Saturday, March 26, 2011

Odyssey Pawn'd?

After attending college in Alabama, Shamilal, scion of a well-off family on an Indian island that daily becomes more socially backwards, joins the French Foreign Legion, rather than return to his family business and all the mind-stultifying tradition of his island country. Shamilal ends up in the company of a soft-in-the-middle class white guy named Plumpo, who comes out to join after college. Plumpo has learned from the ninjitsu dojo where Shamilal introduced him to ninjitsu. Since then, Plumpo has attended seminars by a brash, eccentric Ninja Master who has been divorced four times. This prepared Plumpo for a life of adventure, so after exchanging letters,
Plumpo is also now serving in the French Foreign Legion.

Shamilial thinks Plumpo will have some useful connections, but he recognizes he will be a coward when the fire is heavy. Sure enough, he sees with his own eyes not only will Plumpo run, he will leave others behind with no hesitation. Plumpo also likes to stay in your room for hours on end and drink up everything in your refrigerator, so he can discuss schemes and watch science fiction movies.

So, Plumpo has offered that he knows some things, and in between jobs, he’s showed Shamilal some of his goods. But when things go sour sorely, Plumpo offers a way out of the fortress, where officers are going insane, men are deserting, and pay is late. Well, Shamilal gives up his solitude, to follow Plumpo to the next job. Plumpo’s mercenary friend, a chick, takes them to work for Khaddam Kablui.

Khaddam Kablui’s palace is supposed to be a cushy job: everything fine’s in Yibali. In fact, there’s even a number written by O. Shin Puffish, which the people employed at the compound break into, occasionally, perhaps even on schedule, and always, ready at cue to do this, and also, to give their lives for the beloved the leader, the father of the country. Everyone answers to whatever name he calls, whatever he wants, all of which is constantly mixed up. He has at least three names for Shamilal, for example.

Plumpo thinks he’s got a love line on going with one or two or three of Kaddam’s female body guards. Shamilal, meanwhile, observes. He overhears men in the streets, making exaggerated boasts before women and children about what they’d like to do to the tinhorn dictator who has his fingers in every pie in Yibali.

Well, Yibali has unrest on its hands, upon further inspection. In fact, while it’s accepted wisdom that the protests will play out on a given day, the people have many resentments. Plumpo is getting into the Secret Police, which he considers a promotion from being a mercenary. He shines his medals and stays on parade, in a manner much the opposite of which one might imagine secret police to operate.

Khaddam defiantly shakes his fists from beneath the umbrella in a white van (driven by Plumpo and Shamilal at his orders) in the rain, as he announces in one breath he has not fled the country he loves, and in the next mentions the torture available for rebels. By this point, Shamilal has had his wake-up call and begun concealing items for the looting. He believes he can make it across rebel lines and surrender. He hopes he can negotiate a way to be taken to America. Perhaps his crazy ex-wife will even come back to their broken deal.

Meanwhile, they’re still receiving orders. The other mercenaries are brutish overall, the smartest among them rather mad. Shamilal and Plumpo have to give a stirring speech to inspire the troops forward, despite warnings of possible international involvement. Upon this attack, Shamilal hopes to sneak his valuables along and defect as soon as possible. Plumpo, meanwhile, plans to use his newfound officer status to give orders, while continuing to serve as defense coordinator from the palace, five hundred miles across the desert from the rebels. He believes he’s suckered Shamilal into going with the mercenaries to attack, behind an air strike.

He commends Shamilal’s bravery and they exchange farewells.
At this point, Plumpo slips closer and closer into the inner circle of Khaddam Kablui---somewhat confused, but ruled by eccentric habits involving rose gardens, parades, and banishings. Meanwhile, the air forces of the free world converge by the shores of Tiripol, stronghold of tyranny. What does Shamilal decide to do in the still of the night? We’ll visit his conscience, before the climax of the plot...not to be given away.

With me?

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