Chapter 59:     Back to the Fray

Transcribed from dictation, ADAM speaking--

It's only been 4 nights since I left here to go finish my, uh, "duties" 
among the Nokhontli, although it already seems like a long time ago.  
Different world, different concept of time.  And now I'm back to clocks 
and calendars-- ONE of these worlds seems slightly unreal, although I 
haven't yet figured out just which one it is.

I went because I had to show up for my last Kha-rat of the six months 
among the squatches as I had promised to.  And to have it out with my 
"Adversary", which was not something I was looking forward to.

To get there I did a very un-Nokhon thing: I drove my car to save time 
and effort.  Using any technology, or skesk, is completely forbidden 
in Nokhon culture, of course.  But I decided that since Daklakht had 
deliberately forced me into the technological USA, what they see is 
what they get.  Actually, I was more or less pissed off with them and 
their rules and their hit-man maybe-father Adversary out to get me.  
I sure didn't want to go to that Kha-rat, but had to keep my promise.

So I really enjoyed defying the rules and roaring down the road in my 
good old Squatchmobile.  It was a reminder of what Nokhso life offered: 
Riding the Thunder.  Might sound kind of shallow, but really, what guy 
doesn't get off on the speed and power of driving a car?  

Of course, I didn't dare just let loose, I had to be extremely cautious.  
I drove at night so that no one could see me. It would have been more 
fun with the top down, but that'd be asking for trouble.   Last thing I 
needed was getting stopped by the State Patrol because I looked weird--
like some kind of Bigfoot, for example.  Or a journalist who had just 
spotted the missing Adam Leroy Forest.

Good thing Art had filled up the tank; for me to stop at a gas station 
to buy gasoline could have been a real complication.  For one thing I had 
no money.  But I made it to the National Forest without any problems, 
pulling into a public parking lot at about 04:00 in the morning.  There 
were a few other cars, some campers, but nobody around to see me, so I 
could get out of my car without hiding.  

Luckily, it was free parking, since I needed the car again in a couple 
of days and didn't want it towed away.  I locked the car and hoped it 
wouldn't get stolen.  Nokhso logistics, I realized, amused at how deeply 
I had already fallen into the complexities of modern American life.  

Then I turned my back on all that and slipped into the woods.  There 
were trekking trails up into the mountains, which I could start with, 
although none of them led to Mastinta's camp--fortunately for her.  When 
daylight began to light up the world I abandoned the trails because of 
the risk of meeting any dedicated early-morning Nokhso hikers.  

I knew exactly where I was: I had studied my route with Google Earth before I left this house. Now, there was some evil skesk-magic that would really have pissed-off my Alutna-Jii Adversary, if he'd known. Whom I was more or less expecting to attack me somewhere along the way: he really didn't want me to make it to the Kha-rat. I had enough respect for his abilities as wizard and cop to assume that he might also know exactly know where I was, magically perhaps, so I was feeling nervous as I passed through dark forests and climbed sheer cliffs. I doubted that he really would go so far as to kill me, but I wasn't sure. So I was humming my little magical mantra all the way. The Sound of Music. I had partially translated the English lyrics to Nokhontli, so now I was singing "ke ra-sho ta my°sik" (literally "the good-sound of music") which even fits within the melody rather nicely. Figured I had a hit on my hands. In fact, everything was flowing: the music, my haka, the magic; on my way back to Squatchland I finally felt that I really was a potential Sha-haka. I had been negative about leaving my comfortable home and all my tools behind just to satisfy Daklakht's concept of what a Nokhon had to be, but now I felt almost grateful to the bastard. About mid-day I was almost at Mastinta's lair when Daklakht made his move, having cleverly waited for me to come to him. No attack from behind this time, direct confrontation. I was passing through a narrow canyon and there he was, standing right in front of me. I had to stop. I checked to make sure he didn't have a couple of Alutna along for backup, but he was alone. Then again, so was I. "You shall not pass, Dadamet," he announced, "however, I will allow you to turn around and slink back to the Nokhsos." "I cannot. I've promised to..." He came at me so fast I didn't have a chance to brace myself before I was already pinned helpless on the forest floor. My face was in the dirt but I started to sing my mantra anyway, "Ke ra-sho ta my°sik". Daklakht looked down at me funny, "What are you doing, sky°ma?" I had assumed that master Sha-haka as he was, Daklakht had somehow been magically tuned in to that meadow when I had defeated him and his Syssk with Mayala's song, but realized that I had an unrealistic opinion of his magical abilities. That version of him had been like an automatic recording, a hologram, nothing more. I was dealing with a real live tough guy now and he was not about to vanish when clobbered by a silly little song. But it was all I had. "Don't you know the sound of this my°sik?" I asked him, rushing through a stanza, "you did once." "Are you crazy? Why would I--?" He stopped. Then he jerked me to my feet and thrust me away from him, looking at me as if he was the crazy one. Again I sang "Ke ra-sho ta my°sik" and he even listened. "Oh yes, THAT phrasing of Nokhso noises. I have heard it long ago." "From Mayala," I reminded him, "my mother. You heard her sing it." "And it got her killed," he said, "then turned you into a Nokhso." "Is that why you hate me?" I asked. He scowled, but his voice mellowed. "No, not you. But I do hate the wicked Nokhsoli and their decadent culture, which you represent. I may not allow you to corrupt all of Nokhon society with your admiration for their shitty skesk!" Then he surprised me by asking, "But you do hate me, I suppose?" "Not really, although you really are a pain in the ass. I consider you a stiff-necked up-tight authority figure who thinks he's just doing his job." "Indeed, I AM doing my duty." "And I'm just keeping my promise." "We'll see about that." We faced one another in a standoff. Daklakht could have attacked, but waited for me to make my move first. So I did. "Tell me, Alutna-Jii Daklakht, are you my father or not?" "What?" He seemed more surprised by the question than offended. "No, I was one of four males assigned to impregnate a female with an Orator, nothing more." "Untrue. You loved that female and would have stayed with her--and eventually with me." "You dare to say I lie?" His face darkened, he shifted his feet. "The sound of your voice gives you away," me singing those words to that melody. I saw him cringe a little. "Orator tricks? But what magic does an Orator have..." he said, just standing there kinda relaxed-like, then shooting a stiff-fingered blow at my throat so fast I couldn't even see the blur "...if you stop his voice?" I think it was an Orator instinct to protect my voice: I dodged the blow before he launched it. His voice had given him away again and I had moved before thinking. But Daklakht was too expert a fighter to let a small surprise hinder him and grabbed my long hair to yank me into position for a good solid punch, probably in the gut. And probably really HARD, since he wanted to show me who was boss. But I said, "Stop," and he did. Frozen in place, his face blank, a surprise that DID hinder him. He should never have gotten into a conversation with an Orator, I had been hypnotizing him with every word. Remember that I mentioned finally discovering how I had escaped from those kidnappers when I was a little kid? I never knew how and none of us ever figured out the mystery, but it was really very simple: I had hypnotized the kidnappers to let me go. I'd been afraid, stressed, maybe even in some kind of trauma-trance, instinctively using my inherent Orator's ability to mesmerize those kidnappers, completely unaware of having done so. But against my Adversary I had been quite deliberate about it: structured my phrases, modulated the tone of my voice, applied that melody. Nothing to it. Okay, actually I was surprised to have gotten away with it: super agent, Alutna-Jii and all--you'd think he'd have been TRAINED for stuff like that. Grunt, Bigfoot simpleton. I was amazed how deep under he was, pretty much all the way. "You have forgotten about me, cannot remember who I am," I instructed him, "and you want to stay here for a while because the birds sing so nicely, the flowers smell so sweet and you are at peace. Once you are satisfied with having been here, you will happily return to Aket at a leisurely pace, stopping to smell the flowers along the way." Maybe I was laying the hypnosis routine on a bit thick, but it was a kinder demon than his Syssk. "Do you understand?" I asked him. "Ra," he answered and then asked, "but who are you?" I mean, he was really tranced out. "Just your son," I said, giving him a little clap on the shoulder before leaving him there. And hoping it worked.
I arrived at Mastinta's lair well before sunset, a bit earlier than most guests. The Kha-rat would begin when the moon came up, so I had time to socialize before everyone became confused by sex and drugs. Although the shy°ma kept getting stronger as more guests arrived. I knew everyone there, slightly at least, but none of my actual friends had arrived yet. Magga, for example, was not there at all. Mastinta told me that Magga had been assigned to study at Aket, by Daklakht of course, so I didn't get to talk to her. However, Mastinta also relayed a message to me from Magga: that she was sorry about our last meeting and hoped we could be happy when we were together again. Which was a nice message to hear, but also frustrating not to receive personally. Frustration may seem out of place at an orgy--or, I dunno, maybe it's to be expected if you actually feel anything for someone. As it was, my sexual desire being aroused along with everyone else's, I felt less and less emotional desire to be partaking in an orgy. Yes, I who had been so horny for months. I wanted someone, not everyone. But there I was at my promised half-year's Kha-rat, I couldn't just leave. Dagrolyt arrived with his two sweeties and I felt better about being there. I gave him an update on my conflict with Daklakht, he was also extremely interested in my new-found mantra plucked from a memory of my mother. "Kha-ra, that song Mayala learned to sing? Man, I just knew your my°sik had a great potential for magic!" he said, "but to neutralize the Syssk-magic of an expert Alutna-Jii is far beyond what I'd ever expected." "Whaddya mean?" I asked, "That was your advice." "Ra, but I figured it was hopeless," he admitted with a little shrug and a smile, like maybe he was only kidding, "I had to say something!" Dabronat and family showed up. They didn't usually come to any Kha-rats, but knew that I would be here before returning to the Nokhso world for a while and wanted to see me off. Innocent little Masnia had come along to partake with the adults this time. I was slightly scandalized, but she had obviously come into puberty and that was the squatch way of life. Dannat and his women came almost last, Mawa was very affectionate to me and we talked about her sister and her song that had saved the day for me 20 years later. She also remembered having heard Mayala sing it to me. The last guests arrived just after the sun went down in the West and before the Full Moon came up over the mountains east of us. It was a clear night, perfect for a Kha-rat, so it began. I don't need to go into all the details of the ceremony, seen one Kha-rat you've seen 'em all: eating of psychedelic mushrooms, chanting Atli, everybody gets to y°ramma, community news report, some entertainment, mushrooms peaking, the Midnight Vision with the Full Moon serving as TV screen, more y°ramma-ing and wrestling until sun comes up. One hell of a social event. I had gone into it with the attitude that I would endure it, but refrain from y°ramma because of my lofty concept of Romantic Love. I wanted to be true to... well, it's kind of embarrassing to say this, but it wasn't just Magga. Back home, when the telephone rang and I thought it might be Melly, I was suddenly confronted with how I still felt about her. I mean, Wham! And Gulp! Knowing I was going back to her the very next day I felt that I should... well, sort of... be faithful to her too. Jeez, I must sound like an asshole. But the shy°ma, man, it's pretty much irresistible. And the women who offered themselves to me were very nice, some even dear friends. I simply couldn't say "Skog" to Mawa (yes, yes, my Aunt, get over it), or sweeties Misma and Myr°la (in tandem), nor to Mastinta (what a fantastic woman!), or wonderful Malasna. There was no question of rejecting their affections or offending their morals, I had to be nice. After all, as the Atli commands: "ě'°'e'rah!" And I wanted to be nice, believe me. But the last vestige of my own romantic American concept of a moral system was put to the test early in the evening, just when the "Okay, y°ramma now!" signal was given and the group-sex began: I found myself face-to-face with beautiful young Masnia (who is maybe my sister, you know). She had come directly to me first, ready to give me her shy°ma-virginity. I was ready with all the proper moral objections, but not ready for what she said: "Da-adam-ee, can you help me with this? I'm kinda scared." A tear ran down her worried, pretty pixie face. This was her first time, and it was to take place in a maelstrom of orgiastic, hairy, grunting and rutting brutes--well, like me, you know. But this was her culture and she was determined to become an adult here and now. So I... no wait, I don't really have to tell everything if I don't want to. Forget it, dream up whatever you want. Almost everyone took a brief break from sex when Mastinta orated the community announcements, and then there was a little light entertainment. I was invited to sing my funny my°sik, so I did a couple of the Nokhon-lyric songs I'd composed at Aket, which were amazingly well- received. After that, I was being offered too much y°ramma and had to slip away to join the other sex-weary men for their wrestling contests, which went on until dawn. I had always dreaded wrestling, but this time I went into it with a sense of fun instead of fear, certainly because I finally had control over my haka. And when I hummed my little mantra, I always won the match. Dagrolyt was amazed--although I couldn't throw him at all.
I spent the morning talking with Dagrolyt, making plans for my eventual return to Squatchland later and continuing my education, some with him, more at Aket. There was no time-plan mentioned, it was all go-with-the- flow, so I made no promises concerning when I'd be back. Then he and his women gave me a hug, as did Dabronat's family--along with one young girl's very special smile--before they went walking back to their bakhls together. It would be a day's walk in the wrong direction for me, so I stayed and got more hugs from other friends as they were leaving. I ended up being really glad to have been at that Kha-rat, I got to feel a sense of communion with some people I really liked. And I'll admit it: it was great to unload all that frustration and horniness, lots of fun. A good farewell-for-now from Squatchland. Although I was eager to get back here and home, I wasn't the first to leave because I didn't want to arrive at a National Forest parking lot in broad daylight. I still needed my return to be a secret for a few more days, and I especially did not want any "enthusiasts" to calculate where I had been from the sighting of a Bigfoot climbing into a certain Chevy Camaro convertible in a particular part of the Cascade Mountains. I had to protect Mastinta's lair. So I waited until late afternoon before heading out to pick up my car. The return trip was problem-free. I slipped into my Squatchmobile unseen just after sundown, had just enough gasoline to make it home, drove speed-limit all the way. No one noticed me at all. Although I did have one little scare: a Washington State Patrol car came up behind me and turned on his blue blinkers. "Oh, no!" I thought and instinctively began to hum The Sound of Music. The trooper abruptly pulled out from behind me and raced on up the road ahead, away from me. Whether that was my mantra or he had business elsewhere, I'll never know. By midnight, I was home safe and sound in Nokhsoland.

Chapter 60

Adam out of Eden