Wednesday, January 17, 2007

Innocents Abroad

The Great Finknottle (self) and his Very Young Assistant (Scribble) have disembarked at the dusty port city of New Caledonia. Our destination is the old city, where we will meet with a consortiuum of various luminaries I (self) am affiliated with. Although we will be among friends for the first time in months, I fear we will be in more mortal danger than at any point thus far in our travels.

"The Great Finknottle has friends, of course he does. They are hand-picked geniuses. A good group. And not a one of them in jail at the moment, which is not only remarkable, but handy for the Meeting will require as many as can be assembled in one place."

"That is where we are headed? A consortium of geniuses?" asked Scribble.

"Yes, although we must conceal the fact as long as we can. Such a meeting draws attention from the Authorities, especially the Maritime commission on Deadly Ideas and Harmful Matter."

"Will we be skirting the law, assuming false identities and costumes? Having illicit meetings in abandoned buildings and discussing plans for revolution?"

"No. I will be discussing said plans. You will be preparing the tea."

Scribble still looked excited, so I added, "And shovelling out stalls."

He deflated visibly, although not all the way. You'd have thought he was being included in an invitation to meet Barbary Pirates and get their autographs. Perhaps I will let him interview the council and construct Genius Society Trading Cards. I can picture him now, on his hands and knees with all the paraphernalia about, a sheet covered with scraps of photos and gluepot and scissors, happily working away, and out of the direct line of sight of danger.

Yes, that's the best plan for his protection. Lots of false errands that will keep him safe until the Council breaks rank and we are not the target we will be soon.

Scribble seemed to vibrate ever so slightly with happyness as he stared out the rude porthoole in the donkeywagon. My job to keep him alive will not be easy. He's a Secret Agent Boy today. Ahh, well, the folly of youth etc.

"Shut the curtain, lad. We're almost there."

The donkey whined and stuttered as the driver mitigated the speed. We rounded the corner of La Place Del Oro and I could make out the barks of street sellers and so forth. We made our way painstakingly through the garment district, the flatware district, the Lead-and-bols dealerships. Eventually I felt the sounds of capitalism fall away and the air began to thin. We ascended the road uncautiosly labeled "hidden meeting place of foreign geniius" and made our way to the Observatory. No longer a proper observatory of course. The equipment for making calculations would be outclassed by a PalmPilot today, but in it's prime it was a dangerous place.

The funk of patchoiuli began to waft into the mix of donkey odor, and the sound of flutes made an erie effect on me.

"I hate this part," I grumbolled.

"What part is that, sir?"

"This part," I said and handed Scribble his costume. He gamely put it on and watched me out of the corner of his eye as I donned mine.

"Try not to laugh, Scribble, this is serious business." I said. I put on a tri-cornered red and green fool's cap and requisite striped pantaloons. I adjusted my corset and began to apply the white face paint.

The critical mass of braincells in attendance, and our less-than-modest agenda requires the utmost in deceptive skill to conceal. For the past forty years, the Council has chosen to conceal our doings and goings-on in the fantastic cloud of movement providded by a Dionysian fete. A hippie fair. A gathering of the tribes. A communal head-trip. A convergence of like-minded weirdos. The fringe of acceptable and unacceptable mores. Completely unstomachable, naturally, but excellent cover.

"Keep an eye out for our brethren, Scribb. They will be well disguised, naturally, but as an exercise for you my very young apprentice, try to pull them out of the noise and make our arrival known discretely." I nudged the lad towards a small ring of revelers nearest our position.

"What will you be doing, Sir?" he bleated pitifully.

"Watching your progress." I replied.

Scribble turned to the mob and looked uncertainly at this task. He had no way to discern a genius in full idiot garb from an idiot in full genius garb. He turned back to me, but I was gone.