Diary of a Greeter

Leg 9 – Sepilok, Borneo

Today’s lesson, diary, is to be careful what you wish for. I got my wishes alright, in spades. Next time I just need to be a little more specific.

There were really only two things I wanted. After spending half the last leg in a crate, I wanted an end to my career as the Amazing Dog Boy. And after seeing Jon and Kelly saved by the cruel whim of non-elimination, I wanted this leg to end the old-fashioned way, with a one-way ticket to Sequesterville. After all, they may have been saved once, but they were a long way behind the pack. Yes, yes, I was naďve, or perhaps in denial. But who wouldn’t be in the face of pure evil?
Jon was so damn smug after sidestepping the Reaper that he spent the whole Pit Stop with what appeared to be a permanent boner. On his forehead.
Jon was so damn smug after sidestepping the Reaper that he spent the whole Pit Stop with what appeared to be a permanent boner. On his forehead. I could see the lecherous gleam in his eye while he was still on the mat, so I got my ass to costume as soon as possible to get out of the dress and make myself a little more masculine. Not that that would have helped, necessarily. I saw him putting moves on every female crew member, half the men, Chip, Reichen, and three stray dogs. At one point he was even asking where Millie was, with a lascivious gleam in his eye. Luckily for her, she was holed up with Chuck the whole time. (Turns out their total insensitivity to double entendres is contagious.) Anyway, the two of them were beavering away (stop that!) on guidebooks and maps, planning for the next leg. Now that’s what I call using your head. (Aggh! Never mind.)

Not soon enough, the race was back on. We had been advised that this leg was going to be all local – no flights – so there was no rush for me to get going. I was sleeping blissfully, right in the middle of a dream involving Jaree, Millie, Amanda, and, most disturbingly, Phil’s Amsterdam sweater, when I was awoken by that dulcet voice I had come to love so well.

“Quit sighing and get out of bed! We’ve got a crisis, and you’re just the man to handle it.”

Could this be true? BVM trusting me to resolve a crisis? There had to be a catch.

“Okay, sure, what’s up?”

“We trying to film the intro for the Fast Forward and the local colour isn’t co-operating. Which means that it’s your job to fill in. This is a very special case, but I think it’s well suited to your talents.”

This could be fun. “Where is it?” I asked eagerly, expecting some market stall or fishing village.

“Orangutan sanctuary. Hey, don’t look so glum; at least you’re back among the primates. Now get your ass to make up. You’ve got a helicopter to catch”

Four bottles of spirit gum and a pound of horse hair later, I was on my way to the nature preserve. BVM briefed me as we came in to land. “These freaking monkeys aren’t playing along. We want them in the background with Phil, but every time we roll tape they start jacking off, or taking a crap, or throwing dung. Apparently one of them even gave him the finger.”

Well, I had always heard that orangutans were exceptionally intelligent. “You know, they are actually apes, not monkeys…”

“Ape, schmape. I don’t care if they’re Tarzan’s right hand fucking man. They’re screwing up my shot, and you are going to go in there and show those hairy bastards how to do it right.”

Which is how I found myself face to face with the Old Man of the Jungle himself. He eyed me suspiciously, then shuffled carefully around me, sniffing. Fortunately, my recent travel plans rarely involve soap, so I had no difficulty passing the vital stench test. He seemed satisfied and stepped back, looking at me quizzically.

He seemed to be at least as intelligent as half the lead actors I had worked with over the years, and most of them could take direction, so I figured I could just tell him what I wanted and we would take it from there.

“Alright then, here’s the deal. Those crazy humans over there want to take some pictures of us frolicking around the jungle. So just play along with me and soon there’ll be fruit galore for you and all your monkey pals…”

Uh-oh.

“Oook?” he said, with a mild undertone of menace.

“Uh, of course, when I say monkey, I don’t really mean monkey, it’s just that my boss called you monkeys, and it kind of rubbed off on me. Of course it’s not that you’re a monkey…”

“Oook!”

That was one monkey too many. He dove for my throat and knocked me to the ground. We rolled over and over across the platform, me trying to fend him off, him trying to choke the living crap out of me.

“Roll film! Roll film! That’s great stuff!” shouted BVM. “The monkeys wrestling playfully!”

“OOOK!” The ape redoubled his efforts to tear out my throat. I felt like I was being attacked by a burlap sack full of steel-belted radials. Finally I had enough. Endangered species or not, there was only so much I was willing to sacrifice for the environment. I started kicking him in the belly.

“Hey, take it easy, don’t break the monkey!”

“OOOK! OOOK! OOOOK! OOOK!”

Two leathery hand closed inexorably around my windpipe. I could hear wind rushing in my ears as my vision narrowed into a dark tunnel, until all I could see were the glowing eyes of something that was most emphatically not a monkey. Everything was just turning grey when I heard “Cut!” There was the crack of a rifle, a wet thunk as a tranquilizer dart buried itself in my assailant, and he sagged gently on top of me.

“Great work! Great work!” said BVM, as two production assistants rolled the snoring monster off me. “That was perfect.”

“Good.” I snarled. “Now pass me some rubbing alcohol and get this damn fur off me. I think I’m developing a rash.”
“I can throw dung?”

“To your heart’s content.”
“Not so fast monkey… er… ape-boy. We’ve got two teams going for the Fast Forward. You need to stay here and supervise, make sure there’s no monk- er… funny business.”

“Are you crazy? Stay here and play ape for the racers?”

He grinned slyly. “It’s Chip and Reichen. And Kelly and Jon.”

“I can throw dung?”

“To your heart’s content.”

“Okay. But on the mat, I get to be a boy this time. Deal?”

“Deal.”

I had a bit of wait, which I filled by collecting the biggest lumps of dung I could find. One of the orangutans saw what I was doing and started to help. She kept bringing bigger and bigger lumps over, giving me coy looks as she dropped them at my feet.

“Hey mon- uh – Ape Boy! Looks like you’ve got a girlfriend!” cackled BVM.

“Oh I do not!” I shouted. Then I looked at her. She batted her eyelids. Oh crap.

I was never so happy to see Chip and Reichen. They weren’t my first choice of targets, but I figured I may as well warm my arm up.

“Ow! Hey! They’re throwing stuff!”

Heh. Then I realized they had baskets of fruit. I hadn’t eaten since the night before, so I was pretty damn hungry. There were two other orangutans on the platform, but they didn’t want anything to do with the bald apes - I think Chip’s eyebrows frightened them. That just meant more fruit for me. I ambled over.

Time to get in touch with my inner primate. “Ook!” I said dramatically, reaching towards the basket.

They ate it up. And so did I. Best meal I’d had in days. I belched a satisfied “Oook!” and reached a hand out for more. Reichen immediately assumed I wanted to shake. What the hell, I thought, they fed me. I can play along.

“His hand feels just like mine!” he burbled excitedly. Brilliant. Just brilliant. Someone warn Jane Goodall there’s a new kid in town.

I could see that the baskets were empty, so I dropped his hand and scampered away. Time to collect more dung; surely Jon and Kelly were not too far off. Unfortunately, shortly after our two amateur naturalists left, BVM showed up. “Good job, Ape Man. Time to go.”

“Time to go? But what about the other team? I’ve got some great turds here! Real gooey ones…”

“You must be very proud. But we’ve got no time to discuss your hobbies. They won’t be coming, and you’ve got to get your even-hairier-than-usual ass to the Pit Stop.”

Luckily, BVM was as good as his word. They were in a bit of a rush, so instead of peeling off all the fur, they just shaved most of my face, stuck me in some kind of poncho, put a salad bowl on my head, and handed me a spear. “Welcome to the human race, you fierce warrior,” said Phil.

“Oook off.”

Not long after, Chip and Reichen came dashing up to the mat, grinning from ear to ear. “Congratulations, you’re team number one.”

Chip looked expectantly at Phil. “And….”

“Annnnd… you’re team number one,” Phil repeated. “Good job. The buffet table’s open, chow down.”

“What about our cruise?” said Reichen.

“I’m very sorry, but we gave away three on the first leg. Those things are expensive. You understand, I’m sure.”

“I understand that you owe me a fucking cruise, you cheapskate! None of those teams are even left in the race! What do you mean, they took our cruise?”

“Not your cruise, Chip, you hadn’t won it yet. We can’t just… urk!”

Reichen must have been studying the orangutans carefully. In two seconds he had Phil on the ground. “I… want… my… damn… CRUISE!”

“Urk… I… can’t… breathe… HELP… ME…” That last bit was directed beseechingly at me.

I remembered the fruit they had given me. “They get a cruise.”

Phil nodded.

“And so do I.”

He nodded again.

Right then. One sharp spear to the kidneys later, Reichen was rolling around on the ground while Phil rubbed his throat. “Okay,” he rasped, “I think we’ll have to shoot that one again.”

Jon and Al were next, reeking of batshit and bird dung. JB was obviously back to his old scatological self for this leg of the race. I was just glad that I wasn’t the only stinky one. They seemed pretty happy to be number two. (Sigh. The Curse of Millie strikes again.)

I was pretty proud of myself when the next two got to the mat. “Dave and Jeff! It’s Dave and Jeff!” I shouted excitedly. “I remember them! I finally remember them!”

Phil elbowed me in the ribs. “You’ve never seen them before, remember, O Fierce Bornean Warrior?”

Oh. Yeah. “Welcome!” I pidgined.

“Dude, we’ve got fans already. Sweet.” Don’t get too worked up about it, guys. You’re still about as exciting as tofu tapioca.

Time passed. And passed. And passed some more. BVM came over and briefed us. “We got a real showdown, folks. Looks like the last two teams have been trying to see who can get the most lost. Anything could happen.

Crap. I was still having impure thoughts about Millie, and now she was in danger. Uh look, JB, when I said I wanted this to be an elimination leg, I wasn’t really serious.
Jon licked his lips with a forked tongue. Obviously the effort of this leg of the race had made it difficult for him to conceal his true form.
“Here they come!”

I could smell the sulfurous stench even before they came around the corner. Bastards. Smug and Smugger ran the last few paces to the mat. “Jon and Kelly, you’re team number four.”

Jon licked his lips with a forked tongue. Obviously the effort of this leg of the race had made it difficult for him to conceal his true form. Memo to myself: before the next leg, invest in a crucifix.

Chuck and Millie were moments behind them. Phil phinished them off, then made with the interrogation. “You wanted it bad, didn’t you Millie?” said Phil. (Oh crap, now he’s infected!)

He was asking them about their relationship, which was not looking good. I tried to get his attention. “Phone number!” I whispered, “Get her phone number,” but he wasn’t listening. They moped off to the Sequesterville Trolley.

Fabulous. Bye Millie. I’ll just stay here with the Bride of Satan. You know, that orangutan lady is starting to look pretty good. See you around, diary.