Sunday, October 30, 2005

Meet PePe

Sorry for the delay, B/S — 'twas a busy week, by any measure.

I promised you a Sidekick, and damned if I won't deliver today. Do you recall, Brother/Sister, when I talked about my Master Trainer's bold — some would say suicidal — approach to the First Mountain Redoubt, on the day of my trial? I observed that my Master left his Piper at home, as a sign that he came as an emissary of peace.

I'd like to talk a little more about Pipers. This requires a return to the First Principle of the Ancient and Very Very Lethal Art of Incan Dance-Fighting, which is this: that dancing is as important an element of the practice as the fighting. The two are, in fact, inextricable components — and for this reason the Elite Incan Dance-Fighter cannot fight (that is, dance-fight) without music. It is the music that brings the Dance-Fighter's blood to boil, the music that brings him into the Zone, the music that takes control of his limbs and propels them, with uncharacteristically brutal force, into the chops and groins of enemy combatants.

My Master Trainer teaches that the Dance-Fighter is a vessel for the power of music. Without music, his blows have no timing, coordination, or force. This is not a negotiable institutional rule, like the Rule of Secrecy. This is just how dance-fighting works. Without music, there is no dancing. Without dancing, there is no dance-fighting. Without dance-fighting, the Dance-Fighter is just some schmoe looking for an ass-kicking — and more than halfway down the road to getting one.

So it was that in the days before Sony Walkmen and iPods, Dance-Fighters hired and supported their own personal musicians, much as medieval knights had their squires. A particularly wealthy Dance-Fighter might keep as many as three musicians in his retinue — adding a Drummer, and maybe a Tambourine Man to make an ensemble — but at a bare minimum, he had to have a Piper. The same is true today.

There are no fixed rules governing a Fighter's relationship with his Piper. Each Piper enters into his own personally-negotiated contract with his Fighter. Some might take on the duties of a personal valet; others might enter into terms by which the Fighter fends largely for himself and even carries his own pack (or black wheelie-bag, as the "case" may be — ha! pun intended!) on the duo's travels together. There is, however, one sticking point: the Piper must be prepared to throw down and pipe like hell when his Fighter is in danger.

These days the Pipers are trained in parallel with Fighters — at least, that's how my Master Trainer does it in the Second Secret Mountain Redoubt. I don't know what those crazy bastards do at the other place. We're trained in different wings of the Secret Mountain Redoubt, and the two classes don't interact until after the first three or four weeks of training, when the Master Trainer holds a mixer in the Redoubt gymnasium, so that the Fighter students can meet the Piper students, and the two classes can feel each other out in advance of pairing up. If it sounds like a junior high school dance, B/S, that's because it is like a junior high school dance. Pipers on one side, Fighters on the other — and a punch bowl in the middle.

We had our fall mixer Tuesday night, and I met PePe there.

PePe — I should caution you that his name is pronounced PEH-pay — is twenty-five years old, about five-foot-nine, and built like a fireplug. He grew up in nearby Cuzco, but he left the country to study music at the Universidad de Buenos Aires. He speaks fluent English (unlike some of the more provincial mountain-dwellers here), and he's a bit more open-minded than many of his colleagues, most of whom snubbed me at the mixer because I'm American. As open-minded as my Master Trainer is, and as much as he preaches tolerance and diversity to his students, there are still some lingering prejudices toward white men in this territory. I haven't made many friends here in the Redoubt, and at times it feels like I've got an impenetrable twenty-foot force field around me. Don't get me wrong: I get to shower by myself, and that's a treat, but the silent treatment I've been getting after the trial — in two days I went from The Guy Who Nearly Got Us All Killed to the Master Trainer's Pet — has been wearing on my nerves.

But at the mixer, PePe looked right past all that shit. He walked right up to me and said, "You're from Cambridge, right? I hear it's an amazing place. I'd love to see it." For that, I love the man like a brother.

I went and brought PePe some punch and we got to talking, really hit it off. I told him that I had it in mind to take over the world, and that whoever becomes my Piper can expect to do a lot of traveling abroad, and that I would expect to consult with my Piper now and then about matters of strategy and, after I come to power, world administration. The job description really sparked PePe's interest. He said he thought my aspirations to a Benevolent World Dictatorship were noble, and he had always hoped his vocation would enable him to travel and see the world. We talked for most of the night — until well after 4 a.m.! — and came to terms. We drafted a personal services contract and obtained the Master Trainer's approval of the match the next morning. On Friday we swore a mutual blood-oath of loyalty to one another, and the rest is history:

PePe is now my Piper, and I am his Fighter. More on this as it develops.

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