Paros -- Nine Months Prior
Premiered 9/9/9 (9 September 2009)
The continuation of The Myth and Legend of D'PTah, an original novel by Dan Sewell Ward.
Paros -- Nine Months Prior
At the sunset hour of yet another warm day two men were seen talking near a little used outlying wharf of Parikia Harbour. Their location might have been identified in another time and space as being not unlike a distantly remembered Grandfathers' Pond. But in this case, the men were aboard a small motor yacht borrowed from the son of a local friend. They were moored perhaps twenty feet from the furtherest extent of the dilapidated salt encrusted pilings and where the allegedly seaworthy vessel swayed gently with the remnants of each passing swell... and where certain uninvited guests would be less likely to drop by.
The craft and both of its occupants were seemingly oblivious to the surrounding lightning, exploding thunderclouds, and various other distant indicators of possibly divine displeasure. With the only sounds being those of distant thunder, neither of the two men took the time to observe with appropriate awe what might best have been described as dozens of Tesla coils gone berserk... or else an impromptu tribute to Hollywood special effects. In the latter case, the show had apparently been designed for theater in the round... which begged the question of where the director, camera, and all those other people who quietly watched the action and tried to avoid being a distraction and a nuisance had stood during the production.
As an accompaniment to the action, the City of Prague Philharmonic Orchestra and Chorus might have been warming up and preparing to perform their version of the Pirates of the Caribbean (Curse of the Black Pearl . Or perhaps, the East Village Opera Company readying Le Nozze Di Figaro, aka the “Overture” . We mention the latter if only for it's rampant enthusiasm. In either case everything was in place for a event full of sound and fury and signifying far more than William S. might have ever imagined.
There was indeed a marked uniqueness about that momentous day in late May. The sunset had been glorious with light reflecting in myriad ways off billowing and threatening thunderclouds. Each episode suggested the onset of tumultuous weather... or alternatively the expected descent of divine forces in a spectacular array of natural pyrotechnics. The sky's turmoil was contradicted by the relatively calm waters about the island – an oddness which suggested to long time residents of the maritime occupation... the strong advisability of staying close to home... just in case Neptune was contemplating yet one more of his demonstrations of raw, physical power. The fact that His attention had not yet included the island of Paros was not something upon which one could rely when making basic survival plans. The two men as strangers in an ancient land had noted only the gentle motion of the boat and the aesthetic qualities of a sunset lit sky. They were, as the saying goes, oblivious to the obvious. Greek beer will do that.
Being sages of a sort the two men were talking on a wide variety of subjects. They were agreeing and disagreeing, proclaiming and deriding alleged profundities, lacing every statement with mock drama and attempted humor, and as the night waned, partaking more and more of a local strong beverage. The latter was a toxic-to-tourists concoction akin to a dark ale, allegedly brewed locally and consumed from constantly recycled amber colored bottles. The ale added significantly to the men's light-hearted and jovial conversation, one spiced occasionally with cynicism and/or heresy. Such latter characteristics are two of the primary ingredients of the type of light-hearted humor which both men were prone to use for lack of alternative entertainment.
The apparent ease they displayed in their casual attitudes and their wide-ranging discussions were contradicted by the topics they chose -- events of the distant past that still held considerable power and authority over the imaginations and dictates of many of their contemporaries. Said contemporaries were in fact prone to take strong offense toward the expression of such alternative views. But, inasmuch as many parts of their discussion had already been written down by one or both of the men and had thereafter been disseminated widely -- each case being properly attributed to each of their reputations -- both men were out of favor in many segments of societies. This included specifically the governments and corporations of their native lands. They were thus obliged to remain under the minimal protection of one of several beneficent sovereigns. Naturally, each of said sovereigns had their own hidden agendas and reasons for the compassionate embrace of men from other parts of the world, the latter who were politically incorrect, frowned heavily upon, and/or ostracized.
One of the ostracizes was a slight man of forty five with a dark complexion and the remnants of a once healthy stock of black hair. He was dressed in standard Mediterranean casual wear complete with light colored clothing and brown sneakers -- and thus only slightly out of date of current local fashions. He also sported a garish hat -- if only for reasons of proclaiming his right to do so. His older companion was a robust man of sixty with hazel-greenish eyes, ruddy brown hair, and just enough gray on his temples to stake a claim of wisdom. Unlike his companion, he was dressed in a casual garb more appropriate to beachcombing on an island located in an entirely different ocean. He also sported a trimmed beard that partially hid his age and highlighted a perpetual grin on his face, a grin seemingly intended to disarm.
The first man was Pyotr Alexandrovich Spasopeskovsky. He was Peter (Pete) to his friends of which he had at least four, and occasionally he was Petya, albeit primarily to his Russian acquaintances of which he had more than four -- or at least those who were willing to acknowledge their heritage. For our purposes, and in order to avoid incriminating Slavic innocents, we will tend to use Pete – except when we want to make a point.
In short, Pete was a Russian Jew now living in Israel in order to avoid persecution for his minority religious, philosophical and/or political views... and the fact that his full name was impossible to include on most standard forms of identification in other less accommodating countries. An internationally well known researcher, scholar and writer, he had found himself on the island of Paros for a month's tenure, where he was engaged in teaching all manner of alternative and slightly subversive topics.
The second man was Daniel Arthur Melke, an American gentile now living in Switzerland in order to avoid persecution for his minority religious, philosophical and/or political views. Daniel was perhaps less well known and thus his time at the university constituted only a mere week. He also taught all manner of alternative and slightly subversive topics.
The meeting of Pete and Daniel might have been described as: east meets west... except for the commonality in their alternative and did we mention subversive thinking. They were the quintessential Israeli and American citizens meeting on the neutrality of a Greek Island in the middle of the Aegean Sea. Only in this case their agendas were so far removed from their respective governments as to constitute intellectual insurrection. Said insurrection had been the cause of Peter and Daniel's separately seeking political asylum from the most wretched of third world countries and their demented leaders.
For Pete... well Pete was Jewish; enough said. For Daniel (decidedly non-Jewish, but nevertheless circumcised), it had been a matter of Executive Orders, No Fly lists, No Due Process, and incidentally, No Longer the Land of the Free. It had been a clear cut case of tentative suspicions based upon unfounded allegations of his possibly being guilty of acts he might potentially commit at some unknown time in the future. Maybe. It's just that we can't be too careful nowadays. It should also be clear that the exact nature and detail of such suspicions, charges, accusations, and guilt by association cannot be discussed in the light of day, any court of law with jurisdiction in the matter, and/or in any mainstream coffee house... and equally obviously for reasons of national security. 
Pete's escape from a near equivalent totalitarianism had been accomplished in his youth, when he still lived with his parents and family. Because it had been so many years since their personal exodus, the healing balm of time had reduced its memory to the stuff of intellectual rather than emotional fodder. Unless, of course, you pushed the envelope a bit too much and triggered a deeply buried hurt. Occasionally this happened -- like a movie that was a bit too close to home; for example The Lives of Others. But Pete was resilient; he was capable of quickly bouncing back. It might be said that such an ability pretty much came with the territories from whence he hailed.
Daniel had far less depth to explore concerning his emotional response to being ostracized. He was to all appearances oblivious to such mundane matters (perhaps by means of a degree of denial). From Daniel's point of view his case was hardly worth discussing. Instead, on this particular evening he was extemporizing upon such covert ideas as an egomaniacal Abraham, a treacherous Jacob, and a control freak Moses. Peter, or more likely, Pete, was mostly laughing and trying to reply.
“You're right, of course. For a man to assume that his covenant with a supreme being would allow his descendants special provision until the end of time... yes, that might seem a bit overdone... especially to one who was not among the chosen few. I, on the other hand... being chosen...”
“Did we mention the fact he was a homicidal lunatic, ready to kill his own son on the basis of voices he was hearing in his head and who he unilaterally identified as the voice of God? Today we'd lock him up for such ravings.” Daniel's smile had a mischievous quality to it.
“And yet you must allow for the possibility that he was truly communicating with his creator.”
“And which you must allow is and must be a matter of unsubstantiated faith and/or simple insanity,” Daniel replied.
“But it is the nature of faith to be unsubstantiated." Pete then shrugged. "And perhaps to be slightly insane." But then he surged back. "But the gist of such faith would also suggest that the Jewish race is perhaps the end result of divinely ordained genetic experiments.”
“Said experiments which have possibly gone awry?
“In my case, a distinct possibility.” Both men laughed, toasted each other with raised bottles, and took additional refreshment to fortify them for... well... whatever. Such fortification was, after all, only an excuse. Typically it was for the purposes of fornication... but not on this particular evening. The ladies were otherwise engaged. A blithering intellectual discussion would have to suffice.
“I'll readily admit; there is a certain appeal to thinking one has superior genes – something that somehow sets one apart from the vast menagerie of what we might call the willfully ignorant. I, for one, have had to assume the reason for the apparent mindlessness of so many alleged members of Homo sapiens (wise human)... has been that there exist a whole host of different subspecies in the human race. This might explain why so many can be fooled so often by so few. It's in the very nature of the survival of the various subspecies in competition with the other theoretically lesser subspecies.”
Daniel seemed to consider Pete's argument. To that end he took another healthy swig [pardon the contradiction], while Pete immediately saw the wisdom of Daniel's response to his theory and quickly followed suit. With a sudden hint of a grin, Daniel made use of a century long traditional wisdom generator -- that of mind altering drink to dramatically increase the possibilities of innovative thought. This led to, “Perhaps it's not genetics so much as environment.” When his younger companion looked askance at the suggestion, he continued, “Are so many people ignorant because of a genetic inability to be anything else, or has their ignorance been force fed onto them by an educational system bent upon dumbing down everything that moves? Is it breeding or the lack of a complete education?”
Pete considered the idea before replying. “While I'm not willing to discount the likelihood that genetics play the major part, I would be willing to concede that a... significant percentage of demonstrated stupidity might very well stem from the environmental angle. Obviously many young children often have the limitless possibilities of their lives routinely beaten out of them. Perhaps the Jews educate their children far better than gentiles. As Albert Einstein once said... a Jew of some distinction, I might add... and I'm paraphrasing him, 'It's amazing that curiosity survives the educational process.' All you have to do is see the variety of students we've encountered here on Paros to realize education can be a boon or a bust.”
“A bust you say? Okay,” Daniel seemed to grudgingly admit, albeit with a smile, “let's assume Abraham was genetically altered to achieve greatness, and thus could pass on his superior genes to his descendants. Like for example, Jacob? Moses? Are you kidding me?”
“Yeah, yeah, you're still on that kick! Okay... I'll readily admit Moses was more than a little... control oriented. Case in point, when he did not want others to join him and Aaron before the Ark of the Covenant. But Jacob's so-called treachery – that aspect of his character of which you seem to find so wretched -- was not so much a blight on his character as a sign of the times.”
“Nonsense,” Daniel was quick to retort. “The fact remains Jacob had been welcomed into two countries, provided with exceptional hospitality in both cases -- one actually offering to connect their blood lines with Jacob's in a royal marriage. In the other case, the hosts even shared their food at a time of famine throughout their world. Such hospitality is not a sign of the times such that...” His voice trailed off as he watched Pete's attention to the argument flicker and then fade altogether.
Peter's interest had found an opportunistic time to transfer his focus. Daniel followed his eyes to see two people standing on the lightly sanded beach nearby, looking to the west. The man stood with his arms at ease with hands clasped behind his back. The woman at his side and leaning slightly forward, stood with one arm cradling the other at the elbow and the other forearm raised in front of her. Neither was saying anything, seemingly content to pose for GQ or Vanity Fair, whichever might be most appropriate. With the nearness of a medieval castle, reputedly built using the remains of an ancient temple dedicated to Asclepius, the photo op was apparently complete for any number of purposes. Perhaps for the cover of a new Medical Vanity GQ. What was even more tantalizing was that the woman seemed to be watching Pete and Daniel! Yes! Even studying them.
Peter's voice was uncharacteristically subdued, as it fully emptied his lungs in a long, drawn out breath. “Wow. Now there is one gorgeous woman. Not to take anything away from your Emily, but that red headed goddess standing there is... well, you know... ”
“I think the technical term... is 'Drop Dead Gorgeous'!”
“Yeah. And then some.” Daniel's voice was low and throaty. But then with his usual bantering style and never taking his eyes off the woman, “I though you were off women these days.”
“Not really,” Pete said, his eyes focused exclusively on his recently proclaimed, Drop Dead Gorgeous babe. “Just the teacher's dilemma of not toying with the young lovelies who just happen to be students. And there's really an outstanding crop this year.”
“But the lady on the beach there... wow! And best of all... not a student. More like... like my long sought after... fantasy woman. I say, again... Wow!”
“This is obviously one of those rare occasions when two independently oriented and yet discerning individuals can agree completely. I'll meet your 'wow' and raise you two 'holy cows'!” For a moment neither said anything. Then Daniel broke the silence with a sudden insight. “You know... it's weird... but I think I recognize her.”
“Oh give me a break. You're not that much of a stud.”
“Actually I am. But in this case... it's more like I've seen her photo... maybe something on a poster.”
“Oh? Well... maybe she's movie star. That I could believe.”
“She's kind of tall. How many parts could she play with most of the Hollywood male jocks being so notably short?”
“No idea.” Pete was still mesmerized. Then he asked, “I can't remember... which of the Greek goddesses had such magnificent red hair?”
“No idea. Most of the marble statutes really don't convey the color.”
“No matter. I just know that I'm going to have wet dreams about her.”
A brilliant flash of lightning off to their left grabbed their attention for just a moment, as well as causing the couple's attention to waver as well. Then as if given permission by example, a massive lightening stroke lit up the northern sky, almost ninety degrees from the first. Two more strikes lit the sky further to their right, and in the process of encircling them with an ever tightening loop, several strikes were seen first toward Naousa and then further to the east above the low lying hills. Both men were now pivoting to see the light show on all sides, even a notable performance to the southeast. But then these initial strikes were abruptly followed by a strange lull – as if the display had been staged merely for distraction and not necessarily as a harbinger of things to come.
“There's some weird stuff going on around here,” Daniel said with a degree of conviction.
“Like I told you,” Pete said, “This island of Paros is special. Nothing like it anywhere. Except maybe your Crestone...”
“Dang!” Daniel suddenly noticed. “The lady of the night's gone. How did we miss that?”
Pete seemed equally disappointed. “They're probably taking cover from the storm.”
Daniel looked to the sky for a moment. “Interesting concept... this taking cover. Should we do so?”
“Naw. The sea's calm, haven't heard any thunder close by... suggesting that the lightning is nowhere near. Besides, what's the hurry? I haven't finished my beer yet.”
“Well, let's see... we're surrounded by a major weather conflagration?”
“Yes, but obviously we're... probably... in the eye of the storm.”
When this seemed to be a possibility, Daniel asked, “Of course, if the storm is moving, so is the eye of the storm... and at some point...”
“Not to worry. It's only ten minutes to shelter, five if we hustle. Besides, you're not getting off that easy. My grandfather's name was Jacob -- technically Yakov -- and thus I'm honor bound to defend his name.”
“'Honor bound' is certainly an interesting concept considering the subject,” Daniel replied with a wry smile.
“No changes in topics if you please.”
“Okay. Let's consider Jacob's history. He begins by fooling his blind father in order to obtain his blessing , runs away from a legitimately angered Esau , gets his comeuppance from his uncle , and then returns the favor by some highly selective breeding of sheep . Jacob then runs from Laban , before being forced to make amends with Esau. But the real clincher is when Jacob arrives at Shalem . There he is greeted hospitably and allowed to buy a parcel of land from the children of Hamor the Hivite, the prince of the country. When his daughter, Dinah, attracts the attentions of the prince's son, Jacob demands as the dowry price that every male in the princedom be circumcised. He goes on to say, 'Then will we give our daughters unto you, and we will take your daughters to us, and we will dwell with you, and we will become one people.'  The last comment, being diametrically opposed to the concept of the Chosen was clearly a con, and obviously bore no semblance to a binding agreement in Jacob's mind.
“Jacob's sons, Simeon and Levi, then took advantage of the men of the city having just been circumcised to slay each and every one of them – including Hamor and his son Shechem – and stealing back their 'defiled' Dinah. They then spoiled the city , took all their wealth and wives and 'spoiled even all that was in the house.' Jacob then fled the area, even after leaving 'all the strange gods' and all their earrings buried under an oak tree. One assumes that Jacob did not bury under this same oak tree the livestock, Shalem wives, and other wealth. Just the idols and costume jewelry.”
“Yeah, well when you put it like that,” Pete answered, “I might be tempted to just ignore the 'honor bound' thing and convert. But I still maintain that life was not quite as genteel in those days. It's just that Jewish historians were a bit more diligent in their recording history than other folk.”
“Don't be absurd. The Sumerians were writing it all down thousands of years before the Jews even thought about Torahs or scrolls. Their so-called diligence in recording history was more like borrowing stories from other cultures and passing them off as their own, creating a fantasy lineage. Meanwhile, we can also go back to the very beginnings of ancient Egypt, when the creator Ptah was developing some of his more lasting legacies, much of which were diligently recorded and written down with great care.”
“Ptah!? Oh, surely you're not going to go there again. I know he's your favorite ancient mentor, his exploits of such magnitude that you can not resist extolling them at length. But the fact remains that we know very little about him. Furthermore, you can't go back that far in ancient history and even have a clue about the details and the truth concerning such a near-mythological, alleged being as Ptah.”
“Of course you can,” a voice from the darkness said. “Ptah was very real.”
Daniel and Pete were startled to the point of rocking the boat, despite its size and its being tied securely to two moorings, fore and aft. When they turned to where the voice had derived – a darkened area near the bow of their small vessel -- they found themselves staring into the smiling face of the red haired goddess of beach fame. Even in the darkness, her radiance seemed undimmed. Her long red hair framed a classic face, and momentarily distracted one from her exceptional body -- the latter not overdone with artificial enhancements. It was the kind of body that could drive a serpent up a tree... something John Collier might have imagined as far back as 1887. For a moment the two men were simply awed. The question of how she had come aboard -- without any apparent skiff to bring her alongside -- had not yet added its own form of entertainment to their thinking.
With an even more beguiling smile, she asked, “May I join you?” When their voices failed them, but their expression seemed to convey permission, she moved gracefully toward them. As she sat down on the after deck's sideboard, she said, “You were correct just now, Daniel Arthur Melke. I knew both Abe and Jake and I must admit that everything you said about them is quite true.”
Daniel only managed to ask, “How did you... know my name? ...or know them?”
The woman did not seem inclined toward direct answers. “Let's face it: Abe was just a hot shot calvary officer with an overdose of arrogance. What else would you expect from such a man? As for Jake, he had been sufficiently jacked around by his kin, it's no wonder he turned out badly – not to mention his ultimately demonstrating such a patently lousy parenting style.
"As for Moses? Now there's a case. Have you any idea how much trouble can be caused by a bunch of people who think they're somehow special? Particularly when they've just been liberated from a life long bondage? These clowns didn't have a clue about the world. And yet this man who was brought up as royalty was suddenly supposed to share his power with the rabble? When they say the peasants are revolting, you can pretty well bet that from Moses' viewpoint, they always had been.”
“Who are you?” Pete was torn between relishing the time with a beautiful woman and his innate curiosity about all things mysterious, particularly those involving said beautiful women.
The woman merely smiled, and turned her full attention to Daniel. “Do you know me?”
Daniel had the look of a light slowly dawning. “Yes... I think I do.”
“Glad to hear it,” she answered. “Particularly inasmuch as you have my likeness in your home.”
“And in a place of honor,” Daniel answered, a smile slowly finding its way onto his face.
“Okay...” Pete managed to say, “How about this angle? What shall I call you?”
She turned to look at Pete with a gentle smile, and with excellent pronunciation (you try it!) said, “You, Pyotr Alexandrovich Spasopeskovsky... you may know me as Lil Landow. But feel free to call me by my first name, Lil. May I call you Petya?”
“Pete,” Peter replied. “And I won't even ask how you know my name.”
“That's very wise, Pete,” Lil noted, smiling gently.
Daniel asked, probing gently, “And you've... returned... to Paros?”
“Yes,” Lil answered. “To begin what must now be done, to correct some mistakes, to reform the history, let the truth be known, and thereby return to that state once so clearly wondrous.”
Pete guffawed slightly. “Wow. So does that make you a messiah of sorts?”
Lil turned to look at him, her smile colored by a look of appraisal. “And what would your reaction be to Pytor Alexanderovich receiving a telephone call this evening from the Messiah?” When Pete hesitated, she added, “And if the telephone call originated from Salt Lake City?”
Daniel immediately laughed, with Pete following suit, albeit somewhat more reluctantly. Lil's smile turned into a delightful laugh... 'a very attractive laugh,' Pete thought. 'Unbelievably attractive! Good Lord, what is going on here? Are you monitoring this, Jehovah?'
Then her smile hardened slightly, as she leaned forward to address both of the men. “Keep in mind that this time around, the plan would involve being enormously more assertive. No more of this compassion to a fault business... the kind of thing that promotes entirely too much victimhood, too much woundology.”
Daniel was still comparing Lil's features to his framed print at home. He was mesmerized.
Pete was meanwhile dealing with his dilemma of talking to a drop dead gorgeous woman and at the same time, actually conversing with her. He managed to ask, “Tough love?”
“That's a good way to put it,” Lil admitted.
“So how do we begin?” Daniel now had a fledgling smile on his face.
“I take it then,” Lil asked, taking Daniel's measure, “you're interested?”
“Intrigued,” Daniel replied. “Of course, the Devil is often in the details.”
“Always has been. Otherwise, there would be no point in participating.” Lil smiled as she focused entirely on Daniel. “But for us, perhaps, a morning stroll about the Ekatontapyliani. There are some interesting... details you and I might share. As an ardent student of ancient history and its impact on modern society, I feel sure you will find much of what I have to say to be... at the very least... fascinating – particularly in light of your interest in Ptah.”
Pete had finally arrived at a viable interpretation of the conversation: He would assume the woman was simply stark raving mad. 'Typical,' he thought. 'Drop-dead gorgeous and nutty as a fruit cake. Like some kind of universal balance preventing brilliance and beauty from cohabiting. Isn't it always the case?' Aloud he asked, “Ptah... a personal friend of yours?”
Turning to Pete, Lil added, “And if I'm not being too impolite, just the two of us?”
Daniel had already nodded his ascent, while Pete was having storm warning flags raised all along his Eastern Mediterranean coastline. It was perhaps in his nature (genetic and/or environmental) to be leery of Drop Dead Gorgeous Greek Goddesses bearing gifts... or anything else... particularly anything else. It was also a fact of life that storm warning flags are almost always raised along the coastline of the Eastern Mediterranean... and for reasons having almost nothing to do with weather.
“Just the two of you?” he repeated. “But what about your friend? The big... substantial dude we saw with you earlier?” With a slight twist of his body, he gestured toward the shore where in the increasing darkness Lil's companion, the man who had been with her on the beach earlier, might still have lurked... and probably intent upon menacing sea urchins and the like. In the darkened night, the man's absence or unseen presence seemed suddenly more threatening than had he been standing on the deck next to Lil. Pete kept trying to recall the man's appearance preparatory to meeting him again, if only for identification purposes. Still, Pete instinctively knew that 'substantial dude' was someone you would not want to meet in a dark alley without an armed platoon at your back and a half dozen, viable exit strategies.
“You may come as Daniel's second, if you like, Pete. It seems an appropriate thing for you to do, considering the part you will undoubtedly be playing in any future dealings. Of course, I hope you can understand why it will be necessary for you to maintain a respectful distance from Daniel and I -- in sight but out of hearing. My friend will be doing the same. Perhaps the two of you can take the time to get to know one another. Both of you may find that you have much... commonality.”
Peter quickly asked, “Who exactly is he?”
“I'll be happy to introduce you later. For the moment, I'll just mention that his name is Hormer Volkov, a name you in particular can hopefully appreciate.”
“And what exactly is his relationship to you?”
“Variable. On many occasions, he thinks of himself as my protector, even as I think of him as my faithful, small white dog, always at my side, always looking after me. His presence can in fact be very comforting. Hopefully, you will come to appreciate that.”
Lil turned back to Daniel. “Give my best to your fiance, Emily.” With Daniel still grinning and shaking his head in wonder, Lil swung her legs over the side with the grace of a world class super model. The fact that any current fashion would have been lost on both men – their never having really looked to see what she was wearing – was probably irrelevant. As she stood up, her feet already over the side of the motor yacht, Pete involuntarily gasped. A modern day sequel to the walking on water experience seemed a little too much to be easily countenanced... and certainly not something to which he would ever likely want to admit... at least officially. From the dark, Lil added, “See you soon. It's time to make history.”
Still standing, she turned back to smile at both men, seemingly standing at ease, but nevertheless slowly moving aft alongside the boat. Pete suddenly saw substantial dude materializing out of the darkness a few feet away, moving with the same gentle motion as Lil had been demonstrating... except that Hormer seemed to be in charge of navigation for the two of them. Pete also took immediate note that the guy was not smiling. Admittedly, he was not frowning either. So presumably any threat posed by him was only in the sheer power of his presence.
Abruptly there was a host of lightning strikes all around them, following quickly by thunder, the up close and personal kind... the kind to make both Pete and Daniel duck in reflex.
Once the renewed lightning had done its thing, both men turned back to Lil and her companion, only to find no sign of them. Even in the reflected light of the lightning strikes and the small lighted area surrounding the motor yacht, there was no evidence on which to base the assumption that anyone else was in the area. Apparently, the night intruders had no need for running lights... or any other navigational details... or any normal motive force.
For a moment, both men stood looking into the night, as their own boat begin to react to the waters turning choppy. Very quietly, Daniel murmured, “Nice exit.”
Cold was a totally inadequate word for the environment in which Self was immersed. Harsh, bone crushing cold only hinted at being an adequate description. The only good news was that Self was losing internal heat to its immediate surroundings via only one of the three primary means of dissipating heat... more accurately... radiating heat... in effect, the other two means being effectively eliminated.
Loss of internal heat was not something experienced as different or new. There really was no new, no old, and nothing really to distinguish the passage of time. Not yet anyway. Accordingly, even the very concept of “cold” was not part of the consciousness of Self, and thereby it didn't really exist. No consciousness... no reality. In a manner of speaking, reality only exists if a living being thinks it does.
There was, however, movement... a translation along spatial dimensions as defined by some measure of time. Thus, change in one direction, denoted by delta x divided by a change in time, i.e., delta t; the equation the basic definition of velocity (commonly referred to as “v”). Not to suggest that delta y and delta z (changes in any of the other two commonly asserted dimensions of Cartesian Coordinates) could not also be involved, but there was really no apparent rate of change of velocity (i.e. acceleration) at the moment. Thus by arbitrarily choosing one's axes, one could always choose x, y and z such that any acceleration would simply be delta v divided by delta t. [Yeah... I'm a little lost on that as well.]
For the moment, Newton's First Law was all that was known, cold was not defined (and for that matter, not experienced), and finally, a rather large delta T of time would need to be traversed before things became something upon which Self's comparatively sleepy consciousness might dwell.
Daniel and Pete were only now heading back to their temporary residences. Both were silent and trying to understand what had just happened -- other than having just gotten notably wet from a random rain shower... the latter being the only exception as to what they could easily understand. As they walked, a stray comment would occasionally wander into their minds, but only the most menial was ever uttered. Profound thoughts of bewilderment were unwelcome to be spoken aloud... if only to avoid ever greater confusion in their thinking. It was one of those occasions when time had to pass gently by... allowing the buffering power of Cronus to sort things out for them. Or just let them forget. Accordingly, they were predominantly silent, even as they did an almost random walk through the village streets – and incidentally, using both x and y coordinates... and with a few ups and downs, the z component as well.
They wandered down one particular street, unaware of any potential danger. This was not, however, madness on their part. They had been in Paros long enough to realize that the island had a well deserved reputation for being relatively crime free.
Paros' reputation was in fact a bit like her sister location, Crestone, Colorado (in terms of spirituality and strange happenings). Both places had the notorious if not uncommon trait that people who are not open to all manner of spiritual inspiration and/or challenge, inevitably found themselves wanting to leave from almost the first moment of their arrival. In the case of Crestone, the small village was at the end of an west-east road, where it laid snuggled up against the Sangre de Cristo mountains of southern Colorado. The only people who ever went to Crestone fell into three categories. The first were the spiritually minded. Crestone, a town with a population of perhaps only two hundred nevertheless boasted of being home to at least one Catholic monastery, two Buddhist temples of differing schools, one Hindu Shrine, an ecumenical center for anyone with a less traditional bent in their philosophical leanings, and likely several other highly spiritualized retreats. The combination tended to create an atmosphere conducive to profound philosophical thought, but not necessarily gay, carefree tourists matters.
The second category of people to visit Crestone were the mountain climbing crowds who used the town of Crestone as a jumping off point for three of the state's famed 14ers, mountains with elevations in excess of 14,000 feet. The three locals were Crestone Needle, Kit Carson, and Humboldt. For these people, it was a quick dash through the town and up to the various trail heads. And if these adventurers were clever, they would likely do all three in the same trip and thus avoid repeating the arduous climb to the higher elevations more than once. It was simply a matter of using the saddle backs between peaks.
The third category of people were those who headed into Crestone, and before actually arriving there, found themselves sufficiently uncomfortable that they simply did a U turn (after hopefully looking both ways very carefully) and then headed west back toward the main highway. They then would do a quick left turn and head for the Great Sand Dunes National Monument as if that had been their destination all along -- their excuse being that they had just turned left one paved highway too soon.
By comparison, there was the tendency for the type of folk who only took aim at Crestone and then did a quick 180 degree turn in the road in order to escape the weird vibrations -- a tendency for such people to utilize when arriving on the island of Paros a similar technique and quickly take the next boat... any boat... whether destined for Santorini, Rhodes, the mainland, or the island of Delos. The latter island, after all, had been where Theseus was reputed to have abandoned Adriane on their return voyage from Crete to Athens. Delos was indeed a destination island for many reasons. Paros would be the same, except for what we might call the “Crestone Effect”. Essentially a mountain of marble rising from the Aegean Sea, and a history of inexplicable events, Paros had its own very unique version of self-restricting tourism.
Paros' Crestone Effect is likely the reason for the low crime rate on the island. Leave your cell phone on a rock on the beach and it will probably be there two days later when you begin looking for it. And the reason you didn't look for the cell phone any earlier... is that one tends to forget all about telephone calls while on the island. Even leave your bike unlocked and leaning where it really should not be leaning, and sure enough when you're ready to grab it to go look for your cell phone, it will still be there, patiently waiting for you.
As it turns out, two brothers from Delos, Deimos and Aiolos, had become aware of the alleged Paros crime-free zone. They were a bit skeptical at first, but then the younger of the two had a sudden insight. If crime was so rare on Paros, then it stood to reason that the ability of the authorities on the island to react to a crime being committed would likely have atrophied to the point of being non-reactive. Accordingly, it naturally followed that two quick, exceptional, young men could commit a crime and leave the scene long before any alarm could be sounded. It was the classic radical change of pace, where you can get away with anything just so long as you escape the jurisdiction before there can be any significant reaction to the act (criminal or otherwise).
One might think of these two Delosians as low bred criminals. They were after all plagued with names given them by parents who had minimal interest in raising children. However, their thinking concerning Paros, constituted the sort of highly creative, out-of-the-box, out-of-the-law, question-authority type of thinking that anyone could admire. Besides... life had not been overly generous to either of them, and thus living by one's wits in order to survive was both natural and tended to hone such a necessary talent.
It was on that fateful night that following their arrival on Paros, they had scouted a boat to steal for the inevitable getaway, and cased what appeared to be a couple of rich tourists drinking beer on one of the small yachts. Both of our two criminal entrepreneurs had then outflanked Pete and Daniel and met then at a notably narrow alley in which windows and doors were conspicuously absent. Our two young capitalists-in-training were quite adept despite the limited extent of opportunistic activities.
Deimos, the older of the two boys had taken the initiative of bringing along a small pistol. Not exactly a cannon to strike fear into a battle hardened platoon of Marines, but enough firepower that a bullet in just the right location could cause a fair amount of pain, a definitive level of panic, and even possibly an unfortunate if not surprising death. It was not a weapon diligently sought by professional killers.
Thus it was that four men, one with a gun, another with a lean and hungry look -- and the other two with a startled expression and a sudden shortness of breath -- all came to meet, however momentarily.
This scenario might seem to be one which would have an expected script: some derogatory remarks intended to boast the morale of the perpetrators and scare the bejesus out of the victims, demand for money in broken English, a notable amount of stuttering and eagerness to remove wallets, and... that sort of thing. As it turned out, it didn't quite happen that way.
The two nominations for victimhood had not even seen the two boys until they stepped from the shadows and out into the moonlight. Then the weapon reflecting the flashes of lightning made its debut. This was quickly followed – the sarcastic opening remarks having already been inadvertently dropped from the script due to the excitement of the moment -- by the demand for money. The demand, however, was not heard because of an inopportune thunder noise masking the low throated demand. As they say, "The best scripted plans of mice and men oft times go astray."
It was then that the truly extraordinary happened. A narrow stream of liquid seemed to come out of what was apparently nowhere and lighted almost entirely upon the gun and the hand holding it. It was as if one of the Greek male gods was taking a leak, with Deimos, the young gunman, being the unfortunate target. There was also the assumption someone was personifying the common slang of “piss on 'em”.
Neither Pete nor Daniel really saw the liquid stream. But the boys did... up close and personal. It turned out that the stream of liquid, however, was apparently not urine, deified or common. It was also not water. What it was, if later conjecture can be believed, was a very cold liquid, the kind where if you leave your hand in it, your hand (and any object in your hand) will freeze to the point of said hand and/or object being easily shattered. We're talking very cold liquid. To say that in reaction to this event, the boys froze in place would be a poor pun and only slightly accurate in that it was only Deimos' hand who was receiving the business end of the freezing stream.
Suffice it to say his natural reaction to move his weapon out of the stream was the correct one, and he did so immediately. But... sad to say... to no avail. Accordingly, with the shock occasioned by the stream beginning to move in order to reconnect with its favorite target, the boy with the gun did what any really good entrepreneur of such business enterprises would do: He bailed... i.e., he turned and ran for his life. His younger brother, Aiolos, having grasped the essential facts of the event – i.e., it's not nice to fool mother nature, any number of Greek male gods, and in general any truly enlightened being – took the lesson from his older brother and was quickly running as fast as he had run in his young life. It was only later, on the last ferry out of town, that Aiolos was examining the hand of his older sibling and wondering how frostbite could have occurred... or for that matter, what in the world frostbite actually was.
Daniel and Pete, never having really seen the instantly freezing hand and gun, could only stare in bewilderment and stunned disbelief. This new experience, when added to the bewilderment and stunned disbelief from the evening's earlier events, pretty much doubled the level of bewilderment and stunned disbelief they were both experiencing. Had they really seen the alley encounter from the viewpoint of the boys, the bewilderment and stunned belief level would probably have gone up by a factor of twenty.
Still... what they had witnessed on the boat and in the alley would do... at least for the moment.
More References... not that you really have to read them.
 http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=0inliRPgIAk for the music (and a bit of the Disney ride). For a bit of background information, try http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Pirates_of_the_Caribbean
 http://www.eastvillageoperacompany.com/ (and then click on some of their offerings)
 For purposes of visualization and understanding, it might help to know that this novel was written during the George W. Bush administration (2001-2008), with subsequent fine tuning in 2009... at which point basic characterizations were not changed.
 Genesis 27: 1-29
 Genesis 27: 43-45
 Genesis 29: 21-28
 Genesis 30: 31 – 31: 1
 Genesis 31: 31
 Genesis 33: 18
 Genesis 34: 16
 Genesis 34: 27-29
Copyright 2009 Dan Sewell Ward, All Rights Reserved
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