Kickapoo Edwards and the Search for the Philosopher’s Stone

Kickapoo Edwards, son of Biff and Beylene Edwards of Weeder’s Clump, Illinois, had been inspired by his parents to be a hero who would sail the seven seas, travel to the four corners of the world, and do battle with formidable adversaries. His first assignment was to guide and protect Rosetta Stone, professor of Archeology at San Andreas Fault State University, as she traveled to a remote area of South America to find the philosopher’s stone. This mission would take Rosetta deep into territory inhabited by fierce headhunters. If she were successful, she would gain tenure at SAFS.

On the morning of departure, Kickapoo was introduced to another member of the expedition, a soft-spoken, mild-mannered, avuncular sort of man named Mooker G. Tondouri. He was a linguistic expert who could speak 20 different languages fluently. Furthermore, he had walked beside the Ganges, fished in the Liffy, and traded heated words with Wayne Newton. Since Rosetta admitted that she could use all the help she could get, she hired Mooker G. Tondouri to be a translator should the party encounter the headhunters. Rosetta had also secured the assistance of five graduate students, the department secretary, two members of the university’s track team and an old hippie who bore an uncanny resemblance to Willie Nelson.  

Flight arrangements were perfect and before they knew it the little party was entering the jungle to search for the elusive philosopher’s stone, that source of amazing power that humans had sought for centuries.

For the first four days nothing threatening happened. According to the map, the party would reach the location of the stone in two more days. It was mid-afternoon of the fifth day when danger threatened for the first time. The jungle instantly became completely silent. 

Those of you who have never been to the jungle cannot possibly imagine how noisy it is. All kinds of sounds clashing and producing an incredulous cacophony of noise—buzzing, shrieking of birds, slithering, screeching, rasping, tapping, chirping. Suddenly it all stopped as if Mother Nature were holding her breath. 

“Sure is quiet,” Mooker G. Tondouri whispered.

“Yeah, too quiet,” the Willie Nelson look-alike added.

“Why did you have to say that?” Kickapoo said, “What do you think this is, a jungle or a cowboy movie?” 

Kickapoo crept forward to investigate. He had not gone 50 paces when he was suddenly confronted by a band of headhunters who surrounded him so quickly that it was pointless for him even to try to draw his Swiss Army Knife. The headhunters were jabbering excitedly; and the chief, who looked like an underfed Chris Christie, was pointing at him as if to order his death. 

“We’re done for!” Kickapoo yelled to Rosetta.

Rosetta promptly did a Tim Tebow, this time in mute supplication; but Mooker G. Tondouri thought otherwise, and said, “No, you misunderstand their excitement. These people think that Kickapoo is Mick Jagger, who is their god come to pay them a visit and give them satisfaction and a code ethic to live by. If we play this right, we are not in trouble. Kickapoo, you have to pretend to be Mick Jagger.” 

Kickapoo replied, “I’m not Mick Jagger, but I can play him on TV.”

“This is not the time for levity,” Rosetta opined.

In response Kickapoo scowled, howled at the sky in defiance, and strutted around with an intensity that would have put Mick Jagger to shame. 

When Kickapoo did that, the headhunters jumped up and down in a frenzy, shouted approval, lifted him on their shoulders, and did a wild Dionysian dance that reminded Rosetta of The Texas Stomp.  

After intense celebration calmed down, the headhunters escorted the party to their village, where the villagers asked Kickapoo all kinds of important questions which Mooker G. Tondouri translated.

“Are you personally acquainted with Hedda Hopper?”

“How may I obtain a talking head?”

“What does Operation Head Start mean?”

“Do you know a band called The Headstone Circus?” 

“What is the product called Head and Shoulders?” 

“Is ‘Heads Up’ a game or a special dish of food?”

“What does ‘head over heels’ mean?”

“Does a head shop sell heads as well as buy them?”

“——————————-?” (Translation doesn’t make sense in our language.)

“What do civilized people do to get a head?” 

The chief finally called a halt to all the questions and asked Kickapoo to sing a song. 

Kickapoo looked helplessly at Rosetta and Mooker G. Tondouri and said, “I don’t know any of Mick Jagger’s songs. I could never remember the words.” 

Mooker saved the day, pointing out that the headhunters could not understand the language and so the words to Mick’s songs didn’t matter anyway. It was the gimmick of the physical gestures that made Mick famous.  All Kickapoo had to do was sing any song and strut and prance around with the exaggerated intensity of a musical Rumpelstiltskin. 

Kickapoo remembered a country/western song “Whoever Turned You on, Gal, Forgot to Turn You Off.” He sang it to perfection and received four standing ovations. 

After the festivities, Rosetta asked the chief about the philosopher’s stone. The chief told her that one of his hunters had encountered a stranger in the jungle who gave him a map showing the location of the stone to be in Perm, Russia. The chief sold the map to Rosetta for a lifetime supply of Adolph’s Meat Tenderizer.  

That night Rosetta’s brave little party slipped away and made plans to go to Perm, Russia.  


Dr.  Logsdon is the much-loved English professor who has inspired students at Western Illinois University and Eureka College for many years. He lives in Eureka with his wife, Mary, and writes a weekly story for the Woodford County News Bulletin.