My name is Leon and I just work up from a long siesta. I was so full from eating that I couldn’t move, and I couldn’t do anything but lie down and rest. Let the food digest and let the day slip by. The sun was up too, shining down on my back as I lay there. Even now, even after my little sleep, I feel full. I ate too much of course, but I have a propensity to do that and lunch was incredible: meat, meat and more meat – basically a whole ox to myself. It was so good! I probably could have eaten two if my wives had brought out a second.
I ate most of it, and then I thought I better share some around. I look after my family. My wives ate after I had finished, as is tradition, and then all the children together, and then finally the rest of the family shared in the scraps. This includes some distant relatives, my servants and those that hang around and serve me however they can. They are weak, they need the strong, so they do what I say… and eat my scraps.
I’m in charge and I get to eat as much as I can before anyone else has a turn. That is the way it is and always has been. I could eat the entire beast and no one would say anything to me. No one would dare, and quite rightly too. If someone did speak up, one of my wives or sons, then no doubt I’d have to back hand them across the face to teach them a quick lesson in humility. They wouldn’t though – they know who the boss is. They may look at me a little disgruntled sometimes, and look at the platter of succulent meat licking their lips in anticipation, but if I looked their way and stared, they would turn away, avert my gaze and slink off into the darkness.
It sounds like I have it all – that the great Leon has the perfect life, but I can promise you it’s not always easy being me. Sure I get every meal brought to me by one of my wives. And yes I do have four of them, and they are all beautiful young things that fill me with excitement whenever I see them. Except of course after a big meal like this – All I want to do after a big meal is sleep, and let my stomach digest, let the strong sun warm me as I rest. Tomorrow will be a new day and I’ll think about things a bit more then. As I was saying, I am in charge and I make the decisions. There is responsibility in that. It’s hard at times, but don’t get me wrong, I wouldn’t change it for a thing. I love being the King. I do what I want and when I want.
My wives have their role too. It is simple. They must find the food and prepare the meals for me and the family, and if I want a companion for the night, they must accept me into their bed. Even in the middle of the day, if I want to have one of them, one of my wives, they would let me and would not hesitate. They would welcome it. I could even go for a concubine. Find a tasty young female in the court and take her there and then in front of everyone. I don’t though; it’s too much hassle with the wives. They are a jealous bunch, jealous with each other, but more jealous with anyone else. They are quick to scare off any young beauties that happen to come by. They will fight too, attack them and drive them into the sunset. The young females pretend they have got lost and happened upon us, by I know they come with intentions, are hoping I will see them and make them my concubine. They see a life with a great ruler and they have to try.
I take the jealousy of my wives as a complement – they must really love me to fight for me as they do… and they certainly must not trust me ha-ha, but I can’t blame them for that. It is in my nature to have wandering eyes, but I don’t have the energy for more than that these days – not with four wives and a hundred ravenous children all waiting for my approval. My wives understand our situation. They even work together at times for the good of the kingdom. They probably work together better when I am not around. They go about their days, and accept what each brings to the family. That’s the contract we have. I stick with them, look after them, and they put up with each other, stick by my side and provide food and babies. That’s the only problem with having so many wives, more kids, which just means more mouths to feed, but you know sometimes I cant resist my urges even when food is scarce and the last thing our family needs is another youngster.
It is stressful being the big man on campus. I have to look after my family, protect them from the terrors of the night. Fight… I often fight. Some young punk comes along and decides he wants to be king for a day. “King for a day, make hay, because you will pay,” I say to him as I beat him senseless. I have to show him who’s boss, who’s the real king and that takes violence. I don’t particularly enjoy it – beating these young punks to a pulp, but I don’t have a choice. “Give them a blade of grass and they may take the whole field,” is what my father used to say. He was right, of course, but I am too strong and powerful and they have no chance. I don’t normally try and hurt them too badly. I just maim them, temporarily, so they walk home groggy, and don’t come back… but they always come back, for one more shot at the title and then I really try to hurt them, and sometimes kill them if they are a series threat.
I don’t know if they have an eye on one of my wives, or just want to prove themselves, and prove their worth in one last battle in the red earth of our existence. I don’t care why they do it. I just know that they aren’t going to get anywhere while I’m here. “Who is the King now?” I spit at them as trudge off the battlefield, and then I look around to those that have come to watch, to anyone that will hear, daring another challenger to come forward. No one ever does. They know who’s the king especially with the blood of a broken and battered rival lying in front of their eyes. Sometimes I feel an ache or a bruise from the fight, and I hide the pain as I walk proudly between my subjects, and slowly the chant goes up “Long Live King Leon.” Then I know I have won the day and my rule is safe, and I can make my way home, find some shade and allow wives to tend me.
Sometime I worry about the future… when I get old. What will happen then when a strong young contender comes along and has a go, and my reflexes are fading, I am not quite as strong as I thought, or they catch a lucky break and get me when I’m unsuspecting, a cheap shot in the dark? And that’s the end of me and my reign: The end of a King. I might be a star now, a great ruler for the ages, the pride of these lands, but one day it may end… and end badly. And then what will happen to my family? Who will protect them? That’s my greatest fear. To leave my family exposed and unprotected from the wolves that wait at the door for my strength to fail. All I can hope is that when that day comes, one of my sons has grown into me, and can look after things when I am gone.
I sometimes wonder if my wives would even care if I died, if they only are with me because I can provide for them and protect them? Maybe they think they would be better off without me. They pretty much run the kingdom anyway. I know I am being paranoid, and this is what happens to any King. The fear grips you, the realisation that everyone wants to be King. They eye you with suspicion and jealousy, even the closest and most loyal of your subjects, and it turns you slowly mad. I don’t even trust my wives anymore. I know they know that I am king, but it doesn’t hurt to remind them. I get tough on them, show them who is boss. Nothing serious. I don’t hurt them; more scare them to remind them who I am. Make sure they know what happens if they cross me.
You’d think four wives would be hard work, and it probably is for most creatures out there and in most places on this earth, but not me, and not where I am from. In our world the males are in charge. We make the decisions, and the females work; they bring home the buffalo, and we eat it. My job is to sit back and enjoy my creation, watch the little ones as they grow, teach them a lesson here and there like my father taught me, and occasionally scare off a rival when they come along looking for trouble. I am the lord protector. I guess that is what makes me the King. All kings have their subjects to protect and in turn the subjects provide for the king. And when it comes down to it, when shit turns ugly, when things are not as they should, when the tribe falls apart and we turn on each other, when we find ourselves without food or water or other necessities of life, then it is the kings that takes the pressures, faces up to the flack and accepts the consequences of their decisions. We are the ones that are overthrown, and torn apart by our subjects as they fight each other for the last scraps of the kingdom. That is my lot, what keeps me or my toes, what drives me on.
It;s not all the easy life, sitting back in the warm sun, eating mountains of delicious meat, sleeping in the afternoon under a great fig tree with one of my many beautiful wives. Yes those moments are grand, and I wouldn’t change them for the world, for to change them would be to change who I am… I was born a king and I’ll die a king, and as the King, I’ll eat my fill of meat first, before the others even have a taste because when the darkness is at the gate, I’ll need as much energy as possible to fight for the kingdom.
Sometimes my wives fight with each other. They seem to want to compete to see who I like better. I say to them, “you are all equal in different ways, all special in your own way.” Savannah gets the best food and food is one of my great loves. I think she knows that I love food and live for my meals, especially if it is beef or venison… and deer is her specialty; Kat is quite the formidable fighter and I respect that in a wife – tough and fearsome, it’s very attractive; Ness looks after the youngsters best, and there are a lot of them around, so that is important, for now and for my legacy. She is a lovely golden colour like the sunsets that set over the lands each day; Okavango is my favourite to be around, especially when it it’s late at night and cold and we are camped out in the wilderness. She’s always there, by my side, knowing when to nuzzle up, knowing when to rub up against me, and remind me what’s important in life. She’s loyal too and one should never discount loyalty when one is a leader. I trust all my wives, but Kat I’m sure she’s got secret plans to leave or to get rid of me if she senses an opportunity. She is too close to our son Leo (he’s named after me of course – Leo son of Leon), which worries me because there is only room for one king, and of all my children I think he has got the most potential to one day be king. I am probably being paranoid again. He is my son after all, and maybe he just reminds me of me, when I was his age. I probably should spend some more time with him, but it is hard for it is busy being king.
The other kids… well there are too many to remember. They are everywhere, all ages, all sizes, all colours. I have some beautiful daughters, fit to marry princes of other lands when their time comes. Some of my sons are really coming along with their fighting skills, but I can’t remember all there names. I hope each grows up to king like me, but I know that’s not possible. There is only one king, and if they want their own lands and families to rule, they will have to walk off and find them. I’m not likely to hand over what I have earned. It’s tough out there and no-one expects a free lunch – except the king of course ha-ha. I don’t know who would take over from me if it came to that. It’s not a system of first born, just whoever is the strongest, whoever can fight and kill off their rivals when I die.
How I die, that is another matter. I hope it is peaceful. One day, I will walk off. I won’t tell anyone. I’ll just get up and leave and that will be the end of it. I will keep walking until I can go now farther and then I’ll lie down in the sun, under a tree perhaps and I’ll let life slip from me as the sun sets across the savannah grasses. It will be a special moment. My life will set on the red-brown earth as the sun sets across the red-orange skies. I will become the earth again, returning to the universal life from whence I came. I’ll be found by some animals no doubt, a scavenger will sniff me out and eat me, dining handsomely on the morsels that made up my body. But that’s okay. I’d rather provide food for another than go to waste and then a little bit of me will be in all those animals that share in me. And there will be a lot because there will be a lot to go around. You don’t become king by being small. The king is big – big and scary and proud. I can make others legs turn to jelly just by walking near them. They can feel my presence for miles around, without even seeing me. They are scared. They respect me. They avoid me. Keep their distance. They know I am dangerous and if I turn on them they will not survive. But I don’t waste my energy. I just use my presence, and that is usually enough to keep my subjects in line. Remind them who is king.
My name is Leon and I am a lion. I am king of the jungle, and head of my pride. Don’t mess with me or I’ll rip you apart.
Time for another sleep. Time to roar to remind everyone I am here.