By Wes Parish
It was 2059, the year I left Yarralumla Primary and went to Deakin High, that the craze for bushmeat swept the globe. All the world saw a grinning US President Goodluck Reagan slice a gorilla roast at the summit banquet with the Chinese Premier. Apparently the zoos had mastered the art of captive ape breeding, and had more great apes than they knew what to do with. Everybody had to have a slice of the craze. It started at the top, and like blood from a cut artery, trickled downwards.
My family, naturally, never got a slice of it. Indeed, the first time I ever encountered bush meat was my final year at Phillip College, when a friend's father got me a handyman's job with the Federal Police Commissioner.
He had a house in Hunter Street, near Empire Circuit, where "house" usually means "mansion". My parents lived in the grubbier end of Irwin Street, so that was convenient.
And one day the cook told me, "You'll have to go and get some speciality meat for tonight. The Commissioner's hosting some colleagues from overseas. And, also, you'll need to become a waiter for the evening. There's an extra hundred and fifty dollars in it for you. Be a sweetie, please?"
Yes indeed! Especially since I was to take their car and pick up the bushmeat from a private dealer halfway down Weld Street.
So I did, backing the car into the shady drive, paying the money — $600 for a set of limbs and some ribs, all nicely wrapped and packaged, which they assured me was genuine bushmeat, genuine ape!
I took them to the kitchen, and proceeded to unwrap. One leg still had a foot attached.
The cook had her head screwed on: "What the eye doesn't see, the mind doesn't grieve over," she snapped, carefully cutting the foot off and saying, "Bury it in the garden. Their dog won't dig it up."
While I was doing that, she readied the roast, cutting the meat off the bone
and preparing the oven trays — these apes were longer in the leg than most gorillas or chimpanzees.
"Take the bones outside and smash them up with a hammer," she said. "The dog likes them, but can't handle anything this long."
Yes indeed! The dog became my lifelong friend instantly!
Then the Commissioner’s wife came home, and the kids from school. I changed into the outfit I was to wear that evening, and the Commissioner and his overseas colleagues arrived. The meal started.
I won't bore you. Finally, the meal ended, and the Police Commissioner started off the evening discussion by saying, "I'd be interested in your views on the unexplained disappearances and casual murders we've been seeing a bit too much of lately. Some people disappeared this week, according to the local police, in this very suburb.. It's true they were drug addicts, so not too many people would miss them, but..."
About The Author
Wesley Parish is an SF fan from early childhood. Born in PNG, he enjoys reading about humans in strange cultures and circumstances; his favourite SF authors include Ursula Le Guin, Fritz Lieber, Phillip K. Dick, J.G. Ballard and Frank Herbert. He lives in Christchurch, NZ, is an unemployed Java and C programmer, and has recently decided to become a mad ukuleleist, flautist and trombonist, and would love to revert to being the mad fiddler and pedal steel guitarist.. "Where oh where has my little pedal steel got to ... ?"