The Last Hunt

Chapter Two

 “I have been a globe-trotter much of my life, first as a fashion model and, when that career flamed out, I took up photography. Luckily, or unluckily perhaps, I became very good at it. At first, I concentrated on mundane matters such as fashion shows, political and business conventions. That did nothing to quell my restlessness, my discontent, my need for life experiences. Then I hit on a bit of luck.

One day I received a call from someone named Bryan Metcalf. He said he was a hunter, a traveler to exotic locales and he also mentioned the fact that he wrote about his travels. The reason he was calling, as he explained in his cultured Oxford accent and Cary Grant tone of voice, was that he was in dire need of a photographer to accompany him on his trips. His next statement floored me.”

“Are you married or engaged, by the way? Please forgive my personal question, but family life is not conducive to lengthy trips such as I undertake.’

“I am not married nor am I engaged.”

‘You live in New York? Will you be free to see me on the 28th of this month? I am flying into JFK on that date?’

“That can be arranged.”

‘Give me your address and I will contact you. In the meantime, check up on my credentials, my work and my reputation, please.’

“I will do that.”

“Well, gentlemen, you can be sure I did just that. He was a man of impeccable credentials, flawless prestige and in the highest regard from everyone whom I queried. I eagerly anticipated my first contact. I was not disappointed. He did look like Cary Grant; he did talk like Gregory Peck; he did have the physique of Adonis. There was an air about him that was totally unlike anything I had ever experienced. The result was predictable: I fell instantly in love, I who had never been close to anyone.

We covered the world in the next ten years, but marriage eluded us for one reason or another: It was not appropriate in Mongolia; it was not quite the time in New Guinea; it was not right in the Congo. We had fun nonetheless. Then came the fateful voyage that I shall never forget. It started in New Zealand when we shipped out aboard a new yacht nicknamed, The Gypsy Maiden.

Bryan wanted to explore certain islands that he had heard about on his wanderings along the Wellington waterfront. We called them New Tales of the South Pacific. I had an uneasy feeling about the trip, maybe because as a child, I had seen so many movies of cannibals and monsters beating up on white explorers. The four-man crew was an experienced one so we felt quite confident that we would reach Chile, our final destination. Nonetheless, I had qualms about the voyage since we planned to cross that vast expanse of largely uncharted water between New Zealand and Chile. But I realized that since the yacht was a fifty-footer, sleek and well designed, it should carry us through.

We started off early, cleared Cook Strait, picked up the wind and headed east.  It was a brilliant day, full of sunshine and sparkling hopes. Bryan had hinted that this would be his last trip. I did not know what his future plans were. I still hoped that I would fit in somehow. So, for the moment I could only wait and see. In the open sea we picked up a fifteen-knot wind and moved along briskly. It was wonderful to have the wind and salt air whip up my hair and curl around me as I lay on deck rejuvenating my tan. At times I threw out the fishing line and produced fresh fish for dinner. Bryan, the Captain and I spent wonderful evenings over dinner and wine, discussing life and various fascinating subjects. One night Bryan brought out an old map and laid it on the table. He pointed to a strangely shaped island and announced that it was our first destination.

“The natives in the area call it ‘Skull Island’ because it is shaped like a skull. There is a high mountain in the middle and south end. On the north is a long peninsula that the natives from neighboring islands say is populated by a strange tribe. They all avoid the place believing that it is inhabited by evil spirits and giant monsters. I plan to investigate and bring back a report to the association. “

The crew went about its business in an efficient and competent manner. Bryan took the wheel from time to time to relieve the monotony. Once he coaxed me to try my hand. It was exhilarating and so—so romantic. The first week flew by without any troubling incidents. I was on top of the world. I thought it would never end. Then the world that I knew and enjoyed came to an end.

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