I told Doug all about the Kmpamew and I said I thought maybe he should come to live with me there during my interim appointment, just until the new Council is sworn-in in the New Year.

Doug said, “You know, they lied to us. Didn’t we always think the caves were barren and underpopulated, especially after so many moved up-top to live? They didn’t say anything about a palace and a secret city.”

“Yeah, we missed an entire world. How could we have not known about an isolated and secret society in our midst…?”

“And did you ever see any workers coming and going from there?”


“And these people are not any of the crowd in the main cave that we saw on the day of the last crisis?”

“No. They don’t dress the same and I don’t think I’ve ever seen them before.”

“Speaking of dressing: you were organizing your closet and you were going to finish unpacking the seven chests of the Nipusindi.”

“Well, yeah, but I’ve been busy…”

“Well now that you’re part of the upper-upper strata of society, you may want to wear some of the clothes from the chest.”

“I don’t know what to choose or where to put it all and, um, how to organize…”

“I would think they have endless closets in a palace, and some kind of servant who can help you. Didn’t you say there’s a large staff?”

“Well, I just met the Gavicte and I wanted to study some documents before seeing my Mieta … Oh damn, oh Kievifkwa!”

“What’s Kievifkwa?”

“Oh hell, it’s just our general all around curse word, or expletive… you know how I am with definitions…Oh Kievifkwa! And damn, how am I going to remember all these rules and stuff…”

“What stuff is that?”

I explained to Doug what little I knew about the weapons in the armory and about the rules for intruders. I said, “There’s a possibility that James Ziohat might accidentally drill into the ceiling of the Kmpamew.”


“It’ll never happen: the little twerp just talks big. His grand plans never go anywhere… but I’ve got better news…”


“I get to paint on the ceiling of the Kmpamew.”




A Walk in the Park

I decided that Doug and I are too obsessed with our projects and we should just go for a walk. He’s right about one thing: I should finish unpacking the seven chests of the Nipusindi. But I just dragged Doug into my bedroom, threw open the lids to all the chests, and started pulling things out and piling them onto my bed. I said, “Which of these do you think I’d look best in?” Doug seemed to point to one at random.

Doug said, “That one. The Royal purple dress with the gold trim or whatever…”

I stripped off the plain green dress that I had been wearing and I looked over at another of the chests. I threw a collection of colorful bras onto the bed. I said, “Which of these?”

Doug said, “First take this one off,” and he unfastened my plain white bra. He tickled his fingers over my nipples.

I said, “I’m getting dressed, not undressed. Remember?”

“Oh yeah.”

“So which would you choose?”

“Um, the one with the metal breastplate — the warrior princess look or um, whatever it’s called…”

“OK. But I’ll do it. I’m putting it on, not off.” Yes, I thought, we do need a walk in the fresh air. I slipped into the Royal purple dress. I said, “How does that look?”


“Does it fit? It doesn’t bulge anywhere?”

“No, no, no. It fits perfectly. Your body is perfect.”

I pulled out some other dresses. I said, “Maybe this one would be a better color?”

“Well, um, uh, that whole bunch looks like the wrong size?”

I said, “Uh, yeah, those seem different.” Then something weird happened: I found myself saying, “Of course those are different. They are the slave uniforms.”

“What did you say?”

“Oh, I don’t know why I said that. Um, OK, I’ll just put on some make-up and we’ll take a walk. OK?”


I rushed around and quickly got ready. I took Doug’s hand and we were out the door. “You know, I’ve been meaning to ask you…”


“Whenever I go in or out from your apartment, I never see anyone… ”

“Uh, well, actually the whole building is empty except for me. All of the other apartments are just there to provide addresses and false identities so Utcoozhoo can launder money. He sells precious metals and other things from the Tzalbihuki under different names. The wealth that the gods brought us is what gives us a source of income. If an inspector comes, we put someone in an apartment for the day.”

We walked down the clean well-lit hallway with the gold carpet and plain white walls. I said, “Well if this is your building, maybe I could practice painting murals on these empty walls.”

“Sure. Why not.”

We arrived at the elevator with the car ready. “Oh, well, now I understand why the elevator is always here.” We stepped in, and I pushed ‘L’. “But if there’s no one here, what do we do in an emergency?”

“Oh we have double backup.”

“What do you mean?”

“Well, the original building plans don’t show it, but we took out several columns of apartments and we used two of those columns to make two extra elevator shafts.”

“Huh? How would we get out of here?”

“Well, see the handle on the side panel that says, ‘emergency only’?”


“That opens to a parallel shaft that has a hand operated pulley system with multiple shelves that fold at the top and bottom of the shaft to make a continuous loop.”

“Sounds complicated.”

“No, you just open the door, pull down the nearest shelf and hop on. You can hoist yourself up, or let gravity take you down. Wanna see?”

“No some other time.” The elevator opened onto our opulent lobby with the red carpet, blush couch, and the fish pond. “You know, maybe you should invite someone, and make them wait down here just so someone can use the couch.”

“I suppose, but it’s really just a front.”

“Ah, it’s a sunny day.” Doug opened the door for me and we walked to the corner. The sign said ‘WALK’, so we did — across the street into the honking, dodging the cars that had trapped themselves in the intersection at the change of light, and we swirled around the line at the hot dog stand. We pushed our way to the pedestrian flow that was moving in our direction. I said, “Let’s walk to the park.”

“Look at that tourist over there coming towards us: She’s wearing your purple dress.”

“No. It has a different collar … How do you know she’s a tourist?”

“By the way she’s looking up at the skyscrapers and looking everywhere like she wants to take in every sight.”

“Nice heels…”

“…yeah, stands tall, struts confidently with proud marching breasts…”


“Never mind…”

The woman smiled and passed us by, but I became worried. “Did you feel that?”

“What? I think she said something but I couldn’t make it out.”

“No, I felt an upper Utd’mbts word.”

“I could have sworn she said, ‘Yes, I’m a tourist of sorts.’ ”

“No. She didn’t speak. She pushed an Utd’mbts word into your subconscious and you allowed it to bubble up into your consciousness, though a little distorted.”

“Hmm. Now that you mention it, it did feel like upper Utd’mbts. I haven’t tried using that in years…”

“I saw ‘Old Faithful’, the geyser at Yellowstone National Park, a plane to the city, a car to her hotel room, and her walking here… and she thinks you’re cute…”

“Hmm, um. Her life story in a second?”

“Sort of …”

“Wow. Great. Cool.”

“No. I’m not so sure it’s benign. I’m worried.”


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