Sunday, September 23, 2018

Arjon #1

Hidden in a secluded jungle somewhere in the Philippines, Arjon laid against a tree while half the village did chores and the other half did drills. He was looking up at the what sky he could see through the canopy.

An elder came up to Arjon. “Where are you supposed to be?”

“Anywhere but here,” Arjon replied.

“Are you unhappy, my son?”

“Not unhappy. Bored,” Arjon said. “I want to leave this place. Go into civilization and experience something different.”

“Many a Banana have left the jungle. Most return, some cannot. Civilization is a harsh place. Especially for us. We don’t fit in,” the elder explained.

“I want to take that chance. I want to go out into civilization and one way or another, sooner or later, I’m going to go,” Arjon said.

Within a couple of months, Arjon found himself leaving his village and arriving in a west coast American city. He had gotten many stares but stayed positive. The first thing he wanted to do was try the food. He hadn’t eaten at all during the 15-hour trip and was starving. He knew that there was one food he wanted to try immediately.

“Excuse me, madame but where can I find a hamburger merchant?”

“Uh,” the woman was stunned by the six foot talking banana but tried to retain her composure. “There’s a McDonald’s right outside the airport. Best burgers you’ll ever eat. Please don’t hurt me.”

“Thank you, kind madame.”

At McDonald’s, Arjon was enjoying his burgers while everyone else was staring in awe at him or taking pictures with their phones. Or both. When Arjon was finished eating, a police officer took hold of his arm. “All right, buddy. Come with me.”

“Oh, my. Is something wrong, officer?” Arjon asked.

“Just come with me. You’re causing a disturbance.”

“It seems my first adventure into America isn’t starting out so well.”

“So what do we actually have on him?” the Chief of Police asked.

“Nothing, really,” the officer said. He turned his head quickly. “Being a banana?”

“That sounds like a slippery slope. Besides, he has all the proper paperwork. Apparently there’s a whole island of these things.”

“You want I just let him go?”

“Yeah,” the Chief waved his hand. “Let him go.”

Arjon was let go but had no where to go. He wandered downtown for a bit, people taking pictures of him or recording him. A couple of people even took selfies with him. A young guy came out of a bar and took Arjon by the shoulder. “You’re that banana, aren’t you? That’s a stupid question. Of course you are.”

“I seem to draw a lot of attention,” Arjon sighed.

“Here. The first thing you can do is not be out in public being all banana-y. Do you like hamburgers?”

“Oh, yes. I see a golden M right down the street!” Arjon exclaimed.

“What? Those hamburgers?” the guy questioned. “Let’s go over there. Best hamburgers in Oceandale.”

“Marvelous. I’m Arjon, by the way.”

“Nice to meet you, Arjon. I’m Caleb.” The Pad, the hamburger joint Arjon and Caleb went to, was a relic of the 1950s space age. The Pad was always celebrating American ingenuity and fighting Soviet Communists. “Isn’t this better? You’re acting normal and no one is paying attention you,” Caleb took a bite of his burger. “Where are you from? What are you doing here?” Caleb asked while chewing.

“I’m from a small village in the Philippines. We’re very isolated so we’re kind of like our own country. I’m here to just be around civilization.”

“Do you have a place to live or anything? Money?”

“I have some money my village gave me. I have nowhere to stay,” Arjon said. “Where are you staying?”

“I live in a dorm on campus. I go to Borton College.”

“College. That’s what I should do. Is Borton a good school?”

“It’s better than those schools that advertise on TV or the radio,” Caleb said. “Go Neanderthals!” Caleb lowered his brow and waved an imaginary club around a couple of times. “We’ll head over there when we’re finished.”

“We can’t let him in. He’s a banana,” one of the admission people said.

“Replace the word ‘banana’ with black, Asian, Muslim, a woman, and you’ll see how that statement could get us into a lot of trouble,” Dr. Malcolm Coot, his voice full of British pompousness and arrogance, said. “Here’s what I say we do. We admit Mr. Arjon free of charge. I’ll take him under my wing and every week I’ll check on him, see how he’s doing, and get his views on life here and back at home. Let’s remember that Mr. Arjon can give us valuable information on his life, culture, education, and that is very important and very publishable.”

“So you’re suggesting we admit Mr. Arjon so that you can write a paper or something on him?” another admission person asked.

“Picture it,” Dr. Coot leaned back, smiling, and flashing his hands. “‘A Review of a Bananian in the American Collegiate System’ by Dr. Malcolm Coot, Borton College.”

“So you want to use Mr. Arjon to boost your own status?”

“And the status of Borton, yes.”

“I’m a Neanderthal!” Arjon exclaimed, running to Caleb.

“Awesome. Were they able to find you a dorm room?” Caleb asked.

“I’m in Stone Hall. Fourth floor.”

“Cool. I’m in Stone. Third floor. We’re practically neighbors.”

“So basically, I met one nice American,” Arjon said to Dr. Coot.

“Good, good. What is education like in your village?”

“We learn our entire lives. Half the day is spent in school and the other half is doing chores. I decided to come to America when I should’ve been learning. I wanted to see more of the world. Only half a dozen Bananians have ever left the village. Five died.”

“And what happened to the sixth?”

“He was gone for a couple months and then came back. He never talked about what he did or what he saw. Never talked about leaving the village again. Everyone just assumed he had seen some pretty terrible things.”

“Are you afraid that you’ll see some pretty terrible things?”

“Humans are basically good. And I think they will surprise us all while I’m here.”

“Fascinating,” Dr. Coot wrote down some things on his notepad “and very, very publishable.”