Chapter 7: Glossolalia

After my father’s fiery funeral, I had only a few days to stay and help get the boats out of the water for the winter.  I didn’t want to leave.  The place was my home, and I needed my mother more than ever.  And she needed me.  But I had to go back to the University.  I was lucky to take off as long as I did.

“When are we leaving?”  Fetu said.  He was dropping me off at my apartment near the University.

“Leaving for where?”  I said.

“Voyaging.  Maybe sail to the gulf for the summer.”  He said.

“I have to finish out this school year, so end of May.”  I said.

“That leaves me  plenty of time to prepare.”  He said.

“You should stay down here.  You can stay with me and Aliya.”  I said.

“It’s hard to find meth down here.  Anyways, I can’t leave mom alone up there.”  He said.

“You’re right.  Take care of her.  See you at Christmas.”

I watched him drive away.  I missed him.  He had been away for so long.  And though he had been home on leave several times throughout the years, I yearned for those endless days of sailing and fishing and dreaming of sailing around the world.

Not only did he serve several tours with the Marines in Iraq, he followed the path of our fathers, he worked as a private military contractor with Human Conditions Inc, but not in Africa, in Afghanistan.  He had an opportunity to take over the company, because father was part owner it up until his death.  But Fetu surprisingly refused.  He had finally gotten sick of the taste of blood after his last trip on business.  He had grown disgusted with humanity and wished to change that.

For the last few years of his life, my father’s worldview changed.  He had taken a more non-violent approach at life, a peaceful vision came over him.  He became vegetarian, he had stopped fishing and hunting.  Everything he did was harmonious with nature.  He said that he was atoning for his deeds.  He talked about Leo Tolstoy and how he could relate with him besides the Jesus stuff (which my mother pressed on him).

He didn’t feel that all the harm he had done was worth anything to anyone, not even himself.  He said that all of his harm was now echoing through Africa and could not be reversed.  He talked frequently with his Ghurka friend Sarbagya who was in India, and he tell about his conversations with him.

“I called it Glory and Honor, but there was none of that.  There was my Ego and my Pride and don’t forget about the money.  The Money.”  Father said.  He was tending to the beehives.  He never wore netting and rarely got stung.  “I did not follow lagom.”

There were several instances that he warned Fetu of doing the things he was doing.  The last time I remember was when Fetu had just spent the summer at Our Island.

At the end of the summer, we were seeing him off at an airport.  Fetu was dressed in civilian clothing with a climbing backpack for luggage.  He had only been discharged for three months and seemed anxious to leave.

“There is more to being a warrior than being a soldier in a war.”  Father Odin said.  Fetu had just made the decision to go do security in Afghanistan for Human Conditions Inc.

“I know papa.”  Fetu said.  He called his real father ‘tama’, and called my dad what I called him.  “But I am very good at my job, and I haven’t decided what to do with myself when I’m done doing this.”

“So long as you know that this is what you want.  Your tama wanted it too.”

Fetu nodded and was quiet all the way onto the plane.

I was glad he came back alive.  His death was in my head daily.  I could see his tank or jeep or just him walking and all of a sudden everything is blown to smithereens by some bomb, chunks of flesh and metal and cloth raining from sand-clouds.  For the Glory and the Honor.

I didn’t understand any of it, even when my father had fully explained it all to me.  And he was glad that I didn’t.  He was glad I wasn’t at all curious to see what it would be like to shoot another human being.  I always remembered what Edward face looked like when I pulped it.  I didn’t want that.  And as an adult who was trained in all sorts of self-defense, I never wanted to find out what I was capable of.  I never wanted to find out what it was like to make a hundred Edwards’ heads explode from a bullet in a desert where I didn’t belong.

***

I came inside my home to my wonderful girlfriend, Aliya.  She was the fifth girlfriend I had ever had.  She was the only girlfriend that hadn’t drunk themselves into a stupor then accidentally had sexual intercourse with Joe Jock America (or all of his friends in one instance).

This woman was too nice, too beautiful if I can say such a thing.  We never had an argument ever, until the day I left for my world voyage, and that was completely my fault.  In fact, there wasn’t one wrong thing that she had done to me.  But peaceful old me, terrorized her heart.  Lover not a fighter, ha, lovers eventually hurt someone.  And I hurt her real bad.

Her name is Alihelisdi, she’s full blooded Cherokee from an eastern clan.  Most people, besides me and some of her tribe, call her Aliya, including herself.   She, like my parents and grandparents, was born with blue eyes though her hair is black.

It is fabled that my ancestors sailed across the Atlantic Ocean and intermingled with her ancestors.  According to the language evidence, her people could have stayed around the areas that my people could have landed.  No one knows without a doubt, but some believe this.

Aliya had very little opinion about the subject.  “We are all human, what does it matter?”  She told me when I asked her what she thought.  She was right.  What does it matter?  Because when it does matter, deeds like the Holocaust and genocides in the Congo happen.  Aliya was more peaceful than I was, if you can believe it.

She was so peaceful that if you got in her face and yelled profanities and insults to the highest degree, she would ask if she could help you.  I, on the other hand, would have to rebut with my own clever and non-profane set of insults.  I have my limits with being a peaceful loving human, she apparently does not.

She welcomed me with a tender hug and a small kiss.  She wasn’t a touchy-feely person, in fact our sexual relations were few and far between (she practiced sexual lagom I told her).  What I had learned about sex was from my four prior ex-girlfriends that were very promiscuous and aggressive.

I figured that all women liked sexually what my ex-girlfriends liked (though I couldn’t bring myself to say some the vulgarities they had requested of me and sometimes they would repulse me).  Not the case with Aliya.  She wished to be tender, to be emotional, and I had no problem with being emotional.  I just had to tame the beastly forms of sexuality that I had been trained in.

“You’ve been getting phone calls the last few days from a man named James Villard.”  She said.  I had just finished telling her about my father’s funeral and to my surprise, I didn’t cry at all.

“I don’t know anyone by that name.”  I said.

“He said that he was interested in your journal article Tongue Talkers, the one you were working on when we met.”

“Really?  Who would be interested in that nonsense?  Another religious fanatic?”  I said.

I was confused.  The article Tongue Talk made me a laughingstock in the linguistics community.  Only cultural anthropologists and a few Christian linguists had even showed a slight interest.  I had posed some questions that weren’t feasible in the world of scholars.  My writing was borderline religious.

I was studying the Pentecostal sermons in Appalachia and their ‘speaking in tongues’.  There had been extensive research done about the brain patterns of someone speaking in tongues (glossolalia).  I was obsessed with making a connection with the first language (Proto-language) of the first humans and the language of God.   I originally made reference to a Sumerian text that the biblical story about the Tower of Babel resembles, but I changed my mind.  I used the plural word for Gods taken from the Old Testament, but the article wasn’t as extensive as I had intended.  So I went along with the singular proper noun form God because of my study with the Pentecostal Church.  I was atheist if anything at the time so it didn’t matter to me.  The last sentence of the article read:

Is there a keyhole in the brain which can be unlocked to release full understanding of the ultimate language universal, in other words an omni-language code, or the tongue of God?  

Funny indeed.  Laugh as you should.  It was published as an original work, in the scholarly world it had the weight of a poem or a short story, mere entertainment.  And entertaining it was to my colleagues, but not to some people who wanted to know more about what their God knew.

My idea of an internal language that is universal to all humans might have been a laughable seed at the time, but it grew into something serious and rational enough to take it into the scholarly realm.  I had a good dissertation going before I left to see the world, and I made a drunken fool of myself to my colleagues, embarrassing them and the scientific method.

At the same time, I became a prophet, unwillingly.  I refused.  I denied.  I lied, willfully and blatantly lied to prove that I was no prophet.  “I’m a drunk, an inebriate, a dipso.  I’m partially retarded.”  I yelled at a video camera my brother Fetu held when some more proverbial poop was about to hit the fan.  This did nothing.

I became a prophetic profit for a man who wanted to know everything.

This starts the story of how I became the scapegoat for the world, how I became a false god for some, a devil for others, and a messiah for a great many people.

Some called me the second coming of Christ, I told them “No”.  “Christ will deny it.” A few said in response.  I took the blame for the uncontrollable set of World Events, just because I was a nice guy.  I didn’t intend for everything to be thrown into Chaos.

How does a man go about knowing everything?

Where do you start in the universe of everything?  With the Self of course.  But we’re not born with that knowledge, and many humans do not like that answer.  At least the ones that like to watch television.

One man decided to start with me.  One man believed that a God tongue existed and could be found.  Even I, at the point of death, hanging from a tree by my feet in Somalia, starved and parched, believed that such a thing existed.  Many occupants of Planet Earth started to believe it exists, they all looked to me for the answer.  I had the answer, they didn’t like it.

This man’s name was James Villard.

He was a Televangelist preacher and media tycoon billionaire. He thought he was my father, because he spent two weeks fornicating with my mother in Angola when he was away on business.  The bloody business of diamonds.  He never tasted blood, for most of his life until the last days, he also though his hands were clean of blood.

He also had blue eyes.

***

I met Aliya at the 5th annual Native American Language Revival Symposium in North Carolina where I had been studying the Pentecostal ‘tongue talkers’, namely the children.  I showed up to the conference for no other reason than my obsession with anything concerning language.

I had bad luck with woman, or should I say that bad woman had their luck with me.  I never tried very hard to find someone that I really liked.  My girlfriends, prior to Aliya, had found me, sought me out, hunted me down, had their way.  I wanted to turn them down because of their brash aggressiveness but I didn’t want to hurt their feelings so I went along with each of those pitiful examples of relationships.

It’s not much of a relationship when you come home from the bar.  The same exact bar you were just drinking with your supposed girlfriend just two hours before when she mysteriously disappears.  Then you come home to naked Joe Jock America with his crew cut passed out next to your naked girlfriend in your bed.

Time to pack my things, again.  Yes, I forgive you.  Yes, I understand.

Of course, violence occasionally tempted me in those types of situations, and my father taught me more things about self-defense than I ever wanted to know.  But I never got to the point of doing anything about it.  Just thinking about Edward’s bloodied face chased away all the animosity.  After the initial shock, I’d cry to myself quietly as I packed my belongings.  Who was to blame anyways?  I blamed myself.  I always blame myself.

It was different with Aliya.  I should say opposite.  It was the first time I was enraptured by a woman just from listening to her talk, her voice like honey, mellifluous to the poets.  I didn’t have to look at her, her voice was enough for obsession.  Then upon seeing her, I knew I had to meet her, she had a goddess face with sharp and high cheekbones.  She had golden brown skin, and her hair was the black of fertile earth.  She also had blue eyes.  “Skies” I called them.

She was giving a lecture on the use of modern technology to teach indigenous languages to the youth.  I watched, forgetting to breathe at moments.  She was so eloquent and pretty, after we met I used to sit in on her seminars even if I had seen them before.

For the first time in my life, I approached a woman.  I made the choice, unlike my prior experiences when one of those strumpets approached me then took me to her house and pretended to be my girlfriend for a few months.

Aliya was the opposite.  She wanted to talk about language and our pasts and our families.  She liked to hold hands.  I was in heaven, for a while at least.  Like a typical human, heavenly things get taken for granted.  Heaven’s just this thing we want and when we get it, we don’t know what to do with.  We are too used to suffering to come to our senses.

She left her home to come live with me in the Midwest.  She sacrificed a lot for me.  I’m ashamed to admit that I did nothing of the same for her.

***

I call it the 12 steps of Life.  It’s structured like the 12 steps of Alcoholics Anonymous, but without theological pressure.  Not that I have a thing against God, I have a thing against some peoples’ definition.  It doesn’t take a semanticist to figure out whether or not your words are sincerely remorseful, I believe you and understand you when you say Jesus is going to save you, but in the 12 steps of Life, your understanding of life is the only concern.

When someone is faced with their mortality after nothing but wrong-doing towards others, they do one of two things.  They either accept the fact that they are a horrible person, or redeem themselves of their wickedness by finishing off life with great gestures of kindness.  Because someone somewhere is going to remember them and what they did, bad or good.  They have to face the fact that you had the choice of how people will remember you for however long.

Take me for example, I made the choice for everyone to know me, an awful part of me wanted to be famous.  Unfortunately, when everyone knows you, they expect something from you.  When people expect something from you, you end up disappointing them and they blame you for their miserable lives and how you didn’t save them from Life.  I told them, but they didn’t listen.  I also made the choice to not stay home and be with a beautiful girl who loved me purely.  Those were my choices.

James Villard wanted to be remembered just like anyone on Planet Earth, (no one wants to be forgotten.)  So when he was diagnosed with cancer, he had to confront the reality of what legacy he was going to leave behind.  At the time he called me, he hadn’t yet realized how awful of a person he really was.  I can say with a straight face that at that time he had never done one good or honest deed for anyone on the whole Planet Earth.  But when he faced his death, he started his recovery.  He wasn’t aware that he was on The 12 steps of Life, but he was.

Like the 12 steps of Alcoholics Anonymous, The 12 steps of Life give you a paradigm for recovery, but instead of going sober, you get yourself ready for Death by realizing Life.

Mr. Villard was at Step 2.  He accepted that there was one thing that he was not controlling in his life, it was his death or how he was going to die.  Though he could have put a bullet in his brain or a knife in his belly (or better yet jump out of his skyscraper), that was just his control, the kind of control that he had always had.  But when he found out that he had cancer, and that all the money in the world was not going to save him, a portion of this control is lost.  And to a megalomaniac, this small portion is humungous.

James Villard had to do some self-reflection.  The God that he preached for and about (and didn’t believe in) wasn’t going to save him from death.

In this moment of grief, this loss of control, he thought it was a grand idea to call me.  I was this unconscious itching “what if?” at the back of his denial-laden brain.  What if it was he who got my mother pregnant?  This question found its way to the part of his brain that might feel bad just before his life ended.

The more he thought about it, the more he thought he was my father and intended to find out.

He didn’t decide to tell me any of this until he have me driven to New York City (I am afraid of flying), and put me up in a fancy hotel with all expenses paid (I drained half of the suite’s liquor cabinet in the three days I spent there).

I called him back the day after I got back home.

“Do you know who I am?”  James Villard asked.

“No sir, I do not.”  I said.  I was supposed to, lots of people did, but I shut out most of the media world in those days, still do.

“I am the pastor of Lifeternal Ministry.  Televangelist preacher if you will.”  He said.

“I’m assuming that you read my journal and think that a God language can be found.”  I said.  I had calls from other religious zealots that took my sentence far too literally.

“Yes and no.  I want to privately fund your research.  If there is anything I have in this world it is money.  And I would like to use it for a good cause.”  He said.

“I wouldn’t know where to start.  There isn’t a neuro-linguist that will ever partake in such a research even if it was fully funded.  My research has taken a more scientific approach, and though it includes language concerning God or any other deities for that matter, it does not concern anything religious.”  I said.

“Everyone has a price.”  He said.

“I, sir, do not have a price.”  I said.

“Okay, but will you come to New York and hear me out.  Everything will be paid for.”  He said.

“I’ll have to get back to you sir.  I teach all this week and I’m coming off of an absence.”  I said.

“A close relative of yours died?”  He said.

“Yes.  How did you know?”

“Just a guess”, said James Villard, the liar.

I wanted to tell him no and never talk to the man again, but I have this problem with trying to please everyone that I am able (like my libertine ex-girlfriends).  I had even considered some of the other preachers that wanted to support me, just to be nice, but I knew it was impossible research to perform without money and more laughter and mockery from my peers.

***

I was inexplicably nervous sitting there drinking fancy booze (cognac), Louis XIII de Remy Martin to be exact, in a giant suite wearing one of my boring suits.  The room was covered with fancy everything. I was reading through an article about Mayan glyphs.  I didn’t feel like grading my students papers.

James Villard owned the building, a hotel called the Le Clou Rouge.   “Order anything you wish.”  The airport greeter holding the sign BALDUR ANKURSVARD said to me after handing me a credit card right when introduced myself.  When I got dropped off at Le Clou Rouge, I did, I ordered a bottle of Louis XIII.  Pocket change to someone like James Villard, I figured.

“So this is New York effing City?”  I said.  I was asking my mother in my head and the greeter.

“Yeah, it effing is.”  He said (with a real f-word though).  His accent changed from Standard American English to the working class New York accent.

My mother never ever wanted to go back there.  It was a part of her life that she didn’t wish to revisit.  I had never had any intentions anyhow.  I was not a fan of large cities regardless of their depth of dialects and accents and intermingled cultures.  I felt bad that I didn’t call her before coming.

James Villard owned a few buildings in the part of New York they call Manhattan.  All I knew about the place was that rich people lived there and that there is a tasty drink named after it (I drank several Manhattans in Manhattan), and that it was home to historical landmarks of the American Nation.  It was hard to fathom someone owning such lofty objects considering I only owned books and clothes before I inherited Our Island and Our Cabin and my father’s Viking yacht Hringhorni.

Beyond the insane amounts of money and stuff Villard owned, he owned most or all of the shares of several different companies.

Only three are important here.  Deumond Mining Ltc. which was in possession of a mine that my father had secured in Angola during their secession from Portugal and subsequent revolution.  Liverternal Ministry was the ministry that he founded and led, and God’s Eye Broadcast was his not-so-religious broadcasting company.

He was apparently a fan of portmanteau words, maybe because he was Televangelist which comes from ‘television’ and ‘Evangelism’ that he thought to name his companies so cleverly.

The word ‘deumond’ from Deumond Mining Ltc. seemed to me to come from the Latin word for god ‘deus’ and the English word for ‘diamond’.  If anything, James Villard was a clever man and for most of his life he thought everything was a joke, that life itself was a joke in sickly humor.  Like my father Odin, he had lost faith in humanity and would eventually get it back (if he ever had any at all to begin with).

Villard’s ministry, Liveternal Ministry, is another portmanteau word which comes from ‘live’ and ‘eternal’ and is pronounced /LIVE-ter-nal/.  This was his weekly show that his worshipping fans tuned into once a week to watch James Villard tell them how to live according to the Bible.  They all sent him their money to show their faith in God and Jesus.  Mr. Villard was not like other Televangelists, he did not scam money like other Televangelists, he had enough of that.  What Liveternal Ministry gave him was another source of power more than his money.  It was power over people, his favorite.  He liked to be worshipped too, contrary to what the Bible says about worshipping false prophets.

God’s Eye Broadcast or GEB was his huge media conglomeration.  Despite the name of the company, the TV station was quite secular.  The Liveternal sermon that James Villard preached wasn’t even broadcast on there, it was done on through a sister station called Apple Eye Godcast, which made up for his secular station both in content and his penchant for portmanteau words with the use of ‘godcast’ which apparently blended ‘god’ with ‘broadcast’.

I knew none of this before going into Mr. Villard’s high-rise office, most of my attention went into the study of languages so I naturally was very ignorant in the rest of the world.  As much as language gives you knowledge, studying language doesn’t necessarily make it so.  I could get so deeply tangled in the web of language that I might miss the meaning of everything you were saying, if I happened to get stuck on certain sounds you make that are unusual.

The things James Villard owned were the least of my surprise.

“I think I’m your father.”  James Villard said.

That was my surprise.

We were in his high-rise office which had floor to ceiling windows that offered a view of the Manhattan Galaxy and all of its artificial stars and comets, the twinkling lights of people making busy their lives.    The inside of his office was minimally decorated with artifacts and some books and liquor bottles.  Naturally, as an alcoholic I was drawn to the liquor then as a linguist to the artifacts.

He sat at his grand desk.

“Why would you think that?”  I said. I took gulp of the Manhattan drink he had made me.

“I knew your mother.”  He said.

“That may be so, but I already have a father.”  I said.

“Yes, I know.  I knew him too.  I heard about his death.  My dearest condolences.”  He said.

“Thanks, but I don’t understand why you think you’re my father.  And even if you were, what does it matter now?  I’m thirty years old.  I’ve lived half of my life and you’ve lived more than your half.”  I said.

“It only matters to me, because I’m dying, or should I say I’m getting closer to death.  I’ve been diagnosed with terminal cancer and I’ve been confronted with what I’ve done in my life.”  He said and slammed down the rest of his three million year old Scotch.

“What have you done with your life?”  I said.  I was a little shocked, but I didn’t really care either.  This was a complete stranger.

“I’ve lied.  Everything I’ve said or done has been a lie.”  He said.

“That’s sad.  I feel bad for you.  I really do, but why couldn’t you just tell me on the phone instead of flying me here.  And why stop lying now?”  I said.

“I wanted to see you with my own eyes.”  He said.

“Here I am.”  I said.

“Here you are.”  He said.  I felt no sadness or remorse from him at that time, he was still in his conditioned state of indifference.  It would take a lot more than a diagnosis to make this man cry.

“So, why the charade?  Why the interest in God’s language and my article?”  I said.

“I’m still interested in that.”  He said.

“Really?  You don’t seem very religious for being a preacher which makes sense I guess.  Jim Jones didn’t believe in God.  He thought himself a god.”  I said.

“I don’t believe in God, you’re right, but I’m trying now.  I’m a farce, I know.  But I am interested in helping you in any way I can.  If I could just hand you and your mother tons of money, I would.  But it doesn’t work that way with the extremely wealthy.  There are expectations of the elite society I live in that must be upheld.  ”

“And you don’t want people to find out that you sowed a wild oat in your youth?”  I said.

“Yes.”  He said.

“Aren’t you afraid that I’ll go tell the world everything you’re telling me now?”  I said.

“No.  It doesn’t work that way, I have too much power.  And I know you wouldn’t.  You’re mother hasn’t.”  He said.

“You’ve talked to my mother about this?”  I said.

“Not in a long time.”  He said.  “She won’t talk to me.”

“You’re right that I won’t say anything.  But how you know that, I don’t understand.  Maybe you should be a psychic too?”  I said.  The booze was hitting me, I was uncomfortable.

“Maybe.  I could if I wanted, and people would believe me.  People are stupid and gullible, why do you think religion is popular?”

“I disagree.  I don’t think people are stupid.  Gullible yes, but people are very smart.  Some just make poor choices in which knowledge they are interested in these days.  Even then, who am I to judge what somebody wants to know or not know.”  I said.

“Do you believe in God?”  He said.

“Yes and no.”  I said.

“How so?”  He said.

“I believe in God in definition as a universal embodiment of eternal everything, Time and Space and Matter forever.  But not as a separate entity, unless I am talking of ‘gods’, which are in other words, the personified abstractions of the human psychology.  In that case I believe in every single god that has ever existed or will exist.”  I said.  “As far as faith goes, I only believe in the faith of one’s self.  My father taught me this.”

“You sound like your father.”  He said.

“I am my father’s son.”  I said.  “So why is it that you think that I could ever be your son?”

***

Before Odin Ankarsvard met Nastasia in Pub Regal, she had just ended a tryst with the young James Villard.

The met at the mission that Nastasia worked at.

James Villard was there on business, he was the heir to the largest American owned diamond mine in the world.  This was in Angola.

James Villard had just taken control over all of his inherited companies and was in the middle of changing all the names, firing and hiring new executives, and the rest of his business goings-on.

Word in the jungle was that revolutionary fires were started in Angola.  This is always dangerous for any company that owns anything of value.  To protect assets, such as diamond mines, mercenaries were and are often employed to defend or take over points of interest.

James Villard and his newly named Deumond Mining Ltd. had hired an upstart mercenary company called Human Conditions Inc. which was founded and led by an ex-Ghurka veteran named Sarbagya.  This Nepali mercenary was tried and true as death itself, something which he had no fear of.

There is a saying about Ghurka warriors:  “If a man says he is not afraid of dying, he is either lying or a Ghurka.”

Sarbagya was not afraid of dying, and neither were his mercenary comrades.  They were a group of men who, for different and similar reasons, abandoned their cultures and militaries.  One reason shared amongst them was that the cultures they were born in could not quench their thirst for blood and the romantic notion of being a soldier of fortune.

Their training and combat experience made them ideal to take on the brutal and lucrative exploits of the Dark Continent.  Sarbagya knew there was a pretty penny to be made, or in this case a pretty diamond.

They called him Sarba for short.  There was such a high demand for mercenaries in Africa that Sarba created his own unique outfit that he personally handpicked.  The two men that he trusted the most were Odin Ankarsvard and Afi Malietoa.  They had been guns for hire in the Congo and shared a blood bond.

James Villard hired Human Conditions Ltd. to protect his diamond asset.  Weeks after I was conceived, my father Odin, Fetu’s father Afi, and their comrade and leader Sarba were discussing security logistics with James Villard.  Small world, one handed down to me.

***

Meanwhile, my mother was finding out that she was pregnant.  Laden with morning sickness, she cried.  She was a bit old to be starting a family, she thought.  And there were two men that could possibly be the father.  Odin, she cared for but was off in the heart of Angola with his life at risk.  The other, James Villard, was suave blue blood that had temporarily melted her heart only to turn out to be a selfish and vain prick that she was certain now that she had no feelings but anger for.

Months later, my father Odin showed up at the Catholic mission.  My mother greeted him warmly with hugs and kisses, full of surprises.  One of those surprises was the fetal version of me.

“The child might not be yours.”  Nas said.

“The child is mine.”  Odin said.

“How are you sure?  I slept with someone two nights before I met you.”  She said.

“That doesn’t matter.  The child is ours and that is all we need to know.”  He said.  “You already told me you were with an American before you met me.  That doesn’t bother me.  Anything you’ve done in your past doesn’t bother me, because I love you now, as a person.”

Odin slid a ring on to Nas’ finger.  Hugged and kissed her.

“It’s beautiful.”  She said.

It was not a diamond ring, my father had learned to hate diamonds.  It was a ring he carved out of wood, dark red.  Afi taught him how to carve things, rings, figurines, fishing hooks, et cetera.

“When can we leave Africa?”  Nas said.

“Soon.  Very soon.”

***

Before my father got the news, my mother had called several numbers to finally get through to a line that connected to James Villard’s office.

“Hello.”  She said.

“How did you get through to this number?  Nevermind.  This better be important.”  He said.

“I’m pregnant.  But I met another man so the child might not be yours.”  She said.

“Why would I care?”  James said.

“I just wanted you to know, in case it is yours.”  She said.  Her accent switched to the working class New Yorker accent.

“If you think it is mine, get an abortion.  On second thought, you should abort even if it isn’t mine.  You’ve probably have had several being a hooker and all.”  He said.

She hung up nearly breaking the phone.

“That’s that.”  She said to herself.

***

“I’ll be back for the birth, I promise.”  Odin said.

“You better be.”  She said.

“I will be.  Our fortifications are strong.  We’ve easily defended against the attacks.  Both rebel groups are poorly trained and unorganized.”  He said.

“I’ll hate you if you die.”  She said.

“No you won’t.”  He said.

***

I made myself another Manhattan, this time with brandy instead of whiskey.

“Your mother’s hatred for me is so deep that she wouldn’t even take money, let alone anything.  And I wasn’t trying to make amends, or make up for anything I missed.  I just wanted her to keep our secret to herself so my reputation would be harmed.  She never told anyone and denied all gifts I offered.

“I never told your father that I knew Nastasia.  She apparently never mentioned my name either because he never confronted me about it.  Some things are better left unsaid.  And even if he did know and wanted to do anything about it, I had knowledge of many illegal things that your father was involved in.  It was always within his interest to work me.  And I always paid his outfit well.”  He said.

“So why do you think I’ll take a handout from you.”  I said.

“I wouldn’t consider it a handout.  I want to help you reach your goals.”  He said.

“Instead of funding research, can you fund an expedition for me?  Consider it a research expedition.”  I said.  I don’t know why I asked.  It could have been the Manhattans’ I had been mixing for myself, but I never blame the booze.  The fact that I didn’t eat since I arrived might have been a factor for how drunk I was feeling.  There is a line of drunkenness that I cross that distorts my speech in bizarre ways.

“Of course, I can fund anything you have in mind, so long as it is somewhat productive and doesn’t compromise the values of my companies.”  He said.

“You own a miamond dining company, which values are those exactly?  ”  I said.  “Nevermind.”  I often times produce Spoonerisms (metathesis) when I’m a little pixilated.  Once I started it was hard to stop. But I was done talking with him anyway.

I rarely met people I didn’t like, James Villard was one of them until he redeemed himself.

He laughed.  “You’re right about the diamonds.”  He said.  “I have an idea.”

“What’s that?”

“How about we make your research expedition into a television series, reality tv?”  He said.

I squinted at him, focusing.

Tan we calk about this tomorrow?”

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