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December 5, 2005
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GORILLA SHERIFF MORMON QUEST!
Popular Game Now - But Real Adventure First!
The gameboys at the gaming convention played the new "Gorilla Sheriff Mormon Quest" game. One gorilla character wanted the last sheriff's election re-run with animal sufferage. Another player, as the people of south Finland, controlled who was welcome there in the Land of Heroes.
But the players don't know, the game is true. A gorilla, a sheriff, and a Mormon really did a quest like that.
The gorilla called himself "Me". He came from a culture of mountain gorillas in the innermost Congo. They could see snow on the mountaintops every year. But this year, during the rainy season when the sun was going away to the north, they saw ice in the valleys for the first time! They knew something was wrong.
So "Me" let himself be captured by zookeepers, and taken to the San Diego Zoo. As far as he knew, San Diego was the leading place where humans lived. One zookeeper there taught him how to talk to them, using his hands.
Then one day in San Diego it snowed, but for some reason the humans couldn't deal with it. "Me the Gorilla" got out of his cage, and took a walk.
One August day, Judith Brower was doing her church duty as a tour guide in the Mormon Battalion Museum in San Diego Old Town - when it started snowing! And a gorilla had broken out from the zoo! She wasn't afraid for herself, only for the gorilla. So she called 911.
Sheriff Bill Collins of San Diego County knew that snow in San Diego was wrong any time of year - and this was summer. He'd called in extra staff, but they were all out on missions. So he responded himself to the call to apprehend a gorilla near Old Town.
The gorilla knew what to do, when he saw a human coming with a gun. He wanted to talk with a human anyway. So he sat down, and started talking the human way, with his hands.
The sheriff saw the gorilla surrendering, so he didn't shoot. But he didn't know what the hand motions meant.
The Mormon tour guide had come out to make sure the gorilla was captured humanely. And she worked with the deaf, so she knew the American Sign Language. So did the gorilla!
Me the Gorilla said over and over again, "Cold wrong. Stop cold."
Judith told the sheriff, "The poor thing's cold. Can you put a blanket on him?"
Sheriff Collins said, "I don't have one, and I can't walk away while there's a gorilla in the street."
Judith was wearing a dress, and a lacy shawl on top. She put the shawl on the gorilla, and said soothingly, "I know it's not warm, but it's better than nothing." And in sign language, "Cold. Sorry."
Me the Gorilla could tell the humans meant well, but they weren't helping. But there was something even colder than cold nearby. He couldn't see it, but he could smell it. He knew the humans couldn't, so it was up to him to lead them there.
Before Sheriff Collins could react, the gorilla jumped up and climbed a building! He bounded away over the top, toward the waterfront. "Dammit!", he said.
Judith gasped at the rough language, but she knew as long as the gorilla was loose, he was in danger. She had to make sure he was safe! So she teetered toward the waterfront on her high heels, through the snow.
The gorilla moved swiftly through the snow. He couldn't always see his way, but he could feel where the cold was coming from. Eventually, he could feel the source was the size of a gorilla - or a human! And the cold made human noises.
Judith saw the gorilla hadn't gotten far, only two blocks past the highway to the waterfront park. And he'd gotten to a stormy area, where snow was blowing all directions. And it looked like a man was standing in the middle of it! But then she heard the sirens coming!
Sheriff Collins had made the call, and his backup was coming. But the squad car slid out of control into the park! The gorilla jumped out of the way. The woman said "Eek!", but ran up to check the car. The deputy was unhurt. The sheriff said, "Aw, shit." And the man in the snow said, "Now that's something you don't see every day."
Silence fell for a few seconds. Then Judith asked, "Aren't you cold?"
"Cold? I haven't been warm in six months! Even when I went to Africa I was cold! I've been almost to the South Pole and been warmer than this! And I thought San Diego was supposed to be warm in August! Why isn't it warm here?"
The gorilla "spoke" first. "He brings cold!" Judith saw that, and said, "Um, are you bringing the cold?"
"I'm trying to get away from it - but it's following me!"
The sheriff had heard enough. "Well, make it follow you somewhere else, or..."
"Or what? You'll make me cold?"
The sheriff didn't say "As in cold dead body", because elected officials don't say things like that. He said, "... I'll take you in for creating a nuisance."
The cold man walked over to the deputy's squad car, and put his hand on the door handle. The car's windows frosted over! Nobody was taking him anywhere in that car.
The sheriff called for a flatbed truck. They tied the cold man down in the back. He rode to the county jail - the inland jail, in the hills away from the city. It snows there sometimes. So the sheriff decided, more snow there wouldn't hurt.
The gorilla clung to the roof of the cab; the sheriff couldn't stop him. But the gorilla didn't try to go in the jail - he ran into the nearby hills instead!
The cold man gave his name as "Ultimate Low C". (See Related Story) But before the entry interview could get beyond that, the jail started freezing solid! The police had to store him in a warehouse, and talk to him by shouting through the doors. And he wouldn't talk much, even to the staff psychiatrists.
Meanwhile, "Me the Gorilla" roamed the hills near the warehouse. The gorilla knew, the cold man could escape from his cage at any time - just like "Me" had. Police couldn't catch him, but hikers saw him.
Judith called the Humane Society and the San Diego Zoo, but with the continuing cold wave, they couldn't watch after the gorilla. So she spent as much of her free time as she could hiking at the Cuyamaca Rancho State Park in the hills, looking for the gorilla to make sure he was safe. Other hikers had seen him there, and maybe she would too.
In the hills of San Diego County, the snow kept coming, and it was sticking now. The nation was covered by weird storms, but this didn't make Sheriff Collins's job any easier. (See Related Story) For two days the sheriff dealt with pesky officials and journalists asking about the cold and the gorilla - then he went to see the cold man, just to take a break. So he was near the warehouse when "Ultimate Low C" broke loose.
"Just go back in the warehouse, son. We'll send in some books and we'll get you some help."
"You can't help me! You're just like all those others!"
"Me the Gorilla" was watching. And he could see the human female who'd talked with him, because she was watching him. She could talk for him now! So he dropped down to her, and signed, "You talk him now."
Judith had her breakthrough! The gorilla had come to her! And apparently he wanted her to talk to the sheriff for him! She signed "OK" and started walking toward the police car down the street - but she went "Yipe!" as the gorilla picked her up and started running!
"... Well, I'll find someplace warm. I haven't tried Death Valley yet... Gah!" "Ultimate Low C" walked away... but suddenly looked a gorilla in the face!
"Me the Gorilla" was talking to the cold man. He had put his human speaker down, so he could talk now. And he knew of places where cold belonged. So he said with his hands, "Take cold home!"
"... What is that monkey doing?" "Ultimate Low C" didn't know sign language!
"Hell if I know." Neither did the sheriff!
Judith was shy about speaking to these dangerous men, but she had to speak now. "Uhh, I think he's saying there are places that need to be cold, and this isn't one of them."
"Got that right", the sheriff said, "... But monkeys don't talk!"
"This one does. He knows sign language!"
"Since when are monkeys smart enough to know sign language?"
"This one does. Look at him!"
"Me the Gorilla" could tell, the humans were doing human talk instead of fixing the problem. But he couldn't fight humans and make them respond, because gorillas don't do that. He just kept saying, "Take cold home!"
"... Um, this is all very educational, but I'm still cold. How am I gonna be warm?"
Judith didn't have an answer, but she knew a way to ask. "Have you thought about praying about it?"
"To who? I know the higher powers! One of them cursed me!"
"Those aren't Higher Powers! There's One above all of them!"
"Do you mean the one who never does anything?"
Sheriff Collins had heard enough. And he went to church on Christmas and Easter, so he had to speak for his God. "Son, we can't help you either. Maybe God can. It can't hurt to ask."
So the sheriff and the Mormon woman held hands. They even held the gorilla's hands, once she calmed him down. They stood around the cold man, and the Mormon woman prayed. "Lord, we adore you, we beseech you, save this poor man."
Then a woman appeared, dressed in a hood and green flowing robes. "I'm handling this prayer. This man works for me."
The humans didn't know what to do. But the gorilla bowed! He knew to sit, from humans with guns. He knew to bow, from Higher Power.
"In this time of great global warmth, I need a champion to bring cold to the world. I've let you roam during this time of chaos, but soon you will need to work. Patagonia needs you now. They need the cold to kill an infestation of African parasites. Then southern Finland needs an early autumn, to make their fields fertile for next year."
"But it's cold!"
"Of course it is, child. I know it's hard for you. I wait for one other to take up your burden, because he put it upon you. But he is not here now, so it is your job. Now go and do the job." The woman disappeared!
"Well then. I guess I'm stuck." Then "Ultimate Low C" disappeared in a burst of high wind!
San Diego got warmer. The cold had been a problem, but it had its benefits. There were no forest fires this year!
"Me the Gorilla" knew that Higher Power had solved the problem, when humans couldn't. So he went peacefully back to the San Diego Zoo. It was as good a community of gorillas as the place he'd left in the Congo. And he became the Zoo's lead attraction: "Talk to the Gorilla!" Placards taught the humans sign language, like he'd learned. Some of the humans were smart enough to learn it and do some talking. "Me" was happy.
Sheriff Bill Collins was the first to announce, he had reason to believe the local weather crisis was over. Nobody believed him at first, but he was right! He hasn't told anyone, someone who looked like an Earth Goddess told him that.
Judith Brower went back to work at the Mormon Battalion Museum. She thinks the woman in the green robes must be an angel with a lesson for her. Her museum talks about soldiers on a long, hard journey. Now she knows, others have long, hard journeys too.
Special to the World Journal Monthly by Bruce Klybourn.
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