Well, it took a fair amount of elbow-throwing and threats, but my travel agent managed to put together a short-notice itinerary from Boston Logan to Papua New Guinea. It's amazing what those bums at American Express Travel can do when you hold their feet to the fire a little. They've even arranged for an English-speaking escort to conduct my emissary, PePe, to his destination among the Yali.
What you thought I would be going? In my condition?
We discussed the matter around the Compound and concluded that although it would certainly be best for me to appear among the Yali in person (as, after all, I am the Big Man Who Carried Etc. &c.) but my doctors communicated to me some concern about how my sinuses would handle the pressure of ascent and descent on those plane flights (not to mention the jungle humidity over there an infection waiting to happen). I don't know if any of you have traveled to the Far East, but let me tell you the airline pilots over there aren't particularly attuned to Western sensibilities about airplane landings. They pretty much drop the nose and go into a full dive. I've told Gloria more than once: if you're going to send one of your jets to fetch me, make sure the pilot isn't a goddamned kamikaze. But she never listens.
It was also mentioned by an unnamed staff member I will hold in disfavor for at least the next couple of days that I might not be the best candidate to make initial diplomatic overtures. This after I suggested that we propose certain modifications to the Yali Prophecy, to wit: that the words "his personal guard" be stricken from the oracular text, and that the words "Rock 'n' Roll" be inserted between "Wisdom" and "Harmony." These seem to be reasonable requests, as I'd like to preserve maximum flexibility in appointing and dismissing security personnel (and I'd like them to have firearms training, and not just a facility with boomerangs or whatever these Yalis have in their limited arsenals), and one big reason I'm taking on this burden is that I'm really frustrated with the state of popular music these days. The Certain Staff Member remarked that redlining the Yali's sacred prophecy would be insensitive, and proposing it would surely get the conversations off on the wrong foot. Certain Other Staff Members agreed (the way they all fall in line with one another, I swear they're all sleeping together), to which I say,
It's generally the case that a head of state doesn't carry the bulk of the diplomatic load. So there's no reason for affairs to be managed differently in my case. Upon consultation, it was resolved that PePe would embark on this journey to establish diplomatic ties and if possible, a formal alliance and pledge of mutual cooperation with the Yali. I've recorded a greeting on a DVD, for PePe to play on his laptop when he meets with the tribal elders. So I will have a presence at the meeting, even though my brain trust apparently doesn't trust me to address these people in real time.
This being a journey of some historical significance, I assigned one of the Stenos (Dead Eye) to travel with PePe and record the proceedings as best she can. I understand that she'll be traveling in rough country, largely unsupported and without any of her fellows to relieve her. So I don't expect a 24-7 rendering: she's just required to jot down the good stuff.
In the meantime, I'm short-staffed at home, and my contracts with the other two limit their shift length to eight hours daily. So with only sixteen hours of coverage, I've resolved not to speak for eight hours each day. So long as I remember when I'm flying sans-Steno, that shouldn't be so hard to do. I've been sleeping ten hours a day anyway. It's just a question of coordinating the naps.
I must say I remain a bit nonplussed about this Platinum-Haired Goddess, whose shuffling-off from somewhere seems to be a precondition for my Ascendancy. My best guess is that the Goddess is Hillary Clinton, and that the Prophecy requires me to wait until the end of her Presidency to make my move. That's a gagger on so many levels. But I just can't think of many other blondes I'm in competition with right now.