William Doonan

I write books and stories.

The Mummies of Blogspace9: Chapter Six

with 3 comments

June 15, 2011

Magdalena de Paz, Peru

Samples      http://www.greatbigLeon.blogspace9.ex

Hey Bruce, hope this post finds you still amongst the living.  I have to say, your last missive gave us something of a fright.  Clearly you’ve come into contact with some gypsy grifters who are running a scam on you.  That being said, I must question your sanity. 

Laney is standing here and she’s anxious to say something.  The generator has been on the blink for two days, so that’s why nobody has gotten back to you.  Laney wants to tell you she loves you or some such thing, but I got here first.  I’m older, I’m smarter, and I’m better looking.  Also, I’m armed.  You heard me.  I have two antique guns that came in the mail for me today.  I feel safer already.

Anyway, it’s time to pull it together, Bruce.  We’re working our tails off here, and you’re not keeping up your end of the bargain.  So let us briefly review the nature of things:

When it comes to domains of research, there are archaeologists and then there are others.  Those others are not in the same league as the archaeologists.  Those others became others either due to poor breeding or due to a series of poor academic or vocational decisions.  They elect instead to become historians, sociologists, or the lowest of the low, archival researchers.

We archaeologists do the backbreaking work of breaking new ground, both literally and figuratively.  We use our finely-honed senses to locate material lost for millennia, to sniff at the wind, close our eyes, and sense what is beneath the ground.  It’s alchemy, Bruce, as much an art as a science.  We unearth secrets lost to the ages. 

Once we’ve accomplished that, we rely on the little people, people such as you, Bruce, who take our hard-earned fruits and do the simple doltish work of searching for context.  Our relationship is much like that of the shark and the little shrimp who picks bits of food from its teeth.  At any moment, one of us could snap down and make a quick but unsatisfying meal of you. 

And right now, the disturbing part is that you are not doing your job.  SO SIT YOUR TAIL IN THAT ARCHIVE AND FIND SOME CONTEXT FOR OUR DOCUMENTS.  Also, stay away from gypsies.

Hi Bruce, it’s me Laney.  I just got Leon away from the computer.  Cyrus has us on lockdown, only this time he wants everyone inside the house.  Erdulfo just went out back to bring Kim in from the pool, and when Leon saw her walk by wearing a bikini, he had to lumber after her.  She doesn’t look too happy about it, especially since he’s got a gun in each pocket.  He looks like a retarded Pancho Villa.

I’ll tell you about our day in a minute, but first, when we got home from the site today, we found that Erdulfo had picked up the mail while he was in town, and with the mail came an otherwise unmarked package addressed to ‘Segovia’ at this address.  Nobody knows who Segovia is, so Leon took the liberty of opening the package.  Inside were two antique revolvers, bullets too, but Cyrus hid them so that Leon wouldn’t accidently blow off one of his testicles.  Not that the world would be any worse off if that transpired.

I’m worried about you, sweetie.  It sounds like you’ve had quite a scare.  I want to hear more about this dead person you met.  I have to say it sounds a little far-fetched.  I know it’s customary in Spain to have a few beverages at lunch.  Could that be part of it?  Also, you did mention heat exhaustion.  Sometimes…well, you know what I mean.  Sometimes the mind can play tricks. 

So let me fill you in on what’s going on here.  Two days with no electricity has taken its toll.  Cold showers are no fun, and our beer is warm.  Was warm, I should say.  We’re out of beer now, and Cyrus has us on lockdown, as I mentioned.  Erdulfo has the house locked up tight.  The stated reason for all this additional security is that one of the cane cooperatives has moved another crew into the area, and the workers tend to cause trouble at night.  But I’m not buying it. 

I’ve seen a lot of cane crews at work; these guys look hungry and exhausted.  I suspect they’re mostly convicts because that has to be the worst job in the world, cutting sugarcane from dawn to dusk, eating nothing but rice and beans, all for $50 a month.  And sure, maybe they do a little drinking now and again, but I can’t see why we should be cowering behind closed doors.  If you ask me, this has more to do with the howling ghosts out at the pyramid, but try talking to Cyrus or Erdulfo about that and they’ll just walk away.  So we talk about the project, which seems to be the only neutral topic left. 

Sandy and Kim have most of the town mapped out by now.  And calling it a town now seems a bit of a stretch.  All we really have is the ruins of the church, which is about the size of a walk-in closet, and the baseline of a one-room adobe house behind the church. Sandy has identified the outlines of six (possibly seven) houses that would have been built from saplings, but that’s about it as far as our town goes.  We dug trenches twenty yards in every direction, but there’s no more to it.

As I mentioned in my last post, it’s the church that has been the most interesting so far.  The documents, the diary, this is fantastic stuff, Bruce.  And it keeps coming.  Every day we’re finding more fragments, letters mostly.  We’ve been working on them in the evenings, so I’m going to include the transcription at the end of this post. 

But I have to tell you, I’m getting a little irritated by people going through our stuff.  Every morning, we get out to the site and find that our bags have been moved around.  There are footprints everywhere.  Just kids out drinking and screwing around on the pyramid – that’s Cyrus’s stock answer.  Maybe the kids like to whoop it up with the cane cutters!  Nothing gets stolen, but just the idea that someone is going through my bags, looking at the artifacts, is creepy.

I’ve been bugging Cyrus to hire a night watchman.  It makes sense, especially given the nature of the material we’ve found, but he just shakes his head.  I asked Erdulfo if he knew anyone who might want the job, and he just kind of grinned.  This country has something like 30% unemployment and I can’t even give this job away.  Anyway, yesterday I sent an e-mail to the University asking if there were any funds available for security, so we’ll see if they respond. 

In any case, wait, Leon is back and he wants the computer.  He’s angry because we’re out of beer and because Kim told him to leave her alone.  OK, Bruce, the lights just went out.  The generator just shut down.  I’m not sure why, since we just got it rebuilt and refueled.  The computer is good for another hour but we’ll lose the router in about thirty seconds along with the internet, so I guess that’s it for now, baby.  Hold on, there’s someone banging at the door.  We’re just about out of candles too, and now there’s someone banging at the door.  Cane cutter?  Drunk kid?  Howling ghost?  Your guess is as good as mine. Leon is looking around for his ammunition.  Hell, it’s as good a night as any to shoot off a testicle.

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Written by williamdoonan

December 5, 2011 at 4:05 am

3 Responses

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  1. Hi William,

    As a reader I’m still interested in reading further and that’s always a good sign. Here are some of my comments on this chapter:

    You wrote: “Erdulfo just went out back to bring Kim in from the pool, and when Leon saw her walk by wearing a bikini, he had to lumber after her.” Lumber doesn’t sound like realistic dialogue. Maybe chase, slink, sneak behind, or take off after.

    You wrote: “She doesn’t look too happy about it, especially since he’s got a gun in each pocket. He looks like a retarded Pancho Villa.” I get why you use this description but it has a racist tinge. Yes, I’m Mexican-American, yet I’m not normally put off by remarks like this, especially in literature, but this one didn’t feel good. Maybe change “retarded.” Not sure.

    Laney says, “I’m worried about you, sweetie. It sounds like you’ve had quite a scare. I want to hear more about this dead person you met. I have to say it sounds a little far-fetched.” This sounds really condescending. First she validates him, then she ridicules him. Is she trying to be careful about how she says it? I’d cut out,“It sounds like you’ve had quite a scare” and combine the last two lines. “…about this dead person you met, but I have to say…”

    There are spots with unrealistic dialogue. Laney says, “Not that the world would be any worse off if that transpired.” I imagine in “real life” someone saying, “…if that happened.”

    Laney says, “The stated reason for all this additional security…” I’d write something like, “Cyrus says we have all this security because…” Use the name of whoever is saying they need the security.

    Laney says, “If you ask me, this has more to do with the howling ghosts out at the pyramid, but try talking to Cyrus or Erdulfo about that and they’ll just walk away.” Why is it okay for her to hear howling ghosts yet Bruce seeing a dead person is far fetched?

    Laney says, “But I have to tell you, I’m getting a little irritated by people going through our stuff. Every morning, we get out to the site and find that our bags have been moved around. There are footprints everywhere.” Why would archaeologists at a bona fide site leave their equipment where people have access? That doesn’t sound realistic. I know a couple of archeologists who usually stay physically at the site in tents.

    “Every day we’re finding more fragments, letters mostly. We’ve been working on them in the evenings, so I’m going to include the transcription at the end of this post. “ I thought I was going to read something at the end of the e-mail to him. Maybe say, “…so I’m going to attach the transcription…”

    I especially like this line: “We use our finely-honed senses to locate material lost for millennia, to sniff at the wind, close our eyes, and sense what is beneath the ground.”

    Let me know, William, if you ever get tired of my two cents worth. (Do you prefer Bill or William?)

    ~Carole

    carolethewriter

    September 15, 2012 at 10:18 pm

    • Beaut! Thanks, Carole. No, I love your comments. You’re going to put me on the best-seller list! The line about retarded Pancho Villa, I can’t see as in any way racist. The character is supposed to be crude, so it’s a nasty line, but it certainly doesn’t insult Mexicans. The word retarded is not used in polite conversation, but that’s part of why I used it for a crude character. Maybe mentally-challenged people might be insulted, but I don’t see it as racist.

      In any case, you’re a great editor!!!

      Bill

      William Doonan http://www.williamdoonan.com http://www.williamdoonan.wordpress.com @doonan1

      williamdoonan

      September 16, 2012 at 9:06 pm


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