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"Occurrence al Rio Marron", a short story by Roman Payne

"Occurrence al Rio Marron" by Roman Payne

Occurrence al Rio Marron
By Roman Payne
"Rio Marron" llustration by Roman Payne - copyright 2005
(Illustration: Ink and Watercolor, by Roman Payne, Copyright 2005)

We was thinking of urinating. To do this, he would have to roll back his comfortable bedroll and lace his boots; he would have to walk several yards into the dark jungle that surrounded their camp, and stand in the wet soil, amongst tangles of vines where nocturnal animals purred distinct and ferocious.
..... He looked around himself. His companion - his lifelong friend - was unconscious with fever in a cot beside him. Two burlap sacks were tied to a stake nested deep in the soil between them. There was gold in these sacks, ancient coins, silver medallions, jewels, and other treasures the two men had robbed from an Indian tomb. This tomb, the burial site, lay obscured by the canopies of trees, less than a quarter mile away, upstream on the Río Márron. The two adventurers had broken in to the tomb just before nightfall. They had celebrated their new wealth, toasted their canteens to a future of luxury, then the one came down with a sudden and horrible fever.
..... As the man pulled back his covers he looked at his best friend whose face was whitish-grey; he was sleeping sound with a rather loud, agonising snore.
..... He saw several large ants crawling on the sheets wrapped around his friend's legs. He brushed at them with his bare hand until sudden sharp stings caused him to flinch and stand. He took a few steps backwards, his hand trembled in pain and began to swell, but this he ignored as he laced his boots and headed off to urinate. As he stood at the edge of the camp, removing his belt, he thought.
..... ‘If my friend dies before morning, I will bury him myself. I will cover him with silk, and adorn the body with his portion of our treasures…
..... ‘If he is well by morning, then we will hike to the river, sail on to the delta, and travel up the coast to North America where we will settle in wealth, fortune and reputation…
..... ‘If he lives through the night, but is still crippled by fever in the morning, then I will carry the good man on my back across this devilish continent. And when we arrive home, I will accept only token payment for my virtue.’
..... After many moments of relaxing reverie amongst the ferns and humid night air, he let out a nice shiver; but before he could turn to return to his bed, a pair of large arms grabbed him - one around his chest and the other, across his throat with a knife. The adventurer did not tremble; he stood rigid, with calculated fear. Once the attacker felt him fully submit, he stepped back enough to let the man turn to face him - all the while keeping the tip of his knife at his throat.
..... The adventurer recognised the attacker to be a tribal Indian of the Río Marrón.
..... The tribesman spoke fearlessly, "You have robbed the tomb of my Ancestors and you must pay with your life."
..... The adventurer’s response choked and quivered with fear, "I assure you, my friend, we'll return the gold to where we found it."
..... "That is not enough, White Man! Once the treasures are removed from a burial ground, they are tainted and cannot be returned - we must offer the dead a human sacrifice."
..... The adventurer looked around clinging to each hint of a clever response that flit through his mind. He looked at his best friend, who lie sound in a lump several yards away - now completely covered with red ants.
..... The adventurer motioned towards the friend, while looking the tribsman in the eyes, "We will put him in the tomb and reseal it. Then you and I can divide the gold between ourselves."
..... He looked at the Indian's eyes carefully, waiting for a response. The Indian thought hard, all the while keeping his knife at the adventurer’s throat. The two of them looked again over to the sleeping man covered in ants who then reached in his bedclothes, pulled out a pistol, and shot them both.


AUTHOR'S NOTE: I wrote this simple story in 1998 while wandering recklessly alone in a sub-tropical rainforest. I only had one small piece of paper on which to write so I knew it had to be a short story. Also, as heavy rains were reoccurring intermittently, I predicted that whatever I wrote would eventually be destroyed in a deluge, and therefore shouldn’t be too profound – luckily, I survived, as did that little scrap of paper that contained “Occurrence al Río Márron”.
- Roman Payne



"Occurrence al Rio Marron", a short story by Roman Payne
From The Old Century - written in 1998
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