The Jaguar's Quest

Two Faces of the Jaguar #3

by George Dismukes

Many secrets are hidden within the darkness of the jungle. Behold this one about a man, a woman, a black jaguar, and an ancient Mayan legend.

When Andrea Granger was assigned to go to Honduras, ‘get inside and gather evidence’ against the DEA’s main suspect, she was determined to accomplish her mission with the same efficiency as in her previous assignments. But that was before she met her culprit, Brandon Shaw.

He melted her heart and her resolve, and so did Naja, Brandon’s 300 pound black jaguar and closest companion. She quickly discovered there was much more to Brandon Shaw than met the eye, and just as quickly, she found her mission in jeopardy. Instead of arresting him, she became determined to rescue the flawed man of the jungle. But could she successfully extricate him from the web he had tangled himself in?

As if that weren’t enough, she found that Brandon Shaw was somehow connected to a thousand year old Mayan legend which threatened to destroy everything. Unprepared, she found herself having to deal with an ancient spirit determined to kill her.


Chapter One

The Awakening


“The brutal, unvarnished truth is, we, as a human race have become suicidal. Yes, I said suicidal. In the recent past we managed to overcome a global pandemic because doctors and scientists were able to conduct research and find a vaccine. When the forests and jungles of this world are depleted and there isn’t enough oxygen to breathe, there will be no cure, no vaccine you can inject in your arm to save you. Scientists and all the doctors in the world will not be able to help. You will desperately suck for a lung full of air, but it will not be there. You will die. This planet will shut down until the destroyed, depleted, denuded jungles of the world can regrow.

“If you do not like what I am saying. If it offends you. If it frightens you. Good! Then I’ve done what I came here to do. Now it’s your turn. Take action! And the time to take action is NOW, not tomorrow, NOW!”

Brandon Shaw stood before a gathering of close to a thousand visitors. With him at the dais was Naja, his pet three-hundred-pound black jaguar, which in reality was closer to an alter-ego. And sitting only a few feet away at the presenter’s table, was Andrea, the woman who had cleaved to Brandon in contradiction to everything that was supposed to be real about her life. She had fallen madly in love with this jungle man and in so doing, saved him from some serious foolishness he had gotten himself involved in.

But in so doing, she had also gone against her original mission. No matter, this gorgeous, well-built woman with the cascading honey blond hair had never regretted her decision, not for a moment. Her instincts about Brandon Shaw had been right on, and her reward was a love unlike anything she had ever known or imagined.

Now, together, they stood as a unified team to fight the destruction of the world’s jungles. Brandon Shaw, although not a scientist, was qualified to be here because of his life history, living in the jungle and witnessing first-hand what was happening there.

His mood became more somber, and it was not merely an act for his audience. “If you don’t take action, those things you treasure so much; your favorite song, a poem, the feel of your loved one’s fingers running through your hair, won’t matter. And make no mistake; it isn’t up to someone else. It’s up to you! The biggest Achille’s Heel of mankind is the belief that it always happens to someone else. Someone else will have to deal with ‘it’, whatever ‘it’ may be. Make no mistake. This time, the ‘someone else’, is you. You, me, and every person on this planet.”

Then he visually scanned the audience. “Well, I see a few of you here today don’t have any hair for your lover to run their fingers through, but you get my meaning!”

That simple line inspired a laugh from the crowd and changed the mood to a lighter tone. Brandon continued with his presentation for another fifteen minutes. By the time he reached the conclusion, he received a rousing ovation. Most of his audience even rose to their feet to show their enthusiasm as they clapped wildly.

Thirty minutes later, Brandon and Andrea with Naja at their side, stood at the exit door near the back of the meeting hall shaking hands with congratulators.

Andrea was also selling copies of a coffee table book she had put together containing some dialogue, but mostly pictures she had taken of the jungle, animals and Brandon in the jungle, in assorted situations, including some fascinating shots of The Lost City Of The Monkey God, with pyramids, stela and other stone monuments.

Appearing subtlety, in the line of greeters was a tall, thin, dark man, sporting a goatee wearing an expensive blue suit, and with his hair in dreadlocks. He eyed Brandon narrowly before approaching him. His hand was extended for a handshake, but his body language suggested something other than cordiality. Naja immediately sensed something, and issued a low growl, deep in her throat.

“Hello, Mista Shaw. How tings in Sambala?” the man said in a thick Jamaican accent.

Brandon eyed the man. “Sambala? Alright, I guess. Haven’t been there in a while. Why do you ask?”

Brandon accepted the man’s hand for a handshake.

“I jus wondering if you had seen Reggie Carlson lately?”

By now, other people were beginning to form a short queue, hoping to get a chance to meet Brandon Shaw and shake his hand.

Andrea, standing a few feet away heard the dark man’s query and was suddenly on alert.

“Reggie Carlson?” Brandon said thoughtfully. “I know I’ve heard that name somewhere. I just can’t quite…”

“He had a business dere. Not no mo.”

Andrea quickly whispered in Brandon’s ear. As she did so, Brandon’s eyes narrowed.

He addressed the dark man again, but this time a lot more cautiously, and with a decidedly sterner tone, said, “I wouldn’t call what he was running a business. More like a scam. Who are you and why do you ask?”

“I am his broder,” came the reply.

“Aw yeah? Well, good luck with that. Reggie? Is that his name? Were you aware that he went around calling himself ‘Smoke Jaguar’? An alias he bummed from an ancient Mayan King. A little presumptuous of him, don’t you think? Anyway, if you’ve got something on your mind, step aside and wait until I’m through here. I’ve got other people to greet.”

“No. I see you again. Maybe in Honduras.”

“Whatever blows your skirt up,” Brandon said in an obvious show of contempt, and dismissing the man. Then he turned his attention to other people who were waiting to meet him and either make comment or ask a question.

Three days later, as the passenger jet cruised at thirty thousand feet, headed south toward Honduras, Brandon casually commented to Andrea, “Something tells me we have not seen the last of the second Mister Carlson. My instinct tells me… trouble,”

Naja sat in a seat across the aisle from Brandon and Andrea. By paying enough to the right people, Naja was classified as a “service animal” on TACA Airlines.

Andrea listened to Brandon’s admonition, but looked straight ahead and said nothing.

Then, Brandon Shaw began to smile broadly, grabbed Andrea’s forearm and said, “I think I’ve got it! No, by Golly! I KNOW I’ve got it!”

Looking surprised at her man, Andrea asked, “Got what?”

Brandon laughed. “Sweetheart, Jungle Cargo is just fixing to go in a different direction, take on a whole new challenge, a whole new purpose, a whole new quest! Yes, by golly, this will be a whole new dynamic.”

“Where you go, I will follow,” Andrea said. “But where are we going?”

For the duration of the flight to La Ceiba, Honduras, Brandon explained in painful detail what his new plan for Jungle Cargo was to be. By the time the plane sat down, Andrea was so excited that she could hardly wait to get back to the compound and have a general meeting with the crew.

It was late afternoon by the time the duo had landed, cleared customs, then managed to catch a taxi to Cuyamel. So, there was no company meeting that evening. Just an announcement that there was going to be a meeting the following morning and a special note that everyone had better hold on to their hats for this one, that it would be nothing like the company had ever experienced before. Andrea ended her invitation by saying, “I promise!” Then smiled broadly.



"The Jaguar's Quest" by George Dismukes


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