The Novels

Economics 101, a Novel (Rough Draft) -- My first sustained attempt at a novel, two-thirds finished in rough draft, and heading a little too far south.
What would you do if you and your study partner, with whom you had been seriously discussing marriage, suddenly found yourselves all alone together on a desert island? Study economics?
Sociology 500, a Romance (Second Draft) -- The first book in the Economics 101 Trilogy.(On hold.)
Karel and Dan, former American football teammates and now graduate students, meet fellow graduate students Kristie and Bobbie, and the four form a steady study group.

Featured Post

Sociology 500, a Romance, ch 1 pt 1 -- Introducing Bobbie

TOC Well, let's meet Roberta Whitmer. Bobbie entered the anthropology department office and looked around. Near the receptionis...

Saturday, February 10, 2018

[]Backup 2] Economics 101, a Novel, ch_09 -- In the Islands

[JMR201802100930: backup of http://free-is-not-free.blogspot.com/2016/08/economics-101-novel-ch09-in-islands.html.]

[JMR201804071908: edits]

He was quite insistant that you would need another room, but we did not believe him.
-
He was quite insistent that you would need another room, but we did not believe him.

--

Why don't you go check your accomodations?
-
Why don't you go check your accommodations?

--

About two weeks into their stay on the second island, they they wrote letters to professors they had been talking with at Harvard and Berkeley, detailing their work to that point and the adjustments they were making to their approaches with both research and service.
-
About two weeks into their stay on the second island, they wrote letters to professors they had been talking with at Harvard and Berkeley, detailing their work to that point and the adjustments they were making to their approaches with both research and service.

--

"We appreciate your forebearance."
-
"We appreciate your forbearance."

--

[JMR201804071908: end edits]

[JMR201804031323: edits for Xhilr.]

There is a large city about an hour to the north, which has a major airport.
-
There is a large city about a chit to the north, which has a major airport.

--

At the last layover before they reached the main island, the five of them met with the first counselor to the President of the district of the Church which nominally included the islands to which they were going.
-
At the last layover before they reached the main island, the five of them met with the first counselor to the president of the district of the Church which included the islands to which they were going. (Nominally included, since there were no actual Church operations in those islands at that point.)

--

Visiting teachers are assigned from the Relief Society, and home teachers are from the priesthood quorums. In the less fully organized branches and wards, they sometimes had couples assigned to be both at once. It wasn't official policy at the time of this story, but it is sort of semi-officially allowed now.
-
Visiting teachers were assigned from the Relief Society, and home teachers were from the priesthood quorums. In the less fully organized branches and wards, they sometimes had couples assigned to be both at once. It wasn't official policy at the time of this story, but it would later become a recognized practice.

--

I have letters for you from them.
-
I have letters for you from them here.

--

Wait a minute, you say?

Okay, I have a small confession. This is not just a slightly alternate history, this is a different planet.

But there are lots of parallels that I have taken the liberty of translating to artifacts of your own world's history.

"Mormon", for instance. Their Church has a similar history to the Mormons of (ahem) our world, and they believe in a Savior/Messiah with a name cognate of "Jesus" ("God is help") and a title cognate of "Christ" ("Annointed").

(And the prophet who abridged their new world scripture was named a word that seems to be a bi-lingual pun on "more good" and "eternal love", pointing to having a hope of literally following their Savior as they progress from grace to grace, thus, "Mormon" is not exactly a bad translation.)

And their Jesus teaches of repentance and redemption, of salvation by faith on His name, and the idea that the Creator of their universe is a friend, not an enemy, to His children. Thus, Christianity is a good fit for the broader religious context, as well.

(And there history is filled with cases of religion being perverted to ill purpose by those who prefer power to faith, just like ours.)

There are other differences, beyond the ones which necessitated this aside about the parallels. But the differences shouldn't be too surprising. Policy should reflect the historical and social context.
-
Wait a saichi, you say? (Or a minute. Three saichi.)

This is, indeed, a different planet. These are not Mormons. The epithet, and the name of the ancient prophet and the scripture from which the epithet is derived, is "Ehyephoot".

The official name of their Church may translate well as "The Church of Jesus Christ for the Saints of the Latter Days" or "The Church of Yeshua Messiah for the Believers of the End Times" or something. There may be many parallels which I depend on in telling this story, but it is not the organization with which you are familiar in your world.

Different world, different history, different social context, no matter how much is similar. Policy reflects the needs of the social context, so I must beg you to bear with the things you find odd.

Pretty please?

--

Bobbie and Karel looked in surprise at the first counselor together. He smiled reassuringly.
-
Bobbie and Karel looked together in surprise at the first counselor. He smiled reassuringly.

--

You both have been missionaries, and you understand that the happiness of these people is God's only concern."
-
You both have been missionaries, and you understand that the happiness of these people is a very high priority for God."

--

He's a good man. But if they don't get along, he'll help them find other arrangements.
-
He's a good man. If they don't get along, he'll help them find other arrangements.

--

Bobbie and Sister MacVittie insisted they could walk, so they spread the luggage across the four taxis, and everyone walked the fifteen minutes to the bungalow.
-
Bobbie and Sister MacVittie insisted they could walk, so they spread the luggage across the four taxis, and everyone walked the three punji to the bungalow.

--

"Oh, I like him. I think he likes me. But it's hard to get his attention when he spends most of his time on the main island."
-
"Oh, I like him. I think he likes me. But it's hard to get his attention when he spends most of his time flying around the islands."

--

"Quickly!"
-
"Quickly! She'll know what to do."

--

On the Sabbath, the chief and his consort, and the shaman and his concubine, came to observe their meetings, making the hut a little crowded. They expressed neither approval nor disapproval after the meetings were over, remaining to listen and talk for a bit, then going to take care of other business.
-
On the Sabbath, the chief and his consort, with the shaman and his concubine, came to observe their meetings, making the hut a little crowded. They expressed neither approval nor disapproval, remaining after the meetings were over to listen and talk for a bit, then going to take care of other business.

--

Sabbath. Day of Rest.

As I have mentioned, they have a week of seven days. Seven days approximates the period of their nearer moon, which could partially explain why they have a seven day week in spite of their general standardization on powers of two. But not fully.

--

In the evening, there were more ceremonies.
-
In the evening, there were more ceremonies, which Karel and Bobbie were requested to attend.

--

But when Karel traded for a beaded reed curtain to hang between them, the family indulged them in that much.
-
But when Karel traded some materials for a beaded reed curtain to hang between them, the family indulged them in that much.

--

But  their host family did not take offense.
-
And their host family did not take offense.

--

And on the last island, they were again not allowed to stay with separate families. Again, they put up a curtain.
Lest you misunderstand, they were able to develop good relationships with the islanders on both the third and fourth islands, but, on the subject of where they stayed, the islanders just smiled and were insistent.
And lest you should find fault with the islanders, according to the traditions they lived by, Karel and Bobbie would have been guilty of no sin had they given in to temptation and crossed the curtain.
-
And on the last island, they were again not allowed to stay with separate families. The shaman and the shamaness were their hosts. And again, they were allowed to put up a curtain.

Lest you misunderstand, they were able to develop good relationships with the islanders on both the third and fourth islands, but, on the subject of where they stayed, the islanders just smiled and were insistent.

"Do you understand?" one woman asked Bobbie one day on the fourth island, while they were working with several other women, collecting breadfruit for a communal feast. "It is not just that we can see the connection you and Karel have. Under our traditions, if you were alone, you would be required to entertain men."

"Really? Then I am glad you insisted we stay together."

The shamaness said, "Our island is not as progressive as some. I hope your reports will not speak ill of us for it."

"Should I not mention this?"

"No," the wife of the chief said, "just please don't judge us ill for it."

"Can I discuss this with Karel?"

"Maybe. I suppose it would help to talk more about it rather than less."

The next day, the chief, the shaman, and a small group of other men met with Karel.

One of the men said, "We understand that Bobbie knows that there are two reasons we have for asking you to stay together."

"She mentioned that she had heard something about being required to entertain men if she were not with me."

Another explained, "We have not had a brothel on the island for a generation. Bobbie is independent."

"She is that. You know it is a valued trait in our culture?"

"In ours," the chief said, "many were calling her wanton. Some of the women wanted to send you both away your first day, without waiting for a plane to take you."

"We appreciate your forebearance."

The shaman said, "That you hold hands at night speaks well of you. That's something we can understand."

The chief added, "You see, we try to avoid situations in which male-female relationships would cause problems. Such problems cause wars."

Karel nodded. "Understood."

That evening, after Bobbie and Karel discussed their day's research, Karel told Bobbie what he had learned.

Bobbie grinned and reached for his hand. "Should we radio for Wycliffe to come take us to a temple?"

The shamaness looked up from her chemistry work. "That would be counter to your course."

--

"It has been our pleasure. Don't wait too long to get married."
-
"It has been our pleasure," the shaman said.

The shamaness added, "Don't wait too long to let your legal records enable your realities."

--

Bobbie and Karel carried part of their luggage out of the hut that served as the airport building on the last island towards the plane waiting on the beach.
-
While Wycliffe loaded fuel from the supplies shack into the plane, Bobbie and Karel brought their luggage to the beach.

--

They loaded the last of it, Karel helped Bobbie climb in, and they waved a final goodbye.
-
They loaded the last of it, Bobbie let Karel help her climb in, and they waved a final goodbye.

--

[JMR201804031323: end edits for Xhilr.]


Previous: Fifth Semester, Getting Ready for the Islands Table of Contents

Now we thik we know how Karel and Bobbie got to the islands without getting married. But let's go ahead and get a glimpse of how things went in the islands.



Orson Hyde University campus is nestled against the foothills of a very long mountain range. It is a part of small city that sits between a lake and the mountains.

There is a large city about an hour to the north, which has a major airport. It was this airport at which they said goodbye to their families and left in the company of the MacVitties, after completing their preparations at the university.

During the trip, Bobbie did not pay much attention to the men giving her the eye. She noticed some of them, but she didn't pay much attention.

In the passenger cabin after one layover, she said, "Karel?"

"Yeah?"

"Have you noticed the guys looking at me?"

Karel replied, "Have you noticed me noticing some of the women around? Sometimes a guy gets distracted."

"Are you trying to make me jealous?"

"Maybe, but I was really just thinking that beauty draws the eye. You distract me, too, you know."

Brother and Sister MacVittie studiously ignored this conversation. Their son smirked quietly to himself.

"Telling me I'm beautiful again."

"Just telling it like it is."

"Heh. Thanks. Well, anyway, guys used to hit on me a lot."

"You've mentioned that before."

"Now it seems like I can mostly ignore them before they get that far."

"That's a good thing."

"I'm sure part of that is because I'm with you and don't seem unattached."

Karel cleared his throat.

"And I've gotten into the habit of dressing down a bit."

"When you doll yourself up, you're just gilding the lily."

"Give me a break."

Sister MacVittie leaned across her husband's lap and said, "He's just telling you the truth."

Bobbie looked at the back of the seat in front of her. "I know I am cursed with good looks. But that's actually kind of what I'm trying to talk with Karel about."

"I guess I'll keep my nose out of things."

Professor MacVittie thought it was the better part of valor to stay out of things, too.

But Bobbie was no longer just talking to Karel. "Something's changed inside me. I used to be like a deer caught in a car's headlights when guys looked at me. Now it doesn't mean that much to me. And I think that means guys mostly don't feel as motivated to hit on me."

Karel said, "Mostly. But I've warned a few off, so far."

"And you've missed a couple."

"Yeah. but I'm trying."

"It's okay. I was able to warn those guys off, myself. And I don't feel upset about it any more."

Professor MacVittie finally spoke up here. "That's an important thing. I hadn't realized you were struggling so much with that."

"Guys are generally more civilized at Orson Hyde University."

"Not all that civilized. I think I have said some things I have to apologize for."

"No, you've never offended me."

"I'm glad of that."

Sister MacVittie asked her husband, under her breath, "Pray tell, what is it you think you might have to apologize for?"

He replied, as quietly, "Complimenting her on her looks without thinking how she would take it."

"Oh, that's all." She squeezed his hand.



At the last layover before they reached the main island, they met the first counselor to the President of the District of the Church which nominally included the islands to which they were going.

"I have been authorized to form a traveling branch of the Islands, and to call the two of you to preside over the Island Traveling Branch, Karel as the branch president, and Bobbie as the Relief Society president. Do the two of you accept these callings?"

"Sure."

 "Yeah. Uhm, Yes."

"This means you are authorized to hold your meetings and so forth."

"Okay."

"Your branch is a dependent branch, so you will need to coordinate some things with the parent branch, district, and mission presidencies, as described in the handbooks."

He gave them addresses and long distance phone numbers to contact them by.

"Your own home teachers and visiting teachers are assigned out of the parent branch until and unless better arrangements can be made. They happen to be your parent branch second counselor and his wife."



Visiting teachers are assigned from the Relief Society, and home teachers are sent from the priesthood quorums. In the less fully organized branches and wards, sometimes they have couples assigned to do both at once. It wasn't official policy at the time of this story, but it is sort of semi-official now.



"I don't expect that they will actually be able to come visit you here in the islands, but you can keep contact by mail. And they have told me that, if there is an emergency, you can call them collect."

"If we can get to a phone." Karel commented.

"Radio can be patched in. And you will be in their prayers."

"That will be helpful." Bobbie nodded, swallowing suddenly.

"Since this is the district, the mission president has authorized me to authorize the two of you to perform baptismal interviews. The district president has authorized you to perform all non-temple ordinances, as inspired by the Holy Spirit, Karel presiding and Bobbie assisting, as necessary, as explained in the manuals."



Wait a minute, you say?

Okay, I have a small confession. This is not just a slightly alternate history, this is a different planet. Lots of parallels that I have taken the liberty of translating to artifacts of your own world's history.

"Mormon", for instance. Their Church is one with a similar history to the Mormons of (ahem) our world, and they believe in a Savior/Messiah with a name cognate of "Jesus" ("God is help") and a title cognate of "Christ" ("Annointed One").

(And the prophet who abridged their new world scripture is named a word that is a pun on "more good" and "eternal love", pointing to having a hope of literally following their savior as they progress from grace to grace.)

And their Jesus teaches of repentance and redemption, of salvation by faith on His name, and the idea that the Creator of their universe is a friend, not an enemy to His children.

And there are a few differences, such as the ones I just mentioned. But maybe it shouldn't be too surprising. Policy should reflect the historical and social context.



"Now, in addition to my calling as first counselor in the district, I am first counselor in the temple presidency for the temple for this district."

"Oh." Bobbie blinked.

"Be happy to have you visit if you decide you have reason to get up that way."

"Understood." Karel nodded.

"I know you've heard it before, but it will be to your own benefit, as well as the benefit of the Church, that you set the best example you can for the people of these islands. You both have been missionaries, and you understand that the happiness of these people is God's only concern."

Bobbie and Karel both agreed.

After more discussion, he sent them on their way, with the blessings of God.

And they flew on to the main island near where they would be doing their research.



"Yo. You must be the professor and family and students."

"Sheldon MacVittie. Would you be Zedidiah?"

"He's Zedidiah."

"Hi." Zedidiah raised his hand in greeting.

"I'm Wycliffe."

"Good to meet you."

"Yeah. Likewise. Luggage there?" Wycliffe indicated the trunks and other luggage stacked neatly at the edge of the tarmac, where the MacVittie's son was keeping an eye on it.

"That's our stuff," Bobbie confirmed. "Do we have too much?"

"It should fit in one go, right, Zed?"

"Yeah. A little tight, but it'll be okay for a short hop."

Karel started chuckling as Wycliffe examined him and Bobbie.

"Wycliffe, do you mind?" Bobbie was also chuckling.

"Just wondering if I dare make a pass at the prettiest lady I expect to ever see in these islands."

"You just did." Bobbie laughed.

The MacVitties kept a watchful eye, amused, but ready to take action. Karel didn't seem worried.

"Wye, not the paying customers." Zedidiah looked up from the mental calculations he was making about how the luggage might fit in their plane.

"She yours?" Wycliffe asked Karel.

Karel shook his head. "She is her own, but I wouldn't try taking liberties with her."

Wycliffe grinned. "I'm not sure whether I'd be more worried about your response or hers if I did."

Karel and Bobbie both laughed.

"Wye! Knock it off!" Zedidiah stopped his examination of the luggage and came back. "I must apologize for my partner."

"No offense taken," Bobbie was still laughing. "An open pass is a bit refreshing, even if I'm not planning on picking it up. I'll be a bit too busy. Sorry."

"Understood. 'Though I'm not quite sure how you two fit together."

Bobbie and Karel looked at each other, amused, and Wycliffe watched them.

"Leave it alone, Wye, and help me figure the luggage out."

"Yeah. Lemme help you work that out."

And both of them went over to the luggage and started measuring pieces with their hands, talking about where to load them in the plane's cargo area.

"Do you think we can trust them?" Professor MacVittie asked.

"I think so." Bobbie replied.

"He's not entirely harmless," Karel pursed his lips to one side. "But I get the feeling he isn't one to take advantage of people. Just says what he thinks."

"I think I agree," Sister MacVittie said.

Wycliffe went into the building, and Zedidiah returned. "We're pretty share we can take it all in one trip. If not, we have a friend or two who would be willing to fly the rest out with the mail or something. But you'll need a couple of taxis to where you're staying tonight. Wycliffe has gone after them, and for someone to take care of your paperwork."

"You took care of a place for us here?"

"No, the islanders did. We told them about you and they decided where you'll stay. That's the way they work. You can walk there, but the luggage can't, and that's why you'll need the taxis. Ah. Here comes Officer Paalo."

An islander approached them from withing the building. "Hello! Welcome to the islands."

"Officer Paalo can stamp your visas."

After introductions all around, Officer Paalo counted their pieces of luggage without bothering to look inside, scanned quickly over their immunization paperwork, took notes in an official-looking logbook, and gave them visa stamps in their passports.

"Oh. You're not married?" he asked, handing Karel and Bobbie back their passports.

"No, ..." Karel replied.

"Not engaged?"

'No." Bobbie replied with a shake of her head.

"Then I should ask. We were under the impression you two would be staying together. Wycliffe informs us that we may be mistaken."

Karel looked at Bobbie, and she just closed her eyes.

"Uhn, that would not be appropriate," Karel said, reaching out to reassure Bobbie with a pat on her arm.

Bobbie opened her eyes. "Definitely not."

By that time, Wycliffe had returned with not two, but four taxis.

"Change of plans. The bungalow they 

"When they found out your students would not be sleeping together, they decided to change your ac

Professor MacVittie introduced himself and gave them contact information for the university and requested to be contacted immediately if anything untoward happened while carrying Karel and Bobbie from island to island.

Then Wycliffe and Zedidiah introduced them to Officer Paalo, who stamped their visas as a representative of the government and gave their luggage a cursory check, and took care of other such necessary paperwork.

And Karel and Bobbie went over their schedules with Wycliffe and Zedidiah.

The MacVitties spent a couple of days vacationing while Karel and Bobbie made contacts, learned a little more about the islands, and reviewed their preparations.

Then Zedidiah flew the five of them to their first island, which was close by. Zedidiah and Wycliffe generally flew without co-pilot, saving the weight for cargo.

On the first island, Zedidiah introduced them to Nazoru and his daughter Hanaka, who were fairly comfortable with foreigners and with English, and could serve as intermediaries if necessary.

Nazoru and Hanaka offered to let them both stay in their hut. They were surprised and somewhat amused that they wanted to stay separately.

Ultimately, it was decided that Bobbie would stay with Hanaka and Nazoru, and they found another family for Karel to stay with.

And they found a family for the MacVitties to stay with, as well.

Nazoru and Hanaka introduced them to many of the people on the island, and Karel and Bobbie got to work and met more. At first, they just let the islanders teach them how they lived. Then they started helping out when they could see ways they could help.

They compiled their notes in the evenings, being careful to change names and otherwise keep the private information private. They found it worked best to go over their data with the families they stayed with, for accuracy, and also to assure that the private information was kept anonymous and private.

Again, the MacVitties stayed out of the way, leaving the work to the students. Their job was simply to be there if they needed help. On the other hand, they were also interested in the island life, and spent most of their time learning how the islanders lived. Professor MacVittie took some notes of his own, but refrained from recording details that might be private.

Towards the end of the week, they got together to compare notes. Other than that, they spent as much time working separately as together.

Sometime during the first week, one of the islanders came to Karel looking for medical help. One of the children had cut her leg. They were surprised when he deferred to Bobbie, insisting that he be there even though Bobbie did the actual cleaning and bandaging up.

They asked about the usual procedure, and the islanders explained that the village elders had already prayed over the wound. But they knew that foreigners did some other useful things, so they had asked.

The next time, Bobbie and Karel had the parents come, and let the parents perform their traditional first aid. Bobbie showed them a few more small things they could still do when she and Karel were gone.


Nazoru and Hanaka joined their first Sunday services, watching with interest. Afterwards, they asked Bobbie and Karel about their beliefs. They continued to join the services for the whole month, and continued to ask questions.

Other islanders also visited during the later Sunday services.

After two weeks, Zedidiah came to pick the MacVitties up. They were sad to go. (And the family they had been staying with was sad to see them go so soon.) Professor MacVittie took Bobbie and Karel's initial reports back to the university with him, with some letters home, and to Dan and Kristie and other friends.

During the month on the first island, Bobbie and Karel participated in the birthing of two babies. Again, they let the islanders teach them what they usually did, trying to avoid teaching them things they would not be able to continue after they left.

And then Zedidiah picked them up and flew them to their next island, introducing them to islanders who would help them get started before he left.

And Zedidiah took their reports and other mail with him to send on.



And that was pretty much the way it went on each island.

Except that on the third and fourth islands Wycliffe picked them up. The distances were longer, and Wycliffe had more experience with long distances.

While they were on the second island, they wrote letters to professors they were talking with at Harvard and Berkeley, detailing their work to that point and adjustments they were making to their approaches.

A plane came in after about two weeks, and they sent those letters with the pilot.

On the third island, they got enthusiastic responses from their respective schools, both hinting at the possibility of assistant professorship positions.

On the last island, having become accustomed to their work, they had a little time, maybe once a week, to spend together walking on the beach and talking. Not wanting to tempt each other, they focused on their work and refrained from even holding hands.
 


"Got everything?"

"Double and triple checked."

Bobbie and Karel were pushing their luggage out of the hut that served as the airport building on the last island, to the plane waiting on the airstrip.

"I'm gonna miss these islands."

"Me too. In some ways it seems like I've been back on my mission."

"Sans companion?"

"No, not really."

Karel and Bobbie looked at each other. Wycliffe must have missed the meaning that passed without words between them in that look.

"I've been silly."

"No you haven't."

"I wish I could just ask Wycliffe to let us fly back by ourselves. I really want to talk with you all by ourselves."

"Would you be okay navigating over ocean?"

"True. The weather's different, and you have to depend more on instruments."

"And, of course, it's their plane, not ours."

"Do you think those two joke about us?"

"Listening to their chatter on the radio, yeah. Does it matter?"

"Guess not."

"Let's get our luggage on the plane."

"Hi, Wycliffe! Good to see you again."




And now we know enough to continue with the story.


Table of Contents Next: Bobbie and Karel -- Changing Priorities



The previous backup for this chapter is here: http://joel-rees-economics.blogspot.com/2016/08/bk-economics-101-novel-ch09-in-islands.html.

(There is no second draft of this chapter yet.)

Friday, February 2, 2018

[Backup] Me and Mrs Jones

[JMR201803011255: edits]

I continued to wait, looking around the once familiar room.
-
I continue to wait, looking around the once familiar room.

--

The was only one person besides me who was there both times.
-
There was only one person besides me who was there both times.

--

She was being vague. Then, being sure I could see through the door, she imitated a hairstyle I would recognize.
-
Her words are vague. Making sure I can see through the doorway, she imitates a hairstyle I recognize.

--

The reason Georgette and I are have been separated for three of the eight years we have been married.
-
The reason Georgette and I have been separated for three of the eight years we have been married.

--

We slip in the back of the sportswear shop and I hold my conscience at bay as we lift T-shirts, shorts, and running shoes.
-
We slip in the back of the sportswear shop and I hold my conscience at bay as we lift T-shirts, shorts, sweats, and running shoes.

--

Back in the maintenance access, 'Gette pulls off her shirt, and I freeze.
-
Back underground, 'Gette pulls off her shirt, and I freeze.

--

[JMR201803011255: edits end]

[JMR201802282149: edits]

She waited for a comment.
-
She waits for a comment.

[JMR201802282149: edits end ]

[JMR201802281225: edits ]

And I can't guarantee that they would avoid shooting me, and calling me collateral damage of the war on drugs.
-
And I can't guarantee that they would avoid shooting me, calling me collateral damage of the war on drugs.

--

I hold up two fingers and point to the window, then do cherrytops with my finger.
-
I quickly hold up two fingers and point to the window, then do cherrytops with my finger.

--

I had told her some time ago that the recorder on our police issue phones immediately transmits what it records to the station.
-
I told her some time ago that the recorder on our police issue phones immediately transmits what it records to the station.

--

[JMR201802281225: edits end]


[JMR201802281130: edits before this point]

Beep-beep.
-
Bing-bong-bing.

--

The door opens.
-
The door opens and a vision appears before me. I blink, and the vision fades to real colors, which are still not unattractive.

--

"What is it, then, George?"
-
"The uniform is not just to impress an off-duty nurse, huh? What is it, then, George?"

--

"Can't tell you. They should not have sent me. The office knows it's a conflict of interest. I can't ask you what happened, and I can't even offer advice."
-
Watching her from behind, not-faint echos of memories lodge in my mind. Medium brown hair, but it was once my privilege to run my hands through it. And I shouldn't mention my memories of the rest.

I shake myself. "Can't tell you even that. They should not have sent me. The office knows it's a conflict of interest. I can't ask you what happened, and I can't even offer advice."

--

"I can't answer that."
-
"I can't answer that, either."

--

"Well, I want you to know what happened, even if the office is deliberately trying to get me to waive my rights."
-
"Well, I want you to know what happened, even if the police office is deliberately trying to get me to waive my rights."

--


I don't give in, so she took it up a level four years ago. Manufactured a compromising situation, and even though I didn't fold, it was my word against hers. And she has made it more of a personal battle since then. I have become the thing she can't have, and she can't stand not getting what she wants. Now she is using my estranged wife against me.
-
I don't give in, so, four years ago, she took it up a level. Manufactured a compromising situation, and even though I didn't fold, it was my word against hers.

And she has made it more of a personal battle since then. I have become the thing she can't have, and she can't stand not getting what she wants. Now I understand that she is using my estranged wife against me again.

--

The chief would not allow this, so she must be out of control. Or, ... I am also the only officer on the force not  somewhat under his thumb.
-
The chief would not usually allow going this far, so she must be out of control. Or, ... I am also one of the few officers on the force not under his thumb. He has this thing about things he can't have, too.

--

I have backup I didn't know about down on the street five floors below us. Two more cars that I can see. There should be no need for that. Then I notice the hardware. Subconsciously, I recoil.
-
I see I have backup I didn't know about down on the street five floors below us. Two cars that I can see from here. There may well be more. There should be no need for that.

Then I notice the hardware. Subconsciously, I recoil.

--

I could walk 'Gette downstairs and keep her to close to shoot without hitting me, but I couldn't protect her at the station.
-
I could walk 'Gette downstairs and keep her too close to shoot without hitting me, but I couldn't protect her at the station. And I can't guarantee that they would avoid shooting me, and calling me collateral damage of the war on drugs.

--

"A girl's got her pride." Fortunately, she also remembers I'm on record. I had told her some time ago that the recorder on our police issue phones actually transmits what it records to the station.
-
"A girl's got her pride." Fortunately, she also remembers we're on record. I told her some time ago that the recorder on our police issue phones immediately transmits what it records to the station. The benefits of permanent connections.

--

I point toward elevator, then the emergency stairs and point down.
-
I point toward the elevator, then the emergency stairs and point down.

--

I follow her into the kitchen and let the camera record her putting soy bars and a couple of cans of apple juice into her purse, then casually turn away so she can grab her piece from its drawer, quietly. She also grabs a jacket and two backpacks she keeps as seventy-two hour kits for natural disasters and such.
-
I follow her into the kitchen and let the camera record her putting soy bars and a couple of cans of apple juice into her purse, then casually turn away so she can grab her piece from its drawer, quietly. She puts it in her purse, too.

Why a nurse needs a handgun may be beyond some people, but she has been the target of stalkers in the past, including the recent past. I'm not the only one who thinks she is beautiful.

She also grabs a jacket and two backpacks she keeps as seventy-two hour kits for natural disasters and such.

--

She locks the door behind her, and we go to the elevator. When it opens, we walk in, then I drop my phone. "Careless of me."
-
She locks the door behind her, and we go to the elevator. When it opens, we walk in, and then I drop my phone.

"Careless of me."

--

But she heads up, gesturing me to follow. I throw my nightstick down the down stairs and follow, dropping my pager near the wall on the first landing up, hoping they'll think I threw it there.
-
But she heads up, not down, gesturing to me to follow. I throw my nightstick down the down stairs and follow, dropping my pager near the wall on the first landing up, hoping they'll think I threw it there from below. GPS in those pagers, useful if the officer needs to be rescued, not so useful if he needs to be rescued from his own fellow officers.

--

On the roof, the next building over is only six feet away and at the same level. This whole block is close like that, the only block with tall buildings in this town. She doesn't wait, just runs for the edge. I follow, and check below as I go over the edge. It appears that the officers on the street are focusing on the ground floor, waiting on the elevator. The building after is at the same level, and we clear the edge together. The third building is taller, but there is a fire escape we can reach. Fortunately, the fire door opens from the outside. Safety code.
-
On the roof, the next building over is only six feet away and at the same level. This whole block is close like that, the only block with tall buildings in this town. She doesn't wait, just runs for the edge.

I follow, and check below as I go over the edge. It appears that the officers on the street are focusing on the ground floor, waiting on the elevator. At any rate, no shots ring out from below. The building after is at the same level, and we clear the edge together. The third building is taller, but there is a fire escape we can reach by leaping.

Fortunately, the fire door opens from the outside. Safety code.

--

"There's an underground maintenance accessway that opens in this building," she says. I wave her back from the entrance, but there's no sign of anyone, so we enter the accessway and make our way under the street. Back at surface level, there is an indoor mall, which we enter from beneath. We come up in an employee access hall.
-
"There's an underground maintenance accessway that opens in this building," she says. I know about it, and we find the entrance. I wave her back, but there's no sign of anyone, so we enter the accessway and make our way under the street.

Back at surface level across the street is an indoor mall, which we enter from beneath. We come up in an employee access hallway.

--

Once again on the surface, we cross the mall and walk as casually as we can to the bus terminal. As the bus pulls out, we hear sirens and watch police cars closing in on the apartment building from all sides.
-
Once again on the surface, we cross the mall and walk as casually as we can to the bus terminal.

As the bus pulls out, we hear sirens and watch police cars closing in on the apartment building from all sides.

--

"Me, too."
-
"Me, too. I'm glad I figured out what was going on."

--

"Hang out in hotels in Cincinnati and further east? Watch the news for a week and post incriminating hints to Twitter from netcafes?"
-
"Hang out in hotels in Cincinnati and further east? Watch the news for a week and post incriminating hints to Twitter from netcafes?"

She leans against me, her head on my shoulder, staring out the window. "Well, if this is the end for us, at least we have a little more time to spend together."

-----

    Table of Contents    Next: N

-----

Originally inspired by a question in the LDS Beta Readers Facebook group, by Cheree Mackay Myatt, on plot elements to get a long-term separated couple back together for a week. She ended up with a list of ideas long enough to consider using in creating an anthology.

[Edit record starts here: http://joel-rees-economics.blogspot.com/2018/02/backup-me-and-mrs-jones.html.]

--

[JMR201802281130: edits end]

[Backup of http://joels-random-eikaiwa.blogspot.com/2018/02/me-and-mrs-jones.html.]

Beep-beep.

I wait for maybe fifty seconds and reach to ring the doorbell again. It feels awkward ringing this bell, but it should. This apartment used to be mine.

The door opens.

"Mr. Jones, long time no see."

"Uh, hi, Mrs. Jones. How have you been?"

"Not bad. Yourself?"

"Well, enough, I guess. Uhm, well, except, look, I'm really sorry about this."

"What? It's not like there's child support you aren't paying."

"I'm not here on personal business."

"What is it, then, George?"

"There's been a complaint. Medicine missing at the hospital. I have to take you in for questioning."

My ex-, or, should I say, estranged wife sighs and turns around. "I'll go get my purse and a jacket. Do you think it'll take long?"

"Can't tell you. They should not have sent me. The office knows it's a conflict of interest. I can't ask you what happened, and I can't even offer advice."

"Can I make myself a little more presentable?" she asks as she picks up her purse and goes into the bedroom.

"Sure."

"I want you to know my side of things."

"Wait." I recite the litany of rights. "Got that?"

"So I'm being accused?"

"I can't answer that."

"Well, I want you to know what happened, even if the office is deliberately trying to get me to waive my rights."

I'm not allowed to stop her from talking, either.

"So get out your recorder and make this official," she adds.

I pull out my standard-issue phone and thumb the recorder app. "It's recording."

"Four times in the last two weeks, I've found some patient's prescription in my purse. The first time, I didn't find it 'til I got home. But I called immediately and told my boss and the physician in charge. Since then, I've checked my purse every day before I go home. Three more times, and each time I took what I found to whoever was in charge at the time before I left."

She waited for a comment.

"You know I can't say anything here."

"The third and fourth time, I checked my purse after I took it out of my locker, and there was nothing there. Then I checked it again after I changed clothes, and there it was."

I continued to wait, looking around the once familiar room.

"The was only one person besides me who was there both times. I think you know her." She was being vague. Then, being sure I could see through the door, she imitated a hairstyle I would recognize.

Julia Gomez. The chief's daughter. The reason Georgette and I are have been separated for three of the eight years we have been married. I have no kind words for the woman, but I can't say so. Not under the circumstances. 'Gette knows, anyway.

Something clicks in my brain.

Chief Gomez runs his unit like a fiefdom. He keeps the force under his thumb, by hook and by crook. One mistake, and he uses it to blackmail you. If he can't catch you at something useful enough, he sends his daughter to do his dirty work.

I don't give in, so she took it up a level four years ago. Manufactured a compromising situation, and even though I didn't fold, it was my word against hers. And she has made it more of a personal battle since then. I have become the thing she can't have, and she can't stand not getting what she wants. Now she is using my estranged wife against me.

The chief would not allow this, so she must be out of control. Or, ... I am also the only officer on the force not  somewhat under his thumb.

I go to a window and look outside, being careful not to disturb the curtains or show my face.

I have backup I didn't know about down on the street five floors below us. Two more cars that I can see. There should be no need for that. Then I notice the hardware. Subconsciously, I recoil.

I could walk 'Gette downstairs and keep her to close to shoot without hitting me, but I couldn't protect her at the station.

Walking into the bedroom, I say, roughly, "Can't wait forever for you to put on your pretty face. Nobody at the station'll be persuaded anyway."

'Gette looks up at me in surprise. I hold up two fingers and point to the window, then do cherrytops with my finger. I turn sideways as her eyes go wide, and do a charade of shooting with rifles.

"No use delaying things."

"A girl's got her pride." Fortunately, she also remembers I'm on record. I had told her some time ago that the recorder on our police issue phones actually transmits what it records to the station.

"Okay, one more minute."

It is also fortunate that, with the phone on my belt, the camera is at such a level that I can keep my gestures out of the viewfield. But I can't risk too many more clues, and we are probably out of time. I point toward elevator, then the emergency stairs and point down. I think that racing the elevator down is our best chance.

She makes some finishing touches and puts her makeup away. "Let me get some snacks, just in case it takes a while."

I follow her into the kitchen and let the camera record her putting soy bars and a couple of cans of apple juice into her purse, then casually turn away so she can grab her piece from its drawer, quietly. She also grabs a jacket and two backpacks she keeps as seventy-two hour kits for natural disasters and such.

"I'm ready."

I lead, so the backpacks won't be picked up by the camera.

She locks the door behind her, and we go to the elevator. When it opens, we walk in, then I drop my phone. "Careless of me."

I turn the camera facing the wall and leave it there as she steps back out, and then I follow her. She hands me one of the packs. When the door is safely closed we both break into a run for the stairs.

But she heads up, gesturing me to follow. I throw my nightstick down the down stairs and follow, dropping my pager near the wall on the first landing up, hoping they'll think I threw it there.

On the roof, the next building over is only six feet away and at the same level. This whole block is close like that, the only block with tall buildings in this town. She doesn't wait, just runs for the edge. I follow, and check below as I go over the edge. It appears that the officers on the street are focusing on the ground floor, waiting on the elevator. The building after is at the same level, and we clear the edge together. The third building is taller, but there is a fire escape we can reach. Fortunately, the fire door opens from the outside. Safety code.

Inside, we run down the stairs. I follow her into the basement.

"There's an underground maintenance accessway that opens in this building," she says. I wave her back from the entrance, but there's no sign of anyone, so we enter the accessway and make our way under the street. Back at surface level, there is an indoor mall, which we enter from beneath. We come up in an employee access hall.

"Your fashion sense sucks."

"I do stick out, don't I? I think you should change, too"

"There's a Team Captain."

We slip in the back of the sportswear shop and I hold my conscience at bay as we lift T-shirts, shorts, and running shoes.

Back in the maintenance access, 'Gette pulls off her shirt, and I freeze.

"We never did finalize the divorce. Get changed."

It takes me a minute longer to change, and we stuff our clothes in our packs.

Once again on the surface, we cross the mall and walk as casually as we can to the bus terminal. As the bus pulls out, we hear sirens and watch police cars closing in on the apartment building from all sides.

"I think I'm glad I read your mind back there."

"Me, too."

"What'll we do?"

"Hang out in hotels in Cincinnati and further east? Watch the news for a week and post incriminating hints to Twitter from netcafes?"

Saturday, July 29, 2017

edits: Ch. 2, Priorities Begin to Change

[JMR20170725 edits]

{replace}
A proper Adam and Eve story also requires laying too much groundwork -- and there's too much of the models that I would have to explain explicitly if I were to just start off telling you about the Adam and Eve of Karel and Bobbie's world. (And that is also an interesting story for someday.)
{with}
A proper Adam and Eve story also requires laying too much groundwork -- and there's too much of the models that I would have to explain explicitly if I were to just start off telling you about the Adam and Eve of Karel and Bobbie's world. (And that is also an interesting story.)
{end replace}

{replace}
God. And I've been talking about prayer, too. I will be talking about both. But maybe you are an atheist. Or, maybe you don't think you can believe in my God.
{with}
God. And I've been talking about prayer, too. Maybe that worries you. I will be talking about both. But maybe you are an atheist. Or, maybe you don't think you can believe in my God.
{end replace}

{replace}
"Yep. That's east," Bobbie confirmed wryly. "I do hope we're not here long enough for you to make an accurate astronomical compass." Bobbie grinned, and Karel chuckled in response.
{with}
"Yep. That's east," Bobbie confirmed wryly. "I do hope we're not here long enough for you to make an accurate solar compass." She grinned, and Karel chuckled in response.
{end replace}

{replace}
But bear with me, and I think I can convince you that I am not trying to sell you my gods, at any rate. And religion and cosmology is generally a part of most value systems, and economics is impossible without value, so we can't really avoid talking about the stuff.

So let's not fuss about it. I'll try not to pull my punches with the religious elements of the story.
{with}
But bear with me a bit, and I think I can show you that I am not trying to sell you my gods, at any rate. Religion and cosmology is generally a part of most value systems, and economics is impossible without value, so we can't really avoid talking about the stuff.

Let's not fuss about it. I'll try to keep the religious elements of the story out where you can see them.
{end replace}

[end JMR20170725 edits]


Current version: https://econ101-novel.blogspot.com/2017/05/e02-priorities-begin-to-change.html.

Monday, July 24, 2017

edits: Ch. 1, The Framing Story -- the Pilots and the Island





[JMR201707241351 edits]

{replace}

"Your thesis plan looks good, but you'll need to do some on-location research." Professor MacVittie was helping Karel review his plans.

Karel Pratt nodded his agreement. "I guess I should say so in my proposal? Should I revise the plan to say something about needing the fieldwork, but not yet knowing when and where?"

Professor MacVittie nodded slowly, in half agreement. "Well, you could, but I think you know enough to be somewhat specific already. You should be able to name several islands as possibilities."

Karel scratched behind his ear. "I guess I can say I'm looking at a few locations, but don't know which, yet?"

"Sounds reasonable." The professor paused. "Changing the subject a little, but do you know Roberta Whitmer?"

Karel looked surprised. "Not really. Well, I think I've met her. She calls herself Bobbie, right? And she's in the anthropology program, too?"

"Yes, that would be her. Her thesis seems like it could complement yours. Professor White and I were thinking you might want to talk with her. Just a suggestion, of course, but it often helps to have someone you can work with."

"Mmm," Karel thought for a moment, then nodded hesitantly. "I'll talk with her and see."
{with}
Studying economics is not like studying physics.

In physics, we can start with things we see and work directly with -- the angle of a shadow on sand, water pulling on an oar, a rubber dinghy floating in the sea, an airplane gliding through the air.

Even the moderately complex chemical reactions that are the regular controlled explosions of fuel in an airplane engine are quite repeatable. (And so are the effects of running out of fuel.)

With economics, nothing is static.

Sure, we have money. But money is a contrived proxy for value, and is not constant over time, or even from person to person. So we need to simplify our basic models to make them understandable.

I don't know about you, but the simplest economic system I can think of is one person on a desert island. Except, of course, one person alone is only interesting for a little while.



"Your thesis plan looks good, but you'll need to do some on-location research." Professor MacVittie was helping Karel Pratt review his plans for his doctoral studies at Orson Hyde University.

Karel nodded. "I guess I should mention it in the proposal. Should I revise the plan to say something about needing the fieldwork, but not yet knowing when and where?"

The Professor nodded in agreement. "Well, you could. But I think you know enough already to name some specific islands as possibilities."

Karel scratched thoughtfully behind his ear. "I guess I can say I'm looking at a few locations, but don't know which, yet, ..."

"Sure. Why don't you think about that." The professor hesitated before changing the subject. "Say, do you know a Roberta Whitmer?"

"Roberta Whitmer?" Karel was surprised. "No, not really."

The professor thought he might have seen something unsaid behind Karel's eyes, but it was gone before he could be sure.

"Well, I think I may have met her once. She calls herself Bobbie, right?"

"She does."

"And she's a pre-PhD student in the anthropology program, too?"

"Yes, that would be her."

"And?"

"Her thesis seems like it could complement yours. Professor White and I were thinking you might want to talk with her."

The professor still couldn't read Karel's reactions.

"Just a suggestion, of course, but it often helps to have someone you can work with."

"Mmm," Karel grunted, then nodded somewhat absently. "I'll look her up and talk with her and see."

{end replace}

{replace}
Karel continued: "And we've been working together on the itinerary. We contacted some travel agencies, ..."
{with}
Karel continued. "And we've been working together on the itinerary. We contacted some travel agencies, ..."
{end replace}

{replace}
Ultimately, the faculty and Sister MacVittie decided it would be best for Professor MacVittie to accompany them for the first two weeks. That way he could help them solve the early problems. He could also make contacts in the islands for the university.
{with}
Ultimately, the faculty, Bobbie, Karel, and Sister MacVittie decided it would be best for Professor MacVittie to accompany them for the first two weeks. That way he could help them solve the early problems. He could also make contacts in the islands for the university.
{end replace}

{replace}
Names? I'm translating the names mostly by meaning and history rather than sound.)
{with}
Names? I'm translating the names mostly by meaning and parallels in their history rather than sound. But some of the names do sound similar, Bobbie's and Karel's, in particular.)
{end replace}

{replace}
And you thought this was a novel, right?
{with}
And I told you this was a novel, right?

Well, it is -- something like a novel, anyway.
{end replace}

{replace}
Well, when trying to decipher the physical laws of the universe, we find it easier to start with a simplified model. For example, when describing the flight of a cannonball, we start by ignoring air friction and wind. That makes the math simple enough for one person to handle without a computer in many cases, and the calculated results are close to the actual flight in the common cases.

Economics is not as easily simplified as physics. In physics, we can see, or at least measure the interactions, even when there are interactants we don't directly see, like wind, or electric or magnetic fields, or chemical reactions.

Of course, gunpowder is not very simple, but we might instead use something simpler like a catapult or trebuchet to launch the cannonball. Those are a bit more repeatable than crude gunpowder.

We can see what happens, and we can measure and time the acceleration paths, and so forth. And we can compare our results with the path and timing of a dropped cannonball or a cannonball rolling on a slope, where things happen a little more slowly and are easier to measure.

We can simplify.

In economics, we deal with complex interactions and abstract interactants. Some of the elements are fairly straightforward, like food, fuel, and housing. Some, like value, are so abstract that we can't even safely define them once and expect them not to change while we are trying to observe them.

Some elements of economics, like money, are deceptive simplicities hiding complex and abstract qualities whose continual, often hidden variations play directly into the math.

We need simplifications to be able to work with economics, even if we have the help of computers. But economic interactions are difficult to simplify.

Complex mathematics looks a lot like literature, abstract mathematics even more so. So, I'll take a hint from the math, and make a small logical leap, as well, and construct this informal thesis on the fundamentals of economics as a set of thought experiments in the form of a novel.

-- but maybe a little bit of an unusual novel.
{with}
As I say, when trying to decipher the physical laws of the universe, we find it easier to start with a simplified model. For example, when describing the flight of a thrown football or papaya, we start by ignoring air friction, and wind, and the way it tumbles in the wind. That makes the math simple enough for one person to handle without a computer in many cases. And the calculated results are generally close enough to the actual flight.

Economics is not as easily simplified as physics.

But we can still simplify.

In economics, we deal with complex interactions and abstract interactants. Some of the elements are fairly straightforward, like food, fuel, and housing. Some, like value, are so abstract that we can't even safely define them once and expect them not to change while we are trying to observe them.

With only two people, maybe we can do away with money. Value systems can be simplified. And we can focus more easily on the bargaining processes, and on what they exchange.

Complex mathematics looks a lot like literature, abstract mathematics even more so. So, I'm taking a hint from the math, and making a small logical leap, as well, and constructing this informal thesis on the fundamentals of economics as a set of thought experiments in the form of a novel -- but a slightly unusual novel.
{end replace}

{replace}
Wycliffe sat on their desk and picked up their schedule. "Hey, Zed. Look what we got this week."

Zedidiah looked up. "Yeah, I see that. Them two grad students from that Apist school. Come to study ant rope loggies -- native cull-chewer and all that. And do busybody serve ice pro jets. Straight as two rulers. Even the natives are laughing behind their backs."

(That's roughly how it would have sounded to us, if we spoke their language.)
{with}
Wycliffe sat on the desk they shared and picked up the scratch paper they were using that month to write their schedule on. "Hey, Zed. Look what we got this week."

Zedidiah looked up. "Yeah, I see that. Them two grad students from that Apist school. Come to study ant rope loggies -- native cull-chewer and all that. And do busybody serve ice pro jets. Straight as two rulers. Even the natives are laughing behind their backs."

(Anthropology, culture, and service projects, of course, but that's roughly how it would have sounded to us had Zedidiah been joking in English. Oh, and E-P-ist.)
{end replace}

[end JMR201707241351 edits]
[JMR201707251541 edits]

{replace}
We need a framing story to get them onto the islands. A good simulation game always has a good framing story, and this is (pretty much) a mental simulation game.
{with}
A good simulation game always has a good framing story, so we need a framing story to get them onto the island that will be our laboratory.
{end replace}

{replace}
"And the nether moon high in this late morning sky is just a little bit romantic, too."
{with}
"And the nether moon high in this late morning sky is just a tad romantic, too," she added.
{end replace}

{replace}
And I guess it would be less confusing to keep saying "hour". Sixteen gohbu are a chippu.
{with}
And I guess it would be less confusing not to say "hour". Sixteen gohbu in a chippu, sixteen chippu in a day.
{end replace}

[end JMR201707251541 edits]

[JMR201707291824 edits]

{replace}
I don't know about you, but the simplest economic system I can think of is one person on a desert island. Except, of course, one person alone is only interesting for a little while.
{with}
The simplest economic system I can think of is one person on a desert island. Of course, one person alone is only interesting for a little while.
{end replace}

{replace}
"Roberta Whitmer?" Karel was surprised. "No, not really."
{with}
"Roberta ... ?" Karel was surprised. "No, not really."
{end replace}

{replace}
I'll tell you about that world as we go. It's kind of like ours in a lot of ways ...
{with}
I'll tell you about that world as we go. It's kind of like ours in a lot of ways ... .
{end replace}

{replace}
Bobbie answered: "Nothing in particular. But we don't want to spend all of our evenings the rest of our lives talking shop at home." Maybe she wasn't being totally up front, but she didn't think her relationship with Karel was any of Wycliffe's business.
{with}
Bobbie answered, "Nothing in particular. But we don't want to spend all of our evenings the rest of our lives talking shop at home." Maybe she wasn't being totally up front, but she didn't think her relationship with Karel was any of Wycliffe's concern.
{end replace}

[end JMR201707291824 edits]


Current version: https://econ101-novel.blogspot.com/2017/04/e01-framing-story-pilots-island.html.




Tuesday, June 27, 2017

RFQ4: Ch. 7, Wycliffe, Changing His Heart

A Little Cosmology

[Yet another false start, incomplete edit.]

Wycliffe, Changing His Heart


This chapter does not sound like an economic discussion, but it's necessary background. Otherwise, when we start trying to understand value for real, we'll get bogged down in details.



Light.

There shouldn't be light. He was underwater. He was dead, anyway. There shouldn't be anything.

The light grew, and he looked toward it. He sensed a Presence he did not want to face. There was an invitation in the light, but he knew he could not stand before that Presence.

It was hard to describe the direction of the light in any way but up and ahead.

In the opposite direction there was a blackness, and a presence he really wanted to avoid. Not so much an invitation as an imperious command, a seducing influence. "Give it up. You are mine." He shut his mind to it.

And then he was filled with a desire to go back in time and tell Karel not to trust him, not to get on the plane. Somewhere, he had heard that time in the afterlife was not like time for mortals. Maybe he could.

Suddenly, he was on the airstrip on their last island, watching himself load fuel. He ran towards himself, shouting, "No! Don't do it."

No reaction.

Against reason, he tried getting into his own body, but of course that didn't work. His body already had a lower entropy level version of himself in it.

Bobbie and Karel came out onto the strip, pushing their luggage in a cart. He tried to block their way, but they just walked right through him as if he weren't there. Shouting, screaming, crying, nothing got through to the land of the living.

He was panicking, but when they boarded the plane, he stayed with them, still trying to find a way to communicate.

He stayed with them to the uninhabited island, trying to get their attention and stop them, fighting the fear that he wouldn't be able to.

When he took the plane up for testing, he stayed with himself, first, trying to get himslef to take the plane back down and trying to reinforce the second thoughts he knew he was having, then trying to get himself to work harder at clearing the spark plugs and trying to get him to set the plane's speed to a more conservative speed. None of that was any good. There was an entropic wall he couldn't breach.

He suppressed his terror and stayed with himself as the plane went down, watching himself swim, whispering the directions as he watched himself lose them, hopefully watching himself find his bearings again, encouraging him to stay the distance, listening to himself pray, wondering when the angels would show up.

In blackest agony, he watched himself drown. And he watched as his own spirit at the lower entropy level separated from his body, hesitated, and left to try to stop himself.

And he heard a Voice say,
This is not the way to repent.
Surprised that he still existed, he went back to the island in despair and listened to Karel and Bobbie talking in the dark about their plans after they got back to civilization. Bobbie was in the tent and Karel was under a makeshift lean-to formed by lining their luggage up near the tent.

And he felt the irony as he realized, that they were, indeed, talking about getting together. The realization that it was an on-going discussion was bittersweet. He probably could have saved himself a lot of plotting, and avoided the dangers, by just suggesting once more on the flight back that they take a vacation together before they left the islands.

Trying to think of other ways to undo the damage, he thought about trying to contact Zedidiah. And found himself in their office several days before, watching Zedidiah and himself as they mocked how Karel and Bobbie respected each other.

Now he could recognize the irony under the jokes. The regret was bitter, but the understanding of mutual respect was a sweetness he decided he wanted to get used to, if only he weren't dead.

And still, talking, shouting, screaming, whispering, jumping, dancing, nothing he could do got their attention. There seemed to be no way to get Zedidiah to suspect his plans for real, or to get himself to recognize that his plans were so seriously wrong.

Again, he stayed with himself. He stuck with himself all the way to the island where he picked them up to bring them back. He stayed there until he saw a lower entropy version of his own spirit come to try to get their attention and then join them in the return flight that wasn't.

And he heard, again,
There is no way that this is helping anything.
Then he went back to the office again, to focus on getting Zedidiah's attention, with no results. His desparation helped him focus away from the lower entropy version of himself that was focusing on himself.

And again, he heard the Voice.
This is not how you make amends.
Trying to contact other friends did not work.

Nothing worked.
But he kept hearing that Voice.

So he worked backward in time until he found the point where he had consciously given up believing that other people could choose happiness for themselves. It was during his relationship with Tessa, and he saw that his own choice to return to cynicism after being baptized was a major part of the reason she had left him.

And he couldn't contact himself to get himself to give up on cynicism, either.

And then he started repeating his course, trying again where he had already failed creating an entropic loop because he had tracked onto his own path through the entropic field.

Talk about vicious cycles.

Temporal, or entropic loops are hard to get out of. They tend to amplify the distress, terrors, and passions, and attenuate faith and rationality. Because it involves going back in time, there's no way to count your number of times through the loop. Recursion with no exit strategy.

The primary effect is a sideways increase in personal entropy, bringing you closer to second death.

Fortunately, that Voice also stays with each person who goes into the cycles of hell. And it stayed with Wycliffe repeating things like --
Trying to change the past is not the way to repent.
At some point, having gained significant entropy, equivalent to being through the loop thousands of times, his thought processes lost focus and started becoming random. He lost the strength to keep himself tied to the assumptions that kept the cycles closed.

And he tried something different. He went to Australia, to find a certain police station and try to inform the Australian police there of some petty crimes he had committed. He thought, if he had gone to jail, maybe he wouldn't end up flying charter in the islands, and then he could never have done these terrible things.

It was not a rational thought, but it broke the cycle.

And he saw many other dead people trying to tell the police things. None of them were having any success. And he began, finally, to doubt the rationality of trying to stop himself after the fact, to yield to the despair that there was nothing he could do to save himself.

Something he had learned while studying with the Mormons, about a young man named Alma crying for help from the pains of hell, moved him to ask God to save him from his own despair. And he found a glimmer of hope.

He recognized one of the dead at the police station as a friend he hadn't talked with in a long time, so he tried to talk to him.

"Hey, Kev!"

Kevin turned away from the police officer he was trying to hound into re-reading a police report.

"Huh? Wha? Wyck! What are you doing here?"

"I really screwed up. I was going to ask you."

"Killed my gf."

"That's not good."

"Had an argument while we were out joyriding in the outback."

"Arguments happen."

"We shouldn't have been there. We'd left the baby in the house. And we were arguing about money and other things that don't matter."

"You have a baby?"

"Turned the jeep over, and we didn't have our seatbelts on. She ended up under the rollbar. Couldn't get her back to the hospital in time. Called my neighbor from the hospital to go keep an eye on the baby."

"That really sucks."

"Myeah."

"So how did you end up dead?"

"Driving trucks on long hauls with no breaks. Had to make money to support my daughter. Bad accident on an empty stretch of highway, load of fruit all over the road. I'm not sure how long I was hanging upside down in the rolled-over cab before I died."

"What are you doing now?"

"I'm trying to get the police to take the wife abuse reports more seriously, so I'll be in jail before we have that last argument."

"Do you ever hear a voice telling you that time travel is not a substitute for repentance or something like that? I have, and I've been ignoring it, but I think I'm beginning to understand."

Kevin thought for several moments, or it might have been an eternity.

"Uh, huh, now that you mention it, yeah. I've been ignoring that voice, so I haven't really heard it, but the voice has been there. What does it mean?"

"Maybe it means we should quit trying to change the past."

"But it's not really past is it?"

Now Wycliffe had to think. "Well, maybe, but we'd have to rewind the whole world. Once the future is chosen, it's chosen, really."

"Fate?"

"No, we have a choice, once. That once moves forward, and if we don't move forward with it, then we have no more choice. How do I understand this now?"
We're telling you.
"Who are you?" Kevin asked as Wycliffe looked towards the voices, astonished.

"I'm Wycliffe's grandfather and your grandfather's friend. My name is Greg."

"I'm Georgianna, Wycliffe's grandmother. We've accepted the good news, and we're your angels on call right at the moment."

"Are you the ones that keep telling me to repent?" Wycliffe asked?

"No, that's the voice of the Master, Himself."

"Jesus!"

"That's right. God Is Your Help." Georgianna smiled. "So, Wycliffe, you know why Kevin is here, why don't you tell him why you are here?"

"Well, I've been sort of not getting over breaking up with Tessa."

Kevin look startled.

"Tessa was a girl I used to date. I thought she was going to agree to marry me, but then she ran away. Said I wasn't passionate enough for her or something."

"Oh, really?"

"I've been, well, had been doing charter flights on some islands for a while with a Zealander named Zedidiah, and I met this couple that I thought needed a little push to get romantic."

"Huh?"

"They liked each other. But they weren't into romance. So I thought I should make sure they had an opportunity to get romantic. I effectively kidnapped them and left them on a desert island to seduce each other."

"That's twisted."

"Yep. For all I know, they're dead now, too. I'm a rapist by proxy and a murderer."

"I thought my case was bad. But, you said, 'Tessa'?"

"Yeah. Why?"

"That's my girlfriend's name."

Greg spoke up. "We know where she is. Would you two care to visit her? She needs some cheering up."

Kevin shook himslf negatively. "No way could I see her."

It was Wycliffe who asked, "Why? I'd say you should ask her to forgive you. And I'd like to clear some things up."

"I can't face that."

"It's hard. I know I'm going to have to ask Bobbie and Karel to forgive me."

"Bobbie and Karel are okay. Let's take care of first things first," said Georgianna.

"I'm with you," said Wycliffe.

And Kevin thought for a moment and said, "I guess I should come, too."

And they found themselves in a white place with many people dressed in white. And they looked at themselves and realized they were still clothed in the unclean thoughts they had brought with them. The angel suggested they change their thoughts, which they did, setting aside the negatives and the terrors, and then they were also dressed in white.

Greg spoke to one of those spirits there, and he called out to someone who called out to someone, and soon they saw Tessa looking at them. Tessa would not join them, so Georgianna asked if she'd let them go there so they could talk. She concurred without speaking.

Wycliffe said, "Hi, Tessa."

She turned away.

"Tessa, look. I forgive you now, even if I hadn't before now."

"How dare you?"

"People do stupid things, like admitting they've been offended. Can you forgive me?"

"Of what?"

"Emotionally hanging on too long, I think. Are you offended that I kidnapped Bobbie and Karel?"

"I don't know about that."

So Wycliffe rehearsed the events that had lead him out of the mortal world.

"And I thought you weren't passionate enough. It sounds so romantic!"

"I don't think it's romantic for them any more."

"Okay. So I was blind to your romantic side. I guess you can forgive me for that. And I guess I forgive you for not being able to make me see you as you are until I had gone too far away."

At this point, Kevin said, "Man, I feel like a third wheel."

And Tessa said, "No. You and I have a child. We have to be her angels now. I've been trying to understand how we could do that, but now I see. And I forgive you, too, if you can forgive me for the emotional abuse I put on you."

"Uhm, killing you is worse than emotional abuse?"

"Sure, but I assume you've been through your hell. I've been through mine. We've lost a lot, and we have more to do, but God is able to save us. Sin is sin. It's time to move on."

They were all silent for a moment, thinking how words could give one hope in the impossible, and then Greg said, "Kevin, Tessa, Someone would like to talk with the two of you." And Kevin and Tessa went to talk with God.

Georgianna said, "I think you were saying, ..."

"Bobbie and Karel."

"You've done part of your recompense, but it isn't quite time for talking with them, yet. Are you ready to talk with your Savior?"

"I guess, maybe."

Greg said, "Let's let Tessa and Kevin finish their interview. In the meantime, I think you need a review about the meaning of eternity."

"I'll say."

And Wycliffe listened carefully as they helped him recall his lessons from before he was born, about the nature of spirits and the nature of the mortal world, and the nature of the post-mortal existence. Then it was his turn to talk with the Master.

And then Georgianna and Greg took him back to the island where Bob and Karel were waking up from the first night alone.

"I'm on my own here?"

"Do you have a partner?" asked Georgianna.

"I guess not. But I just watch them?"

"You'll know how to help them without taking away their right to choose now," replied Greg.

"And when things are going okay here, I go help the searchers to not look here?"

"Yes."

"And this is part of how I make amends?"

"That's right." Greg answered. "You started things the wrong way. But if you had started things the right way, God still intended to give them an opportunity to be on this island by themselves."

"They'll have to forgive you, but I think they'll see their way to that."

"Just out of curiosity," Wycliffe hesitated and then continued, "Does anyone ever do something like this deliberately, so they can take on the job of watching over someone?"

Georgianna sighed. "Yes, sometimes people try such things, but it does not end well at all. Leaves a real mess for all the angels to clean up. You did not do this knowing what you were doing, so you don't face that mess."

"Okay. So I'm on the job. And if I need help, ...?"

"Pray, of course." Georgianna nodded.

And they were gone.

And Wycliffe took a tour of the island while Bobbie and Karel got up and tried to figure out how to start a day without any of the things they usually used to start their days. There were lots of things about the island he had not known.

Fortunately, time in the post-mortal world flows differently from time in the moral world, and he was finished with his tour before they had started putting breakfast together.

Then he settled down to watching over them.





A Little Cosmology Table of Contents Next



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RFQ4: Ch. 4, Tentative Exploration

(Wycliffe's Punishment)

[Yet another false start, incomplete editing.]

So we have seen Wycliffe behaving as if there were more important things than money.

How can we talk about economics if the characters of our story don't think money matters?

:)

Well, let's think about such questions as we go back to see what Karel and Bobbie have been doing while Wycliffe was trying hard to save himself so he could save them.

It's tempting to use the native Kakgu words for many things -- foods, plants, animals, etc. But then you'll get lost learning a language you'll never use. I'll try to find something close to translate them as, instead. 



Karel and Bobbie separately closed their eyes and offered silent prayers of thanks for their food.

Karel took a bite of his sandwich and drank some water from his canteen. "What kind of sandwich did you did you say you brought?" he asked.

"Egg salad, with some of the native wild lettuce. How about you?" Bobbie said between bites. (Xamina -- Might as well call it lettuce. Broad purple and green leaves, mild flavor.)

"Ham, with some of the native mustard greens. Try it?" (Vusa -- compressed and cured meat. The animal looks like a pig and the flavor is similar, I guess. And haraina -- green and orange leafy vegetable, mildly piquant mustard-like flavor.)

Bobbie looked at him doubtfully. He dug into the emergency kit again and found the knife, and wiped it with his handkerchief. Bobbie reached over and covered his hand and the knife.

"That's okay." Then she took his sandwich. "I trust your saliva more than that knife until we can wash it." She took a bite and handed it back, chewing thoughtfully and swallowing. "Not bad. Have a bite of mine?"

Karel blinked. "Sure." He took the sandwich she offered, took a bite, and handed it back. "Nice," he said, between chews, "especially with mayonnaise." (Gyup, we can call mayonnaise without any loss of meaning at all. It does have a distinct green cast.)

Bobbie said, "It's been a while since we treated ourselves to Berikeil food, hasn't it?" (The Union of Independent States of Berikil. Berikil Mesufito was the mapmaker who made the first maps of the new world.)

"Mmm, well, yeah. Focusing on the local cuisine and all hasn't left us much time to eat Berikeil."

(The shape of those continents is a little different from our Americas, but there are a number of parallels in the history, including naming the continents after the mapmaker instead of the leader of the expedition. At least Berikil was part of the crew.)

Both of them wondered whether it would be yet a while before they ate food from their home country again, but neither put the thoughts into words.

When they had finished eating, Karel asked, "What should we do next?"

"Start exploring the island for real, maybe?"

"Ya know, I'm thinking I want to make sure the water filter works."

"Good idea. Have you read the instructions?"

Karel dug into the emergency kit, but could only find the filter body and the pack of paper filters that looked more like coffee filters. No instructions.

"Can that actually filter water?" Bobbie said doubtfully when he showed her the paper filters.

"For short-term, drink-or-die emergencies, I guess."

"We'll have to be careful with the drinking water Wycliffe gave us, and use sea water to wash."

"Maybe we can find something to make a real filter with." Karel thought for a minute. Then he said, "Let's wash the utensils from the emergency kit so we don't have to worry about that for dinner."

Bobie agreed, so they took the utensils with them and went down to the beach to look at the water. The sea was clear and blue, and looked inviting. Karel asked, "Want to go in for a swim?"

"Is that preparing? Sounds more like play. What about the dishes?"

"Part of exploring -- gotta check out the water source."

Bobbie looked at Karel with a smile that bordered on a smirk and said, "Sounds good to me."

"You think I'm just making excuses." Karel complained as they walked back up the beach to get their swimming suits.

Bobbie just laughed.

Looking at their baggage spread out on the grass, Bobbie pointed out, "No place to change."

"Well, we need to put up the tent, anyway. Give me a hand?"

"Sure, let's do it."

They opened up the canvas bag with the tent in it and pulled out the rubberized ground sheet, the canvas tent, the tent poles, lines, and stakes, and starting setting it up.

"Should I trust you with that big hammer?" Bobbie joked as she held the stakes while Karel pounded them into the dirt. Fortunately, the ground under the grass was firmer than beach sand.

"You want to swing it?"

"Just be careful." 

When they had the tent up, Bobbie changed into her swimsuit inside the tent while Karel pulled the dinghy out of its canvas bag and looked it over. "There's a canvas tarp in the bag with the dinghy." he reported. "And a foot pump." He started inflating the dinghy with the foot pump.

"Those'll be useful," Bobbie said as she came out in her swimsuit. "Your turn."

She half-hoped Karel would say something in the way of appreciation of her appearance in her swimsuit, but he did not oblige. If she had been watching closely, she might have noticed him catch his breath and swallow before he offered her the pump.

While Karel changed, Bobbie took over inflating the dinghy. When he was changed, they traded turns until the dinghy's frame was tight. While they were inflating the dinghy, they hung their clothes out to finish drying. Then they threw the oars in the dinghy and carried it to the water.

And, for her part, Bobbie did not quite dare voice her appreciation of Karel's appearance, either. Being too frank about certain things might make it a very long three days.

Leaving the dinghy on the sand, they waded into the water. Bobbie bent down and scooped some of the water up. Curious, she tasted it.

"Mmm. Salty."

Karel followed suit. "Tastes okay, other than the salt. Properly filtered and boiled, it would probably be pretty good. Maybe the filter will work for a few pints of water."

The beach sloped gently down into the water and continued more or less at the same slope below the water line for quite a distance. They were only to their knees about a sederteh out. (Sederteh -- sixteen derteh, or about thirty-three yards.)

So they went back and put the dinghy in the water, pulling it to where the water was deep enough to float. Then they got in and rowed out about two sederteh, pushing and probing the bottom with the oars as they went.

"Still not much seaweed. It'll be faster to push it," said Karel, and he climbed out in water that was now to his waist and started to push the dinghy ahead of him. Bobbie continued to paddle on her side.

About four sederteh (about a hundred twenty yards) out, where Karel was up to his chest in the sea, Karel's foot dropped suddenly through the carpet of seaweed, and he slipped under the water, flailing for the dinghy. "Whoa! blub blub blub!"

"You okay?" Bobbie called out to the ripples on the surface, readying to jump in after him. 

Karel put his hand on the sandy bottom and got his feet back under himself so he could stand, shaking the water off as his head broke the surface. "Sudden dropoff here hidden by the seaweed."

"Good thing to know about." Bobbie watched as he dove back underwater to see how deep the dropoff was.

"How is it?" she asked when his head broke the surface again.

"Not bad. About two, maybe three derteh deep beyond the shelf edge (about twelve to eighteen feet). There are lots of fish and seaweed out here. Both look edible. And I'm not seeing any jellyfish or other nasties." (Uikaren -- stinging translucent floaters, jellyfish, for all practical purposes.)

So Bobbie sat on the side of the dinghy, facing in, and sat backwards into the water, and Karel hung onto it while she explored. Then she held the dinghy while he explored some more. After about four gohbu of exploring the shelf and shallows and a little playing in the water, they climbed back in the dinghy and rowed further out in the sea, to get a good look at the island. From maybe nine sederteh (about three hundred yards) out, they could see where the beach curved away from them to the north and to the south.

"The water's really nice." Bobbie said, almost to herself.

"Clean enough to wash the eating utensils in, I'd say."

"How big do you think the island is?"

"If the island is a simple oval, I'd say about seven rhip (a bit more than two miles) across, north to south. Can't tell anything about east to west from here. What do you think?"

"Looks like about ten rhip (about three miles) of beach to me. It'd be fun to live here."

"Lots of adventures, and a lot of hard work, too."

"We're daydreaming. We need to get some dishes cleaned up."

So they brought the dinghy back to the beach, washed the bottom in the surf, and carried it back to the grass.

Bobbie dug the rest of the mess kit out of the emergency supplies. Karel looked at it and said, "You know, we don't have a good place to dry these, yet, so lets just wash the two plates and the food knife for now."

"Aren't you feeling domestic?" Bobbie asked in a mocking voice.

Karel laughed. "Two plates could even wait until just before we eat."

"Should we eat now?" Bobbie asked and looked around. "It's getting close to cee o'clock isn't it? I want to look into the woods a bit before it gets dark." (Cee o'clock. Remember, they count in base sixteen. Csixteen is 12ten and on a 16 hour clock that's early evening, around six-ish.)

"Me, too. The plates can wait a few gohbu."

"Let's get something on our legs before we go wandering through any tall grass."

After changing back, they hung their swimsuits on tent lines and walked into the woods, sighting on the camp as they went.

Karel stopped at a tree with a roundish fruit about five to ten inches in diameter and examined the fruit. He asked Bobbie, "Do you think this might be breadfruit?" (Painko is comparable to our breadfruit, although it does taste a little like cacao when it's really ripe.)

Bobbie looked at the fruit he was indicating and said, "Does the stem break easily? We could take one back and open it up."

Karel picked one, and they kept going. When they lost sight of the camp, Bobbie backed up until she could see the tent, and Karel went further in until he lost sight of her.

"Finding anything?" Bobbie called.

"Not yet. I don't think we've seen any signs of rats or other small animals at all."

"Me neither. Just birds and insects."

"Wait a bunmu." Karel looked closer at a the base of a tree branch. "I thought I saw a muskrat. (Had to think about liito. It's an amphibious rodent, kind of a cross between a squirrel and a muskrat.) "I guess it's hidden itself now." Shortly, he came back.

"About how far in was the muskrat?"

"I'm not sure I really saw one, but it was in a tree about a sederteh in."

Bobbie crept into the woods, following Karel's hand signals. After a half gohbu of searching, she came back.

"No luck?"

"Nah. We'll have to be a bit more quiet."

They walked parallel to the camp for a bit. Then Bobbie went deeper in.

"Here's something that looks like jackfruit. I'll bring one back." (Hariko, although the ripe fruit of some species more than a little resembles a large avocado.)

"Great."

"This one looks like boxfruit." (Pagoka. Not useful for food.)

"Don't take one of those. Maybe we'll check it later."

She bruit the jackfruit back, and they proceeded, parallel to the camp.

"Oh, look at this. It looks like hemp." (Xant -- Other than the basic differences in biochemistry between their world and ours, it was, for all practical purposes, hemp.)

"Rope, paper, ...." Karel thought out loud.

"The seeds are supposed to be edible, too."

It was beginning to get dark, so they returned to camp, laying out the samples they had taken on Karel's trunk. Then they went down to the water and washed their hands.

Coming back, Bobbie opened up the food boxes, which they had set on her trunk in hopes of avoiding attracting insects, and they got out the bread and sausage.

"Nuts," she said.

"What?"

"I just realized we could have brought some seaweed back. We don't have any salad here."

"I'll go back in and get some."

"I'll go with you. Let's take those tin plates and the food knife."

And they took turns in the tent, changing back into their swimsuits again. Then they went down to the water in the twilight, waded in, and washed the plates and knife in the ocean water. Waded further in, they collected some seaweed that they recognized as edible in the light of the slowmoon, washed it to clear off silt and sand, and carried it back to the camp.

Leaving the seaweed on the plates, they changed back into their clothes again and turned their attention to dinner.

"I'm having fun."

"Me, too. Do you want to say the blessing?"

"Sure." They bowed their heads, and Bobbie said, "Heavenly Parent, we are having fun. It's scary, but we are having fun. Thank you for letting us do this, and it was nice of Wycliffe to take us here, in a strange sort of way. We forgive him. We aren't perfectly sure the seaweed is safe, but please bless us that, if it's poisonous, we can tell quickly enough that we can stop eating it before it makes us really sick. And please bless the bread and the sausage and the cheese and the seaweed to our health and strength. And bless Wycliffe, too. We pray in the name of God-Is-Help, amen." And Karel echoed the amen.

After eating, they put the food boxes and the box of emergency supplies in the tent, setting the samples they had taken on the box of emergency supplies. Then they spread the tarp from the dinghy on the ground by the tent and moved the trunks and suitcases around it to form a barrier.

"I could just sleep under the stars, really," said Karel.

"Let's be safe this time. I think you need a roof, too." Bobbie replied, indicating the dinghy.

Karel didn't like this idea. "The corners of the trunks could tear holes in the bottom."

So they moved the trunks beside the tent and leaned the dinghy upside down with its tubes on the trunks, setting the suitcases at the ends as animal barriers. Karel was still not quite satisfied, but it kept the trunk corners away from the fabric of the bottom of the dinghy.

Then they retired for the night.

"I feel like a queen," Bobbie complained jokingly inside the tent.

"That's okay," replied Karel from under the dinghy.

"I could get used to it."

"No, you won't. I know you well enough by now."

Silence. Then, "I mean, I could get used to you being nice to me."

"I wouldn't mind. Really."

More silence.

Karel said, "You know, for two people who sometimes think they are polar opposites, we seem to get along together all right."

"Hah. There's nothing to argue about, here."

"True. I guess we have really good reasons not to argue right now. But we haven't, really, disagreed all that much over the last four months."

"My mom keeps telling me that opposites are supposed to attract. She approves of you."

"She's told me as much. Your dad, too."

"He keeps asking if you are blind or something."

Karel chuckled. "And I think I like your dad, too."

"What do your parents say about me?"

"You know."

"True."

"They keep telling me they don't want to push me one way or the other, but they also keep telling me they really, really like you."

"One of the girls in the dorm asked me why we didn't just get married before we came. She said it would solve so many problems, and, since we had both gone to meet each others' families, it was obviously going to happen anyway."

"The boys on my floor have said similar things."

Again, silence.

"Harvard has invited you to go for a year of teaching and research. And the reports you've sent back from here have been making impressions there."

"And Berkeley has invited you. Your work gets a lot of approval, too, from what the Professor says."

"Can we resolve that?" Karel asked.

"Neither of us has actually made any promises."

"We could find a school that would take us both."

"Or try, and, if we don't, live poor on one salary, the first few years, like most Mormon newlyweds."

"We're serious about this, aren't we?" Karel asked quietly.

"We'll talk more about it in the morning. Excuse me, I'm going to pray and go to sleep. Goodnight."

"'Night."

And both of them did exactly that, repeating in their prayers their requests for help for themselves and for Wycliffe, and adding pleas for help understanding each other and for help understanding which direction their relationship should turn when they were back in civilization again.



Doesn't this sound romantic?

Are they talking about money?

Look carefully. Even though money is not a high priority with these two, economics is a deep undercurrent in their actions and words.

And it's not a bad thing, really, since it clearly takes lower priority than the more important things.


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