Search for Michael Rockefeller in New Guinea Part 9

About the search for Michael Rockefeller, son of New York mayor Nelson Rockefeller, history of his mysterious disappearance.

THE MICHAEL ROCKEFELLER RIDDLE

"We made peace signs with our palms open--no weapons--and they stood still; kind of hesitant. I got a long, close look at them. And that's when I saw the white bloke."

Hogan raised his hand to forestall my interjection. "I know what you're going to say--he might have been an albino. But I've seen plenty of Asmat albinos, and I'm telling you this fellow was white. First of all, he wore specs--glasses. Then he had straight blond hair, not curly, and a big straggly beard. The Asmats can't grow beards. He was taller than the rest. And he wore a strip of cloth around his waist; the others weren't wearing a stitch between 'em.

"He was staring directly at us, but he gave us no special greeting, no sign of recognition. He just stared like the rest. After a few moments the whole bunch turned away from us, heading back the way they'd come. Well, I was pretty curious and followed them a few steps. That's when some of the bucks turned nasty. I saw them raising those long barbed spears of theirs, shaking them up and down the way they do when they're getting ready to throw.

"That was enough for me. I got back to my mates as fast as I could. We had no guns or anything on us. And that crowd disappeared in the scrub. We never saw them again.

"The funny thing is," Hogan added, "that I never thought of young Rockefeller until we got back to Australian territory, to Port Moresby. I looked up his picture in a newspaper file. And let me tell you--if that geezer wasn't him, it must have been his bloody twin brother!"

When I matched Hogan's account with the mass of similar snippets in circulation, I was struck by two alternative solutions nobody seems to have considered so far.

There may be several other white men living a tribal existence in the remoter regions of New Guinea. This would explain the bewildering change of locale in these stories that had Michael cropping up in places hundreds of miles apart.

The second solution is admittedly the most way-out of all. Those who knew Michael Rockefeller have found it impossible to believe in his prolonged captivity. They reason that anyone as intelligent and enterprising as he would have managed to escape or at least send out a message of some kind.

Quite true--providing he wanted to escape. But there remains the bare possibility that Michael has deliberately renounced civilization. That he decided to make his way in a land where his family's name and wealth counted for nothing . . . where he would be valued for himself alone. He was, by nature, a passionate outdoorsman, fascinated by the primitive life and constantly drawn toward the wilderness. He could, conceivably, have made friends with the Asmats and become a kind of honorary tribal member. And he must have realized that if the outside world learned of this, they would pressure him into returning to the plastic artificiality he had shaken off.

It is, as stated, a way-out solution. But then, New Guinea is a way-out country. Stranger things have happened there than a billionaire's son's return to nature in the raw.

SOURCE: Copyright 1976 by John Godwin. Reprinted by permission of Harold Matson Co., Inc.

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