend me like sex Tra. Me close eyes, make picture of woman in mind. Me imagine big boobies, soft skin. Me imagine me have other body, and this life only dream. Me imagine me pig in forest — hunter chase, but me escape! Or me small cat asleep on warm rock. Sometimes me imagine me woman. Me imagine many things, for try enjoy. Sometimes it work. But after sex Tra, me always throw sick.’
Tribe silent. We not know what say.
‘Me know you not believe,’ say Pevette. ‘But me know truth. This better place.’ He point at rope on ankle. ‘Me know me prisoner. Me not belong woman tribe. But that not matter,’ he say. ‘Me safe.’
Again, tribe silent. It magic in air.
‘And plenty boobies,’ add Pevette. Then he laugh.
Tribe laugh too.
‘It many men unhappy in men tribe,’ say Pevette. ‘They not like rules — it too many. Tra make bad Chief. With him, it no escape! If man, you bad, you evil oppressor of women. He hit with stick. If woman, you need always good smell and flower in hair. If not smile, not walk with wiggle, you not sexy — maybe you man! It need follow order, or you bad woman — he hit with stick! With Tra, it no between!’
‘What between?’ ask Nizzi. ‘It man or woman. It no between.’
‘Me not mean that.’ Pevette quiet for moment, only stitch shoe. Then he say, ‘Me mean this — it no need man evil oppressor; if not, he still man. It no need woman wear flower — she stay woman! Why not man wear flower?
‘But Tra think all men same way. Me know some men bad, but he blame all — he hate just for exist! He know he man, so he hate himself! That why he say he woman. When he see man, he not see human, only monster. He think only monster is real man.’ Pevette shake head. ‘It not true! Men mostly good. Me know me bad — but me not monster! Me criminal, grab boobies without permission. Me regret. Me obsessed with boobies. Me see boobies, me lose control. So now it need punish for bad actions. Maybe you hit with stick? That fair. Me bad man. It true. But that not same like monster!’
‘Pah!’ say Ruti. ‘Of course not all men monster! But look what happen when Tra come along! He say he woman. He wear coconut for pretend boobies, but he man. He say he King of Women. This crazy — women not have king! This obvious, but it not matter men. They not listen women, but they happy listen Tra. They very impressed. They like idea hit bad women with stick. So now Tra have followers. And soon he Chief, but worse — he king! He say he woman, but he monster. Maybe he King of Monsters!’
’He monster,’ say Pevette. ‘But same time he only man. And maybe he Chief, but he no longer king. He not secure. Without boobies, men always unhappy. So Tra have big problem.’ He stop make shoe, for look Chief Fem in eye. ‘Me think men come soon.’