This action might not be possible to undo. Are you sure you want to continue?
Cha 6 from LionWorld by William E Justin
Copyright 2010 All Rights Reserved
Big-E woke up the following morning at exactly 7 AM. The first image that came in his mind was of Maxim taking off in his jet bound for Maui. On a normal day he was up before 5. But as the past weeks had unfolded, normality was slowly bending into something else—hopefully a “new normality”. When he came into his bedroom late the previous night, Coco was still awake. Right away she began sobbing and he spent the next hour hearing about her rotten day. Everything was upside down. Even Little B had been pushed out of his comfort zone. The usually pampered poodle-dog had spent half the night outside in the cold. That Coco would allow such a thing—leave him out and vulnerable to the coyotes that often worked their neighborhood—that alone proved how out-of-it she was. When he first came home Big-E had wanted to hit— go for sex. Instead, he had to be the comforter. He had to hold her for a full twenty minutes before she finally fell asleep. The Le Muffet business jet was in the air by 7:15. The various commercial and other aircraft had been lined up for take-off at Bay City International, where a strictly enforced 10 pm to 7 am quiet time was reserved as a refuge for the people that lived in the noise polluted area. Only Max and a pilot were aboard. It was the first time he had ever gone in the jet by himself. Usually the 21-seater was packed with various combinations of his kids and their mothers or his brothers and other companions. He hadn’t even lined up a stewardess for the quickly arranged flight. As it was early morning—and would be still—when he reached Hawaii, Max stretched out for some supplemental sleep in the large recliner he had installed when they first purchased the jet. It was oversized but provided great support for his bad leg. Four regular seats had to be eliminated to fit it in but he felt it was more then worth it—although he was constantly in hot water from family members who couldn’t fit on flights and would have to go commercial. He quickly fell into a particularly revivifying sleep there in his jet, alone, and seemingly suspended in a morning sunrise that would last all the way to Maui. Maxim Le Muffet didn’t get much time alone due to his alwayshuge list of family and business concerns. Several hours later as he awoke, it occurred to him that the end of Lionfighting career would bring additional periods of peace and quiet such as he had just enjoyed. That was a nice thought. At the airport in Maui, Jimmy “Samoan” Luani called him the moment the jet came to a complete stop. He was out front waiting for him in his Asian Motors Rugged Road Car. He could have sent a driver but wanted to personally escort Max to his home at I Kini Akua Plantation in the Hana District. Max had never been there before although his brothers Bill and Ronnie usually dropped in at least once during the off-season for big party events such as New Year’s Eve one week after the widely celebrated Christopian Feast Day at the winter solstice. The previous night, Max had Bill make a call to a cousin of Jimmy’s who lived on the property year-round. The message was that he and Big-E each had received phone calls from a particular businessman named Eric at the party a few days earlier. He wanted to know if Jimmy had received a similar call. If he had, then Max wanted to come over and talk to him about it in person. The go-betweens were each asked to keep this under their hats and an hour later word came back from Jimmy to come over, that he would be there and wanted to talk about the situation. Now in front of the airport, Max dropped his overnight bag into the top-down vehicle and exchanged a firm handshake and bicep squeeze with Jimmy. The two all-time great Lion-fighters got right into the subject at hand
as they drove off. Jimmy said they would take a leisurely off-road route closer to a dormant volcano so they could have plenty of time to talk, while also gaining a splendid view of Maui. “So oafy, this pinche agent Smith got you and Big-E into this too, huh?” His eyes were shiny and he was almost giggling. It didn’t seem to Max like Jimmy was very concerned that the three of them were being played by World Security. “Yeah” Maxim said with gravity. “And frankly, me and Big-E are a bit worried about this. Let me make sure we on the same page on this, Jimmy. This Agent Smith contacted you to do a exhibition with that guy Vulerummer?” “Yeah” Jimmy replied, “except it was his girl Kerri Branghaue who hooked me up first, and then I met with Smith.” “Right”, Max said , nodding his head. “That’s jus like with Big-E and me—same thing. Why you suppose he wanna keep us in the dark about each other?” Jimmy shrugged. “It’s some kind of kilu, eh—I mean, he playin’ games with us. He’s messin’ with our heads!” He smiled as he was saying this and Max wondered if Jimmy was always so light and breezy. He really didn’t know him all that well. His brothers knew him better and Big-E had known him since they were sophomore football competitors in Southern California. Max tapped his shoulder. “You don’t seem to be sweatin’ this much”, he said with a bit of a nervous laugh. “Me and Big-E feel like…we into somthin’ deep here!” “Tell me what Smith told you guys”. Jimmy glanced over at him and then back to the road which was a bit washed out and had them bobbing in their seats. Maxim ran him through all of the key details of their meetings with Smith and Kerri Branghaue. “Basically, they want to use us to set Vulerummer up. The guy is crazy about Lion-fighting and wants to stage some kind of indoor lion-fight and go out and kill one”. Jimmy was laughing. He said; “but the guy wants a champion Lion-fighter at his side to bat his head. Then the panzone gonna run it through with a spear”. “Yeah” Max replied. “Except in my case he want the lion throat-speared and held in place flailin’ away while he try to get it in the heart.” Jimmy gasped a little then began shaking his head. “Oafy, that’s really messed up; it ain’t even legal, eh.” “I know it ain’t” Max said with disgust. “But they say Vulerummer tell people all the time that...‘if Ethan Vulerummer does it, then it legal”. “That’s really fucked up. No wonder they want us to kill him”. “Did you say, ‘want us’”? Max needed to double-check on just what Jimmy was saying. He and Big-E were told their involvement was limited to setting Vulerummer up. Jimmy realized he was coming at all of this a little differently then Maxim and Big-E were. “Max, when Smith finished telling me about just how nasty and bad Ethan Vulerummer is, he made this joke. He said that if I happened to swing and miss the lion’s head and whacked Vulerummer instead…well, that I’d be doing humanity a favor!” “But he was jokin?” “Yeah, but it was more then just a joke, eh! That’s their Kilu. I bet Smith said something like that to you and Big-E. Am I right?” He was 100% right about Max’s conversation with Eric “Brick” Smith. Smith had jokingly told him that if Vulerummer accidentally took a spear-thrust to the chest, the world would be a better place. But he had said it in a joking context. The killing of Ethan Vulerummer would come in a swarm of bullets brought by undercover World Security agents at the conclusion of the exhibition Lion-fight. They would be blended in and seen later as a group of radical, unaligned assassins. If all went well, they would slide off into the night after Vulerummer was knocked off. Maxim asked why he was so sure about this. He had spoken with conviction. “I never knew you was such a wise-guy” he kidded Jimmy. “Hey, I’m no wise-guy, Max. And I’m sure as hell no assassin! The only reason I got insight into this is because the guy who owns the land here ,tells me things. He is Haka Kahu. He’s a holder of knowledge, a keeper of the legends, a healer and a seer of the Spirit.”
Max instantly thought about Marthia’s Grandmother. This Haka Kahu almost sounded like a long-lost Hawaiian cousin of hers. “Do people around here call him Grandpa by any chance?” he asked with a little less respect then Jimmy thought was appropriate. “Hell no!” he replied. He explained to Max that in his old Chicano crib in the eastern part of Los Angeles, where he grew up, they always called the old guys “grandpa”. It was a kind of loving, inside joke because the men were often grumpy about getting old and it helped soften the experience a little for them. But it also seemed to re-enforced the older men’s sense of still possessing some potency or macho. “It’s not like that with Haka Kahu!” he said emphatically. “He very special. He’s like Dr. Ben, oafy”. Now Max understood. He was the revered teacher here; some kind of local genius— perhaps a master of the martial arts. “So, do you address him as Haka or Mr.Kahu…?” Jimmy pulled one hand quickly from the steering wheel and covered his mouth almost like a blushing teenage girl might. “Max, please don’t call him Mr. Kahu or Haka!”, he said laughing softly. “Haka Kahu is what he is. The man’s name is David. Everybody just calls him David. He was born and raised here.” “Oh. So am I going to get to meet David?” “Of course. That’s what I was beginning to tell you when I mentioned Haka Kahu. I was telling you that I’m no wise-guy—that the only wise-guy is Haka Kahu and around here, that’s David. “Yesterday we were having our lunch break. A lot of us. We got a 60 inch screen out in our big lunch area. We have a system here, that on odd days of the month we have sports on the TV and on even days the women control what’s on. We got a lot of women working on the plantation.” Jimmy paused and flashed a big smile. “Anyway, yesterday was a ‘man day’ and we were all watching Sports Talk and they had something on The Le Muffet Crew and you know…we all started hissing and booing….” He paused again to see if Max was smiling at that and he was. “Anyway oafy, suddenly David says, ‘that Maxim guy is gonna come here tomorrow’. And I say, ‘what’s up with that’? You’ve never come over even though you have a standing invite just like your brothers and Coco and Big-E. “But since you’ve never made it over here yet, I’m telling David…‘What makes you say that? I just saw the man two days ago and I don’t think we’ll be seeing him as soon as tomorrow’. And David just kinda shrugged his shoulders and tells me, ‘I just have a hunch that he’ll be coming through. We’ll see.’ “So, it’s the end of the day and David and me have been working up in the Avocado grove and here comes my cousin saying he just got this ‘top secret’ communiqué from Bill Le Muffet that Max wants to come over to talk!” “That’s wild” said Max. That sounded like straight Dr. Ben kind of stuff to him; almost magical seeing. Not all dreams, visions and pronouncements like Marthia’s Grandmother—but a high-speed rationality coupled with pure intuition. Hunches of that type came of subtle, logical patterns of value most people didn’t usually see, and almost never acted upon. “Hold on Max”. Jimmy suddenly turned the Rugged Road Car off the paved road and up a long dirt road that was fairly steep. One half mile later they reached an eastern slope of the volcano whose rim was now partly in view. Below them was the course of a small river descending from the highlands into the glorious belly of Moo-kapo National Forest. Max was a city guy—his interest in scenic wonders was small and always coupled with killing lion. But he gasped at this view with its lush colors and compelling textures. “So there ain’t no lion in Hawaii?” he inquired. “Not even at the zoo!” replied Jimmy. He explained that during The Last War, the Fascists had plans to populate much of the islands with lion to cut off expansion. But many of their staff were poisoned to death by the Hawaiians and others forced to work as slaves and keep up their masters’ houses. The westerners never stationed enough troops to control the local population—who never lost control of the wildlands. Then, even after the war was ended and the collusions began, they didn’t have the heart or will to contaminate such a beautiful place. The Hawaiian Islands remained pristine with control of the large plantations being passed down through family lines, and public lands left unenclosed. It was one of the few desirable places in the world that had escaped complete corporate control. It was a backpacker’s paradise and a huge source of tourism money. The only limitations were that many areas had become so flooded with tourists that a five-day waiting list was usually in place for those who weren’t kupa or native born. Jimmy and his family had unencumbered access to the wildlands because his father was half Hawaiian. “Max, have you visited Lord Rashling’s Castle in Kona on the Big Island?”
He hadn’t but said enthusiastically that it was on his list of places to go. “I heard it take three whole days to see everything” he remarked. Touring castles and grand houses was Maxim’s idea of scenic wonders. He enjoyed the “mega-bling” as he called it. Soon the men turned off of the main dirt road into a fruit orchard. Jimmy announced they had entered the back end of I Kini Akua Plantation. That was where David lived in a modest hut-like structure his grandfather had first built. They reached the hut but David wasn’t there so they continued on toward the main house and plantation production area at the front of the property. “How many acres you got here?” Max asked. “One-fifty” Jimmy replied, adding that they had almost every square foot planted with something or another. He went through the full list the fruit and other edibles they grew there. It consisted of avocado, four varieties of banana, three varieties of apple, star fruit, cacao, cinnamon, curium, strawberry papaya, white pineapple, lychee, mango, breadfruit, jackfruit, red sweetsop, sour sop, coffee, two varieties of sapote and pomelo, pomegranate, egg fruit, kumquat, passion fruit, rambutan, tamarind, tangelo, tangerine, gourmet guava and citrus. He added that all of it was grown using something called the Ono Organic Method and that they shipped product all over the globe as well as to many restaurants and stores in the islands. “Damn!” Max said when confronted with the entire list. “All I can say is don’t invite my brother Merle here, please. He gonna want to go countin’ all the produce and probably have a brain hemorrhage!” They both started laughing and Maxim told Jimmy a few good stories about Merle and his counting which he hadn’t heard. But Max knew his brother would really like this place. He had his own fruit trees and garden and was crazy about fishing which was a huge part of the culture here. “Counting the produce is my wife’s job” Jimmy said. “She oversees the management.” This was the first they’d spoken of Sydney that day and as far as Max could remember, the first time her name had ever come up in the handful of times he had met Jimmy Luani. At the party a few days before, they confined their conversation to the usual small talk and the Mary Harris portrait they were involved in. Sydney and Maxim had something of a history that they alone shared. It mostly centered around a single night 12 years earlier when they had ended up alone at the Le Muffet family home. His sister and young brothers had taken their mother Lynette to the airport while Sydney remained behind. She was, as usual, spending the weekend with Coco’s family as she often did during that period. Max had come in late to wish his mother a nice trip. She was going back east to spend part of her vacation with a boyfriend. Coco and Sydney would be minding the house as well as taking care of Bill and Ronnie. They were being looked in upon by Maxim and Merle for the few days she would be away. He was disappointed in having missed his mother, and Sydney had gotten him to stay for a moment by offering to make him a sandwich. He sat down and turned on a baseball game. Sydney returned a while later with a tray containing the sandwich, two glasses of wine, and a plate with large pieces of cantaloupe. She was completely naked and her eyes smoldered with longing and an innocent, completely natural desire. She sat down next to him on the sofa and with the tray on her lap and went to feed him a piece of the fruit. “Maxi, I want you to be my first”, she said with clear intent and some awkwardness. It took him a moment to recover from the initial shock and he let her put the fruit in his mouth. “Oh..baby doll” he said, gathering in the sight of her body and the look in her eyes. He let his hand run down her shoulder to the side of her back until he was grasping her from the small of her back. “Oh..baby girl “ he said again, this time with clear pain in his voice. She put the tray down, leaned back against a cushion, and brought one foot up on the sofa. Max came to her and gave her a long kiss. Then he pulled back and told her that while every part of him wanted her, he couldn’t go through with it. He quickly averted her gaze and left the house muttering how cruel and unfair life was. He drove straight to the home of Dr. Ben Akiyama and was ushered to the meditation room by Mrs. Akiyama. Dr. Ben appeared and saw that Max was deeply disturbed. He knelt down on the floor mat and gestured for Max to join him. They touched fists three times. This was becoming a custom of the new Akiyama School of Martial Arts. Quickly, Max blurted out what had happened. He made a point of not using Sydney’s name.
“You did the right thing Max” Akiyama had told him plainly—adding that he was kind of surprised by that. “Sydney’s a wonderful girl”. Before Max could ask him how he knew, Dr. Ben waved the question away saying that he had put it together. “She’s not yet eighteen, am I correct?” “Not for six more months”, Max answered with weakness creeping into his voice. “Well there’s more to it then just that. She’s your sister’s best friend, and she knows your wife!” Max then explained to him that a month earlier, Marthia told him she wanted to free him into a partial marriage with her so that he could go out and have more kids. She’d decided that further pregnancy and baby raising wasn’t for her. This was the first Akiyama had heard of that. His eyes widened as he said…”umm”. But it didn’t change how he felt. “This goes against the grain. Sydney is family. Forget about the biology for a moment. There would likely be a strong social cost if you pursue this.” He went on to explain Max’s ordeal as a common one in the long history of Great Human Apes. “It’s almost a cornerstone of human civilization” he said. “Decisions and customs about who not to sleep with have long provided the civilization that allows greater evolution for mankind. That is why something so right on one level, is so wrong on another. We have a long hereditary history that programs us to sometimes act as you did tonight. And there are cases that work in the opposite of that; fixed mating by parents of their children for social purposes that are rejected by the participants because they feel a sense of it being evolutionarily degenerate or just plain stupid.” Max wasn’t thinking about upholding the civilization when he passed on Sydney’s invitation. He was thinking about her age and her relationship with his little sister. “But it all feel…queer” Max replied. “One part of me is sayin’ that taking her was the right thing to do. Not doing it feels…cruel”. Dr. Ben tried to explain using precepts from his martial arts training. “The Chi is developed in folds or a swirl of layers such as a traditional oriental hand fan”. In the Akiyama School, Chi was considered to be the more physical and psychological nature of Dynamic Quality that is expressed in all of evolution and transcends even the most subtle of these folds in the phenomenal world. It was the power that begins in though-form and is transferred through the nervous system into the musculature where it can be used to lift the blocks that build a shelter in the outer world. He explained the various levels this way; “It’s like there is a path that coils up a mountain that has been set by natural means such as the flow of water and the wind. The traveler is continually reaching the cardinal points but each time from a different level. There is pleasure and joy in worldly beauty and our ability to interact with it through the senses. But what is good at one level has little value when circumstances are encountered at a different level and the focal point has shifted.” Dr. Ben smiled as he thought of yet another way of explaining this. One that Max might be able to easily comprehend. “From the biological level, it’s always the right thing to do to take a ripe young woman! Especially when it’s offered with a free lunch.” But Max was partially blocked from getting to the core of what Akiyama had said. He told him earnestly, “One part of me know there’s a way I could make it work”. “Yeah, you could try and re-wire it all. Anything’s possible. But that’s never recommended. It’s better to just stick with the usual program. Life itself is queer, Max! Our job is to organize it so we don’t get sucked into downward behavior that might pull us off our higher goal of evolving stronger, more beautiful positions. Of course, just as Lion-fighters fail and are sometimes killed by the beasts, things don’t always work out as we go through ordinary living.” He told Max one more time that he was proud of him for how he acted. “I’d of bet against it though if I had had the chance.” It was another month before Max came face-to-face with Sydney. He acted like nothing had ever happened. With a heartfelt glimmer in her eyes, she slipped a note into his pocket when nobody was looking. It simply said, “thanks Maxi, you’ll always be my big brother”. Later, he was able to fully grasp what Akiyama had tried to tell him. An involvement with Sydney would’ve changed everything and there was a great probability that the two of them—and those around them—would not have been as well off as they came to be. As they crossed the plantation and Max got a sense of its scope, he asked Jimmy how he managed to settle here. Earlier he said that land was passed down through family. He wanted to know what the Luani’s exact position was. Who actually owned I Kini Akua Plantation? David, who was the actual family member, lived in
what looked like a caretaker’s hut at the rear of the property while Jimmy, Sydney, and their two boys stayed in the main house. Did they have a special deal with David? “Sydney and me are like…apprentice landlords”, Jimmy explained. “The way it all went down was wild. When we first got married, her and me are driving all over looking for the place we wanted to settle down in. You know, she’s very strict and picky about stuff so we’d been looking for a month—all over Hawaii. “Somehow we came here one day and out on the main road in front of the original house is this older guy selling fruit at a stand. So we stop to get some and start talking to the guy. It was David. We get on to talking about looking for a house and he tells us he’s trying to put this old place on the market, but that he can’t technically just go and sell the land outright. He’d have to lease it to the right people. We go look at the house and Sydney falls in love. That crazy girl had just been all over Hawaii looking at the best houses you ever saw, and she falls in love with this place which is all run down and old. “It was filled with all kind of stuff from even before David was born. He tells us that he’d let most of the old orchards go because he didn’t want to run a big facility. Sydney tells him how he should be making money off the land. You know, she’s all about business, like your sister. Anyway, before long, we’re here and bringing I Kini Akua Plantation back up. I got a lot of my old oafys from L.A. to come over here. They re-did the house, got the gardens and orchards cleaned up. And Sydney had the place turning a profit by the third year. A lot of my oafy’s stuck around. They call themselves Maui Vatos! We got a wild mix of people around here Max. We have a party here every other Saturday night. People be roasting pig on a stick Hawaiian style, and have a goat cooking in the ground like they do in the backyards in L.A.” “And before that David used to make his money selling fruit on the roadside?” “No, no…” Jimmy said. He began nodding his head. His body language displayed an affirmation of some rising feeling of awe. “David came back here when he was in his late fifties. It was a couple years before we arrived. He’s an attorney, Max. A big one. He graduated the school of law at Harvard College and had a big career in Manhattan City. He’s never married. He was a big player—a ladies man—and ran through a whole lot of money in his time. He told us that ‘the salt of that place began to lose it’s flavor’, and he came back home to be re-acquainted with the Spirit.” “Really!” said Max. That wasn’t at all what he expected to hear. He had seen David’s residence and assumed he was, and always had been, a country guy. They pulled up into a parking lot between the main house and the plantation production facility. Two young boys, followed by their mother, came down a hedged pathway from a plain but well-kept house that was up a slight elevation. The boys quickly surrounded their father looking curiously at the tall stranger with him. “Mejos, I want you to meet the greatest Lion-fighter ever. Mr. Le Muffet. “But Pop, you’re the best lion-fighter” protested the oldest boy as Sydney Luani quickly joined them. “Maxi” she said lovingly, then adding with a hint of suspicion, “All these years and now you just show up for breakfast one day? What’s up with that?” She hugged her old friend whom she had just seen a few days earlier. Max smiled and bent over to shake hands with the young Luani boys. “Just call me Max” he instructed them. “And you’re right. Your daddy the champ!” The younger boy began to inspect Maxim’s prosthetic leg and run his fingers across the seven encrusted jewels set into the shin area that were always slightly visible by way of the slit sown into the legs of his various pants. “Benito!” cried Jimmy. “That’s rude!” “Benant!” echoed the boy’s mother, who grabbed his hand and pulled him back. Maxim just laughed. “The kids is always wantin’ to touch the leg”, he said smiling at the boys. Sydney quickly changed the subject and asked Max when he was going to bring his own kids over for a visit. He replied that there would be an excellent opportunity to do that for a few days at Winter Solstice break. She was happy to hear that. She told them that she had breakfast waiting for them and that she needed to get the boys to school. She’d held them back so they could meet Max. They all walked up to a side patio to a table where David was waiting for them. As Jimmy introduced Max to David and the two took their places at the table. Sydney stood by for a moment listening for details about why this impromptu meeting had gone off. She knew something was up. David told her Max was coming for a bit of specialized legal advice but she knew that was just a ruse. She was intent on
finding out what was going on, but would pick her spot as she usually did. Sydney, like Coco, was used to getting what she wanted. She hovered there for a few minutes until the boys were in the car and ready to go. Once she had left, David turned the conversation directly to the matter of the Lion-fighters’ enlistment with Eric Smith and World Security. “I know that guy” he said dryly. He glanced at Jimmy adding that he’d received a casual call out-of-the-blue the previous morning from somebody with connections to the Level One World Security agent. Now it was clear to him that Smith knew, or had suspected, Max’s impromptu trip this morning. He was watching his movements. Maxim measured David as the Maui Plantation owner/Harvard-trained attorney gave a brief appraisal of Smith. David now looked a little less like a local country guy and more like a wealthy, retired, big-city legal operative. He possessed an assuredness in the tone of his voice. It was deep and heavily influenced by his many years in Manhattan City. But he dressed about as casually as one could imagine. The dark-skinned, black-hair man wore beige work pants and a faded Hawaiian shirt that was unbuttoned. From his neck hung a string of old Puka beads but his footwear was very modern. He had on shoes that were a blend of sandals and work boots. They were closed in at the toe and heel for good support but lightly strapped on from the sides. They were perfect for working in an orchard, allowing water to easily drain out of them. He explained to Max and Jimmy that he was once in a meeting with Smith in Columbia District. The man was “big time” he told them—one of the truly powerful people around. While he came off as nice and casual, he was a man who made decisions that were life-changing for those involved. “Guys like that always think of themselves as agents of providence” David said. “When things go wrong— when they go a little over the edge and innocent people are harmed—they blame it on the system. Psychologically, this is important because otherwise they would be too stiff to ever make hard choices. And they’re great at protecting their turf because they have real fear about the consequences when things do go wrong. “I mention all of this because if you guys get involved with these people, you need to be aware that they will sacrifice you in an instant if the choice comes down to getting Vulerummer or saving you. World Security wants Vulerummer and the Seven Lions Organization destroyed. They’ve spent a decade working toward this. They believe—and I’d say rightly so—that Fascism is an aberration that must be eradicated. Only just law— written in committee for clarity rather then obscuration—should have totalitarian power in a society. And then, only with the condition of review being truly held in power, by the voter.” David continued, providing them with some foundational preamble as an attorney is required to. “The Fascism of today is an outgrowth of Republicanism. Republicans were considered to be those who—for one reason or another—could represent their fellow citizens in The People’s Government envisioned by The First Fathers. They saw themselves as honorary servants of their community. Fascists are Republicans gone bad— they end up with a notion that they are the true and rightful power to be reckoned with. The ‘chosen people’ or ‘the best and brightest’ or ‘those anointed by Lord Christo’—or even ‘those of us with the guns and money’. They say power corrupts. It corrupts the normal, peaceful, human psychology and whispers to a man that he is naturally entitled—and to re-enforce this, he ends up enslaving his fellow man in ways great and small.” David paused to see if they were listening to him. Then he continued. “Smith and the key Level One Agents are Democrats but Democrats are prone to going off the edge and falling into Fascist behavior too. They are certainly not immune to the corruption. And Lord Rashling was stomped to death by a democratic mob that had fallen psychologically into vigilantism. They usurped the process of law out of a primal desire for the experience of power.” Jimmy interrupted him. “But didn’t they just cut to the chase? They left something for pinche Fascists to always remember!” David responded. “They could’ve remembered how he wasted away in a jail cell, or maybe even how he came to see the error of his ways. He might’ve been of better use alive then dead. Valuable information was lost when he died. No, Fascist behavior is only appropriate for parents with their children. Or for people who gain legal right-of-attorney. Security and emergency people have to function within a qausi-Fascist chain-ofcommand, but still, they can’t be ordered to jump off a cliff into certain death. A city official for instance, who fails to provide a clear definition of a ‘terminal inferno’ to fire-fighters, is usually charged if the personnel he’s responsible for are ordered into one and needlessly killed. “You can’t have a world where human beings are considered to possess basic equal and unalienable rights and then permit idiots to upend all of that because they have money or position or some temporary advantage. It’s like building a straw hut believing it will survive any real test over time.”
“Max, I told you this guy was deep!” Jimmy said with a smile. He’d heard David pontificate like this before but he didn’t want Max to think they just sat around all day talking about abstract ideas. “Yeah, I can see that. David, why you quit the legal profession?” Max was wondering why somebody as sharp as this would retire early to rural life on a fruit plantation. He replied simply that he had had his fill. Then David asked Max about Big-E White’s meeting with Eric Smith. “He gonna meet with him tomorrow. I’m getting word to him later that Jimmy was part of Smith’s goofy little play at the party the other day. Why you think he called all three of us when he try so hard to make us think each guy is his man? That what got me and Big-E baffled.” Jimmy offered his thought it was done so the event could be used later as reference if he wanted to put the three of them together. Max agreed but David said he suspected that was only one part of it. Another part was to test their trust—although Smith would violate the trust they had put in him to do so. “These Level One Agents are total control freaks” he said. “They can’t sleep right if a colleague or a source isn’t on some kind of puppet string. I think he did it mainly to make you feel vulnerable to him—I hate to put it like this but I think it was like what a pimp does with his prostitutes. He knew he had you all at the party and it would be a perfect place to mark you”. He added with a laugh that Smith had likely bet they wouldn’t put it together. “So tell me about that Max, what exactly happened?” Maxim Le Muffet wasn’t used to the idea anybody would even think of playing him for a punk. He was frowning. “We come back from doing this photograph after getting’ these out-of-the-blue messages—in Big-E’s case—a call from Smith’s assistant. Big-E saw how me and Jimmy looked disturbed—and he was very disturbed about it. He kinda jus put it together...then came to see me last night to find out if his hunch was right on.” David began nodding his head as Max spoke and was going “…oh…uumm”. He suddenly asked the two Lionfighters what they really knew about their oafy, Big-E White. This brought strange looks to the faces of Jimmy and Max. The way David put it made it sound like he was speaking about a casual acquaintance to them. It made both of them smile oddly and squint their eyes. “I’ve known Big-E since we were both snotty-ass sixteen-year olds” Jimmy said. “Ah…he my brother-in-law” said Max, “and we been workin’ together for eleven seasons now.” “Jimmy, I’ve never spoken to you about Big-E White before now”. David turned toward Max and let a little smile fall out one corner of his mouth. “I think Jimmy’s mad Big-E’s batted a few more lion heads then he has”. “Eh.…” Jimmy looked a tiny bit defensive. Then he just came out and said what was on his mind. “You know it’s true Max, Big-E wouldn’t even be close to me if he didn’t have you there always scaring the secondary lions off his flank. He gets to bat in a protected environment…you know anybody would be jealous of that!” He added that his own spearmen were always playing with the lions and that left him more vulnerable. Both Max and David were smiling. David was glad to see Jimmy finally get that off his chest. In interviews with the media, Jimmy Luani always had to just say that “records don’t matter, Lion-fighting is a team sport”. Max was smiling because he knew he’d get some serious play out of that with Big-E. In his mind Max could hear his brother-in-law huffing incredulously. David returned to his query of how well each man really thought they knew Big-E White. Max thought David must be alluding to Big-E aloofness which made him appear a little distant. “There’s a part of my oafy that’s off the books” he said. “Is that what you mean?”. “That’s a good way of putting it, Max” David replied. “But, what do you think made him the way that he is?” “Well, you know who his daddy is, right?” “Fucking Buster White!” David ejaculated, shaking his head the way people always did when the name was mentioned; and they all started laughing. “Anybody who spends much time around pinche Buster…he not gonna be altogether normal” Jimmy said. “Especially his kid. I always had to feel sorry for Big-E on that. You know, his mother died and left him with Buster. Then we didn’t see him for three years after that.” Jimmy looked at Max. “He was gonna be a great linebacker, oafy. Probably the greatest ever. We first met on the football field. I was coming up the sideline with the ball and he was coming up on me straight up! Nobody ever came on me straight up because I was just too big. But Big-E was similar in size, weight and force …to me. And here he come, and…whack!” Jimmy dropped his hand down hard on the table. “And Whack…!” There had been two collisions—an initial mighty one—and another shorter one. Then other players came flying in and Jimmy and Big-E ended up out-of bounds, beneath a pile-up with the front of their helmets pushed
together, forehead-to-forehead, and their eyes locked into on another’s while the players all got up and came away. It was something people talked about for a long time. “It was the first time I wasn’t able to just run a guy over” Jimmy confessed. Max liked the story and was all smiles but David was waiting for a moment to tell them what they didn’t know about Big-E White. When Jimmy paused following a funny story about their early days fighting fringe lion outside of Riverside in Southern California, he found his spot. “I know some things about Big-E that you guys wouldn’t suspect” David began. “For several years while he was living in The Arid Zone, he studied under a World Security martial arts instructor they called Saint Paul because the guy had never actually fought in real battles outside the competitive arena. He was a champion in his weight class and then became a respected instructor.” “Everybody knows that “ Jimmy interrupted. “It’s part of Big-E’s biography. One sports show did a portrait on this Saint Paul.” “But that program was based on the cover story they always use” David replied. “It didn’t penetrate much beyond the surface. This Saint Paul is part Native American—about one-fourth. He grew up on Native American soil among the yaHopi people. He is for all rights and purposes a Native American man who shed many of their mannerisms to conceal his primary heritage. And he brought Big-E into this world.” That was a revelation to Max. As far as he knew, nobody—not Coco, not old Buster—knew anything about Big-E having some kind of secret life among Native Americans. He asked David how he knew that. “I’ll get to that. But first let me tell you the true story about something called Washington Kachina.” David sipped from a glass of juice made from various fruits and other ingredients grown on the plantation, and continued. He told Max and Jimmy a legendary story from the time of The American Revolution onehundred-and-sixty years earlier. It concerned an unknown soldier from that era named George Washington who was a boyhood friend of Jefferson—the country’s first president. “Washington was a respected soldier but never made a name for himself. He served in the personal guard of Jefferson and for others among The First Fathers. He also fought in various Army units to quell some of the many Native American slave uprisings. “Then during the war with the British he was called upon for a secret mission to the English coast. He was to lead the first of what we now call ‘extermination squads’. He was given three ships full of soldiers and sent to burn down a few townships there. They were to kill a few men—criminals, town drunks or piggish officials— then leave with the bodies hung upside down from their ships. They wanted to send the message to the British people that just because the war was taking place on the other side of the Atlantis Ocean—that it didn’t mean they weren’t at risk themselves. They picked Washington because he was a man that could calmly read the circumstances and prevent things from getting out of control. “But this George Washington couldn’t do it. He couldn’t lead any murderous rampage against innocent people. So after the first town, he turned the ships back to America and presented himself before Jefferson. He was deeply distraught and Jefferson was worried that his boyhood friend might even try and kill himself, so he found him another mission. “This one consisted of leading a contingent of soldiers to accompany an explorer named Clarke Lewis that Jefferson was sending west to map out the continent. He was given the name Captain Hill since the name Washington had become synonymous with ‘coward’ by many among ‘The First Fathers’—because the man was unwilling to carry out his mission on the English Coast. “The First Fathers had come to realize that the work of securing America against the British was only a first chapter in what would be a long work that would continue for decades. The wildlands to the west would be taken and The Native American people would be raised to European educational standards as they worked as slave labor in the ambitious new country. The First Fathers considered themselves to be ‘the best and the brightest’; ‘The Rational Choice For Leadership’ as one political party used as it’s slogan. Many were Fascists whose only real gripe with the British was that they occupied a rung above them on the ladder of exploitation of the new world. “The Clarke Lewis exploration team sent by Jefferson had a hard time of it. Washington’s military escort had lost a third of its soldiers by the time they came into The Arid Zone. In danger of being fully annihilated by Native American warriors they were driven into lands ruled by the yaHopi People who gave them sanctuary. The yaHopis were a peaceful people mainly because other tribes feared their shaman clan—which was said to dat-
back into antiquity. The Americans were given a guest pass while they prepared to either push on toward the Pacific or go back east. The yaHopi allowed them to mix with their various clans and exchange information. “Washington was adopted by the shaman clan as a protégé. The Clarke Lewis team spent three years among the yaHopi before deciding to go back home. In that time, Washington was fully adept in ‘the Kachina Arts’, as the people called it. He had even once left the yaHopi lands to go with members of his clan to The Great Crater in the south of The Arid Zone, where shaman from all over the region came every twelve years to comingle and participate in an ancient ceremony.” David asked Max and Jimmy if they were familiar with the word Kachina. Jimmy wasn’t but Max was. He had gone with Marthia and Isis on a trip to Santa Fe in the east of The Arid Zone. The women went on a shopping trip and came back with three figurines called Kachina dolls. One to represent Max, one for Marthia, and one to represent Isis. Max wasn’t the type of man to pay much notice to figurines and the three dolls ended up in a display case at the Le Muffet compound in The Oakland. Every once-in-a-while he would notice his Kachina doll and became a bit interested in how the expression on its face seemed to differ depending on how the light from a nearby window struck it. One day, the doll was gone and he asked Marthia what had happened to it since he remembered it was there the previous day. She didn’t know and neither did Isis. The only two people in the house beside them who would’ve had access to it was a long-time cleaning woman and Marthia’s grandmother, who had stayed over for a couple of days. Max never said another word about it but he was convinced it had been the grandmother who had taken the Kachina doll picked to represent him. The next time he saw her she was all smiles and laughter when she was in the same room as him. Usually, she adopted a somewhat somber persona around him. “Kachina is a magnificent concept” David continued. “It has a cousin word in the old Sanskrit language called Sat. Sat roughly translates to ‘stuff’ or ‘that which is’. It’s considered as the spiritual sub-surface in all phenomena—the oceanic source of all various episodic waves. Kachina can be anything. It can be a dance, a doll, a concept, a person, a rock; anything that coheres and everything there is from which coherent subjects and objects appear. The first definition of both Sat and Kachina would be: ‘that which aggregates and appears in Truth’— an episode of Truth in which a subject or an object appears in some kind of meaningful way before melting back into the great reservoir.” Max wanted to know if Kachina dolls were similar to Voodoo dolls. David replied that they were very similar but that the figurines of Voodoo were often misused in more the opposite fashion. “Kachina dolls are about enlightenment, remembrance and healing. Voodoo dolls are often lower class objects used by non-priests to vent their anger on. Actually, some of the great mis-users of Voodoo dolls today are the people who create attack ads and other predatory bits for the different media.” David laughed at his improvisation but stopped when he saw redness fill the whites of Max’s eyes. “Little punk-ass shamans” said Max disdainfully. This thought had caused a flash of anger to pass through him. Years before, a comic skit appeared where somebody had a figurine of him being abused by a giant hand with a pencil. The comic writer who’d created it later had an encounter with a ten-pound sledge hammer wielded by a man people suspected to be an outraged fan of Maxim Le Muffet. The hammer attack permanently ruined one of the writer’s knees. Strangely, that had occurred only a few weeks before Maxim’s famous battle with “the greatest lion that ever lived”. A Lion-fight with a final result of leaving him with a prosthetic leg. “So how does Big-E play into all of this David?” Jimmy asked. “Well, as I said, there are some things that you guys don’t know about your oafy. “When he first settled in Phoenicia, Buster went on assignment to do a Lion-fighting broadcast. Big-E was staying at the house of a neighbor. He went with some kids to the river, to a waterfall. There was a place where the braver boys would jump into a basin pool among the rocks. On the way down, Big-E’s head hit an extruded area in the rock and he was badly hurt. He actually stopped breathing for some time and was in a near coma state for 24 hours. The shaman of the southwest have a term they use to describe such a mental state. It’s called original Kachina. They’d say Big-E was in original Kachina while it appeared he was unconscious. But the state of original Kachina is not unconsciousness. One still has awareness, but of...awareness itself. It’s awareness without form. The knower, the process of knowing, and that which is known are merged in original Kachina. On medical test equipment, it often appears as the state of brain death—despite the fact they retain the breath, heartbeat and other body functions.
“Very often, people don’t return from this. They eventually shut down physically in something like a long pattern of dimming lights. Big-E though, came back up fairly rapidly. He re-formatted so-to-speak, became reacquainted with his prior memory set, and grew into the man you know today. Most people wouldn’t remember much about emerging from the state of original Kachina. But Big-E was taken in by this Saint Paul. He was able to help him remember the first fundamental movements of the re-formatting of his mind. These are called the Kachina Ancestors. The old Athenians called them the original forms. From different cultures have come different ways of talking about this. The Yod He Vau He of the ancient Hebrews would be considered words of description for the Kachina Ancestors of the yaHopi. “The ability to understand the Kachina Ancestors is as important to a shaman as the cardinal points are to a map maker. This Saint Paul didn’t only teach martial arts to Big-E, but intricate ways of looking at the world around him.” David suddenly stopped talking and it was quiet. Neither Max or Jimmy knew what to say. “But let me finish what I was telling you about this George Washington guy… “He returned to the east with the rest of the Clarke Lewis expedition. For the rest of his life he functioned as a kind of parlor room host of informal gatherings at his home in the newly built Columbia District. Some of those who passed through were tabbed as protégé and Washington built a type of secret society with a very faint footprint. The descendants of this group began to refer to themselves as Washington Kachina. There are stories of key events where they have intervened. They were said to have done things that made it possible for Lincoln to transform outright slavery into the milder legal status of indentured servitude that followed. I’ve heard stories that they were involved in pushing America into the post-war plans to create World Security. Today, they might be the hidden hand that is silently guiding people like Eric Smith into the final overthrow of Fascism.” “So Big-E’s one of these Washington Kachina ? That’s what you’re saying.” Max was looking for David to put it in those terms. “Yes Max, that’s what I’m saying. But you have to remember that I’m just a guy who has heard things. There is no formal roster for this. They don’t have annual meetings or anything like that. They don’t even know much about it themselves for the most part. They are people who just have contacts—who have other contacts. They function more like a waveform”. As he said this he used his hand to simulate the rise and fall of a wave. Off in the distance, David spotted Sydney Luani’s car getting ready to turn into the front entrance of I Kini Akua Plantation. He realized they had been talking for quite a while now. “Anyway” he said, “I just wanted you guys to have a little background on your oafy Big-E. If you guys stay involved with Smith, you need to really understand that this is no joke.” “Yeah,” Jimmy said with some pride, “But we ain’t no joke either! Huh Max?” Max smiled at Jimmy and looked over at David. “Well, Big-E sounded to me like he that close to telling Smith he’s out. And if Big-E out, so am I.” “What about you, Jimmy?” David asked in a strong, serious tone of voice. “I don’t know” he replied in his almost boyish way. “I been fighting lion for a long time now. It’s starting to get a bit boring. I’d really like to be a part of kicking this Vulerummer’s ass!” He paused and let his mind go over the full spectrum of the question. “We gonna know a whole lot more when Big-E talks to Smith.” The sliding glass door suddenly opened and Sydney Luani appeared. She came around the table up behind her husband and let her arms drape over his chest. She noticed right away that the three men looked a tiny bit weary as if they had had a very serious conversation. She told them point blank that she knew something was up and would like to be let in on it. “Woman!” Jimmy said with a mock hardness in his voice. “You not suppose to talk to hombres like that, eh!” This made her send her down in attack mode toward Jimmy’s crotch and he quickly covered up. “No, no, I’m just playing!” He looked at Max and said that his wife ruled the roost around there. “Hah, David?” “That’s right” he replied as he climbed up from the table. “She’s the plantation mistress”. David smiled at Sydney and gave her a reassuring wink. In Santa Barbara, at Los Grotto de Mirillo Agua, Big-E White had just met up with his friend the anthropology professor. He had jogged the first half of the five-mile trail that connected the grotto with the back of his training facility at the rear of his property. The professor was waiting for him at the junction of the trail. He had driven in along a dirt road in his Asian Motors Rough Road Car. The road looped around the trail and came to their destination from above the grotto where they hiked down into its barely penetrable sheath of rock. At a
certain point Big-E saw the hint of the footpath used by the strange lion when it appeared to him during his last visit. Big-E casually asked his companion if he’d mentioned any of this to anyone. The professor said the time wasn’t right and he hadn’t brought it up—which was true. “I thought I should see this for myself before I breathed any word of it” he added. As he was driving and looking at the road, Big-E was unable to measure the look on his face as he said this. The fact was that a woman from World Security—Kerri Branghaue—had called and brought the matter up with the professor. She said they had captured video of Big-E White’s discovery of the cave and had placed a temporary information lock to prevent a stream of gawkers from coming into the area. She asked him to work with them and slow the process of publicly announcing the discovery. It would be even better, she had told him, if Big-E was left in the dark about their conversation. The professor agreed. The rock slope above the cave flattened and jutted out like the brim of a hat. They came to a point Big-E said was right above the site. The professor wondered about the angle a security camera would require to view the protected nook from a point above the canyon. He realized there wasn’t any and that the World Security lens Kerri Branghaue mentioned must be implanted inside the grotto—perhaps at a point from a hidden location more toward the water pools that every once-in-a-while played host to skinny-dipping hikers. He knew there were a few of them. Once, he found a used condom pushed into a crevice next to the one of the hot pools. There were no cameras. That was just a cover story Kerri Branghaue had thought up. The Corporation for Public Wildlands Tours (CPT), which owned the land, were in the process of installing a network of such videotaping equipment throughout their vast holdings of various wildlands all over the world. But they hadn’t yet come to Los Grotto de Mirillo Agua. The professor was wonder-struck at the sight of the long-hidden cave. Big-E showed him the huge piece of rock that had suddenly dislodged itself and tumbled into the creek from above. Gaining a position on the little bit of ledge above the cave, he held a flashlight while the professor photographed the full interior as he stood at a position from the other side of the stream. Big-E helped the professor to climb into the cave for the first time. The anthropologist instinctively laid down inside the sunken area cut into the rock that mirrored the shape of the human form. He asked excitedly if Big-E could get a picture of him to show how a body fits into the cut-out. Big-E was holding the flashlight with one hand while grasping some of the rock to maintain balance. He didn’t see any way of doing both and looked around to see if there was something he might use to rig a support for his body and free up both hands. He didn’t see anything short of piling boulders up from the floor of the creek. He asked his companion if he had any rope in his vehicle. He didn’t, but pulled off his belt and asked Big-E if he could use it in conjunction with his own to tether himself to the rock. When he had the belts looped together, Big-E stretched it out to some vine growing amidst the rock and successfully accomplished the rigging. He was able to get the photograph showing the professor’s body lying below the surface of the cave floor in the cut-out region.
The focus then came to the cave art. As he reached in and fully illuminated the figures, Big-E gasped internally over the sight of the three warriors. Although reduced in scope and complexity, this portion of the cave art was deeply similar to the photograph taken by Mary Harris of him, Max and Jimmy. When he had checked his e-mail earlier that morning, a packet from her was there along with a draft proof of her choice for the “Portrait of The Lion-fighters” which would go into the National Gallery in Columbia District. Although impossible, it looked as if the drawer of the cave art had inscribed the likeness from that photograph. Big-E didn’t tell any of this to the professor. Instead, he went on about how the image of the three warriors reminded him of something he couldn’t quite put his finger on. He knew that the professor would eventually see the Mary Harris photograph and put everything together for himself. But this odd coincidence was not something he wanted to share at the moment. It would only excite more curiosity and possibly cause conversations to ensue that he wanted postponed for the time being. “These three figures bring a word to mind” the professor told Big-E. “It’s a Polynesian word for ‘fighting men’. The Koas.” Five miles away back at the house, Coco and Robert had made their decision. They would go to Australia and talk about the cancellation of the contract directly with their friends at Aussie BP. An e-mail had come in during the previous hour from them that had been routed through a server in Wisconsin of all places. The text of the message had been disguised and wasn’t signed. It said: “Dear Coco and Robert, we’re so sorry we won’t be able to attend the meeting as we had discussed. The weather here has become worst then I can tell you. Perhaps we can do that meeting at a later time—it’s very important to us. But for right now it’s like a big monster is hovering above us and we’re frightened to leave. Please do take care. The storm seems to be moving into your area.” When Coco read this she became instantly inflamed. She was sitting at the table in the breakfast nook where her and Robert had their laptops set-up. Her coffee mug was beside her and she grabbed it, drank the remaining coffee inside, then flung it into the gas fireplace beside her. It made a large sound when it hit. Little B was laying contentedly on his mat in the kitchen area. He saw this and went outside. It was best to go outside when “The Goddess” was angry. “We should to go to Australia right away” Coco said, trying hard to muffle the reoccurrence of rage. Robert Casoni was calm and collected. Randi had woken him early for a candlelight sunrise bath that featured warmed green tea and soy milk flavored with honey and a dash of cinnamon. He had soft instrumentals of peaceful Christopian hymns playing genteelly on the stereo. Robert came to work clear and rested. “I think we need to find out just who we’re up against” he replied to Coco’s out-of-the-blue comment. “We don’t know who they are.” This set her off. “They’re assholes” she announced in a shrill, saucy tone. “And they need to find out who we are! Who I am, who my husband is, who my big brother is, who you are, who…”. Robert cut her off before she could go down the entire list of friends and family that would eventually wind down to “…and who my goddamned little dog is!” He asked her if she just planned to drop in on their associates at Aussie BP unannounced. “Exactly. They will feel our support if we do it like that. You can tell by the message they are terrified. If we show ‘em they have powerful allies, they’ll talk to us and we’ll get the name of whose trying to mess things up.” Coco looked at Robert sternly. “And I don’t care how much money this costs.” This statement had cut Robert off. It was his job to point out that the Aussie BP account was not even apt to be a profit maker. But she let him know that money was the least of her interests in this deal. This particular product line was like a child to her. She’d envisioned it several years earlier. There was no place in the world better then the relatively small Aussie BP chain for introducing it. Coco grabbed her phone and called the Le Muffet office in The Oakland to have the company jet sent to the airport 50 miles south of Santa Barbara. She was informed that her brother Maxim had taken it to Hawaii early that morning. She called Max. He was watching sports at the production facility lunch and recreation area with many of the workers of I Kini Akua Plantation. Jimmy had gone to pick up his sons and David had left to do counseling sessions he scheduled each week with people there. The work day was over but many were staying around late to spend time with the great Lion-fighter. One young woman was flirting ceaselessly with him. She called herself a “pineapple-Asian”—part Hawaiian, part Chinese. Max thought she was adorable as she kept telling him that
she wanted to “try out” for the Le Muffet team. She kept saying she wanted to take him back to her apartment. He saw the call from his sister come in and it was on the fifth ring that he decided to take the call. “Maxi, wha’ you doin’ up in Hawaii?”. “Ah…jus had an impromptu business thing here”. “When you comin’ back? I gotta take the jet to Australia A.S.A.P.” He asked her why and she spilled the whole story in one big emotional outburst. “That sound serious” he said as he looked into the eager eyes of the adorable pineapple-Asian girl. Max could feel the wind change direction. He had originally planned to come straight home after talking to Jimmy but had been side-tracked by his tour of the grounds and the fragrant smell of the place. He could see now why his brothers Bill and Ronnie were always wanting to come here. The place was a revelation he had only began to uncover. But now he snapped out of it. Max had lots of things to do with his kids and agreed to meet her at the airport in 6 to 8 hours. He told her to try and get Big-E to drive her. He had some things he wanted to talk to him about. When he put the phone away, the young woman sitting across from him said that she was available to drive him to the airport. “There’s a nice little secluded spot with a great view along the way” she said. “You could give me a tryout right there!”. Max chuckled softly and thought to himself how some days were just packed with pivotal events and potential pivotal events”. Coco hadn’t been off the phone with her brother for two minutes when it rang. Sydney Luani was calling from Maui. “Maxi’s at your house?” “He showed up here this morning. That’s all I know. Sweetie, something’s going on here with these men.” Sydney had that conspiratorial tone and Coco came on alert. She explained how they appeared when she returned home after taking the boys to school. The dark tension present in the men’s faces was palpable and they wouldn’t tell her what they had been talking about. Sydney wanted to know if Big-E acting aloof and Coco laughed and said he always acted like that. “But I think that whatever they’re into, Maxi plans to inform Big-E soon. He said he wanna talk to him. Baby, why don’t you just insist that Jimmy tell you what’s up?” Sydney sounded pained. “Oh Coco, I did insist…” She paused as a slight emotional bubble welled up inside. “He never speaks to me like that!”. Coco wanted to know what he had said and if there was anything more to it. She would not tolerate any mistreatment of her life-long best friend. The bond between them now was even greater following their reconciliation. “What did he say to you?” “He said, ‘no’!”. Big-E returned to the house after finishing up his meeting with the anthropology professor. They had gotten many good pictures in their first documentation of the “the ancient shamanic burial site”, as they agreed to refer to it for the interim. The world-renown Lion-fighter tried to persuade his friend they should consider the find to be a mutually-made discovery. It would bring more academic weight if not burdened by his own celebrity. The professor agreed to consider it but said that in his business, even the hint of fraud was not considered to be a great career booster. “Anthropology isn’t show business” he said plainly. “It’s the laborious business of showing”. He came into the kitchen and saw Coco bending over grabbing something from a low drawer. Big-E instinctively wanted to hit—go for sex. Coco turned to him and he saw the look of seriousness on her face. She intensely told him about the message from Aussie BP and her decision to go down there. Robert and Randi would be accompanying her. Randi heard about the trip and insisted that he go along to keep Robert and Coco from becoming enraged if things didn’t go the way they wanted. They had become so angry the previous day and he never wanted to see them get that way again if he could help it. Coco had instantly agreed. Randi would help break up the drag of two long flights. He would be available to get Little B properly fluffed up for their entrance at the flagship Aussie BP store in Melbourne. She planned to make heads turn and let everybody there know how important they were to Le Muffet Enterprises and that no Fascists would be allowed to intimidate them.
Coco brought up the matter of Maxim’s sudden appearance in Maui. She said he hoped Big-E would take them to the airport so they could talk when he turned over the business jet to her. She came close to him and put her fingers down the top-front of his shirt the way Le Muffet women always did with their men. “What’s going on Big-E?” she asked her husband in a calm, trust-enticing way. Big-E was on the spot. “Ah…oh, Max is concerned about that picture we all took a few days ago.” He then sort of half-gestured toward the rear of the property. Then yesterday, I was out at the grotto….” He stopped talking. His eyes were moving back and forth as he tried to come up with the right words to explain all of this. “…And?”. Coco tugged down on Big-E’s shirt trying to get him to go on. “It’s very complicated baby”. He looked into her eyes. “It’s not that important. I’m more concerned with everything you coming up against. I think I need to take you upstairs so you can get some rest before the flight.” Big-E had successfully turned the conversation. He could see it in her eyes. Coco had suddenly realized that it would be the days before she would be with him again. She believed that a woman should make sure her man was loved-up real good before they were parted for a period of time. This was something that Jean de’ Soul had always told both her and Sydney. Coco took a few steps back from Big-E and quickly dropped all of her cloths onto the floor. Then she turned her back to him and moved her feet slightly further apart from each other. She slowly bent over to pick the bundle of clothing up and turned back toward her husband. The shed clothing did the best they could in trying to cover her naked body some. Coco looked at Big-E with a kind of “peasant girl” look on her face. Jean had taught her that as well.