WHICH WITCH? 5-23-11
Brian Howles liked living in South America for several reasons.
A big one was that he was a bona fide sun-worshiper – the country that he lived and worked in most of the time was close to the equator and was sheltered from bad weather by having mountains all around it and so simple, passive exposure to the sun seemed to be the only form of prayer that was needed to get it to show up every day – and he also liked the people and the food that they ate and that held true for the other, neighboring, countries that he had to visit regularly as a part of his job.
A big clincher was the fact that something in the air – or the water or the food or the, mostly, clandestine liquor – made the fact that he revered women’s bodies, all women’s bodies, manifest itself by the emanation of vibes that were picked up by any and every woman who was in his immediate vicinity. That, combined with the fact that the local girls and women found that his open Yankee face and his blond hair and blue eyes were attractive to them, partly from being so rare in those parts, saw to it that he had little to no trouble with finding, uh, agreeable female companionship.
Yet another bonus was the fact that, although he’d proved to be borderline-hopeless at learning French in high school, he’d rapidly picked up enough Spanish to easily suit his needs.
For all of those reasons he was very unhappy indeed when his two-year contract came to an end and his head office informed him that he was needed at home, which was NY City.
He pleaded long and hard, and manufactured non-existing on-going technical problems that needed solving, and so he was, reluctantly, given a six-month extension.
When that extra time got to be close to running out he piled up other reasons as to why he shouldn’t be forced to leave – he went as far as to back up his pleas with letters from the company presidents of the four bordering countries that made up his area of operation urging his NYC Headquarters’ people to let him stay in the area – and, in the face of that, he was given another extension of three months but was warned that that was positively the last one that he’d get. He was told that his services were needed at home and, besides that, he was reminded that only a year earlier he’d been singing the praises of the local engineer who he’d trained to replace him as – the natives loved being given splendid-sounding titles – ‘Chief Technical Supervisor And Training Manager For The Northern Sphere Of South America.’
Something that the HQ people didn’t have to tell him was that not only was the local guy’s salary a quarter the size of his but, on top of that, he wasn’t, and never would be, nearly as expert as Brian was at padding expense reports.
The quality of the international phone service to the entire country was patchy at best – and infuriating at all other times, as was, obviously, e-mail service – so sending old fashioned telegrams was the most reliable method to follow to get important messages through and so Brian and his bosses in New York always opted for that way to avoid delays and, especially, misunderstandings.
When his second and final extension was close to running out, and his airplane seat had been reserved already by the HQ PR Department, Brian’s immediate boss in NYC, a man named John Baxter, received a telegram from him and, remembering his recent history, it aroused his suspicions:-
“My replacement will not be able to take over for an indefinite amount of time stop must take seriously sick son to a specialist inland stop please advise stop Howles”
He replied, cautiously:-
“Explain kind of illness and type of specialist and location stop Baxter”
Brian’s answer was:-
“Local doctors failed to cure sons congestion stop father and son must join large group to traverse jungle and high mountain passes stop estimated time required for this journey is six weeks each way stop understand that highly esteemed specialist runs around fire from sundown to midnight howling incantations and casting spells stop grand finale is the decapitation of a kid goat followed by the sprinkling of all patients with its blood to drive away any remaining evil spirits stop high success rate stop please advise stop Howles”
New York’s reply to that was:-
“Requested extension denied stop repeat denied stop doctor is not a specialist stop obviously only a general practitioner stop strongly advise that your ass fills reserved plane seat stop Baxter”