> The Mangohead Chronicles: Mangohead and the Zaboca Thief S01E09

Thursday, December 27, 2012

Mangohead and the Zaboca Thief S01E09

And Now Onto Our Story!

Mangohead took a deep breath. He shouldn't have to worry about Anita. She was a big girl; she could take care of herself. As much as he wanted to go find her, he knew that his duty lay with Ma Procop's zaboca tree. With a heavy heart, Mangohead set back off up the road to see how best he could plan for the evening's zaboca watch.
The breeze was tinged with the scent of burnt bush. It was likely that something had caught fire in the forest and the wind was wafting the smoke towards the village. It wouldn’t be the first time that a fire would have threatened the outskirts of San Marcos. In years past, fires had gotten very close to consuming the village’s main street and all the buildings there. Ma Procop had told Mangohead about some time in the ancient past when she was just a girl that the fires had raged along the forest and had almost burnt down her house. She made it sound exciting, but Mangohead knew that, faced with the same situation, he would probably would have turned tail and ran, house be damned.
He sniffed the air. From what he could gather the fire was miles away. He could only get the slightest whiff of burning and there wasn't any ash in the air as yet. Usually, when the air was thick with ash, it would be a good time to worry. Mangohead didn't have time for that now though, and he relegated the burning smell to the back of his mind to pore over later.
Outside Ma Procop's garden gate, Two and Four leaned up on the fence as though they were posts constructed for that purpose. "Mangohead!" Two shouted as he tossed a grass stalk he had been chewing casually behind him. "Me and mih brother come to help yuh do yuh t'ing."
"Yeah," Four said resignedly. "Or else is baigan in we tail for weeks. Tell we what we hadda do?"
"Aaite, the plan is this," Mangohead began. "We splitting it up into three watches, I go take first watch and allyuh could sleep, Two could take second watch and Four could take third watch. It have somebody t'iefing de zaboca and is up to we to find out who it is and try and ketch dem doing it."
"Why yuh doh call de police?" Four asked.
Two tapped him on the head. "You ent schupid in joke inno. You sure is de same police we know? You know dem fellers cyah ketch a cold in a freezer, you expect dem to ketch a real t'ief?"
Mangohead smirked. He held the same opinion of the police force and Officer Parris’ little song-and-dance earlier did little to dispel that opinion. "Look, we hadda see if we could ketch dis feller, because de tree going to start bearing plenty just now and I hadda see bout selling de zaboca to make some money for Ma Procop."
"Hear nah," Two said in a low voice, as if the wall would overhear him, "if we see de feller up de tree, we doh hadda do nuttn, right? Is to wake you up and you go deal with it, right?"
Mangohead nodded. "I go deal with it, allyuh doh worry, just wake mih up in time to ketch him up de tree and ah go do for him." He wasn't sure what he was going to do just yet but he figured it would come to him in time.
Nodding the boys entered Ma Procop's garden, Mangohead securely shutting the gate behind him as he set up to watch the tree whilst Two and Four progressed inside to lie down on Ma Procop's living room floor. Mangohead's heart raced. Tonight would be the night he could catch the thief in the act and make him pay for the worry that the crook was causing him and by extension the old woman whose interests he safeguarded. He wouldn't let them get away like they did before. This time he was determined and he was prepared.
The night settled on San Marcos like a velvet coat. The yellow light of the distant streetlights provided just a modicum of light in the pitch black village. San Marcos, being a rural hamlet, usually meant that the denizens of the small village had their lights out ere the clock struck nine. Tonight was no exception, the last in-house light being extinguished before the clock on Ma Procop's living room wall chimed half nine. Mangohead kept shining his pencil-light on the clock face to see the hours ticking away before returning his eyes to the zaboca tree and the fence which kept out the wilds of the forest beyond. It was a pity it didn't do so well at keeping out the greedy villager that was stealing the zabocas.
The crickets kept him company with their high-pitched droning as the cicadas punctuated those chirps with their calls for rain. Mangohead looked up on the hillside and he could see the glowing embers of the fire he had smelt earlier today. It was surprisingly closer than he gave it credit for. As he stared into the flames as they danced like wild children on the hillside, his thoughts wandered to Anita's face. A smile crossed his lips as the image of her smile filled his mind's eye. The untimely bite of a mosquito on his leg caused him to abruptly return to reality. He swatted at the insect and missed. In his head, he cursed the pests and threw his eye back on the zaboca tree. The only movement he could see in it was the wind rustling the leaves.
At around midnight, Mangohead went inside and woke Two, shaking him gently. "Me ent goin' to school today ma..." Two responded.
Mangohead smacked him on the head. "I is not yuh mudda ehh..."
"OWW!" Two exclaimed and Mangohead shushed him. "Look, is your time to watch de tree."
"De tree eh goin nowhere inno star," Two said, closing back his eyes and laying back down.
Mangohead sighed and pinched him, squeezing the boy's skin on his arm until he woke up with a scramble and started cussing. "Shhhh, you go wake up de whole village!"
"But whey de...wha yuh pinch mih for?" Two said as he rubbed his arm.
"Yuh woulda wake up otherwise?" Mangohead replied.
"Well...maybe..." Two said, still acting the victim.
"Look, is your turn to watch and my turn to sleep," Mangohead said as he lay down on the wooden floor and tried to make himself comfortable.
"If I see anybody I calling yuh ehh," Two said as he walked outside.
Mangohead grunted assent and closed his eyes trying to sleep. His mind was racing at the possibilities. Who could it be? There were so many people he had met over the recent days and it could be any one of them that were pilfering the pears. He had thought it was the Kurma Man, but that had been a bust. He ran through his checklist of people that he had met and thought maybe Tony might be the best candidate for a thief. The muddy shoes were a bit of a giveaway. Where on earth could he have been to have gotten his feet so muddy, unless HE was the one that was running from Mangohead? Coupled with the fact that Mangohead didn't exactly know what he did for a living made him one of the shadier characters in San Marcos and immediately, Mangohead moved him to the head of the suspect list.
The Kurma Man had a piece of damning evidence, but he claimed it wasn't his. Madame Lani, therefore, as the original owner for the cloth that was his first clue, was still on his list, but he hadn't had time to see and talk to her yet. He doubted she was the bandit though, mainly because he knew that she was almost as frail as the Kurma Man, and he wasn't going to make the same mistake twice. At least Adrian had been good enough to accept his apology for even considering him.
He knew his evidence so far was shaky and probably wouldn't hold up in a court of law, but once he caught the thief stranded up the zaboca tree there would be no need for evidence. He considered what he would do with whoever the culprit was and it was during this train of thought that Mangohead found himself drifting away into sleep.
"Mangohead..." Two's voice came from across the misty void. "Mangohead wake up boy..."
"Urrrrh?" Mangohead said groggily.
"It have somebody in de tree!" Two said gleefully.
Mangohead snapped to attention, all thoughts of sleep forgotten. "Let we ketch de bastard with he hand in de cookie jar."
"...but I thought he was t'iefing zaboca..." Two said.
Mangohead ignored Two and got up carefully so as not to make a large amount of noise: the last thing he wanted was to spook the tree-climber. Mangohead's spirit was on a high as he walked into Ma Procop's garden verandah. The moon cast dancing shadows on the zaboca tree and Mangohead peered into the depths of the shadows hoping for a hint of something moving. He was not disappointed.
He could make out the shape of someone in the tree, their hand reaching out to grab a branch and hoist themselves up. Slowly the silhouette made its way up the tree, one branch at a time. Mangohead knew that he would have to wait until the thief was all the way at the top with no way to get down. But could he risk losing another zaboca? No, he would have to strike before the thief could get his hands on one of the three remaining fruits.
"Aye!" Mangohead bawled, "What yuh doing in dat tree?"
The figure stopped, seeming to weight its options.
"Ah serious!" Mangohead yelled. "Dat tree is not yours, dem zaboca is not yours. Why you doh try and leave people thing alone ehh?"
The shadow paused. Mangohead seemed to have him now.
"Come down from de tree and we go talk, man to man," Mangohead yelled up at the figure.
The breeze blew a huge gust just then and the zaboca tree swayed. Mangohead lost sight of the shadow and when the breeze had abated, the tree looked bare. Puzzled, Mangohead strained his eyes and a glint caught his peripheral vision. Training his eyes on the flash, which had grown accustomed to the moonlight now, he saw the figure dart over the fence and into the forest, the gleam of the stolen zaboca high in its hand.
He looked up at the tree. And now there were only two zaboca left.

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