Ashmedai, Joha and the Die
From his perch in a corner office of the Washington Post, a hidden office usually occupied by a designee of the famous Clinton political clan (the CPC as it was surreptitiously referred to), Ashmedai watched with what passed for a smile on each of his three faces, although it was only recognizable as such on the middle face, one with an uncanny resemblance to a certain good-natured and humorous former president all too well known for his affinity to the purportedly mortal sin which Ashmedai was charged with promoting. Ashmedai, as is well known, loved to gamble but gambling was not always as productive as one might hope, even for some as well connected as his current patrons in the city he liked to think of as Nouveau Babylon, or at least the most nouveau of the series of “babylonish” (a neologism coined by Ashmedai’s friend, the almost twice anointed queen who shall remain nameless in order to avoid unpleasant legal and media generated consequences).
They’d recently orchestrated a fixed game only to have an outsider, perhaps the ultimate outsider, outside even of time and space (but purportedly friends with Joha who’d managed to help the outsider use arcane rules to trump a straight flush and win the game), spoil everything, leaving all the bookies who’d been recklessly induced to bet everything on the promised outcome, somewhat morose, but only for an instant, a surprisingly brief interest. The CPC was famous for planning for contingencies. Unfortunately, not all contingencies, but they did have plans in place for reactive contingencies from alpha to omega, most fully paid for in advance by now very nervous and very powerful investors.
Rallying their control of the Guild of Metamorphic Ethical Ruses and Misinformation Technology, a blend of the mystic, the mysterious, the deceptive and the deluded, they were all well met to evoke all encompassing, all out and very loud counter measures designed to erase and replace the timeline which in their considered opinion, had gone astray. And evoke they did, they evoked away and smoke and mirrors appeared everywhere with many, many people on the outside seriously considering, both in séances and academic lectures, “what the meaning of is, is”.
Relative truth is a wonderful thing Ashmedai explained to the gathered luminaries but even better, I’ve convinced Joha to switch sides (a dangerous ploy as Joha only played one side, his own, and his only goal was to keep things interesting, a little chaos here, delusion there, pollution, destitution and betrayal everywhere). Joha grinned sheepishly albeit basking in the glare of the couple seated on tarnished, somewhat used thrones set in the middle of the room. Joha actually loved that glare and hoped to soon see the same expression on his erstwhile beneficiary’s gingered features. Well, truth be told, he hoped to have the same expression on everyone’s faces, and to have it directed from each to all the others, a dream come true he thought, and then, perhaps, finally, Armageddon. Long odds but as he’d recently shown, those were his favorites.
Click, click went the die in his hands as he prepared to cast them.
Hearing the sounds a troubled frown crossed Ashmedai’s outer faces. “Where in Hell did you get those” he bellowed, albeit softly for a bellow, it was hard for Ashmedai to whisper which is what he’d sought to do. Subtlety, subtlety urged the never ever queen, as she smacked her consort’s hand which appeared to be independently, without its principle’s volition, attempting to cup the rounded breast of a young Washington Post intern’s breast. Startled, the consort whispered the meeting’s slogan several times: “It depends on what the meaning of is, is”, while looking sheepishly and plaintively at his somewhat weary wife. “Oh shut up” she replied, … can’t you just wait a bit?
The intern, Pandora was her name, smiled. Looking at Ashmedai and then Joha, she whispered, “weren’t those the dice I kept in that old box of mine”.
Chagrinned and defensive but with a somewhat guilty expression on his face, Joha replied “I have no idea what you’re talking about.”
From a darkened corner, dressed in a rumpled trench coat, jeans and faded old brown shoes the representative of an allied editorial board who wanted in on the creative writing project which had been a topic of discussion kept whispering, “it’s fit to print, it’s fit to print. Fiction’s just never gotten the respect it merits”.
“Shall we get on with it then” asked a now smiling and fully recovered Joha, relishing the moment?
And to Ashmedai’s dismay, he let the die fly.
© Guillermo Calvo Mahé; Manizales, 2017; all rights reserved