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by: Jonathan Antony Strickland
With mouth agape, Wilbur “The Brute” Boswinkel stood in silence like the rest of the crowd around him and watched the huge ape plummet. The fall was breathtaking, burning itself into the nightmares of the onlookers, a fitting end that seemed only too right for one so majestic. King of the unknown, the mysterious Skull Island, bouncing and tumbling in the throes of death, his enormous bones breaking with each sickening blow. And even though to the terrified onlookers his roar grew louder the closer he descended upon them, if you listened very carefully, his cry felt as though it grew weaker by the second as the pain within him sapped his mighty strength.
He hit a small building, three stories high that was dwarfed by the great skyscraper. The sound a body makes when hitting concrete from a great height is terrible enough but when that body was so large, the tremendous thump it made as it was dumped down was magnified to a level of spine chilling revulsion. The noise was truly sickening, though none felt any sympathy at the time.
Still not dead, even from a fall so high, even though two of the three stories had buckled and smashed beneath his great weight, Kong still let out a defiant roar that sent the crowd running in fear. In their masses they fled in panic. Some falling, trampled beneath the hundreds of feet as the people ran wide eyed and screaming in an attempt to get away as far as possible from him as the massive ape made to stand once more. Alas, as big and strong as he was, his bullet riddled body was broken and as he tried to haul his colossal weight up in defiance, his muscles failed him and he pitifully collapsed down, his mouth filling with blood from the substantial internal damage he’d sustained.
Even Wilbur, with his many years working as a journalistic photographer, who’d made it his business to be in the middle of some of the deadliest situations that the dark streets of New York could spew up, everything from insane street riots to horrific mafia assassinations and shootouts, found himself running in terror before his training kicked in and he’d remembered the camera around his neck. With this thought, he forced himself to freeze, eyes shut, gathering his composure as the screams of the crowd faded behind him.
When he again opened his eyes, not a soul remained. The whole surrealness of the situation hitting him like a ten ton tanker. Only moments before he had been surrounded by hundreds, watching the crazy battle atop of the Empire State Building, the next, screaming in terror as Kong crashed down, and now eerily alone with the hulking beast. He watched as the masses ran from him and as his shaking hands gripped the camera he had to ask himself why he too did not follow. But before the ugly coward that hides within us all could answer the question, the other part of his psyche, the part that had led him into journalism screamed out… “Before ya turn yellow, think of the money ya can make!”.
Kong lay on his back, his great chest heaving up and down and a gurgling noise emitting with each breath as his blood flooded his lungs. His eyes began to close as death crept into his body and he began to dream of his old stomping ground and the tiny and beautiful creature that had fascinated him so much. He did not know how the miniscule thing had cast such a glamour upon him, enriching his thoughts, stirring a passion within him that he’d never felt. It was not as if he had never encountered these things before and although his memories did mainly involve surviving the bigger toothier things within his land, the little things that scampered about had always been there as well. Indeed, memories of the things once fearing and worshipping him, singing his name and sacrificing some of their own to appease his wrath happily came flooding back into his dreams. And mighty tasty they were too!
It was when the other things appeared that the trouble started. They were pretty much the same as the ones he ate, though lighter in colour, their bodies covered in a variety of soft strange leaves like no plant he’d ever seen. They carried with them evil shiny sticks that violently sneezed out puffs of smoke that made tiny holes appear in his skin. These holes caused pain, burning pricks of painful fire, and with this pain Kong’s anger grew as he began to hate all but the one of the new tiny creatures.
Suddenly a bright flash woke him and with great effort he turned his head to the right as his eyes flicked open to gaze upon his tormentor. One of the creatures carried in its tiny hands a flashy light thing that he hated so much. Why did they point such a thing at him, surely they must now know how angry it made him. That blinding white light burned his eyes, making him dizzy and of course… ANGRY! Another painful light blast followed, followed by another and another. Even in death the anger returned, anger that gave strength back to his muscles, anger that made a low guttural growl escape from his blood soaked mouth as he gritted his teeth in frustration and he made to swat at the infuriating little creature that pestered him.
The huge hand swept by the spot Wilbur had been standing in but moments before as he photographed Kong. If Kong had not been mortally wounded he’d probably wouldn’t have been able to evade the blow and no doubt would have ended up splattered from one end of 5th Avenue to the other.
Wilbur knew that this was his moment, though he didn’t have long. He surmised he had only a couple of minutes before the police arrived, followed no doubt by the crowd who had just fled the scene. He really had to work fast.
“Say cheese banana breath”, he shouted out while taking pictures of the dying giant gorilla that now lay still (this time for the last time), only faintly alive, watching helplessly as Wilbur snapped away with his camera. Having taken half a dozen pictures of the great beast’s head, Wilbur quickly began making his way around Kong to get as many angles of the great ape as possible. He worked as quickly as he could, snapping picture after picture.
“This is it”, he thought to himself. “This is the big one. The one that’s gonna make me world famous.”
Wilbur could see it all. How every newspaper would not only want the pictures of the dying beast but also the story from the last man to see Kong alive. His name and pictures on the front cover of every two bit ragtag paper in the world. He’d even thought of a title as he remembered the sickening noise (though now to him it sounded almost sweet) as the beast crashed down.
“The King of the Dumps”, he said gleefully to himself as he took more pictures.
“All those years. All those frigging lousy years working ma balls off day in and day out for a few measly dollars, and now this big ugly hairy assed monkey turns up and makes it all worthwhile.”
He shook his head at his unbelievable good fortune, then shouted out to the dying ape: “Kong… Ya big dumb bastard. I could fucking kiss ya.”
In truth, Wilbur “The Brute” Boswinkel had made himself quite a bit of money and something of a reputation in the journalistic world. The money however was usually gambled or drank away, and as for the reputation, even though it was a noted one, it was not a reputation of honour. Various people had fallen fowl of Wilbur’s poisonous pen and putrid pictures. In his time he’d exposed several high class affairs including one of America’s up and coming female actresses. Her real name had been Jean Louise Dregs, though on becoming famous she’d wisely changed it to the more glamorous Melody Manzanita. After appearing in various low budget exploitation films where her buxom talent was made to stand out (mainly of a science fiction or horror theme, which always involved her scantily clad form being chased about by some schmuck in a badly made rubber monster suite) she’d married young and rumour said to a guy who used to rough her up a bit. So as fame threatened, it was hardly surprising that she found some solace in the arms of a fellow actor. His name was Dirk DooGood, one of Hollywood’s leading men, who’s fame let him wield great power over his directors. He was also a known and notorious womaniser who used his influence to make any dame he took a fancy too semi-famous, just as long as he got his fun with them first!
Alas, so it was that on one starry and moonlit night in the Metropolitan Museum of Art’s car-park, Wilbur had caught the pair of them at it, in the back of DooGood’s Cabriolet, secretly photographing a different kind of beast that day than the one he currently did. Ye old beast with two backs!
When the story broke, Melody had virulently denied it saying it had not been her in the back of DooGood’s car and that Wilbur Boswinkel was nothing but a liar and a fraud, repeatedly calling him a callous brute who sought only to make a name for himself, even if it meant using underhanded means. When DooGood on the other hand was asked about it he simply shrugged his shoulders and gave the press a telling wink before swaggering off to the nearest bar. But a picture doesn’t lie and the public were left in no doubt that it was she who had spiderly entwined herself around the dastardly DooGood.
Three days after the story broke, Melody Manzanita took her own life. An overdose of sleeping tablets washed down with a bottle of gin. She’d left a note stating how sorry she was and hoped that her family and fans could eventually forgive her. She also wrote that she wished the worst on the brute who’d photographed her and sincerely hoped that he got his comeuppance through time.
This one story rocketed Wilbur up the ranks of the paparazzi, becoming their most infamous member. Not that this was a bad thing, indeed being known as a total scumbag in the world of reporting was a sure fire way of getting the big boys to take note of who you where. One thing stuck though from the Manzanita story and that was her constant labelling of him as a brute, thus Wilbur “The Brute” Boswinkel was born.
As Wilbur made his way around Kong he could hear the voices of people approaching and knew he had but a few brief moments before New York’s finest arrived on the scene. The only other noises where that of sirens in the distance and the last few breaths escaping from Kong’s lungs as his great chest heaved up and down. There was one other noise that at first Wilbur did not understand, a slow beating sound, so low in volume that it was more felt than heard. It reverberated through Wilbur’s body, reaching his very core, reminding him of a time when in school playing cowboys and Indians, the children playing Indians would sometimes beat sticks on old tree stumps when pretending they were sending each other tribal messages. It took a moment before he realised the sound was actually that of Kong’s heartbeat.
Time was running out as he ran around snapping more pictures, knowing that the tabloids loved to see the scene from all angles. In his excitement he nearly forgot to change the film, giving himself a verbal telling off as his professionalism faltered and the giddy amateur photographer that he so hated slipped into his soul. He stopped, changing the film for a fresh one, then composing himself before again looking up to get more pictures.
He found himself starring directly up into the anus of King Kong. He shook his head and grinned an evil money filled grin. There was no way that the newsboys were going to pay him for this shot, but of course that didn’t say nobody else would. Let’s just say that Wilbur knew a variety of weirdos who would pay handsomely for the more obscure and specialist picture. Perhaps the money would be nowhere near what he’d get from the pictures he’d sell to the tabloids, but that was not the point. Wilbur had always considered himself something of an entrepreneur, determined to wring out every cent, be it proud and shiny or grubby and dirty.
As he pressed the button on the camera to capture the obscene view, the familiar flash was replaced with a “dink” like sound, the noise that every photographer dreads when in the middle of an unfolding event. Wilbur of course was prepared, ever the professional he regimentally dropped to his knees while removing his camera in a move he’d practised for just so an occasion. Quickly he unscrewed the dead bulb and reaching into his overcoat pocket produced a box containing a fresh new one. As he began screwing it into place he did not notice as the adrenalin pumped through him that the dull low beat of Kong’s heart had stopped. What he did notice though as he struggled to get the new bulb into place was a new horrible sound and a growing shadow fall around him.
If he hadn’t had been so greedy for that one last shot, if he’d just looked up to investigate the terrible ripping noise and strange increasing darkness that engulfed his kneeling form, then Wilbur “The Brute” Boswinkel might well have avoided his terrible fate!
“Jeez Louise, that’s one big monkey.”
“For the last time, it’s a Goddamned ape ya useless moron”, said Hank Richards angrily to his always cheerful colleague Charlie Henson.
Hank was in a bad mood, though this was nothing unusual for Hank or most other garbage men for that matter. The job almost required it! As for Charlie being cheerful, well, Hank had an explanation for that. He figured that Charlie was a few cents short of a George Washington. The dopey sap was an odd one to be sure, constantly grinning away to himself, whistling some annoying jazz tune as he worked. As far as Hank was concerned, Charlie boy was not quite all there but at least he was not like some of the other less agreeable and lazy hacks that in the past he’d been lumbered with. So Hank, who was the senior of the two, tolerated Charlie and his stupid questions.
Cleaning up other people’s rubbish around the dirty and dangerous streets of New York was never pleasant. It was however always interesting, not knowing from one day to the next what the city’s authorities would have you dispose of. However today the job was more unusual than Hank, Charlie, or any of the other waste collector would ever encounter.
“Holy Moly, that’s a big pile of shit!”, Charlie said, stating the obvious.
“Sure is that son”, Hank said sniffing the air as wisps of steam whipped up and off from the mountainous pile of stink. “And what’s more it’s our job ta clean that big pile of monkey shit up.”
“Ape shit”, corrected Charlie.
Hank gave him a glare before handing Charlie a shovel and the two began to fill their wheelbarrows. As they worked, neither was to keen to glance up at the monstrous dead corpse lying motionless above them.
“Funny how’d he shit himself like that though isn’t it Hank.”
Hank stopped shovelling, pulled out his faithful clay pipe and considered Charlie’s words.
“Nothing unusual bout filling ya britches when ya bite the big one boy”, Hank said as he produced a matchbox from beneath his flat-cap and proceeded to light the tobacco within his pipe. “Fact is we all foul ourselves when we die.”
“Ya mean to tell me Hank that when ma time comes, I’m gonna poop ma pants?”
“You, me, and everyone boy. Why even the King of England is gonna lay down a big ripe turd when the old grim reaper comes a knocking. Heck… That may well be the reason right there. Imagine it, you’re bout ta snuff it and what do ya see with yer last living look. Why a big old grinning skeleton wielding a throat slitting scythe.”
Hank smiled as he watched Charlie’s eyes widen in horror at his description of death as he speedily shovelled excrement into one of the barrows. He’d learnt from the last few months working with Charlie that the best way to shut him up and get yourself five minutes of peace was to scare him good. It also made him work like a man demented, meaning more time for him and his pipe. So he was a little surprised when Charlie suddenly stopped shovelling and turned to him, giddily saying: “Hank, there’s someone hiding in here!”
“What the hell you on about boy?”
“Someone’s hiding… Hiding under Kong’s shit!”
Sure enough as Hank looked down to the place where Charlie had removed some of the dung, two feet wearing black galoshes stuck out.
“God damn! Let’s pull him out boy.”
The two men each took a foot and slowly pulled the dead men from his bizarre place of rest.
“Ya think old Kong swallowed him and shat him out like that Hank!”, Charlie said as the two looked down on the dead man.
“Nah. If he’d had ate him, he’d be all chewed up. Plus the big palooga always liked ta bite the heads off his… “, Hank stopped speaking and bent down to the man to examine him more closely.
“Ya gotta be shittin’ me”, he said, recognising the face of the dead man. “Why it’s none other than the Brute himself. Err… you know the reporter guy… Wilbur Boswinkel, that’s the fella.”
“Wilbur Boswinkel. The meanest reporter ta ever slide outta the gutter.” Hank shook his head and puffed his pipe a few times as he looked down on the face of New York’s most infamous reporter.
“Musta been knocked cold at some point. Probably offended someone while taking pictures of Kong. Got himself clonked perhaps while spouting off his lip at some guy blocking his view. Hmmm… It’s certainly a mystery how he came to be under all this shit though, that’s for sure.” He again shook his head, then turning to Charlie said: “Who’d have thought that the brute himself would end up dying in such strange circumstances! Most people always figured he’d get himself shot by exposing one of them mafia bosses that you read ‘bout in the papers. Whatever the explanation, it sure must have been an ugly way to go!”
Hank watched Charlie as Charlie looked down at the body of Wilbur Boswinkel. For a second an intelligence seemed to fill Charlie’s eyes as he said: “Oh no Hank, it was not the mafia nor indeed ugliness that killed Wilbur Boswinkel. It was a great big steaming monkey shit that killed the brute.”
Hank then watched as the alien intelligence seemed to slip from Charlie as he corrected himself saying: “I mean, ape shit!”