Sunday, October 26, 2014

Rendition 2

2
اغیار خو وايي د دوزخ ژبه ده
زه به جنت ته د پښتو سره ځم
Amir Hamza Shinwari

It had to be secure, it was still on paper. Specifically a crisp manilla folder, of the kind that signaled that the material within had been hastily collected, and was too sensitive to be entrusted to electronic network. Of course, the intelligence community is filled with very sensitive people, of very delicate feelings, so far more ended up in these folders than was proper, only to be entered into the electronic form after it was too late to correlate with all of the other very, very, sensitive information, from other very sensitive people. He'd seen it before.

The table was also ostentatiously nondescript, a plastic beige top, with black metal cylinder legs at the corners, it's oblong shape was precisely two meters long by one and a half meters wide. And at it sat two rather soft white men, with husks of white five o'clock shadow. The one on the left sported a double chin and filled out his blue pin-stripe suit rather tightly, while the other was not quite as clearly over-fed, but still had not seen hard mileage in a long time. The were bent over small blackberry's thumb typing responses to the flood of messages that were marked “urgent,” and “unread.”

Neither looked up as a third man was ushered into the room by a uniformed Marine corps MP, dressed in his best duty uniform, pressed tight against his thin chest and hard muscles.

This third man was different, clearly broad shouldered, a product of beef, milk, and corn, he was not, however, soft in the way the two older men were, nor ripped and muscular in the way the Marine was. Instead he had a quite heft to his torso, and bulk across his barrel chest and along his legs. He was not quite built like a fire hydrant, but he gave the impression that a football player gives in a suit: a kind of over-wide for italian tailoring. His suit was grey, with very fine gold pinstripes. It had seen far more mileage than either of the others. It's softness from wear not detracting from its expense.

The window behind them, a broad panoramic view of a moderately wooded backdrop, had an odd darkness and seemed to create artifacts to view. A skilled eye would have recognized that it was polarized, and that lcd swatches were constantly scrambling to obscure vision in. It created the impression that the outside world was crawling with insects slightly too small to see. There were almost imperceptibly off white LED lights focused on the table, and the rest of the room, as a consequence, took on a slightly blue-gray cast. There were filing cabinets, with one being of gray metal with a combination lock that was clearly the GSA authorized secure cabinet, several wooden overhead office cabinets, and on the left, a secretarial station with a wide screen and keyboard, the actual computer hidden from view, or perhaps within the screen, it was hard to tell. On the right wall was a large projection screen.

When the door closed, the on the window, horizontal and very thin, rotated shut, and the lights increased. It was only then that the heavier man looked up and met the gaze of the man entering the room. With that a false smile boomed across his face, completely absent the involvement of any muscle above his nose.

“Mr. Fischer, great to see you again.” He half stood up and extended a hand across the table to the broad shouldered man, who without expression stepped forward and accepted it. The second man behind the table stood up and offered his hand afterwards, with these formalities completed, their faces went back to neutral.

“I would prefer we stick to professional names.”

“Yours has not been reactivated yet.”

“I have not been on the bench that long.”

The second man allowed himself a very trace of a smile.

“Special procedure.”

“Expedited.” The heavier man added, his voice a kind of east coast metropolitan sharp.

The standing man, Fischer, raised an eyebrow. “That is the charm of this department, expeditious, in every sense of the word.”

The heavier man soured only slightly, his face pulling forward as he spoke:“Would you like a chance to get off the bench?”

“Of course I would. That or be given the option for a decent retirement. You know that Michael.” He nodded to the heavier man.

“Mike is fine.”

“Glad we are back on speaking terms.”

“We were running out of choices.” He spun around the crisp folder and sat down himself.

“Do I have a few minutes to familiarized myself with the case?”

The thinner man slid a few documents.

“You will need to sign these first. They are for your emergency clearance and the subject areas.”

“Thank you Gabe. Are these in addition to the ones I've already signed.”

Mike piped in. “Those are bogus. These are the operative documents.”

Another eyebrow raise.

“I see I am going to have to catch up on a great deal.”

The folder was stamped with various access controls in addition to Top Secret. Fischer noted one in particular: RESTRICTED. This is why he had been dragged off the bench, contractors and other conveniently disposable people, such as interim clearance holders, could not see it. Hence reaching down into the vaguely disreputable marginal members of the community. He sat down and gingerly turned pages. He was immediately greeted with graphic images of at least two prisoners, both with thick black hair, and seeming to be of vaguely middle eastern extaction by their facial features. It was, however, dangerous to jump to conclusions. However what could not be confused was that they had been the beneficiaries of a great deal of rough handling: splotchy bruises, many of which were only partially healed, while others were fresh, a genera of dishevelment that came from sleep deprivation and lack of access to sanitary facilities, a bloated look from being fed and starved.

As he turned the front matter, and without looking up.

“This is John's work.”

Michael nodded, however Gabe spoke.

“Yes it's the baptist's work.”

“An extreme rendition?”

Michael spoke.

“It is in the file.”

“It's on their faces. Is this his case, or is this merely prefatory?”

“This is product.”

“Am I under need to know the source?”

Gabe leaned back. “This is your case. John's missing. And we think he may have met an untimely demise outside of Kandahar.”

“Do you have a proof?”

“Only partial, his right hand. The pictures are at the back.”

“So why not Coal. His Arabic is superb, while mine is sub-par, he forgets more about the Pashtun and their dialects every day than I could learn, and he's been in country.”

“He's also been redeployed.”

“As in retired.”

“Nice to know. Why is it?”

“Personal violations.”

“What, that he spent his weekends with a mouthful of cock finally gave you two the creeps?”

“That was the issue, yes.”

Fischer looked up and bore his eyes into Michael's. “That's why he's so effective in the field. He carries his own honey with him.”

Gabe leaned over the table.

“This is the kind of attitude that got you sent to the bench.”

Fischer looked back and tilted his head with a slight smirk.

“So I should have an attitude more like the baptists? That way the two of us could be pushing poppies up together.”

“Coal is out. He failed life style and poly.”

“Unfortunate, he's better than any three other people for this.”

“You sell yourself short, you engineered a jail break in Afghanistan. That's no small accomplishment.”

“That was a long time ago, under the Soviets. Completely different. And I was young then, horribly young.”

“Coal is out, you are in. That's the word from the Office.”

“Wonderful, another Political Department production. Which fresh faced flunky has been reading polls again?”

“That's the way it is. Are you on or off the bench for this one?”

Fischer grimaced. “I guess I'm in. That's the phrase of the season, isn't it?”

Mike leaned back and Gabe slid the documents closer.

“Sign these, then, and you are the Apostle again.”

Fischer signed dutifully on each line, with his own pen, which he then laid down as he rotated the papers back to Gabe.

“Can we get down to cases.”

“You assume there is more than one?”

“There is the case the Baptist was on, the case that caused that case, and the case of finding whatever remains of him.”

Mike leaned back. “The first you don't have need to know, the second is in the file. The third is what we are going to talk about.”

“Excellent.” Fischer leaned slightly in as if receiving conspiracy, or communion.

Mike took a deep breath. “Gabriel, you can brief him on this.” He stood up, slightly having to straddle the chair beneath him before pushing it back with his foot with a slightly awkward half stomp. He pulled out his blackberry and began thumb typing as he left.

There was quiet until the door closed.

“Even less for formalities than ever?”

“He's under a great deal of pressure Avery.”

Fischer relaxed and leaned back on his chair, adopting a happy grimace and smiling.

“I don't have a need to know. So are you my case officer?”

“Expressly not. Michael will assign one shortly out of the pool.”

“I was getting worried that this was important. It isn't like we pull disgraced radical agents and handing them SCI material with incriminating photographs every day.”

“Here's to hoping, for your sake, that these don't get wiki-leaked.”

Fischer gave a half smile. For just a moment.

“Glad to know you are always looking out after my interests. Shall you expound on the topic of finding the Baptist?”

“This was a routine rendition and enhanced interrogation, we flew the subject by military transport to Ram, switched him over to a flagged civilian craft to Yemen, where he was switched to a medical helicopter and landed in Damascus.”

“Assad is still being helpful. That must be saving him the attention of the US Air Force, or any of our Company irregulars.”

“It's a nasty world.”

“I'm sure you do your best.”

Gabriel let his eyes narrow as he tried to figure out which end of that he was on.

“Continuing, the Baptist was there to render the subject, whose connections with Palestinian terrorists made it possible that some of his information was ticking.”

“Dubious.”

“How do you know that?”

Fischer gestured at the part of the file that contained a synopsis of “First Subject's” dossier.

“He's a fat former Iraqi security thug who has more thumbs than fingers.”

“You know him?”

“He worked for Al-Samedi, one of our more elephantine assets.”

“That's not in the dossier.”

“The Company is holding out on you. Al-Samedi worked for Langley as a plant in the INC, and was sent over to Iraq, later rising to head of security and defmin. Subject One was one of his brokers. If he has contacts with anything Palestinian, it has big tis and was born in the Bronx. We never let anything native get near him.”

Gabe leaned back.

“Are you sure of this?”

“I can give you his case officer over at the company if you like. He'll confirm everything right down to his taste in orifices.”

“You are saying this file.”

“Is a heavily edited concoction for your consumption. Subject One is a former low level asset who worked for an asset. His job was procuring hookers for Baghdad defense ministry, along with hashish, alcohol and assorted other vices.”

“Do you recognize Subject Two?”

Fischer stared down.

“No, but there are no fat Palestinians like that since Arafat.”

“According to the file Subject Two is associated with the Taliban, and is originally from Egypt.”

“Possible. My Egypt work was cover.”

“Something about children's health?”

“Telling Harvard graduates that they were making a serious mistake rationing medicines to children, since the Madrasas were picking up families.”

“Your usual policy of tact in full force.”

“There are a number of people who might still be breathing if I were listened to.”

“That's what got you on the bench?”

“No, hasn't Mike told you? It was that blow up over Hyskos. After that I was ghost writing security memos.”

“I read them, excellent work.”

“I'm complimented. I'm sure the termites think so too.” He looked towards the secretarial station and noted that the chair still had a slight depression from someone having sat in it. Mike only typed with his thumbs, and Gabe worked with his mouth.

“Don't under-estimate the importance of termites.”

“So the case officer has already been assigned.”

Gabe startled. “How do you know that.”

“Restricted. And no other eyes. Who ever was typing at that station, is on the case. Ergo, case officer. Ergo, assigned.”

Gabe flushed, he never liked being caught in a lie, however small.

“It doesn't make a difference. Yes, an officer has been assigned.”

“By who?”

“You don't have need to know on that.”

“I would advise you to look more closely, there is already fluff in the file, and someone at the Company is holding out on you.”

“I do not have random access to the Director. Maybe you do?”

“No but Jay is very talkative.”

“He's been warned to be more circumspect.”

“He doesn't like bungles. It makes the committee look bad.”

“You think this is a bungle?”

“Bungle in the jungle. Fresh imported cluster of fuck. It says here in the file. 'The ladden planes flew in, and the empty planes flew out.' Why would the prisoner say that to John the Baptist, as if it might save him?”

“That is as it should be, if this is a resupply: planes with supplies for Air America fronts, or other Company activities in Afghanistan.”

“But then, he would not have said it as if it were something wrong. He'd have used it as a defense against accusations that he was not doing his duty. But there's something else.”

“Something else from the file catch your attention?” Gabe leaned closer, he also switched off the recording system, and pressed erase.

Fischer swung the dossier around.

“That's a fib.” He pointed at the description of the fourth day of the interrogation.

“How so?”

“Gabe, have you ever stuck a man's dick in a socket?”

Gabe flinched again.

“I haven't participated in enhanced procedures personally.”

“It takes two people, unless the subject is so messed up that he can't fight it.”

“So.”

“Day four, and it goes on for...” glancing downward, “nine more days. Subject One had plenty of fight left. He wasn't going to get the fleshlight treatment without push back. There was a second person. One to hold him down.”

Gabe nodded.

“Yes. That's the real subject of this case.” He took the quizzical glance and added: “It was Mike's plan, if you couldn't see through it, you were out.”

“Happy happy. Joy joy. So who was it?”

“Jack Spade. We think he's gone rogue.”

“How, would you know?”

“I'm being serious.”

“So am I. How would you know if Jack Spade went rogue?”

“If he emptied out the accounts that he wasn't supposed to have access to and was last seen in Dubai at an upscale hotel.”

“When was this?”

“Four days ago.”

“So my real assignment is to find out what happened, why the Baptist's hand was sent by courier, and why the Jack of Spades is AWOL in Dubai?”

“Yes.”

“And they were on this rendition together.”

“Yes.”

“And the subject wasn't popcorn like Hamas, but something important that would legitimately lead them to Afghanistan?”

“The Hamas connection runs from arms coming out of Kandahar. They call it 'Air Genghis' in the file.”

“Ah, the laden planes of note. However, not a Palestinian angle, the only way the Saudis or anyone, let's a Palestinian near Dubai is if they are cleaning a toilet. There isn't enough slush in Hamas to afford two nights there.”

“Privately I'm inclined to agree.”

“So can we go back on the record, since we need to produce some bull to go with this shit.”

“After you give me your pen.”

“Sure.” Fischer slid the pen over. “But I warn you, it is clean.”

“I'll let the monkeys be the judge of that.”

“Sure. Now put us back on the record.”

“You don't want any more?”

“Why, so who ever lied to you can lie to me. The less I know of the party line, the better this will go.”

“You have enough?”

“John the Baptist. Jack Spade. Play the players, not the cards. Just give me the real case officer, and I will make my way from there.”

“This is starting to sound cowboy.”

“You'll follow my every move until I drop off the grid, no matter what.”

“Off the record, the real case officer is Brianna Perlmutter. Cover for this is Megan Bright.”

He passed the pen back, having quietly wrapped the information on a rubber band around it.

“Thank you Gabe.”

Gabe pushed the recorder again, and they chatted over details of the file as if it meant anything. Fischer read it while the talked, committing to memory the pictures, details of the rendition and interogation. At the end of an hour, he slid it back. Gabe closed it, taped it shut, and checked it in to the gray safe.

“I think we are done here, Fischer.”

“Yes. I'll wait for the fluff bunny to call me.”

“Remember need to know when communicating.”

Meaning, Fischer understood, that the fluff bunny couldn't know that he knew the real case.

Gabe buzzed for the escort, and a minute later the door opened for the MP who was outside.

They shook hands.

Fischer had walked in the room. And Apostle walked out.


Saturday, October 25, 2014

Friday, October 24, 2014

Rendition 1

Rendition

I
First Epistle to the Corinthians
1
د نا اشنا سترګې ګونګۍ اوښکه یم رغړم ځلېږمه ورکېږم چرته
“The Stranger” Abdolbari Jahani

Bloody night of bloody day, and bloody trail he was leaving behind him as he limped through the dusty square, now littered with garbage, paper, and brass bullet cartridge casings. There were spatters from wounds more grave than his. But no bodies, they had been removed. There were almost puddled burned candles, and leaflets with verses from the Koran that tumbled as windward leaves of human weeds that had been scythed down by assault rifles, and concussion grenades.

It was 2006, give or take year.

He was being followed, but not closely, they knew his hours were running out, and there was no place to go, except out into the mountains, were sharper fangs than theirs would tear his flesh from his body, while reading verses for his salvation. They would find him, saved from all temptations of this world. Or perhaps only his bones bleaching in the sun with all the others, all the other would be soldiers of empire that came before.

A head was a low bridge over a water way, and on it a burned out SUV, its front smashed in. It was not burning, but there was the peculiar stench of flame seared flesh, mixed with the rancid touch of hair, and the hanging oil of fire burned sweat encrusted clothes, a smell that was like the ancient sea from which life descends. Even in the arid plateau, the ancient laws remained.

He dragged himself along, chanting in his mind to be one with the road, and one with the pain.

Be one with the road, be one with the pain.

At the third incantation of these words, he straightened and walked evenly, he knew it was better to live long enough to have the leg re-broken and re-set, than to die with straight limbs. It was too far to the airbase, and too far even to the safe house, or nearest good check point. He could not run, even if he had been able to run. There had to be another way.

And then, he stopped. He saw crouched behind the burned out vehicle a slice of metal uncarbon scorced. It was the east, and Kalash is his son. He pushed forward, and made no secret of it. The holder of the weapon popped up and fired at point blank range, there was a short thumping of his chest, but as he hoped, only one bullet had been fired, and it had passed straight through him, leaving only more blood pouring into his lungs. God was not ready to call his Apostle back.

With the second movement, he had grabbed the barrel, spun around, and bent over. The young man, shocked he was not dead, flew on to the ground, the beige scarf flying behind him. There was a dull thump and it was an easy pull to dislodge the weapon. The young man tried to flatten his way to the ground, and crawl backwards, his hands in the air.

A full squeeze left punctures in his eye, and neck, and then another through the center of mass.

Convulsing, he coughed. A third and it was at an end.

The Apostle looked left and right, and yet, no one stirred, on the faintest touch of dawn had grown. Even in Kandahar, a killing would usually not have gone unnoticed, but the riot a few hours ago had left everyone – occupation, local, talib – hiding indoors. The imprint of flowing sweat of fear was on everything. He checked the young man, squatted down, and felt a pressure in his left lung. A pulp of mucous mixed with blood popped out like the cork from shaken cheap champagne. He leveled the AK-47, or rather, from the roughness of the stock, the Pakistani replica of a Chinese variant of the banana gun, and let it rome around level, while he looked down and grabbed what he could from the pockets. Not the money of course, he left that for the family, but the cellphone. A link.

Instantly he cradled it in his hand and used his thumb to fast dial a number. It would be burned of course, after this, but this was the disposable number he dialed. One by one the tones came through like a wandering hopping tune played on a bad radio. He listened for the buzz of a fax machine, and then waited. On the other end, he hoped, the systems were doing their work, and locating him. He slunk down, back against the burned out vehicle, a Toyota – he could see from the misshapen remains of a logo – that had once been silver gray. He waited. The line hung up.

He nestled back deeper in, and waited to bleed out, or be picked up.

It was not long, not really long, before a distinctive sound sloshed in the air: the slice of rotors from a helicopter. He tried to identify it by the signature sound, but one ear was still blanked out from the hammer blow he had taken earlier, and his concentration was really on the hand trying to keep pressure on the leg wound. Then it came, the whirring whine of a military turbine. Not a rotary. Not civilian. One of his.

His extraction was on its way. It moved quickly and the whir became a roar. Dust foamed up from the square, and the fetid odor of the water fogged over him. He waited, and winced. And waited. It was the long minute, that minute between knowing that help is on the way, and that one well placed RPG wound bring it crashing to earth. There were voices shouting, there was movement. There was the sound of an engine turning over, an aged vehicle of some kind. It was behind him, no more than 40 yards a way. But it was that whe-whe-whe-whe-wheeze of a cold engine on a cold morning. Cold. It had eaten through his jacket and was working on his skin. His ragged shirt had been shredded earlier to make bandages. He pulled out the magazine from the assault rifle, and then pushed it one handed beneath the hulk.

The vehicle turned over, and he could hear it crunching the pebble strewn road. Was it closer? Was it away?

The dust swirls had become a dust storm, and the spinning sand bathed over everything and anything. He slowly stood up, put his hands in the air, and walked gingerly, cellphone in hand, redialed to the number. It was a Kiowa helicopter, operated by some contracting firm or other. Hanging out its door was a man in black fatigues, and absent any insignia, he pointed an M-16, but at the same time beckoned. Summoning everything, the Apostle jogged and was pulled in by four sets of hands, and then found himself flat on a stretcher. Moments later, a mask was over his face and he could breath more cleanly.

“Sign?” It was a lower register gruff voice. He was waiting for the code sign.

Using ASL, he signed out: “One flew over the cuckoo's nest.”

Fuck man, why couldn't the code maker have been a fan of Amadeus instead?

"This one is in bad shape.”

“Lift.” The door was left open. There were shots, but only small arms. He rolled his head and could see a low slung off-road vehicle of some kind plowing towards them. Two men hung out the sides and were blazing away with their rifles, but he could tell that the rattling and swerving of the drive had reduced their aim to rubbish. He knew he'd had more dangerous days driving in LA. Their was a growing pillar of dust around the chopper, and a growing fan behind the truck, but they were too far apart. Clearly the vehicle had gone out and swung around, because the burned out SUV blocked the small bridge.

He felt the lift as the bird leapt away from the earth, and the frame of the door was pointed to brightening sky. Then, it snapped shut.

“I don't know who you are Mister, but you are going to have to do some heavy dancing to explain why we just did an extraction for you. Your company had better be good for it.”

Oh yeah they are.

He then let himself fall back into the void of darker than darkness, only half caring if he ever walked in the light again. But there was no tunnel, no voices, not soft flutter. He'd been closer to death before. Much closer. This was merely a trip around the beltway, where he could see the city of the dead from a distance, but was not touched by it.

What told him that he was going to live, was that he could dream. He dreamt of how he came to be here, with snippets falling in different places, spliced with imagined memories of how he though the rest of the mission would go. His excursion to Kandahar was only the antechamber to the ultimate destination that this pilrimage would take him on. His Hajj was to a deeper and more prolific hell.



new fantasy novel

1
The Lector of Orenia

It was said that the Lector of Orenia was an old man, with his claws quite long, and hunched back, and face that could only be called effeminate and hideous, in equal measure. All of these things are true, except one, he was 23, though he had been old looking for quite some time. He had come upon the place, and stated that he would now rule, and take tribute from the people. Since they were only a few people, and, as with all places, it was an island, this was not entirely out of the ordinary. As with most worlds, they thought they were the only one of the living. Though if you could look out of the corner of your eye, you could see the Shadowlands. But most people didn't want to see them, and so didn't, unless they must.

Everyone assumed that he, the Lector that is, was indeed old, and what's more evil and wise in equal measure. Since that was nothing special, they would wait for how to pay their taxes, which was the ordinary way of four times a year, and hope that nothing else would be required. Since the Lector was not particularly evil, nor in fact exceedingly wise, there was nothing more to be demanded of the ordinary people. The ordinary people thought that he would give occasional announcement. But this was also not true. He would have tribute, which was mostly going to repair the three bridges that were desperately under-prepared, and the two boats which were leaking, and there would be only enough to feed himself, and his bird.

Realize, that he didn't like the bird, not at all. But every time that he would grasp it, it would be just out of reach. That was not good enough, and just meant with extreme effort, he resisted the temptation. The bird would not only be just out of reach, it was coming enough to eat whenever he was not looking. So Lector fed him enough, so that the bird would not consume even more. Also The Lector was short, as well as scabby and gruff, what he was, however, was cunning and cruel, and disreputable. Actually, he didn't like any of these traits, and in fact he used them for good, just a wicked kind of good, that would not be absolved by any of more refined characters. While the bird was in the object of these attentions, most other people who were his guests were.

While it may seem that he was on the ground, and firmly so, he would wish otherwise, though his feet never left the the nape of the earth. He groaned for roaming over the sea, for cruising over the wind, to feel that he was floating. Even though he did not expect it to happen.

So with the bird just out of reach, and the salty wind playing at his hair, he was not very much like what the people thought he was. Which was just fine with him, because there were many creatures that would, if they knew what he was really like, finishing off. Which is why he would not set down, but he would look as if he did.

As was said, most of the land was in the form of islands.

Most of them atolls which could be in the palm of the hand. This one was no exception. It was down in the bottom left hand corner as you look at the map. Further to the west and south there were a trio of larger islands, which housed what were called ghouls, but in fact were bats that were 8 feet long, and very ravenous, drinking only the blood of large mammals, especially whales and humans. Needless to say, no one went there to find out that they were actually bats, as opposed to ghouls.

In the core, there were about 100, or so, main islands. From the South, the people were musk green, and in the center they were blue. From the North they were gray and white. There was no reason for people to be beige, and they were not on these islands. It wasn't a blue as in the sense of wild eyed color, mind you. It was a muted blue, as it was a muted green. These were not birds which reveled in color, these were mammals, and like all mammals, they tended to be subdued, even quiet, though there were exceptions.

As said, he was just about to sneak out when a ship came in to the harbor. Not that there were many huts in the harbor, probably only 200 or so, but that suited the Lector of Orenia fine. The ship was of three sails, though very tiny, think of it as cozy, if you will. The Lector was not quite ready to leave, so he summoned all is courage, and gritted his teeth, to meet whoever came. It could not be good news, but it might be an ask for offering, which would not be so bad, because, as said, he was not in the mood for tribute, per se.

“What do you think of that, bird?” He launched over his shoulder.

The bird only squawk, though it did so just out of reach. Staring down as he did the so. Lector of Orenia did not notice this, because that was the birds normal maneuver, and he was not going to give it any head.

He watched as the the mast bob up and down, and with his eyeglass, he counted at least five figures pointing in the general direction. This could be worse than he expected, because there were several more men than he would have wished for. He pocket the spyglass, and began to get down on his feet. Remember he was slow, so he was deliberate in his motions. In fact, he was so slow as to almost be down near the front of town, as the boat sailed in.

On the face was a blue-gray figure, he was tall, though of only medium build in height. He was talking to a mixed bag of gray, green, and blue figures. Which meant to the The Lector that they were from various different places, and that meant that they were, probably, going to want tribute beyond what could be born. This was not good, if true.
The ship came ashore, and tilted a little bit to the side. The man got off first, with three or four men right behind him, but just a little bit. They were trying to say that they were almost as good, but not quite. There spears were also not as powerful as the sword that the blue-gray man wore. Spears were definitely a weapon which was not as good, especially if they were flint, as opposed to bronze, let alone iron. Ah iron is not as good as bronze, but it is much tougher. Remember this, because you who read many fantasy novels will know that iron is on some worlds tougher than bronze, and on some worlds not as good. On this world, bronze is better, but iron is tougher to dismantle. In short, you want bronze if it's one fight that you are after, but iron is there for the long count.

The blue-gray man eye the Lector cautiously, and did not seem to recognize him. This was good for the lector, because, as we know, the had many secrets, which of course he did not want to reveal to a strange man. Then the bluegray man introduced himself. “ I am I Adab, the Lord of the people who flock to my banner.” In other words, what you see is all there is, and the Lector knew this to be true. In short, the Lector was not impressed, and you shouldn't be either. Adab was garbed in a single unit, with a pair of shoes, no socks. And only a few trinkets, which was more than his men got. Even had a few more trinkets that that.

In truth, while Adab was larger than his cohorts, he was the only one who had a sword, and, other than himself, the weapons that the group of, let's call them what they are, barbarians, were flint. Not iron, not bronze, not even just copper. Only flint, and not high quality link at that. In fact I will bet you can't even tell the difference, because you are so far beyond, that you can not distinguish good flint, from bad flint. Your great grand parents knew the difference, because they had flint for exactly one purpose, the lighting of fire. But even that was dying, and soon it would be dead. 

If you have known Neolithic buildings, out of say Britain, you would be amazed at how good it is. Say Grimes Graves, in South Eastern England. There are other ditches all around the world. What is important is the solar alignment, daybreak and a dayset. And it is before Stonehenge, they had surgery even back when they only had flint tools, with no iron or copper anywhere to be found. It marked a shift from the Mesolithic, to the Neolithic. That is 7000 years ago. This was important, because the common folk knew that there was something about copper and iron, but they didn't know what it was. It was magic as our as they were concerned, and they went to a medicine man, of which Adab, and The Lector, were examples.

Adab realized that he was not getting great response, that The Lector knew the secret. Thus The Lector, and yes, even the bird were in the know about iron and copper. So he tried to boost himself up, and make him self look taller. But clearly that did not work. He thought this was because of his stature, but really it was because The Lector was diminishing Adab's height. Only by a little bit, but enough, so that Adab was only barely taller than The Lector. But Adab not only didn't recognize, but would continue not to recognize for a long time, the power of The Lector .
What that meant was that Adab grew smaller, and his demands grew smaller, and his demeanor grew, how does one say it, collegiate, as if he and The Lector were friends, even though they don't know each other. Instead of charging forward and demanding, he opened his hands and said: “We come in peace.” now he did anyway, that doesn't mean that he would not have preferred war, it he could get it. But that was suddenly not an option.

“I'm glad you made that decision. I would hate to have to do something, unpleasant, untoward.” “Toward” had a hissing sound that echoed through the copse, which was hidden by the sands from everything else. It was to be hidden from the common people, and that included the other men from the ship. It was obvious they were not meant to know the secrets, another little fib that they were somehow in the know. They weren't, they were carried around by Adab, but in no other way were important. They were common people, dressed up a bit. But the bird knew, and that is surprising.

“Thus a proposal,” Adab began, “Over to the northwest, approximately 4 weeks, there is a tribe of people who are different from you and I.” Actually, it was “ you and me”, but grammar wasn't his strong point.

“And what difference is that. Color? Texture? Shape? What difference would I make out, between you and the others?”
“You have a personal totem, as to I. As does every man within living reach. But they worship the twin Gods which have no name.” Adab expected horror on The Lectors face. Instead he saw amusement, which was rapidly made into a gesture, which was supposed to be horror, but it wasn't to be believed. “You don't believe me? It's true I tell you, they worship God's, which is utterly irrational.”

At this point the bird took flight a little ways, perhaps 15 feet or so, and came down atop The Lector back, and begin to coup. It was at peace, because it knew that it this was the best that could be offered, then The Lector could dismiss them. Almost no close, what seemed like one broadsword, and most of the other ones had flint, not iron nor copper. You or I would dismiss them. But that was not the plan that was chosen.

“I see you are upset about, I assure you, I am too. What do you propose. I'm sure that you have thought that it for more deeply than I.” There was a lisp running through every word and syllable, and he could have dropped one more “I”, there was more than enough to go around.


Thursday, October 23, 2014

The Fall and Rise of the House of Salim 9

9
The Gift

So my readers, I give this gift to you, and the lesson you should learn from Salim. The right thing to do, is the wrong thing to do, the wrong thing to do, is the right thing to do. Learn that selfishness is the most selfless thing, and that the worse you are to others, the better it will be for everyone.
Finally I will give you another gift, and that is all that remains of Salim's Koran after the revisions and deletions, that he can simply glance upon and gain the whole of the knowledge of East and West, Christianity and Islam, and every other religion as they were truly practiced. Do not as they say, but as they did:

“The right thing to do, is the wrong thing to do, no good deed goes unpunished.
The wrong thing to do, is the right thing to do,
This all the sages have admonished.
Whether your god is dollar, franc, or kreugerand,
Bow down before the invisible hand.
Live only for today, and in this life,
sow war, and discontent and strife.
If someone gives you their back,
give them a knife.
If you know the truth it will set you free,
So long as for lies, you charge a hefty fee.
There is no God but sod, and Lombardi is his profit,
Do not worry, do not frown,
to get ahead always suck up,
and then shit down.”

By the end Salim could read these words in less than a minute, and everyone thought him a truly holy man indeed.  Because all he was not talked about, he lived in the desert and was quite rich.

 God is good.  God is great.  And even shook in office will do fairly well.


Ian Again

Matt S on Naked Cap

Wednesday, October 22, 2014

The Fall and Rise of the House of Salim 8

8
Prime Minister Salim

The returns came in slowly, in part because Salim's party was having to buy ballots all the way to the end. In several cases they found they had bought too many, but in a few they found they had not bought enough. However, even this was to the good, because where they lost, their proxies argued that this showed the election was fair. “Wouldn't we have bought enough votes?” And at least enough people believed this.
In the end, more people decided they loved being bribed, than they hated bribery, and Salim was given the first chance to organize the new government. However, because he needed help from so many small parties, there was a great deal of negotiating to do.

The returns came in slowly, in part because Salim's party was having to buy ballots all the way to the end. In several cases they found they had bought too many, but in a few they found they had not bought enough. However, even this was to the good, because where they lost, their proxies argued that this showed the election was fair. “Wouldn't we have bought enough votes?”
He also called in a famous economist from America, an expert on the Great Depression. He told the economist, “I want you to help me, and advise on how to create a Depression here in Longwindia.”
The economist said “Why that would be the wrong thing to do.”
“Yes, which means I am sure it is the right thing to do.”
So the economist came up with a plan for a new depression in Longwindia.
The new government was installed, by only three votes, and Salim stood up and said:
“In the past several years, there has been a great deal of torment and trial in our nation. So I promise that in this new government, there will be economic tranquility.” There were cheers, and shouts, and someone shook bells and small cymbals.
“For too long money has gone to the undeserving. Under this government, I promise that people will get what they deserve.” There were cheers, and shouts, and someone shook bells and small cymbals.
“All my life I have had to work very hard, and I have learned that it is better to put your trust in God, than in yourself. So under my government, we will put our trust completely in God.” There were cheers, and shouts, and someone shook bells and small cymbals.
“Finally, I remind everyone, that I have learned to live my life by believing that the right thing to do, is the wrong thing to do. No one knows more about how to take care of himself, than himself. So I promise you, under this government, you will be totally on your own.”

There were cheers, and shouts, and someone shot the person with the bells and the cymbals.

There were more cheers.

“I promise I will feed the poor.” There was a loud prolonged ovation.

“I promise I will make our people stand tall again.” There was a loud prolonged ovation.

“I promise to govern by the same principles that I have lived my life, that are here in this holy book.” He put his hand on his copy of the Koran, with all its changes. There was even more loud cheering.

After the speech, everyone agreed that they had never heard such a marvelous speech in all their lives. A week later, the Nobel Prize committee voted him the Peace Prize, the Literature Prize, and the Economics Prize, so impressed was the whole world by the wondrous changes he had promised to bring.

The second election was nowhere near as interesting or exciting as the first, and Salim found himself swept into power, with enough seats to govern without coalition powers. His advisors said the right thing to do was to bring in other parties to the government, so that they would have every reason to support what he did. The nation was in crisis, the told him, and it was essential to have as much support as possible, even a government of national unity.
Salim thought about this, and wondered if it was really the right thing to do, or whether his advisors were advising something that was really the wrong thing to do that they hoped to profit from. So he decided to do the easiest thing to do: he announced that he was giving parties the unprecedented chance to put their country first, and prove that there was no corruption involved at all in their decision. He said that he would allow any party to join the government, but that none of them would get any portfolios. Several parties joined immediately, and Salim was convinced that these parties were weak, because they had done the right thing.

So the next day, with an even larger majority, he said that if a party wouldn't do the right thing for the country, that they would have to do the right thing for their voters, and said that any budget would have no money for any of the districts that were not members of the government. “Why should people who vote against the budget get any of it?” Everyone in his circle of advisors said that this was the wrong thing to do, and this convinced him that all would work out.
Surely enough, the country supported him, because, of course, most people hoped that if there were less for some, there would be more for others. One by one all the other parties joined the government, except for one religious party whose cult required that they vote no on everything. So Salim commanded the parliament 537-1, with the President of the house not voting, and what is more, soon afterwards the religious party representative was assassinated by a concrete contractor, who dropped a block of concrete on the member, and his entire family. They were buried using a paper shedder, so flat were they.
At the end, Salim was almost an absolute dictator, as several Prime Ministers before had essentially been.
With this, he called his cabinet together, and said:
“I am not a very intelligent man, there are many of you who are more intelligent than I am. I have learned over the years, that when my wives took care of money, and God took care of my destiny, that would be best. That people scheme and think, and God laughs, putting barriers in their way. What is more, I went to the West, and studied under their great wise men, and they told me that being greedy and selfish is the best course. So, we will govern by my father's wise words, who knew all of this without leaving home, and that is 'The right thing to do, is the wrong thing to do.' In this one phrase is all of the knowledge of the world.”

“I read the great American sage, who said that the government is the problem, and so it will be. Under my premiership, the government will be the biggest problem possible, and that will unleash the creativity of the public.”
“So I am asking you, as the collected sages of the country, to propose for the legislative program, and to do in your own departments, the worst things you can imagine, because these will be the best things to do.”
“Does that include taking bribes?”
“Saves the public on salaries.”
“Does that include selling state equipment for our own benefit?”
“You will be richer, and someone will use it better than the government.”

“Does that include forcing the women who work under us to be our Mistresses?”

“I have always found that matters work best, when men run the world, and women run the men. A woman who is capable enough to have a minister under her thumb, is at least as capable as the minister. Then we will have two heads for the success of the department.”
“What about living in luxury?”

“Why then you will be hiring servants, and building mansions, and throwing lavish parties, and that will create jobs for so many deserving people. In fact, I will make it the official policy of this government; that members should show the world how well we can live. It is that way in every other important country.”
And so it went, with the cabinet asking about all of the misdeeds possible, and each time, Salim gave them an explanation as to why the wrong thing to do on the surface, was really the right thing to do.
So they left, energized, and eager for the life of reward and luxury that was coming.

The parliament was meeting in a few days to confirm the new government, and Salim realized that he would only get one chance to pass a massive program that would change the country forever. He had learned from his first term that too much tranquility is not good for his legacy, and so he told his advisors to create a plan that would be a bold expansion of private jobs.
Finally they gave him a secret plan, and he put it forward to a secret committee. Parliament was given a chance to approve or disapprove of the plan, but without any details. He spoke to the nation and told people that either they were in favor of jobs or not, since the secret plan was the only plan that would be submitted.
The parliament overwhelmingly voted for the jobs plan, believing, at the very least, that they were saving their own jobs.

For four long years, well actually three, things progressed pretty well, because tax hikes reamed the poor, and who cares about them? So Salim was duly re-elected. But things got worse after that, with plummeting tax revenues, and with a great deal of runoff slush pile. Even by the end many prominent figures were saying that they would vote for the other guy. To make a very long story, by the time the election rolled around people were miserable as a whole get out. So they elect the other party which promise it would keep corruption down, a little bit, and they would monitor it so it wouldn't be more than the economy could handle. But just a little bit. A month before he would've gotten about that would be manageable to his party. Then the crash hit, and only the believers denied it. The result was that the other man won, and by the substantial amount, though there were many true believers who would vote for the man they were supposed to.

So dizzying was the man's victory that no one talked about Salim anymore. It was truly that bad. Though many of their followers turned out to for more corruption anyway.

God is good!  God is great!  But don't stand too close, or your nose will get caught when he slams it shut.


Current Novel Lengths

                                        finished     completed    up
Mars                                  76,000           76,000       *
Salim                                 18,000           18,000       *
Ishar                                  26,000           26,000
Marne                               31,000           40,000
The Lector 

New Testment
 Mark                                 41,000           41,000        *
 Rendition                          36,000          37,000

Seven Sons for Seven  Sisters
 Silent Sphere                   125,000         125,000    *
 Warren of Undercurrert    39,000          125,000

Tuesday, October 21, 2014

The Fall and Rise of the House of Salim 7

7
The Land of Milk and Money

Finally he stood up again, and walked back to his grandmother's house, that he had last visited before fleeing the city. He found there the box of money and jewels that he had hidden, because he had written this on the back cover of his copy of the Koran. He realized the money had greatly decayed in value, but that the jewels were much more valuable than before, and this more than evened out. He walked back to the small city of his birth, by his old house, and found that it was up for sale. He briefly thought of buying it, but decided that a house in town without wives to keep it, was far too much trouble.
So he went wandering until he found a dilapidated farm for sale, though no one was around. Realizing that the wrong thing to do is the right thing to do, he simply took the sign down, and moved in. He bought cattle and set up a dairy.
This life suited Salim better than any since he pissed for a living, since running a dairy is basically getting cows to piss milk. He had a bad memory, but since he had to do the same things day in and day out, it was not so bad. The fences were in such bad repair, that bulls got in and mated with the cows, so he did not have to do anything but feed the cows, milk the cows, and sell the milk. He spent the first money to buy a book on dairy farming, and he read this every single day.

After his time in America, Salim returned home to his hometown, now a small city of 7 millions. He bought the house he was born in, and paid to clean it up. He then decided to find out the fates of his four wives.
He found out that his first wife had gone back into being a Madame, and was found after having been run over by a truck, four times. According to the news story, she had been stealing from customers when they were having sex.
God is good. God is great. But don't mess with him while he is getting it on.
He found out that his second wife had gone to America, and gotten married to a woman. The woman then had a sex change operation to being a man. The two of them had been deported for two parking tickets, and fought the government to have their marriage recognized. They were living in poverty in the same city. Salim sent them some money, and a week later they were found dead having been robbed and raped by a man who was taken away shouting that he was going to cure all the lesbians in Longwindia the same way. The man was acquitted at his trial and ran for parliament.
God is good. God is great. But not everyone seems to appreciate his gay children.
His third wife had gone into acting in pornography, and had contracted AIDS after doing a movie where she had anal sex with 15 men. She was now in a hospital near Mumblebuy.
God is good. God is great. But perhaps he is not so fond of gang bang videos.
His fourth wife he found working in a small shop. She immediately recognized him, and flattered him. He was so enamored of her sweet words that he took her back in, along with their two children.

God is good. God is great. Especially to gold diggers.

I Have an Idea

 it involves a place known as Earthsea.  and while there is some relationship to  Ursula K Le Guin,  it has a completely separate worldview.  if anyone knows anyone who was playing at MIT ever so long ago,  they would like it.  it will come out in about 6 to 9 months from now.

It will be called Farsea.

a question of translation

Ian gives another excellent post

Arabic literature in English has really good post up

Monday, October 20, 2014

The Fall and Rise of the House of Salim 6

6
The Wanderings of Salim, Master Fakir

So out went Salim, emptied of all possessions, wearing only a simple pancha, and carrying only a begging bowl. He hoped that all of the people looking for him would never guess that the once rich Salim, and the once famous Salome, had been reduced to this. His one compensation was that as he stopped drinking the tea, his manhood grew back, and back, and back, and back, until he had testicles the size of watermelons, and a dick that swung between his knees. So while he was very happy that there was more of him than ever before, he was unhappy that he had no wives, and that he had to waddle back and forth on his way down the road. Unbeknownst to him, the waddling had made his rice bag swing back and forth, and bang against his knees. So absorbed in his own problems was Salim, that he did not notice it. Over time the banging had made a hole in the rice bag, and grains of rice were dropping out, one by one, as he waddled along. So absorbed in is own problems was Salim, that he did not notice this.
As he did so, a small group of baby ducks saw him, and their mother and father being away, they began to follow him, because he waddled like a duck, picking up the grains of rice that fell out of his bowl. And while they followed, quacking, they looked at each other, as if talking. Salim waddled, the ducks waddled and quacked. So absorbed in his own problems was Salim, he did not notice this.
Not long there afterwards, a cat started following the baby ducks, but because Salim was so close by, the cat did not dare take one of the ducklings. But he did yowl from time to time in frustration. Salim waddled, the ducks waddled and quacked, the cat followed and yowled. So absorbed in his own problems was Salim, he did not notice this.
Not long there afterwards, a dog started to follow the cat. But because of the noise of the ducklings, he did not dare attack the cat. But he did bark from time to time, to scare the cat. Salim waddled, the ducks waddled and quacked, the cat followed and yowled, the dog ran and barked. So absorbed in his own problems was Salim, he did not notice this.
Not long there afterwards, some birds landed on the back of the dog, to pick at his fleas. The dog was annoyed at first, but the birds were picking at the fleas, and this was such a relief, that he put up with it. They began chirping. Salim waddled, the ducks waddled and quacked, the cat followed and yowled, the dog ran and barked, the birds chirped. So absorbed in his own problems was Salim, he did not notice this.
Not long there afterwards, two cattle heard the birds, and knowing that this was the sound of the cattle egret, they followed hoping to get their own backs picked clean. The egret saw them and began fluttering around, and picking at the parasites on the back of the cattle. The cattle brayed as they walked. Salim waddled, the ducks waddled and quacked, the cat followed and yowled, the dog ran and barked, the birds chirped, the cattle brayed and walked. So absorbed in his own problems was Salim, he did not notice this.
Finally an elephant heard the noise, and pushed aside the fence that was in its way. It saw the cattle egrets, and the cattle, and hoped to have its back picked clean. So the egret flew from the running dog, to the walking cattle, to the trumpeting elephant. And still so absorbed in his own problems was Salim, that he still did not notice this.
However the town he was walking through was filled with people who stopped and gaped. Children pointed, old men stared, old women gossiped. Mothers hushed their sons, not to disturb such an obvious holy man in the middle of leading the animals on a pilgrimage.
A beggar saw the procession, and he thought what a wonderful meal the ducklings would make, and so he grabbed a bag and began stalking the procession, hoping to get a duckling. An old woman with a dinner party saw the procession, and she thought the cat would make a perfect delicacy to serve, so she took her pot, and began chasing after the whole procession. The cats of the town saw a single dog, and all those birds, and decided that if they killed the dog, they could hunt the birds and have a truly sumptuous repast. The farmer who owned the cattle, who had been chasing after them for many miles finally caught up with them, slowly panting as he walked, half bent over, but determined to get his cattle back. A great white hunter saw the elephant, and thought this was his chance to make up for shooting the governor on the last hunt, so he loaded his big, heavy, elephant gun, and went out to shoot the elephant.
This whole mob chased after Salim and his pilgrimage of animals.

Salim waddled.

The ducks quacked.

The cat followed.

The dog barked.

The birds flew and chirped.

The cattle wandered.

The elephant trumpeted.

The beggar chased the ducks.

The woman chased the cat.

The cats chased the dog and the birds.

The farmer chased the cattle.

The hunter chased the elephant.

And the people watched. Clearly this was a very holy man.
When Salim reached the center of the square, he finally turned around, just to see how far he had walked, and he looked at the entire assembly, and they all looked at him, and every duck, dog, cat, cattle, and person ran and scattered in every direction.

There was a huge commotion.
God is good, God is great. If you wish peace to be upon you, praise God. And get out of the way of any charging elephants, or you will have more peace than you know what to do with.
The people watching applauded; it was one of the most amazing sights they had ever seen.
They talked among themselves, and agreed that this was the greatest fakir they had seen. Well, all but three, who were all fakirs who had hoped to set themselves up in the town, but now knew that until they dethroned this interloper, that they had no chance at all.
So the first fakir came up to Salim, and he looked at Salim, and Salim looked at him. The first fakir said. “I accuse you of being a fake fakir.”
“No,” said Salim, “I am not a fake fakir, because I am not a fakir at all. I am just wandering begging for my living.”
“That is a lie, you purposefully created a great spectacle to show off your abilities.”

“If you say so.” Said Salim, confused.
“I challenge you to a breathing contest, I can go hours without breathing, and if you are a greater fakir than I, you have to prove it by going longer between breathes than I.”
“If you insist,” said Salim. Because, after all, since he was not a fakir, claiming to be one was the wrong thing to do, and the wrong thing to do is the right thing to do.
So they set themselves up in the square, and a judge was appointed, the first fakir grew calm and began to ready himself. But because he knew that the people loved Salim already, he wanted to watch to make sure that if by some miracle the contest was close, he would not be cheated.
The judge raised his hand, they both took their last breaths, and the judge dropped his hand, signaling that the contest was to begin. The fakir was still. Salim, however, knew no more about holding his breath than, well, he knew about anything else, and immediately his cheeks puffed out. He had to bear down his jaw to hold in his cheeks. He then grabbed his nose with his fingers, and had to grab his hand with his other hand. He was shaking and fell over, his arms twisting and writhing. The fakir pointed and said, “There, he took a breath.” But Salim, despite all the thrashing around, had not taken a breath, and everyone had seen this. The judge pointed at the first fakir, and said, “You have lost.”
The crowd cheered. Someone shook some bells and small cymbals.
God is good. God is great. Praise be to God. Otherwise, it is often better to keep your mouth shut.
So the second fakir walked up, and said, “I accuse you of being a fake fakir.”
Salim, having gained confidence from the first time, said “I am at least as real as the first fakir who challenged me.”
“Well he is obviously fake too.”
“If you say so. But it seems to me that a real fakir would be less concerned with other fakirs.”
“I say that the first fake fakir was your confederate, who you paid to fail in such an obvious way to enhance your standing.”
Salim shook his head, and said, “I can truly say that I had never seen him before, never talked to him before, and have never paid him anything to the best of my memory.”
“I challenge you to a fire walking contest. You have to be able to walk farther than I, or you are a fake.”
Salim, thought, well since I am still not a fakir, then claiming to be one is the wrong thing to do. So, since the wrong thing to do, is the right thing to do, I should accept.
“I accept.”
So the town's folk built a big bonfire, and it was let to go to coals. The second fakir insisted that Salim walk in front, because he was afraid that Salim would not walk the coals. Salim lined up and stared at the roiling hot bed of coals, and he was afraid, because, of course, he knew no more about firewalking than he knew about anything else. He decided to just walk forward, because caution was the right thing to do, and the right thing to do is the wrong thing to do. He took a step, and his watermelon sized balls swung one way, and his long dick swung the other way, and he felt a pain on his foot that made him take another step. The second fakir was almost to the point of laughter, but remembering how the first fakir had failed, kept his mouth shut and walked right behind Salim, hoping, if nothing else to be able to push him down.
Salim was in a terrible shape, every step was painful, and he almost had to dance to prevent himself from screaming. He jumped up and down, spun, and did the steps from dancing from his time as Salome. These were burned into his brain, and he did not even know he knew them. Every moment the second fakir was right behind him, but was also in terrible shape, because Salim was making such slow progress that the second fakir's own feet were being burned. Even worse, Salim's dancing and jumping meant that the swinging of his balls and dick were fanning the coals to be even hotter.
Finally the second fakir was spending so much energy fighting the pain, that when he looked up and saw Salim jumping and spinning, his dick sticking out three feet as he spiraled around, his balls smashing into his thighs, that the fakir could not help but laughing from his belly. This proved, alas to be fatal, as he then fell straight over into the flames. They tried to pull him out, but he was burned horribly, and died several days later in terrible pain.
Salim did not even notice this, but hopped, howled, and spun, to the other side.
The judge declared Salim the winner again.
The crowd cheered. Someone shook some bells and small cymbals.

The third fakir strode forward, confident that he had discovered the key to success. He knew that the best way to lie, was to tell the truth. Or most of it.
Salim looked at him.
“So you accuse me of being a fake fakir?” Asked Salim.
“No. I freely admit, oh stranger, that after seeing your pilgrimage of animals, and your victory in the breathing contest, and your victory in the firewalking contest, that you are a great and mighty fakir.”
Salim was puzzled, because, after all, if someone is doing the right thing, it must be because they think it to be the wrong thing.
“That is very generous of you.”

“You are so great and mighty, that I will tell you that the whole town wants you to be their fakir.”
“Well that is very kind of them, but I am a wanderer, and do not want to settle down again.”

“No, really, we all insist very much that you settle down and be the fakir.”

“I have denied once wanting to be fakir, now I deny it twice.”

“Truly your humility is overwhelmingly great.”

“I have twice denied wanting to be fakir, now I deny it thrice.”

“So you do not want to be fakir?”

“I do not want to be fakir of the town.”

“So you would not mind if I nominate myself to be fakir of the town.”

“That's between you and the town. I am just a wanderer.”

The crowd was very disappointed, but accepted that Salim was a wanderer, and that was his karma.

So Salim wandered on alone, still trailing rice behind him, though from a full rice bag. The third fakir took over, taking no pay at all, saying the job was his satisfaction. As far as anyone knows he is still the fakir of the town, and fucking the young boys without anyone knowing, because, of course, that is what he had always intended to do. He only did it for the satisfaction.

God is good. God is great. But most people, somewhat less noble.

And in this way Salim made his progress. He begged for rice, lost most of it to the hole in the bag, and was always followed by birds of the air and water. People thought him to be more and more holy. As the months wore on, Salim's manhood slowly went back to the their right proportions, and his sandals were worn thin. He finally sat down one day, and began to read the Koran.
A revelation came to him.
His feet hurt, and he did not want to walk any more.