Song: “He’s a Pirate” by Klaus Badelt
Here’s what’s gonna happen. We’ll crash land on that cliff over there.
I’ll hop out in that Olympic-style dive you know I love doing and almost break my ankle on the side of the mountain.
Wait. So you know the dive is gonna break your ankle, but you’re gonna do it anyway?
Shut up, Five. I’m the one making the plan here, remember?
Anywho…you’ll be right behind me and down we go sprinting at a treacherous pace through thorns, vines, bushes, and enough snakes to make Kaa proud. And what will be waiting for us at the bottom?
Of course! Because why would an uncharted jungle in the heart of Bolivia not be booby trapped by self-righteous explorers who blazed the way before us?
So boom! I walk through a trip wire tied between two bamboo trees and giant poles decked out with nails and swords come swinging down at us from above.
Again, if you know this is gonna happen, why are you gonna walk right into it?
Good grief, can a guy live a little?!
I’ll tuck and roll just in the nick of time to avoid turning into shredded deli meat. And you’ll be fine too because you’ll evade them in a much more sophisticated and less accident prone way as always.
Will your ankle be healed by now?
You know about my condition, Five.
The first step is admitting you have a problem.
No, the first step is having a problem. So I’ll let you know when that happens.
Back to the plan!
We’ll climb our way down to the bridge that, of course, is just narrow enough for us to fit one at a time. And this is where we’ll both be happy that we skipped out on those beef salteñas last night, am I right? We’ll hurry across, but of course not too fast because the planks look like they’ve been nailed in by a five-year-old. Not to mention we won’t want to fall into the raging river three hundred feet below.
“Don’t look down, Five!”
When we’re halfway across the bridge, we’ll suddenly be greeted by some friendly locals bearing freshly cooked cow tongue. And by friendly locals I mean rival bandits. And by cow tongue I mean guns. And they’ll start shooting immediately. It’ll be like a high school cafeteria on prom night. There’ll be feelings everywhere.
“You’re hit!” you’ll shout.
“Oh that’s what that is?”
And knives. Yes, they’ll have knives they’ll use to begin cutting at the ropes holding the bridge up. We’ll turn to run back, but there’ll be more waiting behind us and already halfway through cutting those ropes.
“Get them!” I’ll shout. “I got them!”
“Which them?!” you’ll shout.
“PIck one!” I’ll whip out my trusty Desert Eagle and take out the two guys in front of us while you feed some nice warm tapas of rejection into the ones behind us.
“Kudos to you, using a sniper rifle on a swaying rope bridge, my friend,” I’ll say. “It’s not your first rodeo, I see.”
But alas, it will have been too little too late. For the bridge will snap from behind us and we’ll go dropping towards that raging river beneath us. But I’ll already have holstered my Eagle and reach out and grab the bridge with one hand and your arm with the other. Then we’ll swing into the side of the mountain with a sickening crash that will almost knock the daylights out of me. But one concussion and seventeen splinters later, we’ll climb over the edge and be on our way.
And your gunshot wound?
The one you just got.
The one in the flash-forward or the one from last night?
Well, I can’t feel them, because I’m already running. And you know how that works, my friend.
We’ll rush through vines, branches, and more snakes, and even some dazzling toucans, then we’ll see it. The entrance to the temple ruins. At the bottom of a valley the size of a football stadium and embedded into a mountain, surrounded by a circle of snowy white waterfalls that cascade into the pool below like the talons of monstrous eagles.
“You stay here and keep a lookout,” I‘ll say.
“For what? I’m coming with you,” you’ll argue.
“What if those guys have friends lying around?”
“You just got shot.”
“And as long as I keep moving, I don’t feel it.”
“That’s not healthy.”
“Now’s not the time for therapy,” I’ll interrupt. “The important thing is you have a sniper rifle. I don’t. You can see them coming from up here. I can’t. I need you, buddy.”
You’ll sigh, but see the irrefutable reason behind my ramblings and off I’ll go. I’ll make it to the entrance and there’ll be a puzzle of some sort. Probably one that will involve moving pieces of the door around or recognizing some ancient Mayan symbols.
Wait, you don’t know what the puzzle’s gonna be?
I’m a planner. Not a prophet.
Regardless, I’ll figure it out, the door will open, and I’ll be inside.
How long am I gonna be waiting out here?
Not long, actually. Because it’s not that big inside. I mean, it’s built into a waterfall, after all. It’s not exactly enough room to make a Taj Mahal. It’ll just be big enough for a table and a few chairs for a leisurely round of backgammon. But it’ll be a little too stuffy for anything else beyond that.
And what exactly is inside?
Only the most important thing to me, Five. The thing that I live for.
I’ll walk across the room, make it to the stone chest in the back, and hoist the lid off. Inside, I’ll find a gold-plated magazine of feelings with raised lettering: STIMULATION. I’ll take a deep breath, pop the old magazine out of my gun, then load this new one in. I’ll shut my eyes, aim at my head…
Then I’ll get shot in the back with a rejection and everything will go black.
I did not see that coming.