Premiered 9/9/9 (9 September 2009)
The continuation of The Myth and Legend of D'PTah, an original novel by Dan Sewell Ward.
Interim Report 3 -- The Learning Years
Gil felt like the governor of a far flung province receiving a state visit from Caesar himself. Such visits were never a good thing. What any provincial governor would have preferred was to have his domain located far beyond the reach of most mortals... particularly caesars claiming to be gods. Unfortunately, in these modern times travel was comparatively easy. Terrain was no longer the deterrent. One could only wish for the good old days when a governor's autonomy was enormously more remote and thus unilateral.
The visiting Caesar in Gil's case was Zadi Xytol, the titular head of the delegation. Not surprisingly, Xytol was acting like the Supreme, Holy Roman, Czar of Kings, expecting comforts befitting the highest possible echelons of royalty. This was, of course, practically speaking impossible on a working site – save for a quadrupling of the site's annual budget for such occasions. Without such comforts, therefore, Xytol's primary function seemed to have devolved into bemoaning the conditions in the most diplomatic of speak-easy. One walking tour of the site was more than sufficient to cast the dye. Henceforth, all manner of evidence, no matter the cost of doing so, would have to be brought to his personal accommodations.
A delighted Dimutri had immediately joined forces with the delegation, hovering about Xytol like the supplicant that he was. Dimutri's obsequious behavior also had a pragmatic effect: he could now enjoy his meals being prepared exclusively by Xytol's personal chef. No more taking chances on site food – even though no one else at Myricon was having any bouts of diarrhea... or at least to the degree Dimutri had had. He also liked the idea of Gil and his minions serving himself and his master. Such was far preferable to Dimutri having to run about trying to discover problems... or just running to the latrine as before.
A third member of the delegation was Professor Simon Galiworthy, Ph.D., MAS. If rumors were to be believed, Simon had actually spent a significant portion of his career in the field. In fact, he just might be empathetic to Gil's challenges. Incredible as it might seem, here was a member of the Peer Review gang who was actually capable of applying scientific principles and pragmatism to the topic at hand. Even more astoundingly, he might be willing to do so without tolerating any compromises. Obviously, Simon had the potential to became a welcome contributor, as well as observer of the on-going work.
Then there was Anna, of course. The woman seemed to have a different agenda – where “different” might be defined as that of an alien who had just arrived from the far side of the Andromeda Galaxy. What her plans were exactly, no one really had a clue. Okay... well maybe a hint. For example, her underlying motives might perhaps be glimpsed by the fact that instead of the nuts and bolts of digging out artifacts, cleaning them up to the point where they could be investigated, analyzing and translating the results, and documenting every phase of the process... Anna seemed far more interested in what was happening in the final end product. Accordingly, she was spending her time on site primarily with Doctor Duenki – the reigning repository from which the results from Myricon would eventually reach the world at large.
From Gil's perspective, this was not an all together comforting thought. His concern stemmed from the well known axiom that it matters little who votes and who they vote for; what matters is who counts the votes... and as it turns out in some societies... who has the exclusive power to report the votes. No result has any relevance until it has been allowed to surface in the light of day. Data was thus less important to perception than a synthesizing report... which actually made it into the mainstream. In Gil's mind, Anna was ignoring the voting process -- the site data itself -- and instead concentrating only upon the end result, aka the bottom line. Worse yet, Gil's time was being dominated by Xytol's demands, as well as Galiworthy's genuine interest in engaging in meaningful technical conversations. That would leave Dookie at the mercy of Anna. I.e., the dog who was guarding the hen house had become wildly infatuated with the fox(y) lady.
Anna was in fact notorious in archaeological and scientific circles, albeit the specifics of her notoriety was generally unknown by anyone other than those dedicated scholars who routinely dabbled in the highest level of manipulations. And Dookie the Impressionable was going to be manipulated... Gil had no doubt of that! Gil was in fact absolutely certain... as if he'd once been there himself.
Then... just to confuse the issue further, one of Gil's most industrious workers, Freddie the Slow, was becoming nervous at the looming oversight activities and had begun to make mistakes – mistakes of the type related to being a bull in a China shop. Freddie alone could set back the project not just in years but for all time. Worse, he could do this by the inadvertent (or dare we say it, intentional) destruction of documents. And who would be blamed for the defamation of the Temple? As in all such matters, ultimately the head honcho... provided only that he's not too high in the hierarchy. Gil wasn't. Accordingly, it might have reached the point where it was time for Gil to make tracks, hide out in his tent, and surreptitiously monitor events from a distance. On the other hand, it was generally agreed that it was never a good time to take a nap when one's head was resting every so blissfully on the block.
What actually were Gil's options? Trust Duenki to rise to the challenge, remember just a small amount of the pragmatic wisdom Gil had attempted to impart, and then let Dookie (shudder) handle Anna? Or just lose his mind altogether? Gil tended to the first option, and with just a bit of luck he might be able to find time to brief and debrief Duenki... assuming of course, Anna was not sleeping in Duenki's tent. The latter idea seemed unlikely, but Gil knew that high ranking people did not always arrive at their exalted position without breaking more than one rule. Still... Dookie having sex with Shamhat? A mind boggling thought!
Dookie, meanwhile, was making strides at being the Doctor Duenki that “Anna” (as she asked to be called in the privacy of his tent) kept insisting on calling him in public. Curiously, Anna called Doctor Duenki: Arthanius in private... and not Mikhail. (There was probably a good reason in Anna's mind, but she never enlightened either Arthanius or Mikhail.)
Doctor Duenki, by extension, was doing exceptional work, with only casual suggestions of possible “tweakings” by Anna to improve the work. Of course, had he looked up the word “tweaking” in Anna's dictionary, Doctor Duenki strongly suspected that the definition would readily translate to “start over, but perhaps keep the original as a good example of how not to write a good report." Still... with lust still in the atmosphere, do-overs seemed far less onerous.
Meanwhile, there was the distinct impression that the presence of Anna and the PROC team had in fact greatly accelerated the translations. This, of course, was a calculated falsity. Gil had had the team hold back for months, accumulating and holding in abeyance as much work as possible. Then with the arrival of the PROC, the translations suddenly seemed to be bursting the dams. In this way the PROC team could take pride in knowing how they had inspired the troops – when the opposite was true. Also, the flood of material heading for Duenki's tent would hopefully overload any intellectual filter, any nearby observer – such as Anna – and thus escape the detailed scrutiny Gil wanted to avoid at all costs.
Gil's plan worked... to a degree. Xytol and Dimutri were suitably impressed, Simon already knew the ploy (and frankly didn't care one way or the other), and finally Anna was kept smiling and at ease inasmuch as she was already well aware of the obvious subterfuge. It was, moreover, very much to her liking. Had Gil known the latter, he would have been even more concerned than he already was.
From Dookie's point of view, he wanted nothing to do with any micro managing from the PROC, unless of course it was Anna doing the nano-work. If Anna really wanted to get her hands dirty, then why not? Gil had already suggested they slip in the Uncertainty essay, which anyone with a negative attitude would probably hate. The wording would of course be attributed to the ancients, but if Anna was willing to let this stuff pass muster, then perhaps she could be trusted. It would in fact be a good test to see if she was really on their side. From Dookie's viewpoint, testing Anna was the timely and appropriate thing to do.
And to make the test "fair"... Duenki kept thinking of inserting music to raise the dramatic appeal, and to covertly elicit within Anna a cooperative and disciplined emotion. What might work? Hmmm... Finally, Duenki decided on O Fortuna  from Carmina Burana ... the kind of music a revived King Arthur might hear as he and Excalibur rode off with his remaining knights to confront one last time his evil son, Mordred... or for that matter music that could be attributed to any of a dozen other classics . The fact that it was a favorite of Anna's was just Splenda-laced icing on the cake... but of which Duenki was initially blissfully unaware. Not that such knowledge would have discouraged Dr. Duenki. Rationalization has always been the best way to combine reason and emotion into agreeing to the same course of action. This would be true for Dookie as well. It must be admitted, however, that Dookie was still a bit in the habit of accepting authority. But the "Test Anna Theory" did have a lot of appeal. Ready? Begin.
Uncertainty in Interesting Times
The problem with having one's paradigm challenged and left bloodied from the interaction is that one's whole being is suddenly cast adrift. No longer can one make decisions based on stable grounds inasmuch as all foundations are abruptly found to have been built on sand. One's ability to make binding decisions – those once and for all time judgments – is irreversibly shaken. It has in the twinkling of a star become apparent that all of one's previous decisions were based on faulty assumptions and/or a lack of adequate information. And if the past is in error, then what unreasoning arrogance would assume that the present would not evolve similarly?
In a major paradigm shift, the means by which one automatically and unthinkingly reacts to crisis, is suddenly put on hold. During such an hiatus one is forced to learn how to tolerate uncertainty in an imposed time buffer of unknown dimensions. Instead of taking immediate action to remove the thorn in one's side, one might consider that the thorn has its purpose, its own unknown agenda, one even conceivably to one's ultimate benefit. As Rumi has said, “Be grateful for whoever comes, because each has been sent as a guide from beyond.”  One is thus faced with the need for a form of deep faith in the rightness of any outcome – and simultaneously for the development of a willingness to be dead wrong in all of one's assumptions. In limbo becomes a necessary and perplexing state of being. Chaos arrives with the full intent of taking up residence on a long term basis.
The advice of wise men has long been to honor uncertainty, for such is the source from which all new knowledge flourishes. Certainty is limitation, constraint, the jailer of intellect. Comfort is the death knell of the soul, for there is no motivation to question, to wonder, to stand in awe, or to evolve into the exalted being of which one is capable. Living on the edge allows for grasping and relishing the most fleeting and instantaneous of opportunities. The fascinating curiosity is that living on the edge on a long term basis can create its own form of comfort, for the delights in opportunities realized are substantial... and ultimately beneficial. As such they become yet another of mother nature's narcotics.
There is an interesting ancient Chinese curse which says: “May ye be born in interesting times.” Such eras are filled with all manner of chaos, challenges to the prevailing paradigms, and new information, ideas and concepts being delivered at a rate seemingly beyond comprehension. The need for change in a ceaselessly changing universe is inevitably force fed to everyone living in such times. Small wonder that one ancient author called it, The Ordeal of Change .
Chaos, however, is intimately linked to opportunity. Chaos often creates life, while order breeds habit. Novelty is the essence of being, while routine is but a form of death, the latter a rut that is merely a grave with the ends kicked out. In such interesting times, the opportunities come fast and furious, challenging the paradigms of all. Life is thus abundant in chaos; blood flow is increased.
Clearly, the advent of the Regency created chaos throughout the world. Paradigms were shaken to their core, ancient traditions were found to be wanting in their interpretations, and the normal assumptions of everyday life were forcibly challenged. Nevertheless, in this climate, there were immense and far ranging opportunities. Only a “failure of imagination” could be blamed for not taking advantage of what was now being offered to every edge-dwelling person on the planet.
What is astounding from the modern perspective of this author is why there was apparently so little acceptance of the many good works being attempted and accomplished by the Regency. One can assume a cynical posture – something I have done on more than one occasion -- but such a posture does not answer the question. The bits and pieces of a former cynicism had been replaced with the bits and pieces of bewilderment. It's as if the general rule is that people much prefer their dramas and do not want to be afforded a better opportunity. It sounds a bit sad, but if one assumes there is after all some reason to be incarnated on the planet – why not to engage in all manner of drama, tragedy, comedy, and challenges... not to mention "the time honored, nine-step path of personal growth"?
The period of time encapsulated in this report stems from the same time frame in which we ended Book II, and extends forward in time an unknown and uncertain number of years. This lack of precision and definitive description of those ancient times is due to the lack of the records for this time period being in sufficiently good condition so as to readily yield their secrets. While the earlier records were in comparatively good condition, many of the bronze sheets of this period were apparently exposed to sufficiently high enough temperatures, pressures or other conditions to meld many of the sheets together and obscure much of the writings. Instead of extensive narratives, much of the material is fragmentary to the point of creating a dark ages for the years covered. Such are the perils of ancient records research, when we must content ourselves with simply not knowing with certainty the facts of what has transpired.
We are able to decipher, however, that the efforts of the Regency clearly had mixed results. We can assume from these records that many of those in power and influence did reasonably well, while those traditionally victimized continued to find themselves at the short end of the stick. And continuing, as in even earlier times before the advent of the Regency, the latter were preyed upon by religious fanatics.
In the Regency's era, there were apparently: pandemics and plagues, famines and starvation, skirmishes and wars, infernos in energy production fields, flooding of low lying land and seaports, and all manner of nature- and human-induced catastrophes. In this respect, the Regency was a continuation of the past. There were also multiple instances of attempts to right the ship of state, backlash from a wide variety of quarters, and continuing efforts to accomplish what was best for the majority of people throughout the world. We are less able to judge the advisability of many of the Regent's actions, but considering the forces arrayed against him, we can at least understand that many of his actions might have been overly idealistic and consequently not the best of all possible worlds.
A prime characteristic of these ancient times was the art of scapegoatology, wherein all errors, omissions, flaws, and mistakes were transferred in a virtually knee jerk reaction to others. This allowed the complicit individuals to escape admonitions of any sort, and instead deflect criticism toward others. Leaders simply represented the larger target, and seemingly had the deeper pockets with which to transact the bulk of the blame. Contrary to this, we have in modern times recognized that a prime hallmark of civilization is the lack of any need for such leadership... as well as the possible negatives for having powerful leaders.
During the years of the Regency which might be termed “The Learning Years”, leadership was still the ultimate repository for blame. While we as a modern society may not, ideally, revert to using this as a basis for our judgments of these ancient times, we will instead describe the happenings to the best of our abilities, while allowing the reader to make their own decisions concerning the characters in this collection of ancient dramas. Even in those cases where the ancient authors are making their own judgments and decisions, we must always recall that we do not have the omniscience, the all-knowing ability to understand or comprehend the basis for their thoughts and actions. Additionally, we must add the further stipulation that all such judgments must be tentative in that they are based on such fragmentary evidence.
With the exception of several of the more extended fragments, much of these times must be described in a less than satisfactory fashion by an admittedly subjective ordering of fragments into a cohesive whole – with the chronology based on logic and best guesses, instead of strict ordering of cause and effect.
May the Truth in All of its Glory Continue to be Pursued
M. A. Duenki
Jianyu Yongrui was walking back to his stall. His mind was deep in thought, his concentration on a world seemingly far distant from the more generally recognized space-time continuum. The small white dog running alongside might have had similarly distant and non-immediate thoughts... except for the give away that the puppy sized mongrel -- a former and accomplished denizen of the streets and other locales -- was maintaining close watch on the status and well being of his adopted master.
The recent adoption had come about in the traditional manner whereby Jianyu, out of simple kindness, had provided some left over scraps for the dog to eat. From the latter's point of view this was the ultimate bonding experience, one unlikely to be severed by anything short of a thermonuclear device (and only then under the most extraordinary of circumstances). Accordingly, there was now... at least on the part of the small white dog... the absolute necessity to devote himself constantly to the details of Jianyu's journeys -- lest his master walk into a gaping sinkhole in the earth, stumble onto a drug bust gone bad, walk off a high and daunting cliff, or else meet the dreaded Ravenous Beast of distant Outer Kunlunshanmai. Any doubts as to the efficacy of small white dog's efforts could be easily dismissed inasmuch as no threats of any kind from distant Outer Kunlunshanmai had manifested themselves in recent memory. As has been said, journeys, foolish and otherwise, often make for loyal and endearing companions.
This is not to suggest that Jianyu's path was entirely void of obstacles... and in recent months, more than the average number had been manifesting themselves. But while on the one hand Jianyu was not easily dissuaded from his normal 'live and let live' attitude... he had begun to have some fleeting doubts, some occasional hesitation as to the advisability of going through life without a care... or even attempting to do so. Small white dog was invariably a comfort in such times of introspection. Still... what kind of human would allow a small white dog to be their sole protection in such physical and/or metaphysical matters?
Before answering such a question, one should keep in mind that in addition to small white dog being a 'protector', the diminutive, full color spectrum canine had additional responsibilities toward Jianyu. In addition to preventing all manner of disasters from occurring in his master's path, small white dog... as something of an intrepid explorer... routinely guided Jianyu onto paths seldom traveled (and thus making all the difference). Jianyu was in fact more likely to follow small white dog's lead, than the other way around. This had resulted in Jianyu discovering roughly seventeen other routes from his home to his stall by the Great Wall. Most such routes were notably longer in terms of time and distance, but on many of these impromptu excursions, Jianyu had encountered one thing or another which had inspired him in one of his mini-brilliant inventions. And thus the advantage of the less traveled path for Jianyu.
For example, one such diversion took Jianyu through a local parlor for the ingestion of strong herbal remedies for boredom, depression, the rantings of economists and other distinctly human unpleasantries. His short passage through the parlor had made it immediately obvious to Jianyu that there was a distinct lack of fresh air on the premises with which to refresh oneself. Jianyu quickly solved the fresh air problem by instituting a heat exchange ventilation system. Admittedly, in this particular case, there were certain, interesting side effects... particularly those encountered by the immediate neighbors of the parlour. As it turned out, these included the local police station, whose inhabitants unaccountably became... well... stoned. It turned out to be a condition to which they did not actually object. Suffice it to say that Jianyu's solution was ultimately praised by almost all of the local residents. Any minor criticism by higher ranking officers could also likely be dismissed. Of course, Jianyu had never really encountered criticism... or at least he had never recognized it for what it was. When it did occur... that is to say when Jianyu became aware of it... it made him... well... hesitate. It was a new and uncomfortable state for Jianyu.
For small white dog, on the other hand, the event had once again proven the dog's worth in helping to alleviate any possible worries on the part of Jianyu. That is not to say that such worries were in fact eliminated... Jianyu had always had the option to choose what might worry him. But from small white dog's viewpoint, there was always as a minimum the potential scenario for a blissful journey.
Prior to the bewildering changes of recent months, Jianyu had always felt comfortable in leaving the mundane matters of existing in society to his wife. (This had included prior to their marriage, his surprise at her taking the slightest interest in him, and had in fact allowed her carte blanche even then -- but look how well that turned out!) Even now, Désirée was assumed to be her family's sole possessor of the knowledge that survival was in general a daily concern.
Jianyu had been, accordingly, not thinking of mundane survival matters, but instead had been designing something in his mind. Furthermore, in this mode his wife had always known to leave him alone. There would eventually -- after some manic but measured activity -- be created some new device with which Jianyu would have intended to fulfill some pressing need. Désirée knew that her spouse's concept of a 'pressing need' was probably not sufficient for financial viability... but on the other hand, the new invention would almost certainly have some new application, very likely one to which Jianyu had not given a moment's thought. No matter what is conceived and fabricated there is always a market for it, provided only that there is also... clever marketing. Technological innovation is always in the eyes of the promoter.
Among the bewildering changes occurring in Jianyu's (and Désirée's) life, there was the day when, seemingly out of the blue (Jianyu's perspective... not Désirée's), an extraordinary effort was initiated to make some notable changes in Jianyu's and Désirée's lives. The (proposed) changes were all about their stall and its relationship to the Great Wall.
It is well known that the three most important items in retail are 地点 , 地点 , 地点. Siriusly. Okay... “location, location, location”. Whatever. A rose in any other language would smell as sweet.
Of this mercantile wisdom (probably an oxymoron lurking there somewhere), Jianyu had always been blissfully unaware (with a strong emphasis on the blissfully part). Désirée had enlightened Jianyu of this mercantile fact many years ago – but such knowledge had pretty well missed being picked up by any one of his brain's receptors and/or schemas. More recently she had told him their business would almost certainly increase as their previously less frequented spot was now certain to bring a host of well heeled tourists to see the incredible “Rift”. In fact, one competitor – who she had once envied for his location – had even suggested a trade. That's when the controversy had momentarily erupted.
Her response had been immediate. “No way, Jose! Eat dung food and go way!” It was not the response that her competitor had relished and fantasized about. Things suddenly became somewhat adversarial. And because the competitor had long-standing connections with the local police, there was the potential for some serious consequences... most of which would almost certainly not benefit Jianyu and Désirée.
The local police did in fact take an uncommon interest in the problem... for about ten minutes. But then the idea of actually leaving their police station... with its new and odiferous environment... pretty much resulted in a casual dismissal of the competitor's complaint. Being stoned was (at least in this case) incompatible with adversarial relationships.
When Jianyu had become aware of the potential for disturbances in the local ether (and not suspecting the cause of his being spared any official interventions), he had thought for a long moment before saying to his wife in private, “I not sure I like such arguments. I think maybe I let you think about such things.”
His wife accepted the indirect compliment, replying, “Sometimes, you very wise.”
Jianyu smiled broadly, “Maybe... as long as I listen to you.”
Désirée's smile confirmed her total agreement with such pragmatic and exalted wisdom.
Meanwhile, Jianyu's return smile confirmed that he had dodged yet another bullet on this particular day.
The military court had a point: There had to be someone to blame for all of Jerusalem, Palestine, Israel, and the "occupied territories" being brought into consensus reality by a symbolic stake in the heart of the religious district. Obviously, the senior officer on the ground – provided of course he was not too senior – was the obvious individual to be held responsible... to in effect, be victimized. Forget the fact that Sol had secured the area, immediately called for reinforcements, and prevented all manner of graffiti from being applied -- thus preventing any possible anger on the part of the creators at any apparent lack of local respect for their... well... artistic and/or political statement(s). Whichever. Sol had in fact done all that might have been expected of him.
But still... the whole thing was so damn embarrassing. The military could no longer suffer such continuing embarrassments, particularly if their much vaunted invincibility was to be maintained. Forget for the moment that their alleged invincibility had already become pretty much history. But there was no requirement that the vaunted military admit to such heresy. What was essential, therefore, was a target for whatever wrath might be coming down the pike... i.e., a sacrificial scapegoat... or just a victim. Inasmuch as the military has long specialized in training professional victims, it was pretty clear what needed to be done: throw one junior officer to the wolves.
On the plus side, there was the added ingredient that Sol had pretty much had it with a military career. He was ready to leave, and thus how much more convenient could it be – and to the advantage of all parties – that Shaul Isaac Rosenberg have his commission revoked and return forthwith to civilian life? Sol had almost laughed aloud when he heard the plan, but his recent history of strong discipline prevented the guffaw just in time. Instead, he showed remorse, got his severance package (unusually large for his rank – apparently a combination of severance and hush money), and headed home for Jaffa.
Sol spent perhaps three hours saying his good byes in Jerusalem before heading west. He was eager to begin his new life, one which involved having inherited from his recently deceased father three apartments in one of the more scenic (aka tourist) areas of Jaffa. One apartment even had a spectacular view of the Mediterranean Sea -- assuming of course you stood in just the right portion of the balcony, leaned over the rail, and ignored the tops of several intervening buildings. Still, there was a nice breeze.
Sol might have opted to take the view-apartment for his own, but being a newly anointed entrepreneur he took the least desirable apartment, rented the second apartment to a newly married couple on a long term basis, and kept the view-apartment for weekly and monthly rentals by those American and/or European Jews who were trying to obtain the quick and easy experience of living in Israel. It was as if the latter exercises were some kind of religious duty; rather like a trek to Mecca for others. There was accordingly much more money to be made in the view rental than the other apartments... even if it was also going to be more trouble in terms of management and maintenance. Meanwhile the second apartment provided enough stable income for Sol to essentially make ends meet. The view-apartment could thus provide the icing on the cake – possibly a source of capital to allow some foreign travel for Sol. Sol liked his idea.
The bad news had been that the influx of tourists to Jaffa had become erratic. There was enough income for Sol to stay afloat, but for the moment there would be no foreign excursions for him. Besides, all those officials at passport controls throughout the world were become very, very nervous these days, particularly when it came to viewing and passing on passports derived from the Middle Eastern states.
Simultaneously, there was the ecumenical push by the Regent. Suddenly, Sol found it expedient, if not outright lucrative, to rent to tourists of all religions, including Christians and Muslims, Hindus, Buddhists, and Marcionites. Sol had never been a religious bigot, but as an officer in the Israeli military, he did not exactly have a lot of gentiles as close personal friends. He was nevertheless compelled, via the Regent's leadership, to make the effort to broaden his philosophical horizons.
The view-apartment was quickly redecorated so as not to offend or put off tourists who were from different religions. This was easy to do, and getting to meet and talk briefly with his new cadre of renters began to work its own subtle magic. Besides learning more than he ever really imagined about Christmas and Ramadan, Sol had also begun to understand viewpoints that were directly contrary to his Jewish training. After his military defrocking, however, all of such contrarian attitudes were fine by him. In effect, Sol had already been bewitched. He was now vulnerable. (Hee, hee.)
At the same time, Sol was actually beginning to see in his hometown of Jaffa a genuine increase in tolerance for all religions. Things were beginning to look pretty cool! Diversity breeds understanding. There are all sorts of other things that it breeds... but that's for later.
Breanne, meanwhile, was just plain excited. “It's a great position," she exclaimed with enough enthusiasm to discourage any disagreement. "I'll have plenty of time to do my own research; and between Arequipa, the new observatory, and a major new project in Bolivia west of the Uyuni salt flats, there is going to be a lot of professionals with whom I can work. I will be in the position to get some fabulous experience and simultaneously work with some of the best in the field. It's really the best of all possible worlds!”
Roger smiled; he loved it when Brea was getting excited... for whatever reason. There were all those delightful side effects of such infusions... the fringe benefits, come to think of it, of any well founded relationship. “It sounds great, honey, but you do realize of course that I don't speak Spanish.”
“You don't speak French either... at least not very well... but that hasn't stopped us, has it?” She smiled in her patented manner of eliciting anything and everything from Roger (not to mention Edward). “Besides, I can speak Spanish for both of us." Then as an after thought, "Better yet... with all the influx of other professionals into the area, it's not like there won't be a lot of people who don't speak English.”
Roger feigned a hesitation. “What would I do? Be a house husband? I thought you hated that idea. You have in fact mentioned that opinion more than once. At last count, something of the order of...”
“Honey! You can do your photography. I'm willing to bet there will be opportunities all over the place for a good photographer.” Brea was bound and determined to remove all obstacles from her career path. She wanted Roger to go with her and such minor difficulties as his career path – whatever in the world that might be -- could not be allowed to impede her rush to professional glory.
“Sweetie,” Roger began, “I'm really not the most seasoned and best photographer around. I'd be kidding myself if I thought I could make a good living at photography.”
“You could get a regular job,” Brea sighed.
“Not speaking Spanish?” When Brea grimaced slightly, he added, “There's also the fact that you will be spending a lot of nights working at the observatory. I don't think you want a husband working a nine to five job. We'd never see each other.”
Brea hesitated as she thought about the situation. That last argument had been telling. Why be together when you never see one another, except shapes passing in the dark. “It would be nice for both of us to have some flexibility in your work schedule. I can see that.”
“And you know of course that my dad wants me to come home and go to work for him,” Edward added, managing to hide the mischievous twinkle in Roger's eye even as Brea visibly shuddered.
“Roger, honey,” she began. “I love you... and your family. But I have worked so hard to get where I can follow my dreams. I just can't give it up now. Besides... my dearest darling, I really don't want you to work for your family. I don't think that would make anybody very happy.”
Roger smiled broadly. Score one more for the devious path. “Then obviously it's a perfect match!” When Brea looked him askance, he explained, “Neither one of us want to go back to my family.”
Brea brightened up immediately. “Then it's settled! I'll call them tomorrow and accept.”
“Sure. And I'll buy an English/Spanish dictionary,” Roger added, with a huge grin. 'What a coup!' he thought. 'Everything was great!' Roger could continue to coast career wise, pursuing his own interests, enjoying the delectable fruits of his relationship with Brea and being the house husband he had always preferred. The best part was that Brea did not even suspect the truth. She would instead be thinking that he was being so nice, sacrificing so much... just for her! 'This shit was too good to be true,' Roger thought. It was so cool whenever the situation allowed everyone to do precisely what they wanted, and for the sweet icing on the cake: the appearance of Edward having volunteered to be the sacrificial goat.
Attributes and characteristics of highly successful individuals include (but may not be limited to): great wisdom, enlightened knowledge, as well as the ability and motivation to study, research, and discover great truths. But the greatest of these is the gift of gab.
Raul Rolando was having a great day. He was involved in the work of accumulating the stones of Sacsayhuaman and placing them in what was hopefully the most likely original locations. The local crop of archaeologists had found themselves besieged by dozens of foreign archaeologists, all with their own opinions on precisely which stone should go where, and more importantly, just how the completed temple/fortress should look once things were done. There was accordingly a lot of heated arguments, which Raul tended to find more amusing than of any real significance. Instead, he was working on something in which he delighted, his confidence in the future soaring, and life was looking good.
The fact of the matter was that the whole thing was really out of control. The indigenous population had suddenly found for themselves a worthy cause! Accordingly, they were happily extracting stones from various Catholic Churches, seemingly oblivious to the inevitable damages that such extraction was causing. Or else cheering and partying when whole walls came tumbling down; the latest version of the Walls of Jericho being done in by the singing and cheering crowds of the recently re-enfranchised. The process had become an event with thousands of volunteers eager to take large chunks out of the churches (literally and figuratively) and/or support the other reconstructionists by cooking, feeding, and even finding beds for those arriving for the festivities from considerable distances. It was the long awaited party time so often envisioned whereby the conquistadors finally encountered Manco Capac's Revenge.
The priests and their followers had quickly realized the futility of resisting the revolution – particularly inasmuch as the Regency was more likely to be on the side of the revolutionaries than on the side of the status quo. Consequently, there was a massive effort to save the interior holy artifacts and move them to comparatively safe locations. There were several skirmishes in this rescue effort in that many of the natives had decided that a really appropriate activity would be in the burning of the many and varied old paintings of priests and conquistadors who had been honored by the church for their abilities to enslave a race and also to eagerly attempt to eradicate its culture. The main square of Cuzco had in fact been home to one of the first bonfires with paintings going up in flames in front of the very church those paintings had enjoyed as their sanctuary for in some cases centuries. Only the army's intervention – at the bequest of the Regent – stopped this particular form of destruction. Curiously, the army's intervention came a bit too late to save more than a half dozen paintings of an archbishop or two – and these later succumbed to various forms of water damage and/or a decided lack of pest control.
The churches themselves, however, were already teetering, and in several cases had collapsed. Raul had watched in amusement two of the more spectacular collapses. As he had surveyed the scenes, he had unconsciously rubbed his knuckles, the ones that had been left wounded and bleeding from too many attentions by the discipline-oriented, so-called angels of mercy, known to Raul and his friends as the Nuns of the Order of Caligula. Raul could find no sympathy for the Conquistador's Churches being destroyed. It really was a new world. Or better yet, for Raul an old one reborn. Either way... it was fun!
In the beginning months, the tourists had flocked to the inverted monument... despite the fact that the crowds were sufficiently intense that there was only minimal breathing space for any but the hardiest of souls. The good news was that everyone -- and from most any viewpoint-- had a good view of the phenomena with which to stand back and marvel. The bad news was that it soon became evident: the only thing that they could do was to stand back and marvel. There were no longer any entries into the monument, such that everything had to be viewed from a distance. Even the information center and gift shop was off limits (having been essentially destroyed by the uprooting), and thus far the gift shop's very temporary replacement had attracted almost no attention.
Consider the following:
Still, the tourists came; almost double the roughly 800,000 from last year. It's just that Frank saw very few of them up close and personal. Instead, Frank got to stand around, looking official and waiting for the damn thing to fall over. Frank had even acquired a small camera for just such an eventuality. Photos were often worth their weight in gold. And if he could capture on film a return visit by the revisionist architects, or simply the monument just keeling over... it would be photos worth their weight in rhodium.
Of course, in the event that the monument did not tilt, collapse, or be rearranged to yet another configuration – and horror of horrors, Frank was not there to capture it on film – he just might have to think about something else to do. Unfortunately, nothing sprung to mind. It was a mental condition Frank Antonio Lazaro would carry to his final days.
Amazing! Anna passed on Duenki's draft without the slightest hint of a suggested redraft. She just smiled at Dookie and then left the tent. One might have thought her agenda had abruptly changed. Or maybe the music had worked its magic, reminding everyone of world class heroics.
When Dookie passed on this revelation to Gil, his boss had groaned. “What the hell is going on here? I can't figure it out! You tell me Anna is okay with our output? Now, that's scary. Meanwhile, after avoiding the dirt and the mud for days, suddenly everyone is taking a much more detailed interest in the site itself. Dimutri has been down there most the day... and, I might add, is stumbling over everything. The guy is just flat reckless. Meanwhile, Xytol has been there, smiling at his minion's antics. I'm getting worried.”
“Can't we discourage either of them? Maybe a narcoleptic inducing drug?”
“I don't think so." He hesitated before admitting, "I've tried. As for discouraging them.... it was like water off a healthy duck's back. It's like a premonition has begun running things, one where something is about to happen... anything... just so they can blame someone. Which will probably be your friend Freddie. Talk to him at dinner and tell him to be extra careful – I don't want him becoming a scapegoat, a possibility that cannot be easily dismissed. We might even have to side line him ourselves... although he knows most of the tricks in that regard... and with his sense of duty, he'd fight tooth and nail to stay on the job, even when he's a primary target.”
“What about Shamhat? Do you still think she's a threat?”
“You tell me." When I grimaced and shrugged, Gil continued, his voice even more intense. "It's a bit more than a distinct possibility.” Then he added, “But her agenda has always been a mystery to me. I can't tell for certain whether or not she is one of those whose loyalties vary with the tides, or someone who can toss aside the most devoted follower any time such an exercise might be prudent or beneficial. Such people befriend others, ally with them, and then toss them to the wolves. Watch your back, man!”
 Mawlānā Jalāl ad-Dīn Muḥammad Balkhī, aka Jalāl ad-Dīn Muḥammad Rūmī (1207 – 1273) -- upon whose life and work the Order of the Whirling Dervishes was established --
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