SERVANT OF THE SCORPION – Chapter 17, Pretty Girls All in a Row

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Pretty Girls All in a Row


            Rosalinda led me to another door.  It was unlocked and it opened into a narrow hallway that was dim except for lighted portraits of little girls all along both walls.  They were all smiling.  They were all wearing pretty little dresses.

            “Rosalinda, are these the ‘pretty girls’?”

            “No.  These are the good girls.  They get adopted a los Estados Unidos.”

            Rosalinda marched me down the hallway to a dark sitting room with a big window that looked into another room.  In that other, well-lit, room I saw little girls sitting at tables writing or drawing, sitting in chairs reading, and one was practicing on a violin.  They were all “picture-perfect” with their pink dresses and white sweaters.  I could only tell them apart by the color of the ribbon in their hair.

            Rosalinda went up to the window and turned a big dial on the wall below.  I could suddenly hear the violin.

            Rosalinda called-out “Hi, Carmen!”

            The little girl practicing the violin looked over along with the other girls.

            “Hi, Rosalinda,” said Carmen and several others in unison.

            “I bring my friend Cesar.”

            I felt compelled to step forward into the light cast from their room and I wiggled my fingers “hello”.

            They all studied me for a moment and then they all giggled, “Hi, Cesar.”

            Carmen said, “Rosalinda, have you heard?  I’m going to be adopted and go a los Estados Unidos!”

            Suddenly into their room from around a corner entered a young woman in an alluring black evening dress.  I was immediately aroused and began to panic remembering Arturo’s little joke.  But, no, it wasn’t a woman.  I realized it was a little girl with a precocious made-up face, dressed like a woman.

            She asked the “good girls”, with aloofness, “Who took my magazine?”

            Rosalinda said shyly, “Hi, Adora.”

            Adora looked toward Rosalinda and saw me.  That chiquita gave me a gaze as cold and as disdainful as ever any hot chica gave me at a club.  She took her missing magazine from the hands of one of the “good girls” and turned quickly to leave without another word.

            Rosalinda said with awe, “Adora is a pretty girl.  She will get to make movies a los Estados Unidos and meet ‘portant people.”






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(Song Of The Spirit Mother)


giselle 101415a



W - 300xarmth of dawn light has yet to reach the cold stars above me.  I have emerged into the Monastery courtyard.

          I have spent the night within the once pagan temple, the now Adytum of Purification.  As prescribed by Habitude Royale I have been enlightened unto The Ways of Men.  By custom I am now supposed to be fit for my impending political wedding to the barbarian Hrolf The Walker.

          I have left my young tutor, the Acolyte Tredecim, sleeping fitfully upon the altar bed.

          Across the Monastery courtyard do I tread pensively.  I approach the Infirmary wherein my beloved nurse and confidant Magge struggles to regain health.

         But at once I am warmed with joy inexpressible as I encounter Magge standing in the entrance to the Infirmary as if she awaits me.  We embrace and kiss and kiss again.  We turn and continue walking in the Monastery courtyard hand in hand.

          We soon find ourselves at the kitchen door.  It is open and we smell bread.  I am so happy that Magge can now find joy at the aroma of food.

          But then I descry that across from this door there is an open wooden gate through the facing courtyard wall.  We follow our curiosity hand in hand.

          Outside the wall, apparitions are moving in the twilight.  It is the monks known as the Thirteen Incorruptibles and their cortege of Acolytes facing to the East.  The sun rises struggling through the forest.  It touches all of their profiles.

          From the East, through the forest, there are shadows flowing towards them.  The shadows become people.  Women!  A horde of women!  Their hair is long and feral.  Their eyes are fierce like she~wolves.  Their bodies are smeared with colored mud.

          As they approach I see that they are being led by that poor waddling hag which my Wedding Entourage and I encountered when we first arrived at this Monastery.  With her nest of hair and her twisted face she bears that single eye in the center of her forehead and she yet wears that bark for clothing stitched with her own hair as thread.

          The Acolytes are now trotting in pairs to the ground between the Thirteen Incorruptibles and the horde of women who approach like an army.  The Acolytes place several large baskets of bread and then quickly retreat!

          The poor hag stops before the baskets and the women halt.  She lifts a plank of bread and takes a bite.  She raises it into the air and smacks loudly.  She then gestures and women run forward two by two and retrieve the baskets of bread for the horde.

          The hag notices me and approaches.  As she does so, she dances side to side clapping her hands and once again chanting mysteriously ~ Le Grand Guerrier! The Great Warrior! ~

          The Thirteen Incorruptibles and their cortege of Acolytes turn to see Magge and me with alarm but they do not move.   The poor hag takes my hand and Magge’s hand and leads us back toward the army of women.

          Is it growling that I hear?  I fear for Magge, but she does not fear for herself.

          The poor hag then releases our hands and raises both her arms over her head and clasps her own hands while facing the women.  Each of the women then takes the hands of two other women.  When nearly all are so woven together as one fabric, the hag takes the hands of Magge’s and mine again and has us join as well.  The hands I hold are as smooth and strong as wood.  I sense contempt as they squeeze my own hands.  I fear for Magge more than ever now.

          All at once the horde throws back their heads and together they give voice to one undulating tone.  I cannot bespeak the effect of this eerie chorus.  This canorous unity is making me vibrate with chills.

I hear now a clatter and I turn my head toward the Monastery.  It is young Captain Etienne and Our Guard pouring through the open gate.  They are coming to my assistance.  I see fear in their determination.  They are falling to their knees involuntarily.  Etienne catches my eye and I sense his distress as he draws sword for my protection.  Instead he but falls to his knees immobile with the others of The Guard.  He cries out, ~ Your Highness!  Giselle! ~

          I see that the Thirteen Incorruptibles and all of the Acolytes are already on their knees with their heads bowed.

          I turn back to the women.  Their monolithic tone pours forth louder and louder, not a scream, not a cry, but an overwhelming pillar of sound.  I am feeling faint, dizzy.  I see with fear that Magge’s head is now back and she joins with the horde.  She is still weak!  She cannot sustain this!

          My God, my God, do I really see fire in the poor hag’s eye?  Is there really a finger of light now reaching from her eye to my eye?

          The number ~ 6 ~ that I carved like a tear under my eye in protest of Magge’s six unjust lashings begins to burn.

          My God, my God, does my skin truly thus glow?

          Suddenly I can feel something primeval welling up within me. I cannot oppose it:  My God!  Oh, My Gracious God!  It isThe Love of This World.  It is an unending fountain!  It fills me.  But I shall burst!  I cannot contain so much!

          Now I can feel something massively overpowing pour down upon me: I cannot withstand it!  It isThe Sorrow of This World.  It is overwhelming me.  I cannot bear it.  My God, help me!   ~ Mon Dieu, je ne peux pas l’endurer! ~

          With all my strength I hold myself erect.  My head falls back.  My mouth opens.  My voice conjoins with the pillar of sound.  I am become that sound.

          I do not know how long I am that sound.  Yet I know without being told that this is the Song of the Spirit Mother.

          As suddenly as we all began we are suddenly aware that there is now only silence.  I have never experienced such deep silence.

          One by one the birds begin to sing again.







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SERVANT OF THE SCORPION – Chapter 16, The Children of the Ground Floor

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The Children of the Ground Floor


            I insisted on riding “shotgun” in Irma’s Rover “to avoid getting carsick”.  Irma, Garra, and Esmeralda sat in the back.  Lucas was driving.  I placed both hands over my embarrassment.  Lucas looked over at me.

            “Wet yourself?”

            I glared into his eyes and lifted my hands to reveal my predicament.  He looked down and then back at me and he said “I’m impressed” and then we both started laughing.  As soon as I acknowledged the humor of my predicament my embarrassment deflated.

            “What is so funny?” hollered Esmeralda.

            “Alonzo brought his own shotgun.”

             “I don’t get it.  And I don’t want to know,” said Esmeralda wrinkling her nose.

            When we finally arrived at the entrance to the Mudéjar orphanage we saw the apprentice pastor Marcos waiting for us, holding little Rosalinda’s hand.  Marcos was tall and slender with veiled eyes and a pock-marked face.  He usually kept his face tough and impassive.  I always thought of him as some convict who had found Jesus.

            We got out of the Rover and walked over toward Marcos and Rosalinda.  Marcos let Rosalinda go running to Irma.  “Mama, mama!” she squealed.  We stood in a big circle.  Rosalinda looked up at the badly bruised Garra not knowing that he was her father.  She stared and neither of them said anything.  Then she looked over at me.

            To break the tension I said, “Hi, little sweetie.”

            Rosalinda replied very seriously, “I’m not a ‘little sweetie’.”

            “Oh.  Hi, little angel.”

            She smiled, “I’m not a ‘little angel’.”

            “Oh.  Hi, little tadpole.”

            She giggled, “I’m not a ‘little tadpole’.

            “Oh.  Hi, … little octopus.”

            She shrieked with delight and ran over to me.

            “I’m not a ‘little oct-pus’.”

            “Are you sure?  You sure look like an octopus.”

            She grabbed my hand and hopped with each word: “I, am, a, lit,tle, girl!”

            “Well, if you say so.”

            When I looked up the others were smiling at us.  Esmeralda said, “Alonzo, if you feel up to it, why don’t you watch Rosalinda for a little while.  We have to get ready for Pastor Maximón.  Irma and Garra can have some time together.”

            Irma said, “Rosalinda, show Alonzo where your Play Room is.”

            Rosalinda corrected her, “His name is Cesar.”

            “Rosalinda, my name is Alonzo, too.  I’m Alonzo Cesar León Navarro.”

            Rosalinda laughed like it was a joke and leaned far backwards to drag me with her, “Come with me.”

            I walked while Rosalinda hopped and skipped down the corridor to the Play Room.  There were desks and tables and a hundred toys, but no other children.

            She asked me “What do you want to play?”

            I saw on the floor a toy piano with flat metal keys.  I bent down and tapped a couple of the keys and it made a chiming sound.  I sat down cross-legged in front of it, “Do you want to sing?” I asked her.

            “Sing!  Sing!”

            The only song I knew on piano was The Beatles Ob-La-Di, Ob-La-Dah.  I played the beginning.  Rosalinda began to clap and flex her knees in time to the oompah-oompah rhythm.  I made up my own silly lyrics:

Rosalinda is a pretty octopus.

Alonzo is in trouble every day.

Rosalinda told me she’s a little girl.

But I like Rosalinda anyway.

            Rosalinda shrieked with delight and she hugged my arm.  She held it the same way Esmeralda did.  I stopped playing.  Rosalinda ran around the Play Room in a big circle.  As she ran I looked at all the toys she passed.

            “Rosalinda, where are all your friends?”

            She stopped and became solemn, “They are getting ready for TV.  I show you.”

            She took my hand and pulled me down the hall to another door and opened it.  The room was full of children.  The room was long with beds on each side.  The children were all wearing little white cloth shower robes.  I saw Itza at the far end rubbing dry the hair of a little boy.  I started to look closely at the children and I began to realize that they were all cripples or deformed in some heartbreaking way.  A little girl on the nearest bed had no legs.  She said, “Hi, Rosalinda”.

            “Hi, Belicia.”  Then Rosalinda looked up to me very seriously and said, “Do you want to see the pretty girls?”

            “Uh, sure.  OK.”

            Belicia said sadly, “Bye, Rosalinda.”

            “Bye, Belicia.”

            We went out and then up a stairwell to the next floor.  We stopped at a door and Rosalinda tried to open it.  It was locked.

            She clicked her tongue and said, “This door is always locked.  I show you where you can see.”







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        The Brooklyn neighborhood was old and it was cozy.

        The sports car pulled over and parked.

        Two teenagers sat together in the passenger seat and one teenager sat in the driver seat.

        Giulietta drives.

        Giulietta was old enough to have a driver’s license.

        Giulietta’s best friends Chuck and Andrea share the passenger seat.

        Giulietta, Chuck, and Andrea had grown young friends together in the Brooklyn neighborhood.

        Giulietta’s family has had the classic Alfa Romeo.  The family has owned the Alfa Romeo since the ‘50s.

        Giulietta drives it now.

        Giulietta said, “I’m meeting my mom.  Mom’s new girlfriend Gina is leaving us have the day together.”

        Chuck said, “I’m saying good-bye to your little sister Maria.”

        Andrea said to Giulietta and Chuck, “I will stay and watch the Alfa Romeo.”

        Giulietta walks away with Mom who is waiting.

        Chuck walks to little sister Maria’s apartment.  Little sister Maria lives there with Father’s apartment still.

        Chuck didn’t say much to her Father.

        Chuck and little Maria left the apartment.

        Chuck surprised little Maria with eight foot Lily flowers.  Chuck tickled little Maria and made her laugh.

        Chuck and little Maria walked together along the shops in the neighborhood.

        Giulietta later the afternoon says good-bye to Mom.

        Giulietta then waved to Mom’s girlfriend Gina who was waiting down the street for Mom to join.

        Chuck had said good-bye to little sister Maria.

        Giulietta met up Chuck.

        Giulietta asked Chuck, “Will you ever see my little sister Maria?”

        Chuck said, “Not when you’re gone.  It won’t be right when you’re gone.  Who knows if it might be years.”

        Andrea spoke up to Giulietta and Chuck coming back, “Why do we have to change?”

        Giulietta said, “We have to.”

        Andrea pleaded to Giulietta and Chuck again, “Why do we change?”

        Chuck said, “We have to be brave.  Just be thanks.  That’s life.  Giulietta is leaving to go the West Coast.”

        Giulietta said, “I have to go.”

        Chuck said, “Well… Maybe again, some day…”

        Chuck suddenly walked away, waving bye.

        Giulietta stayed behind with Andrea pretending to do things until the twilight.

        Then there was time no more to leave.

        Giulietta held Andrea tears.

        Andrea cried out, “What is happening to us?  What is happening?”

        Giulietta held Andrea tears.

        There was no more.






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(The Ways of Men)

giselle 101415a



T one - 200xhe Thirteenth Monk nods to the Senior Acolyte, Tredecim.  Tredecim comes and stands beside me as we dine.  My Ladies~in~Waiting and Our Guard and I finish le fait de diner with the thirteen Incorruptibles.  For this exquisite meal I give formal thanks to our hosts of the Monastery.

          Etienne, the young Captain of Our Guard studies with concern that Tredecim beside me now whispers into my ear.

          “Lady Giselle, Your Highness, it is time,” says Tredecim.

          I am at last to be instructed in Les Voies d’Hommes, the Ways of Men.  Too soon will it be my wedding to the barbarian Hrolf The Walker.

          Tredecim and I exit the dining hall together.  Tredecim seems quietly apprehensive, and yet I am merely curious.  Magge, my tutor, my confident, had taught me well the Ways of Women.

          Should I not think again of my poor Magge who is recovering in the Infirmary? Grâce à Dieu.  Oh, Magge, how complicated can be the Ways of Men?  I wish Magge were with us.

          Tredecim leads me through the courtyard into a pillared structure.  I point above and read aloud the inscription on the arched entry:

Nos es mirare

Per Venia nos teneo Is Dies

Nos es totus Unus Carmen

Nos es non Aduro

(We are a mirage

By Grace we know This Moment

We are all One Song

We are not The Singer)

          “Tredecim, who wrote that?”

          “Your Highness, I am told that inscription was there when this Monastery grounds was a Roman garrison.  This was their pagan temple.”

          “Why has the inscription remained?  It does not resemble the teaching of The Church.”

          “Servant Brother Timothée, the Thirteen Monk, my mentor, has told me that The Church has yet not accepted all wisdom.”

          Grows my wonder at this Monastery and the Order of the Thirteen Incorruptibles.  Tredecim leads me through a torch~lit labyrinth of marble hallways.  We arrive at what appears to be an altar chamber.  Yet upon the spacious altar is presented a bed richly provided with blankets of the most exquisite design and quality.

          I notice now that Tredecim trembles as he says, “Your Highness, we are here.”

          I touch his shoulder but he trembles more.  “Tredecim, what assails you?”

          He takes a deep breath and says with effort, “Your Highness, in the adjoining chamber will be the Purification.”

          He leads me into that chamber.  Therein is a stone pool of gently steaming liquid not unlike the medicinal pool of the Infirmary.

          Tredecim says to me, nervously, “Your Highness, we are to enter the Purification together.”  He holds my eyes and he slowly disrobes.  His skin is smooth and like immaculate pearl.  I have seen such Roman statues.  With such anatomy.

          “Your Highness?” he asks me expectantly.

          I rarely undress myself.  I think again of Magge and the games we would play as she undressed me.  It is not so much fun to undress myself.  It seems to take forever, yet Tredecim exhibits infinite patience as he bows his head and for some reason shields his manhood.  I think he prays.

          With Tredecim I am aware of my nakedness in a way about which Magge cautioned me, yet until this moment have I not experienced.  Tredecim offers to me his hand and I see that his manhood is alert.  We step together almost ceremonially into the stone pool of gently steaming liquid.  The soothing liquid feels like a scented oil bath.

          We are submerged to our ribs.  Tredecim says that we must kneel and submerge to our necks and we do so.

          “Your Highness, with your indulgence, we are to remain thus while I recite the entire Neuvaine Pour la Purification.

O la Mère Bénie de Dieu,

qui est monté à

le Temple selon

la loi avec votre

l’offre de peu blanc

les colombes, priez pour nous cela

Nous pouvons aussi garder la loi

et être pur dans le coeur

comme vous.

Le coeur doux de Mary,

soyez notre salut.


(O Blessed Mother of God,

who went up to

the Temple according to

the law with your

offering of little white

doves, pray for us that

We too may keep the law

and be pure in heart

like you.

Sweet heart of Mary,

our salvation)

          I say “Amen” with Tredecim.  We slowly rise.  In a ceremonial trance Tredecim finds the courage to take my hand once again.  We step out of the warm pool into the cool air.  I feel myself firm in exhilaration.   Together we return to the chamber of the bed altar.

          Tredecim guides me to sit upon the bed.  The blankets are deep and soft.  Tredecim stands before me.  I look up from his proud manhood.

          “Your Highness,” and he proceeds to instruct me on surprisingly delicate matters of the Sensitivities of Man and how they may be honored and never abused.

          “Your Highness, your lips and tongue as well as your fingertips are instruments of your love, which may be applied to these pleasures of your husband.”

          And so of deep curiosity I take him into my mouth and I explore him with my tongue and my lips.  Magge had taught me how explore women and how to be explored, but this is truly new.  I study assiduously, completely, with enthousiasme.

          Tredecim begins to be unsteady on his feet.  “I must recline, “ he gasps between clenched teeth, “Your Highness.”

          Tredecim falls back onto the blankets breathing hard.  His glistening manhood now stands erect beside me as if it were his ruddy second head and torso.

          I take hold of this hot fleshy scepter.  I have the vision of how Men are to be ruled.






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SERVANT OF THE SCORPION – Chapter 15, Asleep at the Feet of Jesus

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Asleep at the Feet of Jesus


            I was on my knees bowing before the dark-skinned Jesus, begging forgiveness.  He said to me, “Judas, even Evil bends to the Purpose of The Father.  You can atone but you cannot be forgiven.”

            I looked up into his black diamond eyes and I cried, “But the soldier who stabbed you with the Spear of Destiny is now a Saint!”

            My shoulder was grabbed from behind and a voice said, “You are alone, so…”

            “Alonzo!  Wake up.”

            I was being shaken.  I opened my eyes.  I was on my knees at the feet of Arturo’s statue of Jesus.

            I rolled onto my butt and I saw Lucas crouching beside me and Esmeralda standing behind him in front of the altar with Arturo.  I was completely disoriented.

            Lucas laughed, “Hey, ‘Dorothy’, next stop: Kansas.”

            “How do you feel?” asked Esmeralda.

            “OK, I guess, but… I remember Arturo…”

            Arturo interrupted, “The medicine I gave him was supposed to vent the pressure in the brain caused by the concussion, but sometimes it vents the mind.”

            “I remember…,” I couldn’t find rational words for what I had witnessed.

            Esmeralda smiled, “Arturo told us that you were sleep-walking ‘in a play’ all night.”

            Arturo’s face was impassive but in his eyes I saw something peeking out.  He said, “You ended up sleeping on the feet of my Jesus.”

            I was startled to see Garra, shuffling up to the altar stage supported by Irma.  I stood up.  Garra’s face and torso were covered in welts, black and blue and green.  But he didn’t look shattered and bloody like he did the night before and he wasn’t gasping for life.

            Lucas said, “I guess I didn’t mess him up like I thought I did.  He’s tough, I’ll give him that.  Arturo cleaned him up real nice.”

            Irma complained, “But he has amnesia.”

            Garra’s expression and demeanor were not those of the swaggering gangster that descended on us yesterday.  He was docile and quiet.

            Arturo said, “The medicine worked well enough.  I don’t know about the amnesia.”

            Irma and Garra shuffled away up to the entrance.  I was sure that Arturo knew all about the amnesia.  What I had witnessed last night wasn’t being dismissed from my memory the way a dream would have been.

            I asked Esmeralda, “Is everything OK at the orphanage?”

            She said, “Rosalinda is fine.  We’re being vigilant.”

            Lucas said, “We don’t know where your guard has gone but we’re sure not going to call the authorities to send us a replacement.”

            For some reason, it seemed like the right time for me to confess, “I didn’t tell you about my guard and those two tourists who died.”  I waited for a reaction.

            “Go on.”

            “My guard never actually told me his name.  When the tourist woman was being attacked I saw him trying to get to her through the mob.  He was calling out ‘Olivia’.  And she was calling out ‘Carlos’.”

            Esmeralda raised a finger, “Last night Garra said that ‘Carlos’ was the threat to Rosalinda, not him, remember?”

            Arturo asked, “What do you think it means?”

            Esmeralda said, “I don’t know, but at least we have the name of one of the tourists: ‘Olivia’.  That’s something.”

            Lucas then asked me, “Anything else you haven’t told us?”

            “Well, when we left the city after the killings, Irma said something strange.  She said that she was ‘glad the whore is dead’ and it sounded personal.  Even Itza noticed.”

            Esmeralda said uneasily, “Maybe she believed the crowd’s accusations?”

            “Before the killings Irma followed Carlos.  She saw Carlos with the two tourists.  The tourist woman seemed really attentive to Carlos.  Then Irma disappeared and showed up back at El Mercado just before the trouble started.”

            Lucas said, “For Christ’s sake, is there anything else?”

          “No.”  I didn’t tell them about the buried metal suitcase.  Or the violent sexual relationship between Carlos and Irma.

            Esmeralda shook her head slowly.

            Arturo spoke up, “Esmeralda, you need to talk to your sister.”

            Esmeralda pinched her lower lip, “This is starting to get weird.”

            She looked at Lucas and nodded toward the entrance.  Lucas clapped his hands once and said, “We need to get back, Arturo.  Rita is meeting Pastor Maximón at the airport this morning.”  Lucas hopped down from the altar and started up toward the entrance.  Esmeralda went up behind him.

            As I hopped down I looked at Arturo and nodded good-bye.  In return he made his eyes go rapidly cross-eyed then wall-eyed, cross-eyed then wall-eyed over and over again.  I didn’t laugh.  I thought “Why do you keep fucking with me, Arturo?”

            Then suddenly I “sprouted wood”: I got the biggest hard-on I’d ever had.  It could have been a steel pipe.  “No, The Spear of Destiny” said Arturo’s voice in my head.  Under the weight of that blasphemy I leaned forward and moaned.

            Esmeralda heard me and turned, “What happened?  Are you alright?”  She came back and took my arm the way she did in the little museum, so tenderly.  I had to stay bent forward to hide my predicament.  Esmeralda thought she had to support me so she pressed my arm tightly against the side of her breast.  My cojones began to throb and cramp.  I heard Arturo’s voice in my head again, saying it as if I should be thinking it: “Arturo, you magnificent bastard.”






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(The Science of Eating)

giselle 101415a



A second - resize 300xs we lay down my poor convalescent Magge onto a soft bed in the Monastery Infirmary we hear a bell ring thrice.  The young Acolyte Quattuor speaks, saying, ~ It is time to eat! ~

        The senior Acolyte Tredecim amends on behalf of Quattuor, Duae, and Sedecim, saying, ~ It is time to dine.  Your Highness, if you please to follow us. ~

        I am lead across the courtyard toward the largest structure of the Monastery.  Tredecim speaks, saying, ~ This Monastery was once the garrison of a Roman Legion.  This structure was the residence of the Roman General. ~

        We enter the dining hall.  Four long tables are arranged in a great cross.  On one side of the shaft of this great cross Our Guard stands facing the Ladies~In~Waiting who stand across the table on the other side.  Farther up beyond them, at the arms of the great cross stand twelve of the thirteen Incorruptibles, six at each arm, facing me.  At the apex of the great cross is an eating place reserved with a crown of woven roses, but no one stands there.  I am to be seated at the nearby base of this great cross, as the Royal Foundation.  Hovering in a halo about us all are the young Acolytes.

        The Thirteenth Monk speaks ceremoniously, saying, ~ Your Highness and Beloved Guests, I am the Servant Brother Timothée.  Our Servant Brother Benoît has been chosen to fast for this meal and to pray throughout in the name of Humanité. ~

        I point before me to the far apex of the great cross of tables, saying ~ Is that Brother Benoît’s vacant setting across from me? ~

               Servant Brother Timothée speaks in reply, saying, ~ Your Highness, that seat is always reserved for The Savior.  And one of us thirteen fasts at every meal, so there is no need for our thirteenth setting, ever.  Please, all, be seated. ~

          I am amused that we all dine together.  I know the minds of my Wedding Entourage and they too wonder why there are not mounds of food placed upon our tables, only chalices of water.

          But the young Acolytes are busy conveying to each of us a plank of bread with a slice of fowl upon it that is bathed in a golden liquid and accompanied by herbs.  There is a small ladle and a small trident placed beside each of us.  My eyes are ebullient with this artful vision framed in bread.  The aroma entices my nose like a perfume.

          Alaire of Our Guard gazes into his chalice of water, saying, ~ When does this change to wine? ~

          Lothaire of Our Guard attempts to pluck with his fingers the slice of fowl, saying, ~ Do we fast along with Brother Benoît? ~

          Devereux of Our Guard looks to his comrades and mutters, saying, ~ Is this fowl or is this what the fowl shits? ~

          The Ladies~in~Waiting suppress their giggling.  All the Monks lower their eyes silently except Servant Brother Timothée whose expression to me says, ~ What can I expect from savage children? ~

          Chagrined I rise and glare at Etienne the Captain of Our Guard, saying, ~ Do your men prefer a trough, Captain? ~

          A Monk rises at the heated words, saying, ~ Your Highness, I am Servant Brother Affranchi.  I am responsible for the nourishment here.  There are several varied servings to follow in sequence for this repast.  It is surely unlike the dining to which you are accustomed.

          I hear but ignore as Lothaire of Our Guard whispers, saying, ~ Does he mean the dining where actual sustenance is presented? ~

          Servant Brother Affranchi continues, saying, ~ I was rude not to preface this meal with my Science De Gueule, the science of eating. ~

          Servant Brother Timothée smiles with the other Monks, saying, ~ Your Highness, Servant Brother Affranchi insists that this is a matter of philosophy. ~

          I reply quickly, gesturing and saying, ~ Thus far, against this vision and against this aroma I cannot dispute.  Please continue, Servant Brother Affranchi. ~

          And so, in deep and serious countenance, Servant Brother Affranchi decants for us rules governing sauces and spices and philosophizes on the aesthetics of nourishment.  I find myself enchanted with these subtleties.

          Etienne the Captain of Our Guard notices my trance and speaks, saying, ~ Your Highness, Servant Brother Affranchi speaks with grandiloquence as if he describes the government of a kingdom. ~

          I reply to Etienne, saying, ~ And he has given to me, a Daughter of the Undisputed King of France, food for thought. ~






<for previous chapters, search “whisper” on my blog>

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        Ah, yes, hello. Miss Duman? I am very pleased to meet you, Miss Duman. “Jiniri”? Oh, of course, certainly. “Jiniri”, that is a lovely name. Jiniri, I am “Sahel”.

        Jiniri, you say you are Arabian. You say your father was a scholar of Arabian mythology. He used to tell you when you were a child that he named you Jiniri because the Jinn themselves appeared to him and your mother, holding you as a baby. Yes, the Jinn, I know. There are three sapient creations of God: the Angels, the Humans, and the Jinn. But only Humans and Jinn have free will to disobey God. Shayṭān, Satan was not a “fallen angel”. Satan was a Jinn according to the Qur’an. And your father and your mother would tell you that this Jinn begged them to raise you. A charming story to tell a little girl, yes.

        My father was a watchmaker in Tehran. When I was a young child I used to think that my father was creating time, actually creating time. He let me believe that. You can see that in my heart I am a poet, not a business man.

        Jiniri, you insist to me that you are a refugee? An exile?

        Oh, how darkly beautiful you are, as precious oiled wood of color and scent, walnut skin, starless-night hair, veiled honey-golden eyes that dance for my head, yet, if I can keep my head, I can notice… the fractured galaxies in your eyes. The smokeless scorching fire.

        Oh, nothing, I am listening, go ahead, I apologize.

        Jiniri, you are telling me that you used to be a reporter for Al Arabiya television?

        Are you serious? Amazing. That is amazing!

        You insist you were forced to leave after reporting that the Arab countries had all failed miserably to offer either democracy or economic well-being?

        I am sorry. I do not mean to pry. But just how did you come to work in the United States in this special-needs day-care center?

        Really? How, how… prophetic, if that is the word. You had done a series of reports for Al Arabiya television about physical and mental disabilities in the Middle East.

        Yes, you never see people with disabilities there. Yes, that is heart-breaking. It is true. To this day, physical and mental disabilities are viewed as stigmas there. But do you see hope?

        Oh, my God, you don’t say. One in 160 children is diagnosed with autism in Saudi Arabia alone? You were the only one reporting about autism centers around the Middle East and the young lives affected by the disorder?

        Where do I work? My hands work in the store of my cousin, Mehdi, the store called Party City. In my heart I am a poet, as I have said, and… Yes, I said “Party City”. Costumes, party hosting, like that. I must tell you that sometimes I can make extra money as a clown at children’s parties. In fact, in my Sufism religious studies… What? Yes, I do make some small money writing poetry, yes. No, I am not practical, no, I am surely not. My wife was practical. That is why she left me. She left me because of me, yes, because I am not practical. No, she did not leave because of our little twin daughters here, Sufia and Suja.

        When my wife and I were told that Sufia and Suja are autistic, well, you can imagine. My poor wife, Ziba, she could not imagine that it was not a curse put upon us. I prefer to believe that Sufia and Suja are pure and they cannot look at this world so they stare together into the next world beyond. If I can think of it that way it is really quite extraordinary. And practical.

        Ziba left them with me, yes, she left them, she left us.

        Jiniri, you now say “hi” to Sufia and Suja. You now turn your head to get them to look directly at you but their gazes slide away as if you are merely a fleeting mirage to them.

        Yes, that can be unsettling. No matter how you position yourself it seems like they are not looking at you but looking at something beyond you.

        Jiniri, you now watch Sufia and Suja wander off together toward the toy piano. Sufia sits on the carpet in front of the toy piano and she begins to finger an achingly beautiful harmony, of unearthly tonality, yet alive, organic. Suja begins to sing an accompanying melody, using words that she appears to invent.

        I agree. It is amazing. Yes, this is why I prefer to believe that Sufia and Suja are pure and they just cannot acknowledge this world, and so they yearn together into the next world beyond. Together. They are like waves chasing a shore.

        I don’t want to leave but I must go to work.

        Jiniri, I must be going to work but it was very nice to meet you. I will be back here by six o’clock to pick-up Sufia and Suja. I want to say to you, welcome here. I mean, to this country. I am sure that things will go your way.

        Shades of doubt, shapes of hope, I pray that it may be my way also.

        My insides have liquefied with sorrow from the end of my marriage. I have liquefied inside like a fly full of spider’s venom. I have become a toxic flux of anger and that is what inflates my form. If not for my cousin Mehdi’s weekly Sufism study group I do not imagine what would have happened to me by now, I just don’t.

        At work I write a poem to you, Jiniri:


You become the blood of my heart.

Shades of doubt, shapes of hope,

You might be the angel of my death

Yet I embrace you.







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(Tail 1)


        Xing is a Fire Monkey.

        In his cave upon the Earth,

Xing reads the Oracle Bones

He divines by fire.

        Xing has inscribed the symbols of his question

into an Oracle Bone.

        Into the pits of his inscriptions

on the Oracle Bone

Xing touches drops of molten gold.

        The Oracle Bone cracks repeatedly

from the intense heat.

        Xing the Fire Monkey studies the pattern

of the cracks

formed upon the Oracle Bone.

        The patterns create pictograms. He pronounces

the pictograms as they inspire him.

        Xing’s pronouncements verify

a terrible divination.

        A young girl human will destroy

the order of Heaven.

        At this time in Heaven there are many gods.

Yet humans struggle in a harsh world


beset with Monsters.

        Heaven itself is beset with Demons.

Xing is the commander

of the Zodiac Army

which defends Heaven against


        Xing has taken pity on humans before.

He himself has given them fire

to accompany them.

Yet, if a human is going to destroy

the order of Heaven,

what can hold the world together?

        Xing prepares the next Oracle Bone

for his next question

He suddenly hears a scream from without his cave.

        He arises and faces the entrance of his cave.

A young girl dashes inside into the darkness

crying for help to no one she can see.

        Behind the young girl Xing sees a Monster

lurching in pursuit.

Xing barks at the Monster, “Yāo Guài!

You dare to enter my cave?!”

        Yāo Guài the Monster halts and growls at Xing.

Yāo Guài curses, “Gāisǐ de nǐ (shit, damn it), Xing.

You want to eat the human yourself! She is mine!

I have pursued her all this way up from

her stinking village.”

        Xing bares his teeth, growling back,

“And if I want to eat her I shall and

if you are lucky

I might thank you for bringing me a gift.”

Xing’s eyes began to glow red.

        Yāo Guài the Monster is silent.

Then he spits foully.

He turns and lumbers

back down the mountainside.

        Xing turns to the young girl.

She now stands against the far wall of the cave.

She holds aloft one of his Oracle Bones

and shakes it menacingly, saying,

“Before you eat me you will eat this sharp bone!”

        Xing laughs

and then he realizes

the young girl holds aloft

the Oracle Bone which confirmed the divination

of the fall of Heaven.

        Xing then says politely,

“I am Xing (‘Star’).

What is the name of this young girl who holds the

fate of Heaven in her fist?”

        The young girl studies Xing suspiciously.

Then she says bravely, “I am Yu (‘Jade’) and

my village is coming for me!”

        Xing has wisdom and he says,

“You are a worthless orphan and

no one will come for you.

Perhaps they gave you to Yāo Guài the Monster

as an offering.”

        The eyes of Yu turn red with tears

but she does not shed them.

She shows her clenched teeth and growls,

“I am Yu.

My survival is my worth. I don’t need

village or Heaven!”

        Xing laughs, “Who is without village or Heaven?

Yāo Guài the Monster?

But even Yāo Guài the Monster preys on villages

and prays to Heaven.

What does that make of Yu?”

        Yu appears to go into a trance and

She recites

the words that a man in her village had spoken

to her,

a man who was kind

to her,

a man named Kong Fu Zi,

The wise have likened Yu (Jade) to virtue.

For them, its polish and brilliancy represent

the whole of purity;

its perfect compactness and extreme hardness represent

the sureness of intelligence;

its angles, which do not cut, although they seem sharp,

represent justice;

the pure and prolonged sound,

which it gives forth when one strikes it,

represents music.

Its color

represents loyalty;

its interior flaws, always showing themselves

through the transparency,

call to mind sincerity;

its iridescent brightness

represents heaven;

its admirable substance,

born of mountain and of water,

represents the earth.”

        Xing the Fire Monkey then grins with mischief,

“Yu has a very exalted opinion

of herself

for a ‘worthless orphan girl’,

do you agree?”

Yu retorts boldly,

“I have never known a Star (‘Xing’)

that lives in a cave.”







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