Forrest Gump Chapter Fifteen
Well, here we is, Plantin Cotton. Acres an acres an acres of it. All up an down the whole creation. If they is anythin sure in my life, it is that if we ever get our asses outta here, I don’t never want to be no cotton farmer.
Several things done happened after that first day in the jungle with Big Sam an the cannibals. First, Major Fritch an me has convinced Big Sam not to make us give po ole Sue to his tribe to eat. We has persuaded him that Sue would be of a lot more use heppin us plant the cotton than he would be as a meal. An so ever day there is ole Sue out there with us, wear-in a big straw hat an carryin a gunnysack, plantin cotton.
Also, bout the third or forth week we was there, Big Sam come into our hovel an say, “Look here, Forrest old boy, do you play chess?”
An I says, “No.”
An he say, “Well, you’re a Harvard man, you might like to learn.”
An I nod my head, an that’s how I learnt to play chess.
Ever evenin when we is thru work in the cotton fields, Big Sam’d get out his chess set an we’d set aroun the fire an play till late at night. He showed me all the moves, an for the first few days he taught me strategy. But after that, he quit doin it cause I beat him a game or two.
After a wile, the games get longer. Sometime they last for several days, as Big Sam can not make up his mind where to move to. He’d sit an study them chessmen an then he’d do somethin with one of them, but I always managed to beat him. Sometimes he’d get real angry with hissef, an pound on his foot with a stick or butt his head against a rock or somethin.
“For a Harvard man, you is a pretty good chess player,” he’d say, or he’d say, “See here, Forrest – why did you make that last move?” I wouldn’t say nothin, or jus shrug my shoulders, an that woud send Big Sam into a rage.
One day he say, “You know, Forrest, I am surely glad you have come here, so I can have somebody to play chess with, an I am glad I have saved you from that cooking pot. Only thing is, I really would like to win jus one chess game from you.”
At that, Big Sam be lickin his chops, an it didn’t take no idiot to figger out that if I let him win jus one game, he was gonna be satisfied, an have me for his supper, then an there. Kinda kep me on my toes, if you know what I mean.
Meantime, a very strange thing has happened with Major Fritch.
One day she is walkin back from the cotton fields with Sue an me, when a big ole black arm poke out from a clump of bushes an beckon her over. Me an Sue stopped, an Major Fritch walk over to the clump of bushes an say, “Who’s that in there?” All of a sudden, the big ole arm reached out an grapped a holt of Major Fritch an snatched her into the bush. Sue an me looked at each other an then run over to where she was. Sue got there first an I was about to leap into the bushes mysef, when Sue stop me. He start shakin his head an wavin me away, an we walked off a little bit an waited. They was all sorts of souns comin from in there, an the bushes is shakin like crazy. I finally figgered out what was goin on, but from the soun of Major Fritch’s voice, it didn’t appear she was in no danger or nothin, so Sue an me went on back to the village.
Bout a hour later, here come Major Fritch an this great big ole feller who is grinnin ear-to-ear. She has got him by the han, leadin him along. She bring him into the hovel an say to me, “Forrest, I want you to meet Grurck,” an she lead him forward.
“Hi,” I say. I had seen this feller aroun the village before. Grurck be grinnin an noddin an I nodded back. Sue, he be scratchin his balls.
“Grurck done axed me to move in with him,” she say, “an I think I will, since it is sort of crowded in here for the three of us, wouldn’t you say?”
I nod my head.
“Forrest. You wouldn’t tell nobody bout this, would you?” Major Fritch axed.
Now who in hell was she thinkin I would tell, is what I want to know? But I just shook my head, an Major Fritch got her shit an went off with Grurck to his place. An that’s the way it was.
The days an months an finally the years come an go, an ever day me an Sue an Major Fritch be workin in the cotton fields, an I am beginnin to feel like Uncle Remus or somebody. At night, after I finish wuppin Big Sam at chess, I go into the hovel with ole Sue an we set aroun for a wile. It has got to where Sue an me can sort of talk to each other, gruntin an makin faces an wavin our hans. After a long time I am able to piece together his life story, an it turn out to be bout as sorry as mine.
When he was jus a little bitty ape, Sue’s mama an poppa was walkin in the jungle one day when these guys come along an thowed a net over them, an drug them off. He managed to get on with an aunt an uncle till they kicked him out for eatin too much, an then he was on his own.
He was okay, jus swingin in the trees an eatin bananas till one day he got curious bout what is goin on in the rest of the world, an he swang hissef thru tree after tree till he come on a village near the edge of the jungle. He is thirsty an come down an set by a stream to drink some water when this feller come by paddlin a canoe. Sue ain’t never seen a canoe, so he set there watchin it an the feller paddle over to him. He think the feller want to give him a ride, but instead, the feller conked Sue over the head with his oar an hog-tied him an nex thing he knew, he was sold to some guy that put him in a exhibit in Paris.
There was this other orangutang in the exhibit, name of Doris, what was one of the finest-looking apes he had ever seed, an after a wile, they fell in love. The guy that had the exhibit took them aroun the world, an everplace he’d go, the main attraction was to put Doris an Sue together in a cage so’s everbody could watch them screw – that was the kind of exhibit it was. Anyway, it was kinda embarrassin for ole Sue, but it were the only chance they had.
Then one time they was on exhibit in Japan, an some guy come up to the feller running the show an offer to buy Doris. So off she went, Sue knowed not where, an he was by hissef.
That caused a definate change in Sue’s attitude. He got grouchy, an when they put him on display, he took to growlin an snarlin an finally he begun takin a shit an then flingin the shit thru the cage bars all over them people what had paid their good money to see what an orangutang acts like.
After a wile of this, the exhibit feller got fed up an sold Sue to the NASA people an that’s how come he wind up here. I know how he feels a little, cause he’s still lonesome for Doris, an I’m still lonesome for Jenny Curran, an ain’t a day go by I ain’t wonderin what’s become of her. But here we both is, stuck out in the middle of nowhere.
The cotton farmin adventure of Big Sam’s is beyon anyone’s wildest dreams. We has sowed an harvested bale after bale, an they is storin it in big grass shacks built up off the groun. Finally one day, Big Sam say they is fixin to construct a big boat – a barge – to load up the cotton an fight our way thru pygmy country down to where we can sell the cotton an make a fortune.
“I have got it all figured out,” Big Sam says. “First we auction off the cotton and get our money. Then we will use it to buy the kinds of things my people need.”
I axed him what was that, an he say, “Oh, you know, old sport, beads and trinkets, perhaps a mirror or two – a portable radio and maybe a box of good Cuban cigars – and a case or two of booze.”
So this is the kind of deal we is in.
Anyhow, the months go by, an we is harvesting the last cotton crop of the season. Big Sam has done just bout finished the river barge that is to take us thru pygmy country to the town, an the night before we is to leave, they hold a big hoedown to celebrate everthin an also ward off evil spirits.
All the tribe be settin aroun the fire chantin “boola-boola” and beatin on they drums. They has also drug out that big cauldron an got it on the fire steamin an boilin, but Big Sam say it is only a “symbolic gesture.”
We is settin there playin chess, an let me tell you this – I am so excited I am bout to bust! Just let us get near a town or city, an we is long gone. Ole Sue knows the deal too, cause he’s settin over there with a big grin on his face, ticklin hissef under the arms.
We has played one or two games of chess an is bout to finish another, when I suddenly look down, an damned if Big Sam ain’t got me in check. He is smilin so big, all I can see in the dark is his teeth, an I figger I had better get outta this situation quick.
Only problem is, I can’t. Wile I’ve been assin aroun countin my chickens afore they’re hatched, I have put mysef in a impossible position on the chessboard. They ain’t no way out.
I studied that thing for a wile, my frown lit up plain as day from the fire’s reflection off Big Sam’s smilin teeth, an then I says, “Ah, look here – I got to go pee.” Big Sam nod, still grinnin, an I’ll tell you this, it was the first time I can remember when sayin somethin like that got me out of trouble instead of in it.
I went on back behin the hovel an took a pee, but then instead of goin back to the chess game, I went in an got ole Sue an splained to him what the deal was. Then I snuck up on Grurck’s hut an whispered for Major Fritch. She come out, an I tole her too, an say we’d better get our butts outta here afore we is all parboiled or somethin.
Well, we all decided to make a break for it. Grurck, he say he’s comin with us on account of he’s in love with Major Fritch – or however he expressed it. Anyway, the four of us started creepin out of the village an we got down to the edge of the river an was just bout to get in one of the native canoes, when all of a sudden I look up an standin there over me is Big Sam with about a thousan of his natives, lookin mean an disappointed.
“Come now, old sport,” he say, “did you really think you could outsmart this old devil?” An I tell him, “Oh, we was jus goin for a canoe ride in the moonlite – you know what I mean?”
“Yeah,” he say, he knowed what I meant, an then his men grapped us up an haul us back to the village under armed guard. The cookin cauldron is bubblin an steamin to beat the band an they has got us tied to stakes in the groun an the outlook is somethin less than rosy.
“Well, old sport,” Big Sam say, “this is a unfortunate turn of events indeed. But look at it this way, you will at least be able to console yourself by the knowledge that you have fed a hungry mouth or two. And also, I must tell you this – you are without a doubt the best chess player I have ever encountered, and I was the chess champion of Yale for three of the four years I was there.
“As for you, madam,” Big Sam say to Major Fritch, “I am sorry to have to bring your little affaire d’amour with old Grurck here to an end, but you know how it is.”
“No I don’t know how it is, you despicable savage,” Major Fritch say. “Where do you get off, anyway? You oughta be ashamed of yoursef!”
“Perhaps we can serve you an Grurck on the same platter,” Big Sam chuckled, “a little light an dark meat – myself, I’ll take a thigh, or possibly a breast – now that would be a nice touch.”
“You vile, unspeakable ass!” say Major Fritch.
“Whatever,” Big Sam says. “And now, let the feast begin!”
They begun untyin us an a bunch of them jiggaboos hauled us towards the cookin pot. They lifted up po ole Sue first, cause Big Sam say he will make good “stock,” an they was holdin him above the cauldron about to thow him in, when lo an behole, a arrow come out of noplace an strike one of the fellers hoistin up Sue. The feller fall down an Sue drop on top of him. Then more arrows come rainin down on us from the edge of the jungle, an everbody is in a panic.
“It is the pygmies!” shout Big Sam. “Get to your arms!” an everbody run to get they spears an knives.
Since we ain’t got no spears or knives, Major Fritch, me an Sue an Grurck start runnin down towards the river again, but we ain’t no more than ten feet down the path when all of a sudden we is snatched up feet first by some kind of snares set in the trees.
We is hangin there, upside down like bats, an all the blood rushin to our heads, when this little guy come out of the brush an he be laughin an gigglin at us all trussed up. All sorts of savage sounds are comin from the village, but after a wile, everthing quiet down. Then a bunch of other pygmies come an cut us down an tie our hans an feet an lead us back to the village.
It is a sight! They has captured Big Sam an all his natives an has them tied up han an foot too. Look like they is bout to thow them into the boilin pot.
“Well, old sport,” Big Sam say, “seems like you were saved in the nick of time, doesn’t it?”
I nod my head, but I ain’t sure if we isn’t jus out of the fryin pan an into the fire.
“Tell you what,” says Big Sam, “looks like it’s all over for me an my fellers, but maybe you have a chance. If you can get to that harmonica of yours an play a little tune or two, it might save your life. The king of the pygmies is crazy for American music.”
“Thanks,” I say.
“Don’t mention it, old sport,” Big Sam say. They lifted him up high an was holdin him over the boilin cauldron, an suddenly he call out to me, “Knight to bishop three – then rook ten to king seven – that’s how I beat you!”
They was a big splash, and then all Big Sam’s trussed-up natives begun chantin “boola-boola” again. Things are lookin down for us all.