I Wrote A Book

My debut book has arrived in the Lulu Bookstore, Amazon, and Barnes & Noble. It’s titled, Will Poem For Food, by me, Valora Frazier. In it I serve up an eclectic mix of poems, haiku, and short stories. The writings range from the silly to the sublime. Some are happy and some are sad. But, hopefully all will be found to be delightful in their own way. I’d love it if you would consider giving it a read.

Advertisement

About Me

About me. Em tuoba. About me. Em tuoba, About me…Oh, you want me to stop that. Okay. Done with the nonsense. I was just stalling anyway.

Time to get serious. I am an adult so I really should. Just know I have a penchant for silliness, snark, and everything in between. It might resurface at any time. So without any further ado, I’d like to share some things about myself that you may not know (and you probably don’t).

I’m a child of the sixties and seventies so my music is now what they call “oldies”. I remember listening to a radio station once and the DJ said that the next song was going to be an oldie but goodie. Instead of Elvis, or the Shondells, or Pat Boone, David Bowie started to sing, Star Man. My world crumbled. I am now at the age of oldies but it doesn’t feel that way, and is why I felt so shocked.

I should have grandchildren by now but none of my three boys have jumped on the parent train thus far. They do have cats, so I guess that makes me a cat grandma. I’m good with that.

Crafts and writing are my gig. I spent a life time just surviving each day but I’m not a victim anymore because I chose not to be. Looking into the past keeps you from seeing what’s in front of you and that’s no good for anyone. When you’re young you have no choice in what happens to you but once you reach a certain age where you get to make the decisions you can always step away from people and things that mean you harm, or are hurtful, negligent, and people who pay no attention to you when they should.

Now, I have the time and the peace of mind to spend time with my crafts and my characters, and world building. The only thing that gets in the way, now, is some health issues but I still get by. I like to make rosaries, earrings, bracelets, dream catchers, the occasional quilt or crochet blanket, and I also write, draw and paint.

Now the funny thing about me is that I’m not a practicing Catholic but I love their rosaries and have made a lot of them. I opened an Etsy account, Open Mind Eclectics, which I hope takes off soon. https://www.etsy.com/shop/OpenMindEclectics if you’re interested in taking a look at what I have so far.

Right now, I’m concentrating on writing a book which I have titled, The Narcissist Diary. It’s to be an autobiographical fiction based on the things I’ve experienced for most of my life. The things that make you feel small and sometimes dead inside, the things that gave you comic relief when you really need it. The people who either build you up or tear you down. I’ve a lot of experience with the fuzzy end of the lollipop from narcissists who gave me nothing else and I’m writing what I know and hoping it will be a satisfying read, entertaining in certain spots, and helpful to people who need to learn more about narcissistic abuse. And maybe even some that simply need to commiserate.

I currently live in Omaha, NE but I have lived in several states and moved more times than I care to count. I was born on an Air Force base in the south and so I started my life of moving around. Once my parents broke up, the trend of moving continued because of my mom’s traveler’s ways. I hear that people don’t fancy the word, gypsy anymore but I don’t know what the new PC word is for it so I use what they have called themselves. It’s totally a cultural thing that people get so caught up in.

For example, my husband is indigenous. Some want to call him Native American, or American Indian, or just plain Indian but he doesn’t identify himself as any of those. He’s a tribal member and he identifies himself as the name of his tribe and not the English or French names, but by the name the People gave themselves. Example, many people say, Sioux but what they really are is Lakota, Dakota, and Nakota. Many want to be known as their self-given tribal names.

That being said, I’ll use the word traveler here and hope I don’t offend anyone. Yeah, my mom was a traveler.

I read a lot of different kinds of books and see my fair share of movies (at home due to covid), and my favorite genres are science fiction, paranormal, some historical, and comedy. Come to think of it, action & adventure as well as mysteries. Well, I guess I should just say, I have eclectic tastes in everything because I love different types foreign foods, cloths, architecture, etc. I just drink it all in. After all isn’t that what life is about? Learning, living, experiencing, experimenting, laughing, loving and even stumbling, falling flat on your face, and hating things or people. Life is too short to hole up in a box or be scared of trying new things.

What else can I tell you. I got my DNA done and just found out that it was sold to China, so that’s exciting-if you believe it is. I found out that in addition to being mostly western European, I am also West African by DNA. Alas, the Chinese is just ancestors even though my youngest son looks Asian.

I’m also a baker. I mean, I can cook but I prefer to bake. I fancy myself an alchemist in the kitchen and now that it’s Christmas season, I will be baking mass amounts of cookies. I think lots of people do the same-do you? I’m going to make chocolate chip toll house cookies and maybe even some snicker doodles. In days past my family used to make so many kinds of cookies (I have a big family) but times change and so must we. I’m baking in order to give gifts to our neighbors and I ain’t gonna lie, me and my hubby will be pigging out on them as well. What else do you do with a warm cookie?

Here’s hoping that I gave you enough info to say, wow, she’s a crazy something or other, maybe she just has something to say, and she could say it at any time so best be on the lookout.

The Beauty Pox

Pretty Princess Pamela Petunia Petty was born on a pernicious day. Although not a real princess, everyone treated her as if she was. Her beauty mark made sure of that. Well that and her pampering parents who pandered and propagated and pummeled the thought into everyone’s minds, including the tiny one of Princess Pamela.

She grew up privileged, every facet of her entire world polished, with nary a need, her every want pacified. Even the things she didn’t know she would want. Like the picturesque picture window overlooking her prized private koi pond and her priceless pastel pink and periwinkle tri-mirrored vanity.

Oh the vanity desk with it’s pleasingly plump and plush-cushioned settee where she sat her superior shanks and spent hours admiring herself while her mother brushed and burnished her ample amber tresses. Over the years she grew to be proud, pompous, peevish, petulant, pitiless, and, well, petty.

Her saving grace was that one well-placed beauty mark that rode just above her left upper lip. It was heinous, full of hubris and hair-raisingly hypnotic. If she couldn’t get what she wanted by her snapping her fabulously finished fingers and pursing her persistently perfected pout, she’d tremble that lip and shimmy that brown smudge around like a scintillating Svengali, and legions would fall.

She spent years in front of those three mirrors, clever chin up, haughty head cocked to one side, practicing…admiring herself, and mastering her mounting monstrous maniacal mentality. My goodness, Princess Pam you are so pretty, gorgeous, beautiful. Your ethereal eyes, eloquent eyebrows, luscious lips, captivating cheekbones, silken sensuous skin, all shepherded under the captivating charismatic crook of your bewitching, bedazzling, and beguiling beauty mark.

She thought of herself as perfectly perfect in every way, but she thought, what if I had more? Creative cosmetic crayon in one hand she pondered and practiced perfect placement. Oh, look how enthralling that one is just under the corner of my eye. Oh, look how enchanting that one is on the top of my cheek. Oh, look how endearing that one is on the edge of my chin. Oh, how sexy it would if I had one on the top of my clavicle. Oh, how sumptuous it would be if I had one on the nape of my neck.

All for the accommodating attention and magnificent manipulation of others. Well not so much the worrisome women. Princess Pam had no use for them. To her they were weak, wearisome and a waste of her time unless they were placid, pallid, and plain enough to make her look better. Maneuverable men fared much better but they had to be perfectly pleasant, perfectly polished, perfectly pliable and positively prosperous…sycophantic simpering by all was always appreciated.

Princess Pam presently paid a perilous price. Years upon years of porky porcupines and poultry purloo, pavlovas, pastries, and penuche parfaits, pale ales, port wines and pinky champagnes prompted her body to pack pounds on her pendulous posterior. Years upon years of presenting pasty pale pigmentation to the savagely scorching sun effected a desiccated, dusky darkened dermis. Years upon years of poofing, puffing, plastering, and plying perfumes permanently permeated her skin.

One day pencil poised in hand, Princess Pam noticed that there was a spectacular spot miraculously marking her tender temple. Oh how wonderful this new development was. It was round, ruby red, and resplendent. She had never seen such a beauty spot before. It was uniquely unusual, an undeniably unchallengeable addition to the almanacs of attractiveness. All she had to do was tuck a trendy tendril of attractive auburn hair behind her enchanting earlobe.

For a time too temporary to tell she flitted and floated around flirting and forgoing the fawning of those interested in her little ruby red spot. This torturous terminal time frame was because the beautiful red mole morphed effortlessly, it enthusiastically expanded, and exploded all over her bounteous body. Their strange appearances uniquely ubiquitous, unacceptably unflattering, and undeniably untenable…unwanted. They spread with a vivacious viciousness that resulted in utterly unreal, and unpopular table talk and grisly gossip about her measles-like metamorphosis.

The inconvenient, undeniable, irony was that she got those scurrilous spots in the exact places she used to color in with her eyebrow pencil but how could they be special when they were everywhere else, too. She had become practically plastered and positively populated by them.

Poor Miss Priss pondered and pontificated at the indisputably inappropriate image staring back at her. Wallowing in witless, worrisome whining. What was she to do. There must be a remedy.

She met with delirious but dedicated doctors by the dozen. They prescribed pasteurized pink pills, sickeningly sweet syrups, and extraneous egregious exercises that bent her bones, snapped her spine, and crushed her calcified conscience.

But none of the those ritualistically redundant remedies worked. So, she slyly sought succor in homemade down-home harmless, even harmonious healing medicants. She breathlessly bathed in gratuitous gallons of ambrosia apple cider vinegar with vim, vigor, and vivaciousness.

She surreptitiously slathered those brutish body, blood red roseola with therapeutic transmutative tea tree, luxurious lavish lavender, and optimistically overpowering orange oils. But, they just kept getting bigger, bumpier, and brash, juicier, jiggly, and gelatinous. Damn darker, really redder, brutally bluer, much more purple, and an onerous one that was beastly black.

Nothing worked. So she sadly sat on her pompous pathetic perch and stared at her self in the mirror calling herself names, Pastie Pamela Papules, Grossie Growths Girl, Hideous Hagatha Hemangioma…the hag, Wicked Warty Wanda, Fugly Fiona…the Fiend, Rhonda Road Rash.

“Oh why me.” she whined, “Why couldn’t it be somebody else.” she widdled, “Oh why, oh why, oh why…was I cursed with the beauty pox!”

“Say it don’t spray it, sister,” said the mirror.

The Perverse Little Bee

Once upon a time there was a perverse little bee. He was perverse for several reasons and several perversities made him reason. And that’s what this story is about – listen as it unfolds.

The bee’s name was, Stanley NoSting – Stumpy for short. He was small in size but strong and fierce with a mighty buzz – a thunderous buzz that scattered old ladies and gave young boys the creeps. Yet, they all called him, Stumpy. All those other bees, those short-necked, bent antenna bees with nectar-stained cheeks and pollen-caked knees, they gave him that name.

Stanley wasn’t stumpy at all, though. It was just a perverse nickname given to him because of his bee-havior. Although, as you will see, he was, for a time miraculously so.

He used to have the sharpest, pointiest, most rapier-like stinger in all Beedom and for a time, no one dared called him Stumpy, nor Stanley, and NoSting was an ironic last name passed down by some hapless ancestor whom Mother Nature did not deign to endow with even the tiniest of stings. No, our Stanley, more than made up for that indignity and everyone called him, Sir.

That is until the moniker went to his head.

Queen bees lined up to get the chance to get to know him better but he knew any one of them honey-lipped harlots would be the death of him. Let those other schmucks get their short-lived buzzes on. He wasn’t ready for the big bee hive in the sky. The indignant Queens thought that he was perverse and sulked away while they ate their dead lovers. But, the fact was, was that he was fine, fierce, lethal, and determined to stay that way. No Queen or no thing would cost him his sting.

No social dancing or sticking his stinger into anything that could rip it out by the hind hairs for Stanley. He saw it all too much. Time and again, impetuous young bees, full of pollen, thoughtlessly stinging those big pink humans-making them scream and cry for their big pink mommies, or romancing careless, cruel Queens. To what end? After the sweet satisfaction of impaling some dull-witted creature, or winning the favor of some stuck-up prissy regal throne squatter, that dumb-bee would fly off and die. Done – no more glory days to bask in the sun. Stanley wasn’t going to go out that way. He wanted to be a legend. He’d keep his stinger at all costs.

Stanley spent most of his time sharpening his stinger against rocks and buffing it to a high shine on silken leaves. If a human or dog happened too close, he’d wing through precise maneuvers and tactical one-bee formations, swift, furious, and menacing. Whatever his adversary, it fled and fled fast.

The saber rattled but never struck.

Such was norm in the perverse life of this eccentric little bee. But something happened to change Stanley’s contrary apian ways. A fateful day came along when the sun briefly disappeared and the point of this story arrived…in the plump billowing fanny of one, Bertha B. Butts.

It was supposed to be a quick little respite, a rest stop between the thrust and parry of his aerial acrobatics meant to to warn off that craggy old creature who smelled like mothballs and brandished a big swatter. Sometimes those beastly humans were deceiving and smelled pleasantly of rose or lilac. But this one had not and although he knew not to get too close, he couldn’t help but be as perverse as all the bees said he was. He engaged in a duel with the lady after being duped by the phony flora on her hat.

He harried the poor woman to distraction until she quickly got up and moved away. Now, spent and pleasantly pleased with himself, he lit for a moment on the edge of her newly vacated white wicker chair. He meant only to pause briefly to catch his breath when it happened.

The last few moments of his fencing match replayed in his head and Stanley was elated that the fleshy pink creature, with the hideously misleading flower bonnet, had pitched her weapon into the bushes and was curled up in a shrieking ball on the ground – no longer defending the bogus blossoms on her head. That’s when the sun disappeared.

In his revelry he hadn’t noticed that she had struggled back to her feet. As the sky grew black, he felt the weight of the world as it bore down upon him, and crushed his tiny, little bee body into the seat. He wiggled for his life. He squirmed to get out from under the massive tonnage that threatened to destroy him. With one last great heaving twist, he broke free and flew as hard as his mashed little wings could carry him…three feet away to a scant skinny sapling that stood nearby.

It took a few moments while he got his bearings and cleared his head. Then he did a systems check, looking for direct damage. Only one antenna slightly bent – he could live with that…wings were crumpled some but still usable…miraculously, no legs broken – only a slight sprain in the right front, nothing that couldn’t be handled by landing gingerly on it for the next few days, pollen loss zero – pockets intact and full…stinger, sharp and handsome and…not…there!

Oh by the Big Bumble Bee God in Hive Above! His stinger was no longer there!

Panic! Panic! Panic!

That meant he was going to die! He’d just bought it…minding his own business; reliving past glories…it wasn’t supposed to end this way. He had lovingly tended and guarded his stinger so carefully for so long and all it took was for some enormous human to sit on him when he wasn’t looking!

He stared at his bare bottom in disbelief then looked over at the bane of his existence, back upon the ground, rolling around, skirt bunched up over one side of her hips exposing that big globular fanny which now contained his precious stinger.

He saw the insertion point located exactly between her doughy pink fingers as she compulsively kneaded that red and swollen mound of flesh surrounding his barb. Stanley didn’t want to die like that. He was determined to fly over there and get it back. He was going to use all his little bee might and jerk it out of that screaming, jiggling monster and put it back where it belonged.

It was too late though. Stanley felt weak and sick to his stomach, about to lose all the honey he had ate that morning. He watched balefully as that rolly-polly pink bag was toted away by several other beasties who clucked in dismay while they masked tiny smiles behind open hands.

That was it for Stanley. He wouldn’t fly home to tell his family or friends how the mighty had fallen nor to be cradled in their many arms. Ashamed and degraded he flew away to die alone. But that’s not what happened.

He didn’t die. In a few days, Stanley actually felt better. He grew stronger and soon realized that he wasn’t like all the other bees. He knew that even without his stinger, he would live on. The same powers that had given him such a magnificent barb in the first place gave him super bee skills and strength as well.

He flew faster, cut corners sharper, zoomed in closer, and zipped out like lightning. No swatter was swift enough, no rolled up newspaper came close. All the sweets were for the taking and he took his fill while having crazy bee-time fun. But he was all alone. Without a stinger, he was hive-less now however proud he was of his heightened abilities. Though happy about his new expertise, he missed his famously sharp stinger…and his hive. We wanted to fly on home and strut his stuff. He’d face those other bees and visit the nattering Queen – all of them upset with him for no good reason; just for caring about his stinger above all else.

In his imagination, he saw himself dancing around, showing that he was really special and worth all the attention he paid to himself. Alive, with no stinger, he reasoned that since he was better than before, he could afford to be an even more less-than-humble bee. He made up his mind to go back home and show them so.

The day he set out for home was a perfect one. A warm summer breeze heralded his triumphant return to the hive. Stanley enjoyed the cozy currents lifting his wings, tussling his antennae, and ruffing his black and yellow fuzz. The sweet aroma of barbecue, which he had recently tasted, rafted through the air and he became awfully distracted.

What harm could one little detour make?

Stanley welcomed the challenge of the ever shifting obstacle course of humans while he angled in for their food– what a fleshy tangle of fun. He darted into a small backyard, crammed full of big ones, little ones, loud ones, and sweaty ones, all stuffing their strange pollen pockets with drippy syrups and sauces of all colors and consistencies.

No one was guarding the watermelon closer than the flies and he shooed them off with a few fearsome swoops, Why share with mangy miniature bums with wings – bougie upscale cockroaches. Stanley sucked at the cool, crisp, sweet juice until he was recharged and refreshed. He happily buzzed back up into the sky and executed a perfect loop-dee-loop.

He flew close by two of the smaller humans who were pulling each other around. They squealed so loud that the vibrations almost knocked him out of the air so he decided to terrify them a bit. Stanley did several fly-byes in the face of the buck-toothed one who wouldn’t run but couldn’t swat at him fast enough. Irritated, Stanley wanted to see some real scattering so he razed the other one who promptly jerked back so hard he smacked into “buck-tooth’s” head. To Stanley’s delight, they began to clobber each other as he flew patterns between them.

Then once again, it happened; a moment as unexpected as the large lady’s prominent tush squishing him into the chair. As the two boys fell to the ground in a heap, a bare-toed foot shot up which sent Stanley tumbling head over tail as his body dove straight toward the ground. He felt like he had never flown so fast even with his wings at full flap.

All that buzzing of the boys had caused one of them to drop a long wooden object that they had been playing with into the grass. It was laying next to a tube of smelly, sticky stuff that Stanley knew wasn’t honey as he sat, dazed, with his rear end plastered in it.

Still half stunned, he looked around him and noticed that he had narrowly missed landing on one of several shiny sharp objects sticking up from the puddles of that “sticky stuff”. Stanley struggled to remove his bottom and after a few vigorous pulls succeeded in breaking free only to fall with full force onto the flat side of one of those pointy things.

What silly nonsense had those boys been up to? Why did his rump feel so stiff and gooey? What was that hard heavy whatsit now stuck to his rear, bogging him down as he tried to fly away? Stanley looked around back to the offending thingamabob to find what the humans call a “tack” fastened tightly to his bare butt.

He floundered a bit under this new weight, doing his best to shake it off. He staggered, he shimmied, he hopped as best as a little bee could hop. He even danced about doing glides and pirouettes. Nothing would detach the tack from his backside. Stanley stood in the grass and breathed hard through his entire exoskeleton. What if he never got this thing off? He had just gotten used to not having anything back there. What would happen to his new super powers? Stanley puzzled about it for some time and with nothing left to lose he decided to test it out.

Getting off the ground was a little difficult at first, but Stanley gave it all he had and finally he made it. He bumbled around for a bit while becoming accustomed to the load and soon gained his balance. After a few minutes, he buzzed around just as assuredly as before and found that he could execute all his old moves with the same amount of grace and ease.

Thank Hive in Heaven!

Revenge. He chose his targets; a group of old ladies gathered around a punch bowl, gigging a little too hard and fighting over the ladle. Stanley streaked in and made sure to touch each one on the tip of the nose. Glasses flew everywhere; the ladle, sent sailing, struck the cook in the face and knocked the hat off his head.

Arms flailed and skirts were hiked as the old women dashed madly off in all different directions. Stanley had to make a sharp right to avoid some human teeth that inexplicable swept through the air. He turned and headed into the small cringing crowd and landed tack-end first into the fleshy neck of one of the grannies. Fast in thought and wing, Stanley pulled away before the swiping hands could slap him down. He flew off and didn’t stop until he reached the safety of his hive.

Ahhh, home at last. Stanley and his tack stood gleaming in the sun. His scent began to draw his hive-mates near and they immediately sensed something different. He smelled like Stanley but there was something else and no amount of the lingering watermelon aroma could hide it. Stanley stunk.

He was home where he belonged but soon the buzz got out that “Stumpy” was back, as sharp, and as perverse as ever.

The Hundredth Monkey

In the deep gorges of the central Ethiopian plateau, in a shallow cave at the peak of a rocky overhang, situated atop a lush grassy mountain slope, there lived a sacred guru. He was known as, Gelada, The Least Concerned.

Being most adept at rock climbing, he set out one day to scale his way to the top of the cliffs. He gathered provisions of seeds and blades of grass, thistles, and knobbly creeping rootstalk into a crude bag he had fashioned from broad leaves and vine. His solemn vow was to find the best spot for which to sleep and to ponder, and after saying farewell to his herd he climbed up out of sight, never to return.

After a great deal of years went by, curious ones from his old troop ventured up to see if this solo baboon could be found. What they discovered was that during long periods of quiet contemplation, he had become a deep thinker, what some would call a sage. News spread faster than wild fire of his wisdom and sparked the curiosity of many a monkey, near and far, who then embarked on pilgrimages to seek understanding from the enlightened Master.

One such monkey, traveled, arguably, the farthest out of his range (he originally hailed from the Cameroonian Sanaga River), slowly made his way up the slopes guided by a rather large Sudanese Secretarybird by the name of Nabo. When they reached the base of the mountain the bird pointed out the rest of the way with an up-swept wing and a twist of his stubby stork-like neck towards the rocks above. He let out a great guttural croak then flew away.

The monkey, a sizable guy covered with gray-sprinkled brown fur, sporting a white beard with a white tummy and a short tail, took a moment to watch Nabo’s regal take off—plumage flattened against the wind and tail feathers extending beyond his black-knickered, pink legs and toes. Not confident of his ability to scale the sheer height of the climb but still determined, the monkey ruffled his mane and continued on alone.

The climb was higher than several trees and when he got to the top, the monkey puffed up his chest all out of breath. In front of him the cliff face revealed the opening of a dimly lit cave. He had to stoop to see in, his multi-colored bottom bobbing and shining shades of mauve, pink, and blue in the sun. Unsure whether to enter, he waited until his eyes adjusted to the light and could just make out the shape of a seated figure situated toward the back of the cavern.

He blinked the gray shrouds away and saw that it was an elder baboon, large and robust, with coarse dark fur and closed pale eyelids that contrasted sharply against it’s dark hairless face. It’s short muzzle hovered over a protruding Buddha-belly that was separated from it by just a hint of chest that sported a bright red hour-shaped patch.

Gelada smacked his lips sociably to signal that he was ok with the other monkey’s presence in his cave and with a wave, invited him to come in.

The baboon opened his eyes, “I am Gelada, The Least Concerned, and you are?”

“My name is, Drill, The Endangered.”

Demonstrating great knowledge, Gelada remarked, “I see you are a primate of the family Cercopithecidae. What do you want of me?”

“I was captured when I was a youngster and taken far from my home. They put me in a cage by myself and it had a cold hard floor with only a small bit of straw to sleep on. It was a miserable pen and all I could think about was clinging to my mother’s soft warm back. Then they took me to a place called a preserve where I lived with some other monkeys. It was ok at first, people threw us food, but it was not home. All I could think every day was, “I miss my tribe and want to be free but all I can do is to watch these humans watching me through this big fence that has stinging wires on the top so that I cannot get out.

“Well, one day I was eating some mongongo nuts that had fallen on the ground near the fence when I noticed a small spot that had came loose from the ground. I pulled and I pulled until it got big enough for me to fit through, then I was off like a shot. I ran and I ran until I came near a human town. I was hiding in the bushes when I saw some baboons doing something which scared me to death! Please help me to know what to do.”

The old baboon did not respond at once but pinned Drill down with an intense gaze. Uncomfortable under this scrutiny, Drill’s nose grooves wrinkled. His lower lip quivered, rippling the white hairs on his chin, belying the deceptive calm that he tried to display.

Finally, he spoke, “Did you know that I have many seekers come visit me here in this cell? I’m never quite as alone as I wish to be. But in the bargain, they always bring me gifts. They know how difficult it is for an elder such as me to get around.”

He gestured around to the many objects scattered throughout the cave. There were leafy baskets of fruits, bits of cloth, colorful wooden baubles, a cup made by humans from which to drink, and even piles of the kinds of papers that the humans use to make marks. He plucked up a handful of berries from the nearest broad-leaf platter and popped them in his mouth. Looking hopefully at Drill, he spoke as he chewed, “Did you bring me anything?”

Drill cast his eyes downward and smacked his lips apologetically, “No master. I’m ashamed to say I have not.” His tone brightened on top of his best appeasement grin, “I will surely go get you something later.”

Gelada carried on in a flat tone, “Baboons are afraid of snakes. Did you know that there are black mambas on the slopes?”

Drill did not know what to say since he knowingly strayed into unknown territory to get the answer he so desperately sought. Snakes were everywhere in his country so he knew they were bad. He was afraid of finding out just how bad black mambas were so instead he demurred, “So you sleep in this cave? I prefer trees.”

Ignoring the question, Gelada said, “I am from a long line of masters, reaching back in time to the Eocene Epoch,” he tapped the ground with a sturdy forefinger, “I will not answer your questions but question your answers. If you wish, and do not end up in a bushmeat stall on your way home, you may share all that you learn here in my mountain top cell but if you do be prepared to be misunderstood.”

Drill nodded keenly, “I have been thinking about what will happen in times to come.”

“Your brain is divided into two distinct halves which think independently but are bridged together by memories. You must not confuse the two with thoughts of the future.”

Drill scratched his noggin’, hoping his long middle digit would impart some understanding, “Master, on my way home I came across the Yellows. Their King Linus is a ferocious monkey. He’s got a long black face that pokes out of his golden fur and he has these great big sideburns that are are always stained red with blood because he doesn’t eat plants and fruits like the others, he eats nothing but scorpions, birds and baby sheep, ripping into them with his sharp, sharp teeth. I’ve even seen him use his tail to whip the younger of his kin who come close him while he’s eating.”

Gelada pursed his lips, “That is indeed most contrary behavior. If this troubles you, simply leave the area and go about your business. That is the best way to solve your problem.”

“But Master, however appalling that might be, there is something else more alarming.”

Gelada sat back deeper on his callused haunches and smiled, “Tell me, chintzy student, what is it which is more alarming?”

Drill’s small eyes squinted as he recollected what he saw, “Fire…King Linus stole fire from the human’s camp and then figured out how to make more using twigs and sticks. He’s started showing others in his troop how to do it, too”.

“Well, Watson, that is more impressive than a Macaque with a yam,” Gelada remarked.

“I am Drill.”

Not concerned with being corrected, Gelada nodded, “Oh, yes, Drill, it is very well known that baboons have very little observational learning abilities. It will not get far. I shouldn’t see as much of an issue.”

“But, Master, even though it looks hard, they are learning, and I’m afraid that they will become as careless as humans. Once a fire got out of control and burned right up to my enclosure before the humans put it out. What if the Yellows let fire escape and burn our jungles down!”

Gelada spent a moment considering, “Do you know how many monkeys had learned fire by the time you left?”

Confounded, Drill stuttered, “I – I don’t know…maybe about eighty-seven. I’m not good with numbers.”

Gelada waved the figure off, “We are old world monkeys. It took our cousins 194,000 years to evolve from their hundredth man.”

“But, Master, with monkeys knowing how to make fire, what will be our destiny?”

The old guru leaned in, “You ask about destiny. I say, a monkey rejoices or experiences sorrow. Neither is destiny, nor karma. But to deprive yourself of the two is the worst karma from which to affect your destiny.”

“I don’t know what karma is but I do know what fire is and it’s bad. How will we escape it?”

“Agitation is fruitless,” Gelada pointed out. “Fire will deliver the monkey but also will yoke him. How you handle it will become your emancipation.”

“There must be something we can do to stop this knowledge from spreading.”

Gelada chastised Drill, “Do not endeavor to correct this situation but correct yourself that you may manage whatever may come.”

The remaining exchange between the two came in quick fire succession.

“But Master, can’t you see that this can be nothing but trouble?”

“The real trouble is your monkey mind itself, not the trouble it has created in order to work it out.

“We can’t sit around doing nothing! It’s not safe to let them continue on. What can be done?”

“To demand safety in this world is to bring about fright and despair.”

Drill sat, distressed, not understanding the guru. The old teacher did not seem worried about the prospect of the jungle burning down. His thoughts whirled as they engaged in a prolonged staring contest. Then there came a clickety-clacking noise from outside the cave which caught Drill’s attention and stopped him in mid-ponder. He sat up with a start as a small brindle-coated creature swept past him and jumped up into the wizened sage’s lap.

“Master Gelada, what is that?”

The critter licked Gelada with it’s long pink tongue, “It is a thing called a puppy, a present from an adherent who visits me often…with gifts. It’s name is Ogun…I call him dog.”

Drill watched as Gelada cooed, gently rubbing the dog’s head and ruffling it’s ears. He slowly remembered that he had seen a few of these creatures before in the town. He really didn’t know what to make of them.

While holding the puppy, Gelada, let out a surprised little gasp, “Oh.” His body briefly expanded with a luminous glow. He giggled and set Ogun down on the ground, “Dog….fetch!”

The puppy scampered off and Gelada closed his eyes going into deep meditation. Drill watched him intently until Ogun came back barely able to keep a long branch between his teeth as he comically tripped over it’s length. “Good dog,” Gelada praised as he took the huge wooden stick from it’s mouth.

He proceeded to snap it into many pieces, “What is needed, instead of fleeing from, exerting dominion over, stamping out, or any other sort of defiance, is understanding the fire you fear; that means to observe it, come in direct contact with it and grasp it by the hand.”

Gelada gathered a handful of papers from the pile next to him, rumpled them up and tossed them onto the floor between them along with most of the wood. Then he took two of the shorter pieces of stick and beheld them meaningfully. A serene smile crossed his face and he began to rub them together. He rubbed them so hard and so fast that soon a tiny flame combusted between them.

Drill gasped in horror as the old master threw the flaming sticks into the heap of kindling. The wadding caught and there in front of the two emerged a glowing yellow fire. Illuminated by the light, Gelada looked on, at first entranced and then delighted. Exuding great purpose, the old master picked up the last piece of wood, and reached into a paper sack laying behind him. He pulled out a puffy, plump marshmallow, impaled it on the stick and thrust it into the fire.

With a full-body giggle employed by gurus all around he declared, “I’ve always wanted to try this.”