Powered by Castpost(The stage is dark. The music plays for several bars and suddenly stops. In the darkness we hear…)
You have got to be kidding! Do you really expect me to believe that? What do you think I am… some gullible wide eyed 8 year old kid? Come on… there is no fucking way that story is real. You stole that from a movie! You stole that from a goddamn fucking movie!(The music continues and plays under the following to it's end. Lights up. The teller wearing a pith helmet is sitting in a rattan chair. A small café table to his right on which sits a Keris.)
OK… first thing… I never really said that. That basically is the PG 13 part of the show. Just had to get that out of my system. Anyway, the year was 1967 and I was a gullible 8 year old kid in Malaysia. My cousins and I were sitting around the bed just as my Father had finished off one of his stories. Not just any story mind you… but the mother of all stories! But we’ll get to that in a while.
First let me introduce you to the man who spun all these tales. Harold Carlos Nunis. Born April 14, 1918… right at the end of World War 1 in Seremban, Malaysia. 4th child of 12 born to Mauricieu and Scholastica Nunis… a good Catholic Eurasian family. Don’t you just love these names?
Anyway Harold was educated at St. John’s Institution, Kuala Lumpur Malaysia - where he was captain of the soccer team. field hocky team, tennis team, swim team and the cricket team. OK… my Father was a jock. Wait, it gets better.. He was also School Captain. Now, St. John’s was one of the 2 premiere schools in the city and was also my alma mater … do you know how much pressure that put on me? Every morning on the way to class I walked up the grand staircase past these big hefty wooden plaques that bore the names of my Father and his brother Cuthbert. Yes, Cuthbert was his real name. Any Cuthberts out there?
Here is a Harold and Cuthbert High School story.
Both brothers had decided to tryout for the school soccer team. Tryouts were in a month and they decided to get into shape by going for a jog every morning. You do have to understand that the Nunis family would wake at 5 in the morning to say the family rosary. I suspect that getting out of the rosary was probably more of a motivating factor than shaping up for the soccer team.
On their run in the dark of the morning they would always run past this humungous mango tree that fanned out on an abandoned property just off the main road. This as they soon decided was the perfect place to stop and rest a bit as it was the half way point of their 5 mile run. Every morning as they shared a cigarette one of them kiped from the old man the night before, they would look at the tree knowing that the fruits would soon be ripe enough for the picking. Every morning as they jogged back they would plan the caper to pick the mangos as soon as they achieved supreme ripeness.
Two weeks into their routine, their father, impressed with their determination to make the soccer team, surprised them each with a new pair of canvas jogging shoes. You have to understand that this was 1930’s Malaya. The average person owned 2 pairs of shoes. One pair of leather shoes for special occasions and another usually made out of canvas for work or school. So, this was a big deal for both the boys
Two mornings after they received their new jogging shoes … as they approached their usual halfway mark they picked up the aroma of sweet ripe mangos. They looked at each other and quietly decided that this was the morning those mangos would be picked. They whispered excitedly as they climbed the fence about how they would return home as conquering heroes when they presented their booty of mangos to the family at breakfast.
Part of their elaborate plan was to take off their shirts, knot up the bottom end… tie the sleeves around their necks and fill the shirts with as many mangos as they could the opening of the collar.
It was the morning of the new moon and the overcast skies made everything that much darker than usual. Once they had made it over the fence they stumbled their way toward the mango tree. Just then Harold stubbed his toe on something and cussed up a storm.
They looked down and it was a ladder. They looked up but it was too dark to make anything out. They guessed that someone had been there before them and all the mangos on the lower branches had probably been stripped. But the ladder lying on the ground was a convenience they had not counted on. There was a 12 foot climb before the first branch. So, they had to climb up higher to get to the fruit … so what? Besides, everyone knew the sweeter mangos were always on the higher branches.
They set the ladder up against the trunk. Cuthbert went up first. As Cuthbert disappeared up… the tree suddenly shook dropping several mangos to the ground. Harold looked into the sky and spotted the 6 foot wing span outlines of 3 flying foxes, fruit bats take off into the night sky. Cuthbert called down to Harold.
“We’ll have to feel the mangos before we pick them… make sure they’re not eaten through”
Up the tree both the boys were filling up their makeshift shirt bags with mangos. At some point Harold gets slapped in the face by a foot. Harold calls up…
“Cuthbert, watch where you’re stepping! Your toe nearly poked me in the eye…and your feet are cold!
“My feet? Your shoulder is cold!“
They continue picking the ripe fruit. Harold gets slapped in the face again.
“Cuthbert, you slapped me in the face again!”
“No, I didn’t!”
“Yes, you did!”
“I didn’t even feel you… “
Harold looks up.
“We are getting off this tree.”
“My shirt is only half full.”
“You are going to drop your mangos and you are going to climb down this tree calmly and carefully.”
“Don’t tell me what to do… I’m the older brother here and…”
“Cuthbert, drop the mangos and climb down the tree NOW!”
Cuthbert drops his mangos and climbs down ready to deck Harold.
“What is so important?”
“Where are your matches? Strike a match!”
“Strike a match!”
Cuthbert strikes a match.
They look up. In the glow of the match they see the legs of someone hanging in the tree. Further up they see the face of a man… rope around his neck… eyes bugging out and his now purple tongue sticking out down to his chin.
The boys drop everything, jump the fence, run a mile down the road to the police station and report that someone has hung themselves up the mango tree.
Of course the police investigate … but they also hold the boys for half a day for questioning. They get home to find that the headmaster has contacted their father who is furious that they missed school. That evening each of them recieve 6 of the best from their father. 3 for missing school and 3 for losing their shoes.
Plausible? Sure. Now here’s the other part of the story.
A year later the property had been bought over by someone else. The story goes that plans had been drawn up to develop the property. Those plans did not include the mango tree. One afternoon, in a fit of do-it-yourself frenzy, the owner tried to take an axe to it. The first cut… a red thick liquid oozes out of the cut … the owner freaks and runs away. A bulldozer is commissioned for the job. Within 3 feet of the tree… it dies. Apparently it took a Hindu and Catholic priest as well as a Buddhist monk and an Imam to pray at the tree… to appease the spirit before it could be knocked down... at least that's what my father told me.
O.K. would you buy that… especially the last part? I did… but I was 8 at the time.
NEXT SECTION WILL BE POSTED APRIL 30.CLICK HERE FOR PART 2Excerpt from "Lies My Father Told Me" copyright 2006 Marcel Nunis.
Permission to use any part of this excerpt can be aquired by e-mailing the playwright at firstname.lastname@example.org