June 6 1992, continued
"I am coming from Vomisa Mountains," Mantami explained. "Vomisa are meaning 'The People' in language I am speaking from children-time. Vomisa are very mountainous people. Happy in living highly, are you seeing?"
"Was two winters before now," Mantami continued, "in Fall time. I still was being not-yet-adult, but Ordeal," (I could hear the capital letter), "was soonly coming for me, so I was walking alonely for preparationing myself."
"'Ordeal'?" asked Bill.
"Is how Vomisa are becoming adults," Mantami told him, "so we can be mating."
"Was tracking big tacht," Mantami said, holding his arms apart to indicate the size of the thing he'd been tracking.
Whatever a tacht was, it was apparently a lot wider than Mantami.
He continued, "I was discovering feets prints from a people. Was not Vomisa feets prints. Was from shoes, so was not S'linth. I was in curiosity, so I was following. Feets prints only were old for one day and Vomisa are traveling fastly in our mountains."
"I was traveling more fastly than the people. I was traveling long, too. I was chewing hinch nuts, so I was not tiring, and you have been seeing I am climbing goodly. In a two of days, I was seeing the people I was following."
"She was being a stranger. More tall than Vomisa. Red hair. Muchly.." he looked perplexed. "I do not know the how of saying it in English."
"Alien?" Bill suggested.
"Yes! 'Alien'. She was muchly alien for me." He seemed happy to have discovered a new context for the word. "I was watching on her for one more of days. She was not knowing I was watching on her while we were traveling alonely together."
I glanced around. Everyone was absorbed in Mantami's tale, even the skeptically-frowning Tong.
"At the ending of the one more of days, she was not making a camp. When night is coming in Vomisa Mountains, it is fastly coming, so I was in worry for her. She was in a danger place. Very high, very steep, much rock falling. I was getting closer in worry. Then she.." he groped for an appropriate term.
"Fell?" suggested Bill.
Mantami shook his head.
"Caught you?" Blandy asked.
Mantami shook his head more vigorously. "No, no. She was..not where I could be seeing her. Fastly not."
"She disappeared?" Pith ventured.
"Yes!" Mantami responded, clapping his hands delightedly. "'She disappeared'!"
"Then what?" I demanded.
"I was going fastly to where she was not..where she 'disappeared'," he replied. "And there I was finding a open place into the mountain."
"A cave?" Bill suggested.
"Yes. A cave. I was thinking she was disappeared in the cave and I was in worry for her. Tachts are living in caves," he explained.
"So, you, like, followed her," Blandy submitted.
"Brave kid," Pith observed.
"Cave was going far into the mountain," Mantami continued, "with many of twistings and turnings. In first it was being like most Vomisa Mountains caves. More far inside it was becoming like a made thing, with walls and floors of smoothness like glass." He made a sweeping, palms-down gesture.
"Was light coming from far inside. Blue light, like cop cars," he explained. "I was sneaking with quietness into the light place where the stranger person was."
"She was making a sound, like, 'Ho-fi-he-ha, no-pi-te-ya'.."
"Chanting," Bill put in.
Mantami nodded. "Enchanting. And she was waving of her hands around. And with no clothes on." He shuddered.
"Cave was filled with light. I was feeling very scaredly. My skin was like before a storming and my ears were dizzy. As longer she was enchanting and waving of hands, I was feeling worser and worser. And more scaredly."
He looked ashamed.
"I was in terror. I could not be hiding more muchly. Almost, I was running away." He seemed to draw into himself at the memory.
"At lastly, I could not..could not.."
"Take it?" I offered.
"Take it. I could not take it." His eyes were haunted. "I was running toward the handwaver. She was enchanting very loudly and she was did this," he clapped his hands together forcefully, "as I was touching her."
He drew a long, ragged breath.
"Was very bright light. Very bright. Inside, was like I was twisting up inside. Also spinning. Very dizzy. Was feeling like..like.." He looked to us to supply him with the term he was fumbling for.
No one said a word.
"When I was awakening," he continued at last, his voice slowly strengthening, "was in different cave. Same, like, but different. Handwaver was being very mad at me. Was calling me kuhlvist and dolchat. Other things, too. She was making me tell of how I was traveling behind her, about how I was preparationing for Ordeal."
"When I was done with my telling, she was telling me of her name. She was called 'Læ'. Then she was telling me of how she was going to other places and how I was not. She was handwaving and enchanting and teaching me of English, so I could live in this place. Then she was writing on paper for me and telling me of how to find Berkeley on her map. She was telling me to be going to Berkeley to be waiting for her."
"That is why I am being here."
"Shit," said Tong, breaking his silence, "that's 911, all the way."
"Excuse me?" Mantami replied.
"Wordup: how long she spend teachin' you English?"
"She was teaching of me for one day."
"Yeah, cuz, you trippin'. How'd you roll up to 510? Where you get here from?"
"I was walking to Berkeley. I was coming from Sierras."
"Uh-huh. Where'd you get bank for a crib?"
"Læ was giving me writing on how I was to finding Berkeley Main Post Office and Wells Fargo Bank." I could tell from the way he said it that he'd thoroughly memorized both things once upon a time.
"You gettin' govvermint cheese?"
Mantami shook his head. "At Post Office was key. Key was for safely depositing in box at bank."
"You been workin' the bitch all this time?"
Mantami nodded again.
"So, why we get the 411..?"
Mantami smiled. "I will be soonly going home!"
"Cool. What you want wid' us?"
"I am in needing of your helpfulness," Mantami responded. "The handwaver, Læ, has been offering to me of returning to my family in four of weeks. But, she is wanting of me to be finding..to be finding.."
"How 'bout 'adventurers'?" That last was Pith's contribution.
Mantami nodded, gratefully. "'Adventurers' is in closeness. Special mans to help Læ."
"I have not knowing," Mantami confessed. "I am knowing only that one must be knowing the secrets of climbing, one the secrets of caves and three or four must be being warriors." He looked around at us. "And none must be mated or with childs."
"Mercs! Damn, Blood! He schemin' us for mercs!"
"Shut up, dwid," Blandy put in. "As dear old Daddy would say, 'What's the bottom line?' Mantami?"
"He means," Bill explained, "'What's in it for us?'"
"I am having ten thousands of greenbanks for each mans for expensive monies.."
"You mean 'expense' money."
Mantami nodded. "Yes. Expense money. I am not knowing of the ending amount. Several millions of greenbanks, I am thinking."
"A million dead presidents?" Tong snorted. "What we s'posed to do for a million bones? 'Jack Fort Knox, mebbe?"
Mantami shook his head. "I am not knowing," he said. "Perhaps Læ will be telling more of this soonly."
"So," Bill asked, "purely theoretically speaking, when would we get this ten thousand dollars worth of expense money? Assuming we decided to sign on for your little 'adventure', that is?"
"You would be getting it now, Mister Bill."
(Copyright© 1997 by Thom Stark--all rights reserved)