This is the 5th installment of an endless serialization of a novel that was never meant for prime time (unless you read this between 8 and 10PM – some say 11.) I’m sure there’s a way to search out the first four parts, but blog navigation has never been my strong suit.
Politically Incorrect Smoking Protagonist Meets Other Folk
The town of Gyno wasn’t really a town. It was a loose grouping of settlements, scattered across a valley. Each grouping was just two or three buildings, all with small doors so that sheep couldn’t rush in when people came and went. The Ceasarian section of town was in a curved gash between two hills. I walked through the tobacco fields, occasionally running across a ram or ewe experimentally nibbling on a tobacco leaf.
“Sick, sick, sick,” said Swampy. Sheep and tobacco didn’t get along. They might eat a leaf, but they never kept it. Only one thing smells worse than healthy sheep – sick sheep.
Getting through the field, the Ceasaran homestead came into view. It was a pretty little settlement, and I was happy to see it, but getting to the door was going to be a problem.
“Sheep,” said Swampy.
“Yup,” I said. The house, work shed and barn were all surrounded by hundreds of sheep. They were especially packed around the doors.
How do you wade through a huge flock of sheep without bugging any of them?
“Lotta wool,” said Swampy.
A man was sitting on a rock at the edge of the flock. It was a pleasantly warm day, but he was still wearing a one hundred percent cotton overcoat.
“Don’t bug the sheep,” he said predictably.
“How do I get to the door?”
“Don’t care,” said the man, “just don’t bug the sheep.”
“How long have they been here?”
“The sheep?” asked the man. “I’m not sure. Maybe a week.”
“Are the Ceasarans all right?”
“Don’t care,” said the man.
“Well can I call and see if they’re all right?”
“I wouldn’t,” said the man. “It might bug the sheep.”
“Stupid Spy,” said Swampy, and I had to agree. I cupped my hands around my mouth and shouted. “Are you all right in there?”
The man jumped up from his rock. “I better report this!” he said and hurried off. I was just about to shout a second time when what looked to be a second story window opened in the house.
“Is that you, Mister Elmer.”
“Yes Mister Ceasaran,” I said.
You might think we were being formal here, calling each other mister, but we both had our reasons. Ceasaran called me Mister Elmer, because I was the brother of a very important, albeit infamous man. I called Ceasaran, Mister because I’d dealt with so many Ceasarans over the years, that I’d given up trying to remember their first names. He was probably Marko, Mario, or Martin. The Ceasarans almost always named their boys a name that began with M, and those three were the most common. I’d had dealings with a couple of Martins, a handful of Markos, and several Marios. Curiously, I never dealt with Marias, or Martinas. I don’t know if the entire tobacco industry was patriarchal, or just the Ceasarans.
“Are you all right in there?” I asked again.
“We are dying,” Ceasaran replied, “otherwise, we are fine. You’ve come to get cigars?”
“Yes,” I said, “but that doesn’t seem so important now. Maybe I should do something to stop you from dying.”
“That is very kind of you, Mister Elmer. You have always been a kind man, but Maria and I are old now, and there is very little food. We would have to get around to dying eventually, so there’s no reason to put it off.”
“I’d be happy to go buy you some food,” I offered.
“You don’t understand,” said Ceasaran. “I don’t mean that there is very little food in the house. I mean there is very little food at all. Tobacco is not considered important enough, so we don’t get food.”
“Mister Elmer, most years since my grandfather’s day you have been our only customer. Sometimes a teen asks for a cigar that blows up, or a man with a new baby buys some to give away. We had a politician buy an especially durable one for his mistress, but we didn’t ask if it was for smoking. Most of the time, it’s just you.”
“I didn’t realize that business was so bad.”
“Oh no,” said Ceasaran. “The business is not bad. You are always very generous. We have always been a wealthy family because of you.”
“So why can’t you get food?”
Ceasaran shook his head. “It is not a matter of money; it is a matter of importance. The sheep can’t eat tobacco, and the MOIST people do not smoke cigars. We do not contribute to the thirty-fifth idea.”
“But what about your children?”
“You did not notice, Mister Elmer? Maria and I have no children. We are also very old – not like you are old, but very old.”
I probably should have noticed that. It just seems like you barely notice someone and they grow old and die. The only reason the Ceasaran’s stuck in my mind is that I’d done business with fifty or so of them, and they tended to look alike.
“Hey,” I said, “I have a couple algae bars,” and I zipped open my fanny pack.
“Baaaaaahhhh!” A wall of wool rushed at me.
“No,” I said to the surprised sheep. “You can’t have these. They are for the Ceasaran family.”
“Let them have the algae bars,” said Ceasaran. “As I am dying now, I admit that I am not such a believer in the thirty-fifth idea, but Maria and I have both tasted your algae bars. If we are going to die, I would rather we did so without our mouths tasting like fertilizer.”
“Crappy bars,” said Swampy as I threw the bars to get the sheep to move away from me. This gave me a chance to get much closer to the window. I saw Ceasaran smile at me. He was an old man.
“Wait a moment,” he said. He must have been standing on something, because he lowered himself very carefully from the window height. While he was gone, the sheep wandered back over to me. The sniffed around me and my fanny pack looking for more food, then gave me a look that showed their annoyance when they found nothing. Swampy landed on a ewe and crapped on her.
Finally, Ceasaran’s face reappeared in the window. He held out a bag. It was too far for me to reach, so I used telekinesis to bring it to me, and then did the same with the gold and silver lumps to Ceasaran. A bead of sweat broke out on my brow. Dirk was always better at telekinesis than I was. For some reason it was easier to move stuff in the ground than it was in the air.
The old man took the metal and shook his head. “It is the last sale for Ceasarean tobacco. We were in business over a thousand years.”
“I am very sad to see you go,” I said.
“It has been an honor to know you, Mister Elmer. You have…”
Yes, I’m ending the excerpt here. It could be that Mister Ceasarian (not to be confused with Caesarian,) had nothing left to say. I could also be that I’m an SOB that sadistically ends an excerpt in the middle of a sentence.
Anyone vote for both?
To find out web in (well tune in doesn’t work,) next Friday!
Here’s the vid.