|A Snake in the Grass|
Laureen Burger Brooks
Bessst friendsss are hard to ssseparate. Ssso the way to do thisss isss to make sssure they are not bessst friendsss anymore.
"Timon, Pumbaa, and Simba are best friends and nothing can come between them. Joka, the python plots to leave Timon unprotected and in his clutches."
In the middle of getting ready for an early afternoon nap, Timon and Pumbaa encounter Kopa, the young prince of Pride Rock. Shortly after the cub arrives, his mother, Nala, follows and questions Kopa as to why he is upset. When Kopa refuses to answer, Timon and Pumbaa suggest that Nala leave him with them so that they can cheer him up. Nala agrees and departs for Pride Rock, leaving Kopa with Timon and Pumbaa.
With Nala gone, Kopa explains that his best friend, Afua, has befriended a cheetah cub named Beba, whom he is constantly comparing Kopa to. Timon and Pumbaa reflect on their own past arguments and tell Kopa that there had been a time when they and Kopa's father, Simba, had hated each other just as much, if not more. His curiosity piqued, Kopa asks for more details, and the two friends decide to tell him the tale of Joka the python.
Back when Simba still lived in the jungle with Timon and Pumbaa, Timon was stalked and attacked by a giant python named Joka. Before the python could eat Timon, Simba arrived and drove Joka off, saving Timon from further harm. With the danger temporarily abated, the three friends decided to stick together in order to prevent Joka from isolating Timon. Unbeknownst to the three friends, Joka was listening from the shadows and hatched a plan to break up the three's friendship in order to get Timon alone.
The next morning, Joka approached Pumbaa and told him that Timon had called him rank and unintelligent behind his back, which had been what had prompted Joka to attack him. The python went on to say that Timon only needed Simba to protect him and that Pumbaa was extraneous and unwanted. Joka then slithered off and ordered Pumbaa to forget that they had talked.
Once out of his daze, Pumbaa returned to his friends, who decided to cool off at the mudhole. Pumbaa vouched to take a nap instead, and Timon relented, commenting that it was only important for Simba to come anyway, since he would be the one fending off Joka. Hurt, Pumbaa wondered if Timon would even miss him.
On their way to the mudhole, Simba attempted to make conversation with Timon, but Timon only showed interest in keeping watch for Joka. Simba accused Timon of only wanting him around as a bodyguard, and though Timon denied the assertion, he jumped at a rustle in the underbrush, convincing Simba that he did indeed only want the lion around as a bodyguard.
The next morning, Joka told Simba that Timon did not like him, but needed him around to serve as his bodyguard. A while later, he informed Pumbaa that Timon would rather be with Simba than with Pumbaa. All the while, Joka rustled nearby leaves to scare Timon into acting grouchily around his friends, who slowly began to believe Joka's lies.
The following day, while relaxing with his friends at the mudhole, Timon declared that Pumbaa could never figure things out on his own, which prompted Pumbaa to disown Timon as his best friend and storm off into the jungle. At first, Timon assumed that Pumbaa would return, but as the day wore on, Pumbaa did not return, and Timon grew weary of waiting.
Timon suggested to Simba that they take a trip to the waterfall, but Simba accused Timon of only wanting him to come as a bodyguard. Timon denied Simba's allegations, but Simba refused to go to the waterfall and instead set off in search of Pumbaa. A terrified Timon attempted to call Simba back, but Simba disappeared into the underbrush, leaving Timon alone in the jungle.
Meanwhile, Pumbaa sat in dejection on the bank of the waterfall, reflecting on his argument with Timon. Joka approached and told Pumbaa that Timon did not care if he returned, as Simba was his new best friend. The python then found Simba searching for Pumbaa and told him that Timon had reunited with Pumbaa and that neither wanted Simba to return. Though at first angry, Simba slowly came to realize that Joka's message did not match up and could be a trap.
Across the jungle, Joka attacked Timon and began to wrap him in tight coils. Just in time, Pumbaa arrived and attempted to spear Joka with his tusks, but the python continually moved Timon in the way, preventing Pumbaa from getting a clear shot. Before long, Simba arrived, and together, he and Pumbaa forced Joka to release Timon. In defeat, Joka tried to reconcile with the three, but Simba simply tossed the python into a nearby ravine, and Timon tossed rocks in for good measure.
After the story comes to an end, Kopa wonders if the three had reconciled their friendship. Timon and Pumbaa explain that they had made up, though they had only stopped believing Joka's lies when they had heard the truth from one another. After a moment of thought, Kopa decides to talk with Afua, as Afua may not know he is hurting Kopa's feelings by comparing him to Beba. Timon and Pumbaa praise his decision and remind him that he has talents of his own that Beba may lack.
In better spirits, Kopa scampers off to see Afua, passing his mother along the way. Nala comments to Timon and Pumbaa that Kopa seems much happier, and the two agree, explaining that it had simply been a disagreement between friends. Nala thanks them for their help and starts to leave, but as she departs, she overhears Timon and Pumbaa begin to argue over who trusts the other more. However, she is not bothered, for she knows that nothing can come between true friends for long.
|The Lion King: Six New Adventures|