A father and son have come across a Mayan tablet with a notation on it sought by Islamic warriors intent on building a warp speed transport craft. The father is imprisoned in a Jihadist camp in northern Canada. The son is attempting to find him. This is a section of the first person account of the father's imprisonment which takes turns with the son's quest.
If the Universe is spinning, then nothing has an essential purpose which has yet to be revealed. When the song ends, the play will be called. Until then we are running around the chairs trying not to be the ones standing when the music ceases. On the other hand, if the Universe is stable and we're the ones spinning, then this is a story with a beginning and end and the purpose of hell is to purify us for an eventual liberation. it would also explain all sorts of phenomena such as nauseau, the feeling I get when I contemplate the endlessness of my stay here.
Also, morning sickness, when the tumbling child wanting to be liberated calls out from the vacuum of the womb.
Mary suffered tremendously with Ricky, or Richard, as she called him. I can picture her huddled beneath me, my arms around her stomach, holding her up like a sack of potatoes in the bathroom, sometimes for hours it seemed, the sun coming up in the window with the orange tree outside it. It never gave any oranges aside from one year some pitifully small fruit. But Ricky was as healthy as an onion. The little guy came out like a ball of fire, blathering, spewing his bodily fluids freely with the hospital cap on his elongated head, stretched from the difficult passage into this world through Mary's hole. She was our world tree, the axis around which our lives revolved. With her death we were cast headlong into the spinning vortex and tried with all our might to hold on to what we had, our memories of the love, the faith that it would continue to grow and wrap itself around our hearts and develop into something resembling the image we had in our minds of her. I'd almost be capable of assembling my memories into a coherent picture excep that it would serve no purpose. There's nobody coming for me in this place. I don't believe it anymore. There's nothing calling to me beyond the noises of the infernal machinery in this undergound, viperous catacomb.
And yet she was above all else endowed with a sweetness of spirit, a rock meant to alleviate the spinning of whatever time and space we are sailing in. She never failed to pick me up when she smiled, and she smiled all the time. In the morning looking up from the bed with half closed eyes as I dressed for work, in the night when I stumbled around in the dark and switched on the light, unable to sleep from too much bourbon with the staff of Myers at the annual Christmas party.
She and Ricky sometimes whispered conversations at the table and I couldn't quite make out what they were saying, and she would smile at me and repeat what she'd said, sometimes not quite truthfully just to rub it in in, kind of harden me in her own way. She wasn't some kind of perfect wife, agreeing with me on every subject, God knows. But I could count on her honest opinions to be on the money.
Odds and ends from the piles and piles of mental images that come out:
Mary and Ricky reading the Lorax in Ricky's bed. A card Ricky made for Thamsgiving. She had it up on the refrigerator or years. His class pictures on the refrigeratior also. The photograph of the two of us on the deck of the Freedom standing in front of the ventilation shaft like a big tuba. The earring box on her bureau covered in dust. The mole on her back, about an inch windward of the vertebrae, her long feet splayed naturally the way she stood over Ricky when she was trying to get his cowlick just right for the first day of school. the way she cried when I came home and announced I'd lost the job at Myers, angry at them for not having given me time to even clear out my desk.
I am pausing now to write these words down. There is light now and an electrical outlet and a bed. The cell I am in still has puddled water from the condensation dripping from the ceiling. I have tried to position the bed so as to miss most of the drips, but the pencil, the paper, all of these are meager, yet important improvements. Jajabr comes and sees me now several times a week. We talk. I want to start to record our conversations. Next I will ask him for a favor and I will write Ricky a letter. I will send it to Tony, assuming that he has been placed in custodial charge until Ricky turns eighteen in a few years. I have asked Jajabr what he plans to do with me. He says the decision will be made by the judges. Apparently there is a counil of these men, holy men, in Jajabr's opinion, who legislate on all matters. I hope they are sensible. He has asked me to write out my case for freedom so he can forward it on. I am working on that too. But first, I need my memories. they make me strong, give me hope. I can't work without hope.
It's another day now. I can tell somehow by the sounds. There is a cycle of noises that carries in this cell, closer to a night and day, with a round of silence followed by more noises, motors, whinings and roars, and the occassionl thunder of the train tracks, but more distant now. Jajbr came down. There is no dilly dallying when he is around. The guards walk faster, tighter. His righteous indignation is the fuel that motors them onward in this outpost, wherever we are. He came inside with the food and asked me how I was. I said I would be better with natural light. the artificial light has failed to relieve me completely of my morbid thoughts. I confessed that i was thinking about dying.
Your weakness is a result of your lack of faith in the right way, the path of Allah.
It's what he always says. Patiently, I asked him for more information, trying to keep the bitterness out of my voice.
What are the signposts of this path?
I didn't mention, although it was my first thought, that it would be hard to walk any sort of path, living in forced confinement in a toilet. He doesn't seem to take that sort of thing well, I've found. Besides, I needed to get the envelope and a letter out to Ricky.
You must work purely for God. Align your desires with the rulings of the Sharia. Be resolute in your intentions.
I must try harder. But it's asking a bit much when I have no idea how long this will go on, don't you think?
Over that, not even our judges know. That is the time and day of the final reckoning.
I'm not talking about the Last Judgement. I'm talking about getting the hell out of here Jajabr.
You must have faith. Seek the counsel of the wise men.
And they are, where?
You know the story of the mouse and the Lion. I am the mouse and you are the Lion. I can save you. Your voice will return once you have found the true source of your strength in the one and true God.
What is this mania for conversion? Is that why you have me here?
I just think you might find wisdom in your captivity. After all, look at Mandela. He found a world in a cage. Why not you?
I'm not Mandela. I'm just an ordinary man, You trying to force a square peg through a round hole, Jajabr. I'm not going to lie to you. I appreciate your conversation., But t gets a litle old having to listen to all the claptrap about your salvation. No offense.
His face reddened. He stared hard at me and stroked his beard. His eyes are a strange dull amber and the hard black pupils that wax and wane with his moods.
You must be confronted with your ignorance. That is your only salvation.
Like all of us Americans, huh?
No, not all. Some will find it easier to accept the true din. Whoever God desires to lead, he turns his heart to the righteous road.
The only road I care about is the road that leads me out of here and back to my son, Jajabr. You've deprived me of my freedom, but the only reason I have for living is my son. I need to get word to him that I am alive.
Your son is alive. I have word that he is in the hands of the enemy, at their camps and councils of the highest order. They have seized the tablet and are attemting to understand the message of the Mayan kings.
The Mayans? Tell me that dammed tablet had anything good on it Jajabr.
The ancient people of that lineage understood the Safira and how to assemble the levels of matter that came from it.
What do you inetend to do with it? Do you really intend to wipe us out?
If we have to we will purify by fire
With your bomb.
The technology is in its dvelopment phase.
Look, again, no offense. But it's been awhile since your side has had any decent technological jump on the West.
We controlled thirteen million square kilometers. That was not done with firecrackers, my friend.
Okay. But if you destroy the West, do you intend to strip out the engines of innovation that are our universities and our entrepreneurs, our commerce? What will you be left with?
Sharia law. An Islamic wy of living. The learning will not disappear. Humans will still behave like humans, only decently, without the excessive immorality, the homosexuality, the poverty of your children, the lack of health.
Oh, come on.
How can you defend your country when one gunman can enter a kindergarten and shoot down twenty children with an automatic rifle? These are cancers on the soul of the world, these acts. Your women are the ruination of our young. It will be brought to a stop, for the good even of ordinary Americans who are suffering as badly as any. We used to think it was your plan to keep only our people, the Arabs in a state of suffering. But now we see it is even worse than this. Your thirst for power has led you to cannibalize the mongrel hordes that live in your own slums and outbacks. The world itself is sick from your smoke. I must stop. It is enough for me to see you to know that we must prevail.
Nice talking to you also, Jajbr. Anytime. Stop in and see me again soon. I'm always here.