26 April 2007

In Which Sarge Records Sensations Upon Observing an Eclipse


"What's your name?" I ask him. We are in the little space near the bathroom, the tables are full and the restaurant buzzes.
"What's it matter?" He smiles again, that half-smile, like he's something.
The time has come.

I push against him. He tries to move, then he tries to move his arm, but he can't seem to move it. A brief moment of confusion. Then he laughs again when I take out his wallet.

"You a blue heeler?"
"No. I'm a ------- journo! I want to know how you got your teeth so white?"
"You could have just asked...."
The restaurant is crowded, loud. Nobody notices us but somebody'll need more coffee, more catsup, more something any time. He knows it too.
"I like to know who I'm dealing with is all before I ask what I want."
"Well you got Buckley's chance now mate."
"Yeah?" I push quickly into his gut with one finger. He gasps. "Yeah?"
"Here...no...here..." He gives me his cell number. I reach over to the payphone behind him and call it. He rings and I let him go.
"I'll call you later. You better answer, anyhow mate, I'm jack o this." I walk away.
He gives me a curious look and turns to leave the restaurant. A minute later, as I pour coffee for the guy that comes in everyday and reads the auto trader magazine I notice John-Luke the dealer looking in at me. His curiosity aroused. I wonder if I've gone too far.

Later Sam comes up to me.
"John-Luke and you had a bit of the barney there, mate, anything you can't handle?"
"It's alright Sam. I don't like him though."
"It's not your job to like him, son." He walks away and I feel stupid. Why don't I ask Sam more questions? Pride I suppose.

I'm on the beach with Cody when I call him. He answers right away.
"Ok, what?"
"Right," I say, "I was a bit berko back there...but you're right. I need some of that."
Instantly he's guarded, but more relaxed.
"Well, mate, you're still a bit of a blow-in, but we'll manage. Right. How about a pint and we'll smooth things over?"
"Yep. Ten then?"
"Make it eleven."
We hang up.

I believe now, after having put some things together, that he is the one who led that team against me, and I don't wonder if he isn't more than what he appears. Though a bit less than what he thinks. I will be cautious.

I go there now, though I feel something odd about this adventure. I wonder what hornet's nest my anger has turned over.

best wishes,


10 April 2007

Ranger - Le Blaireau

Dear Corporal,

The missives from Sarge trouble me. Though I cannot remain troubled for long in my current surroundings. Brittany is beautiful this time of year. Operation Vercingetorix indeed. I am on a fool’s errand. I am assigned to monitor French separatist groups and their activities.

I understand the Commandos have operatives in Provence, Alsace-Lorraine and with the Euskadi. They have sent Thomas to Savoy. I have stayed in touch with her and she feels her mission is as hopeless as mine. I sit in Gitanes-smoke filled bars and my ears ache from the unrestrained political polemics of angry youth emerging strangely from the mouths of men who otherwise look beaten by this world. And the young here likewise play at wisdom, but it is just a ruse. They jockey to listen to their elders, and talk extravagantly of revolution, trying to extol their bona fides. They direct too much of their focus to organization. The whole thing has the feeling of a town planners meeting, where everyone is passionate about the direction the future must take, but nothing real is accomplished.

I sit here adding a comment from time to time, pointing out some historical fact, praising the Celtic language speakers, eating galettes and drinking cider (my one indulgence). At least the food has been excellent. This is the first time I have been to the safe house in Brittany. I will say I appreciate the Citroen 2CV you left for me here, it is wonderful fun. I have resorted to taking long drives through the French countryside on weekends when no meeting is called, trying to trace the route of the last Tour de France. Hinault is like a god here. Occasionally, I get out and bike through the rolling countryside, allowing myself for a moment to forget the events of the past year.

It has been quite some time since I have been so immersed in the French language. I am starting to remember even the songs about Le Lapin and the Champs Elysees which I learned in grade school in Quebec.

I gentlemen named Maurice from Gwened has made a passable companion. He was a high school classics teacher and is more than happy to speak at length about Aristotle and criticize his existential compatriots. “Jump off a bridge,” he tells them taking a long draw from his cigarette, “if nothing has innate meaning for you.” He criticizes St. Thomas’ interpretation of Aristotle noting that it was the clerics who controlled the texts through the years and that Aquinas’ position is selective at best. Aristotle’s position, he notes, was that each man has his own reference point for moderation. It does not comport with the moral objectivist position taken by Aquinas. Though he cautions, no greater good can come from small evils. Whereas he is opposed to violent revolution he notes that murder at the hands of the Free French was normative and may have been a moral imperative in the face of great evil. I need to believe that is what we do.

His other points, like criticizing Plato’s world of forms may be to esoteric for me to follow.

Jakarta? Indeed. I am in purgatory here. I have stopped believing that my reports to Ottawa serve any significance or are even reviewed by anyone other than some bureaucratic hire. I will meet you there.

Au revoir,


09 April 2007

In Which Sarge Faces the Needle...


Easter. I always think of Tanner's painting. The two apostles at the empty tomb, not quite dawn, the reconsiderations made of what is truly possible.

I had to be at the restaurant early. I've moved back into the house on the beach, but I've set up several more booby traps, something I should have done earlier, as well, I've set up a remote camera unit that transmits to a set I have in my car. The screen looks like a book, specifically, Graham Greene's Journey Without Maps. If they want to kill me, they shouldn't send in the clowns this time. I've gotten lazy, but when I saw them shoot at my dog, something was reborn in me. Something that wanted to live.

Still, the thirst for the needle is unslaked, and the local supplier eats his breakfast here most everyday. Always, two eggs up with french toast and bacon. He knows I have the taste, I can sense it, my skin itches when I serve him. I want to ask and then I want to kill him, but I hold myself distant from the turmoil, and he watches with a bemused smile.

"More coffee, sir?" I ask. He nods. Looks at me. I pour.
"You want a taste," he says under his breath to me, like it's a fact.
"I've had my brekkie," I say and move to another table, of three old women planning a day's shopping. He breaks the yolk on his egg and slathers his french toast then adds maple syrup until it drowns his plate. I break out in a cold sweat, Sam comes up behind me and slaps me on the back.
"Look who was out late last night," he laughs. I apologize to him and get myself back together. I think about how many ways I could kill the dealer with a fork, or a coffee pot, or more ominiously, a spoon. My hands.

They shake. But only for a second. I think of Cody. I think of you and Nwargo in the jungle. I am happy you ignored my advice. Smitty reports he was ambushed and killed four Separatist-terrorists, but he was almost hamstrung and has been rehabbing back in Berlin. It seems our movements, at least those emanating from my command, are being followed too well. I think of Ranger, silent in the middle of a stream. So I serve my eggs, pour my coffee and learn to keep my mouth shut. At night I wake up with dreams in my head: Ahmet asks me for more potatoes, but how can he? He has no mouth. It has been cut out of him. His blood fills coffee cups and from behind me I hear Aglionby yelling at Cody; a silent chorus, that is the only word, for they look ready to pronounce but do not, of Sierra Leone Army regulars, many of them decaying visibly, stand at attention surrounding me. They must have crawled out of the street, for outside the windows the streets, fleshy, begin to pulsate and crumble. Cody whines as Aglionby begins to scream and Cody whines again, louder; I wake up. There is Cody, nuzzling me, pushing me awake, the curtain breathes in from the window and I hear in the distance the sound of the eternal crashing with the temporal. Deep night. I sit on the edge of the bed and stare off, the Southern Cross promises sun tomorrow, peace seems to settle in. I wipe sweat from the back of my neck.

I want to take Cody along the ocean, think about the ships and the contests with the sea, but I am still a little snakebit by the events of last week. I decide to wait for the morning. I try to sleep. I think about leaving to find the man. To take his heroin. I wouldn't pay him. The bastard stabbing his eggs, thinking I'm nothing but a dead-ender looking for a fix. He tips poorly, he half-laughs when he walks out the door.

With the dawn, desire fades. Cody must run with the waves, chase the birds. I follow him into the beginning of the day. I begin to make plans as I run behind him. He looks back at me and occasionally barks and sets out after a slow bird or God knows what. Things must change, then Cody is in the water, he brings me out a stick that has traveled far. It is a gift far greater than any I ever received in Tallinn.

I throw the stick, and he brings it back to me, again and again.

I must learn how they trace me.

with gladness at your well-being,


07 April 2007

Good Friday

We watched the villagers dance. I did not know what they celebrated, but I was captivated by the ebb and flow of the chant, the pounding rhythms of the drums, and the writhing silhouettes before the fire.

I felt like I was in a National Geographic documentary. I sat on the ground, drinking beer. Nwargo sat next to me, his healing leg propped up. His rehab is going well. I estimate the recovery will be complete, but for the next year, he should limit himself to "light duty." Perhaps there is a desk job for him somewhere. But where is safe? I cannot stay with him forever... I feel an obligation to protect him, but is he not more than capable of fending for himself? I feel like a parent watching a child move out.

Nwargo interrupted my thoughts. "Go to them and dance my friend."

"I can't. I can't. My heart is too heavy."

"Death is in your head again?"

"How can it not be? It is my job."

"But life is your job as well. You saved mine."

"And put it at risk."

Nwargo sighed. He looked back towards the dancers and an odd smile appeared on his face. "Will you dance if I tell you they are dancing to celebrate a funeral?"

Such goading! "I do not celebrate death! I do not love death! I mete out justice! There are men and women who do not deserve to walk this Earth! I clean the Earth! I am a cleanser!" I realized, somewhat embarrassed that I was shouting, although no one noticed. Still, Nwargo had piqued my curiosity. "Whose death?"

Nwargo looked at the ground then smiled at me and winked, "Jesus'. Today is Good Friday my friend."

I turned my gaze out to the fire, nodded and finished another beer. "So, do they celebrate Jesus' death, or the 'death of Death?'"

"I think the second, my friend. The first was merely a tragic necessity."

"A necessity? Why should an omnipotent being need to sacrifice His son to 'conquer' Death? Would you sacrifice your least favorite child? For what would you make that exchange?" I was shouting again.

"You are troubled, my friend, by mysteries that man has contemplated for many hundred years." He paused, and his face became stern. "If you continue, I shall not recite the Easter speech from Goethe's Faust with you on Sunday."

I laughed. "Your German is terrible, Nwargo. Please promise me you will spare me the recital."

Nwargo laughed and handed me another beer.