I knew that the warden would probably send Ishimura to capture me. Ishimura was the most famous of all the trackers and bounty hunters. He could track anybody anywhere. It was said that if he found a broken twig he could tell when someone had passed by, which direction he was going, and how much change he had in his pocket. He could tell if an ant was acting strangely, indicating the fugitive was hiding nearby. A footprint made him laugh, because it made things so easy.
Ishimura also had a flair for the dramatic. Once he hauled a big dead shark into the prison. “What’s this?” said the warden. “I paid you to bring back an escapee.” Ishimura cut open the shark, and out plopped the partially-digested fugitive. Everyone applauded, even the family of the fugitive.
The helicopter swept back and forth. Sure enough, it was an Ishimura copter. I could tell from the slogan painted on the side: “You No Get Away.” But it wasn’t Ishimura in the cockpit — it was his assistant! What the hell?
I ducked down. But I didn’t duck down as much as I would have if it had been Ishimura himself.
I had to come up with a plan. And I did. And the plan was this: I would keep thinking until I came up with a plan.
On the Run
I stumbled through the jungle. Thorns scratched my arms and legs. Big tropical leaves slapped me in the face. Orchids seduced me into sniffing them, then sniffing another orchid, to pollinate it.
I had to get rid of my prison garb. With my Hawaiian shirt and cutoffs, I stuck out like a sore thumb.
I saw a house in a clearing and approached, cautiously. I would ask the owner for a change of clothes and some food and water. And also a shower and a fresh towel. And also some Scotch, if he had some. But only single-malt Scotch, not blended. I would make that clear.
I knocked on the door. A man answered. I started in on my list of requests, then I realized, That’s the warden! A woman appeared behind him, buttoning her blouse. It was his secretary. She said, “That guy’s a prisoner.”
I turned and ran.
I decided to lay low and hide out in the jungle. I learned to survive by watching the other animals.
From the water buffalo I learned to let birds pick insects out of my ears and nose.
From the wild dog I learned that endurance is more important than speed, and I was rewarded with a juicy snail.
From the hyena I learned to laugh, and from the hummingbird I learned to hum.
From the python I learned how to unhinge my jaw so that I could swallow a rat whole.
Like the dung beetle, I shaped my dung into a ball and rolled it along.
Like the chameleon, I changed colors to blend into the background, but I admit, not very well.
For direction, I depended on the stars, the Earth’s magnetic field, and the trail markers.
Then I heard a helicopter.