Saturday, November 7, 2015

Three Loves Seven, Chapter 31, Part 2 - "The Guardian of History, Prophecy, and Lore Makes Her Report"

Dear Gentle Readers,

A major storm system has lingered on Dog Island for the past day and it has now developed into a typhoon. As we pick up from last week, the roof has come off the guest house. So Clete has sought refuge with Lee and Ling. But it's late and Lee will have none of it. So Clete assesses what need to be done to solve his problem and he proposes marriage to Lee. To the surprise of Lee and Clete and Ling, Lee accepts. So they cut their prenup deal and head off to The Shrine in the driving storm to sanctify their wedding.

The narrative has shifted point of view away from Clete into a collective recounting by the Second Princesses a year into the future, toward the end of Summer 2013. So, you don't know what Clete is thinking. But, ... I think you did get a lot of clues that he was heading in this inevitable direction. 

The fact that the Reporter does not report Clete's journal account of the day is probably a telling sign that one did not survive or did not exist. I will let you speculate on the meaning of that.

Let us move on and see what we can know

as the story continues

QQ: I got the signal. I figured you had to turn off your walkie-talkie so I knew I had to get to your place. I ran out of the house into the storm. I didn’t even try to explain to my mother. We had just been sitting together. I announced I had to go and ran out into the storm. I knew my mother would chase after me. We got to your house and I saw your note: Went to Shrine Emergency Marriage. I spoke out loud and my mom got upset at me, I remember.

     “How did he know about Emergency Marriage? How? HOW? UH! The legal code uploads! Damn it!”
     “Young lady, watch your mouth. What are you fretting about? Where do you suppose Lee and Ling are?”
     “Dr. Wong and Auntie Lee are going to The Shrine to get married! We have to stop them.”
     “Married? To Lee?  That is most ridiculous thing I’ve ever heard. She would never agree to that! She thinks he is an idiotic boor. I know they have gotten used to each other’s company, but them? Na maybe. And they need the consent of the …”

I tuned to Doc’s channel, number 8, and blipped him.

     “I know you’re there! Answer DocDoc.”
     “Qin? [heavy sigh] Where are you?”
     “Auntie Lee’s! I know what you’re doing. Come back now.”
     “Stay right there. Shelter in place. It’s dangerous out. We’ll be back shortly. Lee and Ling and I are going to pray for everyone’s safety. Not to worry. I’ll have my own story to tell you then.”
     “That’s a load of bullshit!  You’re getting married! You can’t do it! Not like that. If you do it that way, the Empress’ soul will never be at peace!”
     “Qin, it’s time to let go of superstitions that are holding you back. Be happy. It’ll work out well for you this way. And for everybody else, OK? You were hoping I’d pick your mother, weren’t you? If it makes you feel any better, I almost did.”
     “I don’t care who you pick! Just do it the right way! PLEASE? YOU HAVE TO! WAIT UNTIL I MAKE MY CASE STATEMENT.”
     “Try to trust me. I’m trying to do something good for everybody. Qin, nothing personal, but I am terminating this call. See you shortly. Stay put.”

I realized I would never catch up with him. What to do? Back to the Seconds channel.

     “Qin to Jie, Qin to Jie. Come in!”
     “Jie here. Go ahead Qin.”
     “Where are you?”
     “Mama and I are sheltered in The Shrine. I am tending ritual candles right now. Mama is in prayers.”
     “The Professor is on his way to do an Emergency Marriage. You need to stop him.”
     “Emergency marriage? What’s that?”
     “A special legal dispensation for couples to wed in times of great duress without clergy.”
     “I can’t stop him then.”
     “Which altar is used for that?”
     “For marriage? Earth.”
     “Strip it! Hide the main devotional image.”
     “I can’t do that. It’s a sacrilege.”
     “You MUST. This is IT.”
     “Who is he marrying?”
     “That doesn’t make any sense.”
     “Just do it. You’re running out of time.”
     “I think they can go to her patron altar as well in alternative. Water.”
     “Strip that one too.”
     “In the middle of the typhoon? NO. That goddess will get even angrier! It’s like asking for a flood.”
     “Jie! PLEASE? Our fate rides on this. Every incarnation of the Empress has lived over the centuries for this day.”
     “I am going to get three beatings for this!”
     “I’ll take them for you. I’m coming now.”

I knew that would stall him. I needed to corner him with Island Authority to restrain him. I was not totally ready, but I had to act.

     “All Seconds report in. The Target is making his move. Repeat the Target is making his move.”
     “Nu here.”
     “Xiaomei here.”
     “Ba and Yi here.”
     “Wen here.”
     “Fei? Where are you?”
     “This is Fei. I’m at the Shrine. Do you want me to help Jie?”
     “Why are you there?”
     “It got too crowded at home.”
     “Long story.”
     “Later! Yes please help her. Everybody else, evacuate all Islanders to The Shrine.”
     “The standing order from the Water Maidens is to shelter in place until flood sirens go off,” said Nu. “Any pre-emptive evacuation order has to come from them.”
     “They’re dilly-dallying at some romantic adventure right now. I’m taking charge.”
     “I’ve been listening to your chatter. I don’t believe it. Aunt Lee would never do anything that rash. They’re probably out on rounds. What are you up to? It’s dangerous to be out in the dark and in the storm right now.”
     “If that’s not good enough for you, hear this. The Guardian of Prophecy, History, and Lore will make her report and recommendation on the Coming of the Great Prince of Southern China in one hour at The Shrine. ALL are required to be present.”
      “NOW? Qin Qin! You better NOT BE LYING!” scolded Wen. “Can’t this wait until after the storm?”
     “No. I don’t think so. Questor! Be ready with your report!” I said.
     “But, I still haven’t …”
     “We need to go with what we’ve got.”

BA: About that. It’s a good thing Qin Qin forced us out of our houses on the south. The first big wave came over the bunker only minutes after. The sirens never had a chance to sound.

XIAOMEI: Mother was never so happy to leave the house when I told her we had to go. She had been curled and hiding in bed all day when the heavy rain started. I think it brought back bad memories of the 1988 surge.

QQ: When I arrived at The Shrine, the Professor was sitting on the bench just inside, waiting to greet me.  I heard Ting Ting, Lee, and Qi all yelling at Jie and Fei.  They were being punished for having desecrated the Shrine. I could see them all in the workroom, Jie and Fei cowering in the kowtow position, with their hands and arms covering their heads. It meant they had done their jobs. I was going to run in relieve them of their responsibility. The Professor reached out, grabbed my hair and hauled me back.

     “Dooley! Not so fast. Where are you going?”
     “I have to …”
     “You know I’m pissed at you.”
     “I’m sure you are.”
     “But I never stay pissed for long. Even though you’ve ruined the biggest day of my life. Have you ever heard the term ‘cock-blocker?’?
     “That would describe you right now.”
     “And that would be?”
     “Someone who prevents a man from getting to be with the woman he desires.”
     “Do you really DESIRE Auntie Lee? She doesn’t seem right for you. I mean the way you two …”
     “Say no more. I know what you mean. Human attraction is odd and unpredictable. It’s always the wrong person. Wait til it happens to you.”
     “I can’t imagine anybody wanting me.”
     “Don’t worry about that. You’re still a kid.”
     “Why are you doing this now?”
     “The guest house has a leaky roof. It was the first solution I could think of.”
     “OK I decided I didn’t want to be alone anymore. I’m going to be an in-law. Is that a bad thing?”
     “I was aiming for stepfather.”
     “Aren’t those guys generally evil?”
     “You’re thinking of step-mothers and step-sisters. It’s never the men or boys.”
     “Why do you suppose that is?”
     “It’s just workplace rivalry. Remember it’s mostly women who tell the fairy tales. And mothers and sisters have to work together closely all day. So they tell stories about what they know. To a stepfather, a stepdaughter is just another pretty face around the house at night. And as far as Prince Charming’s go, who doesn’t want to be rescued from drudgery?”
     “What? Fairy tales female-centric? I need to think about that.”
     “Look, Doc? I didn’t mean to be a cock-blocker. I’m sorry.”
     “I don’t think you’re sorry. Be honest. Your plan worked. Rejoice.”
     “I guess it did. For once. Better than the kidnap.”
     “You get the prize for most improved underhanded scheme. Good thing for you I admire resourcefulness in my students.”
     “Don’t worry. You will have your Princess Lee. You just have to wait. Pretty clever of you to figure out Emergency Marriage.”
     “I DO have two doctorates. One whose research requires me to read scientific journals in German. Why is that part of your legal code written auf Deutsch? That’s the only reason it caught my eye in reviewing the uploads.”
     “I don’t know. Like everything here, it’s a big stew of all kinds of things.”
     “You even got your nemesis Faye to do your bidding—she’s about to take a beating for you in the workroom. I’m impressed. How did you manage that?”
     “It wasn’t me. It’s you that she did it for.”

It was right then that everybody else showed up.

     “More wet people,” he said.
     “Clete!” said Mu. “What is going on here? We nearly drowned coming over here.”
     “Mother. We would have drowned if we had stayed home. The sea breached the berm just as we left.”
     “Don’t interrupt me!”
     “Once again, I’m a bad influence on your youth I’m afraid,” said the Professor. “Hey, Dragon Lady. Help me break up a disciplinary hearing and I’ll explain at least why I’M here.”

It was decided among all of the First Princesses that total blame rested on Dr. Wong and Auntie Lee for any and all breaches of law, morality, and religious sanctity that had happened that evening. None of us were beaten. Altars were returned back to their original states, prayers of contrition where given, and we Seconds were dismissed out of hearing while they gathered in the Shrine workroom to decide what needed to be done with Lee and Clete. We were being treated like children again. I hated it. We got as close as we dared and could only hear snippets of conversation when it got loud.

     “… I will abdicate my position and I am done with it.”
     “… the water system? The generator?”
     “… I will train …”
     “… willing to relocate from L.A. to say,  …”
     “… the wrong birthday!”
     “… any way to interpret things the way you want ...”

Finally, all of the “old people” came out and they confronted me directly. It was Auntie Feng who questioned me.

     “Guardian of History, Prophecy, and Lore, it comes down to this. You called us all out this night under the pretense of giving report for your office, according to what my daughter told me. Are you ready to make your case now?”
     “I am.”
     “Let’s hear it. If you are convincing, we will entertain Princess Lee’s petition for a vote.”
     “The initial portion will be in the form a narrative, like a fairy tale, is that all right?”
     “A story? Sigh! Will it take long?”
     “How long?”
     “As long as it takes. Do you have somewhere else to be?”
     “Don’t … be … rude, young guardian. Present.”
     “Everybody had better sit down then. Wen!  Fetch the ancient guqin! You will need it to make the introductory statement. ”

Before I began my report, I explained how the Lady of the Guqin had recorded her memoirs in tablature, which made up a great part of my narrative which I would speak, but I wanted Wen to play and have them all hear the talking strings at least for the opening greeting. I translated of course, for Dr. Wong as Wen played.

     “My dearest, most clever granddaughter. If you are hearing my words it is because you are most clever indeed for having deciphered how to hear what I have to say. And why not? You are MY granddaughter and you are also a descendant of both the wisest and the smartest man I have ever had occasion to meet, my dear, beloved husband.

He was the master of getting people to do what he wanted. I am the opposite. I excelled at getting others to shun me. He preferred light while I preferred shadow. He loved mirth while I loved gravity. And yet, I thought we were perfect together, and I always will. Hear his story and mine and know who we were and who you are in turn.

© Copyright 2012 by Vincent Way, all rights reserved.

For all of you followers of the Friday-Saturday story postings, we are going to stop for at least four (4) weeks. Qin Qin tells her story and this is where the novel picks up the story-within-a-story of "Cinderella and the Great Prince of Southern China" which you can take up by going back to when this blog first started and go to the July 21, 2013 post and move forward from there at your leisure. 

The Cinderella Story was posted on its own at that time as a project unto itself. I am NOT going to repost. I also posted an audio version of it at my audio project website, where you can hear me narrate the story from this point.

There is one more chapter that ends the story of geologist Clete Wong's adventure on Dog Island. in 2012. Following that there are four epilogues. (Epilogues in this case will be short supplementary "chapter-lets" of things that happen apart from the main story location and time. Depending on my thinking at the time, the last chapter and these epilogues will likely NOT be posted in print here. What I probably WILL do is post at least one version of the remaining portion as audiobook MP3 installments to be listened to on my project website.

I say there is one chapter remaining. That makes it sound short, but it's not. A lot of things happen once Qin Qin gets done telling the story of The Great Prince. I may lose you in the meantime, but you're just going to have to hold on. Look back in at about Christmas time.

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Be truthful and frank, but be polite. If you use excessive profanity, I'll assume you have some kind of character flaw like Dr. Wong. Tks!