Cornelius Kropotkin glances up, resentfully, at the bright smudge of sun. The sun and the heat, this darned couple, is the only two things he really hates about this place. He doesn’t mind the mad moisture, he could give a flying flip about the gnats, even the occasional snake does not faze him, they are all justified players to him, of the circuambience. But the sun sending it’s radiance down here into the lush jungle from millions of kilometers away, is an unwelcome intruder. He is perfectly aware that his standpoint is slightly contradictory, that without the sun’s speedy photons there would be no such thing as a jungle, gnats, snakes but yet so nevertheless, Kropotkin despises it. Kropotkin is an idiosyncratic man, he has no trouble with contradictions or complexities that end up biting themselves in the tail like a gigant boa constrictor.
Just two days ago he saw one: a giant, fat rope of muscle hanging from a tree, probably waiting for a dunce, most likely disappointed that Cornelius Kropotkin turned out not to be one. He had looked the Boa into its little black beads trying to divine its species being. Ever since he read Marx, he has taken some liberties with this expression and when he gets half a chance he will try to seek it out in whatever life form he comes across. The B.C had a more simple motive.
Kropotkin moved closer until he thought himself within striking range: he wanted to see how fast a snake moves, he wanted to know what would happen in this contest man versus animal. The fellow had temporarily forgotten that the rainforest demands attention in all directions. But the Constrictor did not move. It was even difficult to make out that the checkered loop of flesh hiding in the vine was alive. Kropotkin remained transfixed. From one moment to the other, it had become a staring duel rather than anything else.
Vaguely he remembered that this variety prefers terrestrial movement over athletical stunts up in the trees. Observing the serpent Kropotkin felt immensely human, rather than a Russian in exile. Maybe this Boa had only recently feasted, say two months ago, and was trying to stay away from other, even larger predators. But which would those be? The snake to Kropotkin looked like one of those types that could easily gobble up a buffalo and say “What’s for dessert?”
The jungle made its peaceful, daytime jungle noises as opposed to its disquieting nocturnal racket. Kropotkin scratched his immense beard that had once been fashionable in his native lands, approximately 150 years earlier. Living in his own timeline, he has never minded these type of things.
The unofficial duel was this: five-and-a-half meter of prime Boa Constrictor versus Cornelius Kropotkin, former kingpin in St. Eustachia, set upon by a cabal of his also-trafficking enemies (so his theory), put through some unmentionable practices, left for the vultures in the rainforest of who-knows-where (probably the Amazon), 183cm height in unbent condition (which means lying down), now living the eremite life, almost, reduced to an emaciated 68 kgs and often beset by the most bothersome itch, un-mosquito-related, especially along the lower arms, which only his mysterious paramour Nyala, materializing out of the jungle at times of her own choosing, can somewhat alleviate.
As he stared, he felt himself to be going deeper inside the muscles, neural system, instincts of it, getting to understand the animal better just standing there, middle of the god-forsaken forest. It even occurred to him that they might go hunt together, in a sort of mutually pedagogic fashion “Look here, this is the best way to catch an unsuspecting Tapir…” Him and the impassive Boa.
Then there was sudden, ear-splitting noise overhead in the trees’ verdant crowns and when Kropotkin, occasional simpleton, looked up to get an eyeball of what exactly the deal was he could make out one long-armed shadow brachiating after another at a mind-boggling clip, probably Gibbons engaged in either play or territorial conflict.
The exile king-pin likes gibbons a lot, it wouldn’t be all that much of an exaggeration to say he loves them: grace, speed, social skills. Not much more you could ask for from a Simian. Comparatively speaking, Kropotkin sometimes explains to Nyala on the rare occasion they exchange mutually incomprehensible phrases, the other apes are just monkeys. This statement he accompanies by a loud, guffawing laugh, a laugh that makes Nyala laugh too. They make for a good, improbable team.
That little slip of attention was all the snake had been looking for and by the time Cornelius Kropotkin managed to turn back, his sight was that of a checkered rope of animal waving in his direction too fast. Very intent on not killing it, he brought up his machete with its flat side and swatted away the lunging length while his scrawny legs already had begun the work of getting him out of there as fast as is humanly possible… for a starved man.