“The nuts? There aren’t any nuts here,” she shouted over the din.
“There, that guy is taking them now, and that woman just finished roasting some more.” John pointed to one of the women who stirred the contents around in a hollowed out stone.
“Oh, you mean those nuts,” she said, smiling mischievously. “Sure I’ll pass them, but take another careful look. I think the firelight is not allowing you to see particularly well.”
He waited impatiently for the bowl as anther villager finished raking some into his lap. Finally he had the bowl and began stirring nuts with his fingers. He picked up two of the inch- long morsels and examined them more closely. With the flickering amber fire and pale moon- light the food looked at first glance like roasted nuts. It had a nice golden color, and was firm to the touch.
He brought it up for closer inspection and let out a yell of disgust. Looking lifelessly back at him was a small set of roasted grub worm eyes, John could at last see as the bean shaped pupa suddenly morphed into a fat, earth-boring worm.
“A worm! A fat, disgusting worm!” He jumped up, legs dancing uncontrollably. The bowl went flying, sending the grubs airborne in all directions. He had the shivers, and his teeth itched.
Marta laughed hysterically. It was cruel she realized, but he shouldn’t be acting this way. “Lighten up. They won’t hurt you.”
“I can’t believe Steve left me here like this, eating worms. What have I got myself into, just to fly planes?”
“Don’t be that way. We all went through this at first,” said Marta.
“I’m sorry, but I can’t believe I actually like those things. How could you let me eat them without telling me what they were?”
“Because I didn’t want you to starve to death,” said Marta.
The animal skin drums pounded out a rhythm for the dancers, but as the evening wore on, the drummer’s endurance gave out as heavy arms grew tired. Now all that remained was a gentle drumming that provided only a sense of percussion to keep time.
“I really think they like you. You have made some impression on them, in spite of the act you put on earlier,” said Marta.
“Well, that pleases me to no end,” John replied.
“I know you don’t understand them, but they are saying nice things about you, and to you.”
“I really hope so, because all I have been doing is sitting here smiling and nodding, and I don’t want to be agreeing to something that I know nothing about,” said John.
“You mean you don’t want to marry the chief’s daughter?”
“WHAT?” John yelped in disbelief, waking Tucker.
“Oh relax, I was just kidding.” Marta tossed her head back, flipping her hair.
John looked on admiringly.
“All they have been doing is saying hello and giving you a good welcome,” said Marta.
“You play too many tricks. One day, when you least expect it, there will be one waiting for you.”
“You can’t really threaten me with something fun. I need a few pranks to make things a little more exciting. We have fun here, but imagine trying to tell jokes or play gags on people when there is such a huge language barrier,” said Marta.
The fire began to burn out. No longer did anyone try to feed its remarkable appetite. As the flames ebbed, more people started heading for their huts.
“Well, I think it is time to turn in. I’ll take Tucker to his bed, and I will see you in the morning.”
“Where am I going to sleep?” John asked, rubbing his eyes.
“Oh, I’m sorry; the chief has a place for you in his hut. Hold on, I’ll be back.” Marta walked away and spoke to the chief, who was happily eating leftover food. They spoke for a while before she returned.
“The chief has everything set up. As soon as he goes, he will let you know. Until then, have fun. I’m going to turn in.”
John watched her walk away from the fire. Her image grew faint as she left the light, until darkness consumed her. I wish you didn’t have to leave so soon.
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Remember, 100% of all royalties will be applied to Jeff's mission trip to Asia. Jeffrey W. Bennett, ISP is the owner of Red Bike Publishing. Jeff is an accomplished writer of non-fiction books, novels and periodicals. He also owns Red bike Publishing. Published books include: "Get Rich in a Niche-Insider's Guide to Self Publishing in a Specialized Industry" and "Commitment-A Novel". Jeff is an expert in security and has written many security books including: "Insider's Guide to Security Clearances" and "DoD Security Clearances and Contracts Guidebook". See Red Bike Publishing for print copies of: Army Leadership The Ranger Handbook The Army Physical Readiness Manual Drill and Ceremonies The ITAR The NISPOM