Once upon a time………there I was, making my way with a machete through some of the densest jungle seen yet, when Chantal gave a startled gasp as she grabbed my arm and pointed just ahead of my feet where I finally saw the open jaws of a bone crunching trap. We were on a recon trip to ascertain if there were any jaguars left in this Northernmost forested region of Argentina with the second mission being to investigate sitings of jaguar skins apparently sold to some big mafia types out of Buenos Aires


I swerved the landing of my left foot barely in time to avoid the tripping pedal of the killing machine, foot arriving alongside the pedal but still inside the bounds of the steel half ring. We both froze. I said, in a whisper: “Grab my hand, very carefully. On three, yank me backward away from the thing. Don’t breathe! ” For once, Chantal did as she was told. On the count, she yanked me away and I lifted my gifted foot and was free. Now we examined the trap. It was big enough to trap a grizzly; the sharp, rusty jaws would have snapped together at the level of my knee; designed to stop a biped in its tracks and turn him into a uniped.

The evil thing was set, not baited, and mostly covered in leaf fall, ready to stop the unwary trespasser on these sacred lands where poachers were decimating the remaining Jaguars for their clothing. Each skin commanded upwards of 5000 Argentine pesos, about 1000 U.S. dollars. Most of the buyers were Chinese, who shipped them off to Macao where they were turned into seat covers for the exotic Benzes, Porsches and other muscle cars owned by the newly rich in that place that had rediscovered capitalism.
Chantal and I were there, tilting once again at another windmill, to document the filthy trade and maybe, help stop it


Li Vang heard the annoying chirp of his cel and vowed, for the thousandth time, to get a different ring tone.  That would also be a pain in the ass.  And the thing didn’t ring much.  Only when events began to coalesce and wind, tighter and tighter, like a cyclone, and some unimagined outcome dropped, sometimes a pearl, sometimes a turd, out the bottom.  He’d been waiting for this chirp for three days.  “Better be the pearl…”  he muttered.  The pearl would be Gonzalo’s quietly pleased phrase:  ” The Jaguar died.”  That would mean he’d done his job and eliminated the crazed Jaguar loving pair, Chantal and her cohort, Mike Eye.  Goddamned animal lovers!  The Argentine north was jammed with Jaguars and Li had been making a fortune on their hides.  Now these two were bent on wrecking his dreams.  They had to be stopped.  Their efforts against him were beginning to raise the Argentine awareness that they should protect their stupid cats.  They had even made a uTube video showing a Jaguar female, caught in the jaws of one of his traps, giving birth through her moans of agony.  They had to be stopped.


Flaco: a little man in a big yellow suit with shoulder pads out to here. He wears five rings and has tats covering both arms. Tats of jaguars rampant. He stands in a doorway on Las Ramblas, eye-ing the young strollers and occasionally, based on his appraisal of a mark. he will pssst out: Hey,wanna buy a jaguar skin?

Tonight people are cutting a wide swathe around him—is it the stink? Flaco doesn’t smell himself, he thinks he looks like a prince out of Ali Baba, his favorite story. To passers-by he looks like he’s strung out on B.A.’s  super-powerful, almost-enough-to-kill-you yabbaa–speed to you, foreign devil.

After a fruitless hour, Flaco decides to call it a night. He grinds out his cigarette with the heel of his boot and heads up the stairs, where some big Mafia-types are sitting around a table making hit lists and ammo shopping lists and paper airplanes. They have just gotten word that Chantal had done some damaging research regarding jaguar skin poaching. it could destroy them. Names are menntioned. Maybe this lummox coming up the stairs can be engaged to get rid of her and her boyfriend with the fragrant and voluminous chest hair.


 George Keenen

Li Vang had arrived at the mafia confab a little before Flaco came up the stairs. He still smelled of the jungle and the city dudes, fatsos smoking cigars, moved their chairs away from him and blew smoke in his direction. He had informed them of the failure to trap the pair and glumness was upon them.

Li Vang was some sort of combination of Peter Sellers and Max Smart, but with a hair of Bruce Lee mixed in. He entered and unabashedly sat next to the steamy Flaco. Boris, head macho mafia man addressed the pair;

 new user

You have to know this about Boris: he’s a tall guy who slouches.  His voice is low, reverberates like  a fog horn. But when he speaks he’s the most interesting man in the room, because he has the  power, and  is known in legend  to be  merciless.

“Where’s you get that jacket?” he asked Flaco.

“Salvation Army.”

“Nice.” Boris burps. Sounds like a low note on a bassoon. “Well, let’s get on with it.” he says. “I have an assignment for  you, Flaco, and you can bring along your  buddy here, Mr. Vang. This is a seek-and-destroy mission –take out Chantal and her friend Mr. Eye. I want them reduced to a small pile of ashes. Can you do it?”

 George Keenen

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