"When is he going to take his clothes off?"
The reporter from the New Haven Register was using her leather shoulder bag as an arm rest while she held a small spiral binder for her notes. When she wasn't writing, the reporter glanced repeatedly at her wristwatch. She'd already told Leslie that she was worried her photographer would get held up in traffic and arrive after the speaker in Yale's Woolsey Hall was through doing the thing he was becoming famous for. And that happened to be one "photo op" the New Haven Register reporter didn't want to miss. Neither did her editor. It wasn't every day a lecturing professor did an X-rated show in the midst of an anthropology talk at Yale.
"He doesn't have any schedule," Leslie mumbled, hoping the reporter wouldn't hear her, and, frankly, hoping the whole thing would go away. She'd prayed during the last half hour of Dr. Peter Havistock's talk that nothing would happen at all.
That wasn't the way, though, that things were going. That is, not since the lecture at Brown University a week ago when practically the whole student body voted Peter Havistock's talk the most outstanding of the entire fall semester.
"It's all ... uh, been blown out of proportion," Leslie said over the noise of a packed house. She had to make some sort of statement for the local newspaper, it was part of her job as executive director in charge of the Wimberly Foundation's touring celebrities. "It just caught on somehow, you know how these campus things are. I mean," she explained, lamely, " the Foundation recognizes the importance of Dr. Havistock's work, that's why we're sponsoring this lecture series all across the United States. However, the Foundation also acknowledges that academic ... uh, enthusiasms are ... uh, a matter of the moment. Next week probably no one will remember what this lecture was all about."
"Not with this guy," the reporter said, "look at him!"
From the wings they could see Dr. Havistock, a muscular six feet three inches with Yale's Woolsey Hall ceiling lights glinting off his sun-streaked, light brown hair. He was wearing a neck-to-floor ceremonial cape woven of rare Bird of Paradise feathers. His head bore a large, pancake-shaped, aborigine wig that had been shaped with dried mud mixed with brilliant red and yellow pigment, and studded with cowrie shells and the metallic-hued breast feathers of jungle birds. Strings of beads and shells adorned his neck and shoulders, while a white crescent nose shell hid most of his mouth and chin.
"Hey," the reporter said, "you haven't seen the pictures from the Providence, Rhode Island, paper, have you?"
Leslie shook her head. "Not yet." Copies of the Associated Press wire photos from Dr. Havistock's lecture at Brown were being forwarded to her from Wimberly Foundation headquarters, but she dreaded having to look at them. They'd had wide distribution, going to newspapers and TV stations all over the United States.
They could see the tall anthropologist had finished the portion of his talk that dealt with the known history of the Antoroks, the now-famous tribe of the Papua New Guinea mountains that had adopted him. Following that, he'd announced he would proceed to demonstrate weapons and Antorok costumes. Just as he had at Brown.
This was the part Leslie dreaded. Three weeks ago Doctor Havistock had apparently decided to liven up his American tour by giving his lecture in authentic Antorok dress. Which had begun with his wearing a long ceremonial cloak in which to demonstrate the tribe's use of Stone Age weapons: spears, knives, and hunting bows. The only trouble was, when he took off the feathered cloak and revealed what was underneath, the students at Brown began screaming in a manner more often reserved for a wet Ti-shirt contest than a seminar in the hallowed halls of the Ivy League. The Providence, Rhode Island, newspaper had called it 'a small riot.' The Yale student body had today apparently heard about it, too, because Woolsey Hall was packed to the rafters.
"This," Dr. Peter Havistock was now saying in an Australian accent, "is an Antorok spear. You can tell by the decorations of cowrie shells and strands of human hair hanging from it that it is pretty gussied-up, something one ordinarily wouldn't do to a serious weapon. Therefore the ornaments indicate that the spear is intended for ceremonial purposes." He held up the spear at arm's length and gave it a good shake. "If you listen carefully you can hear quite a number of rattles tied to the shaft. They're filled with the knucklebones and teeth of conquered enemies." He gave the weapon another shake and the ornamental festoons of black human hair flapped wildly. "Yes, this spear's definitely for ceremonial confrontations and parleys," he assured his Woolsey Hall audience. "It looks pretty, makes an impressive noise, and the material of hair, teeth and bones extracted from enemies tells the other side you mean business. The Antoroks rarely kill each other, it's mostly intimidation. But when you come in to a tribal meeting to negotiate with this you know they're going to listen. Before you step into the parley area - " He put down the spear and his hands went to smooth down the feathered cloak. "You shed the chief's official cape to show you aren't carrying any secret weapons."
At that moment the small group standing in the wings was joined by the arrival of the New Haven Register photographer and people carrying television cameras. For a moment it was chaotic, the new arrival trying to explain to the woman reporter why he was late, and the others inquiring about lighting.
"Will you people hold it down?" hissed the head of the Yale anthropology department, who was also standing in the wings. "This is a lecture, not a three-ring circus!"
"WNEU?" Leslie whispered. "That's local television, isn't it?" A portable light suddenly blazed.
"Yeah," a voice said in her ear. "This'll definitely make the six thirty news."
Leslie realized some misguided individual in the Yale provost's office had given permission for local TV coverage. But it was too late. The television crew had already moved out from the wings, the newspaper photographer not far behind. Peter Havistock saw them and looked straight into the cameras.
"So, if I'm a chief and I'm coming into a parley," he reiterated, " I'm going to take off my cloak to let my opponents know I'm not hiding any concealed weapons."
Doctor Peter Havistock's hands moved to the neck of his cloak and his fingers untied the strings there. The garment slithered the length of his body and fell to the floor of the stage and the anthropologist stood revealed in the authentic Papua New Guinea tribal warrior costume of the Antoroks. There was a silence. Then a gasp shook Yale's great meeting place all the way to the upper balcony.
"Wow!" someone screamed. " Now that's a secret weapon!"
There was a roar of laughter.
Leslie couldn't see what the student audience was reacting to, as the anthropologist's back was to her. But she knew from what had happened at Brown University that the front view was amazing. Dr. Peter Havistock, the author of the surprise bestselling book, Determining Anthropological And Developmental Social Factors Among The Papua New Guinea Aborigines Of The Antorok Valley made an indelible impression. He was broad-shouldered, long-legged, with his six feet three inches were nicely distributed over a jungle-trained physique. Thanks to living as an Antorok warrior-chief, there was not an inch of fat on his frame, but he was hardly scrawny: Muscles rippled in his shoulders and back when he discarded the feathered cloak, down to a view of what the Yalie audience would undoubtedly describe as "really awesome buns," and strong, bare legs. In addition the tropical sun had toasted Peter Havistock's skin to a deep golden brown that matched his slightly waving, sun-bleached hair.
"Is that all he has on - a G-string?" the Register reporter shouted in Leslie's ear.
Leslie didn't answer. The dignity of the Wimberly Foundation, Dr. Havistock's sponsor, was rapidly going down the drain. The audience was still screaming appreciatively. Dr. Havistock demonstrated with his weapons a few menacing attitudes that were, as he had explained, the preliminary to a tribal parley, brandishing the ceremonial spear in one hand and a long knife about the shape and size of a machete in the other. There was so much noise no one could hear what he was saying.
"Get the front view!" the reporter shouted to her paper's photographer.
"Please, please," the head of the Yale anthropology department cried to the jounralists, "you people are disrupting the lecture. Come back into the wings!"
"What has he got on in front?" the Register reporter demanded of Leslie. "What's he wearing, anyway?"
Leslie closed her eyes, trying to shut out the uproar. In about an hour she and her charge would be on their way to New York. The Wimberly Foundation wasn't going to be happy, at all. They weren't going to be happy with her, either, she thought with a shudder.
"An - an - uh, ethnic G-string, " she told the Register reporter. "It's made of Bird of Paradise feathers. Family name Paradisaelidae, order of the Passenformes, that Dr. Havistock himself has identified as Lophorina superba and Dyphyllodes magnificus."
Peter Havistock's authentic Antorok G-string was only a leather cord that ran up between the natural indentation of his backside, making it seem virtually invisible. The front was not excessive, either, as most Birds of Paradise were small creatures and so were their showy, iridescent breast feathers. By contrast, what the G-string enveloped was, as a hall full of screaming Yalies were testifying, pretty impressive. They had started a chant: "Secret weapon! Secret weapon!"
"Can we interview him?" the Register reporter was yelling. "Hey, how about an interview and a couple of shots of the professor in his outfit with you?"
"No interviews." Leslie shook her head, vehemently; that was all she needed. " It's in Dr. Havistock's contract!"
They were leaving for New York immediately after the Woolsey Hall talk. The limousine that was to take them back to the city was, in fact, waiting in the street outside. After the mob scene at Brown, Leslie had learned the advantage of a quick getaway.
The anthropologist didn't have a clause in his contract saying he would not give newspaper interviews, Leslie had just made that up because she was desperate to get out of there - out of Woolsey Hall, Yale, and eventually the State of Connecticut. She longed to get back to New York. Once there she was going to let her brother and the rest of the Wimberly Foundation know that they would have to find somebody else for the job of acting as coordinator for anthropologist Peter Havistock on the rest of his lecture tour. If what was happening today was any indication of what was going to happen in the future - and Leslie was pretty sure that it was - she had to turn the Papua New Guinea "lost tribe" man over to someone else.
At that moment, as Peter Havistock lowered his weapons and took a step back to acknowledge the thunder of applause - and even some worshipful screams - that ended his lecture, he turned and looked into the wings.
Perhaps some of the others missed it, but Leslie didn't. The look itself was deceptively innocent. But the man from the lost tribe of aborigines gave her a huge, lascivious wink. Then, so quickly she almost thought she'd imagined it, his lips drew together, and he blew her a kiss.
Please click HERE to read Chapter Two.