The Lost City

Two Faces of the Jaguar #2

by George Dismukes

How does someone deal with an enraged 2,000 year old Mayan spirit? Brandon and Andrea must find out, an odyssey that returns them to the deepest, darkest recesses of The Mosquitia Jungle with Naja, Brandon’s 300 pound black jaguar, at their side.

Brandon Shaw & Andrea Granger must decide how to deal with a furious ancient Mayan spirit, a complicated problem to be sure. Their quest takes them into the high cloud forests of Guatemala where they meet a mysterious old Mayan named Kan Bah. Next, they find themselves returning to a place they never expected to see again, The Lost City of The Monkey God, located in the far eastern section of the Honduran Mosquitia Jungle. It is here that Brandon Shaw discovers what the ancient spirit is angry about, and also learns more about himself than he ever wanted to know.

Most women would run. But that never occurs to Andrea Granger whose devout belief is that love is the strongest force on earth. In this tale of supernatural spirits and a possible 2,000 year old reincarnation, that belief is put to the test.


Chapter One

The Awakening


Andrea stood alone in waist high weeds, looking up at the crumbling remains of the beach house at Cuyamel. The house where she had fallen in love with Brandon Shaw, and where the purpose, indeed, the mission of her life had been changed forever.

This house had been so full of life, then. The housemaids, Anna Maria and Suyapa were always up to something, chattering like two happy birds, giggling.

Not only did Anna Maria and Suyapa cook and keep the house clean, but in the days when Jungle Cargo was in full swing, Suyapa acted as the nutritionist for most of the animals brought to Jungle Cargo. She was very good at patiently feeding some baby monkey that didn’t want to eat or making sure that various diets were observed with the myriad of animals.

Andrea remembered early morning breakfasts on the deck with Brandon, Lorenzo and whatever other guests might stop by. The view from the deck was like a postcard, overlooking the baby blue Caribbean. This vision of beauty was framed by coconut palms on both sides of the house.

The girls always cut lots of fresh fruit and boiled eggs which were presented on large platters. Breakfasts were filled with laughter and lots of easy chatter as everyone planned their day.

She looked to the left of the entry door, at the window of the bedroom. That bedroom is where she first surrendered herself to Brandon Shaw, and in one moment her entire life changed, for the better, she had thought. She discovered emotions she had never known before, and within them, a deeper meaning of life, a true purpose, a reason for living.

What inexplicable nightmare had happened? This is not how she and Brandon had left this house when they departed Honduras to live in Florida. Lorenzo had been here. Faithful Lorenzo, Brandon’s manager of the animal compound, who Brandon had raised almost like a son. And also, the girls had been here. This was their home. They were all going to continue operating Jungle Cargo, because they had all helped give birth to the company which specialized in the export of exotic animals to the sister compound in Florida; albeit it would be a modified version of the original company. Jungle Cargo had once been a center where all exotic creatures from the forest were bought, taken in and shipped to the sister compound in Gainsville, Florida. This included almost all creatures: monkeys, birds, exotic cats and especially venomous snakes. The ‘new’ Jungle Cargo would be different. They planned on buying only parrots and other psittacines and making regular shipments to the United States in partnership with the owner of the Florida ‘sister’ compound Doug Bennett. It had all been so clear, so well planned.

So, what Andrea was seeing made no sense whatsoever, looking up at this once beautiful beach house that Brandon had built with his own hands, Lorenzo at his side working with him. It was now abandoned and falling apart? The shutters on the windows were askew, some hanging by one rusty hinge. The door was ajar. The sound of a hauntingly lonely wind whistled through the gables and carport. What possible wretched set of circumstances had made this happen?

There was no heartbeat, no life. The scene was startling, austere, stark, and most of all, alone. So desperately alone. Andrea could no longer hold her pain inside. What she saw frightened her to the core of her being. She wanted to run, but to where? She didn’t know. She wanted to throw up.

Instead, she held her face in her hands and sobbed, the ache was tearing at her heart. She didn’t understand. She was so alone, and she did not know the why of that either. Where was Brandon? He had promised to love her forever, to never leave her, to be by her side, no matter what life threw at them. Where was he now?

Andrea’s knees felt weak. She staggered, no longer able to support her own weight. She sagged down into a kneeling position among the weeds as she bawled her eyes out. None of this made any sense. Why was it happening? What had she done wrong? What had she done to anger God?

Then, with a terrified scream, she awoke. She was covered in sweat. It had been a dream. A horrible, God forsaken nightmare. She was at home, in Florida, safe in her bedroom beside Brandon, who was sleeping peacefully. At least, until now. He stirred and said in his half sleep, “You all right?”

Andrea said nothing but nodded her head yes. Brandon smiled a sleepy smile and laid his head on the pillow to regain sleep.

Andrea sat on the side of the bed for several minutes as she continued breathing heavily, shaking, trying to bring herself back to reality and distance herself from the hellish journey her mind had taken her through. That’s the trouble with dreams, she thought. They always seem so real. This one had seemed too damned real. And this one had frightened her right down to her core. She didn’t know why, but it had.

She laid back down and snuggled as closely as she could press herself to Brandon. She wrapped one arm around him, but she was still trembling from the nightmare. She was awake, but she couldn’t shake the awful, sick to her stomach feeling the dream had generated. She was frightened and she didn’t know why.

But feeling the closeness of Brandon helped. Then something else inside her awoke, a primal need, and she wanted more. She gently slid her arm down and reached for Brandon’s manhood. She was pleasantly surprised to discover the phase of sleep he was in had prepared him for what was quickly becoming a notion, and a desire.

For the next minute or so, Andrea manipulated Brandon until she brought him to full arousal. He was still asleep, but not for long. She gently nudged him in an effort to roll him over on his back. Then, as he started to awaken, she could wait no longer. She climbed atop her man, spread her legs wide apart and placed him against her, slowly taking him deep inside.

For the next several minutes, Andrea rode with increasing intensity until at last she reached a tumultuous, triumphant moment and all of her fears evaporated, replaced by satisfaction, reassured, safe and happy in her lover’s arms.

She collapsed there, atop Brandon and did not move for several minutes, just enjoying the closeness of him, and feeling him still inside her. Now Brandon had come fully awake and as it turned out, this adventure was far from over. So, the two lovers remained connected to one another for the next hour, until both were sated and exhausted. This, Andrea thought, would be as close as she ever needed to come to Nirvana. Then she rolled off of him, to his side and quickly drifted into a peaceful sleep.

When she awoke again, Brandon was in the kitchen, preparing a repast for them to enjoy on the expansive deck behind the house. Naja was up too, sitting by the patio doors, looking out at the morning.

Somewhere in the house, a radio was turned on. Burl Ives was singing, “Have A Holly Jolly Christmas.”

Andrea threw on a robe and joined Brandon in the kitchen, kissing him on the cheek and then pulled her coffee cup down from the cupboard, filling it with hot brew. She grabbed a bowl of pastries with her empty hand and followed Brandon through the patio doors out onto the deck. They placed their bowls of fruit and pastries on the round picnic table with the brightly colored umbrella. Then they sat and began surveying the morning as they ate their breakfast and sipped hot, rich coffee.

“Doesn’t seem much like Christmas time here, in sub-tropical Florida,” Andrea commented. “Who knows, a cold front might blow through and I’ll have to put on a long-sleeved shirt.”

Brandon chuckled. “Wish you were back home in Indiana?”

“No,” Andrea said as she surveyed her surroundings. “But I do miss the snow at Christmas, dressing up in winter clothes, the colors of the leaves in the fall… I don’t know.” She sipped her coffee and then took a big bite of cheese Danish. As she chewed, she said, “Voltaire said the worst mistake we can make is to not appreciate where we are ‘in the immediate’. Maybe he’s right, but then again, maybe not.”

“Oooh! I do believe the lady is vacillating this morning.”

“My memories are very special to me. God, when you think about it, I mean, when it’s all over, what else are we left with?”

“Not much, I guess.” Brandon took a deep sip of coffee. “Never really gave it much thought. I’m not the philosopher you are. You are the Socrates in this family. Socrates-ette? It seems to me that you have always had this special ability to think about things from a different perspective, even from a different time frame.”

“What do you mean?”

“I mean, imagine in crystal clear view how a situation would be, say forty years from now. You understand?”

Just then, Naja took off down the stairs to go visit the nearby woods, the same as a housetrained dog would do. Andrea watched as the big cat trotted off into the woods. The move from Honduras had necessitated purchase of forty acres here in the Ocala National Forest, and then surrounding it with an eight-foot-high hurricane fence. It was necessary not to keep Naja in, but to keep poachers out who might spot Naja and see her as a trophy. Andrea could only imagine what kind of hell would be unleashed if Naja were to be attacked.

Naja and Brandon were not really two separate entities. They were one soul with two separate bodies.

“Do you think Naja is happy here?” Andrea asked.

Brandon thought for a moment. “Well, it’s not like Honduras, where she could scamper off into the jungle and go hunting, nail an agouti, or go swimming in the river and catch a croc. But, I think overall, she’s pretty content. Why do you ask?”

“I don’t know. Just wondering. And what about the lord of the jungle, you? Are you happy.”

“I’ve got you, don’t I? Where are you going with this?”

“Yes, you do. And nowhere, I suppose. I was just thinking, if I occasionally miss Indiana, could you, likewise, miss Honduras?”

Brandon got a far-away look in his eyes as he sipped his coffee in silence.

Finally, he confessed over the coffee cup, “Maybe…sometimes. But we’re so busy here that I don’t really have time to think about it.”

There was a silent pause as both of them retreated inside their thoughts. The morning was clear. It was very early. Brandon had always been an early riser. That had been difficult for Andrea to adjust to. Much to her delight, she discovered that the minutes just past dawn are the most peaceful, so adjusting to the schedule had become easy and she welcomed it.

Naja, the sleek, three-hundred-pound jaguar, who was every bit as much a part of this household as Brandon or Andrea, returned from her sojourn to the woods. She was black as night and looked at you with golden eyes which never failed to impress, even startle those who were unaccustomed to her gaze.

Naja and Brandon were somehow connected in a way that Andrea had never seen between an animal and its master. Perhaps it had been that one factor which had made Andrea see Brandon in a different light. This because it is well known that animals have some special insight which allows them to know good people from bad people.

Her original mission to Honduras had not been to make friends with the man, much less fall in love with him and change her entire life for him. Her mission, as an undercover DEA agent had originally been to gather evidence against the jungle man so the government could arrest him, convict him and salt him away in the slammer for his participation in a drug smuggling ring.

Andrea had been determined to do just that because after all, in the beginning, this mission hadn’t seemed all that different from dozens of other missions she had undertaken in other parts of the world. But then, she had been blind-sided, got caught completely off guard, faced with something totally unexpected, but admittedly, something unlike anything she had ever been confronted with before. Something that disarmed her. She found a good man wrapped inside a bad situation. A real-life quandary that seemed to echo Shakespeare’s quote: “A riddle wrapped inside a mystery, wrapped inside an enigma.”

Brandon Shaw had been a legitimate exporter of exotic animals, shipping tropical livestock from Honduras to his partner in Gainsville, Florida. Brandon assimilated the animals, mostly by buying them from regional Indians who brought them to him from the jungle. His partner, Doug Bennet, operated the sister compound in Gainsville.

Doug ferried the animals from Honduras to Florida in the company plane, an old converted DC7, gutted and refitted to haul freight. In Florida, the animals were housed in a modern, well equipped compound where some were quarantined, such as psittacine birds. The ones that required no quarantine were marketed right away to zoos, pet shops, etc. It had been a small but thriving business until federal endangered species and protected animal lists began to crop up, which slowly squeezed the two partners out of business.

Brandon Shaw hit the panic button. He had nothing to fall back on. The animal business had been the only thing he had done his entire adult life. He knew no other way to make a living.

Then, when drug smugglers offered him a chance to make a lot of big money, fast, his survival instinct took control. He succumbed to temptation and accepted their insidious offer to become the transportation department of their illegal, drug smuggling enterprise.

In fairness to Brandon, it must be said that in the beginning, he didn’t fully understand the horrible downstream consequences of illegal drugs, not that naivete’ should be an excuse. Even so, no one but Brandon knew how badly this grated against his honor and dignity.

But there was more, so much more. And it took Andrea to discover it. When she arrived in Honduras, she found a man in torment; torn between what he knew was morally right, and the frightening prospect he found himself faced with whereby his very livelihood was drying up before his eyes. It wasn’t greed that drove Brandon Shaw, but a simple desire to survive.

When, against every instinct and every tenet of her profession, Andrea fell in love with him, she was suddenly confronted with her own secret battle. First, and oddly enough, she had to deal with the guilt of allowing herself to do something so stupid as to fall in love with a man who was essentially a suspect in a drug smuggling operation. After all, by legal definition, he was one conviction away from being a criminal.

"The Lost City" by George Dismukes


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