That’s one thing that Utcoozhoo never anticipated: that Zawmb’yee, his new apprentice could get into trouble so fast, but here is how Doug tells the story:
Utcoozhoo has been cranky lately. You’d think he’d be happy, because he finally got an apprentice to pass on the oral history – they do a lot of chanting and humming. I said to Utcoozhoo, wouldn’t it be easier to just write it all down. He said, the language of the Gods can’t be written – only seen. The only thing that interests me is that odd saying, “The wearer of the hat can stab through rock with an endless spear.” Oh hell, I think I’m just going to explore the chambers beyond the dome of the endless light. I can’t see what these superstitious curmudgeons are afraid of. They’re waiting for the Gods to return. I can’t wait for that – it could be a thousand years from now or never. If there is some kind of drilling machine, I could use it to finally hook up my computer in the cave.
I finally got Zawmb’yee, Utcoozhoo’s apprentice, to open up a little. She says she finds the exercises exciting but tedious. Utcoozhoo doesn’t think she’s ready for any ancient secrets. She’s been practicing the “seeing of knowledge”.
“Huh?” I said. “Exactly what are you doing?”
“We walk past the glass wall, around the sword of the silver-red stalagmite. I turn my back while Utcoozhoo opens the ngtqua entrance…”
“He has a key or code of some kind? It looks like solid rock…”
“I don’t know. I don’t look. Sometimes it takes too long. He tells me to be quiet so he can concentrate. It’s so boring — I sit down with my back to him, put on my headphones and listen to music. That annoys him sometimes — says how can you get into a mystical mood listening to rock music. I laugh — he says no pun with “rock”. But anyway, when he’s finished yelling at me, I sit down with my back to him again and he does whatever…”
“Yeah, yeah, yeah, and then what?”
“We go down the golden steps into the darkness to the floating bed…then there’s meditation…”
“I can’t tell you anymore. You know, ‘secrets are sacred’ and all that. Bring me a gift and maybe I’ll tell you.”
She’s a tease.
Hmm, Zawmb’yee wants a gift. I don’t know; I don’t have any money right now. I spent all my money on Chloë, the lady at the Antelope Hotel(I know I said I’d keep her name anonymous because she’d be the goat of a joke if it were known she goes out with the Caveman, but I don’t think just a first name will do any harm.). I could write a poem for Zawmb’yee. I don’t know if she’d accept that as a gift; I think it depends on whether when she says, “gift” she means gift or bribe. There’s good news and bad news, I think. If she wants a bribe, then I can easily find out stuff, but then she’s really not trustworthy to receive the wisdom of the ages. On the other hand, if she really wants, umm, me as gift then… oh, Gods, she is beautiful… I must compose a poem for her, but she is too spiritual for my crude verse. I mean, Chloë, I think, is easily impressed by my poems of green pastures, but I don’t think Zawmb’yee will fall for me that easily.
Chloë Was Mad
I could hear my phone ringing all the way down the hall as I came in this morning. By the time I got in the door it must have been ringing more than 10 times. Chloë was mad. She says you’re never home. Well, actually, I would say (but never tell her) that the cave is more like my home than is my apartment.
Yeah, I know I promised to install a cable in the cave so I’d have an Internet link there, but I think it’s probably much too complicated and expensive.
I had a dream about Zawmb’yee. She was teaching me meditation, but it was weird like a loss of identity — some sort of blending process. She opened the ngtqua by herself and we floated in. I’ve been thinking about that gift for her. I did write a poem about “gifts.” Maybe it’ll do. It’s based on the story “The Gift of the Magi”, but it has my own twist. He buys her a swing for her tree so she can grieve over memories. He has to sell his carving tools to get money to buy it. She cuts down her tree to give him the perfect block of wood for his carvings.
Maybe it might be “spiritual” enough for Zawmb’yee. I don’t think Chloë would like it. They are so different, but I don’t know who’s more exciting…
—- END of ” 3. Zawmb’yee Becomes Utcoozhoo’s Apprentice ”
4. Learning the Culture