by Margo Fallis The Rock of
“You’ve done it again,
Ian. We fall asleep on a boat and wake up who knows where.” Mac pulled
the tarp back and kicked it to the side of the small boat.
“Me? Why is it always my
fault? You blame me for everything. You were running just as fast as me.
I didn’t hear you object when we were being chased by an angry mob in
Nice.” Ian tipped his head back and gazed at the towering wall of
limestone. “What is that? Is it a volcano? We’re going to die, aren’t
Mac leapt out of the
boat. “Come on, Ian. Don’t start panicking already. It’s not a volcano;
it’s the Rock of Gibraltar.”
“How do you know?”
Mac grabbed Ian’s head
and turned it, aiming his gaze to the sign. “See? It says Gibraltar.”
“Oh. What’s the Rock of
“That is the Rock of
Gibraltar. It’s a rock, a huge piece of limestone; it is owned by the
British, but is part of Spain.”
“Know it all!” Ian stuck
out his tongue. “And what is on the Rock of Gibraltar?”
Ian didn’t say another
word. He climbed out of the boat and walked a few feet, stopping to
sniff for food. When his nose picked up the scent of roasted meat, he
took Mac’s paw and pulled him along towards the tantalizing aroma
floating in the air. Smoke billowed high, carrying with it spattered
droplets of sizzled grease from sliced beef. Ian’s nose twitched again
as he followed the hypnotic cloud luring him as if it had fingers
pulling him closer. “Food! Food, food, food, food, food, food! Roasting
food. Delicious food.”
“Any food is delicious to
you, Ian. Hmm. I never knew there was a town here. It’s very
Mediterranean, but since we are at the Mediterranean, that makes sense.
Over there,” Mac said, pointing south, “is Morocco, Africa. I’ve read
that there’s a grand view from the top of the Rock.”
“Up there? You want to go
up to the top? Are you suicidal? First of all, I am not repelling up
that mountain. Second of all, I am not going anywhere until I eat
something. Third, no more boat rides for a while, all right?” Ian’s
“There’s a road that
leads to the top. We can walk up, taking our time, of course, but first,
let’s get you some food. We should keep to the back of the shops and
restaurants. That’s where they’ll toss the leftover food.” Mac sighed,
mumbling to himself. “All he thinks about is food.”
Ian and Mac crept behind
a shop selling tourist trinkets and tee shirts before coming to the
first restaurant. There was only one large rubbish container and it had
a heavy plastic lid. The raccoons struggled to lift it, but the hard
plastic was too heavy. Ian didn’t give up. He knew his lunch lay inside.
When he peeked over the edge he spotted a rusted hole in the side. “Aha.
I knew I’d find a way in. It’ll be a bit tight, but we can do it. Come
They sprung from the lid
and stood next to the hole. “It’s all jaggy. If we get a cut, we’ll get
tetanus. I don’t want to die from lock jaw.” Mac rubbed his chin.
“I’ll do it.” Ian put his
right leg into the hole, stretching it until he felt something solid.
Using his arms, he pried himself up while he slid his shoulder through.
“Be careful, Ian. You
almost cut yourself. Think tetanus, Ian, tetanus.”
“Stop talking, Mac. I’m
fine.” Ian pulled his other shoulder through the hole an inch at a time
and then his other leg. He stuck his face out. “I told you I’d be able
to do it. Stay there and I’ll toss some food out to you.”
Mac heard Ian rummaging
through the rubbish. Out popped the bone of a ham hock, landing near
Mac’s feet. That was followed by several half-eaten baked potato skins,
covered with melted cheese and bits of rubbery broccoli. Mac had to
scoot back to avoid being hit. Soon he gazed upon pieces of pie crust,
pork chop bones, chicken legs, piles of sautéed onions and some mashed
up custards and puddings with globs of soggy fruit. “Enough, Ian. We’ll
never be able to eat all of this.”
“One more thing; I’m not
leaving without this.” Ian’s face appeared at the hole. “I’ve got pot
roast. It’s almost whole. I’ve died and gone to heaven.” When Ian tried
to push it through the hole, the half raw meat wedged in the middle,
catching hold of the rusted points of metal. Ian pushed and shoved,
using his shoulder and all of his strength, but no matter what he did,
he couldn’t budge the pot roast.
Mac chuckled. “Now what?”
“I’m not leaving without
this pot roast.” Ian’s voice came in short breaths as he struggled with
“While you’re working on
that, I’m going to enjoy some of this other food.” Mac found a place to
sit in some tall grass growing behind the trash receptacle. He pulled
the food with him and then feasted, tugging leftover bits of ham off the
hock with his sharp teeth. “This is delicious.” Ian ignored him and Mac
shook his head to the side, wondering how long it would take his friend
to give up. Mac ate the onions and puddings with fruit. He was just
about to start on the chicken legs when the bushes rustled behind him.
He turned, hoping to see what it was. “Who’s there?” No answer.
Six Barbary macaques
leaped out, rushing towards Mac, chattering, squealing, and waving their
arms in the air. Mac didn’t stick around. He ran to the door of the
restaurant and curled up behind a coiled rope. The Gibraltar monkeys
gobbled at Mac’s food, throwing the bones at each other and scraping
fruit off the grass with their fingers.
“What are you doing, Mac?
It sounds like you’ve turned into a ravished monster. It’s only food.
There’s plenty of it in here.” Ian called from inside his smelly prison,
unaware of the new arrivals. “If you’ll just be patient, I’ve almost got
this pot roast through the hole.”
The macaques went silent
and moved over to the pot roast half poking from the rusted hole.
Curious and hungry, they examined the roast, ripping pieces off and
sniffing them. A few of the monkeys climbed on top of the metal
“Say, Mac, what are you
doing up there? Are you trying to deafen me? Stop jumping on the lid. If
you want to help that bad, then lift it up, get in here and help me.”
Ian hit the lid from the inside, frightening the monkeys. They leapt
off, but after a few minutes, climbed back on. One by one they tried to
raise the lid, but failed. It didn’t take long for them to discover that
if they worked together, they could. Up it went, sending bright light
inside, temporarily blinding Ian. Before he knew what hit him, the six
monkeys jumped inside and started rummaging through the rubbish, tossing
banana peels at each other and at Ian. “Stop it, Mac. Mac? Mac? Is that
you? It doesn’t sound like you.” When Ian’s eyes adjusted to the
sunlight, he spied the monkeys. “Yikes.” Using all his strength he
pushed the pot roast out of the hole onto the ground. While the macaques
fought over some lemon chiffon crepes, Ian climbed out, grabbed the pot
roast and ran off, leaving Mac behind the ropes. “Mac? Mac? Where are
you?” Ian called out in a semi-whisper. He pushed leaves and branches
out of his way as he climbed higher and higher, trying to flee from the
rampaging monkeys. He didn’t stop running, lugging his pot roast behind
him, until he reached the top and discovered he could go no further.
Mac, who watched
everything from his coil of safety, saw where Ian was headed, but stayed
still, not make any noises. When the six monkeys were together inside
the trash bin, Mac ran over and hopped on top of it, pushing the lid
shut and enclosing them inside. He jumped back down and was aghast to
see the monkeys climbing out of the rusty hole. Fearing for his life, he
ran up the road to the top, huffing and puffing until he reached Ian.
“Ian. Ian. They’re coming after us.”
Ian saw Mac’s terrified
expression. “What? What did you say?” Just then he spotted and heard the
monkeys, who had gathered reinforcements.
Mac grabbed Ian’s paw and
pulled him into a bush. “The….monkeys….are….after….me.” Trying to calm
his breathing down, he focused on his words. “Where can we hide?”
Ian looked over the edge.
“Lovely view from up here. Look, you can see Spain and over there is
“We’re going to die in a
minute and all you can do is think of the view? Where can we hide?”
“While I was finishing
off my pot roast, which, by the way, was delicious and tender, with just
the right amount of seasoning…”
“Oh, all right. There are
caves inside the mountain. We can hide in them, if we can find an
entrance. I don’t think we want to try our luck in that direction,” Ian
said, pointing to the sheer drop on the white limestone side of the
Rock. “Let’s go this way.” The gentler slope appealed to them more. Down
they ran, dodging bushes, stones, and other small bands of macaques. Ian
noticed people walking up the path and cars driving the zigzag road.
Several had pulled over at the half way mark. “There! The caves.”
Mac turned around and
spotted the monkeys at the top, jumping up and down on the roof of a
small car. “We got out of there just in time. I hope they leave us alone
“I heard some people
talking about how there are quite a few of those monkeys on the island.
They like people, but I suppose we’re strange animals to them because
obviously they don’t like raccoons. There are like 230 of them and
normally they’re in groups of twenty-five to seventy, so we were lucky
to have only encountered six of them.” Ian sighed. “This way. Stay in
the shadows. Somehow I think the people might not like to see us running
around in the tunnels.”
They found the entrance
to the caves and waited until all the people had gone inside. As they
marched down further into the darkness, they were relieved to see
lighting. One tunnel led to another and it didn’t take long for them to
realize they were lost. “Do the monkeys go in the caves?” Mac turned in
a circle, checking his back.
“I don’t think they like
the caves. They like being where people are so they can get food and
take bites of them.” Ian glanced from one end of the tunnel to the
other. “Um, how are we going to find our way out of here?”
“We keep walking until we
do.” Mac ran ahead and beheld a bright light. “Up here, Ian. I see
Ian ran after his friend,
who had stopped at the end of the tunnel. “What’s wrong?” Mac pointed
down. “This isn’t the way we want to go.” Ian lay on his belly and
peered over the edge. “We’re on the steep side, about half way up the
Rock. We can’t jump that far, or climb down. We’ll have to turn around
and go back.”
An hour later they were
still wandering the tunnels, no idea where they were or which way to go.
Relief washed over them when a group of tourists walked by. The raccoons
followed them out. “Freedom! Fresh air! Sunshine!” Mac was thrilled to
be in the open. “Have you seen enough of the Rock of Gibraltar yet, Ian?
I know I have. Do we go to Spain or to Morocco?”
“We’ve been to Spain, so
Morocco it is. How are we going to get there? Not by boat, I hope.”
“It’s too far to swim.
Look down there; it’s a ferry. I can tell because people are driving
their cars on board. It’s still a boat, but it’s a different type of
boat and besides that, it’s daylight. We usually go on boats during the
night. Give it a try?” Mac winked at Ian, who consented. They rushed
down the mountainside and sprang onto the ferry boat, carefully avoiding
the cars driving on board. They found a place to hide - a funnel near
the back of the boat. When the ferry pulled away from the dock, they
breathed a sigh of relief. Soon the Rock of Gibraltar was a distant
memory. The raccoons napped and didn’t wake again until the ferry bumped
into the Moroccan dock. “Here we are, Ian. What adventure lies ahead for
Ian could only let out a
sigh. “We’ll soon find out, Mac. We’ll soon find out.”
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