The Story of Verm

In the mid-70s, fabled Finnish anthropologist Iso Effstop spied an unusual primate wandering the African savannah. The creature’s white skin was scarred and filthy and he wore nothing but a porcupine skin loincloth and a Nikkormat. Effstop set a trap baited with pretzels and hefeweizen and captured “The Rodent Boy.”

Back at Effstop’s camp, the cook Nigel was given the task to clean the specimen. “Boy, you’re covered in vermin,” declared Nigel.

“Me. Vermin,” said the boy, displaying a rudimentary command of English.

Effstop’s command of English was not much better, but he proceeded to interview the boy and the following story came out (originally published in Weakly Whirled News as “Verm the Rodent Boy saves Elvis from Alien Attack”).

Vermin was born to a privileged couple that invested their fortune pursuing careers as professional nature photographers. Soon they were nearly broke and completely forgotten. In a last ditch effort to gain recognition, they moved the family to Africa to shoot the noble beasts of the Dark Continent.

Things went poorly in Africa, with Verm’s dad losing his wife, the Nikkor 400mm, and half his shutter finger betting on high stakes mumbletypeg. Left with only a 135mm lens, Verm’s dad chose to bait animals in close enough to shoot. To do this he would cut Verm’s palm with a pocketknife, then stake the youngster down to the ground. This went on for quite some time and Verm became comfortable in close proximity to animals. Then one day, Verm’s father tied him to a tree to lure in gorillas. Tragically, Verm’s dad forgot he had a Baby Ruth in the pocket of his photo vest.

Weeks later Verm had lost so much weight he slipped out of the ropes holding him to the tree. He dug through the bones, recovered the Nikkormat and the pocketknife and trekked out into the wild. When not foraging for food, Verm would open the back of the Nikkormat, hold thin leaves against the focal plane and watch the images dance on the leaves. He took the knife and would etch the patterns in the leaves, which he then traded to the animals for favors. He learned to speak to the animals, and whether it was reptile, bird, mammal, fish or amphibian he could say, “The camera loves you Baby. Give me sexy!”

Fast forward four decades and the Verm has valiantly struggled to fit in to “civilization.” While his social skills are still unpolished, he took quickly to both film and digital image capture. And though Silverback is his adopted native language, he has worked hard on his English skills, scored in the 98th percentile on his GREs, then, rather than wasting those skills writing The Great American Novel, he has instead blessed the world with his blog. For obvious reasons, he chooses not to bait or call in his photo subjects.

Verm currently lives in a van with his girlfriend who is half monkey.