An Adventure of Ned,
“My teacher seemed impressed enough with my writing. Too bad I cannot get anything for doing it,” said young Ned. “Maybe you will one day,” said his grandfather, Mr. Barns, trying to cheer him up; “Write a book and market it properly. Start your own magazine. You will attain an audience, somehow – there are people who love to read.” “I hope so,” replied Ned, “I really like thinking I have a reason to write, that I can impress someone, somehow.” “You will,” replied Mr. Barns, “You will.”
Ned had been working on the same story for weeks. He thought it up, wrote it down, and revised it a few times. He found the grammatical style to be a novice’s attempt at best; he thought he had his chances with winning, albeit. He and a few other adventurous students in his class competed to enter a writing competition. His teacher was only able to submit one candidate; it was not Ned.
Ned still held his head high. Perhaps his Mr. Barns was right. People all over enjoy the world of written pieces. He would either find success or die trying. He was his own worst critic – no one really knew his message as well as him.
A Saturday in the park was rewarding for Ned. It meant he could attempt winning a game of chess or cards against Mr. Barns, that he had not gotten into too much trouble during the week. If Ned’s mother was unhappy with him, there was no chance that he could see his grandfather on Saturday.
According to him, his story deserved reading and presented an exciting tale. In his narrative, a young man tended the house of a very wealthy hunter. The house contained mounted animal trophies from Africa. The old philanthropist died, and the house-servant received a minimal amount of monthly payments until his death. The servant was still young in age, so he decided to travel to Africa. “How exciting is that?” wondered Ned.
In Ned’s story the young hunter was ignorant in regards to hunting. He traveled to a lodge built for people who traveled to Africa to hunt big game legally. The hunter was attacked by a black rhino and shot him twice before having to manhandle and ride the huge beast off a cliff for a rough and dangerous victory. Upon returning to the hunting lodge with the amazing animal, the young hunter fell in love with a female from Ireland who was working for the lodge.
The two made passionate love, and he was allowed to stay and work for the lodge for a few months. The couple married and traveled back to The United States. They made babies and lived happily ever after. “What could possibly have been wrong with such a story?” wondered Ned, as he drifted away in thought, “There must be more than one reason I did not win. The teacher said she liked the story. Maybe she thought my ego would find a new form of arrogance? The other story may have been far better – who knows.”
Ned let it go. He loved to read and write. He also liked to play chess, did not mind losing a game so long as it was some form of an understood lesson. About that time, in no surprise, Mr. Barns said, “Checkmate!” and Ned saw his mom pulling up to the curb to pick him up. He shook hands with his grandfather and hugged him, as always, and Ned rode away with his mother. They both waved goodbye to Mr. Barns.
Ned’s mother always drove aggressively. They stopped by a small grocery store and got groceries; they went home and turned in. That night Ned could not stop thinking about his story during his slumber. He dreamt of ferocious and vividly colored tigers, talking parrots of many sorts, and large grey gorillas that displayed sociological behavior. The dusty safaris in his mind could have been a paradise for anyone.
Ned woke up, ate what his mother cooked him for breakfast, and caught the bus on time for school. He did well that day; even Ned himself knew he had to be on the brink of a new and exciting temptation. That evening, Ned finished his homework and fell into a daydream.
“I am going to Africa,” thought Ned, as he came back to reality. The young man was so dissatisfied with the outcome of his story that he was going to skip the country. Was this impossible? No it was not impossible; Ned planned it out.
Ned put forth as much effort as possible that week in school. He was up to something; he could not let his mother or anyone else know. During the week he accessed the web with his father’s phone during nocturnal hours. Ned used the guest account browsing capability, as he had before. He was always trying to figure something out secretly; his dad’s phone was a way of doing such a thing. The last thing Ned needed in his life was to get caught with his daddy’s business phone, so he only used it on rare occasion.
Ned found all the information he needed. Saturday came and he was happy to see his grandfather. If anyone could figure him, it would be Mr. Barns. “You seem quiet, today,” remarked the grandfather knowing. “Of course I am,” said Ned, as he moved his queen to a position for the protection of a knight, “I may not see you for some time; I am sorry in advance.” “Why are you going to do what is on your mind?” asked Mr. Barns, “Are you going to put yourself or anyone else in danger?”
“No sir,” said Ned, “I do not plan on doing anything crazy. I will bring you something.” “Think it through,” said Mr. Barns, “You can let it go. Tell me about it or do not. Do not do something you cannot calculate the punishment for.” Mr. Barns knew not to move in haste with such a move as Ned’s previous gesture. The boy’s queen was far away from a semi-protected king. Time was pressing, however, and Mr. Barns overlooked Ned’s attacking horse by furthering his own attack with a bishop. Ned was one move away from Mr. Barn’s plan to have him in checkmate; he skillfully placed his knight in the overlooked position, however. The knight was protected by Ned’s queen. He, in luck, was able to competently say, “Checkmate.”
“I missed it,” said Mr. Barns as he shook his grandson’s hand, “Good game.” Ned often won by protecting an attacking piece with his queen. If this did not work out, it was usually a piece by piece war or an accidental loss. Ned was happy; he won. His mother brought him home and everyone slept well two nights in a row.
Ned woke to an alarm on his watch at 3 AM Monday morning. His parents were sound asleep, and he skillfully checked his lightweight backpack for provisions/bare necessities. The young man planned to take an automobile or request a ride. He left his mother a note, apologizing in advance and saying that he should be back within seven days. Ned left in silence, and his parents slept on.
Once outside, Ned jogged. “It cannot be too hard,” thought Ned. Once he hiked a few blocks down the road, he came up upon a gas station. There was an old tavern across the road; it closed an hour before. He walked quietly into the tavern’s parking lot to find a car, and to his luck, a woman had passed out due to intoxication. She was leaning up against the car with her keys in her hand. Ned took her keys and lay her gently down to sleep on the pebbles below her. He carefully opened the door and pushed the car away from the sleeping owner. He started the car and drove to the airport; she slept until daylight.
Ned’s abilities were sure to be questioned once upon his arrival. He parked the car in a guest spot and continued on foot safely. The airport was huge. Only this section had a single flight going to Africa, at only one time. Would he board with someone else’s pass? Would he try to walk past the flight attendants? Ned would not make such decisions. Ned, the adventurous and creative young man knowing, would attempt hiding in someone’s luggage.
He found the right terminal and even saw the huge plain with amazing engines on its wings. Ned had two options. One, to get into the luggage from inside the airport, or two, to carefully climb a razor-wire fence and make it a go that way. The airplane was in his site; he climbed the fence. He figured he was a little early, yet he also knew he had to be close to departure time. After safely scaling the fence without too much effort, Ned looked about in the night to see if there was any chance of an employee spotting him. They were visible, yet they were talking to each other. One man’s flashlight did not seem to be working properly. Ned saw this as the perfect opportunity to get himself closer to the luggage. No luggage was even in sight, however a large airplane wheel was. The boy took off in a dead sprint to hide behind the big wheel. He made it.
Once behind the wheel, Ned was even closer to the plane bound for Africa. “My luck, they have already loaded the luggage,” thought Ned. In only a moment, however, a vehicle pulling four luggage racks came out a section of the airport. The vehicle was obviously headed towards the airplane bound for Africa, and Ned kept his eyes on it. Only one airport employee could have looked his way; he also took into account the driver of the vehicle. Staying out of site, Ned jogged up to beside the moving racks and gently climbed on.
The vehicle slowed down about fifty yards later, and Ned’s adrenaline was still soaring. He normally would have been scared to death of what looked like the deadly black cave of the unknown. “It is just the lower luggage compartment of the airplane,” thought Ned. He waited for the rack to come closer and to make sure the driver could not see him. “The time is now!” thought Ned, and he ran from the racks to inside the compartment of the airplane.
Surprisingly enough, he could see in there. Ned climbed into structure in the top of the compartment; the luggage was thrown to underneath him in what he deemed a barbaric fashion. “No wonder they ask people about fragile items as they are checking in luggage,” thought Ned. The compartment he was in was filled with luggage in a small amount of time, and the workers closed the doors. The airplane was scheduled to take flight at 5 AM; Ned fell asleep on top of two huge suitcases full of clothing.
Ned woke up for a while as the airplane was taking off. He held his hands over his ears, cautious of the many decibels of the jumbo jet’s powerful engines. Once in the air Ned thought, “No turning back now; I will be in trouble for sure,” and fell fast asleep. The flight was a long one for the many adventurous passengers – Ned included. It was a flight scheduled to take about nine hours, depending on the weather. Ned woke up about three hours after he fell asleep. He had no idea where he was at first, then he noticed the many suitcases.
The light in the compartment was very dim, yet it was there. Small lights from the large airplane’s flooring shown enough for Ned to make himself at home, somewhat. He rearranged the luggage minimally, and made himself comfortable. “I am not even tempted to dig through this luggage thought Ned,” as he was about to try to close his eyes and sleep. Just then, however, he notice a mid-sized piece of luggage nearby. It was a large black bag. He opened it and found a book titled “Caruso’s Return”. Ned read the first chapter.
Time went by and Ned fell asleep. The airplane endured a mild storm; all was well. His ears popped as the airplane descended in altitude. The large wheels slowly lowered, and the airplane continued to descend. The plane safely landed on time in Africa. Ned guessed it had to be traveling at speeds well over 70 mph. The loud noises stemming from the landing and traveling afterwards eventually began to cease.
Ned almost freaked out – how was he going to remain unseen? “There is always a way,” thought Ned, and he stuffed most of the contents of one large suitcase into the framing above him. He crawled into the suitcase and zipped it up from the inside. Ned hoped for the best.
He did so in the nick of time; the airport’s employees opened the plain’s compartment in only moments. Ned ignored the grunt he heard from the worker has he was placed on a luggage rack in a big suitcase. The suitcase made it to a conveyor belt with its appropriate tags. The travelers carried their suitcase to a taxicab, and no one noticed the suitcase’s weight. Once the vacationers arrived at their hotel, their luggage was to be delivered to their room. Ned endured enough of this nonsense; he unzipped the suitcase as it was being wheeled down a hallway.
A hotel attendant was pulling the luggage rack; Ned very carefully made exodus from the suitcase to the floor and walked quietly to a nearby doorway. He stretched, checked the hotel employee’s ability to see him, and ran back to the elevator. Ned took the stairs to Floor 1, and he quickly walked outside to a wide city-street sidewalk. “I am free!” he exclaimed, and Ned ran a few blocks and turned a corner before checking his backpack’s provisions. He stretched a bit and got his wits together. He was in a strange and new land; he would find his way.
Ned jogged down what appeared to be a big-city alley, went back into his backpack among the secluded shadows of the tall buildings. He had done some research and found an actual legal hunting safari in Nigeria. The lodge highly resembled a golf course with log cabin lodging and various Jeep-like vehicles for hunting and scientific observation. Void of a legitimate story to present for a reason to stay, he would have to get there via clandestine efforts and remain unseen.
The sun was directly above him. “It must be close to noon,” reasoned Ned, so he set his watch for 12 PM. Ned walked down the shaded pathway. His map included simple directions from the airport to a hotel and from the airport to the lodge, directly. The hotel he “escaped” from was not in his map, however one road was. The road crossed another road which led to the lodge. The intersection was three miles away, yet Ned thought it was quite the lucky find. At least he would not have to try to communicate; that could cause trouble of unknown natures. What on earth would his story be? Ned walked down the side of the road or on sidewalks as if he knew it all. He had never seen these people. Many of the cars looked old and broken down, a few were very nice.
“I found it!” exclaimed Ned, and no one was even around to hear him. Indeed, he did find it. He found the one intersection he needed to get to the hunting lodge. Ned walked away from the crossing, however, to distance himself from being seen too easily by the traffic. The general direction known in the late afternoon, young Ned walked on.
Ned walked and walked. He hid from occasional cars behind trees or shrubberies along the way; the ground was mostly sandy yet still overgrown. An irrigation structure ran parallel to the road, and this made Ned’s efforts somewhat easier. He jogged and walked, and the sun went down late in the day. He reset his watch for 8 PM at dusk, and carried on. Ned walked all night long by the light of the moon. A thousand notions flew through his mind as the blackbirds of one’s nocturnal dreams. When would he eat something? Why was he not hungry or tired? He would be okay; he knew.
Ned walked and jogged on and on. He checked his watch every hour or so, and eventually it said 5:30 AM. He saw the light of the morning glowing all around him. The sun was soon to come up, and he walked all night down an irrigation canal in Africa. He traveled on. Suddenly, however, he saw the lodge! “What luck,” thought Ned, knowing he was pretty lucky to have even found the right road. He flanked to the side, and walked nearer, as he could hear men talking.
Two men were speaking a language he knew nothing of; he walked around to the back. Behind the lodge there were animals. Many of them were common – horses, some goats, and a camel. There was a roof above the animals’ feeding troughs, and Ned noticed the structure was half complete, built for some distance and into the lodge. He quickly climbed up over the tame animals and into the roofing. Ned found a shelf that was probably rarely seen. “I thank Thee, for I know you protect me somehow,” whispered Ned, and using his backpack as a pillow, he fell fast asleep with the rising of the morning sun.
Ned fell asleep in Africa – Nigeria, actually, and he was out for sure. The sun continued to rise, as always, and Ned did not wake until high noon. People were feeding the animals below, and he heard grown men speaking muffled English from the other side of the structure. They were discussing proper hunting procedure. An attendant of the lodge reminded two vacationing hunters to be aware of poachers and not to hunt anything besides the wild deer they had a registered tag for, lest they become poachers themselves.
The men agreed and drove away in a Jeep-like vehicle highly resembling a large metal box or a tan tank. “What to do now?” wondered Ned; he knew he must remain unknown. He gently climbed down from the shelf, as the wind from the safari enabled various random creaking sounds. He made little to no noise, himself. The hunting lodge was huge. It contained over a dozen rooms for sleeping quarters, a front and a rear foyer, a huge den, and even a restaurant with a sports bar on the side.
Ned planned to take an on foot secret tour and get back to his shelf. He did it. He did it for four days. Life was fun for Ned during his tentative vacation. He knew to remain unseen – it was not really that hard to do so. The animal keepers only fed the animals at daybreak, and the bar on the west side of the foyer closed at 10 PM every night. The cooks roasted certified game from the hunters, who never ate all of the food. Ned was able to await the closing of the bar and live off the leftovers from the day’s hunt.
“I am going to miss this place,” thought Ned, as he gazed upon the stars during the fourth night. The animals knew him by then. Once or twice he was forced to let them see him in order to hide from hunters on the way back to his shelf. The animals were tame and Ned sometimes pet them like dogs before daybreak. Keeping up with his days, he knew he would have to time it right to make it back to the airport. The craziest thing he saw was a rabid elephant the attendants had to put down due to terminal illness. Their normal darts induced a deep and tranquil slumber. For the sick elephant, however, the darts were lethal. The workers cremated the elephant; his meat would not be fit for consumption.
Ned may have been a little crazy, himself, however he knew he was in need of planning his departure. He also needed an item for his grandfather. Once, while in the foyer of the lodge, Ned kept a traveler’s brochure to keep track of the days with the sun. He had written, by his watch and the sun, that it was 12 PM on Friday. A big airplane would be leaving from the Nigerian airport at 5 AM on Sunday. His hidden life of fun was sure to have an ending.
Ned figured he could find an item in the night. He would time his travels on foot back to the airport by leaving before 7 PM the next day. The road the lodge was on would be a straight shot back to the airport. He decided to leave before 5 PM; it would be safest to get there early and wait. Ned took his normal afternoon nap to remain hidden and slept for some while. He woke up a few hours after sundown and awaited the closing of the bar.
Ned made his way down from the animals’ roofing structure and to the bar. All patrons had returned to their quarters, as well as the attendants. Ned found a cooler with some salted and buttered toast sticks and got four of them. He quietly drank a quick glass of water and snuck back out. He ate his toast and fed the camel one, too. “Always nice to see a happy camel,” said Ned to the camel, as he carefully pet the seemingly enormous creature.
The young man turned and went back towards the sleeping quarters. Ned could have easily got into the vacationers’ quarters and attained some form of jewelry, however he did not want such actions on his conscience. “No,” he thought, “I will think of something else.” He did. Ned went to an old pile of rubble. It had been stacked there, out-of-the-way, for quite a while. He found a nearby prying tool and decided ro remove a brass hinge from an old, broken wood door. “This will have to do,” he reasoned, as he worked into the night.
Ned almost had removed five of the six fastening bolts of the hinge, and the glow of dawn was beginning to become visible. “I am about to get caught,” he thought, and to save time, he forcefully popped the hinge loose from the old door with a loud twing.
“What was that?” said a woman from the sleeping quarters. “The wind,” said a man, “Let us just sleep in, today.” Ned would not chance her catching him. He quickly returned the prying tool and secured the hinge in his pocket. He ran in the shadows back to the stables; pet the camel; nodded to the other animals; climbed to his shelf; and went to sleep.
The woman did wake up and walk around a little in her robe, went back to her bed. There was nothing to see. Ned slept until the late afternoon, enduring the normal sounds of life around him. He stretched and bid the animals farewell; Ned secretly made his way back to the roadside early. “Well,” thought Ned, “That was a lot of fun. I am sure glad no one saw me.”
He walked and jogged as the sky glowed in hues of purple and orange; the sun set behind him in Africa. The night was crisp and clean. The moon shone bright; Ned carried on. “This is harder the second time around,” thought Ned, “I would have surely been caught in that roof, somehow, within a day or two.” In his backpack he carried a compass, the brochure, a bottle of water, two pens, the map he brought, and the brass hinge. He had originally brought extra socks and underwear; he disposed of his dirty clothes beneath some wild fallen shrubberies.
Ned was thankful for his watch. He continued to carry on until close to 3:30 AM, when he thankfully found the intersection. He continued into town during the early morning hours, knowing the sun would be rising, eventually. Ned kept his distance from the road and continued on. He made it to the airport. These airplanes were smaller, yet they were still able to carry over eighty people. In the night, no airport attendants were immediately by the one plane that would be flying all the way back to The States. It was not too difficult; Ned ran to the airplane and hid himself in the luggage compartment, as before. This one was smaller, yet there was a small hidden space in the back. The employees were better with the luggage this time, and Ned flew all the way back, sleeping.
The airplane landed and the men came to unload the luggage. Ned was very lucky to escape the airplane unseen. He left the compartment as two men were unloading the luggage and hid behind the airplane. When they left with the luggage, he ran in the night to yet another fence. He was attempting to leave the grounds of the same airport he had flown from about a week before, yet he was in a totally different section.
Ned had the brains to get out of there, however. He found his way back to the main road and walked home in the night. The sun was coming up as Ned walked into his parents’ yard. He hid his backpack in the bushes behind the air-conditioner; Ned knew he would be in big trouble.
A year went by, and Ned found himself face to face with his grandfather in a game of chess. “Well?” inquired Mr. Barns, “What do you have to say?” The two exchanged a few major and minor pieces; the endgame was concluding. “I told mom, ‘I had a lot on my mind and had to go for a long walk’,” said Ned. He tried to position his last major pieces, and lost them. “Your mother and my stepson were terrified that someone had taken you; they called the authorities in panic,” said Mr. Barns. “I really am very sorry,” said Ned, “I promised to never behave in such a manner again.” Ned’s last piece was his king. Mr. Barns had both of his own rooks on opposing sides of the board with pieces to back them up in front of his king. There was no way for Ned’s king to cross the double lines formed from his grandfather’s rooks. “Nice game,” said Ned, as he laid down his king and shook his grandfather’s hand, “I figured mom would be very upset – she has not let me come see you for a whole year. I felt terrible the whole time.” “And?” asked Mr. Barns. “And this is for you,” said Ned; he gave his grandfather the old brass hinge wrapped in a folded hunting lodge’s brochure from Africa.