Welcome to the new Stream of Consciousness fiction blog.

A serial adventure in fiction by Brad Sondahl

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Chapter 35
The Nose of Death

    I saw this ad on the Internet about outsourcing your memory overseas, so I decided to try it out, as it wasn't very expensive.  I got a pair of glasses in the mail, with built in speakers for my ears, a tiny camera, and a little projection screen on the lenses, all hooked into satellite Internet feeds.  Somewhere else this guy probably named Sanjit, who said I could call him Gary, monitors whatever I see and checks the images against a database so I can have the names I need when seeing acquaintances on the street.  It did take some time entering the names and photos of everyone I know, but I figured it would be worth it, particularly as Gary will enter any new names himself, which might help me keep on top of things as I campaign for the presidency.

    I went for a walk in the park, to try it out.  I saw a little old lady walking her dog.  That's your first grade teacher, Mrs. Lipshalk, said Gary.  That's incredible, I thought.  She used to look a lot bigger...  Besides, I went to school back in the Midwest, how could she be way out here?  But I took a stab at it anyway...
    "Hello, Mrs. Lipshalk!  You probably don't remember me, but I had you as a teacher for first grade.  My name is Phil Steen, and now I'm running for president!"
    "Oh yes, I remember you perfectly," she replied.  "I always thought you could do something great if you'd stop eating paste when I wasn't looking..."

    Wow, she sure had an amazing memory!  She has to be at least 75 by now...   Then I noticed she was wearing glasses like mine...  So that was her secret.  But the paste thing!  That must be an amazing database they've got for these glasses...  So then I decided to see if the glasses would recognize someone I'd never met...  I started watching for anyone not wearing glasses.  There weren't a lot...  I had just located someone when a message from Gary flashed on my lenses.

    Thank you for your patronage.  Because my business has grown, with your help, I've decided to outsource some of my accounts to China.  Your personal representative will be Xeng Po, but you can call him Bill.  I'm confident he will supply you with the same great memory assistance you have come to rely on...

 Bill seemed to do as well as  Gary at first.   But after a few days I began to sense he had his own agenda going.  If I saw any kind of ad for travel, he'd mention the wonderful qualities of Rajnoor, a place I was sure I'd never heard of before, so I wondered if he weren't tampering with my memories. However, as time went on, I adjusted to his idiosyncracies, and as long as we stayed off the topic of travel, I felt this new memory system couldn't be beat.

    I was drowsing off one evening, watching an old Peter Ustinov movie on the classic movie channel, when Bill began telling me to wake up and pay attention to the idol that one of the characters had stolen the eye jewel from.  He said the eyes of the idol were long gone, but that the nose remained, for anyone  brave enough to steal it, and that with the Nose of Death we could both have unlimited happiness.  I suppose it was the way he kept badgering me about it, but finally I gave in and booked passage to Rajnoor.

    I did think it odd that so few people were going to Rajnoor.  The plane left from one of those charter terminals, so there were no lines or security  searches.  The plane was the smallest I'd ever flown on, particularly for an international flight.  They handed out Happy Meals and air sick bags and left us to our own devices.  Several of the other passengers were cleaning their guns, or cleaning dark flecks off their knives.  I played the banjo, in such a way as to cause none of them to take offense at me.

    Rajnoor Customs consisted of several men in uniform with machine guns looking at you very carefully as you carried your baggage by them.  There was also an orangutan which I thought may or may not have been sniffing for contraband.  Bill informed me that the orangutan was sacred in Rajnoor, and to ignore them or face the ire of the populace, including the military.  Fortunately I didn't have any bananas in my baggage.  
    I had booked my flight through, which threw in a 2 star hotel with the ticket.  When I saw the hotel, I figured out why it was included for free.  Parts of the hotel lacked a roof.   As I checked in, I asked about the missing roof, and they said it had been that way since the typhoon hit.  When pressed, they admitted the typhoon had been 15 years previously.

    I had been up for 30 hours reaching Rajnoor, so I went to my room, staring up at the stars through the ceiling before falling to sleep.  I might have slept for 12 hours, except the nightly rain began after 3 hours, and the hole in the ceiling encouraged it to land on my hammock.  It was a long night, and I resolved to find a better hotel the next day.
    The next morning I went to find the breakfast buffet.  I finally found a pot of rice, with a large bottle of soy sauce and some paper bowls.  It wasn't bad, but I was glad I'd resolved to move for the next evening...

    Before setting out, I climbed to the third floor of the hotel and got a vista of Rajnoor City.  There was no grid to the city, only narrow curving streets that made modern pinball machines look simple minded.  I got a map at the desk, and upon perusal, despaired.  To find the idol, or even another hotel, I would need a guide.
    Fortunately the lack of a local economy made guides huddle around the doors of the hotel.  I was assaulted both verbally and bodily by guides begging for my business, but how could I know which one to choose?  My information-laced glasses had been quiet since landing in Rajpoor, except for an hourglass symbol that kept pouring sand, indicating probably that time was passing by, or perhaps that my warranty was running out...  However, my attention was snared by one voice, more strident than the rest, saying, "You need a gweed?"
    "Gweed?" I said.
    "Yes, to see the palaces, temples, and eedols."
    "Statues of the local deities, you know, ruby eyes, that sort of thing..."
    "Er, yes," I said.  "You're hired."
    "Ee thank you for heering me."

    Gupta seemed a very capable guide, except for his having trouble with the Long I sound.  He had  a cousin who worked at a much better and cheaper hotel, with verified ceilings, so I grabbed my bags and checked out at once.  On the walk to the new hotel, I began quizzing Gupta about the Eedols of Rajnoor.
    "Eedols?"  He asked.
    "I mean idols," I said.
    "Oh, eedols," he said.  "I know where all the eedols of Rajnoor City are."
    "Have you ever seen one with the rubies prized out of the eye sockets?"
    "Oh yes, the ees are always missing--anything of value in Rajnoor is stolen immediately.  Perhaps you just noticed your watch disappearing when that boy bumped into you back there..."
    "What?  Why didn't you say something?"
    "I only noticed after he was gone.  Actually you are better off.  The less wealth you have on display, the less notice will be taken of you by the cut purses and cut throats..."
    "I can live without a purse, but I'm attached to my throat," I said.
    "Yes, currently Ee see that is true," he said.

    The new hotel was much homier.  In fact, we ate lunch in the kitchen with the cook and his family, and the manager and his family as well.  It was a pretty crowded kitchen.  After lunch it was suggested I help with the dishes, and since the cook, who suggested it, stood between me and the exit, I decided to go along, assuming it was some local custom.  A couple hours later Gupta and I set off to tour the Idols of Rajnoor.
    It's probably a good thing that Rajnoor was a long ways from Europe in the Middle Ages, or crusaders would have taken a detour here to smash a few hundred of their idols.  Of course that would have been bad for the tourist business.  They seemed to have idols for every occasion.  And Gupta hadn't exaggerated about the missing eyeballs. But most of them were missing the nose as well, so I persisted looking for one with a plausible nose.

    It was in Arup's House of Idols that I was shocked to discover OD Esse, the famous adventurer also perusing the idols.
    "OD, what are you doing here?"  I had to ask.
    "I've gotten religion," said OD.  "These idols inspire me."
    It was then I noticed the glasses.  
    "You've got the Memory Glasses, just like I've got.  Do yours work here? "
    "They did till I landed in Rajnoor."
    "The same for me."  I started to get a sinking feeling.  "Say, what's the name of your Memory?"
    "I don't remember," said OD.  "That's why I thought I needed the Memory Glasses.
    "Was it Bill?  Or, that is, some Chinese guy who goes by the name of Bill?"




Use this chart to find the next of the cartoons (first 47  entries) or the stories (starting with  1 A River Too Far 5 rows below week 8)
Week 1
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Week 6
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Week 9
Week 10
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Week 37
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Week 40
Week 41
Week 42
Week 43
Week 44
Week 45
Week 46
Week 47
(cartoon ends)
1. A River Too Far
2.The Reunion
3.The Daily Grind
4 The New Car and Treasure
5. The Big 
6. The old
7. The Ravine Runner 8. The Fabulous
Folk Festival
9. Druid
10. Goats of
Christmas Past
11. The Secret Six 12. The Great
White Hunters
13. The Old School
Lost in the City

What's in
a name?
The Curse of
Bently Manor
Shortbottom Possessed
The Lost
of Iraq
Phil Steen
for President!
Phil Steen
for Rehab
The Adventures
of Handiman
and Fiberwoman
Pirates of the Puget Sound
Building a platform, plank by plank
The Quest
for meaning
Larry and
Phil to
The Rescue
Hurrah for
the Reds,
Whites, and
How I spent
my summer
I am
trapped in
the Present
Help I am trapped
in the future
Nose of Death