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If a Man Falls in a Rainforest...Murder by Chatroulette III

Updated on November 9, 2011

Graham sensed, rather than heard the dart and ducked just as it buried itself in the tree where his head had been. He didn't have to look, had it reached its intended target, the curare would have caused a paralysis of his respiratory muscles and in five minutes he would have died of asphyxiation. He moved with the grace and speed of a much younger man, a product of extreme discipline and a lifetime of daily rigorous training. The dark green verdant forest was nearly impenetrable, but he followed his assailant easily. In a few minutes he would circle around and the hunter would become the prey. Maybe then he could finally get some answers.

Murder by Chatroulette
If you missed the first episode, click on this link and then come back. =:)

What Happens in Russia, Stays in Russia--Murder by Chatroulette If you missed the second episode, click on this link and if you get in trouble, I'll send Meg. =:)

Two Days Earlier

Oz made two copies of his report and filed one with Homeland Security and one with the CIA. With the clear incident of murder in Sao Paulo, the case had accelerated from theory to cold reality. It probably meant his team would be pulled, but he hoped the tug of war for jurisdiction between Weaverton and the CIA might give him a little more time.

What actually happened was more of a surprise than he anticipated and the limited green light his team received was undoubtedly due more to Graham's connections than to his own. The fireworks that went off in Weaverton's office was colorful, but ultimately he had to give in. It didn't bother him that it was Graham that saved them. All he cared about was getting to the bastard that was challenging him in his own backyard--the internet. With the short leash they had given him, he could contact the agents in Brazil for help instead of winging it as they had done in Russia. Graham and Liese would accompany him this time. If he lost connection with Meg, Graham's Portuguese and Spanish was probably as good or better than hers and if things got dicey, Graham could handle whatever slipped past himself or Liese.

He didn't know what would happen to the office with only Meg and Rosh in charge. The last time Meg faked an emergency that sent Rosh off on a wild goose chase to keep him out of her hair. Of course, that was before she knew any of us very well and since then she and he have developed a complicated, but amicable truce. They might even have some feelings for each other, but if they do, they mask it well.

"It's just me and you half-pint, are you sure you're ok taking orders from me?" Rosh's dark eyelashes were half covering his eyes as he stared pompously down at Meg. She kept on doing what she was doing and ignored him. "Seriously, deep down I know those girl-power hormones are kicking in about now and you are saying it's really not fair you have to do everything the handsome young agent wants you to do. Hmmmmm?"

She stopped her typing and looked up demurely, her bangs falling across her deceptively innocent eyes and she said:

"Remember last time? Don't make me do something I'll regret."

"Ha!" he said. "I'm not falling for any goose chases, wild or domestic." He smiled smugly and sat on the corner of her desk, male triumphant. Faster than his eyes could follow, she rocked him off balance and at the same time twirled him around on the desk until her elbow was on his neck and his arm was twisted beneath him. She smiled her sweet, wicked smile and said:

"I haven't the slightest idea what you are talking about. I am the model of a domesticated, obedient civil servant. Don't you agree?"

Rosh's brown face was approaching purple and he gasped for breath. Meg relaxed her elbow slightly and he uttered: "Of course." She started to back off of him and just as quickly as he'd been pinned, he reversed the position. Instead of being angry, she started laughing. He tried to hold it back but couldn't and joined her until they were both rolling on the floor. When they couldn't laugh anymore, they sat up and looked at each other.

"You know I was just messing with you don't you?" he asked.

She wiped her eyes and nodded. "Do you think the guy's really in South America?" She asked.

"Maybe not, but someone was and that someone knows enough to put us on the right trail. If we feed Oz killer intel he and the team will find him or her and be back here by the weekend."

"I got a little impatient." she said, smiling. "What did you do imp?" Rosh grinned back.

"I broke into the Sao Paulo police computer and got the dead guys photos and fingerprints." She said like some kid confessing to being in the cookie jar.

"We can run them through..." He stopped as her grin got bigger. "You already ran them didn't you?"

"Just being a faithful civil servant Sahib and you'll never guess what I found."

"I'm beginning to think I'm only your chaperone." Rosh sulked.

"And a marvelous one you are too." Meg agreed. "Our victim was not a very nice man. He was muscle for a contracting firm that has been accused many times of illegally harvesting timber from the rainforest, but never convicted."

"Was he from Sao Paulo?" he asked.

"They found him there, but the coroner's report shows he was probably killed in a forest, because of the fibers and plant seeds found on his clothing. The cause of death was asphyxia due to a poison in his system from the Strychnos toxifera plant or curare." "Curare? You mean like in poison darts, curare?" Rosh asked. "The very one." She replied. "Each Amazon tribe has its own particular formula, jealously guarded by shamans and medicine men and passed over from generation to generation. Other poisons from snakes, frogs and bees are commonly added to the blend. This particular poison does not match any of the known tribes, but the ingredients used places it roughly in the region of Acre whose capitol is the city of Rio Branco. Here is where it gets creepier--remember I told you his company has been accused of illegally harvesting rainforest timber? Well their office is in Rio Branco, one of the destinations on Bevil's and Google's most searched list."

One of Rosh's finest qualities was his ability to be a gentleman when everything was breaking loose around him. Kipling could have had him in mind when he wrote the poem.

"Extraordinary job Megumi! We have to get these to..." He trailed off again as she smiled. "Already done boss, uploaded to Liese as I was doing it and I've been in touch with Oz the whole time--well almost the whole time. I edited our little work role exercise."

"Phew!" Rosh said. "Thank you, that would have been embarrassing."

"I didn't say I erased it, I just disconnected the feed for a while." She said with her wicked little grin. "If you're a good boy while they're gone, I might erase it."

"Fair enough." Rosh was not going to be sucked in again. There was a lot of work to do.

Rather than offend Rosh's grandmother by flying conventionally. Liese, Graham and I were comfortably ensconced in the stateroom of her Bombardier XRS. Some kind of noise and vibration canceling technology kicked in and we were barely able to hear the purr of the rear mounted Rolls Royce engines. Liese was amused that Bill Gates still had the older model, while this one had state of the art satellite communication allowing her to be in constant contact with Meg back at the office.

Liese was talking to Graham as we sat eating the finest meal I had ever had in an airplane. I had pan-roasted redfish with basil risotto and fried green tomatoes, Graham had Vietnamese-style chilled papaya salad topped with peanut sauce grilled shrimp and Liese had crispy gnocchi with truffled ricotta and fennel-crusted ahi. The last time I flew with a conventional airline, I had pretzels and a diet Coke. Rosh enjoyed the cooking of his favorite restaurant in New Orleans so much that his grandmother hired him for flights with her special guests. I felt honored she included me in that group.

"Why do you think it wasn't a tribal member that killed our victim?" Liese asked Graham who, like herself, was dressed for a formal dinner. Liese in her Michael Kors, Graham with a white dinner jacket a la James Bond and me in an outlet jacket over jeans.

"Too obvious, for starters. Aside from the obvious lack of computer savy that would connect them to the Chatroulette appearances, I am familiar with most of those tribes and they are trying to avoid contact, not draw attention to themselves. If Bevil is involved, using a poison dart would be an ironic touch to tie in the rainforests with corporate greed." Graham replied. I jumped in: "What did you learn from talking to the suits at Google?"

"Just as you found when talking to Paul Buchheit, their former CEO was reluctant to reveal any instances of potential wrongdoing that would anger rival start-ups or companies. I asked him about Skyhook's lawsuit alleging unfair competition for location technology that bumped them from Motorola and he said that Google was very concerned."

Marissa Mayer, the 34-year-old megamillionaire, Oscar de la Rentaobsessed, computer-programming Google executive who lives in a penthouse atop the Four Seasons, San Francisco - Source Vogue
Marissa Mayer, the 34-year-old megamillionaire, Oscar de la Rentaobsessed, computer-programming Google executive who lives in a penthouse atop the Four Seasons, San Francisco - Source Vogue

"I read about that in Bloomberg." I added. "Marissa Mayer, Google’s VP of Search Product and User Experience is leaving that department to take over location search and local services. She was one of the first hired and is responsible for the simple, pure design of their page that we all fell in love with. Wherever she goes, Google is going. Bloomberg says that more than social search, location is the holy grail of market advertising."

"That's right." Graham said. "If Google starts losing out on location technology contracts, it will be cut out of the loop on valuable location data which industry experts predict is the future of online advertising."

"So a company like Skyhook could get angry enough to commit murder?" I asked.

"Not likely, we're looking at all companies who have had a run-in with Google. The fact that our victim was a notorious exploiter of rainforest timber smacks of extreme environmentalist motives. We don't know what Bevil meant in saying Google has left their 'Don't be evil' philosophy and we don't know his motivation. It could be environmental, but that doesn't explain the attempts on Lady Gaga or Eminem."

"I agree." I said. "I'm still trying to wrap my head around Bevil's vendetta with Google and the connection to the rainforest." I said. "Is Google doing something evil here that warrants this kind of action?"

Liese answered: "As to motive, it's not just a rainforest, it's the rainforest. The Amazon, the largest and most species-rich tract of tropical rainforests represents over half those left on the planet--the vast majority of which is in Brazil. Almost a third of earth's flora and fauna is here. Two out of every ten seconds of air we breath is generated here and twenty per cent of the world's fresh water is here as well. It's hard to be as big as Google and not have some impact here. The funny thing is, Google is one of the few big names actively involved in protecting it."

"How is that?" I asked.

"I can answer that." Graham said. "In 1969, the Surui tribe had its first contact with outsiders, who brought disease, violence, and death with them. Then loggers arrived, laying waste to the Surui's homeland. Their Chief Almir was a pretty savy guy and he decided that survival depended on outreach. He began a partnership with Google in 2007, and together they have created an online "cultural map" of the Surui with stories from the tribe's elders that are uploaded onto YouTube, as well as a geographical map of their territory created with GPS."

"That's all very educational, but hardly much protection from people like our victim." I said.

"You're right, it's not." Liese interjected. "But here's where it gets interesting. In 2009, Google equipped them with smartphones. Google employees taught the Surui to use cell phones to record illegal logging on their land. Tribal members can now take photos and videos that are geo-tagged and immediately upload the images to Google Earth. When the evidence is public and online, the law-enforcement officials cannot deny knowledge of it."

"That could be pretty costly to the logging interests if other tribes follow suit." I added. "In fact, this all could be a set-up to blame the tribe and give them an excuse to wipe them out or at least to destroy their Google connection. Graham, do you think your contact could help us find out?"

He nodded, sipping his drink. "I think so, but if what I'm feeling is true, there may be a lot more at stake here than a few lumber crews." He didn't elaborate and I have learned to give him time to work it out. He would tell me when he does.

Liese diplomatically changed the subject. "How did this area get the name 'Amazon?'" she asked and Graham welcomed the opportunity to talk about something else.

"Legend has it that the name Amazon came from a war Francisco de Orellana fought with a tribe of Tapuyas and other tribes from South America. It was customary for the women of the tribes to fight alongside the men and because it was so unusual to the Europeans, the term Amazon came to refer to the whole region--a wonderful and deadly rainforest full of natural predators and warrior women."

It was easy to imagine Liese or Meg as modern day amazons. I've seen them both in action and with the possible exception of Graham, they are the most capable and deadly members of our team.

After dinner, we arrived in Sao Paulo and the XRS easily and smoothly landed. When we go to the more remote Rio Branco, it's ability to land and take off in very tight places will come in handy. "That Meg is a wonder." I said. "Her intel on the victim narrows our search considerably." "Yes she is." Liese agreed. "And thanks to her, we don't have to spend as much time with the authorities as we planned." She added.

"You're probably thinking like me that we need to get to Rio Branco right away." I said.

"Actually, and don't think I'm terrible, but I was thinking of doing some shopping. Since we have to meet that Russian bodyguard Vasily's sister for dinner we have the time and Oz, there are clothes here you can't find anywhere else. I'll help us get everything done here early, I promise. Please!"

She looked at me with those eyes as her voice dropped down into that sonorous, husky contralto and what could I do.

"Ok, just a few shops."

"Thank you, thank you, so much Oz, I'll make it up to you, I promise."

As much as I wanted to nail this guy, there is nothing sexier than watching Liese try on clothes. I don't know what it is with guys that don't want to go shopping with their girl. The last time a girl pulled me into the dressing room to help her with her zipper, I knew we all had been missing out on something pretty incredible. "Swim suits? Sure that sounds like fun, just so we get back to work after an hour or so."

I could hear Weaverton the Weasel now--"I told you that kid was too green. Conducting a murder investigation by shopping for swim suits! I'd pull his funding myself, except there isn't any. How does he manage to fly on a private jet and where did you say he was staying?" I loved my mental show. I think I'll play it back again.

We were staying at the Renaissance Hotel because Rosh has suites on the club levels and I trusted his judgment. Besides, it is across from the Teatro Renaissance which has some of the finest performances in Brazil. He also recommended Fogo de Chao to fully experience the Brazilian steakhouse. He said to go hungry so we could enjoy the expansive salad bar and endless meat offered by the roaming waiters. You will be given a card (red on one side for STOP and green for "keep it coming.")

The three of us kept the waiters busy with Liese gamely trying to match Graham and I with little success. "Graham, thanks for going ahead to Rio Branco, I promise we'll catch up in a day or two." I said.

He replied: "I wanted to anyway, there's an old friend I need to see and he won't be easy to reach. Last I heard he was living in the rainforest with one of the 150 or so tribes that have yet to be contacted by civilization."

"You don't classify your friend as part of civilization?" Liese interjected. Graham laughed. "You wouldn't either if you knew him. He and I were part of CIA advisers during the so-called coup of 1964 in Brazil." I joined in the conversation. "I heard you guys were more than advisers."

Graham nodded. "I don't have to tell you two how much Johnson's era hated President Goulart or 'Jango' as he was called. Before he was president, he was responsible for doubling the minimum wage thus angering the military and the business leaders of Brazil.

After he was president, he announced extreme socialist reforms, seizing the profits of foreign businesses, appropriating all land over a certain amount and all multiple residences which he would divide to the people. He opposed Washington's Cuba sanctions and resumed relations with communist countries which bothered Bobby Kennedy. It was inevitable, no one but Castro and left wing groups like Shining Path were in step with his reforms.

My friend Michael was married to a girl who's family were part of the rebels in Peru and I think she got to him. Something happened and Jango got away. Ever since that night, Michael dropped off the firm's radar and they still have a pretty thick dossier on him. I think they would have pursued him more aggressively, but I don't think they want to draw attention to their part in that coup."

This was the briefing I was waiting for. I knew he would tell me in time. "How do you know he is in Acre?" I asked.

"It was strange, I received a package for my birthday. It had no return address but I know it was from Michael. It was a decorative but fully operational blowgun with a pottery jar of the tribal curare." Liese mouth dropped. "You don't mean..." She trailed off. "Yes. I had it tested, it is the exact formula as the one used to kill our victim." Graham said solemnly.

"I can't let you go after him alone." I said.

"You have to Oz. I'm the only one who has a chance to get close. If he gets wind of anyone else, we would be dead before we got anywhere near him. I don't approve of what he has become, but I would be a fool to underestimate him. He was one of our best.

If Michael is Bevil, he's not after Google, he's after everything the most searched people and things stand for. He wants to bring down decadence and abuse of power. We were just kids during the coup and I gave him some slack, but he was really wound up--more than necessary for the assignment. He told me that America uses the idea of 'human rights' to justify their intervention in regimes around the world while they abuse the human rights of their own poor. I asked him why he would continue to work for them if he felt that way.

He had a crazy look in his eyes I had seen once before in Vietnam in a protester just before he set himself on fire. He looked me in the eyes and replied: 'What makes you think I am?' Then he laughed and left me to puzzle over what he'd said. That was the night he disappeared."

Apfel Restaurante
Apfel Restaurante
Ok so I didn't know what it was, but it was delicious
Ok so I didn't know what it was, but it was delicious

I have trained myself to not worry about Graham. Even on his own, there is no one more capable and resourceful than he. I decided to make the most of our waiting time. Rosh had said if it was going to be just Liese and I dining, he recommended Due Cuochi Cucina for a more romantic atmosphere and a superb menu. Personally, I like to explore for myself so once we settled into our rooms, I slipped out into the street with Meg in my ear for translation. She designed sunglasses for me that allow us to see and hear each other. (Actually she sees what I'm seeing which aids the navigation and translation process and makes me seem infinitely more knowledgeable than I am.)

After our steakhouse pigout, Liese asked if we could try something with more vegetables and a few blocks away from the hotel I stumbled onto the perfect spot--Apfel Restaurante. According to Meg, the place is legendary for vegetables. I just liked the look of it and the dishes I observed patrons eating made me want to bring Liese here for lunch.

After we ordered, with Meg's help of course, I disengaged her to enjoy my time with Liese.

As I was trying something delicious and completely unknown, Liese got that look--the one that melts a man's heart and asked: "Have you ever spent any time in the rainforest?" "Only if you include camping in the Sequoias during a rainstorm." I said. She smiled, "I'll count it if you got really really wet." She paused while she ate her tofu risotta, or at least I think that's what it was. I could tell she had something on her mind so I told myself to behave and listen.

"Something happens to you when you paddle down the Amazon or one of it's tributaries or battle your way through any of the forests in Brazil, Colombia, Ecuador or Peru. You are struck palpably with the realization that you have encountered the most awesome and diverse natural phenomenon on the planet.

Oz, I can't really explain it but there is a resonance at your deepest levels where you are captivated by its primal biological power and indescribable beauty." I thought to myself, if that isn't explaining it, I don't know who could do better. "And that's not all." She continued. "I'm ashamed to admit it, but I can almost identify with someone who will take on the forces that threaten it. Of course I would never resort to violence like Bevil or whoever is behind the killing, but if a Ghandi-like Brazilian arises..."

"You would sit in front of the bulldozers and be on the cover of every magazine and newspaper in the world. They wouldn't be able to resist a beautiful girl tilting at the windmills of unrestrained corporate greed."
"You're making fun of me." She said, but she was smiling. "I'm not making fun." I said. "But if you want to see the battle lines in Brazil, Rio Branco is a good place to start. Should I be worried about your resolve with Bevil?" Liese looked into my eyes and answered. "If it was Gandhi, yes you might have cause for concern, but Bevil, I'll take him out myself."

The architect Oscar Niemeyer designed its main building, the Central Institute of Sciences
The architect Oscar Niemeyer designed its main building, the Central Institute of Sciences

Vasily's sister Alexandra called and asked if we could meet her in Brasilia where she worked and with Graham's latest news, neither of us were in the mood for shopping so we lept at the chance to be that much closer to Rio Branco. The Bombardier made the hop in record time and before noon we were on the campus of the University of Brasilia.

Alexandra was in a meeting with Manoel Dias and her assistant said she would be right out. Meg was in my ear with some interesting news. "Boss, with what we know about your friend Michael, this place is a hot bed of pro-Jango sentiment. It was built in 1962 because of the influence of Carlos Ribeiro, its first chancellor who was in Jango's cabinet and Leonel Brizola, Jango's brother. The man Alexandra is meeting with, Manoel Dias, was a student leader who was imprisoned after the coup of 1964. Maybe you should find out if Alexandra has a connection with Michael (possibly Bevil.)"

"Thanks Meg, and also, didn't you say that when we were listening to her conversation with Vasily, that she spoke Russian poorly with a Brazilian accent?" Meg laughed. "That's why they pay you the big bucks Oz, I thought you'd pick up on that. I did some research and there is no record of Vasily having a sister named Alexandra. His father did live in Peru for a while, but there is no record of a daughter there either."

"Thanks again Meg, you're awesome. She's coming now, I gotta go."

In the movie version Alexandra would be played (well of course there'll be a movie version) by  Ana Beatriz Barros
In the movie version Alexandra would be played (well of course there'll be a movie version) by Ana Beatriz Barros

Alexandra Mora was stunning. A tall brunette, she walked with the air of someone with supreme confidence and purpose. "You must be Ozmundias." She said, offering her hand. "Close enough, but call me Oz and this is Liese." Liese and Alexandra locked eyes as they shook and just for a second I thought I saw something feral pass between them. "I have to say I don't see any resemblance to Vasily." I opened. She looked angry for a moment and then laughed charmingly. "That's because he's not my brother." She said. "We had a business transaction once and he tells everyone that but nothing could be farther from the truth. I agreed to help you not for his sake, but because our interests are similar. He is a weak, boring man and frankly I never want to hear from him again. I am meeting with you because we both want to find out who is behind the murder. Have you learned anything more?"

I decided to go slowly. "Not much, who is the man you were meeting with?" This resulted in the same, momentary irritation which passed quickly. "Just a friend of my mothers who is here for a conference."

"Is that 'The Cuban Revolution 52 Years Later' conference?" Liese asked. Obviously she had done her research as well as Meg. "Yes, I believe so." Alexandra replied.

I decided to step in. "Alexandra, I know that you work for the government, but I'm not clear which branch and why you are interested in this case."

"It is a new agency, like yours, but dedicated to crimes related to the rainforest. My specialty is the indigenous tribal connection." She said. "Crimes involving timber?" I asked. "Yes, but also drug trafficking, rebel actions and in this case, murder. Your communique said you think that this has something to do with terrorism?" She asked.

I didn't know if I could trust her, but I figured we had to start somewhere. "Yes, the Google references are the trademark of someone who calls himself 'Bevil Carnage' and his alleged aim is to punish Google for changing and 'becoming evil.' We've tied him in to some attempted and perhaps completed murders involving people who are in the most searched category." I said.

"That would explain the Google on his forehead." She said. "And the reference on the sign." I added. "Sign?" She asked. "He wasn't holding a sign when you found him?" Liese asked.

"No, there was no sign. What sign are you talking about?" She asked. "Sorry, I should have mentioned that." I said. "Bevil always announces or identifies his actions on Chatroulette by holding up a sign." Liese held up her Meg version Ipad. "This is what we saw." She said.

"The reference to destinations refers to a Google search so this is what you meant by him targeting the most searched words?" Alexandra asked. "Is Sao Paulo one of those?"

"Yes." Liese answered, "But not directly." Alexandra nodded. "Our office is aware that your Bombardier has made a stop at Rio Branco. Are you conducting an investigation there?"

I had to put a brake on this one way exchange so I said: "Alexandra, do you think you could catch us up on what your people have?" I said this with my most charming smile because I really did want to know what they thought. It was not hard to be charming because, did I mention Alexandra was stunning? She paused for a moment and then plunged right in. "Of course, you're right. We have reason to believe the murder was committed there or near there." She handed me a printout of the lab findings Meg had already given us. Naturally I didn't say that and made a show of reading it very carefully before I said: "Thank you, this will be very helpful. Do you have any suspects yet? Maybe one of the tribes?" I asked.

This was one of those times when my gift for reading micro-expressions paid off. She was not irritated or surprised, her expression was one of shame. "No, we are concentrating on a rival timber crew. There is competition among those illegally harvesting the timber and it often gets ugly." She said.

When I mentioned the tribes, Alexandra had a definite look of shame. She was feeling guilty about something to do with the tribes. For Graham's sake, I knew I had to find out and soon.

In the historical center of Rio Branco, Graham was listening to an old man talk about his tribe. The man was dressed in jeans and t-shirt but there was a black wasp tattoo on his neck and a simple bluish mark circling his face. He still had a flat tembeta made out of metal occupying the area between his lower lip and chin and another piercing in his nose which would have held a Macaw feather at special occasions.

It had taken him longer than he expected to find someone who knew the area well enough to point him in the right direction. He had almost given up when what looked like an old beggar reached out and touched the tattoo on Graham's arm. It was an eagle claw identifying an early Vietnamese unit he and Michael had been in. The old man looked intently in his eyes and spoke in a dialect Graham didn't recognize. Realizing he wasn't understood, the man switched to halting Portuguese. He had met someone else with that claw tattoo in the deep forests near his village. Graham tried to conceal his excitement, it had to be Michael. After an illuminating conversation, the man, who said his name was Abrisio, agreed to take him there.

It took them two days by boat to reach the area. As Graham got to know Abrisio, it was obvious he was far from being a beggar. If anything, he possessed a surprising sophistication. He fed them with delicious portions of sun-dried meat (carne-de-sol) with Arapaima (pirarucu), a typical fish of the region. They were seasoned with tucupi, a sauce made from manioc and washed down with some red wine that Graham had brought along. It was one of the better meals he had tasted since his stay in Brazil.

He and Graham pulled the boat up onto the shore, covered it with some leafy branches and Graham made a GPS location note so he could find it later. Meg was tracking his GPS signal and her best guess as to the tribe's location checked out with what Ambrisio had told him.

It had been a while since his last jungle trek, but he soon settled into the rhythm. His companion was surprisingly agile and Graham had to work to keep up with him. Graham was amazed at how he was always dumbfounded at the density of life around him in the rainforest. A log teeming with every variety of ant, lizards, frogs and birds of the brightest colors and sounds at night unlike anything he'd ever heard in all his travels.

Abrisio would tell him a little about each one Graham pointed out--which was good for mixing with the curare, which were edible and which were potent medicines. He couldn't help but feel there should be scientists following them, taking notes. He'd read somewhere that 90% of the species of plants used by the Amazon forest natives for medicine have not been studied by modern science.

It was on the third day of better than average speed through the dense forest that Abrisio said we were close enough that he'd better go on ahead to inform his village of Graham's presence. He said it would not be safe for him otherwise. Graham busied himself with making a place for sleeping if Abrisio did not return by nightfall.

Graham sensed, rather than heard the dart and ducked just as it buried itself in the tree where his head had been. He didn't have to look, had it reached its intended target, the curare would have caused a paralysis of his respiratory muscles and in five minutes he would have died of asphyxiation. He moved with the grace and speed of a much younger man, a product of extreme discipline and a lifetime of daily rigorous training. The dark green verdant forest was nearly impenetrable, but he followed his assailant easily. In a few minutes he would circle around and the hunter would become the prey. Maybe then he could finally get some answers.

Graham had become proficient in the use of the bola while stationed in South America and designed his own version disquised as a belt. He quietly removed his belt and assembled the weights, releasing the cords. He would have to have a clear shot. As he came up behind the native, he waited for him to move into a small clearing. Quickly he spun the bola and threw just as the man turned to the whistling sound. The bolas wrapped themselves around his legs and he went down. Graham ran and knocked away the blow gun before he could fire and pointed his gun in his face.

The native was heavily tattooed and wore a traditional hunting garb. There was a wasp tattoo on his neck and a claw tattoo on his arm. "Hello Graham." Michael said

To be continued......

©Winsome Publishing 2011, All rights reserved

This is a work of fiction. Although I have relied on factual material in writing it, for liability purposes, please treat all dialogue and conclusions as literary musings. Inclusion of Google keywords as part of the plot of said fiction is blatantly intentional.


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