T.R. Diamond - In Search of Adventure

Day 142 – Borneo Lowland Rainforest

The tribesman raises his hands in victory, as if to indicate, “And that’s the game.” The fire dwindles in the hut I am visiting, but I can still make out his expression of victory. I study the leaves before me, fashioned as they were to resemble playing cards. My two orchid petals and bud of the Rafflesia arnoldii (our version of two Kings and a high Ace) surely beat my opponent’s stalk of white jasmine. At least that was the case in the previous hand, where my pair of jasmine stalks were deemed, as per my translator Mamat, “Worth less than elephant anus.” I look to Mamat now as he lays recumbent at the fireside. “Why have I lost?” I demand. 
Mamat confers with the Tribesman, whom I have privately nicknamed Blinky, because he blinks to moisten his eyes, as all humans must. Blinky cuts his angry eyes to mine and points emphatically at the centre of his stalks. “He says the crease of the stalk is smudged with dirt, so it counts double.” Blinky yells something. “Counts triple,” Mamat amends.
I reach into my satchel but feel only my map, compass, and autograph book. With trembling hands, I show my host the nearly empty bag. He bellows something unintelligible and snatches it from me. He overturns it and I watch as my meagre supplies fall into the fire.I shake my head. I should have known. I will learn the intricacies of this game yet. I reach into my satchel and hand Blinky a string cheese (I always pack string cheese when traveling to Borneo). He unwraps and suckles the mozzarella-based treat. He’s been doing this every hand. I decide to teach Blinky our western ways as a conciliatory gesture. I take another string cheese from my satchel, unwrap it, and tear down several strands. Blinky straightens, and Mamet sits bolt upright. Both are fascinated. Blinky withdraws his own cheese hunk, but finds it too soggy to replicate my cheese flowering. Angrily, he holds out his hand for another. “You dishonor your host,” Mamat says, voice trembling. “For that you must pay the price.” "That satchel contained everything I have,” I protest, cursing myself for refusing to pay checked baggage fees. Blinky gestures up and down at me, growling malevolently. “Give us your clothes,” Mamet says.
Adrenaline surges as I bound for the hut’s exit, but Blinky is on me in two strides, grabbing me by the scruff of the neck. Resigned, I remove my tan safari jacket, cargo shorts, worn leather boots, and t-shirt that reads, “Save the Drama for Your Mama” (it was a gift). I am naked but for my silver Flight Underwear, the soft bamboo providing the only comfort to be found deep in the jungle. As inconspicuously as possible, I place my hand not over the outline of my impressive genitals, but to obscure Flight’s patented zippered pocket.
Pointing past me to the exit, Blinky shouts something like, “AAAAAAUGH!” which Mamat helpfully translates to “GOOOO!” and I don’t need to be told three times. I run through the hut and the chill of the night air hits my bare skin. I run until I cannot run any longer; weakness has overtaken me completely. I can still hear their cruel laughter from the hut, now a good twenty yards away from my resting place.
Panting, I crawl into a thicket of trees, where I know I won’t be spotted. Certain of my solitude, my hand wanders down to my crotch. Fervently, I grab at the zipper of my Flight Underwear pocket, and withdraw my passport and cell phone. I sigh, gratefully. Once again, I am saved by my practical and stylish choice of undergarment. I scan my phone for critical downloaded materials (no signal is available in this or surrounding regions), and finally find what I’m looking for. I settle in for an episode of Grace & Frankie before drifting off into another dreamless sleep…

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