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Last Paragraphs of the Epilogue

On Kotok, the next weekend, Rambo and Eka met us at the pier. They bowed, and Eka immediately took our bags and walked towards our usual bungalow. Rambo motioned us to follow him to The Place. I tried to speak to him, but he made no reply. Through the gates, and into The Place’s great room, Rambo pointed to a stack of files on Denham’s desk.

Next to the files were a few of the framed photos from the room’s wall. I understood that I was to take these with me. On the wall, pale areas behind where the pictures had hung evidenced the toll that the tropics take on manmade structures.

Atop the stack of files were two envelopes. One said “Read Me First.”

Kid,

Again, apologies for my unceremonious departure, but circumstances left me no alternative. Please tell Goldie that I am particularly sad that I could not say a proper farewell to her.

You should be standing before the files of clippings and photographs that I have shared with you over the past year or so. Take what you need for your book. I am depending on you to tell my story, as I told it to you. No embellishments please, no clean-up of parts that you think awkward. I want my story told as it happened. I have long accepted that I am not perfect, and imperfection is what I share with my fellow man.

And fellow woman! You see Goldie has won that battle.

Return the files to Rambo when you can. Please take good care of them, as I may someday come looking for them. Our paths may cross again, though I think it more likely that your path will lead to me than mine will lead to yours.

And, of course, we will all meet again you know where. I will keep an eye out there for you.

Denham

I went through the files. Everything was there. All the photos and news articles that Denham showed me, and quite a few that he had not. I read some of the clippings that I had only glanced at before. As I did, what had been obvious for so long at last occurred to me.

Kotok was Denham’s Skull Island. He ruled over his island as Kong ruled over his. Each had a great wall separating their domains from the islanders, but the spirits of both ruled all of their lands. And, I suspected, both plucked brides from the islanders as it pleased them. Kong had to be drugged and dragged from Skull Island. Denham’s drug was his thirst for the unknown.

What was Denham’s quest? Not more fame, for which he had lost any taste after his Kong adventure. Not more fortune, which Skull Island had given him in abundance. Why did he search for every odd beast on Earth? Was he compelled to unearth all of nature’s secrets?  To know all his Creator’s works before he made that final voyage to meet Him? And like the peoples that he had met in so many strange lands, Denham made the sacrifices necessary to please his God.

Written on Denham’s second envelope was an odd instruction: “Read this in front of the weavers.”

Later, after freshening up in our bungalow, I found Novita and Indah, with their looms in the sun, producing as always beautiful fabric. I had just been looking at photographs of a youthful Denham, and thought I saw in the girls’ smiling faces traces of him. I opened the envelope, and read a poem written in Denham’s hand. Later I learned that it was from a 19th Century hymn, probably one that Denham learned in his youth in Detroit.

Children of yesterday, heirs of tomorrow,

What are you weaving? Labor and sorrow?

Look to your loom again, faster and faster

Fly the great shuttles prepared by the Master.

TABLE OF CONTENTS

Editor’s Preface

Two Stepfathers & A Brother

River of Doubt

A Brilliant Mind with the Temper of a Gorilla

A Lost Father, A Lost World

A Dead Father, A Dying World

From the Thames to Tennessee

The Rock of Ages Versus the Age of Rocks

All Dressed Up, No Place to Explore

Lost Lemuria

Big Gorillas

“Mr. Carl Denham of Africa”

Stomachs, Brains & Hearts Speak

An Angel for an Apple

Beyond the Wall

An Act of Sheer Will

“Now He Comes to Civilization”

When Eighth Wonders Meet

After the Fall

Sixteen Tons & What Do You Get?

Back to Skull Island

Detours on the Tree of Life

Twilight of the Kongs

Back to Civilization

The Long Eclipse

No Island for Old Men

Big Gorilla, Part 2

Gigantopithecus

Brothers in Sin

The Undiscovered Country

Another Unknown Island

Return of the Ape Men

Lagoa Preta

A Fish Walks Among Us

Half Human

Fear, Greed & Curiosity

Nightmares at 20,000 Feet

Strange Times, Strange Visitors

King of the Monsters!

Epilogue: The Last Quest?

Postscript

Cast of Characters