THE LION MAN THE LION MAN

Cha 4 from LionWorld by William E Justin Copyright 2010

For a day and two nights the door to BigE and Coco’s private section of the house was closed. Little B waited dutifully outside, in the brief hallway where his Luxury Poodle Dog Bed was placed. He liked his bed but much preferred “The Glorious Bed” inside the master bedroom suite. He knew “The Goddess” was in there. He could smell her wonderful scent along with that of “The Big Dog Man”. On the first night, Little B had repeatedly gone to the crack beneath the door to smell for Coco. He couldn’t stand to be locked away from “The Goddess” and began to whine. Then he heard “The Big Dog Man” tell him to go away. Big-E stuffed the crack beneath the door with a towel and Little B could hardly even smell “The Goddess” after that. So he went and laid down in his own bed to wait for the moment when the door would open and he could run in and join “The Goddess” in “The Glorius Bed”. For much of the two nights and one day Little B slept and dreamed. He had always had several dreams that reoccurred. The main dream was of “The Goddess”. Another was of “The Original Goddess”—the one the people called “Randi”. The third dream was of Chica, the little dog with the big eyes and pointed ears, he sometimes met up with when he “Go For Walk” with “The Goddess” and “The Other Dog Man”—the one the people called “Robert”. Little B liked the smell of Chica. Chica made Little B feel like a big dog even though she was always sounding her fast, little bark and jumping around. But once, Chica had turned her backside to Little B and raised her tail. And Little B knew what to do! And he started to do it but “The Goddess” wouldn’t permit it and pulled on his leash. That was the only time Little B was angry with “The Goddess”. Lately, Little B had a new dream that reoccurred. It stemmed from the time he had gone with “The Big Dog Man” and the entire “Dog Man Pack” in the car. They came to a place and walked a long way. He heard the “Dog Men” say they were hunting “Big Cats”. At a certain point “The Big Dog Man” placed him on a large rock and slid a strange collar around his neck. The smell from the collar made him hungry. “The Big Dog Man” told him to be a “good dog” and stay and watch for “Big Cats”. Sometimes at the house where they lived, “The Big Dog Man” would take him to a place in the back by the iron fence and tell him the same thing—to watch for the “Big Cats”. But Little B had never saw one and didn’t expect to see one on that day either. Still, he stayed there as he was told because he always wanted to be “a good dog” and do what the people wanted him to do So he sat there on the rock for the longest time waiting. Then suddenly the sky which had been bright with the light of the sun, quickly clouded over and it became very cool and moist. In his dream, Little B always heard a particular sound—like music—that came before the air filled with the wonderful scent that was even more fragrant then that of “The Goddess”. A “Big Cat” appeared. And on its back rode one who was unlike “The Dog Men”, “The Goddess”, “The Original Goddess” or anything else that he knew of. In human terms, the interpretation of what Little B saw could perhaps be named as “The Lion Man”.

Instantly, Coco’s little pet forgot she even existed. He was filled with the intoxicating scent of this being who climbed down from the back of an old, large lion and came over to him. “The Lion Man” smiled at Little B and slid off the collar around his neck as he took him into his hands. Then he whispered, “Go little dog, and save your foolish master’s life”. Little B was tossed high into the air and glided like a bird across a distance to where he saw another “Big Cat”. This one was standing over “The Big Dog Man”. When he came to the ground, Little B leaped toward the backside of “The Big Cat”. He knew what to do! And he did it. Then he scampered back down the trail to present “The Lion Man” with the “Good Dog Treat” he had taken off of “The Big Cat”. When he came to the place where he’d been placed on the large rock, Little B could no longer smell the intoxicating scent of “The Lion Man”. He was gone. So he decided to eat the “Good Dog Treat” himself. And it was sure good! It instantly made him feel like a big dog. It was much tastier then the Poodle Feast he usually ate. Soon, all of the “Dog Men Pack” had arrived and they went in the car to see “The Original Goddess”—the one they called Randi. Little B had a “Shampoo” and they went back home. And from that day forward, he would dream of those events along with others involving “The Goddess” and little Chica. After a second night, the light filled the entryway into Big-E and Coco’s private section of the house and the door finally opened. Big-E White appeared. He was dressed in workout cloths, all set to head off to his training facility at the rear of the property. He stopped to pet Little B. “Go wake your mama up and tell her to get up and go for a walk” he said. The open door had brought a rush of fragrance. He knew “The Goddess” was right around the corner in “The Glorious Bed”. When he heard “The Big Dog Man” say “go for walk” the image of Chica popped into his mind and combined with the scents and the residue of the dreams he had been having of “The Lion Man”. It caused him to let out a sharp, high-pitched bark before running in to the room. Inside, he spotted “The Goddess” laying there in “The Glorious Bed” and he jumped in and came up to her head which was poking out from underneath the covers. Her eyes opened and she brought out her hand and stroked Little B. “Oh baby, you missed me didn’t you?” Little B began to whimper—in part from the time of separation from her and in part from their re-unification. But now his world was perfect again and it stayed that way for a full five minutes before Robert Casoni entered the room saying “Coco, Coco…time to rise and shine!” As he often did, Robert came in with a big cup of coffee for her and his clipboard filled with their agenda for the day. He looked around the room and saw the little kitchenette area littered with pots and pans and plates and glasses. Over by the closet a bench was filled with tall stack of Coco’s clothing and five or six pair of heals. What looked like a fifteen foot piece of bluish green silk was tied at one end to a door knob and trailed off to the steps of the sunken tub in the spa area. There were an array of unlabelled colored bottles, spend candles as well as an iron cooler filled with several partially spend bottle of Champaign tilting out from corners. Outside on a window ledge, stuck into a planter box were what looked to Casoni like burnt sparklers from a summer solstice celebration. In another corner of the room a four foot teddy bear sat blindfolded with its hands tucked behind its back seemingly shackled. A video camera, still on, pointed at it from the other side of the room. The large screen TV held the image of the captive bear sitting there passively. Robert couldn’t help but smile as Coco—hidden below the covers—lay motionless pretending to be sound asleep as usual, hoping for another few hours in the bed. Little B eyed “The Other Dog Man” suspiciously. But when he said, “Big-E thought we should go for a walk” he began to wag his tail. While he wanted to stay there in “The Glorious Bed” with “The Goddess”, he also wanted to “Go For Walk” and smell the ground for fresh scents of Chica. “Coco, I have some news. After the party, your Aunt Lucile took Buster back home to Brazil with her!” With this, she quit pretending to be asleep and popped her head out from underneath the covers. “What?” Casoni repeated what he had just said and added that he learned this from her mother. “Why’d she take him there?” she wondered out loud. “She said she was taking him there so he could keep her old husband company”. Coco’s eyes narrowed. “Oh…that doesn’t sound good” she said warily, and then after thinking about it further added, “I mean, it’s good for all of us. Robert, I’ve been so scarred that Big-E was gonna let him move in here with us! Oh, I just hope Lucile will finish him off before he decide to come back!” She wanted to know what BigE had said. “I didn’t say anything” Casoni replied. “He was off so quick and I didn’t really feel like it was my place to say anything. Big-E took his phone. Do you want to call him?” Coco shook her head. “No, I just want to savor the moment.” She smiled dreamily. “It’s the perfect ending for

the perfect anniversary” she added brightly. She was feeling great now and turned to Little B enthusiastically. “Baby, you want to go for walk with Robert and me?” Little B let out a bright, high-pitched little bark. And then another! There was a trail that began directly behind the training facility at the rear of Big-E and Coco’s Seven Acre Paradise Custom Estate in the foothills of Santa Barbara. It ran five miles into the wildlands owned by The Corporation For Public Tours (CPT) and was strictly off limits to the public. Unless you won a coveted CPT Wildlands Tour Pass in a yearly lottery or had the five-figure annual fee for a membership, viewing the scenic wonders was available only on TV. For C Class workers, the .95% deduction from their compensation package for the CPT Channel was considered fairly high-priced compared with other offerings such as The Porn Channel or The Sports Channel which were available for only .25%. So for most people in the C Class, their only look at the marvels of the great outdoors were on shows such as Outdoor Porn where natural wonders of the wildlands were used as a backdrop. Big-E White on-the-other-hand had all the access he wanted. He used the trail behind his house every other day for his run out to Las Grotto de Mirilla Agua—a partially enclosed series of water pools fed by both hot and cold springs. It was a lush green area thick with old oaks and several small caves. Native American picture graphs were painted on rock walls in areas that were known only to Anthropology professionals and a few others like Big-E. He had examined it in great detail when he first discovered the area. It was an unlisted site—not available to tourists. He went there in violation of the law and didn’t even pay the membership fee. Instead, he contributed ten-thousand dollars a year to a general fund that supported the local branch of World Security that ran the County Law Enforcement. The security guys would often fly by in a helicopter as Big-E ran. They’d dip down close to the ground, and toss water balloons at him that he always tried to catch without having them explode—which he never accomplished. In return, he would always smack one of their metal signs posted with a KEEP OUT notice that was positioned a mile from his house. Each time out, he would hit the sign with the butt of his fist and loosen it a little until he managed to knock it to the ground. After ten to twenty hits the signs would fall and Big-E would put it in his backpack to use for swatting away the next set of water balloons. This little game between the men had gone on for five years. Big-E and Coco were always invited to attend the local World Security summer RV Retreat at the nearby lake. He tried to at least stop in for a little of the great barbecues and folk music even though the event often conflicted with the Lion-fighting season when he was in deep preparation or enroot to some distant place for a scheduled match. The ten-mile run every other day was the centerpiece of Big-E’s training during the off-season. It would occupy to bulk of the day as he spent hours in and around the grotto before returning home. His backpack always contained the same items: his medium size automatic fast-tranquilizer dart crossbow; one four-once can of salted, roasted cashews; his cell phone; a hand towel; and one bottle of Big-E’s DRINK which he used to raise his blood sugar prior to the run back home. He carried his crossbow as a precaution. In all of his trips out to the grotto, he had spotted lion tracks only one time. The sound of the security helicopters had long filled the memories of the Tall Lion that otherwise ruled over hundreds of square miles of national forest lands. The smart lions understood the vector traversed by security men marked the end of their territory and equated the chopper sound with a lethal blast from the grenade launchers these men used with great precision. Their policy was to run down any pack of Lion and blow up one of the big cats whenever the beasts appeared anywhere near their zone. Those guys weren’t Lion-fighters, but Lion exterminators. So as Coco, Robert and Little B were leaving the house for a stroll around the small community of Seven Acre Paradise Custom Homes , Big-E was already halfway out to his grotto. He considered himself as the current occupant of the little natural wonder. But the professional anthropologists who appeared occasionally he regarded as honored guests. The older professor in the group had been going to the spot for twenty years and he and BigE quickly became friends. Their common interest was the history of the Chumash people who had once owned this part of California. Big-E was deeply interested in every detail the professor had to tell. In return, Big-E told the man some details of mostly unknown events concerning pre-Viking Native American civilization in Arizona and New Mexico where he lived during his last two years of high school when his father was broadcasting Lionfighting matches throughout the South West.

As Big-E White had adopted this place as his own, so too had he adopted the mostly extinct Chumash as “his people”. He didn’t think of inheritance so much as a set of genetic or social traits, but as the passing on of core values. While his biological ancestors had been Vikings—and there were qualities in that old culture that he liked—his true “people” were the aboriginal native American. It was in the old culture of coastal California people that he felt most at home. Their way of life seemed most ideal to him although he realized some of what he saw was romanticized. Still, he didn’t consider them to have been evolutionary road kill as some short-sighted scholars would say off- the-record—people who had been gradually exterminated by slavery and the diabolical germs of the white man. Big-E believed they were a superior culture that had completed its migrations, found a place in the sun, didn’t become overgrown with messy, over-complicated intellectual pursuits, and then naturally melted into the next phase of the world without too much violence and barbarity. Other groups of people had been dragged kicking and screaming into death and re-birth; The California coastal people had by comparison, simply and effectively moved on. They proved to be among the exceptional forerunners in the ongoing melting pot of America. Big-E had latched on to the gentle sway of his notion of how they had lived. It helped to cool his often-furious nature. He joined the professor and his group for re-enactments of Chumash dances events after day-long spear fishing in the Channel Islands. Coco didn’t like spear fishing so he would go alone and bring her back some fresh albacore which was plentiful in the area. As he ran out to the Grotto, the security guys never appeared. But his phone rang. It was Buster. Big-E usually wouldn’t take a call from his dad when he was in the middle of training but would pick up the message later. Usually, Buster called wanting more money and would use the voice mail as a platform for his comical ham acting. His act often consisted of a story about the old woman who lived next door to him in the Hollywood apartment complex where he lived. Buster would tell Big-E how she would come in under the pretense of bringing him supper and then steal his cash. Or it would be the kid downstairs who threatened to beat him if he didn’t loan him money. But when Big-E went to investigate all of this he found there was no old woman next door and that the kid he spoke of was actually a nice teenager that had become Buster’s disciple and was always waiting on him hand and foot. The two would watch sports together on the TV and old man would tell him his stories. The boy’s mother told Big-E she suspected Buster was smoking weed with her son and asked him to talk to his father. For some reason he decided to take the call from Buster. He climbed up a mound of rock for better reception as the signal was weak in that area. Big-E quickly found out that the old man was in Brazil with Coco’s Aunt Lucile. “What are you doing there?” he asked, feeling a bit exasperated by this latest of his father’s “get aways” as his mother used to call them. Even after she died and Big-E went to stay with Buster, he was always pulling one of these “getaways”. Sometimes for a weekend—sometimes for as long as a month. Buster replied that he couldn’t talk over the phone about what he was doing. He was convinced that wily creditors were tapping into his conversations looking for ways to collect money from him. Instead, he went on to rave about Lucile. “Big-E, your girl’s aunt is quite a woman. Lucile’s like nothing you ever heard about. She’s really got it going on down here. Son, she’s making a grip of money “ He smiled at his father’s choice of language. The old man had been adding new phrases to vocabulary ever since he started smoking weed with the kid in Hollywood. “Lucile really knows how to work a man. And she knows how to work with a man. That’s a rare commodity in a woman. She’s got the full package!” “But tell me exactly what you’re doing” Big-E asked him again. He didn’t like to be left in the dark on anything. “You’ll have to come down here to see for yourself” the old man replied firmly. “But not for another month or so. It’ll take me that long to really get things organized here. Lucile and I have big expansion plans all set and ready to go!” Big-E really wanted to know what they were up to and thought to pose a different inquiry. “Dad, is this something Coco will approve of?” On the other end of the line, he could hear his father burst into a big spasm of laughter. “Son, I can’t believe you put it that way.” He was talking through a steady stream of deep cackling laughs. “Coco is like most women—they don’t approve of much that a man really wants to do. Don’t get me wrong, she’s a fine girl—just right for you—but she’s not like her aunt at all!” Buster then instructed Big-E to close down his apartment in Hollywood. “Will you go down and help me out?” “You’re not coming back?”

“ Well, hell no!” he answered. “Besides, I don’t think they’d let me back in the country now that I’m out. “Listen, I need you to go and have that kid who lives down below me get rid of my stuff. Everything but my Navy trunk with my pictures in it. Tell the kid I need him to hook me up. Give him a thousand dollars. Try to threaten him a little so he follows through. Tell him to get everything wrapped up tight. I’ll get an address to him where he can send it. Tell him that I got a job for him after he graduates high school this summer.” Big-E went on passively listening to the set of instructions as he always had with his father. As Buster talked he was amazed at how merry the old man sounded. He usually pretended to be having a swell time but now it sounded like more then an act. He was dying to know what Buster had gotten himself into. “And one more thing Big-E. I need for you to avoid getting hacked up by one of them god-damned lions. You hear me? I’m counting on you out-living me. I need you to properly dispose of the body once I’m gone.” There was an almost imperceptible pleas in the old man’s voice. “Do you want me to have you stuck in a hole down there?” Big-E asked kiddingly. “Hell no! “ Buster replied and began to cackle again. “I’ve been thinking that you should get all of us one of those special family sections at a premium burial tower. Put my remains in the top drawer. Then in the next row, you, Coco, and the dog. If the dog goes first, put him on ice and load him up after me!” Buster was laughing so loud now that he started to cough up phlegm. In his mind he was picturing the look on his daughter-in-law’s face when Big-E told her what he had said. Big-E too was thinking of how and when to share that with Coco. She’d get hot as a pistol when she heard he was going to put her in with Buster. He would cool her down slowly and make a night of it! But not until he recovered from the previous two nights with her. Then he changed the subject and asked his father where he should send his monthly allowance. Buster sounded surprised. “Son, I won’t be needing that little sack of bird seed you’ve been sending me. Now don’t get me wrong. I appreciate how you’ve been helping me out since the Nevada gig played out. But I’m back making my own money now! “Of course, it’s all going to stay in Lucile’s name!” He said this last part with a clear change in tone-of-voice—It was a message to the creditors he believed sifted through his digital phone files. “In fact Big-E, I’m going to have her write a check out to the locale bird sanctuary in the amount of what you’ve been supplying me with! We’ll call it The Big-E White Bird Food Grant. Listen son, I got to go now. I’ll be in touch later. I love you son.” Later, when he had finished his run out to the grotto, Big-E felt the tiniest tinge of sadness at the thought that a day would likely come when his father would be gone. And despite everything, he knew he would miss him. Buster had made his son become everything he wasn’t. And in doing so, he had made Big-E White into the man he became. The relationship of this father and son wasn’t fully known by either. Looking at it from the outside, one might conclude that Buster had put what goodness he had in him into Big-E. And that Big-E had learned early how to forgive his father for his human shortcomings. This isn’t always the case in such relationships. The sun was directly overhead as Big-E cooled down from his five-mile run in one of the water pools. He had stopped to re-hydrate himself at a fast-moving section of the creek, sipping from the very top of the water as it fell over a short ledge. The dry winds of autumn were beginning to set up against the pressure coming off the Pacific. Big-E preferred cooler, foggy days at the grotto. The light today wasn’t to his liking. It was stark and bold. But Big-E was trained to be content with whatever befell him. He had greatly developed the power to push both positive and negative distraction away—which allowed for a peaceful soul. Even so, within five minutes of his arrival at the grotto, the reality of his present situation once again began to intrude. He had blocked it out for two days but now that time of respite was ending very quickly as he recalled his agenda for the day. As soon as he returned from his run and had showered, he would be driving north to The Oakland. He had a long day and night ahead of him. This trip had not been on his schedule until about an hour before the anniversary toast forty-eight hours earlier. That was when his phone rang and a big problem had made itself known. After the photography session with Mary Harris was complete, he, Max and Jimmy had gone into rooms at various parts of the house to change back into their regular cloths. As he was changing a call came in. The area code for the incoming number was not one he recognized. Big-E answered the phone out of curiosity and because he had some extra moments before having to return to the party. It was from Kerri Branagh, the deputy agent to Eric “Brick” Smith. It was Smith—through Branagh—that the link between Big-E and the World Security plan to depose Ethan Vulerummer and The Seven Lions of Private Control was formed. They had enlisted his

involvement during a series of meetings over the months. Big-E liked them both. “Brick” Smith was a middle-aged man. If ever he had been as rock hard as his nickname suggested, it was long ago. Now softened by decades of desk work, he still managed to raise a somewhat tired but pleasant demeanor. His actual title was Level One Administrative Agent Smith. In the old military order of ranking, that would have made him a high General. His area of command included all of Mexico and the western half of the US and Canada. Level One Administrative Agents answered only to the World Security High Command itself. In this matter of “The Fascist Controllers”—which The Seven Lions were know as in World Security circles— World Security High Command itself was out of the loop. The Level One Agents were a tight group made up mostly of Democrats. The few who were Fascists had slowly been moved out of the center vector of power and sealed off from the quietly ongoing plans. The organizational network ran by The Seven Lions had been trumped bit-by-bit during the previous ten years since Ethan Vulerummer had became their conductor. The Fascism they espoused was like an obsolete machine with no use in the modern world other then to serve its own component parts. In view of the Level One Agents, it was the greatest threat to the innate meaning of world security itself. And Vulerummer seemed to be getting crazier with every passing month. Big-E White was made privy to all of this during his meetings with “Brick” Smith. The Level One Agents trusted him explicitly. They knew him well and not just from his career as a Lion-fighter. Big-E had been fully investigated. They even knew what had happened to him as a teenager. They knew Big-E in ways he didn’t even know himself and believed they could anticipate his every move. So he was welcomed by Smith and agent Branagh as a trusted confidant. There was instant chemistry between Big-E and Kerri Branagh. When they first met he was fascinated by her physical appearance. He thought that it was her who should’ve acquired the nickname “brick”. She was a goodsize woman about his own age. He liked her good-sized breasts, tanned white skin tones and pretty, seriouslooking face. She didn’t make a fuss over her hair and had a fresh complexion spawned by healthy living and the moist perspiration of dedicated training. The thought had gone through his mind that if he weren’t married to Coco, he’d want to be with this woman. He instantly saw that his own effect on her was only a percentage of what usually happened to women when they first met him. Her eyes sparkled only the tiniest bit. She didn’t become hard and professional. She did “vaporize” slightly but not enough to where anybody other then himself would’ve saw it. She simply presented herself in a warm, easy, respectable fashion. He flirted with her subtly but she didn’t seem to notice it. Agent Branagh was the most coveted of deputies among Level One Agents. They all wanted her but “Brick” Smith had won the prize. She was brilliant and a perfect compliment to him. They had worked together for five years and he was grooming her to assume his position in the coming few years when he retired. He regarded her as the daughter he never had. Not once did he see her have a bad day or become overwhelmed by anything. She had barely made a single mistake in the difficult work of learning her job. But on the afternoon she called Big-E White on the phone, Smith watched helplessly as his deputy was hammered by the Le Muffett Battalier. “I just called to wish you a happy 6th anniversary” she had said in a pleasant, friendly manner. There was a long pause. “Agent Branagh. Our agreement was that my family and family life, and personal business would be left out of this.” Big-E’s voice was different. This was what most effected her. The tone of it was strange, it wasn’t cold…or a little shocked liked they’d expected it to be. It wasn’t mechanical although he had dropped his words in a rhythmical way. No, he sounded like a man who wasn’t much annoyed by the fact that a bird had just squirted a small plume of shit on him from above. On one hand he was telling her she had just broken an important contract with him. On the other hand, he was displaying the event as a natural occurrence that might happen any given day. Kerri was rolling backwards on the balls of her feet. “Ah…Big-E…Ah…wow, I didn’t think….boy….you’re right of course…ah…do you think we can maybe take this in reverse and go back to before I dialed your number?” There was another pause—and then that voice again. “We’ll have to have another meeting. I’ll be in Los Angeles at ten o’clock on Thursday waiting in your lobby.” Big-E clicked off the phone and exhaled. A wave of fury broke free and expanded. They were playing with him like Asian Lion-fighters play with the big cats. He went to work stripping all of the egotism and personal grudge out of himself. What was left was a core of worry around which the anger swirled. These people weren’t as

bright or honest as they appeared to be. If that had been the extent of it, Big-E wouldn’t have been so concerned. He would go to Los Angeles as he said he would and simply reprimand them and find out what they were thinking. He would let them know what their choices were with him and either re-gain their compliance to his wishes or else bow out of their project altogether letting them know they would be best advised to just let it go. But it turned out to be much more then a poorly conceived phone call designed to control him. When Big-E left the room to re-enter the large main room where the party was going on, he stepped out of the hallway at the same exact moment that both Maxim and Jimmy were coming in from different hallways. The two of them each were slightly staring into space and didn’t notice him or each other. They had the same looks on their faces—very pissed off! They had looked like he felt. He saw this and a weird flash went through him. Automatically he took a step back, out of their sight, and returned to the room he had been in. A sense of panic set in on him. It was like that day when he had slipped and the lion was standing over him ready to take his life. It took him another ten minutes to push everything he was sensing and get it into a form he could deal with. He accomplished this using a meditation technique he had practiced for years. Now, two days later, he was doing the same thing. He had put all of this away to enjoy his time with Coco. Cooling down from the five mile run seemed to make the disturbing events expand rapidly in his mind. He couldn’t wait to see Max and test his sense of what was going on here beneath the surface. The thought that he would soon have more answers to this riddle allowed him to have a successful meditation. Soon, peace of mind was upon him. Big-E had become very successful at using the meditation technique he had been taught. Overall, he had calmed down gradually through the years and became sharper and more focused as a result. His father had told him that his peace-of-mind was only an illusion. Buster—ever the cynic—said plainly that there was no real, lasting peace in life. “Only when your dead, Big-E. Until then, we just get our moments and then it’s back out into the shit storm!” He tried to convince the old man that there were people who managed to never go back to the “shit storm”. “Oh, yeah, the monks. So they say. They trade pussy and good drink for not having to go out and find it in the shit storm!” He had laughed derisively. Big-E knew the old man had it all wrong. Or more precisely, that he had simply developed the truth of the matter as far as his own capabilities allowed him. He had made it as far up the ladder as he could perhaps. So he didn’t waste any of his own soul on Buster. It would’ve been like pouring good milk out into the dry ground or “putting pearls before the eyes of swine” as Lord Christo had said. Instead, Big-E reveled in his own progress and aspired to be like those he had heard of—who had supposedly gained the power to stop the “shit storm” completely and remain in all circumstances with peace-of-mind. He was sitting in one of the water pools dwelling on this when a series of thuds caused him to open his eyes in time to see the last movements of a large section of rock roll into the creek a ways below where he sat. He thought an earthquake might be occurring and listened keenly but there was nothing. Then he saw that the place was filled with mist. It was rolling down from a point up stream. It had been dry and sunny before. He gazed at the chunk of fallen rock no more then twenty feet away. It was huge, maybe eight feet in diameter. He looked to the bank where it had come down from and what he saw made him jump. There was a large Lion poking his head out from an area beyond his site range. Ordinarily he would’ve gone straight for his weapon. But the lion looked at him calmly and Big-E couldn’t tell if it was standing or laying there. He’d never saw a lion quite like it before. It was obviously very old. Then it withdrew it’s head back beyond his site and was gone. Big-E got up and made his way over to the large section of rock that had fallen. He looked up but couldn’t spot the lion. He climbed up on the portion of the rock that was jutting up to get a better view. What he saw was the entrance to a cave! The section of rock had clearly broken off from the front of this cave. So he moved to a place where he could climb up to the cave and was wondering if the lion had been inside when the rock broke off from it. This thought made him go back and get his backpack before continuing forward. When he finally got in front of the cave he saw there was no lion inside. There was a small pathway that looked as if it led out of the grotto. He had never seen that before but then this was not a position he had ever climbed to while exploring the surroundings. At first he couldn’t see far into the darkness of the cave but it was growing lighter. The mist was retreating and the sun was moving out into a gap between the tall oaks that sur-

Rounded the grotto. A moment later and the sun was sending a beam of light directly into the cave. He could see it went no more then ten feet back. The floor of the cave looking fascinating. The ground was eroded in a particular pattern that looked like the shape of a man. He crawled into it and found he could actually fit into the pattern of eroded rock. There was a rounded place for his head that opened up into a wider place for the trunk of his body. All of his arms and legs found a natural position in the pattern of the eroded rock. He was now laying in it with his entire body right below the surface edge of the cave’s floor. It came into his mind that a human body had somehow contributed to this odd pattern of eroded rock at the base of the cave. Was this a place where shaman came? Was it a place where bodies were laid out at death? Maybe chemicals from the bodies had caused this. Big-E didn’t know. He made a plan to phone the anthropology professor as soon as he came back within cell phone range. Then he began to look at the other parts of the cave, the walls. At the rear of the cave there was something on the wall. He brushed away dirt as the sunlight began to retreat and recast the cave in shadow. Slowly, he had uncovered the discovery of a cave painting that was well-preserved behind the layer of dirt. He could see a human head with horns. Below that were three stick figures. They were drawn in a line with the center one taller then the other two. The center figure seemed to be holding a spear! Big-E was amazed by all of this and his thoughts no longer blotted out the previous odd events of the rock falling and the sudden appearance of the lion, and the human body-like pattern in the eroded rock. There was something about this picture! It took a another five minutes before it occurred to him what he was reminded of. By then the cave was engulfed in shadow and he just sat there dumbfounded by all of the events which had occurred like a landslide. This feeling of dumbfoundedness was exactly what “Brick” Smith felt after the call to Big-E White. He sat there with Kerri Branagh discussing the situation. Big-E’s reaction to the call had left him feeling like a rider who is suddenly bucked off and sent flying by a horse he thinks he knows very well. “I was 100% sure he would react in a predictable way” Smith told his deputy. “Our research on him is huge.” “When he began to talk it felt like he was right here in the room” Kerri remembered aloud. “I mean this image of him standing staring right through me filled my head.” “Well, there is obviously something we missed about this guy in our profile”. “I don’t think so Eric.” Kerri looked at her boss quickly and then back into an inner distance. “Brick” Smith had never seen this kind of disarray in her eyes. “I think what it is”, she began slowly, “is that nobodies ever actually come face-to-face before with Washington Kachina .” “Brick” Smith wanted to scoff at this but instead sat there quietly and considered what she had said. Big-E sat and ate his can of salted, roasted cashews and drank up his bottle of Big-E’s DRINK. He needed to power up a bit for the five-mile run back to his house. Meanwhile, Coco was in her office pleasantly working away on her computer at a drawing when Robert Casoni came in. Right away she could tell he was furious about something. “Coco, I can’t believe this” he said angrily. “I just got off the phone with Aussie BPA . They cancelled the deal!” Coco spun around in her chair. “But why? Aren’t they shipping out today?” “I’ve already stopped it and sent the truck to get the product back to the warehouse.” “Robert, what did they tell you?” “Nothing” he replied with an emotionally exaggerated shrug. “But it smells like those fucking Fascists again!” As Big-E ran back home from the grotto to prepare for his trip up north. Robert and Coco were on the phone with their lawyer. Upstairs, Little B was oblivious to all the goings on of the family. He was sleeping after his morning walk. Although he didn’t pick up any fresh scents of Chica, he still had a good time. He saw a rabbit and two other dogs. Now he was stretched out in “The Glorious Bed” of “The Goddess” and dreaming. He dreamed of Chica; and of “The Goddess”; and of gliding through the air like a bird. But more then anything, he was dreaming of the intoxicating scent of “The Lion Man”.