Chapter Thirteen

My first impression is of bein squashed under somethin, such as my daddy was when them bananas fell on him. Can't move, can't yell, can't say nothin, can't do nothin - we is strictly here for the ride. Outside, lookin thru the winder, all I can see is blue sky. The spaceship is movin out.


After a little wile, we seem to slow down some, an things ease up. Major Fritch say we can unbuckle our seatbelts now, an get on bout our bidness, whatever it is. She say we is now travelin at a speed of fifteen thousan miles a hour. I look back an sure enough, the earth is only a little ball behin us, just like it look in all them pichers from outer space. I look aroun, an there's the big ole ape, all sour-lookin, an glum, glarin at Major Fritch an me. She say maybe he want his lunch or somethin, an for me to go on back there an give him a banana afore he gets angry an does somethin bad.

They has packed a little bag of food for the ape an it contain bananas an some cereals an dried berries an leaves an shit like that. I get it open an start rummagin thru it lookin for somethin that will make the ape happy, an meantime, Major Fritch is on the radio with Houston Groun Control.

"Now listen here," she say, "we has got to do somethin bout this ape. It ain't Sue - it is a male ape, an he don't look none to glad to be here. He might even be violent."

It took a wile for the message to get there an a reply to get back to us, but some feller down there say, "Awe pooh! One ape is jus like any other."

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"The hell it is," Major Fritch say. "If you was in this little bitty compartment with that big ole thing you would be singing a different tune."

An after a minute or two a voice come cracklin over the radio, say, "Look, you is ordered not to tell anybody about this, or we will all be made laughing-stocks. As far as you or anybody else is concerned, that ape is Sue - no matter what it's got between its legs."

Major Fritch look at me an shake her head. "Aye, aye, sir," she say, "but I'm gonna keep that fucker strapped in as long as I'm in here with him - you understand that?"

An from the ground control there come back one word:


Actually, after you get used to it, bein in outer space is kind of fun. We is without gravity, an so can float all over the spaceship, an the scenery is remarkable - moon an sun, earth an stars. I wonder where Jenny Curran is down there, an what she is doin.

Aroun an aroun the earth we go. Day an night go by ever hour or so an it sort of put a different perspective on things. I mean, here I am doin this, an when I get back - or should I say if I get back - what then? Go an start up my little srimp-growin bidness? Go find Jenny again? Play in The Cracked Eggs? Do somethin about my mama bein in the po house? It is all very strange.

Major Fritch be catchin a wink or two of sleep whenever she can, but when she ain't sleepin, she is bitchin. Crabbin bout the ape, crabbin bout what kind of jackoffs they is down at groun control, crabbin bout she got no place to put on her makeup, crabbin bout me eatin food when it ain't supper or lunchtime. Hell, all we got to eat is Granola bars anyway. I don't want to be complainin too much, but it seem like they might of picked a good-lookin woman or at least one that don't bitch all the time.

An furthermore, let me say this: that ape ain't no dreamboat either.

First I give it a banana - okay? It grapped the banana an started peelin it, but then it put the banana down. Banana started floatin all aroun the cabin of the spaceship an I got to go find it. I give it back to the ape an he start mushin it up an flingin the mush everplace, an I got to go clean that up. Wants attention all the time too. Evertime you leave it alone it commences to put up an enormous racket an clack its jaws together like a set of them wind-up teeth. Drive you nuts after a wile.

Finally I got out my harmonica an started playin a little somethin - "Home on the Range," I think it was. An the ape started to calm down a little. So I played some more - stuff like "The Yellow Rose of Texas" an "I Dream of Jeannie with the Light Brown Hair." Ape is lyin there lookin at me, peaceful as a baby. I forget there is a tv camera in the spaceship an they is pickin all this up down there at groun control. Nex mornin when I wake up somebody hole up a newspaper in front of the camera down in Houston for us to see. The headline say, "Idiot Plays Space Music to Soothe Ape." That is the sort of shit I has got to contend with.

Anyhow, things are goin along pretty good, but I been noticin that ole Sue is lookin at Major Fritch in a kind of strange way. Ever time she get near him, Sue sort of perk up an be reachin out like he wants to grap her or somethin, an she start bitchin at him - "Git away from me you awful thing. Keep your hans to yoursef!" But ole Sue has got somethin in mind. That much I can tell.

It ain't long before I find out what it is. I have gone behin this little partition to take a pee in a jar in private, when all of a sudden I hear this commotion. I stick my head aroun the partition an Sue has managed to grap a holt of Major Fritch an he has got his han down in her space suit. She is yellin an hollerin to beat the band an is crackin Sue over the head with the radio microphone.

Then it dawns on me what the problem is. Wile we has been up in space for nearly two days, ole Sue been strapped into his seat an ain't had a chance to take a leak or nothin! An I sure remember what that's like. He must be bout to bust! Anyhow, I go over an got him away from Major Fritch an she still hollerin an yellin, callin him a "filthy animal," an shit like that. When she get loose, Major Fritch go up to the front of the cockpit an put her head down an start sobbin. I unstrap Sue an take him behin the partition with me.

I find a empty bottle for him to pee in, but after he finished, he take the bottle an heave it into a panel of colored lights an it bust to pieces an all the pee start floatin aroun in the spaceship. I say, to hell with this, an start leadin Sue back to his seat when I seen a big glob of pee headin straight for Major Fritch. It look like it gonna hit her in the back of the head, so I turn Sue loose an try to head off the pee with a net they have give us for catchin stuff that's floatin aroun. But jus as I am bout to net the glob of pee, Major Fritch sit back up an turn aroun an it caught her right in the face.

She start hollerin an bawlin again an in the meantime, Sue has done gone an started rippin out wires from the control panel. Major Fritch is screamin, "Stop him! Stop him!" but before you know it, sparks an stuff is flyin all aroun inside the spaceship an Sue is jumpin from ceilin to floor tearin shit up. A voice come over the radio wantin to know "What in hell is goin on up there?" but by then it is too late.

The spaceship is weavin all aroun an goin end over end an me, Sue an Major Fritch is tossed aroun like corks. Can't grap holt of nothin, can't turn off nothin, can't stan up or set down. The voice of groun control come over the radio again, say, "We is noticin some kine of minor stabilization trouble with your craft. Forrest, will you manually insert the D-six program into the starboard computer?"

Shit - he got to be jokin! I'm spinnin aroun like a top an I got a wild ape loose in here to boot! Major Fritch is hollerin so loud I cannot hear or even think nothin, but the gist of what she is hollerin seem to be that we is bout to crash an burn. I managed to get a glance out of the winder, an in fact things don't look good. That earth comin up on us mighty fast.

Somehow I managed to get to where the starboard computer is, an hold on to the panel with one han an I'm puttin D-six into the machine. It is a program designed to land the spaceship in the Indian Ocean in case we get in trouble, which we certainly is now.

Major Fritch an ole Sue be holdin on for dear life, but Major Fritch holler out, "What is you doin over there?" When I tole her, she say, "Forgit that, you stupid turd - we is already done passed over the Indian Ocean. Wait till we go roun again an see if you can set us down in the South Pacific."

Believe it or not, it don't take much time to go roun the world when you is in a spaceship, an Major Fritch has grapped holt to the radio microphone an is hollerin at them people at groun control that we is headed for either a splash-down or crash-down in the South Pacific Ocean an to come get us as soon as they can. I'm punchin buttons like crazy an that big ole earth is loomin closer. We fly over somethin Major Fritch thinks look like South America an then there be only water again, with the South Pole off to our left an Australia up ahead.

Then everthing get scorchin hot, an funny little souns are comin from the outside of the spaceship an it start shakin an hissin an the earth is dead up ahead. Major Fritch shout to me, "Pull the parachute lever!" but I am pinned in my seat. An she is pressed up against the ceilin of the cabin, an so it look like it's curtains for us, since we is goin bout ten thousan miles a hour, an headed straight for a big ole green blob of land in the ocean. We hit that goin this fast, ain't even gonna be a grease spot lef.

But then all of a sudden somethin go "pop" an the spaceship slow down. I look over, an damn if ole Sue ain't pulled the parachute lever hissef an saved our asses. I remind mysef then an there to feed him a banana when all this shit is over.

Anyhow, the spaceship be swingin back an forth under the parachute, an it look like we is gonna hit the big ole green blob of land - which apparently ain't so good neither, since we is sposed only to hit water an then ships will pick us up. But ain't nothin gone right from the time we set foot in this contraption, so why should anybody expect it to now?

Major Fritch is on the radio an sayin to groun control, "We is bout to land on someplace north of Australia out in the ocean, but I ain't sure where we is."

Couple of seconts later a voice come back say, "If you ain't sure where you is, why don't you look out the winder, you dumb broad?"

So Major Fritch put the radio down an go look out the winder an she say, "Jesus - this look like Borneo or someplace," but when she try to tell that to groun control, the radio done gone dead.

We be gettin real close to the earth now, an the spaceship still swinging under the parachute. There is nothin but jungle an mountains beneath us cept for a little bitty lake that is kind of brown. We can barely make out somethin going on nex to the lake down there. The three of us - me, Sue an Major Fritch - all got our noses pressed to the winder lookin down, an all of a sudden Major Fritch cry out, "Good God! This ain't Borneo - this is fuckin New Guinea, an all that shit on the groun must be one of them Cargo Cults or somethin!"

Sue an me lookin down hard, an there on the groun nex to the lake, lookin back at us, is about a thousan natives, all with they arms raised up towards us. They is wearin little grass skirts an has their hair all flayed out, an some is carryin shields an spears.

"Damn," I say, "what you say they is?"

"Cargo Cult," Major Fritch say. "In World War II we used to drop packages of candy an stuff like that on these jungle bunnies to keep em on our side, an they ain't never forgot it. Figgered it was God or somebody doin it, an ever since, they is waiting for us to come back. Even built crude runways an all - see down there? They has got a landin zone all marked off with them big roun black markers."

"Them things look more like cookin pots to me," I says.

"Yeah, they do, sort of," Major Fritch say curiously.

"Ain't this where cannibals come from?" I axed.

"I reckon we will soon find out," she say.

Spaceship is gently swingin towards the lake, an jus afore we hit, they start beatin they drums an movin they mouths up and down. We can't hear nothin on account of bein in the capsule, but our maginations doin just fine.

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