Mar 3, 2008

My Jungle is The Jury, J.Hartley

My Jungle is The Jury
by James Hartley

I was standing there in the African Veldt, minding my own
business, waiting for the traffic light to change. When it did,
I started to step across the game trail, but a herd of okapi
thundered by, running the light, and I jumped back. When the
okapi were past I looked in both directions and crossed. She was
waiting for me on the other side of the trail, leaning up
against the front of a grass hut that sold fast food - gazelle
burgers, maybe, or cheetah steak.

She must have been rich, the way she was dressed. Her loin cloth
was embroidered in genuine gold, and the diamond in her navel
must have been 12 or 13 carats. The only thing unusual about her
was the shrunken head she wore on a leather thong about her
neck. She spotted me walking toward her. "You must be Sam
Nk'spade," she said in a sultry voice that matched the sultry

"That's me," I answered. "And you're Tiffany Tikitiki, the one
who sent me the letter. Come on, let's go to my office."

We turned and walked along the side of the game trail until we
came to the cheap office tree where I have my office. We climbed
the vine to my branch, walked out to the office, and entered. I
waved her to the pile of leaves I keep for guests, and squatted
down behind my desk. "OK, Mrs. Tikitiki, what is the problem?"

"My husband was murdered by the mob. They put out a contract on
him, and some gorilla rubbed him out."

"Some guy rubbed him out?"

"No, some gorilla! Big, hairy, your typical gorilla."

"You have any evidence?"

She lifted the shrunken head and said, "This is him. Look at
him. Just look at him! Owwwhhh!" She started to cry and dropped
the head to fumble in her purse for a leaf to blow her nose on.
After a while she calmed down.

I was beginning to suspect that this case was going to be
anything but simple.

* * * * * * * * * *

The above partial manuscript was found in the abandoned library
of the long-defunct Mount Jackson College, an obscure school in
northwestern New Jersey. Scattered notes nearby suggest that
this may have been an early draft of a collaboration between
Dashiell Hammett and Papa Hemingway. Confirmation of this would
be a major milestone in the History of American Literature.

Can anyone out there in the academic community help us with
this? Notes, more of the manuscript, anything? Thanks.