While attending a writers retreat we were sometimes given prompts and 25 minutes to write: This story comes from one such prompt we were asked to pick three pieces of paper just like a lucky dip and the 3 words were our prompts… Mine was Uruguay, Retired Prostitute and Gracious. These were my first prompts for the second I received “Who is that colourful character.” which was another prompt to be written on the return from our trip which was to Koh Panyee a village floating on the water, supported on bamboo stilts.
For my colourful character, I chose a fictional Pink ape and decided I would merge the two stories into one as he seemed to take a life all of his own…
The Pink Ape.
Prompt: Uruguay, Retired Prostitute and gracious.
Greta was en-route from Uruguay after a particularly arduous, fruitless trek through the forest lands bordering the Uruguay River on yet another frustrating excursion. No Pink Ape anywhere to be seen.
Ever since Greta had read an article in a wildlife magazine about Jungle Jim and his search for the Pink Ape she had fantasized that she would be the first to find him. Jungle Jim’s father had spotted and nearly captured The Pink Ape in the early 50’s and it was on one such expedition that his father had disappeared without a trace.
As soon as Jungle Jim finished his schooling he packed his rucksack and started his search, hoping to find his father and the Pink Ape.
Since reading this Greta had contacted Jungle Jim and had been funding his trips ever since.
It was now becoming an expensive pastime or indeed Greta was in her own words becoming obsessed; intent on being the first person to find a Pink Ape.
Jungle Jim though appeared to be on a mission, which involved relieving her of her hard-earned cash as fast as he could. Time after time she found herself on another wild goose chase.
Greta gracious to the last could not get angry with Jim but her ever-decreasing bank balance was plummeting downwards at great speed.
Bump! The plane landed. Walking across the hot, melting tarmac, the sun blazing down she saw Jungle Jim waiting.
“Greta, I have another great lead, this one’s a dead cert.”
“Come on Jim, no more, I have no funds left for another trip.”
“This one’s kosher, a definite sighting.”
Greta sighed….A Pink Ape.
The widow of one of the world’s richest men and now it was all but gone on her quest. Greta, however, was not one to give up.
Imagine the headline…..Widow of John. D. Rockingchair finds elusive “Pink Ape”
The ringing of her phone interrupted her thoughts “Hello”…she listened…sighed….” How much? Where?”
One must do what one must to find the Pink Ape, she thought.
To be continued:
The Pink Ape ( Part Two)
Prompt: Who is that colourful character.
Shelving her quest for a while Greta decided to join a group of friends on a Writers Retreat for some much-needed relaxation and writing.
Annie the host had organized trips out and other innovative ways of stretching their imaginations. It worked. The little band of scribes wrote, the words flowing from their pens.
The writers had a workshop on the beach, watched slides, picked words from an envelope, closed their eyes and stabbed their fingers to somewhere randomly on a map. All of this inspired the writers to write and write they did with abandon.
One day Greta and her writer friends were going to Koh Panyee a village floating on the sea, the houses supported on bamboo stilts, another inspirational trip.
The day began with yoga and breakfast, Greta’s was a Thai omelette and a fruit platter, soon it was time to go.
A slightly overcast day, grey and black clouds chasing each other across the sky as the writers set off on another adventure, a trip to get their thoughts flowing, exciting, so much fun. Into the bus, they clambered chattering away like magpies.
Soon they arrived at Sarasin Bridge, through the checkpoint, leaving the island of Phuket behind. Our tour guide Toon told tales of lovers who jumped into those waters many years ago. A story of forbidden love ending tragically is the bridges most legendary love story.
Just as in that other famous tale of forbidden love, Romeo & Juliet, the lovers made their way to Sarasin Bridge and with a loincloth, they tethered themselves to each other, one last emotional clinch and they jumped. When their bodies were finally recovered, it is said that they were still locked in their deathly embrace.
Arriving at the port the writers alighted from the bus, trooped across the dusty road, a quick wee and some impromptu hat shopping. Time to go, some climbing awkwardly, particularly Greta, onto the boat, ready for the journey, away they chugged, spray refreshing on their faces; towards their destination.
Calm and peaceful they passed imposing limestone karst rising majestically out of the emerald green sea; on the opposite banks, a total contrast, and Mango swamps eerie but beautiful. Greta shivered involuntarily imagining snakes and who knows what else lurking within. Maybe even a Pink Ape.
Suddenly the village appeared, brightly coloured shacks mixing with others, weathered and worn. Wandering through little Soi’s delighting at the beautiful pearls fashioned into necklaces, bracelets and earrings, dried fish, spicy, sweet mixes, wooden carvings of elephants. Those frogs that made a croaking sound when you ran the stick down its back, beautiful batik lovingly fashioned, much to see and delight at.
Amongst it all daily life meandered slowly alongside, men mending fishing nets, old ladies asleep in the doorways of their house or chattering in little groups, small boys laughing and swimming in the murky water below us, while Greta just imagined what dangers lurked in those same waters.
What was that? A quick movement had caught her eye, was that a flash of pink?
Greta turned. Nothing!
The air hot, humid; Greta’s need for water and sustenance was now a must, Greta made her way over uneven boards to a small restaurant to join her fellow writers. Plate after plate of delicious food was carried out to their table by a smiling Thai lady.
Tummy’s full of curried crab, prawns, fried rice and morning-glory, fingers smelling of that curry, but, Oh, What fun to eat.
Sadly, the time had come to leave this village floating on bamboo poles; rain which had threatened to fall all day finally came down. Moving inside the restaurant to escape the downpour the gang of scribe’s… people watched and dreamed of what they would write. Suddenly a small child unable to get his way erupted…what a tantrum, his mother tried to reason with him, that didn’t work and then exasperated she smacked him…Did he stop? Oh No!
He was in full flight.
Along came daddy, picked him up and cuddled him. Mum’s face was a picture and one which those of us with children could relate too…Oh Yes!
The rain had eased, into the boat they climbed, tired, ready for the journey home. Skillfully navigating the receding waters, the long tail boat moved swiftly with its now familiar chugging sound, they were homeward bound.
How busy this channel was now, lots of boats backwards and forwards, happy tourists, waving at all and sundry.
The tide now low, exposed the roots of the mangroves, creepy and beautiful.
Settling back, totally relaxed… A flash of pink caught Greta’s eye.
Sitting, waving from a gnarled branch was Jungle Jim the ever elusive Pink Ape draped around his neck!
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