Hunting a chimp on a killing spree

We kept watch all day, every day, for more than a month, sweating in the shade of banana trees and passing time by chewing sugarcane and whittling sticks into toothpicks. Finally, on one Thursday afternoon in late July, Deo touched my shoulder and pointed to the trees in the back of the banana grove. They had started to shake. A chimp’s black shape came in and out of view as he slowly moved toward us. At last he emerged — Saddam, without a doubt — knuckle-walking toward a huge stack of fermenting bananas. When I practiced with the gun, I was able to hit targets smaller than his torso from the same distance. But then he started to charge.

Through the sight of the rifle, I watched Saddam come at me. All I had to do was squeeze the trigger. But I stood frozen as he advanced to within a few feet. I braced myself, but suddenly Saddam pivoted right and stormed noisily into the forest. That was the last time I saw him.

I returned to college for my sophomore year, happy to get back to a place where most problems could be solved with a well-crafted excuse. A few months later, just before a midterm that seemed so incredibly important to me, I received a letter from Deo informing me that Saddam had finally been stopped: a group of local hunters armed with spears, and a ranger with a rifle, surrounded him in a marsh and killed him. They tracked him there from the scene of his last violent act: the slaying of an 18-month-old girl.

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