“Let’s help them,” Tucker said, grabbing John’s hand and pulling him toward the commotion in the forest.
The village surroundings had been busy with the sound of leaves crunching, vines cracking, and rhythmic chants for the past 30 minutes. Tucker led laughing gleefully as they went to investigate. Finally they found twenty men pulling on thick vines as they advanced the progress of a huge sago palm toward the village.
“It is big, John. It will bring us lots of food. The kind you eat a lot of last time,” said Tucker.
“I don’t remember eating food from a tree. What do you mean?” John asked as he stepped in behind one of the men.
Both John and Tucker were now struggling with the cumbersome tree. They made slow progress as the tree scraped across the jungle floor inch by inch. Awkward at first, John soon fell in with the rhythm of the cadence and found the load easier to bear.
“We will bring the tree close to the village and pull it apart. It will die and soon the big bug will come and lay egg,” said Tucker.
“What kind of bug?” John already dreaded the answer.
“The bug that is big and we use wings for our decorations,” said Tucker.
“It sounds like a scarab beetle. What do you do with the eggs?” asked John.
“They grow the worm,” replied Tucker.
“Not the grubs! You mean I’m hauling a grub tree!” said John.
“You like them, yes?”
“I like them, no,” John replied.
“The man who ate all the worms says he doesn’t like them,” Tucker translated tauntingly for the benefit of the others.
“Why are they laughing?” asked John.
The men continued to cackle as they remembered that famous night.
Startled, birds fluttered away, and small monkeys shrieked in protest from treetop perches as the laughter permeated the jungle.
“Have your laugh, but remember the saying of Americans. ‘You are what you eat,’ bug man.”
“Hey, what’s so funny?” Marta asked as she and Sandy caught up to the cacophony.
“Just a little lesson about how this tree is host to beetle larvae,” John replied.
“Oh, the beetles. Those beetles.” Marta tried but she couldn’t suppress the grin that fought its way over the other muscles around her small but full-lipped mouth.
“Oh, you think this is funny too?” John said, poking her gently in the ribs.Marta fought to push his hands away. “Stop! That tickles,” she pleaded. Her knees buckled under the sheer exuberance.
Jeffrey W. Bennett, ISP is an author of non-fiction books, novels and periodicals.