05 Dec Andrew Cleese and the Lion
Andrew Cleese was a peace loving man with a relaxed and compassionate disposition. He lived in Nigeria and enjoyed the life that he had. His parents had left him enough money so that there was no necessity to work, so he devoted most of his time to improving the lot of the local population. He had been instrumental in the building of the local hospital and school, using his influence and contacts to raise funds from large businesses and the Government. Andrew was a well respected man in the area where he lived.
For relaxation he used to go for long solitary treks into the jungle camping in some of the most beautiful places known or more specifically unknown to man.
One evening he was sitting by his campfire enjoying a pre-bedtime cup of cocoa when he heard a rustling in the undergrowth. He was just about to get up and investigate when a tremendous roar startled him so much that his cocoa went spinning from his hand. He reached for his rifle, not to shoot whatever it was but maybe frighten it off with a shot in the air. The bushes parted and the head of a magnificent lion peered out. Andrew froze usually an open fire kept animals away but this one was approaching very slowly into the campsite. He noticed that it was limping badly and avoiding putting its right paw down. He spoke very softly and quietly.
“What’s the problem boy, do you need some help?”
Putting the rifle down, he crouched and held his arms out to the stricken animal. Very slowly the lion approached him. When he could reach Andrew very gently took the paw in his hand. A huge thorn was sticking right through and out of the top. He touched it and the roar of disapproval made him recoil.
“Okay boy take it easy, let’s see what we can do about this.” He went back to the camp, and took a pair of pliers and a bowl of hot water from the billie can back to the now seated lion. Very carefully he bathed the paw and he could feel the animal relax.
“OK my name is Andrew what shall we call you? I think Lenny is fitting don’t you?” He spoke reassuringly looking straight into Lenny’s eyes.
When he was confident that he and Lenny were both relaxed he took the pliers, gripped the thorn tightly and quickly pulled it out. With a mighty roar Lenny snatched his foot back. Andrew fell on his face looking up he saw Lenny standing over him. Could this be it, was he now going to revert to type pounce on his helpless prey and enjoy supper!
No, instead Lenny turned towards the jungle in a protective stance while Andrew got to his feet.
“Thanks boy, do you fancy something to eat?” they went back the camp and Andrew opened a can of corned beef, well that was the closest he had to raw meat.
Lenny sniffed it then snaffled the meat in one gulp.
“Blimey” he said “I’d rather keep you for a week than a fortnight”
They slept side by side next to the fire next morning Lenny gave Andrew what he considered was a purr, slipped back into the undergrowth and was gone.
Returning to civilisation he related the story to his friends over dinner. They all thought that he was insane and agreed they would have shot the lion on first meeting.
On his many sojourns into the jungle he often thought about Lenny and always hoped that somehow they would meet up again.
Then one night as he sat drinking his cocoa by the campfire he heard rustling in the undergrowth. His heart began to race and he stood up. The bushes parted and a magnificent lions head appeared. Walking towards the beast he held his arms out as if welcoming an old friend the lion approached him then with one leap the animal was upon him, sending the half drunk cup of cocoa spinning from his hand, and enjoyed a healthy supper.
Unfortunately a classic case of mistaken identity!
695 words 5th May 2019 Michael White