Thursday, December 29, 2005
I turned my car into a temple parking lot, Lango following behind in the brown Sonla. Only one other car was in the lot, over by the temple entrance. I parked thirty meters away, which was all the further the size of the lot allowed. I backed in, my rear bumper almost touching a hedgerow. Lango did the same, parking beside me.
I popped the trunk and got out. Lango stood up on the other side of the vehicle and smarmed, “Let’s see what we got here.”
I rubbed the bridge of my nose under my sunglasses and went to the trunks. I flipped open the lid of our mostly-empty trunk and stepped over to the Sonla. Lango raised the trunk lid.
Two cardboard boxes, folded shut, about a half-meter cube each.
“I didn’t think automatic rifles came that small.”
I removed my sunglasses, put them in my shirt pocket, and replied, “Shut up or I may have to kill you.”
Lango whined, “Gods. It was just a joke.”
I opened a box. Unlabeled packets of seeds. Trowels and similar gardening tools. Various-sized pots. Lango opened the other box, tearing the cardboard. Bags of potting soil. This had to be a joke. A hideous joke.
Lango pulled the police report out of his pocket, checked the license plate. “It’s the right plate, and the description matches. But the delivery isn’t here.”
Zhíno Zhudırı had tricked us. He’d taken the guns and explosives and disappeared. He tricked us.
I did not like being tricked.
Wednesday, December 28, 2005
If you're paying attention to the Narakan calendar, I'm sure you noticed that today is the first day of the year Kéna Zhono Sa. So, happy New Year!
Today is also, of course, the Holy Day of Kérasa, the High Goddess of Water. So, happy Kérasa Day, too, if you're into that sort of thing.
Pí‘oro quickly turned and looked upwards, at the rim of the gully. He held up his hand at me. Did he hear something? Nothing but the creek and the wind and the birds. The old man gracefully uncrossed his legs and stood, eyes and ears still pointing up the slope. He must’ve heard something.
If he started snooping around looking for someone, that would be a perfect time to run.
He silently walked toward the gully wall, toward a trail up, eyes still focused upward.
Upstream, away from Pí‘oro, away from Zhíno. Brushes grabbed at me, scratched my face and arms. I stubbed my toe on a rock, tripped on the long hem of the pants. A tangle of vines caught me, wouldn’t let go. Thorns. I scrambled forwards, ripping cloth and cutting skin.
Behind me, I heard nothing. No stomp of running feet, no shouts. But Pí‘oro was being stealthy. He could be stealthy.
I kept crawling, kicked my leg free of the last of the thorns, got to my feet, and ran. The bushes started thinning out. Running got easier. I tripped on the pants again, grabbing a small tree to keep from falling headfirst into a boulder.
I paused, breathing hard, and rolled up the oversized trousers. My feet were dirty and bloody. My left big toe throbbed. Blood pooled around the nail, flowed onto the orange soil. Pain. Sharp pain. “Fuck.”
Tuesday, December 27, 2005
Névazhíno’s energy swirled around me, tugging at the flames, tugging at my skirt. The cow shuddered. Her blood flew through the air, individual iridescent spheres of red liquid floating slower and slower, catching on the divine spirit of Névazhíno, whirling around the altar and me and the cow.
“O Névazhíno, I feel Your presence. Will You accept this sacrifice?”
I looked up at stars, a moonless night sky. A giant bear towered above me, His eyes glowing with every color. The crackling vortex continued to whip around us, enlarging the flames and knocking the grass flat.
“Are you the recipient?” Névazhíno’s voice boomed, echoed in my skull. I staggered from the divine contact.
Louder, He repeated, “Are you the recipient?”
I drew in a deep breath of the cool night air, stared the bear in His eyes, and replied, “No, I am the petitioner. There is no recipient but you.”
“Petitioner?” The bear loomed. The tornado of energy and blood tightened around me and the dying cow, pushing us together. The stars disappeared. “What is your request?”
The god’s spirit brushed my skin, charging my body with tingling power. “My husband has been possessed. Zhíno abandoned his own body and took over my husband’s.”
The bear disappeared. The wind slacked. The flames died down. The tingle remained.
Névazhíno returned, stronger than before. “No, he hasn’t.”
Friday, December 23, 2005
Chandira told me to post photos, so here you go! The only one she got of me, and one I took of her.
Maybe I finish eating first because my fork doesn't have to travel as far...
I pushed the button before they even started leaning in, before I knew what they were doing. Four second shutter delay. Darn digital cameras. If only it delayed five seconds this time. Or at least let me take another picture right quick after this!
We had our company Christmas party last night at the Space Needle. We took over the entire 100' level, the Wheedle Restaurant as they originally called it, if my memory serves me. Wheedle on the Needle? He has the blinking red nose, remember? The Sonics mascot before the sasquatch? Don't remember? Oh well.
It was very windy up top on the observation deck. The windward door up there was locked shut because of the high winds. Of course, I discovered this from the outside... We could even feel the building shake from the wind down on the bottom level.
Anyway, good party, good food, good times. The boss in charge of this year's festivities apparently cleaned out his liquor storage closet, because there were plenty of extra presents that got raffled/trivia-contested off, and there was a lot -- a lot -- of booze. Big bottles. Liter and a half of vodka, that kind of thing. Like you get at Costco in Hawaii. Or rather, like this boss gets at Costco in Hawaii...
I got via raffle a Homer Simpson bottle opener that talks when it touches the bottle cap. But it only had one saying, so I used my trivia-earned "free trade" card to get Brew-opoly. It's Monopoly, but with microbrews. And not the Pyramid/Red Hook kind of breweries, but smaller ones like Moose Drool and Fat Tire. Actually, those are the only two I recognized on the board. They must be Northwest breweries. There was plenty of Boston-this and Wisconsin-that on the board, too. Chandira got the Homer bottle opener in that trade. She also had a camera, so maybe she'll post pictures...
I led Tamé to the rear door and exited into the sunlight. The small, fenced-in parking lot had two light poles, a tow truck, and nothing else.
“So, where’s the car?”
Tamé took two steps and pointed at the asphalt. “Right here.”
I saw nothing but an empty parking stall. “That’s nothing but an empty parking stall.”
“But that’s where I parked it.” He removed his cap and scratched his scalp, looking around.
I joined my hands behind me and walked past Tamé along the concrete sidewalk. At the corner of the building, where the chainlink fence met the wall, the five-meter-wide gate stood completely open. I gazed through the opening, down the alley, back to the street. No car. Nobody.
“Now who would be bold enough to steal a car out of a police station’s parking lot?” I glanced at Tamé, who had followed me. “Did you lock the gate?”
“It was open when I got here.”
That would be a no. “Do you think Zhudırı might have followed you here?”
Tamé smiled for some reason. “No, I doubt that. I wouldn’t recognized any of those cars in my rearview mirror.”
Whatever was going on today, none of it was coincidence. “I’ll call you if I have further questions.”
Thursday, December 22, 2005
12,067 meters per second, 46,440 kilometers per hour, 28,860 miles per hour, 8 miles per second. The fastest manmade object in Earth's atmosphere, coming in for a landing. I hope the parachute works this time. Because Genesis went kinda crunch last year.
I got the last of my presents wrapped yesterday. It was sent next-day air on Monday, but didn't get here until Wednesday. UPS decided it made sense to ship the package from Denver to Seattle via Kentucky. How on earth did they expect it to get here in one day when they take it a few extra thousand miles?? Actually, the log shows that it did arrive in Seattle on Tuesday, around 6:30 p.m. The first thing they did with the package, though, was send it to Redmond that night. So then Wednesday morning, they drove it back to Seattle.
I'm not sure posting the list of the when and where of packages is in the best interest of UPS if it exposes customers to this sort of nonsense.
She? I glanced at the horse’s nether regions. By the time I looked back toward the policewoman, Séara was entering the bushes, crouching low. The leafy branches enveloped her and I was alone with the horse.
The sun beat down. The leaves fluttered in a slight wind. The horse walked forward to munch on the greenery. Birds sand. The sun beat down.
The shade of the trees invited me. I didn’t really have to do what Séara said, did I? I could follow her if I wanted, right? Just because she was a sheriff’s deputy, she thought she could boss me around. Well, that’s not right. “Not right at all.”
The horse turned her head to look at me, then went back to tearing leaves off bushes.
I stayed put.
Fairly soon, Séara returned silently. She walked over to me, glanced at my bare feet, and whispered, “You could’ve moved a little, if you wanted to.” She smiled, taking the edge off the joke.
I couldn’t help but smile back. “Are they there?”
She nodded. “Three. One large man wearing a button-down shirt, boxers, and loafers; one younger man naked and asleep; and a blonde woman wearing a tshirt and the large man’s khaki pants. The naked one is Zhudırı, I’d guess, if that’s his shirt you’re wearing.”
I nodded. “And Fírí and Mr. Kılímı.”
Wednesday, December 21, 2005
Happy Pétíso Day!
Today is, of course, the Holy Day of Pétíso, the God of Death. It is time to thank Him for something or another, reincarnation, yadda yadda yadda. It's also the Winter Solstice, so things will start getting lighter around here. Just in the nick of time, if you ask me.
On the other hand, if you're in Australia or Chile or some other warm place south of the equator, welcome to summer!
I leaned forwards, eyes still on Pí‘oro, and grabbed his khakis off the matted plants. Without standing, I pulled on the voluminous pants. I knelt to zip them and buckle the belt. It wrapped almost twice around my waist. I sucked in my gut a little and I got the buckle to reach the first hole. I settled back against a log.
“Warmer now?” asked Pí‘oro. He seemed sarcastic.
I felt less vulnerable, more secure, and yes, slightly warmer. I nodded. “What now?” He wasn’t about to explain his rape plans to me, but maybe I could use his other ideas against him.
He sat himself cross-legged on a chair-high rock, facing the stream. “Well, the way I reckon it, we need to wait here until the people chasing you. . .” He turned his head to stare at me. “. . . decide that we’re not at the house or anywhere nearby. Until tomorrow morning would be my guess.”
I didn’t think the police would give up that quickly and I knew that once Gogzhuè’s goons arrived in town, nothing would stop them until Zhíno lay dead. We’d missed the payment, reneged on the deal, left them standing around vulnerable.
And it hadn’t been because we were waylaid by cops or even because we had a flat tire or something. We missed the drop because Zhíno got the idea into his head to shoot at Bhanar. I looked at my boyfriend lying naked and comatose. Maybe I should just ditch him here, after all.
Tuesday, December 20, 2005
Two years ago, Europe lost their interplanetary robot, the Beagle II. Now, NASA's Mars Global Surveyor has found it: "Missing Beagle probe sighted on Mars."
Apparently it landed right where they expected it to, but just a bit too hard for the computers onboard to survive.
"Where's my robot?" "It's right where you left it!"
Must we do everything for them?
The cow lay beside the altar, drugged. We’d never sacrificed a large animal before, so I didn’t have a way of getting it on top the rock slab. I only hoped that Névazhíno would hear the ritual anyway. I didn’t want to needlessly kill a cow.
The knife was comforting in my hand, reflecting all eight braziers. I’d closed both doors, so now the entire room danced with a multitude of flickering shadows. In my other hand, I held a small chalice of purified and sanctified blood––a mixture of human, cow, pig, rabbit, sheep, cat, dog and several other animals.
I stood beside the sleeping cow and exhaled slowly. And inhaled even slower. My heart calmed. My body and soul relaxed. Finally, when my spirit was ready, I intoned, “O Névazhíno, God of All Animals, I beseech You.”
The sanctified blood poured over the cow in a thin stream, tracing from head to hindquarters. It seeped into her hair, staining the tan into scarlet-black.
“O Névazhíno, please hear the words of Your humble servant, one of Your devout worshippers, one of Your faithful animals.”
The knife, long and sharp, pressed against the throat of the cow. Her skin dented, then split, fresh blood spilling around the steel blade. The knife dug deeper, slid across her neck. Crimson spurted past the cow’s head, into the surrounding darkness.
“O Névazhíno, most pure and noble of all the gods, I beg of You, please hear me, listen to me, speak to me.”
Monday, December 19, 2005
That didn’t sound quite to be standard procedure. “Did you see Zhíno Zhudırı while you were there?”
“Who? The car’s owner?” He shook his head, waved a hand. “Nah. They said he was in their ‘chapel.’”
I stared at him. Why’d he emphasize that word? “You mean here in town?” Which god did the Kılímıs worship?
“Nope. She meant a room in their house.” He grinned lopsided. “It told you they were weird.”
If Zhudırı was in a chapel in the house, why was Nulıpéshı running around the outside? Either somebody had lied to Tané or the deputy, or Zhudırı was on the move. Which meant he was dangerous.
I reached for the phone, flipped through my rolodex, found Deputy Laparıpısamı’s home number, dialed. Tamé just stood there with his hands in his overall pockets while the phone rang in my ear. And rang. And rang.
“Hello?” A woman, out of breath.
“This is Detective Marıdırı. May I speak to Deputy Laparıpısamı?”
“I’m sorry, but. . . but he’s not here.” Her voice trailed off. I’d never called his house before.
“Find him and tell him to call the dispatcher.” I hung up. “Well, let’s go see this car.” And maybe visit the Kılímıs in the process.
Sunday, December 18, 2005
Jiffy Lube told me that my upper brake light was out. I told them they replaced it four months ago, so why is it dead already? They said they could replace it again, but it's probably an electrical problem. Since they've sold me bum wiperblades in the past, I decided I didn't want to buy any more lightbulbs from them.
So this morning, I went down to my car, intent on getting the bulb out and then going to buy my own replacement. After much fun lying on my back in my trunk with my legs flailing, Swiss Army knife gripped in my hand, and did I mention it's freezing out, I finally got the plastic doohickey unhooked from the car frame. I crawled into the back seat and twisted the electrical part free of the plastic shell. The bulb just about fell out when I touched it.
The filament was good. Which meant it had to be an electrical problem. Which meant it was all Jiffy Lube's fault, because they're the last ones to touch it. So I tried to put the bulb back in, but it didn't go in very well. I looked closer, my upper body jammed in underneath the back window. One of the metal clips that hold the bulb in place was bent crooked, blocking where the bulb slides in. With my trusty Swiss Army knife which has only once caused me difficulty at the airport, I bent the metal back to its proper location. I popped in the bulb with a satisfying click, hopped into the driver's seat, hit the brakes, and. . . Let there be light! It worked.
So I put it all back together, which was surprisingly easier than taking it apart, and then drove here to the office because I was already in my car and planning on swinging by on my way back from the auto parts store.
Yesterday, I reshelved all my bookcases and then wrapped presents. I watched about fifteen hours of Farscape. Or maybe only ten. I jumped around on the tapes that ReniMamurd gave me. Part of season 2, part of season 2, part of season 3. I think I like season 3 the best. I also watched Revenge of the Sith and half of Red vs Blue season 3. But then right back to Farscape. Farscape is addictive.
And then before I went to bed, I stepped out onto my balcony and stared into the firmament. Exceedingly clear night. Tarénara, Rívorí, and all the stars beckoned. . .
Here's what my bedroom looked like before I started bringing furniture back into it (The bed and lamps stayed there the whole time):
I'm standing in my closet doorway. Green surrounds me.
I still have one present remaining to wrap, but it hasn't arrived yet. I ordered it last Tuesday with three-day delivery. I called them Friday after it didn't arrive. I was told that on the last webpage of their ordering process (after the payment has been processed), there's a disclaimer stating they usually take three days before the product gets shipped. But he said they're running a day behind, so I wouldn't get it until next Thursday. I cried foul and said they should inform customers about that extra delay before they pay more for speedy delivery. He relented and said he'd put it on next-day delivery, which means Tuesday.
But here's a picture of all my presents (minus one) around my tree:
I think I need a bigger tree. . .
Séara turned her head slightly. “Looks like a spring. That’s probably where they went.”
“A spring? But this is a desert,” I said to the back of her ear.
“There’s a big aquifer below us. Everybody has wells. Sometimes the water finds the surface by itself.”
Her voice reverberated like temple bells, alto and smooth. Satin sheets.
The trail veered slightly right, turning toward the clump of trees which must house the spring itself. Séara slowed the horse to third gear, let it trot along as we neared the trees. Then down to the bouncing gait and finally a walk. The horse’s fur foamed a bit. Séara patted his neck, murmuring something.
I reluctantly loosened my grip around her waist and sat back slightly, straightening up. She leaned back with me, keeping contact. My pulse quickened.
“So. . .” I said.
The trail ahead of us dove into bushes. Séara stopped the horse. “Get off,” she whispered. She grabbed my hands. “Give me the guns.”
“Should not I have one?”
She hesitated, her hands soft and warm, then released my left hand. I gave her the gun from my right. Two hands on her waist, I swung my leg back and over. I flew through the air, stumbled, but stayed on my feet.
Friday, December 16, 2005
As if the big, strong Pí‘oro couldn’t carry both me and my sweatpants. He was lying. He wanted me to lose as much clothing as possible. He wanted to see me naked again. He wanted to rape me again. I couldn’t look at him. “Just please, stay away.” I hugged my knees tighter.
“Okay, okay.” He moved further away from me. “I’m sorry.”
He admitted it! I had to escape. There I was, in a clearing in a gully that only he knew about, way off in the middle of the desert where nobody would hear me scram. I had to get out of there right now.
Zhíno. I couldn’t leave him. I couldn’t take him. I looked up at the rim of the little canyon, and then the opposite edge. I didn’t even know which way to go.
Pí‘oro watched me, his cold eyes studying my bare legs, where my panties showed. I adjusted my feet closer together. Pants. I really needed pants.
“Can I have your pants? My legs are cold.”
Pí‘oro frowned. “I was thinking of giving them to Zhíno, but. . .” He glanced at my comatose boyfriend. “I guess he won’t know the difference.”
The fat man stood and began unbuckling his belt, unzipping his fly. My heart thudded. Adrenaline flowed, telling me to flee. One step closer to him raping me and I’d asked him for it. Run now. But I froze, immobile. Pants around his pale ankles, Pí‘oro removed his shoes. Gray boxers. He held out the pants, stepped towards me, then stopped and tossed. They fluttered to the ground a meter short of me.
Thursday, December 15, 2005
Congress shall make no law respecting an establishment of religion, or prohibiting the free exercise thereof; or abridging the freedom of speech, or of the press; or the right of the people peaceably to assemble, and to petition the government for a redress of grievances.
A well regulated militia, being necessary to the security of a free state, the right of the people to keep and bear arms, shall not be infringed.
No soldier shall, in time of peace be quartered in any house, without the consent of the owner, nor in time of war, but in a manner to be prescribed by law.
The right of the people to be secure in their persons, houses, papers, and effects, against unreasonable searches and seizures, shall not be violated, and no warrants shall issue, but upon probable cause, supported by oath or affirmation, and particularly describing the place to be searched, and the persons or things to be seized.
No person shall be held to answer for a capital, or otherwise infamous crime, unless on a presentment or indictment of a grand jury, except in cases arising in the land or naval forces, or in the militia, when in actual service in time of war or public danger; nor shall any person be subject for the same offense to be twice put in jeopardy of life or limb; nor shall be compelled in any criminal case to be a witness against himself, nor be deprived of life, liberty, or property, without due process of law; nor shall private property be taken for public use, without just compensation.
In all criminal prosecutions, the accused shall enjoy the right to a speedy and public trial, by an impartial jury of the state and district wherein the crime shall have been committed, which district shall have been previously ascertained by law, and to be informed of the nature and cause of the accusation; to be confronted with the witnesses against him; to have compulsory process for obtaining witnesses in his favor, and to have the assistance of counsel for his defense.
In suits at common law, where the value in controversy shall exceed twenty dollars, the right of trial by jury shall be preserved, and no fact tried by a jury, shall be otherwise reexamined in any court of the United States, than according to the rules of the common law.
Excessive bail shall not be required, nor excessive fines imposed, nor cruel and unusual punishments inflicted.
The enumeration in the Constitution, of certain rights, shall not be construed to deny or disparage others retained by the people.
The powers not delegated to the United States by the Constitution, nor prohibited by it to the states, are reserved to the states respectively, or to the people.
I held the phone away from my mouth and sighed. What was that girl thinking? “Hopefully she’s interrogating a handcuffed Zhudırı and has just forgotten to check back in.”
“Yes, probably.” I sensed my own doubt in his voice. “I’ll let you know as soon as she reports, sir.”
“Thank you.” I hung up the phone on my desk and leaned back in my chair. The grid ceiling stared down at me, fluorescent lights flickering.
I knew the boys up in Sémı‘ıréíso didn’t want me out in the filed no more, but Nulıpéshı needed help. She was a smart girl. She wouldn’t reported in by now. Standard protocol.
The glass front door opened, letting in muted street noise and Tamé Vékídıpaírı, the towtruck driver. He removed his green cap and ran a hand through his thin hair. He spotted me from across the empty office.
I sat up in my chair.
Tamé started walking towards me. “I got the car, Mr. Marıdırı. Parked it around back.”
I nodded. “Good.” I paused. “The Kılímı place, right?”
He stopped across my desk from me. “Yep, and aren’t those two a strange pair. I ain’t never known––”
“Son? Shut up.”
“Was Deputy Nulıpéshı there when you left?”
Wednesday, December 14, 2005
I hugged Séara around her waist, the two guns clanking against each other. She smelled like roses.
The horse sprang forward and I tightened my hold, leaning into Séara. She never once let me pull her back. We galloped. I closed my eyes, concentrating on the rhythm, matching Séara as we bounced smoothly. I loosened my legs and the horse accelerated. Wind whistled past us. Séara’s dark, shoulder-length ponytail flapped against my face. I sank closer to her, turned my head so my cheek and my nose pressed against her neck, just above her collar. Soft and warm skin. Nothing but well-toned muscle under her uniform, under my arms. I could stay that way forever, hold her forever, our hearts and lungs and bodies as one, forever.
She slowed the horse.
“What’s wrong?” I asked, not pulling away.
I looked over her shoulder. Two trails branched off, like so many other forks in this desert maze. “How do we––”
“Footprints.” And she kicked the horse back into a gallop.
I closed my eyes. As long as I stayed with Séara, I would never be lost again. Sure, she knew how to ride a horse better than me, how to shoot a gun better than me, and could probably beat me up without breaking a sweat, but . . . that’s just sexy.
Tuesday, December 13, 2005
Well, okay, not exactly. But enacting legislation to pay the families of suicide bombers is pretty darn close.
Will the US or EU stop funding the PA like they block monies to other groups which pay suicide bombers' families?
Will Israel now target Abbas and his cabinet members as the heads of a terrorist organization (which they are)?
Will this war ever end?
Pí‘oro looked at my boyfriend lying peacefully in the shade, on a patch of wildflowers. He was an innocent baby––not at all like I associated with his naked body.
“He’s all right, I think. He didn’t sweat much. Still in a coma, though.”
“But he’ll wake up, right? Like I woke up this morning?” Oh, gods. Was it really just that morning?
Pí‘oro released a long, rattling sigh. “You weren’t like this last night, miss. You were awake. You walked to your bed.”
Oh. Really? But why didn’t I remember it? It must be like those people who have a horrific experience and then black out the whole thing and everything around it from their memories. It was the only explanation. I tried not to think about it, but the picture popped into my head of a fat, naked Pí‘oro dangling over me on his hands and knees. I shuddered.
“Are you cold?” Pí‘oro lurched towards me, knelt down with his arms out. I leaned away, scrambled backwards. He frowned softly. “What’s wrong.”
“Just––” I waved my hand between us, pointing. “Just stay over there.” I felt very naked, all of a sudden. I hugged my bare legs to my chest. Tshirt wasn’t enough. “Where are my sweatpants?”
The old man shrugged, smiled. “I left them behind with Zhíno’s clothes. Them or you, it was.”
Monday, December 12, 2005
It's a good thing I don't like to go shopping. Because when I do, I have a hard time sticking to a budget. When I see something I like, it's impossible for me to get a inferior (and cheaper) version of the same type. Like the mask I bought in Venice. It caught my eye when I first saw it, then I hemmed and hawed, then I left the store and walked all over the city looking at other mask shops, then I went back and bought it (for four times what I had thought I'd spend when the day began).
Séara threw the tshirt at my face. I raised my hands and caught it, almost falling backwards off the horse.
“Put it on.”
“Why?” It was hot out there.
She looked down at me––even though I had three feet on her. “You’re going to get a sunburn if you stay out here much longer. At least the shirt will protect your shoulders.” She shook her head, smiling wryly. “Where are you from, anyway?”
“Ah.” She glanced upwards. “Sun’s not so big out there, huh?”
I shook my head. “No. Warm, not hot.”
“More ultraviolet rays here. Put on the tshirt.”
I did. It reeked of sweat and beer and blood. Zhíno’s. Where had she found Zhíno’s shirt?
Séara patted the horse on its neck, turned it easily around. “Scoot back a bit.”
“Why?” I wasn’t going to be able to hold the horse’s neck if I did that.
She huffed and glared at me, suddenly looking very much like a police officer. “Stop questioning me. Just do it.”
I scooted back, gripping the horse with my rubbed-raw legs. “Did you find Zhíno’s jeans, too?”
She handed both guns to me. “Yes, but I left them. I didn’t realize you’d be stupid enough to take a horse. Lean back.”
She leapt, her heel missing my teeth by inches, and landed astride the horse right in front of me. “Hold on.”
Friday, December 09, 2005
The water stopped. I opened my eyes. Pí‘oro knelt beside me, a wet cloth in his hands and concern in his eyes. “How are you feeling?”
Trees. Leafy green trees glowing against the pure blue sky, fluttered in a breeze I couldn’t feel. I sat in shade, in a narrow ravine filled with bushes and trees and a little creek. Water. Burbling water. Birds chirping. Leaves rustling. Zhíno lay beside me, still asleep, still naked. He didn’t look sunburnt. My legs and arms were still pale, too. Hunh.
I looked up at the old man, the big strong man who’d carried me and Zhíno over a kilometer of desert. “Yes?”
He released a short breath, his body relaxing. “How do you feel?”
“Tired. Thirsty.” And now that I thought about it, the elephant started to come back, stomping around in my brain, louder and louder. “And a headache.”
“Dehydration. Hold on.” He scrambled back to the stream, pushed the cloth underwater, then pulled it up, holding the corners so it didn’t spill, just dripped like a sieve. He hurried back to me, held the leaky cloth over my mouth.
I opened up and let it flow in. Not quick enough. I reached up with both hands and squeezed the balloon of water, pushing it down into my mouth.
Thursday, December 08, 2005
Awhile back, the Iranian president said he wanted to wipe Israel off the map. Today, he presented a plan to accomplish this goal: Move Israel to Germany or Austria. Maybe the Jews can have Thuringia?
At least he's not saying "kill them all" anymore...
The desert contained a veritable maze of trails. We wandered this way and that, sometimes turning the direction I wanted but usually choosing the path the horse liked. The scrub brush and boulders stretched to the horizon in all directions. I could no longer see the house. Didn’t even know which direction it was.
For a while, I’d gotten the horse to step it up a notch to a faster, smoother gait––not a gallop––but eventually he slowed back down and I urged him to skip the bouncy stage and just walk. So we walked. Back and forth, this way and that, around in circles no doubt. I wiped sweat from my forehead and sighed. Getting lost was starting to be a habit of mine.
The horse said something and I looked forward. The policewoman! Séara. She strode purposefully down the trail at us, black uniform still buttoned up and sleeves still cuffed at the wrist. She carried a gun in each hand.
I tugged gently on the horse’s main and he stopped. “Hello.”
“You’re going the wrong way.”
I shrugged. “I believe you.”
She stopped in front of us. “You can’t ride a horse.”
“Why not?” Was it against the law here?
She tilted her head and squinted at me, her face scrunching up in a way that made me smile. “Because . . . you never learned?” She waved one of the guns. “Never mind.” She walked forward, shifted both guns awkwardly to one hand, and pulled a dirty tshirt from behind her.
Wednesday, December 07, 2005
(back to Chapter 2)
3.1.1 - Bhanar
3.1.2 - Fírí
3.1.3 - Bhanar
3.1.4 - Fírí
3.1.5 - Bhanar
3.1.6 - Fírí
3.2.1 - Vata
3.2.2 - Bhanar
3.2.3 - Fírí
3.2.4 - Vata
3.2.5 - Bhanar
3.3.1 - Fírí
3.3.2 - Tamé
3.3.3 - Vata
3.3.4 - Bhanar
3.3.5 - Umo
3.3.6 - Fírí
3.4.1 - Tamé
3.4.2 - Vata
3.4.3 - Bhanar
3.4.4 - Umo
3.4.5 - Fírí
3.5.1 - Séara
3.5.2 - Tamé
3.5.3 - Vata
3.5.4 - Bhanar
3.5.5 - Umo
3.5.6 - Fírí
on to Chapter 4!
To celebrate our successful move, we had champagne and cake Monday afternoon. That evening and all of Tuesday, I had intestinal pains that reminded me of the day after the Halloween party. I went home sick around midday. Different symptoms, but still painful symptoms. At the Halloween party, I only had cupcakes and drinks. Either there's some ingredient in cake that I have an intolerance for, or it's the alcohol, or it's just a coincidence. I'm back at work now, but still on soup and crackers, though.
My legs gave out and I tumbled to the ground, clothes flying everywhere. Sand in my mouth, grit in my eyes. My nose hurt. The desert wasn’t nearly so bright anymore. Sunset already? My arms and legs and face burned, pinpricks of fire dancing over my skin, telling me to stand up, get off the hot sand.
But I couldn’t move. I spat out sand, but my mouth remained dusty dry. An elephant stomped on my head. Repeatedly. My eyes throbbed.
“Fírí?” Deep and soft. Pí‘oro. He’d stopped, came back.
I tried to say, “Water,” but it came out, “Wah-uh.”
“Hold on, girl. Hold on.”
My back suddenly got cool. And then I flew. Air rushed past my face. Something firm against my gut, tight around my thighs. Hot on my back, cool on my front. the elephant kicked my brain harder and harder.
Jolts in my gut, flying between. I cracked my eyes open. Feet. Running. Old leather loafers. Pí‘oro. My hands almost hit his heels on every step. I couldn’t move them out of the way. Heavy fingers.
I turned my head slightly. Zhíno. Eyes closed. Face ruddy. Sunburnt already.
The slams in my belly kept coming. My intestines rose toward my throat. Or lowered. I was upsidedown. I was going to puke.
And then everything went white.
Tuesday, December 06, 2005
Yesterday was a fairly bad day for me, what with the pain from a blister on my heel, the annoyance of idiot salespeople, the aggrevation of inexplicable traffic jams and the street layout in Bellevue, the hassle of moving in to my new office, typical Monday madness, and a general malaise that settled in over the weekend.
But I made that all disappear in an instant by saying "Merry Christmas!" to a stranger. The weight lifted from my shoulders; I floated free of all that misery. I smiled.
I got back in the car. Lango opened an eye. “Well?”
“Main turns into East Crater Road.” I popped it into reverse, glanced in the mirror, gunned it in a sharp corner. Tires squealed. Into drive. Tires squealed again as we bumped back onto the street, turning south and barely missing a semi. “Hold on.”
Lango gripped the panic handle above the door. His face was frozen wide-eyed and mouth open. I smirked.
Green light. Left turn. “Look for addresses.”
Lango lowered his hand and closed his yap. “Um. . . 113.”
Still a ways to go. I hoped we wouldn’t be too late. The tow truck was supposed to be there a couple hours ago. If we hadn’t gotten lost here in town . . . or in Sukı‘ırupı . . . or accidentally gotten on the freeway in Paradanga. . . I sighed. Hopefully the small-town tow truck would be running late, too.
How far out was 5430? We’d already left the “downtown” commercial district behind. Nothing but houses on both sides of the street. The speed limit raised ten. I was already going faster than that. So were all the locals, though, so at least this wasn’t a speed-trap town.
Semi-industrial area. Car lot full of pickup trucks. Cement factory. A plant nursery called “Downtown Floral.” The speed limit increased again. A tow truck came from the other way, rolling by with. . . “Isn’t that the car?”
Monday, December 05, 2005
I swung my leg over the horse, hopped with the other. I made it up on the first try, hugging the horse’s warm back so I didn’t fall off. Maybe I should’ve used a saddle. But bareback always worked in the movies. And it was quicker.
The horse eyeballed me, snorted.
“Oh, shut up. I know what I’m doing.”
I sat up slightly, nudged his ribs with my heels. He stood still awhile longer, but seemed to shrug and then walk forwards. The other horse neighed.
“Sorry, buddy. I only need one horse.” A slightly quicker horse, perhaps.
I kicked his ribs again and he moseyed faster. We emerged into the sun. The nearest gate was still closed. Wrong order, idiot. I pushed the horse with my knee and leaned the direction I wanted him to go and generally got him to walk to the gate and turn sideways. The latch was too low. My hand flailed a full foot short and I almost fell off. If I fell off now, I’d never get back on. The horse kept looking at me.
I was taking forever, but I consoled myself in the fact that once I got going, I’d catch them in no time.
I reached out with my bare foot, grabbed the latch between two toes, lifted. It worked. I kicked the big gate and it swung wide open.
“Ha!” I hugged the horse’s neck and kicked his ribs, willing him to run.
He walked out the gate, toward a nearby trail. I kicked again. He broke into a bouncy gait, nearly throwing me in the process. I held on tight, repeatedly being slammed by his spine. I hurt.
Friday, December 02, 2005
The snow all melted away last night. I had a couple inches on my car as I drove home yesterday. I made a short snowman with it in my condo's parking garage. I ran over the remains of it this morning.
Boxes, boxes, everywhere! Only a couple people here are doing billable work. I'm one of them. Well, not this minute, but you know. They're shutting off the server at noon, which means I only have an hour and a half of email and internet and autocad drawings remaining today. I can box after that. I boxed half my stuff in 40 minutes yesterday...
The young foreigner jumped out the window, leaving me alone in the house. I couldn’t go chasing Zhíno and Fírí. My body just wasn’t capable. I had to trust the kids to do that for me. When they captured him, though, I had to be ready.
I shuffled down the hall to the chapel. I had to call Névazhíno. The only way I knew to do that was a sacrifice. Since this was a special request, it had to be a special sacrifice. Something big. One of the cows.
I left my slippers on the steps and crossed the chapel, cutting through the circle, over to the short hallway in the back corner. At the end of the hall stood a door. Actually, the entire end of the hall was the door––three meters tall and one-and-a-half wide. I pushed the lever down, slid the bolt out. The door swung smoothly open. I squinted in the sudden sunlight and stepped through, into the backyard. Two barefoot shuffles across the comforting soil, I stopped. Usually I guarded the door from any curious animals while Pí‘oro fetched the sacrifice. Two cats and a pig already crept and waddled to investigate. I swung the door almost closed, extended the bolt so it couldn’t latch. The door had no exterior knob. In fact, it had the same stucco finish as the rest of the wall. When it was closed, you wouldn’t even notice it.
I headed for the cowshed, my feet dragging through the rich earth. And then I noticed the back gate was wide open.
Thursday, December 01, 2005
It's official! A union has taken over the Washington State government.
The state government is now firing people who don't pay union dues to the Washington Federation of State Employees.
Why does this remind me of mob "protection money"?
Add together getting a project to the printers this morning, our office moving tomorrow, and the snow falling down, I don't particularly feel like working right now and I'm certainly not the only one! The admin people are making weapons out of binder clips.
Now people are saying the snow's sticking to the pavement. Good thing I have chains in my trunk, eh?
The big white blob behind the parked car at right is a snowflake caught in the flash. Big wet snowflakes.
And here's Chandira. . .
In my rearview mirror, I caught a glimpse of Deputy Nulıpéshı giving me the evil eye. Then she disappeared.
I got out of the truck, walked back to hitch up the minivan. Séara ran around the side of the house. She’d been mad at me for moving her car, but luckily she had bigger snakes to trap.
I hooked up the van and lifted it up on the chain. This thing probably had front-wheel drive, which meant the front tires wouldn’t turn. Unless, of course, the transmission broke. I lifted my cap, mopped my forehead with my handkerchief. Aw, shucks. It served them right.
I got back in the cab, started forward slowly. The van didn’t move. Dead weight. I goosed the engine and we started dragging the van. I could feel its tires pushing gravel, bumping over it. The transmission wasn’t giving out yet. These Vurınos were built pretty tough.
I turned right on the road, passed the police car, and pulled off the pavement. Twin streaks of black traced their way from the driveway to the new gravel trenches from the van’s tires. Burned rubber stung my nose as I walked to the van.
I unhitched it and went back for the next car. It also faced the wrong way. A Huírupho. Foreign car. Probably that foreign kid’s. I didn’t think its transmission would hold up, but that kid was crazy and I had a job to do.
I hooked it up and towed it down the driveway. I was wrong about the transmission. I made another pair of tire marks, this time turning left across the highway.
At last, my quarry was unprotected.