Chefman was growing fond of Lena, and happy to be in her company. He gave her a big smile when they were seated on the hulking Russian helicopter for the trip to Lida. She coyly returned the smile and patted his arm.
The castle in Lida was constructed around 1330 by Grand Duke Gediminas to defend the Duchy of Litva against incursions from the Teutonic Knights. It would be 100 years or so before the Teutonic Knights were finally defeated at Tannenberg by the Lithuanians and Poles, meantime they ran ragged over Eastern Europe under the guise of a Crusade to convert the Baltic heathens. And the Lida castle fell to them, and to many others, over the centuries.
Chefman himself had been tempted to join their wars as needed to change identities, but was happier at the time in Western Europe.
Before long, the 'copter touched down in Lida, and the pair hailed a taxi and proceeded straight to the castle, which was also a tourist attraction. However, Lida was kind of light on tourists, and they found themselves nearly alone.
Standing in the empty courtyard of the “castle”, which at this point was four walls and a couple of towers that had partly been reconstructed in later years, Ell got his bearings. The coin was ancient, Ell guessed it probably dated from the late 7th Century and was of Italian origin. It had been inscribed in Latin:
Ab alta turris porta quatuor passuum Orientalium (From the high tower gate four paces East)
Tunc decem passus aquilonem (Then ten paces north)
Duo passuum ad Occidentem et foderit (Two paces to the West and dig)
duos cubitos (two cubits)
In Late antiquity and in Rome, this unit was standardized as two gradūs or five Roman feet (1.48 metres or 58.1 English inches). Since the courtyard was now empty but for Lena and Ell, Chefman got out a tape measure and worked it out, marking the spot with a small tent stake. Then he paced it out Roman style, each passuum being a double-pace, heel strike to heel strike. It worked out very close. He broke out the PRS guitar/metal detector while Lena stood watch.
Ell also knew from his own experience that the cubit was a unit of measure that began in ancient Egypt, and persisted as a standard measure in Europe and even into early modern times. It was about 18 inches.
“Not very deeply buried,” he worried. It might have already been discovered, stolen, hidden away. But he remembered that there had been buildings on the site that had been razed, which meant that perhaps the “secret” had been originally buried under one of them. And no doubt the accumulated debris and dirt of the succeeding centuries had resulted in a far deeper burial than the coin indicated.
The sophisticated software on the iPhone, plugged into the detector, started to beep after a few sweeps of the area. The ground-penetrating radar mode was switched on, and it indicated a dark shape that appeared to be about four to five feet beneath the topsoil.
As the sun went down, the dig began. After about five and a half feet, Ell’s shovel struck what sounded like soft metal. Feverishly, he dug around the object, and freed it. He pulled a square object about the size of a small suitcase, wrapped in a lead covering out of the ground. The lead was damaged, but he could make out the inscription, “U......ficem mundum.” He immediately realized that it must have originally read, “Ut salvificem mundum.”
“To Save The World.”
He unzipped the spare nylon zippered duffel he carried for this purpose, and put the object into it, zipping it shut. Then he covered the dig, stamping the ground and covering it with loose dirt and gravel to make it unobtrusive. When he was satisfied with his handiwork, he said to Lena, “Let’s get a hotel room. I have to get what’s in this to my friend Sergio as soon as possible.”
“Did you say...hotel?” asked Lena.
“Yes, I have to open this, we can’t get answers from the outside of a lead package. “And we need rest.”
“And something else.” Lena winked.
“Oh yeah, that. Maybe,” said Ell. “If I don’t have a migraine.” Lena sulked all the way to the hotel.
When they got to the room and closed the door, Ell put on music and put his finger to his lips. “Shh” he whispered to Lena. “The room is probably bugged.”
He began to cut the lead wrapping from the package. Inside was a wooden box. The lead had prevented the wood from rotting while it sat under the ground. He opened the box. Inside was a small leather wrapped scroll. The scroll was made of parchment, and it was in superb condition. Unrolling it, Ell realized its significance right away. His eyes opened wide.
“What is it?” Lena whispered.
“Lena, this is amazing. The world has searched for it for over a thousand years. This is not only a book of spells and alchemy, this is the Philosopher’s Stone.”
“But it’s a book, not stone,” she whispered back.
“Exactly,” he replied in a hushed tone. “It’s never been a stone. The legends misnamed it. It’s a book of Tones. And the right Tones will save the world.”
Ell took out his digital camera and photographed the entire scroll. Then he uploaded the pictures to a MacBook Pro he had in his backpack (he’d handed Badoshka an old one to be destroyed) created a zip file, and emailed the file to his friend Sergio. Then he carefully packed the object in its box and lead canister, and zipped them into his bag.
“If this email is opened in time,” he said softly, “we may just prevail.”
Lena smiled. “Come to bed,” she ordered.
Ell was happy to oblige.
"Ah, Ha ha.. Okay, okay... now do me!" Frank fired the gender laser pistol at Sergio and transformed him into what looked like a cross between Sandra Bernhard and Jerry Seinfeld wearing yoga pants and a sports bra.. "Okay...! Now "Hulk" Me!" Sergio barked at Frank.
Frank switched the dial on the gun and fired it at Sergio while Rango sat in a corner covering his mouth; "Here goes!" Frank yelled, the laser beam hit Sergio and transformed him into a huge masculine bodybuilder-type guy while the yoga pants exploded into pieces.
"Ah! Ha Ha ha ha!... oh no... I did it again!" Rango squealed; " Now I need some new pants too!"
The guys were headed to Stevensville and decided to stop by a nearby mall that would honor the prescription that Sergio had found at Opraman's house. After a quick chief session in the De-Limo they all thought it would be a good idea to to go to the food court to grab something to go..... and that was about two hours ago.
It first started when Rango decided he wanted to go into Victoria's Secret (to get something for his wife, I'm sure) but was too shy to go in without a female with him. Then Frank wanted to play a joke on the dudes at the GNC... He went in, purchased some "Powerlift 3000 Creatine Milk" and scared the hell out of the dudes working there by "bulking up" in front of their eyes by doing a couple of "lines" of the stuff on the counter: "Oh Yeah! You boys know of a place that sells Ed Hardy T-shirts?!" Frank asked the CNC dudes. Sergio sneezed, coughed, and laughed at the same time, proving that while unpleasant.. it's totally possible.
They were in the dressing rooms at the "Hot Yoga" chain store when shortly atfer Rango peed his, and Sergio split his, a vibrating sensation was happening in the front of Franks pants; "Oh my God!! I snorted too much! my boys are gonna explode!!.... oh wait, it's just your phone.. here you go Sergio... Who was it?"
"Um, Okay! Enough fun for now," Sergio exclaimed; " El just sent me an email. We have to get to Stevensville now!"
"But we can still get some new pants.. right?" Rango asked.
"Well of course, I think there's an American Apparel here." Sergio said back.
"Oh good." Rango replied; "I have a coupon."
Hattori Hansomatic was cleaning the koi pond under the bridge in his foyer of Polly Pocket accessories, he had thought back to a few weeks ago when his daughter had forgotten all about the toys... his life was simple, less cluttered, and his wife was in a good mood.
"F$#kin' Sergio. All I hear about is, " Polly This! Bratz That!" What does that even mean!?" He was distracted by a beige truck headed up his driveway: " Ah hell no! This better not be anybody looking to talk about guitars [Beep! Name omitted for privacy] will kill me!"
As the truck came closer Hattori heard [Beep!] (for short) yell down: " Why is a Lands End truck coming up our driveway!!?? Oh like I'm not feeling old enough? Now you are shopping from Lands End!? There had better be some socks and closed toe shoes in the back of that truck or I'm........." Hattori walked out the front door before she could finish, he wasn't trying to be rude, but he knew where this was going.
"if there are any socks or non-flip-flop shoes in there, I'm not signing for anything." Hattori yelled at the driver.
The delivery ma...n..errum.. person? Stepped out and said; "We gotta go now! It's happening now! Don't you hear me?! We have to go NOW!!"
"Uh, Hey.. is that you Ned?.....errum.... I mean is that you Opraman... errum.. Doc?.... errum.. is that you Docraman?
"In the flesh!!!" said the creature now known as Docraman; " We have to head to Stevensville! El has contacted Sergio, Sergio has contacted the "Tree Bredren", Gilmore is at the factory... This is it! It's really happening!!"
Hattori jumped into the Lands End truck without hesitation; "We Ride!" he proclaimed.
"In a minute.. in a minute." Docraman said; "So it's legal in Colorado? I mean L-E-G-A-L... Legal?"
The car phone in Red's RV went off; (Yes, I said car phone, not a cellphone, but a car phone) "Who is it? Snarf snarf" Red spat; "Oh, why yes, everything is going as planned. Will "Leo" be joining us there?"
Red was driving an RV filled with a half dozen each of mini leprechauns and Lohans straight to Stevensville.. The Ace Frehley cardboard cut out was riding shotgun.
"Yes, I see! Everything will get taken care of as per our agreement... Yes, the good doctor is on his way as well, I should be there by tomorrow night.... uh yeah, I have six of them, why?...sure I guess when we are done with them you could have one or two, but they'll eat you alive in cocaine... Okay, Goodbye."
The RV sped along on the interstate.
Then it stopped at a Chick-Fil-A for twenty minutes.
Then it sped back along the interstate.
"You see... the cosmos if filled with our aura which in turn feeds plants, shelters the homeless, and creates the electricity of rainbows! Wo-Man kind is the manifestation of our godly duality...man." The room was quickly growing tired of hearing Carlos speak, well everybody but Knowles, he stood there nodding his head like he understood.. It's crazy what kind of crap you will listen to when you admire someone.
"I 'avent been on such a bad trip since that time with Syd an' Roger back in 69" Gilmore complained: " That Carlos Punter is a bit of a Chatty Cathy.. ain't he?" Even the "Tree Bredren" rolled their eyes at each other after hearing the same cosmic-babble for the last hour.
"Yeah, well at least he doesn't have your cellphone number." Paul said under his breath.
"What are we waiting for?" Sky..or was it Autumn? that said: "I thought we were all here?"
"Well not quite everyone." Paul said.
The rumble of a distant helicopter drew closer, the sound of a truck grew nearer, the sight of a stretch-stainless steel limo appeared on the horizon, and the stench from a recreational vehicle powered by diesel fuel and processed chicken flatulence filled the air: "Here they all are... right on time."
Paul opened the doors to the factory loading dock, he extended his hands into the air making a peaceful gesture to everyone letting them know everything was fine.
He welcomed Sergio, Rango, Frank, El and his lady-friend, Hattori, Docraman, and even Red too: "Welcome, welcome, I'm so glad all of you have decided to come." Paul addressed the what was by now becoming a crowd of people; "Welcome to what I like to call, the new..... PRE FACTORY EXPERIENCE!!!!"
The crowd looked at each other and by sheer instinct, or perhaps muscle memory started to slowly applaud.
"Today, the day before the Signature Club Thursday event, we invited you.. our most rabid customers, for a special event." Paul spoke to the crowd.
"What?!" El yelled: " I don't do fan club crap like this?! You know why we are all really here, don't you Paul?"
"Yeah! Give us "The One"! We have to defeat the leprechauns hoard, what are you doing letting Red and Docraman come in here for?" Rango yelled at Paul.
Knowles hid behind a pallet of SE amplifiers while Carlos, Sergio, Red, and Docraman huddled together in a circle that started to smell just like a Foghat concert did in 77.
"What about the three rasta guitars and the stolen Custom 24? What about the "tome" that El brought back? Why am I still wearing yoga pants!?" Rango exclaimed.
Paul tried to steer the crowd back into the corral by saying: "It's a super-members only kind of event that only you are a part of.... let me introduce.. the new NEW Paul's Guita...."
"Oh, Forget it Paul." A hush fell over the crowd, on the stairway above them stood a shadowy figure that said: " There is only one person, thanks to Sergio as always, that doesn't really know what's going on here."
He stepped out into the light and Rango leaned over to ask Frank: "Who's this guy?"
"You don't know Jack." Frank said.
"Don't be a jerk, I know I'm a little lost but..."
"No. I asked: You don't know Jack? It was a question." Frank replied to Rango
"JACK!.." Paul said: "Uh.. what are you doing here? I didn't hear you come in."
The shadowy figure was Jack Higgenbotham, President of PRS Guitars... or the guy who make sure everybody still has a job come monday morning and gives paul room to do his thing. He, much like Rango, was always being called "Dad" behind his back, but he took it in stride.. A true leader.
"Sorry to break it to you... ah what was your name?" Jack asked in the direction of Rango.
"Uh... Rango?" He replied.
"Sorry to break it to you.. Rango, but everybody here wants something from Paul, and they don't seem to mind doing whatever it takes to get it. For you see, this is no quest for "The One" guitar that can send the evil leprechaun back to his domain, it's an incantation they have used to leverage Paul into making them the ultimate personalized guitar:... "The Private Signature Limited Collection Stock!!!!!!"
"What?" Rango cried: "You were all just using me?!"
"Well in all fairness," David Gilmore said; "I'm only here because some bloke named MikeGarveyBlues..eh..um, ah whatever.. is holding my family hostage. I'm supposed to bring him back a guitar."
"Why?! What did I do?! Sergio!!! How could you do this to me?!" Rango was shaking now: "Look at me! I"ll never be like you... How could you?"
Sergio broke from the puff-puff-pass circle and sarcastically said to Rango; "No Rango... Obi Wan was wrong....I am your father!"
There was a second that passed as Carlos, Docraman, Red, and Sergio must have unanimously decided that was the funniest thing they had ever heard......
Opraman smiled a very malevolent grin from his new secret hideout. All was going according to plan.
The clones were embedded in Stevensville. Paul and Co, were confident that all were accounted for, and all were under "company control".
Chefman was still making his way out of Eastern Europe and would be an easy mark, now that he was in possession of the sacred object. Unbeknowst to El, it had homing powers not unlike the monolith featured in "2001". Having been placed there many eons ago by a similar alien intelligence, it was now sending out signals to Opraman, providing the exact coordinates of Chefman's location.
Opraman paused, as he took another toke from his "medicine". Yes...he had duplicate prescriptions, and had one filled prior to returning to his secret location.
What to do next? He pondered. He paused, waiting for the Bill the dentist to recover from his daily "constitutional" with Nitrous Oxide. Bill would know what to do. He would write the final chapter, and ensure the denoument of civilization as we know it.
"Life is good" said Opraman aloud, as he blew smoke rings and hallucinated happy visions.
Doc Bill Ruger reluctantly averted his gaze from Autumn Sky's almost irresistible profile. She and Davy were meant for each other, but a guy can look, can't he? He took a little solace in the knowledge that he alone knew how all the pieces fit together and what role each of the people gathered in Paul's huge open factory floor would play.
He excused himself from his conversation with David Grissom with a nod.
He made his way stealthily behind the toking circle and gave an almost imperceptible nod to Sergio. Sergio nodded to Carlos. Red and the Docraman clone missed both nods.
As Doc Ruger walked behind Sky Fall, he gave her a little pinch on her right butt cheek. Sky willed herself not to react to the memory of her former lover's touch and nodded at Gilmour who nodded at Knowles who nodded at Autumn.
Doc Bill shot a glance to Frank and caught his eye as he was chatting with Jack. Both nodded back.
Doc Bill nodded at Shawn who in turn nodded at Skitchy who nodded at…
Were it not for the first eight bars of Gilmour's song This Heaven playing softly over the gathering, all the nodding might have alerted Red and the lesser leprechauns and the clone of Docraman.
Slowly all the guitarists stepped backwards towards the walls, leaving Red, clone Docraman, the leprechauns and the Lindsay Lohan clones in the center dancing slowly and enjoying the ganja. The vamp from This Heaven was the perfect choice. It's combination of blues, rock and old fashioned bump and grind both soothed and distracted the small group in the center of the room as the rest reached behind various shop equipment and boxes for the new prototype guitars.
Upon arrival, Sergio had passed Ell's documents to Paul who had stealthily gone around the room and set the prototypes for the correct tone. With three narrow 408 pickups and three mini toggle switches each, the tone combinations were almost endless.
The toggle switches were three way switches. Up for split tones, down for humbucking and center to turn a pup off completely. Deftly he read the tone requirements and flipped switches as he had moved around the room. As he did, he dialed in amp settings on the HX/DAs to which the guitars were connected and set each amp master to about 6.
As the guitarists retrieved their guitars and strapped them on, only the Lindsay Lohan clones seemed to notice. They responded to the sight of the multiple guitars by starting to slowly remove their clothes.
Only Rango seemed to not know what would happen next, he was busy shuffling through groupons as Sergio looped a guitar offer his head and whispered, "E minor on my signal."
Everyone had their guitars and Doc Bill glanced around the room. He was to give the signal, but he needed to check something first. His eyes fell on Skitchy and he smiled. Sure enough, Skitchy was wearing a baritone with a Floyd Rose. "gotta love that guy," Ruger said to himself as they exchanged grins.
Doc Bill Ruger saw that Red was beginning to suspect that something was up. Red wasn't the brightest world destroyer, but he was smart enough to know that he was isolated in the middle of the room with a clone of Docraman, several naked Lindsay Lohan clones and a few tripping lesser leprechauns.
Doc Bill didn't wait for Red to act. He simultaneously punched a code into his prototype iWatch and drew his Glock. As the music switched from just vamping the beginning of This Heaven and the first lyrics came over the speakers, Doc Bill fired one shot.
A minor leprechaun fell dead just as Gilmour's lyric "All the pieces fall into place" in bar ten came over the speakers. The song stopped and the rest of the encircled enemy stood agape at the sprawling dead minion.
As one, the circle of guitars played a single chord. Well not exactly, almost everyone played a variation of E minor. Some were in cowboy position, some part way up the neck, some almost to the neck/body joints of their guitars.
But the Tree Bredren (Knowles, Gilmour and Grissom) all played F flat minor. Sure it sounds like E minor to just about everyone, but the Tree Bredren were all thinking F flat minor and that made all the difference.
Red knew music theory. Before his quest to dominate the world and kill all the studio engineers, he had been a Professor at the world renown Dublin School for the Musical Arts. The school perished on two counts. The first was that it only taught bagpipes and drums. The second was that it was limited only to the peculiar tuning for bagpipes which is between 476 to 480 Hz, roughly halfway between B flat and B. Red's ear, therefore, was keenly aware that most of the guitars were playing E minor, but in the mix were three playing F flat minor.
Red's knees buckled and he slammed his fingers into his ears willing the enharmonic cacophony in his head to stop, but it didn't.
The Lohan clones spontaneously combusted as they tried to smoke a combination of mouse poison, Beno and Spotted Dick. The leprechauns began popping into little puffs of green mist one by one until they were gone. The Docraman clone stood and whimpered.
With the Lohans in ashes, his leprechaun minions vaporized and Docraman immobile, Red wailed. "Snarf! Snarf! Make it STOP! I'll do ANYTHING! I'll even teach bagpipes again!"
Red's eyes widened as he spotted Skitchy and the baritone. "NOOOOOO!," he wailed. But it was too late. Skitchy had the bar of the Floyd Rose cupped in his hand as he strummed the chord again. Skitchy simultaneously thought E minor AND F flat minor as he dive bombed the baritone a full 3 octaves ending halfway between B and B flat.
It was just too much for Red and he popped leaving a huge cloud of green mist.
The clone of Docraman moaned as the mist stained his '70s era white polyester leisure suit the color of fluorescent pea soup. Before he could do anything, Sergio let loose with the transgender ray gun and the clone poofed into a mist of green and white. The weapon was set to "BN" which Sergio had discovered stood for Bennett Normal. The clone was empathically linked to the real Docraman who felt the effects of the beam immediately.
Without knowing or remembering, Doc Bennet left his secret lair and made his way to a clone house on a clone street in New Jersey. There he found a clone of his wife and dog Arf waiting for him. He settled into a clone chair in his clone workshop and logged onto the Forum. "Gimme an 'F' ," he typed with no minor bit of irony. The world for him was back to normal.
Ell and Lena rolled around in a bed filled with polaroid photos. "These things are just for us, Lena. No one has ever successfully made a quality dupe of a polaroid." Lena nibbled on his ancient ear.
In the factory there was celebration. "Shepard's Pie for everyone!," Paul said and was surprised to be buried in a pile of thrown, stinging guitar picks. "I should have said 'Jameson'?"
Doc Ruger looked over to two women dancing while their husbands talked guitar.
"I bet those things could cut glass," Doc Ruger said to himself with a grin.
Many thanks to my fellow authors. I hope everyone enjoyed themselves!
Coda and epilogue....
In a small, nondescript hotel room, somewhere in Eastern Europe, Lena looked up with dismay.
"It's soft again" she whimpered.
"Told you what 787 years on the road does to a man" replied El, as he shuffled off to the bathroom to change his diapers.
"Pampers, or Depends?" he muttered to himself, while humming a tune that was a popular marching song during WW1 as the German Troops moved towards the Kaiser.
"regardless, they will fit perfectly on......
......... But El Chefman will return in: "The Ballad of Ned the Destroyer."
I have no clue what's next - but I'm pretty sure it will start with a murder.....
Maybe a character based on Bennett will work with us the next time instead of against us....
Great story chaps!
I'll try and get more into the next one... This one moved along too quick for me to take note of what was what.
Did Gilmour bring me back the guitar? :)
Yes he did, and it was a blue USA Mardsen.
Originally Posted by Mikegarveyblues
A truly beautiful end to this story I feel! ;)
Originally Posted by sergiodeblanc