Premiered – April Fools' Day, 2004
The Flight of the Zygo Mati tells a tale of one day in the life of the Earl of Cameseldom. Earl, as he likes to think of himself – and in line with what others apparently like to call him -- is living in the best of all possible worlds. Before the day is ended, however, he will at one point fear that this is true.
Earl's abrupt turnaround of fortunes is somehow connected with a pesky bird-like Zygo Mati which keeps flying about and cluttering up Earl's otherwise clear blue skies. Earl's perfectly blissful life is seriously interrupted, and in the wash of the Zygo Mati's careening flight, Earl is exposed to the seamier side of South Seldom.
For those who read preludes, continue on. Otherwise, link to Happiness is....
(Think of it as the Orchestra warming up.)
“Arrrggggg!” (All preludes should begin this way.)
Zygo’s response was typical of her fiery character, a product of an over-zealous imagination and an overt tendency toward dramatic relief in the midst of comedy. But the document before her refused to compromise its message. With seemingly no other alternative, her eyes still fixed on the inscriptions at hand, she inquired, “This is my next assignment!?” She looked up at her mentor in disbelief, searching for a hint that, indeed, all was not yet lost, that there was yet some faint light at the end of the tunnel, however dim. When the only response was a gentle smile, she added, “Surely, you’re kidding!”
Shirley’s immediate response was to ignore her student’s attempted humor. With a name like ‘Shirley’, one soon learned how to ignore puns, intentional or otherwise.
Kidding, on the other hand, was another matter. Shirley was not prone to kidding. A smiling, always humorous lady with a quick readiness toward reckless laughter, she, nevertheless, almost never kidded. Instead, she smiled at Zygo, and said nothing.
Zygo was left to the inevitable -- which she promptly tried to avoid. “But he’s a male chauvinist pig! With virtually no socially redeeming value!” When her overt attempt failed to elicit an appropriate response as well, she resorted to a more plaintive, childlike plea. “Why me?”
Shirley's smile never wavered. “Because he needs you.”
“He needs a whole platoon!” Zygo countered, “Of Amazons! Preferably, all of them with PMS!”
“Or a Major. Such as yourself.”
Acting-Major Zygo managed a weak smile at the recognition of her recently exalted rank. Then she glanced up and to the right, in her typical fashion, looking for divine guidance. The response, if indeed it was a response, came in the form of another question forming in her mind. “This Earl fellow,” she began, “Doesn’t he seem to you to be living in the... ever so distant past?”
Shirley’s eyebrows lifted slightly. “Based on the now in which you’ll be operating, I’d say, several centuries in the past.”
“At least,” Zygo agreed. Then, in an almost meek fashion, “Is that why he calls himself an ‘Earl’?”
“His name is Earl,” Shirley added, herself a bit bewildered by the whys and wherefores of certain male chauvinists, “But he also thinks of himself as royalty. To wit, an ‘Earl’.” Then she laughed. “Worse yet, he still thinks his home is his castle, and that he is the Lord of the Manor.” Shirley actually chuckled.
Zygo was becoming intrigued. Anyone who could make Shirley laugh... “That must be tough to do, living as he is at the beginning of the Twenty First Century.”
“As you’ve already pointed out,” Shirley replied, carefully choosing her words, “He’s a male chauvinist. That’s what they do best.”
“Pig,” Zygo added, with her patented mischievous smile.
Shirley ignored the clarifying remark. “But in the early Twenty First Century, such males were hardly an endangered species.”
“At least, they didn’t think they were,”Zygo replied. Then she grimaced, as she thought about that particular reality.
“It might be well for us to remember,” Shirley added, “This man was very carefully raised by a society which exalted his male chauvinism. Nothing in his experience has ever served to indicate otherwise. There’s been no feedback which might challenge his warped concept of how to live one’s life.”
“Until now.” Zygo’s smile turned to gleeful anticipation.
“Until now,” Shirley agreed, but with a much more compassionate smile.
For a moment, Zygo became quiet, easing back in her chair and draping one of her long legs across a padded armrest. With one arm resting on the other armrest and that hand supporting her head, delicately tilted, she used her other hand to brush her vibrant red hair from across her face. For the present moment, she was simply relaxed. Then her nose twitched slightly, as it often did, bringing her thoughts back to her mission. She lifted her head to look at Shirley, her eyes now twinkling at the intriguing possibilities.
“This guy has got it made,” she said. “So why would he want to change?”
Shirley’s reply was simple. “In order to grow. It’s something he decided a long time ago. Before he forgot and found his illusionary reality too tempting.”
“But all at once!? By choice?” When her mentor only shrugged her shoulders, Zygo added, “I mean, we’re talking about a whole new concept of ‘crash and burn’ here! Why in heaven’s name would he want it all to happen in a such a massive dose?”
Shirley phrased her words carefully. “Personal choice, I suppose. I can’t speak for him. Part of his uniqueness. I can think of several reasons why I might choose such a scenario: Do everything quickly and avoid a long, drawn-out affair. Or possibly, undergoing intensive shock therapy in order to ensure that a well-established pattern is, in fact, broken. But in the end, I don’t know. It’s simply his choice. And we will honor it.”
Shirley smiled again. “And you were specifically requested. Keep that in mind. The entire process is yours to orchestrate. Obviously, we all have a great deal of confidence in you.”
Zygo smiled at the compliment. The smile slipped into a chuckle, and then retreated to a more somber tone. As she began to think in a more focused manner, she said, “With everything happening in the way I’m envisioning it, it’s going to require something extraordinary just to get his attention. I mean: he may not even notice me. Unless, of course, I can come up with something quite... eye-catching.”
“And unique, if I know you!” When her student smiled at the compliment, Shirley added, “Don’t forget the lady.”
“How can I? She’s living a few centuries in the past herself!”
“You’ll want to do something to capture her attention as well. Of course, in her case, you’ll have help.”
“But with Earl, I’m on my own, right?” Zygo grimaced.
Shirley rose and smiled, signaling the end of their meeting. “I have the utmost confidence in you, Zygo Mati.” As her student smiled, she added, “Just remember to be creative. That’s what it’s all about.”
For a moment, Zygo remained in her chair, sitting quietly. Then, to herself, she mused, “The poor bastard!” The chuckling laugh that followed only served to emphasize her statement.
And with that parting shot, you’re obviously ready for:
1 -- Happiness Is...
BTW... Perhaps you, the reader, may have also failed to question your current life, or wonder why you're not living the life of a defrocked Catholic priest in Bhutan. So if we find Earl, fat, dumb and happy with his station in life (as many of you are), we may perhaps forgive him for taking his fiefdom for granted. Fiefdoms, of course, are not forever. Particularly, when a Zygo Mati flies by. Which Earl's was just about to do. I can't speak for your own Zygo Mati and it's timing.
I can't speak for your own Zygo Mati and it's timing.
2003© Copyright Dan Sewell Ward, All Rights Reserved [Feedback]