BRING ME A DONKEY A novel by Sheila Willar Copyright 2016 Sheila Willar ISBN 978-0-9867101-4-8 Untie them and bring them to me. - Matthew 21:2
CHAPTER 8 ............................ THE VIEW
The morning after the dinner party, Rettel wrote about the events at Mrs. Mancinni’s and posted it on the Ansel and Rettel website. He didn’t leave out any details and made explicit reference to the stone chairs and their mystical powers. He described the devastating effects that they had on the guests and he even described how Erin and Taoiseach candidate Mr. Lomman Buffet were immune, saying that they were “frozen in time and space as they drifted above a full view of the earth on their Irish Blue Chairs”.
Erin was so furious with Rettel that she texted him and demanding that he not contact her anymore and that he stop posting on her website.
Later that afternoon, Mrs. Mancinni called Erin and insisted that she come and collect the nine Irish Blue chairs.
“No!” shrieked Erin incredulously.
“Then I’ll give them to the first person who rings the door bell. And I’ll tell them about the head chair and where they can find it,” declared the Matriarch. “Half of Ireland is threatening to sue me and the other half wants to break into my house and steal them! I’m inundated with lawyers and thieves!”
“I’ll be right there,” answered Erin and within the hour she was seen leaving Mrs. Mancinni’s Dublin house with a bouquet of motley looking balloons which she stuffed into the back of her car.
The Dublin police were not amused by Rettel’s post and considered him their number one suspect in the rendering of members of government unconscious. It was a criminal event and they chose one of their best detectives, Inspector Link, to conduct interviews and root out the culprit.
Father Michael told the inspector that he did not know Rettel and that he did not sit in any of the chairs. He tried to hide the fact that he was afraid of the ancient stones and that he didn’t know where they were, but he shook as he emphatically stated that he did not want anything to do with them.
All of the candidates for Taoiseach said that Rettel’s story was nonsense, and that it was obvious that a faulty boiler had contributed to their carbon monoxide poisoning. None of them wanted to be associated with Rettel. However, Mr. Buffet asked the inspector to keep him apprised of the whereabouts of the chairs, and Erin suggested that perhaps it was her youth and overall fitness that allowed her to escape unharmed.
The firemen and ambulance workers told the inspector that there was a lot of smoke in the house and that it was difficult to find their way through it. They said that the candidates had fallen ill around the dining room table and acted like that had had too much to drink.
The investigator visited Mrs. Mancinni’s house and had his team sweep through it with a fine tooth comb. In the dining room he circled the table and sat in one of the chairs to see if he would experience the same effect as the candidates, and as he did he noticed that it was bolted to the floor.
“Why are the chairs bolted to the floor?” he asked Mrs. Mancinni. “That’s a bit odd isn’t it?”
“No. They’re antiques and I don’t want them stolen,” she replied indignantly.
The detective also noticed that his seat was far too low for the table. He felt like a small child sitting in an oversized chair. He sat there for a few minutes but he did not feel hot or feverish or dizzy like several of the candidates had witnessed. He waited a few more minutes and then tried to stand up but the antenna on the pager that he had in his pocket hooked in a piece of ribbon. He looked to see what the problem was and he noticed that there were tie-downs on the bottoms and backs of the chairs.
“What are these for?” he asked.
“For cushions,” answered Mrs. Mancinni. “To protect the chairs.”
“Did you use cushions at the dinner party?”
“Yes,” hedged Mrs. Mancinni knowing that the stones had been under the cushions.
The detective noticed the catch in her breath.
“Where are the cushions now?” he asked.
“They are being laundered.”
“Do you always use cushions on these chairs?”
“Absolutely! These chairs are historically important artifacts. I would suggest that you treat them with respect.”
The detective’s intuition told him that she was hiding something and that he would have to be more subtle in order to get to the bottom of it.
“Thank you for your time,” he said graciously as he offered Mrs. Mancinni his card. He forced a smile as wide as an ocean when she refused to take it. He had seen her kind before and on more than one occasion he had been transferred or demoted when he got too close to the secrets of the rich and famous. As a result he had learned to handle himself with discretion. On the way out of her house he quietly asked the staff for the address of the laundry service they used and he sent his officers to retrieve the chair cushions and take them to a lab.
Erin continued to post her ideas online and gained the support of an ever broadening audience. Her followers thought that Rettel’s post was a metaphor about the other candidates, and they did not take the reference to supernatural chairs literally. They were more interested in Erin’s campaign against traditional partisan politics and how it would affect their lives. To them, Erin was a beacon of hope for change.
Erin purposely distanced herself from the other candidates, but when Lomman asked for a meeting, she agreed even though Matthew advised against it. They met at a coffee shop near her apartment and it was clear to Erin right from the beginning, that he was a different man from the one she had met at Mrs. Mancinni’s.
“You’re very popular,” he said with a hiss as he sipped his coffee.
“I don’t know about that,” answered Erin with a flush of embarrassment.
“No. Really you are. How many hits do you have? 3? 4? 50 thousand a day? More?” he asked with a hint of bitterness.
Erin didn’t want to divulge a number. She knew that they were inflated by autobots and roving subroutines.
“I really don’t know,” she answered.
Lomman wasn’t much older than she was but he had an old man slump in his posture that came form years of political banter. He examined Erin slowly over the top edge of his wire frame glasses. “Do you see me?” he asked coyly.
“Do you see me?”
“Then you know my face?”
“Did you see me at the dinner party?”
“I saw you there,” he divulged.
Erin nodded. He was making her uncomfortable and she wished that she hadn’t come.
“I SAW you.”
“No. I SAW you ‘up there’. Up where the ‘view’ is much different than it is down here.”
Erin didn’t know why but she suddenly felt an overwhelming sense of peace.
“You know what I’m talking about don’t you?” he questioned as his demeanour became tense and aggressive.
“If you have something to say Mr. Buffet then just say it.”
“Is that where you get your ideas from? Up there?” he asked as he tried to solicit information about her relationship with the chairs.
Erin remained quiet.
“You could use the chairs to run the country,” he suggested.
Erin didn’t even raise an eyebrow.
“You would be unstoppable.”
Erin thought about it for a minute.
“You could change Ireland. Maybe even the world,” he whispered slowly as he watched for a sign that she was hooked.
Erin had to admit that it sounded good. Really good. She believed that her version of government would end the incessant waste and bureaucracy that was so frustrating to so many. She really hadn’t considered the idea of using the Irish Blue chairs as a part of government but her mind started to venture down that road.
“Think how quickly you could invoke change. You wouldn’t have to wait for the others to come round, you could simply take your seat and make it happen.”
Erin smiled and wistfully pictured herself in the chair floating above the earth with Jesus at her side.
“You and me. We could be allies,” he suggested.
“What?” she whispered as her daydream suddenly burst. She refocused on Lomman, whose neck seemed a little disjoint from the rest of his body.
“You don’t want to share?” he scolded. “You aren’t the only one called to sit in those chairs!”
“I don’t want the chairs,” answered Erin defensibly.
“Just imagine the impact if we could fill them with like-minded people. There would be no stopping us.”
Erin considered the thought of multiplying the power of the stones by ten-fold or more and it was staggering.
“Tell me where the chairs are and I’ll help you get elected!” he declared impatiently.
Erin knew that his praise was without merit. “You’re a treasure hunter!” she exclaimed.
“No, I don’t want the chairs for myself. I just want them to be used for what they were put here to do. I want the same thing you want. I want to create change, and those chairs can help us do it.”
“Can you hear me?” he taunted.
“What do you mean?”
“Can you hear me?” he repeated.
“Then hear me when I say that you will not be able to protect the chairs on your own. You do no have the authority, the experience, or the power. If you give them to me then I will ensure that they will be kept safe.”
Erin turned sideways to leave.
“Who else do you know besides me that appreciates the chairs the way you do? You know I can handle myself in them. You saw me with your own eyes. Clearly the priest wants nothing to do with the them and you would be a fool to involve your family and put them at risk.”
Erin put her purse over her shoulder.
“If someone else gets their hands on the chairs they’ll either destroy them or destroy the world.”
Erin stood up.
Lomman reached out and grabbed her wrist. “Without me you’re on your own and without me you’ll lose the chairs to someone you don’t know.”
“I don’t know you Mr. Buffet.”
“Better the devil you know …” he replied. “Tell me you’ll think about it.”
Erin didn’t have to say anything. They both knew that she would.
Lommman realized that Erin was far too independent for his liking and had far too many followers to be dismissed. He decided to win her over by copying her platform. He read her posts and then rewrote them with a slightly different slant for his own website. His goal was to convince her non-partisan followers to form a non-partisan-partisan party behind him. He wanted to use their frustrations to put himself in the office of Taoiseach.
Erin was angry when she realized what he had done. She would have to scrutinize her posts in order to make it clear that her platform and Mr. Buffet’s had nothing in common.
The Department of National Defence also took notice of Rettel’s post and they determined that it was a matter of national security.
“Shut down that mule!” demanded Captain White.
“You may want to take a look at this in private, Sir,” suggested one of the agents.
“What is it?” snapped Captain White who had no time for games.
“I’ve never seen anything like it, Sir. It’s ingenious. Rettel developed a universal syntax that automatically generates messages in multiple languages.”
“How many languages?” asked Captain White as he scanned a bank of flickering computer screens.
“All of them, Sir.”
“What do you mean ‘All of them’?”
“All of them. I’ve tested it with everything we have. Every country in the world is reading the same message in their own language.”
“No, Sir. He’s designed it so that whatever language a computer is set for, the post will automatically be displayed in that language. Everyone will hear and read in their own tongue.”
“Yes, Sir. But that’s not all, Sir.”
“What is it?”
“He’s designed it so that every computer that hits the Ansel and Rettel website is downloaded a ‘crumb’, Sir.”
“You mean a cookie.”
“No, Sir. He calls it a ‘crumb’, a ‘bread-crumb’ to be exact. Unlike cookies which allow us to track computers, the bread-crumbs allow computers to track him.”
“He wants everyone in the world to track him?”
“Are these ‘crumbs’ on our computers?”
“Yes, Sir. Our security couldn’t prevent it.”
Captain White swore loudly but no one looked up because everyone was so used to it.
“If he wants us to track him, then track him!” demanded Captain White.
“We have, Sir.”
“Then put him up on Screen.”
"Yes, Sir, but you won’t like it.”
The programmer tapped away on his keyboard and put a new display up on the large main screen.
“What is that? What are you showing me?”
“He’s circling the earth, Sir.”
“In what?” asked Captain White incredulously.
“We don’t know, Sir, but we can confirm that his tracking device left the earth at 12 noon today and is now in a mid-earth orbit of 45,000 m. There were no confirmed launches of satellites or other rockets today that could have taken him or his tracker into space.”
“That doesn’t make any sense,” growled the Captain.
“No, Sir, and may I add one more thing?”
“Go!,” he fumed.
“His tracker goes back and forth between earth and orbit in a matter of seconds, several times a day.”
“It’s clearly a hoax,” surmised the Captain. “Find out where he really is and do it fast!”