far from Palace walls
free from strict constraints
or at least from rote surveillance
Drums of Summer
but an echo
repercussion left in stone
providing puddle bird baths
for a score of native species
Tears of Allah
washing woe from those dependent
on the seasons to fulfill their cyclic pledge
quenching the thirst of flora
and fauna alike
dousing desiccated underbrush
deep-freezing fast asleep highlands
prior to lowlands' thawed awakening
melting into a thousand frigid cataracts
gurgling, tumbling, rumbling
paying homage to the Great God Gravity
Soul a fluid
concept in the Land of Druk Yul
prone to spiral upward
/ spiral downward
like a waterspout
/ like a whirlpool
prayers on cloth swatches honoring sacred sources
snap-flap galloping recitations to the Himalayan Crown
so tall so
steep the gap to Heaven's Gate effectively seems miniscule
a raven veers
its flight path
crooked through the heady heights on scythe-like wings
slicing thin air
taxing lungs to breathe at all
yet once a
certain glade is reached
wherein the chosen clique will picnic
wherein huffs and
puffs will cease to race apace with pounding pulse
wherein pungent sweat will dry
wherein cheeks grown
flushed will pale
under veils professing modesty
normal hues renewed
refreshed by the
and its sheer exhilaration
girls adept at the art of pleasure-giving
in pleasure will partake
Nana slips and falls, her wet descent along the mossy-slick embankment lush
and cushioned soggily; shoes, designed for trampling plush-pile carpets, lack proper traction;
the slippery slopes and gravelly grades are a challenge for
ladies one and all.
Others, similarly ill-shod, hurry back to help.
serves you right." Alicia (long on tongue-lashing) is the first to lend a
forearm to assist her fallen comrade. "Hurt?"
"I bumped my
hip, is all. I’m mostly soaked."
Yuk! That’s yak shit!" Jude, offended by the smallest smudge (her nickname "Miss
Immaculate"), sidesteps past Nana—who rises, plucks some leaves from her pantaloons,
and waves a dung-brown hand in Jude’s direction.
is all Dominique exclaims, having backtracked somewhat hastily, her lead
intimidating everyone except the foursome’s Sherpa—who halts, beneath a
head-borne load but keeps his eyes averted under penalty of castration; looks are barred; his orders
are to safeguard, transport provisions, guide the shrouded picnickers to and from the glen, but
hazard a sidelong glance and risk his voice going up an octave.
Brilliant rays (afflicting Jude with a migraine; neither squints nor soot-dark
sunglasses allay the light’s intensity) penetrate garb as drab as it is
unrevealing. Black are the quartet’s pantaloons, veils, hooded capes, shoes and stockings (while flagrantly pastel are the
concubines' undergarments). Pilgrims tread these alpine passes, monks and herders, also, plus a
smattering of the country’s rural population—most devout—and though they may not
all be Buddhists they tend to be traditional. A harem in their midst, if
flaunted, surely would affront, as would its individual members should any be
exposed. The Prince, therefore, neither flaunts nor exposes his household
or its hirelings. Locals (scores employed) are sworn to secrecy before and after
service. Forays, beyond the Palace, are reserved for the
trustworthy few; Nana, Jude, Alicia, and Dominique are granted the current
each one understanding, and agreeing to tenets of decorum—none of
which bans cattiness, to the paramours' joint relief.
Settling into a sylvan break like the Four Harmonious Friends (Elephant, Monkey,
Hare, and Bird) fatigued / pooped / bushed / and energized, respectively, they recline to catch their breath.
I need an Iron
sissies, cry-babies; humph. Sacré bleu.
Three pairs of eyes do slow-motion takes, rebutting “Ms Decathlon”—whose stamina
puts to shame her less athletic peers.
Easy for you to
And never been
There’s more to
do in the gym, girls, than paint your silly nails. Rent-A-Bodies, like ours,
ought to be kept in...
Rent-A-What, did you say? Bite your tongue!
And spare the
You’re a fine
one to complain about oral stimulation, Ms Linguini.
make licking a postage stamp lewd and lascivious.
Mademoiselle Intersex. Even Snow White’s powder-puff
of a pussy pales next to yours.
Congratulations, Dom; you’ve insulted the lot of us. Triple play.
How arcane. The
fact remains; we’re Harlots for Hire, hymens notwithstanding.
virginity hang-up, I wonder?
dibs; what else?
paranoia; he’s afraid to be compared.
Afraid he won’t
measure up, I agree. Good thing Nana's is punier.
The Prince is a sweetheart.
Why be so unkind?
really means is he's a spoiled-brat, rich-kid letch. Imagine the kind of
wealth it takes to maintain yonder citadel. All for what? Some silver-spoon
philanderer with a yen for popping cherries?
Why come here
in the first place, then?
A MILLION SWISS
This unanimous chorus gives Nana cause to question. Is she alone in
judging money of secondary importance? Hers is more a sense of returning a
special favor, not earning a small fortune. To Sheik Hadithah, she owes...
well, everything: her rescue from America, her extended foster-family care, her
education, her mind-set that an anomaly can be an asset when appreciatively
regarded; the Prince could have been grotesque and still she would have done her duty, fulfilled her obligation, faithfully
performed her designated task—no matter it be conjugal. In fact, surrendering
one’s virginity, when weighed against the benefits, was a humble price to pay—if
not so utterly valueless as it was in the West. For years, her un-breached
status had been considered meritorious, something to be protected at all
costs, something to be revered, no less a gift when given to a Prince than when
bestowed upon a husband. Perhaps her knowing beforehand, and by whom she would be
deflowered, distinguished Nana's attitude from that of her present company.
Jude, I thought
you told me your parents would have sold you into...
This is true. And sure enough they have. Rather, I sold myself, with their
permission—billed as “a domestic."
clients-plural, we got lucky. Beaucoup femme, un homme. All the
same, we’re tarts in a fancy trumped up brothel.
Call it what
Candor, typically squelched by cameras, microphones, ultra-tight security, and the
Prince’s self-confessed penchant for watching unawares, is flexed with uncurbed
verve out-of-doors in this isolated spot, no one to overhear—except the
Sherpa (who speaks only the local dialect).
Nana, disconcerted, mulls the phrase “to serve”:
People are unequal. Some are gifted, some
inept, some rich, some poor, some highly born, some born as lowly commoners. Some are
not even born so much as engineered—then placed in a foreign land like a some disenfranchised
immigrant. Given such disparity between class or
caste distinctions, between those with powerful influence and those with few
advantages, service, one to another, seems perfectly understandable. Public
service, private service recognizes that society falls apart without degrees of
deference. No one has to bow and scrape nor vainly put on airs if views are in
accord. Why, then, do my peers insinuate servitude bears an onus? They seem
loathe to lavish talents, modest or extravagant, on a man prepared to pay them
more than they are worth. They hold Him in contempt, no matter how He might
pamper them, resentful, it appears, of the Prince’s unearned wealth. Not everyone has to work to afford a life of
is true today no more or less than in days gone by. Affluence always
guaranteed an easy time for some while those without
it cope, aspire, or resign themselves to scarcity. To serve,
however, rescues both from the evils of deprivation—moral
deprivation for the former,
material deprivation for the latter. The Haves provide a livelihood; the
Have-nots offer labor. Whatever the disproportion, is not this
concept fair, if neither side exploits or heaps disparagement upon
the other, if both confer respect and mutual esteem?
Were I a Prince or a
Princess—better yet, a Queen—servants I would have in great
abundance, to wait upon me hand and foot befitting my Regal
status. How then criticize Him, to whom I am indentured? Why
begrudge the Prince one measly year, when I would claim much longer were roles reversed? How would Jude, Dominique, or
Alicia behave were a team of males procured to fulfill their
has less to do with fairness than with ordinary ego. Deference is perceived, by
the West in particular, as humbling onto demeaning. Respect for elders, clergy, even for
deity is currently out of style. Whereas self-respect too often lacks foundation,
and cannot be achieved without first respecting others. Preachy though that sounds, it is what I believe—for I am
regardless the defamation "whore."
Begun while sipping a vintage sherry, oyster half shells strewn about the glen
(incongruous as their litterers)...
...Nana’s entry is finished back in her twilit quarters. Restoring the kidskin
journal to its usual throw-rug stash (safe and sound in the snow leopard’s
open-jawed snarl), Nana notes her module and the blink, blink, blink, blink,
blink of an incoming message.
STUYVESANT FINK’S EX-WIFE, JULIANA BLUMENTHAL, VENTED INFORMATION AS STALE AS A
MUMMY’S FART, HAVING NEITHER SEEN NOR HEARD FROM HER ‘DEADBEAT EX’ IN TWENTY-TWO
YEARS AND COUNTING. SHE DID IMPART THE NAME THEY USED AS AN ALIAS POST LAS VEGAS
WEDLOCK, BUT DOUBTS THAT STUYVESANT KEPT IT AFTER LEAVING SAN FRANCISCO, NEEDING
TO COVER HIS TRACKS UPON ‘ABDUCTING’ HALF OF THE COUPLE’S OFFSPRING. HE TOOK
‘ROCKEFELLER’; SHE KEPT ‘SAMUEL’—AND NEVER CALLED THE COPS FOR FEAR OF AN
INQUIRY; THE BUSINESS THEY ESTABLISHED, EVIDENTLY, WAS LESS THAN LEGITIMATE. MS
BLUMENTHAL WITHHELD SPECIFICS, BUT I GATHER THEY RAN A TYPE OF DISPOSAL SERVICE
FOR COMPANIES INVOLVED IN GENETIC ENGINEERING (DETAILS, IF I’M LUCKY,
FORTHCOMING). SAM, HER HALF OF THE TWINS, IS UNAWARE, I WAS TOLD, OF EVER HAVING
HAD A BROTHER (IDENTICAL OR OTHERWISE). I AGREED TO KEEP THIS A SECRET IN
EXCHANGE FOR THE GRUDGING 'HINT' ABOUT "BIO-WASTE ANONYMOUS," THEIR
"UNSUCCESSFUL" ENTERPRISE—WHICH CONSTITUTES, I AM SORRY TO REPORT, MY SOLITARY
LEAD. UNLESS, OF COURSE, OUR MAN RETAINS THE LEGALLY-CHANGED SURNAME THAT APPEARS ON JULIANA'S MARRIAGE LICENSE,
IF I WERE YOU,
HOWEVER, I'D CONSIDER THAT A LONG-SHOT.