Premiered 9/9/9 (9 September 2009)
The continuation of The Myth and Legend of D'PTah, an original novel by Dan Sewell Ward.
Life in a world class, five star resort is not all bad. There are compensations... particular for the young and irresponsible. There is, for example, the surrounding environment in which a young female Artemis might run amuck and scenery which is nothing short of spectacular. Plus which, being the daughter of the resort manager opened a lot of doors [pardon the pun], including the ones that could get her into a lot of trouble.
But then again, familiarity often breeds... well... something vaguely similar to unwarranted assumption of authority. Worse yet, every single employee of the resort had been given standing orders to report any and all miscreant behavior of the part of the daughter directly to the head man. Much more than any other orders given by the resort manager, this order was carried out by the resort's staff with dispatch, efficiency, enthusiasm, and even mischievous glee. The fact that the miscreant daughter, Margarite Sophea (Sally) de Riordan by name, was notably apt to live up to her name and claimed reputation, only added a multitude of spices to the mix.
On the one hand, passing one's youth in such surroundings allows one on a routine basis to eat better than most royals of the previous century, exposes one to service on both sides of the kitchen door, instills an artistic and aesthetic taste for the very best, and allows a young girl to grow up in some of the most beautiful locations on the planet. On the other hand, there is the withdrawal; that point when life can suddenly seem extremely stifling on the occasion of leaving fantasyland and arriving at a school where the diversity of status, wealth, and family upbringing creates the lowest possible -- yet ostensibly level -- playing field. Living in the environs of a five star existence does not necessarily imply spending the formative, educational years being treated in the five star fashion. It's rather like an existence in heaven and/or paradise, and then being summarily incarnated via the very narrow confines of a birth canal into something far less than a five star existence. The yen to return home can be overwhelming.
A wretched complication to this already difficult transition occurred when divorce sent one parent packing, leaving a void filled by another five star employee whose greatest claim to parenting was the offer to spend hours shopping as a bonding experience between the new wife and step daughter. Not that the new wife's lack of parenting skills mattered that much. Margarite (we'll call her Sally) had already felt (intensely) the teenager's natural inclination to rebel -- and Sally was one female who relished the following of her natural inclinations. Such rebellion was in fact all the rage in her last year in middle school. It involved groundings and sneaking out, having her first sexual encounter on the day she became a teenager (expectedly awkward, but enough to hint at the glorious possibilities), and of course, disagreements on every subject under the five star sun with parents, pseudo-parents and other adults.
It was one of those groundings and the inevitable Sallying back and forth [pardon the awful pun] -- leaving the house to engage in any activity worthy of entertainment and marking time while the offending parent suffered in unknown fears – that proved the crux of a new set of rules. Sally had, fortunately or unfortunately, become so adept at sneaking out of the house, that she had managed to accomplish the near impossible after the most severe grounding and tongue lashing she'd ever encountered, and without her father having a hint that she was indeed gone. Accordingly, when she returned from her nocturnal activities – which were of course of no significance whatsoever – she managed to inadvertently impersonate the sounds and movements of a burglar.
Five star resorts are notorious as pots of gold for attracting Robin Hoods of every stripe and color (i.e., not just Sherwood Forest green). Sally's father was well aware of the possibilities and when awakened at two in the morning, he came to the conclusion that his manager's home was under invasion, took out his 357 Magnum revolver and terrified of the possibilities of what might be lurking in the shadows, stepped out in the hallways. For a horrific fraction of a second, he very nearly opened fire on his youngest daughter. The only thing preventing disaster was a voice both apologetic and blissfully unaware of the weapon aimed at her, uttering the simplest of phrases... “Daddy?".
For the next two hours father and daughter sat on the stairs, sobbing, hugging and vowing never to tempt fate again with such mutually instigated behavior.
Accordingly, within days the two had managed to convey the essential facts that public schools sucked, that rebellion was one of the prime teachings in such schools (and with ample justification, considering the degree of suckiness of said schools), that five star living had its dark underbelly, that living in hock to the purveyors of the idle (and idol) entertainments of and for the rich was stressful to the point of an affliction, that there was a mutual love between a man and his offspring that could withstand a lot (albeit not a slug from a 357 Magnum)... and finally that something had to be done!
Fairness was subsequently added as an excuse – one more palatable to Sally's mother than the truth of the late night encounter at the O K 5-Star Corral. Accordingly, it was decided all around that Sally's three years of high school would be spent in Chicago, living in her mother's and her new husband's apartment in the Hancock Center Tower, and that the best schooling (i.e. anything but public) would be afforded by the easy if not convenient admission to a charter school emphasizing the fine arts and thereafter Sally matriculating to the Chicago School of Fine Arts. In both schools, Sally could indulge her life long predilections toward writing creatively – and occasionally provocatively.
The plan was a rousing success. There was, of course, a small modification in the living arrangements – to wit, Sally spending a great deal of her later educational years at her boyfriend's apartment -- but this just made things flow in a manner more suited to Sally's independent spirit. Her mother had one up on her ex-husband in that she knew when to recognize a panzer blitzkrieg of teenage rebellion and the necessity to fall back and punt – in the finest parenting style of the time.
The Chicago School of Fine Arts did an excellent job of preparing Sally for sallying forth [just can't resist that awful pun] into the world of literature, journalism, and whatever in the world one does with a liberal arts degree in a society controlled by conservative businessmen. Well... yes, the school did fail to mention the need for earning a living as a writer – but their fall back position of journalism was always a good choice, and thereby their good offices indirectly led Sally to find a position with a mentor who decided that if he had to mentor anyone, it was going to be a drop dead gorgeous babe fresh out of journalism school. For Sally, the final lesson from her elite high schooling had been that they should have included just one more course, that of “tits and ass”, adding the music from A Chorus Line , as well as explaining the basic ingredients of life in the male dominated, fast lanes of society.
Sally's mentor turned out... amazingly enough... to be a genuinely nice guy, despite any descriptions of his being nothing more than a 'dirty old man'. He was notorious as both a philanthropist and a philander. In other words, he shared not only his wealth, but his affections as well. The question of why one form of sharing should be honored and the other denigrated is beyond the scope of this treatise, but suffice it to say that Sir “Dirty Old Man” treated Sally with an uncommon respect and never once made the slightest overture toward sexual or romantic encounters. (Even philanders have their ethics.) Sally was a bit surprised at first, but then after the first two years of platonic collaboration, she presented him with a very artistic, non frontal, nude photo of herself. The photo had been accomplished by her former college boyfriend (whose apartment had been Sally's second home and conveniently located far from the Hancock Building). It was amazingly classy. The Dirty Old Man (DOM) loved it!
Sally was meanwhile benefiting from traveling with DOM, accomplishing all manner of journalistic tasks, writing factual reports on individuals and groups that would later be used – unknowingly to Sally in the early years – as evidence of a lack of patriotism, competence, and/or mistaken loyalties. Sally had always been into the creative world of literary fiction, but the world she was experiencing was enormously more fascinating than her imagination could create. It was clear she could use copies of her factual reports as grist for the kind of mill that lent itself to lots of literary license. The only problem was that the outrageous nature of many of the activities of those individuals and groups upon she was reporting was almost beyond the realm of science fiction and fantasy. Editors would undoubtedly scoff and declare it extreme fantasy – and therefore not fit for their exalted time or their printing presses.
Consider more than one example. A trust baby (a thirty six year old male) was so rich and oblivious to the world's challenges that in enthusiastically pursuing his hobby of road trips across the wildest portions of the planet, he would think nothing of calling in a Chinook  helicopter mother ship – standing by for each and every call from him -- to ferry him and his rough rider vehicle across raging rivers, swamps, and mountain ranges. The only obstacle the fellow ever met that did manage to say 'no way' to him were the Himalayas where the high altitude air would simply not support the helicopters' need for air to push against. Our hero solved the problem by ditching his gas guzzling rough rider and taking the Bullet Train from Llasa, Tibet to Western China. It was there certain intelligence agencies began to suspect him of spying, but ultimately decided that any reports he might have dispatched were of so little consequence as to make any genuine breaches of security unlikely. Sally, in turn, got to meet the guy, describe the debriefing, and marvel that her closest encounter with a 007 agent was a grinning trust baby weighing in at roughly 280 pounds.
Other examples include a few chronicled by Salmon Rushdie  of which one in particular provided evidence that audacity was a phenomenal tool in the survival of the fittest. Assuming your own personal manifest destiny allowed for such things, then you could, with sufficient moral flexibility, be allowed to get away with said things. It made life into a never ending adventure in Ever-Ever Land. It could also be enormously financially useful, as in the case of one man who bilked thousands out of their investments in junk bonds, spent two years of a ten year sentence in the federal penal system, and then retired with some 90 billion in personal retirement funds – making him incidentally one of the 500 richest people in the world. See what savings and investments can do for the enterprising capitalist? Leaves your average conservative Republican simply glowing with pride.
It was DOM who kept introducing Sally to many of the more audacious types, even when after the trust baby's answer to 007, it was becoming pretty much old hat. Such done that, been there, bought the T-shirt kind of thinking might well have led her to voluntarily abandon the exotic world travel, the free invites to some of the most glorious resorts on the planet, and the opportunity to meet the planet's truly elite at play. Her upraising had at least given her experience in dealing with people with more money than morals. So this she could cope with. At the same time, however, DOM continued to be engaging and delightful and his attentions always proper and fun. Furthermore, Sally's opportunities for one weekend stands with new and engaging men were sufficient to keep her libido in moderate check, and her so-called day-to-day routine was more akin to an adventure-to-adventure routine. Life was far from boring, albeit the routine of astounding events happening on a semi-regular basis was enough to make one rethink things... as in what other challenges might conceivably force her to engage the greater part of her inherent capabilities.
The critical moment occurred when they had arrived in Bhutan – Sally's first trip and DOM's third to this very notable outpost. They had been met by the King and his Queen, been given the latest statistics of Bhutan's Gross National Happiness index, and had taken in all of the sights and festivities of a Buddhist country with aspirations. It was all simply fabulous... until a real problem raised its really ugly head.
Perhaps it was the altitude – they had been skirting about the Himalayas for a month – or perhaps the culmination of a life of incredible events, associates, and experiences. DOM, his name for societal purposes, George Leston Fredericks, suddenly found himself short of breath and unable to bounce back from a long night. The only recourse had been an emergency flight, first to New Delhi, and then via two additional intervening airports (where political connections were required to facilitate passage), until finally they reached Germany where vastly improved and incredibly efficient medical services were available. The immediate prognosis was guarded – it almost always is, if only to guard the medical doctors from potential liability – but it quickly evolved to an encouraging, albeit guarded prognosis. (The latter is code for 'we may not be able to pull the rabbit out of the hat on this one.')
The curious part is that the recovery period, first in the hospital and then in a spa/medical resort, was fairly long. George insisted on being the gentleman and releasing Sally from any obligation to hang around and be his bedside companion. He even made telephone calls to several associates who were willing and eager to have Sally and her well known talents at their beck and call. Sally would have none of it. She had been sufficiently satiated – at least for the time being – of all the elitist adventures, such that a withdrawal into the world of meaning was a welcome respite. Death and life are, after all, what are ultimately important – and this health-oriented pit stop was the obvious next step in her education. Sally was content and happy to spend the next however many months with her mentor and who she now informed was her very dearest and best friend.
It was a cold November afternoon that David Reston Baer showed up. He had been an aide to an associate of a foreign minister with some power and influence... when as luck would have it, he had been misdiagnosed with infectious mononucleosis (also known as Pfeiffer's disease and colloquially as the kissing disease). While no one ever really discovered what had pretty much laid David out, he was destined to recover fully and thus his example would be able to encourage all manner of laurels to be foisted upon the medical staff. For David, the good news was that his problem had been encountered in the line of duty, and thus his boss (of several levels removed) could demonstrate his concern for the 'little people' and find him a place at an upscale spa/medical resort. Not surprisingly, this was the same resort where Sally and George were whiling away their hours learning Italian and German – the choice of which language they would use depending entirely upon their emotional state at the time of speaking. (Italian for opera, food, and wholly unsubstantiated emotional outbursts; German for technical matters... and also to scare the bejesus out of slow-moving spa staff members.)
It had taken David two days of walking recuperation to encounter Sally, and thereafter demonstrate to the local medical staff entirely too much enthusiasm, persistence, and aggressiveness to warrant a continued stay at the spa. The place was for sick people, for heaven's sake! Not love starved, lustful, dreamy-eyed men who think they've found their once in a life time soul mate. David had suddenly been faced with the dilemma of appearing stud like and the epitome of perfect health for his carefully planned, 'spontaneous' encounters with Sally, and at the same time to continually suffer 'relapses' in the absence of Sally and in the presence of the nurses and doctors... the latter in order to keep his berth. The doctors were about to take definitive action to keep him from continually overestimating his recovery and confining him in a no-nonsense fashion, when George, aka DOM, gave up the ghost and made his transition, leaving Sally at long last free to pursue her far more personal agenda.
Unbeknown to everyone else -- including Sally -- George had provided for his loyal helpmate, aka the woman who had made the failing health time of his life a matter of her personal involvement. His bequest was the epitome of inheritances: a numbered Swiss bank account with a balance just under two million Euros. Before the revelation to Sally of her new found financial security and/or retirement fund, the spa's doctors and nurses had come to the conclusion that her continuing presence would be good thing for the spa – miracle cures sprouting up seemingly spontaneously whenever she was around. it was now just a matter of making suggestions that Sally might have found her calling, and that a paid position could be quickly created just for her. They had even suggested David as her next ward on the basis that the more observant members of the staff had noted a distinctive improvement in David's prognosis whenever Sally was in the immediate area (a circle of roughly fifty meters in diameter). If this effect could be transferred to other patients, then the spa might well become even more famous for its world-class 'miracle cures'.
Sally considered the possibilities and decided David would more likely be a lover than a patient – much to David's delight! Accordingly, his status as patient was terminated upon the advent of his spontaneous remission of any and every physical and/or mental complaint he might have ever had. This miracle cure occurred when Sally had decided to take the leap and decide just how interesting sex in a hospital bed might be. David was still in afterglow (lasting about two days while the doctors performed numerous tests to somehow document his miraculous recovery and thereafter submit the case to a prestigious medical journal for publication) -- when Sally was visited by a straight-laced, very polite and very genteel Zürich banker and legal counsel. The banker very cordially informed Sally of her new found wealth, status, and admittance to the inner sanctum (albeit, the initiatory level) of Swiss banking circles. (You can hardly expect to achieve the higher levels with a mere two million Euros, Dollars, or even Pounds! Really!)
Sally never told David about the Swiss Connection, even after their common law marriage. It was not so much a matter of keeping secrets, as Sally never wanting to insert into a fledgling love relationship the specter of a financial misfit between the two partners. In fact, the only person to ever hear of her precious bank account was Peter. The two had met three years earlier while George and Sally were having their whirlwind world tours and when legal connections to certain Russian newly reconstituted Israelis had been in full progress. Pete and Sally had considered a romantic liaison for a few days, and then both fell apart laughing at the absurdity of the idea. Thence they had become best friends – the kind you can not see for months or even years, and yet when you find yourself again in the same room, you pick up where you left off, enjoying one another's company and never, never, never asking the other, “Why didn't you call?”
For societal reasons, should the question ever be raised, Pete was Sally's personal lawyer, her legal counsel, her barrister for all manner of activities – even when Pete had long since escaped the confines of the legal profession. As his Shamanic status had grown, Sally had briefly considered Pete as her guru, but then decided that legal counsel was infinitely easier to explain, especially to a lover of the David variety. (Let's face it: how many gurus, priests, et al take sexual advantage of their position?) Besides, it had been Pete who had introduced her to the book, If You Meet the Buddha on the Road; Kill Him. It sounded like such sound advice, that gurus were crutches which inevitably had to be thrown away, and that rather than throw away Pete, Sally would keep him on retainer... at least retaining him as a friend.
It had been the Pete connection that had drawn Sally and David to Paros. Ever the wily entrepreneur, Pete had even arranged Sally's teaching credentials by providing the necessary documentation of her Masters' Degree in... something or another. The fact Sally was a very talented writer helped a lot. Plus which, she was willing to work for almost nothing (a fact not communicated to David, who assumed she was simply earning a living and attempting to avoid taking any more from her “parent's small but useful inheritance”). With Pete having his own manner of bonding with the American University on Paros, all that was needed to move Sally temporarily into teaching was Sally's permission. As has been remarked earlier, audacity allows for all manner of adventure.
Pete had offered David an advanced degree diploma as well -- if only as a matter of course -- but David was less inclined to such creative educational enhancements. Besides, David had wanted to spend his days tooling about the island on any one of several small motor yachts, visiting out of the way islands of the Aegean Sea, acting in his own fantasy the role of a Greek Errol Flynn and Zorba crossbreed. Perhaps he could encounter a few Shirley Valentines – just for the sake of variety – and yet remain always true to Sally. Cue music: I'm always faithful to you my darling in my way.
The truth was that David simply had no interest in the academic delights of dazzling innocents with smoke and mirrors, and then with ever greater delight, showing the smoke and mirrors for what they were – the latter being the advanced course supplement intended for very selected, elitist students. For obvious reasons, one should never tell the working class just exactly who it is that they're working for.
Thus the stage had been set, the players in their costumes -- academic and otherwise -- and the strangest night, weather-wise in many years at Paros. Thus began the events and situations just prior to the First Light activities heard around the world. Sally, or formally Margarite Sophea de Riordan – the Baer added whenever the two found themselves in locales with more orthodox views – was then in a position to introduce herself as the personal historian with the first accounts of the immediate aftermath of Daniel's meeting with Lil.
When Daniel and Pete had returned from their very mysterious mission on that first fateful day, the three of us who had temporarily been left behind were all waiting and exhibiting a vain pretense of patience. We had heard enough of the previous evening's activities to intrigue and beguile us. We had also experienced the strange weather, which unlike the conditions at the harbour that night, had been tumultuous and laden with enough lightning strikes near our small apartment to discourage even David from venturing out. Of course, the idea that he might have possibly gone out in order to somehow assist the missing Daniel and Pete had come under David's self-defined category of hilariously ludicrous.
It was not notably different the following morning. Only now, the idea of staying home and not joining in the adventure while Daniel and Pete went out in the morning to slay dragons, conquer peaks, and perhaps model golden fleeces... well... for the stay-at-homes this idea carried about as much appeal as rushing out the previous night in order to search the downpour/deluge for the two wayward fellows. From most any point of view, both ideas were silly and could only be marginally tolerated.
Despite the lack of appeal, however, the three of us had all reluctantly agreed to give the Pete and Daniel a little space. Of course, we weren't sure there was anything of substance to begin with... much less something for which we should be jealous. For all we knew the two were out trading the milkcow for worthless beans. As for skepticism itself, Emily Clair Rush, Daniel's fiance, was probably even more so than David and I that the meeting had any promise whatsoever. I do suspect her skepticism was probably more one of sour grapes than a dispassionate intellectual judgment... but then again what were her choices? Maybe only to grin and bear it?
Everything changed when Daniel and Pete returned. Pete came in first, clearly in his element of knowing something others did not and thoroughly, thoroughly enjoying every second of it. With his mask of confident knowing but not telling, no one even bothered to ask him a question. As for Daniel, when he came into the room behind Pete, sat down at a table, and joined us in the physical (but apparently not otherwise), the room was already in a state of dead silence of which everyone other than Daniel seemed to be very much aware. He was obviously mentally distracted and thinking in some other far distant realm. In the silence, I watched his quiet figure, his eyes cast down in study, and I could not help but think how attractive he was at that moment.
Yes, yes, I know. I suppose I had always been attracted to Daniel's wit, charm, intelligence, and ability to make me laugh. Not that I had ever acted on such feelings. I had already been married to David two years before even meeting Daniel. David was probably the better looking guy, maybe even too much so, as if this gave him special license. But in his comfort mode of relaxing without a care in the world on a Greek island, his tanned, clean shaven face, combined with a mop of unruly black hair against a back drop of brilliant white clothing and a calculated grin... the combination always made David really quite delicious.
I also considered Emily – Daniel's intended – to be one of my closer personal friends. We had a history going back to Chicago – several decades and a dozen or so light years ago. A Swedish blond, talented sculptress, and possessing a personality to vie with any female, not to mention several decades younger than Daniel, she was a real catch for him. I had never been given any hint from Daniel that I might even be in the same league as Emily. Besides which, I was content in my own marriage and saw no reason to throw four lives into turmoil on the slight chance that Daniel and I could find something even more special than what both of us already had.
Still... Daniel, I have to say, was one of the most mysterious men I've ever known. As a Pisces I have always relished the mysterious. Mystery is tantalizing, intriguing, and causes my blood to course through my veins like nothing else. I sometimes suspect it's better than sex... which says a LOT! But then again... I haven't exactly found mystery and intrigue to be the most stable commodities in a romantic relationship. Inevitably one pulls aside the curtain and sees the inexplicable for what it really is: an often mundane, weird dysfunctionality that by all rights you should have recognized on the second date. As my grand mom would have said in an authoritative tone, "He's no good! Get rid of him!"
Emily, on the other hand... her, I must admit that I just didn't know... at least not in any real depth. Despite our long, but discontinuous history, I had never penetrated her darkest secrets, nor for that matter even her heart in matters of love, sex, and dealing with the opposite gender. That afternoon as Pete and Daniel sat down, Emily seemed to be waiting for something. She was an accomplished woman with an exceptional confidence in herself, but Daniel must have been a challenge to even her. She seemed to be measuring the situation even when she took the first initiatory breath before breaking the silence. Perhaps it was my glance toward her that spurred her to broach the subject that must have been nagging at her (and had been intriguing me): 'Excuse me, but did you just rendezvous with some strikingly beautiful woman for an hour or so? The same woman which has driven poor Pete to a state of intense lust? Are you now going to come up with some outrageous and astounding story that despite all the sound and fanfare, all of it is signifying nothing? Are you kidding me? Are you insane?'
What instead she said aloud for all of us to hear – adding a intentionally overly dramatic sigh – was, “Sometimes, being with someone who has such an aura of mystery about him can be a real pain.”
For a moment no one said anything. Daniel had smiled briefly, but apparently wasn't ready to spar with anyone. Pete seemed to see this as well, and in his best second-in-command style said, “But surely, Emily, you must realize that every man of any consequence needs to have a secret identity. How else could a Superman, a Batman, a Spiderman... especially, a Danielman... function in society?”
Emily frowned at Pete, even while showing her good nature. “Every man?”
Pete was nonplussed. “Did I mention Superman, Batman, Spiderman...?”
“Women,” I [Sally] quickly interjected mischievously, “have no need for such secret identities.” I knew I had struck the mother lode [pardon the pun] when Pete's mouth very nearly hit the floor in amazement at my – for some of us – obvious assertion. His momentary silence managed to speak volumes, giving Emily a chance for her own rejoinder.
“The Tick doesn't have a secret identity,” Emily countered, joining my side in the fray. “He's male, and he's also totally up front with being a superhero. He doesn't engage in subterfuge.”
David quickly added with a laugh, “Yeah well, it's hard to be a secret when you're bright blue.”
“Pete,” I asked, “do you have a secret identity?”
Pete looked stunned. “You can't possibly expect me to tell you! How can I tell you I have a secret identity if it's a secret?”
Always the one with the ability to find tangents, David, my dear David, asked, “Ever wonder about the politics of super heroes? I mean, do they have a common characteristic? Are they all liberals, you think?”
“They're probably smart enough not to bring up the subject,” I replied, as gently as possible.
“But then again it might be the wardroom thing,” Pete answered. When the rest of us just looked at him, he realized the need for a bit more explanation. “The officers of a naval vessel constitute the wardroom of that vessel. One of the time-tested but unspoken rules of conversation in the wardroom, essentially the officer's mess, is to avoid the topics of sex, politics, or religion -- which leaves for the most part, sports and weather. Incredibly boring actually.”
“Politics at dinner a couple of nights ago was okay,” David noted. As the others seem to agree, he added, “But now that I think of it, it's probably because we're all pretty much on the same page. In a more diverse setting, such unstated agreement might be far less common. Still, it would be nice to believe that diversity among cultures or neighborhoods could still have common values.”
Pete shrugged. “What's the difference? I mean who cares?”
“How else can a world cease from strife?” Everyone was momentarily stilled as we realized that Daniel had asked the question – and asked in a tone of voice that was not carefree.
Pete asked, suddenly more serious, “It's supposed to end? Strife, I mean?”
“Speaking of strife, David added, “how does one avoid strife after wandering off with some strange... but according to Sally... exceptionally attractive woman... and get away with it?”
I'm sure my color showed my embarrassment, even if no one commented on it. David is a lovely person, but his sense of diplomacy is sometimes stunted to say the least. In retrospect, I suspect he was jealous of Daniel in some manner that I would never be able to comprehend. Accordingly, he may have been making trouble for Daniel, even if only subconsciously.
Pete, hardly noticing David's social blunder, spoke directly to Emily. “Emily dear, if you need well placed witnesses to take this bounder to court – witnesses all respected and admired for whatever silly reason -- then you've got us. I would be happy to represent you – even if my credentials would likely count for nil in virtually any court of law on the planet. Plus which we will forget for the moment that I'm a notorious liar.”
I finally found my voice. “Pete, I though your notoriety was your incredible lack of diplomacy... second only to my beloved husband's.”
“Yeah, well... there's that.” Pete smiled, assuring me he took no offense. “Meanwhile, we can at least bask in the glory of knowing we're all about to become super heroes! Or at least side kicks.”
Daniel then stirred, as if to speak, and quickly gained everyone's full attention. Turning to look directly at Emily, he smiled and said, “Back to your question, Sweetie... I suppose it comes with the territory, my being a Scorpio and worse yet born in the Year of the Dragon. I tend to be very secretive. Still... perhaps if I explain... or at least for the time being, give you some hint of my feelings... and my enthusiasm...”
“That would be cool,” Emily quickly added. She was remaining pretty cool herself.
Being a compulsive note taker, I had already begun taking notes for my diary. Then as Daniel began to speak, he noticed what I was doing. He looked at me for a moment, glancing at my notepad. When I grimaced slightly, he smiled and said something about it being a good idea of keeping a record of this moment. Accordingly, he obliquely encouraged me to continue, saying something about my being an historian for... the future. I had no idea at the time, what exactly he meant by that.
In the same breath I have to admit on that first morning that I detected a reluctance on his part to tell us everything, as if some of the material was too sensitive for public consumption – or at least within the confines of our decidedly non-secure location. I don't know to this day if my taking furious note taking caused him to hesitate in being completely open with us, or if as many leaders might have done he was going to for the moment keep his own counsel. Or perhaps he was testing us – leaving us in a state of uncertainty and requiring us to make our decisions without knowing most of the details. The curious part was that it was precisely that uncertainty that propelled me to throw caution to the winds and join him. David would inevitably be more reluctant, and might have felt his being included was due solely to his being my mate. But for me the dye was cast. Hopefully, David could keep up.
I am hesitant to include all of the details of Daniel's discourse to us. He had, after all, said I was the "historian... for the future." Accordingly, my notes are safely tucked away, at least for the time being. There was also, I suspect, a bit too much of the personal, not something necessarily fit for the history books. But for now, I can only say that when Daniel finished his 'briefing', smiled and left us alone in that white-washed Parikia home provided to David and I by the American University, the rest of us were left with a variety of puzzled expressions on our faces. Inasmuch as I am unlikely to divulge anything prematurely, I will include the following (which I had surreptitiously recorded). Yes, yes, I know; but the work of an historian sometimes allows such things. But it is important to include everything, at one point or another.
After Daniel had left the room, David had been the first to take the plunge, “Does anyone have the slightest idea of what was just said, or what's actually going on here?”
Pete was unusually circumspect, as if distracted by other, more important matters. “You heard the man. He is proposing we join him in a project of some importance.”
David frowned. “Which he is not explaining in any reasonable detail.”
“Depends on what might be considered as reasonable,” Pete answered. “Obviously, the stakes are apparently too high for him to be totally open at this point. Sometimes, one must go with the flow, have faith, even when you have no clue as to the downstream conditions... or even the distinct possibility of an horrendous waterfall in the river ahead. Daniel also said we would just have to trust him. For myself, I will be trusting him completely.”
Emily grimaced. “Wow. Way to put a guilt trip on me, Pete. If you're trusting him, then as his fiance, I would seem compelled to trust him as well. It's one of those things that sort of comes with the territory of being engaged. But just out of curiosity, do you have any kind of a clear clue what this is all about – even if you're not going to share it with us?"
Pete smiled his best mischievous smile. “Several clues, none of which are totally clear. In the interim, however, wild horses, even the best of Neptune's steeds, couldn't entice me to say anything more – nor for that matter keep me from joining Daniel.”
David maintained his not particularly attractive frown. “I'm not sure that's enough for me.”
“As long as we've known each other, you would doubt my intentions?”
“Never your sincerity. But occasionally your judgment. Remember that rather unpleasant...?”
“Yes, yes.... well, I've learned a lot since then,” Pete quickly interjected. “Time to move on, press forward, damn the torpedoes... and dismiss all the other cliches. Now... how about the rest of you?”
I finally found my voice. “What exactly did you see at the church?”
After what appeared to be a thoughtful pause, Pete answered, “Lots of doors.”
“Let me rephrase that. What actually happened?”
Pete sighed heavily. “Sally... as has already been made clear, the reporting of all names and events has been changed to protect the innocent. Isn't it an article of faith that the innocence must always be protected? Even if the innocent consists of primarily me? And yes, to answer your follow on question, there are some things of which I'm innocent.”
“The legal precedence is that if you don't ask, I won't tell. You'll just have to trust me on this one.”
David was unconvinced. “That's it? Trust you?”
“You heard what Daniel said. It's an incredible opportunity. I don't really have a clue as to the details, but something in my gut tells me to rush in where angels and used car salesmen fear to tread.”
When no one else had said anything, Emily said, “I have a question, a rather personal one: Should I be jealous of Lil?”
“Don't be silly,” Pete assured her. “Every woman on the planet should be jealous of Lil. And every man should be terrified she might decide to enlist him as her consort – even if only for one ill fated night. Other than that... I see no problem with Daniel associating with her... even for as long as the nine months or so currently planned. We will all be there as well, you know. It's not like we're going to leave them alone and subject to their own devices... and/or your more run-of-the-mill vices.”
There was long pause as everyone looked at each other.
Pete couldn't resist the temptation to get on his soap box. “Look, folks. It's an incredible quest she's proposed to Daniel and through him the rest of us. It's the chance for all of us to truly make a difference. I'm taking the chance.”
“But her interest was primarily in Daniel, right?”
“Yes. To put it bluntly, the rest of us are... well... expendable... so to speak.”
David laughed. “Oh, that's classic! Just the sort of thing to make one feel honored.”
“I do know that Daniel will be making the same offer to Joe and Laura Rati, and probably Jessica Enid. Those three obviously have talents which will be of great use. So, there is a degree of selectivity here. Admittedly the rest of us may be just getting lucky, being at the right place at the right time. Still, a good part of luck is seizing opportunities. And who knows; perhaps it's fate. Maybe it's manifest destiny. Maybe it's... maybe it's gas.”
“Maybe it's not mere coincidence at all. Maybe there are no coincidences.”
Emily asked, “And Daniel's hooked?”
“You'd better believe he's hooked! He's very interested in what she's proposing. It fits rather precisely with everything he's about.”
For several long moments, everyone studied Pete's attitude and his apparent resolve to take the leap into something... astounding. And for me, mysterious. A very tantalizing prospect. I had discovered long ago that things worked particularly well whenever I just let go, when I allowed whatever my destiny was to be in charge. Some might call it going with the flow... why paddle madly when the stream will take you to places you might never have imagined... and which in the past, has always led me toward some of my greatest experiences? The fact there was mystery added was just so much icing on the cake... how could I resist?
At this point, I was in and said so. David gave me a look of pure amazement, challenging me at some basic level... apparently on the basis of modern day marriages... the kind where there was always the need to make joint decisions (even when such decisions were in direct contradiction to the best interests of one or both partners). But David knew me well enough to know my nature, and that once I began walking down a chosen path, I was committed... until, as he well knew... death. My commitment in fact probably engendered his own resolution. But he had to make his decision in such a manner so as to save face. With an attempt at being his own man, he made an excuse that it would be better than bumming around a Greek island while his wife did her highly exalted teaching gig. Anything to resolve the boredom. It was a valiant attempt on his part. I must admit to having greatly appreciated it.
Curiously, Emily was seemingly the most reluctant of us. She was after all an artist on a career path where things had begun to really click for her in the past year. This was not exactly the time for her to go off on a wild hare at the bequest of her fiance. Hell! Just coming to Paros had been a stretch for her. While she had always been the very supportive mate for Daniel, she was also someone with the intentions and the ambitions to carve out (quite literally) her own destiny. Of those of us in the room that night, she was the only one who maintained her own counsel, even when she seemed to be joining the rest of us. It's just that I'm not sure I really bought her decision. My intuitive guess was that a sudden cold front had come out of the northwest to impact upon their relationship.
For reasons which may become evident or which may be forever buried in the privacy of his mind, Daniel as Liaison chose to have what might best be described as a highly personal and executive recorder of his history. This history/herstory must thus be considered to be a comparatively personal perspective of those events which forever changed the world. It was written by someone who had the incredible good fortune to be in exactly the right place at the right time, to have the requisite talent and experience, and to know precisely the right people in obtaining both. This would seem to have been far more than fate. In fact, this scribe was able before the onset of the Regency to count Daniel as a personal friend. The continuation of that strikingly modified friendship into later times we might anticipate to constitute an equally fascinating tale.
As a personal, executive scribe, it might be expected that such an individual would take on extraordinary importance. There is, for example, the necessity to provide the highest security for such an individual in order to prevent leaks of state secrets – and considering the extent and stunning quality of some of the Liaison's secrets, this was likely of critical importance. It would constitute neglect to have any lower ranking individual given access to critical and top secret information, if the level of security surrounding them was insufficient. Such a level would also include their spouses, children, and other loved ones. Spies and espionage – by whatever means -- have a very strong tradition in history. Only the technology can be said to undergo significant changes.
The employment of a personal scribe also assumes the absolute highest degree of loyalty on the part of that scribe. Ideally, this loyalty would include an almost unswerving love, an individual not easily swayed with the realization of questionable actions of the leader. There could be the implication of sexual relations, but this aspect makes it a bit riskier. Unconsummated love is far more stable than consummated love. Once the sexual threshold has been crossed, it requires an extraordinary degree of agape love in order to maintain a lasting connection, even in the face of the trials imposed by leaders who must make the most difficult, far-reaching decisions – decisions which may counter the moral and ethical paradigms of the day. In all respects, devotion is part of the scribe's job description.
Such a devotion and loyalty, one might add, must of necessity be far in excess of any similar duty or loyalty to one's spouse or significant other.
There seems little question concerning the Liaison's ability to aggressively pursue his goals, leaving a wide swath of naysayers and opponents along his focused path. Accordingly, a wise decision – and if anything appears to describe the Liaison, it is wisdom – would be to have a highly receptive individual who can accumulate a wide variety of data points and make them available to him. That, of course, is the reason for the design of command staffs, but having it also in a supposedly lowly personal scribe – one with whom the Liaison can divulge his hesitations and moments of reflection without the slightest risk of compromise – this is clearly an extremely important aspect of any scribe's job description.
There must also be a notable sense of humor on the part of any scribe – a trait which might appear superfluous, but which for the day and age under question seems incredibly exceptional. In many respects, this is simply a mirror on the Liaison's own sense of humor. Any personal scribe must be sufficiently attuned to the leader's mood and characteristics as to know with exceptional accuracy when he is joking and when he is deadly serious.
As the Liaison's personal scribe, she could be expected to enjoy what might appear to be an exceptional authority or license to question the Liaison in considerable detail. This license was unlimited, save only that the more pointed questions might need be reserved for times when they were very much alone. There were inevitably moments of clear disagreement – even though such disagreements might be more theoretical and always less adversarial. This latter attribute might also sound a bit more feminine, as well as partial evidence of the possibility of what many assumed was a sexual or at the very least a platonic love between the scribe and the man she chose to describe in considerable detail. The latter, of course, implies a bit less objectivity in the scribe's history!
The truth of the matter is, as a personal scribe Sally Sophea Baer did indeed enjoy personal relationships with the Liaison, something considerably more than a mere scribe to a king. Thus one might readily concede that this would not lead to a totally objective point of view. Disregarding for the moment that a truly objective point of view does not exist in the confines of the human race, what is one to conclude as to the truth and accuracy of her accounts of the events that shook the world? Wouldn't her claim of friendship with the Liaison somehow bias her views?
On the one hand, there is substantial evidence to suggest that she did not expect her views to be promulgated at a time when any of the principals were still alive, except in memory, history, and possibly legend. Thus her views and description of events would not be influenced by the necessity of the moment, or the need for public relations that would contribute to the politics of the moment. This is the positive attribute for any expectation for objective reporting.
In the longer term view, her version of events might be dismissed out of hand as the ravings of a long dead king looking for a kind of immortality in the memories of others. And to this, we must admit the possibility. But as claimed by this scribe, that was neither her intent, nor the intent of the Liaison. Their intentions – to the degree they agreed with one another – were to provide an inside view on the thoughts, processing, and agonizing reappraisals. Such a viewpoint may differ from the official version carved in stone and/or written on every papyrus within range, but then it might also be considered as a complement or a supplement to the more limited, official texts.
Besides... what precisely is wrong with a more subjective view? There are always the official histories. What about the personal perspective -- assuming of course that a scribe of history must have more at stake than personal vanity? What are those items which stand out for one person – who just happens to have a unique and informed viewpoint? What are the inner thoughts of one extraordinary maker of history – and how does the evolution of such thoughts and thinking impact the history?
Makers of History seldom take the time to personally document the events of their reigns, their achievements, and most importantly their decidedly private views, ideas, and thoughts (as opposed to those put forth for public consumption). Such documentation is left to scribes and historians, specialists in conveying what often amounts to the winner's version of history.
Conflicting elements of history have traditionally been considered to be... inconvenient. They tend to seriously interfere with the making of grand pronouncements and brilliant theories that conveniently provide the self-aggrandizing modern author with irrefutable logic and thus the primary display of his superiority. The inescapable truth is that “minority reports” of history, events, and arguments are seldom of interest (supposedly, because they do not directly impact the resulting futures). They are often banned, burned, or otherwise discarded, and the potential for such reports being nothing more than a form of Monday morning quarter backing is less than desirable for those following the “majority report”. This is true in law and binding legal opinions as well – even though the advantage of the latter is that at least such reports continue to be available for inspection. The fact that many are sore-loser, radical observations may also be a factor in their distinct lack of popularity.
However, the truth of the matter is that there are no absolute truths. If there were, life would be positively boring. It is only the diversity of viewpoints that count for anything in a four dimensional reality. And inasmuch as diversity was the Liaison's forte, then such non-linear and direct cause and effect correlations are rightly replaced with holistic and chaotic views. As the Chinese have noted, there is much opportunity in times of chaos. It follows that there is much to be gained from the opportunities to follow the many paths in the woods – even those decidedly less traveled.
In general, the advantages of using a personal scribe includes: 1) the history makers themselves can attempt to appear larger than life (without the credibility issue of blowing their own horn), 2) making history is far more time-consuming than recording it, and 3) the art of writing (also known as the art of spin) needs a true professional. Think of the scribe as a critical staff member of a much larger and extensive group effort. History is not always made by the great individuals themselves, but by those who take said great individual's orders and make them happen. Part of the staff are those who communicate the leader's great deeds and thus maintain the illusion or the reality of the support of their followers. It is never the absolute truth that moves the world, it is the perception of an alleged truth.
It is a sad commentary on life that credit for great achievements are too often given to a single individual – whereas without the assistance and cooperation of quite often hundreds or thousands of others, there would be no achievement to be recorded. Even artists credited with great art are often nothing more than managers of a shop accomplishing the various tasks associated with art. Bronze sculpture, for example, requires shapers of clay, mold makers, wax throwers and chasers, ceramic molds, foundry furnaces and metal castings, freeing of bronzes from their shells, metal finishing, and patinas. And this does not include the marketing, public relations, advertising, and so forth necessary to bring the art to those who can both appreciate and pay for it. With respect to the latter, as the Liaison is reputed to have often said, 'art is in the eyes of the promoter'.
In addition to a personal scribe, there is the Inner Circle, the confidants who would maintain some resemblance to the more common elements of societies throughout the world. In the Liaison's case, this was a constantly changing group, albeit each individual always managing to hold on to a special notoriety even after departing. Some historians will undoubtedly challenge the advisability of the random selection process in which individuals were first brought on board, arguing that many of the individuals involved were simply not up the incredible challenges of managing a new world order. What these so-called experts failed to realize is that any weaknesses in this small cadre of the Inner Circle could be used for the Liaison's more devious and secretive purposes. This is an incredibly important point in that true leaders must be willing to use each and every tool afforded to them, despite any hesitation on the basis of commonly accepted moral principles.
A noteworthy claim by the personal scribe and others was that none of the Inner Circle revisited the histories they were recording once it had been corrected for obvious errors – typographical and otherwise. Once final, finished drafts were completed, there were allegedly no modifications thereafter. Subsequent events were not allowed to change what had been written, even when much of what had been recorded may have been found to be far removed from what hindsight later proved to be a preferred interpretation of events. There was to be no revisionist history. Any other course of action would have been disastrous to a true recording of events as seen in the heat of the moments.
This stated desire by the ancients is in fact one of the supporting reasons for the decision of the modern scholars to follow such examples in making these Interim Reports.
Statements, for example, as to the Liaison's intent to use any weaknesses in his Inner Staff for his own purposes was communicated directly to his personal scribe. Obviously, her first reaction was to ask if she could be expected to be included in this scenario of being used. The Liaison's reply is of particular interest.
While enjoying the greatest access to the Liaison, the scribe must also accept the reality of having insider information, including knowing about nefarious events even when they are merely contemplated. It's both mind-boggling and scary. While some may know where the bodies are buried; the personal scribes get to know when someone is being considered as a possible candidate for the next burial. Not always, they might hope, but all too often they could either guess or know with a degree of certainty. One cannot describe the conflicting emotions that well up on this issue.
May the Truth in all its Glory Continue to Be Pursued
M. A. Duenki
 The Boeing CH-47 Chinook is a versatile, twin-engine, tandem rotor heavy-lift helicopter.
 Salmon Rushdie, The Satanic Verses, Viking Press, 1988.
2003© Copyright Dan Sewell Ward, All Rights Reserved [Feedback]