--Part 5--

louis martin
cns news & features

TUMORKA LAY at the base of Fool's Rock where he had struck then slid down the side. His eyes opened and he stared for a moment across grains of sand that were so close they appeared like boulders. He stared at the white foamy water that now came rushing towards him. He tried to stand up but no muscle moved, and he could feel nothing: only a flickering, sunlit peace as his body was lifted and carried by the warm, salty water.

It was the children who first spotted the body and the fishermen in the boats who brought it ashore on the Day So Sad. And, oh, what a sad day that was, truly.

When Tumorka did not show up on the beach in the morning, naturally the children went out looking for him. But it took them awhile to find him; the last thing they expected was to find him floating in the water.

First they checked the fish market in the village, for they knew that Turmorka stopped by there at least once a day to stare at the "catch," if you want to call it that. Mostly it was a "grab." And mostly the same kinds of fish were on display there. Always there was the yellow Mura-Mura, so firm of texture and tasting a little like shellfish. Very popular with the women was the Mura-Mura, sometimes known as the Honeymoon Fish, as it was traditional on the wedding night. But I think it was the huge mouth of the Mura-Mura and the bulging eyes that attracted Tumorka to this fish, that made him stand and stare so long; he seemed forever curious about it. "It is so much like certain people of Xamoro," he had once said to the children. And he promised to someday tell them a story about this fish.

Tumorka also liked to stand before the huge platters of fish eyes in the market, fixing them steadily in his gaze so you would think that he, Tumorka, had died too, and that his last expression in this world had been frozen in time there.

But that was Tumorka, that was his way--always full of silly little pranks when he wasn't deadly serious. Oh, yes, he could be serious too. In fact I think the pranks simply relieved his more serious side. What a man, what a storyteller!

Then the children searched for Tumorka at his base camp in the Oakuku grove--no mortal knew of his second camp among the ancient Redukus--but of course they only found a charred, hacked-up mat in the fire circle and a smashed bowl.

Dejected and uneasy, the children returned to the beach where one child--Tumorka's favorite, little TuTu--spotted the body in the water.

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