Lightning Bolt George (Short Story)


Back in the day, there was a guy named Grunt who went wandering in the wilderness. Everyone assumed that he had gotten lost because he was such a prolific dumbass. When he stumbled back into camp, his eyes stared wildly, which disturbed people at first.

Racing to the stream, he drank gallons. His body bruised and scraped, his pelt hung tattered in shreds. Grunt had been in several close scrapes, and he was starving for anything to eat. After he devoured the fatty skin scraps, which had been tossed in the dirt for the dogs, he looked around.

People eyed him cautiously.

It appeared that he wanted to say something about his ordeals, but the others weren’t all that receptive. Gaining his courage, Grunt ran up to the grand cave mouth and demanded everybody in there stop screwing each other and come out to hear him.

“Listen! Listen to me!”

Since people generally fucked four times a day, it wasn’t such a hassle. Things were by rote anyway, but Grunt’s nonsensical protestations were annoying, nonetheless. They emerged to grumble about crazy Grunt, and they whispered snide digs to one another out of his earshot.

When enough of the tribe collected around him, Grunt gazed at them purposefully, with his signature wild-man eyes that he’d pilfered from the owls.

People badgered, eager to get back to mindless copulating. “Yeah, what the hell do you want?”

Grunt shouted, “I have seen something!” He pointed off to the horizon up at the clouds.

That jolted them. Several peered over in that direction, curious.


“What’s there?”

“I have seen a vision!” he proclaimed, sounding as sincere as he could muster.

It turned out that when Grunt went wandering across the tundra scavenging for anything nutritious, he became very dehydrated, completely emaciated from lack of sustenance.

A raging rainstorm then pounded his head and blurred his vision. Unceasing lightning flashes terrorized him.

Earlier in that same trek, Grunt had pondered a few philosophical realities. Food was better than no food. Water was better than no water. Power was better than childlike powerlessness et cetera. When his brain suddenly merged all these competing ideas into an all-encompassing encapsulation, he imagined there must be an ultimate good, powerful, awesomeness above all the rest. What would that ultimate awesome powerful thing be?

Lightning strikes provided him a partial answer that night. Immense energy releases and wanton displays of force were beyond any kind of human capacity, clearly. Illuminating the night in bursts of terrible wrath, ripping open the sky and hacking it apart at will, this was something Grunt and everyone else needed to pay attention to. Big time.

When Grunt finally attempted to pass on this warning to his tribe, he didn’t have the articulation required, because, of course, he was a dumbass. What he lacked in erudition he compensated for in commitment. Boy was he committed to explaining the power of the lightning bolts. Magnitudes greater than the tribe and its meager use of fire. Shit got real when the sky opened up on a motherfucker, or grunts to that effect.

After a few minutes of Grunt’s mad whirling and hand gestures, his fragments of thought, the people began to disperse. Shaking their heads, they scooted off again. It was a bright, clear day, no rain in sight. The last lightning was days ago. Plus everyone had been quite safe huddling at the back of the cave in the protective orgy.

Feeling his moment slipping away rapidly, Grunt then remembered a man who had once commanded the entire tribe’s attention and reverence. “Remember George!?”

Stopping in their tracks, the people turned back to face Grunt.

“Yeah, George. Huge, huge guy.”

“Whatever happened to George?”

“He could lift a boulder up and drop it on a saber-tooth tiger’s head.”

“That guy was strong.”

“Didn’t a Mammoth impale him on a tusk?”

“No. Grizzly bear.”

“I heard it was a wolf pack.”

Old-timer piped up, “Well, the way I heard it, ole George was into them magical mushrooms and he walked himself right off a cliff.”

“Wait, wait. What about George?”

They all hushed and turned back to Grunt for the news, but he instead waited smugly for all of them to quiet down.


Grunt pointed up at the clouds. “The lightning. It looked like George. But big! As big as the sky. Lightning Bolt George. He could lift the whole mountain and drop it on all our heads. That’s how powerful George is.”


“That, that, that is powerful.”

“You better believe it, people!” shouted Grunt. “Lightning Bolt George is the most powerful of them all! It’s George, and he’s up there right now!”

His tribe considered Grunt’s story, and they cautiously trudged back to their hunting and gathering.

That evening, and for several more after, Grunt dreamed about Lightning Bolt George. First in awe, and then more familiar, Grunt asked Lightning Bolt George questions, such as, “What should I do?”

Lightning Bolt George commanded, “Do good stuff.”

“Oh. Okay. Like what?”

“Like a big celebration!” said George. “And I’ll be there too.”

When Grunt awoke in the morning, he remembered those momentous instructions from on high. Now it was time to wrangle the tribe too, those ignorant commoners who hadn’t spoken directly with Lightning Bolt George.

They had best listen though, if they knew what was good for them. Of this Grunt was sure.

Grunt took the morning to paint a fashionable lightning bolt, diagonally across his chest. He touched up his face with a few smears of the silvery crushed berries.

Then it was showtime.

“Lightning Bolt George has come to me in the night!”

This time, the tribe remained curious and respectful, as Grunt began his presentation.

“He is coming!”

Eyes darted all around the sky. It wasn’t even rainy. What did he mean?

“Oh, he’s coming all right, as our guest. We must all welcome Lightning Bolt George with a party!”

Thrown off track, the tribe broke down into chaotic confusion.

One of the skeptics shouted above the others, “Give us a break, Grunt. Your story is so inconsistent I don’t even know where to start, man.”

“Silence!” Grunt shouted him down, and the preparations commenced.

A middle-aged woman looked up to Grunt, who had perched himself up on a boulder, for much-needed guidance. “What do we do, Grunt?”

Grunt peered down from the tribe’s central rock. “We dance! Drop a beat, drummer boyz.” Grunt pointed to the kids to bang on their hollowed-out log.

He dipped his shoulders and pumped with the rhythm. “That’s a good sound. Gimme a heartbeat. Bump a bump a bump…”

More kids grabbed for old leg bones and sticks, and they all pounded out a danceable tempo.

Pulsing up and down above them all, up on that boulder, Grunt started the dance. Already the girls jumped up and down. The others swayed, very near the point of no return.

Grunt, in his silver-berry makeup, called out across the gathered, “We dance for Lightning Bolt George! He wants to tingle our butts and get them hopping. It is his way!”

Within minutes, the tribal party kicked into high gear, louder and more frenetic. Grunt flailed, up on his boulder as flamboyant as any.

The people soon reassessed the situation.

“I didn’t know there would be a festival involved.”

“This isn’t so bad.”

“Where’s Lightning Butt George?”

“Well, he’s welcome whenever he gets here.”

Grunt boogied his way to the food stocks, and he waved people over with his hands. “Let’s munch!”

The tribe danced en masse and ate and drank the fermented berry nectar. Kids pushed into the center of it all to show off their moves and their drum beats. Romance filled the air. Couples retreated to the dark cave above for exciting, aggressive sexual prowess, as in younger days.

Meanwhile, Grunt carved a lightning bolt icon into the largest brown gourd bowl, and he placed it atop his boulder.

“Take it down a notch, DJ,” he instructed his rhythm section. “Hey, everyone! This is the offering bowl. It is how you should show your appreciation for Lightning Bolt George and all that he has done for us.”

“What? What did he do?”

“He keeps us safe. He watches over us in the storms.”

“Oohh. Yeah, yeah. I can see that.”

“He smites and zaps at our enemies with his mighty flashing roars.”

“Well I’m just glad he’s on our side.”

Grunt stood tall above them all. “So give a little back to Lightning Bolt George. Let him know you love him.”

“I love him.”

“Me too.”

“Yeah, everybody loves George.”

Grunt pointed to the bowl. “Then show it! Let’s see the love, people.”

Food, trinkets, tools, weapons, the bowl overflowed very soon with offerings, which Grunt would pass on to Lightning Bolt George, someday.

Reborn, Grunt was then enshrined as Lightning Bolt George’s intermediary and confidant. Life in the village returned to normal, but the symbol of the lightning bolt featured prominently in the cookware and also the war paint.

These were Lightning Bolt George’s people, and he would never, ever let them down.

Thus Mumbojumbology was born, and it has thrived ever since.

True story. Sacred story.


Joe Giambrone
 is the author of:

Wrecking Balls
Hell of a Deal: A Supernatural Satire

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