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Chapter 46
Clouds that gathered where ships were supposed to appear,and the passing of the day, slowly did the job of unbendingmy smile. It is pointless to say that this or that night was theworst of my life. I have so many bad nights to choose fromthat I've made none the champion. Still, that second night atsea stands in my memory as one of exceptional suffering,different from the frozen anxiety of the first night in being amore conventional sort of suffering, the broken-down kindconsisting of weeping and sadness and spiritual pain, anddifferent from later ones in that I still had the strength toappreciate fully what I felt. And that dreadful night waspreceded by a dreadful evening.
I noticed the presence of sharks around the lifeboat. Thesun was beginning to pull the curtains on the day. It was aplacid explosion of orange and red, a great chromaticsymphony, a colour canvas of supernatural proportions, truly asplendid Pacific sunset, quite wasted on me. The sharks weremakos – swift, pointy-snouted predators with long, murderousteeth that protruded noticeably from their mouths. They wereabout six or seven feet long, one was larger still. I watchedthem anxiously. The largest one came at the boat quickly, as ifto attack, its dorsal fin rising out of the water by severalinches, but it dipped below just before reaching us and glidedunderfoot with fearsome grace. It returned, not coming so closethis time, then disappeared. The other sharks paid a longervisit, coming and going at different depths, some in plain sightat hand's reach below the surface of the water, others deeperdown. There were other fish too, big and small, colourful,differently shaped. I might have considered them more closelyhad my attention not been drawn elsewhere: Orange Juice'shead came into sight.
She turned and brought her arm onto the tarpaulin in amotion that imitated exactly the way you or I would bring outan arm and place it on the back of the chair next to our ownin a gesture of expansive relaxation. But such was clearly nother disposition. Bearing an expression profoundly sad andmournful, she began to look about, slowly turning her headfrom side to side. Instantly the likeness of apes lost its amusingcharacter. She had given birth at the zoo to two young ones,strapping males five and eight years old that were her – andour – pride. It was unmistakably these she had on her mindas she searched over the water, unintentionally mimicking whatI had been doing these last thirty-six hours. She noticed meand expressed nothing about it. I was just another animal thathad lost everything and was vowed to death. My moodplummeted.
Then, with only a snarl for notice, the hyena went amok. Ithadn't moved from its cramped quarters all day. It put itsfront legs on the zebra's side, reached over and gathered afold of skin in its jaws. It pulled roughly. A strip of hide cameoff the zebra's belly like gift-wrap paper comes off a gift, in asmooth-edged swath, only silently, in the way of tearing skin,and with greater resistance. Immediately blood poured forth likea river. Barking, snorting and squealing, the zebra came to lifeto defend itself. It pushed on its front legs and reared its headin an attempt to bite the hyena, but the beast was out ofreach. It shook its good hind leg, which did no more thanexplain the origin of the previous night's knocking: it was thehoof beating against the side of the boat. The zebra's attemptsat self-preservation only whipped the hyena into a frenzy ofsnarling and biting. It made a gaping wound in the zebra'sside. When it was no longer satisfied with the reach it hadfrom behind the zebra, the hyena climbed onto its haunches. Itstarted pulling out coils of intestines and other viscera. Therewas no order to what it was doing. It bit here, swallowedthere, seemingly overwhelmed by the riches before it. Afterdevouring half the liver, it started tugging on the whitish,balloon-like stomach bag. But it was heavy, and with thezebra's haunches being higher than its belly – and blood beingslippery – the hyena started to slide into its victim. It plungedhead and shoulders into the zebra's guts, up to the knees ofits front legs. It pushed itself out, only to slide back down. Itfinally settled in this position, half in, half out. The zebra wasbeing eaten alive from the ............
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