Friday, October 15, 2010
Nine months into his work, his family mysteriously disappeared from the base camp Flamenco was using while he was out gathering specimens. All that remained was their gear and mysterious, unclassifiable footprints. And blood. All of Flamenco's specimens had been released, the bottles and cages smashed with great force. The only clue he could find was a journal entry by Maria that spoke of oval eyes burning in the forest, of a strange chanting noise that the children were afraid of and one single, hastily scrawled word at the bottom of the page: Tiki.
The Maori believe in many forms of the Tiki, the legends spreading far and wide through culture and history. Tiki was the first man, carved of wood or formed from clay and blood, springing from the heart of a volcano. Tiki is a guardian of spiritual grounds, the protector of the island. Tiki is mischievous and sneaky, but can also be brave and loyal. Throughout the Pacific Islands, Tikis can be found, supporting structures, watching over temples, lurking in the forests.
Flamenco became determined that the ubiquitous Tikis, spread throughout the islands and worshiped by the natives, were based on fact, on living creatures of clay, stone, wood and blood living and feeding on interlopers and those that failed to respect the sacred islands.
Defiant, Flamenco dedicated his life to hunting these creatures down and killing or trapping them, attempting to find some clues to his family's disappearance. He became a legend in the Pacific – the lunatic man intent of capturing the small gods. They called him the Flamingo, and some were convinced he was crazy. Others warned him to beware – Not all of the Tiki were so small or so easily captured, for the heart of the volcanoes beat within them.
By the Fifties, The Flamingo had amassed hundreds of specimens, most damaged or killed, then trapped within jars of a mysterious liquid he had devised to keep them docile, to keep the magma within cooled. He collected from all around the world, but never again found his beloved family. In 1957, in the midst of a tropical storm, Flamenco vanished too, his home demolished as though by large animals, and every jar in the house was opened, their unusual contents missing.
In 1983, Deeply Dapper came across a storage unit in Hawaii that had come up for auction, the garage-like structure had been paid for years in advance and just recently run out. We snapped it up when the owner's original name was revealed – The Flamingo himself. Within, we found rows of shelves, filled with specimens, mostly conventional items. Rare and wonderful all the same, but nothing compared to a section at the back of the storage unit. There, we found jars filled with Tikis. Some looked long dead, others looked like they would move as soon as we turned our backs on them and all of them had a snippet of Flamenco's handwriting glued to the back, a kind of journal entry from the creature's capture.