Escape Pod 829: Wild Meat

Show Notes

Hi folks! Our audience spans the globe, and this week’s author, narrator, and host are all from the Caribbean. We’re bringing you a hilarious story in authentic dialect. If you have any trouble keeping up, we suggest you read the story first or read along with the narration. You can find the full text on our website. We hope you enjoy it!

-S.B. Divya

Wild Meat

By Shari Paul

Girl, I have a story to tell you. Remember the wild meat competition I did tell you about? The one they was planning to have on the holiday weekend? Well, talk about bacchanal because Naresh and them decide that they wanted to cook dinosaur meat. Yes, dinosaur from the Reserve. These people, like they was trying to get we throw in jail.

So, you know my husband Naresh and he friend and them does like to cook? Since they small they going with they father and them by the river and the beach with they old iron pot and making cook. It eh have a thing they eh cook either. Is roast manicou, is stew agouti, is caiman where they curry the egg and all, is conch they pick up in the drain, is stuff cascadou with all they bone and dumplings, is pelau with lappe, is fry snake and wedges with dipping sauce. When Naresh gone secondary school, he start to hang out with them boy and them on they own. Breaking biche in Form Four to go by the river in Valencia and in Caura and quite to hell down Maracas for real bake and shark.

Now you know I not really into the lime. Is only because I went with my brother to catch crab in the lagoon that I even meet Naresh. But he does go by the river with he boys to cool off on the weekends, and as long as he don’t come back smelling stink ah rum, me eh care. I tell him already, I don’t want no drunk man, and he say that he don’t really drink, but he will have a beer with them so they don’t watch him funny. Is I did buy him the freezer so he could keep they meat in the garage, and the way them does do it, that freezer always full.

I tell you about the Christmas they had a whole deer in the freezer? And Naresh actually gone in my kitchen and take out meat from the fridge to pack his. Well, you know I tell him about that. “Your friend and them does bring all the meat here for you but I sure them have freezer too. That not staying in my fridge, Mister.” The next day, it was gone. But I going off on a tangent. I don’t really mix up with them and they cook, but I was the one who tell them about the wild meat competition.

How it happen was, before the holiday, the councillor for the area, Mr Dillon was there for the cricket match down by the savannah, and them boy and them was cooking. They did make one set ah food, but everybody was running down the horse meat barbecue. Mr Dillon eat three box. After that, when he come in the office, all he could talk about was how good the food was but how he and his people could do better. So, Rishi tell him, “Now we have to try your hand, name the date and we go have a cookout.”

Mr Dillon like them challenge thing. You would think a man like him would just be in he office all day, not talking to we “plebs”, but every once in a while you go find him with the men and them playing All Fours. And he could play real good because them men does be bawling that it good they not playing for money. So, when Rishi suggest the cookout, he say, “Yeah, we should have a wild meat competition on the holiday.”

I don’t think any of we did take him seriously with that. We was just talking in the office. You could imagine my shock when he show up the next day and ask me to make some flyers. Oh how it would be a nice community event for the long weekend and he done scope out location and think the savannah is the best place because we could have some games going and even ah All Fours tent.

I make the flyers and them, and I take one home and put it on the fridge for Naresh. You should have see how excited that man get. Come in the bathroom when I bathing to ask me if it was serious thing. And then the next thing I know, by the time I come out the bathroom, he was on the phone with the rest of them discussing what they was going to make, and who was going to bring what, and even what they was going and wear.

I don’t know who come up with the idea to use dinosaur meat. I feel is Sunil, that boy stupid bad so he does always have some foolish idea. The problem is the rest of them just as stupid so they does go along with it. Sunil have a friend working in the Aripo Savannas Dinosaur Reserve. He father used to work there too, but Sunil was too dunce and frighten to get in. I don’t know how he manage to still be hanging around and that they does let him.

Sunil friend working with the Americans and them studying all the dinosaurs that show up since the Aripo Event. With the tall-tall walls they put up around the place, and the dome they add afterwards, the animal and them can’t fly out so they does have to live in there with them. And you know, the Reserve is not that big, about four thousand acres or so, but the animals and them huge. That is why they had to send some of them to Tobago and take the rest in the other islands and South America. But according to Sunil friend, what they can’t send somewhere else, they does just have to kill. And so Sunil say that he could bring dinosaur meat.

You see me here, I don’t really like to get in them boy and them business. Naresh is a big man, he and Sunil is friends since secondary school, so he should have know that things was going to go wrong. You know this boy, instead of bringing meat from dinosaur the people and them, what they does call it, cull? Instead of bringing something they cull, he bring a real, live pterodactyl—no, what they call it, a pterosaur. Your girl cannot even pronounce the name, but is one giant lizard bird them put in we backyard.

Friday evening I gone home from work to see Naresh brother, Narendra, there with the Kia van. They went with it because they needed the big flatbed. When I pull up in the yard, I did already hear this thing making a whole set of noise. It rattling through the place like gunshots one minute and squawking loud-loud-loud the next. I hear that and nearly jump back in the car because something had to be wrong. Then I see Narendra and he say, “Keisha, how you going girl? Don’t worry about the noise, is only for a little while.”

So, I ask him, “What making that noise? You lucky somebody eh call the police.”

He tell me, “The dinosaur.”

“The what?’ I ask him, because even though they did make they decision, nobody did tell me nothing because, as I say, I don’t get involved in their wild meat business. But instead of answering, I don’t know if it was the look on my face, Narendra just stand up there grinning. So, I tell him, “Show me it, what dinosaur you talking about? Let me see what you bring in my yard.”

We walk around the van to the back of the house and when I tell you I nearly dead when I see what they bring. Is a whole living, breathing Ket-Quetzi-something. Quetzalcoatlus, yes, that’s the name. But it was a small one, you know the big ones does be about the size of a small plane, this was about as big as a car. Pretty? The pattern on the wings like the tie-dye wrap dress they does have for people to go to the beach. Even with that long beak and them crocodile teeth, when you see that thing in the light, girl, it real pretty. Is just that, it alive still, and they have it in we backyard tie up with a dog chain talking about how they will keep it until the night before the cook so the meat will be fresh.

Well you know me, is the Corporation I working, I have to ask the relevant question. I ask, “I thought you say you was getting meat, what is this?”

Naresh start one time, “Babe, they couldn’t get the meat this time, but they say we could take this instead. We only have to keep it until tomorrow, and then we have the cook.”

“Is not that I studying,” I tell him. “As long as these things alive, you know is a protected species. If they catch we with one of that you know what that is? That is serious jail, and you know how them Americans acting like the thing and them is theirs even though it come out in we country. They not going to go easy on we at all.”

“You worrying too much girl,” Sunil say.

I watch him and ask, “What happen to the meat? Where the partner who give it to you? Why he can’t keep it in he backyard?”

“No, girl, he working there. He can’t have this by him,” Sunil tell me.

“So what about by you?” I ask.

“You know I don’t have no space for this kind of thing. Naresh is the one who volunteer because all you backyard big.”

I watch Naresh and he say, “Babe, don’t worry about it. Go inside. When it calm down, no one will even know we have anything here. And besides, they know we preparing for the cook so they will probably think is a turkey.”

“The thing sounding like gunshots. It too early in the day for people to be hunting, what turkey you talking about?” I ask him.

“Babe, just go inside. It go calm down just now. You just come home from work, and I know you tired. Go and cool off and sit down, and we go handle this,” he say.

I say alright. I gone inside and take off my work clothes, bathe, and sit down on the couch to watch some tv for a little bit. Whole time this thing still making noise. I get up, I go to the kitchen to take out some meat to make something for them to eat with all this ruckus. It still making noise. And it never stop.

Is only when it start to get dark that I go back outside and tell them, “All you have to do something about that thing. We can’t have it making all that noise in the night.”

Naresh agree with me and tell them, “Yeah, we go can’t keep it here.”

Sunil say, “Well let we just kill it one time.”

That sound real reasonable but mind you, he wasn’t talking about he killing it. He say that and he wasn’t even holding a cutlass, and the thing so big, I not even sure what they was planning to do. Put it in a bathtub and try to break the neck like a chicken?

Well I tell myself I didn’t want to see that, so I go back inside. The news was starting as I go back to my stove, and you know the first thing that come up, big and bold? “Juvenile pterosaur among several small animals stolen from the Aripo Savannas Dinosaur Reserve by poachers!”

Yes girl, you didn’t see it on the news? I forget you say you don’t watch the news but yes. Is thief them clown and them thief the people pterosaur. I tell you Sunil stupid bad. He tell everybody that he have a friend working in the place, come to find out—because you know I had to go back one time to call them to see the report—the friend working with some poachers and was selling some of the animals for a few years now to people who like them exotic pets and who want to eat them.

He start to talk fast-fast when Naresh and them turn on him. He say he father used to be in the trade, but they did find him out and instead of firing him and locking him up, they made him retire early and didn’t tell the Americans nothing. When Sunil went after looking to take up the same job, they refuse to hire him because they was worried that he would pick up the same trade. Bad luck for them, Sunil and one of they people did go to school together and he did meet up with him when he went to apply. The next time they meet, in a bar near the place, the two of them start liming together, and then the friend let him in on the trade. So now we all standing in the kitchen with a stolen protected species in the backyard. I know Naresh could have lick him down right there.

Now plans change, they have to get rid of the pterosaur. Sunil was still talking some nonsense about how nobody would know is them, but I mean, common sense nah, is in we yard it is.

Narendra say is best we take it somewhere in Cumuto and let it go. That way they will think that it just escape the poachers, and they wouldn’t look in we direction to see if we have the rest. Naresh say well nah, the thing a little dangerous and it could start attacking people, and he don’t want that on he conscience. When I tell you I married a good man, he does make some kind of choices sometimes, but his heart in the right place. But they can’t just go back to the Reserve and tell them, “Here, look, we find this thing and we hear about the stolen animals so we bring it to you.”

It was around this time I realise that the place get quiet. Them stand up there talking, but it have no noise coming from outside, so I go to check and would you believe Mr Pterosaur burst the chain and gone?

I run back inside and tell them, “Aye, the thing get away!”

Narendra say, “What? Girl, stop making joke.”

They gone outside to check anyway, but of course the only thing left was the burst chain. One time, them start to panic.

Naresh go to check the cameras and say that as soon as all of them went inside after I call them, the thing put the chain in he mouth, break it, and just walk out of the backyard. Narendra and two of the others run out the front door and then one of them shout, “It in the road! Bring the van, bring the van, we have to catch this thing before it fly off!”

Sunil say, “It wouldn’t fly off, the Americans does clip the wings like parrot to stop them from trying to go through the dome.”

“But it could still do a lot of damage on the ground, yes?” I ask him.

That is when we hear one of the neighbours’ car alarm go off. We all run outside to see this thing pecking and clawing at the man brand new Hilux. It did already properly dig up the side of the van, burst up the tyres and windows, and was pulling out a light.

Naresh say, “We have to catch it and carry it back. I don’t care if they lock we up, I not letting this thing run loose. You could pay for that van?”

Jason, one of their other friend, take up the keys to go for the Kia. Next thing he bawl out, “Like this thing slash your tyres, dread.”

Not just Narendra tyres, the ones on Naresh car and mine too. I didn’t even know them thing was so smart. So now they have to try to catch this thing on foot. Jason and Naresh and this fellow, Andy, pick up some rope and extra chain in the back, and the cutlass and the rake, and run out in the road behind it. The others get it to run away from the car, and they try to herd it like was some kind of goat back to the house, shouting and charging it. The thing make more of that gunshot noise at them, growl and spread it wings.

Watch nah, when I tell you this thing was big. The body was long as a car, but the wings spread out was twice that. Them boys and them had no choice but to back up, but it couldn’t fly away either, so Narendra and Jason make lassoes and try to throw it over the thing head.

Now by this time the neighbours and them did start to come outside. I see people with they phones out so it have no way we was getting to carry this thing back quietly. I turn around and go back in the backyard and take off the broken chain from where they had the thing tie up and throw it in the old dog kennel under the water tank. When I go back out front, you was just starting to hear the sirens in the distance. Somebody did call the police.

Naresh and them still didn’t catch the thing yet. Every time they try to throw the lasso around it, it would just duck or spread the wings. When it flap them the breeze could almost knock you down. I was about to tell them to try something else or at least stay further back before this thing hit them, when we hear this rumbling in the sky and this big, bright searchlight shine down from overhead.

The Americans from the Reserve reach with their big helicopter before the police. They put on their loudspeaker and say, “Step away from the animal! It is extremely dangerous! Step away from the animal!”

You didn’t have to tell Naresh and them that twice. They run back to the house, and the Americans lower the helicopter, so close I swear they was going to touch the electricity wires, and throw down a net. The net drop right over the pterosaur, and then they shoot it with a few tranquilizer and in a few minutes it was unconscious.

When the police arrive, Naresh and them explain that they find this thing in the bush when they went looking for wild meat for the cook. They manage to catch it and bring it back here but then it escape. Sunil make himself scarce, Narendra make a few jokes with one of the officers, and the police jump back in their jeep and gone. I don’t think the Americans really believe the story, but they didn’t make a scene. They just take back their animal and go.

I didn’t tell Naresh nothing until the rest of them gone. Then I say, “The next time Sunil suggest something, tell him all you will think about it and let it go. I not asking you not to hang out with your partner, but understand that this clown will get you in trouble and gone about he business. Look how fast he disappear.”

Naresh eh say nothing, just went out to the freezer to see what they had to cook.

The day of the cook come now, Naresh and them cook a caiman three different way but they only get second place. You want me to tell you why? Is because the Americans the councillor invite from the Reserve grill burgers they make with dinosaur meat.

About the Author

Shari Paul

Shari Paul is a speculative fiction writer from Trinidad and Tobago. A clerk by day, Shari writes adventures in strange new worlds by night. Shari is published at Fiyah, The Dark and Clarkesworld with reprints at Podcastle and Italian translation at Il Buio. Shari has a degree in Literatures in English from the University of the West Indies and is currently under examination for a Master in Creative Writing.

Find more by Shari Paul


About the Narrator

Mercerdes Modeste

Nope, not the Benz but still driven by many goals and dreams; I am Mercerdes Modeste. I reside where you vacation in the beautiful Caribbean. Besides narrating, I am also a poet, artist, singer, and dancer at heart. Otherwise, I am currently pursuing business studies. Beyond my thoughts that Starbucks Frappuccinos and good conversations can heal any bad day, I also belief that stories and art can take you on some of the best trips without leaving…

Find more by Mercerdes Modeste