The Legend of the Ivory Elvis

Just for fun, here is an excerpt from my first book Elvis and the Blue Moon Conspiracy….

From Chapter 2

Stomach churning, Richter turned his plane towards the carcasses and increased the throttle. Twenty seconds later, he soared above the massacre, and tried for a body count as he passed. There must have been fifty, he thought, as he turned the plane for another run. This time he observed the swamps of blood oozing from where the great animals’ tusks should have been. With his heart beating furiously, Richter climbed higher and higher, angrily scanning the ground for any sign of the perpetrators.

He flew circles for ten minutes, increasingly wider, until he spotted a convoy of pickup trucks fleeing the scene. Their beds were filled with bloody elephant tusks. Up ahead, Richter could see they were headed for a small village. People ran from their homes as the trucks arrived and their occupants began to raid the settlement.

Feeling powerless, Richter wished he had a fighter jet so he could fire his cannons and wipe out the poachers one by one. Just as they had done to those elephants. But his plane had no cannons, so Richter just kept circling and wondering what to do. Below him, the poachers ransacked the village.

What Richter didn’t see was a lone Maasai fleeing the action with a two-foot object in a sack under his arm.

When the trucks finally left the village, they headed north towards Kilimanjaro. Richter flew ahead of them. He followed a road that curved around the jungle, and soon came across their destination. It was a small camp at the base of the mountain that appeared to have once been some type of farm. The camp was quiet, and Richter estimated he had thirty minutes before the poachers arrived.

He landed his plane in a nearby field, grabbed his knapsack and headed for the camp. He reached it quickly and didn’t hesitate to set fire to the poachers’ tents and sleeping bags. He torched their clothes, smashed their communications equipment and emptied their fuel and water supplies. Richter felt liberation and a sort of cosmic praise from the souls of the fallen elephants. He stood back and watched the poachers’ camp burn and crumble to ashes.

A mile away, Kigoma and his men spotted the rising column of smoke at the base of Kilimanjaro. They knew instantly it was their camp that was burning.

“Hurry!” Kigoma ordered. “Salvage what you can!”

Richter knew he didn’t have much time. He ran back to his plane and climbed into the cockpit just as a pair of pickup trucks appeared through the smoke. Richter had been spotted. He kicked the engine into full throttle and maneuvered his plane towards the field for takeoff.

The pickup trucks were catching up. Gunshots exploded behind him as Richter accelerated and started to outrun the poachers. Just as his plane reached the speed it needed to get off the ground, Richter felt a sudden jolt in his seat and then the plane dropped to the left and started to rumble. He had lost a tire. The plane bounced along the hard dirt and steered uncontrollably to the left. Richter hit the brakes but momentum and a blown tire were spinning the plane towards a patch of thick foliage.

The plane crashed into a tree, breaking Richter’s left wrist on impact. He climbed out of the cockpit as the poachers’ trucks arrived just yards away. One fired a shot but Richter had already disappeared into the jungle. He ran towards Kilimanjaro, clutching his broken wrist and dodging branches as he escaped the furious poachers.

“This way!” A voice called through the brush and Richter halted his jog, ready to defend himself from anyone who might attack. He saw a wiry villager crouching behind a tree. He seemed frightened and harmless, but the wary Richter kept his distance.

“I know the way out. Come!” The villager turned and disappeared into the jungle. Richter’s instincts told him to follow.

When he reached a safe place, Moja stopped and waited for Richter to catch up. The two were soon sitting on a slab of rock beside Mt. Kilimanjaro. “I am Moja.”

Richter nodded. “Scott.”

Moja inspected Richter’s broken wrist. He used sticks and vines to concoct a splint, which he tied in place.

“They destroyed my village.” Moja said as he worked. His eyes were red. Richter could see he had been crying. “I was on my way to a friendly settlement along the river when I heard gunshots.”

“I couldn’t let them get away with it. Your village, the elephants.”

“And you destroyed their camp?”

Richter nodded and Moja smiled in appreciation. The two strangers had already developed a mutual respect for one another. Now they were stranded as the only survivors of the poachers’ efforts.

“They wanted ivory,” Moja said. “They wanted this.”

Moja presented his sack and handed it to Richter. Richter reached inside and removed a white statuette. He regarded it with interest. “Is this Elvis?”

Moja nodded. “It is our idol. I carved it myself. Jailhouse Rock. No?”

Richter shrugged. “I guess not.”

The ivory relic stood two feet tall. Elvis wore a suit and held a microphone at his mouth. The fires Kigoma’s poachers had set at Maasai Village had charred the entire left side.

“This is the last relic of our people,” Moja explained. “As long as it is in this jungle, it will not survive the ivory thieves. Take the Ivory Elvis to America, where it can safely reside forever. See to it that it stays in the right hands.”

Richter cradled the figure. It was heavy and detailed. Even the folds of Presley’s jacket had been meticulously carved into the ivory. Richter was impressed by Moja’s craftsmanship. If it weren’t for the blemish of heat across the left side, the Ivory Elvis would be pristine. But Richter felt the burn gave an earthy sense of character to the piece.

He humbly accepted his mission and promised Moja that in America his treasure would claim no price. Moja smiled. “Thank you, my American friend. Now I will take you to the river. You can catch a boat from there and find your way home.”

“What about the poachers?”

Moja sadly hung his head. “You burned their camp so they will move elsewhere and find another herd.”

Richter protested. “We’ve got to stop them.”

“You tried and lost your plane.”

Richter understood. The poachers would thrive and there was nothing he could do about it. Perhaps he could return one day with the resources to stop the poachers forever but now he had to leave. With the Ivory Elvis in his hand, Richter offered Moja the only thing he could, his camera.

But the modest villager only smiled. “Where would I develop the film?”

Richter was embarrassed that he had nothing else to trade.

“See the Ivory Elvis to safety,” Moja told him. “That is your gift to me. Now you must hurry. They are approaching.”

The sound of trucks rumbled in the distance.

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