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Subject: Makarovia! Sure, I Know Where That Is! Chapter 29 Morality Story: Makarovia! Sure, I Know Where That Is Chapter 29 Morality Author: Eric McQueen ail) Adult Readers, Sexual Situations, Sex Freedom of expression is precious. To do that, Nifty needs help. Your donation is greatly desired. Give to fty/ or this story ends and all the others! That would be a crime! Peter and Eric prepare for the first broadcast of WMNN. King Olek’s and Lady Helga’s wedding is to be announced. Looking at some oddities with some plants in the park gardens brings some questions about other possible hybrid plants that would help Makarovia in the long run. Morality The idea of Makarovian television journalists was a good one, but we needed to find them. The idea of having Peter do the first few was good, as well. An invitation would go out all Makarovians that if they were interested, they should come by the palace. I didn’t know if a Makarovian version of Dan Rather, Tom Brokaw, or Barbra Walters was out there and wouldn’t know if we didn’t ask and look for him, or her. I also didn’t want to be that person of royalty that demands something done and has others do it for me. I would help. Another tidbit of wisdom from Grandpa Theodor, being bossy doesn’t make you the boss. This rabbit I’ll be happy to chase. You know I loved both my grandparents. Mom’s parents. I will also admit the two of them were my favorite grandparents and I spent a lot of time with the two of them. Grandpa Theodore and Grandma Katrina were five driving hours away. The Richards was only three hours away. I didn’t dislike Grandmother Richards or Grandfather Richards, but as is the case of the names I were to use with them. Grandpa and Grandma fun and casual with me. Grandfather Richards and Grandmother Richards loved me but had me call them Grandfather and Grandmother and that was so…formal. I carried the name! Hopefully, since they went to whatever is after this life ended, they weren’t giving my mother and father a hard time about my becoming an Ivanov. With Grandpa there as well, he wouldn’t let them by with too much. All this hinges on them being in the same place. All of them were good people, but…let’s go to literary titles I spoke about. Green Eggs and Ham! Quickly, for those poor souls who don’t know the wonderful story or those that can’t remember; it was a great life lesson. Don’t refuse something you’ve never tried. The Richards’ part of the family wouldn’t even consider it. Then again, my own mother didn’t read to me the story about two probably toxic eggs. There were pictures of the two eggs done sunny side up with green yolks. Grandpa was happy to read it to me. He used different mood-appropriate voices for the characters in English! In Ukrainian and Russian, my mother and Grandma tried, but Grandpa did it best. Grandpa said he could read Ukrainian and Russian out loud even if he didn’t understand it. Grandma refused that, saying, “We’re trying to teach Eric to speak these languages properly. A session or two with your accent!? That isn’t happening.” Mom spoke to me exclusively in Ukrainian one week and Russian the next week. Grandma had done that with Mom. When Dad’s parents found out about my learning Russian and Ukrainian. They weren’t so sure I should be. When Grandpa brought his bride home to his parents, my great-grandparents, they were sure Grandma was a Soviet spy. Grandpa asked, “to spy on what? Our farming technics? None of us are in any form of government work.” I did know they would have disapproved of the whole gay thing. How did Grandpa become the man was being raised by them!? Yep, that was a mystery. The Berlin Wall and the Soviets were at the very end when I was born. Running up to Grandma and Grandpa I was squeezed in hugs of their affection, just engulfed in love. You didn’t run up to Grandmother and Grandfather. I got a short hug from them and almost no other contact physically afterward. As I said, I didn’t dislike them but didn’t really like them either. And they were the bootleggers! Just let them play the morality card with me. Okay, that’s enough time with that rabbit. That was a pretty big rabbit. Yuri told us he’d get the camera we needed to set it up with the other cameras tomorrow. “What am I going to say!?” Peter asked me. I shrugged, “Just tell them what’s happening and why. This evening at nine o’clock we’ll tell them what we’re doing and how to see it.” “I just can’t whip it out of my head!” Peter was almost panicked. “Oh, yes you can!” I argued irritated, “You’ve done it before. When Anderson interviewed us on an international show, you did fine. When you proposed, that was on an international broadcast and live! We married on live television! If it’s a script you need, we’ll come up with one!” I saw Peter’s anxiety change to one of mirth as his smile spread over his face. The old Peter was still there and that was who was reacting the way he did. It was a habit. “Don’t go back there! You’ve come too far!” I waved toward the wall and Makarovia beyond. “You love Makarovia and the people here and they love you. You’ll be speaking to them. Others in the world will know we’re here…to stay.” Yuri chuckled, “You’ve never been afraid to speak in front of a crowd?” I smiled at Yuri, “You know my Grandma. What do you think?” Yuri smiled and gave me a nod, “I can see that.” “In fact,” I said considering something. “I can’t think anyone in my past was ever shy.” “And some quite the opposite,” Peter added. Then he looked at Yuri, “Can you direct us to a couple of agents to come with us while I show off Stryia to Eric?” I quickly said, “Small enough to fit comfortably in the backseat of my car.” At the last minute I added, “No dark suits, please. I prefer something more casual.” Yuri said as he picked up his desk phone, “I’m letting them know.” Peter touched our foreheads, “Your father was an extrovert?” I laughed lightly as I nodded, “He had to be to attract my mother’s attention.” I shrugged, “Mom got it from both Grandma and Grandpa. Grandpa very rarely met a stranger.” We stayed and chatted with Yuri. Chatted, chatting, or to have a chat. Balakaty in Makarovian and Ukrainian. Russia didn’t really have a word for that. It didn’t take long for the office door opened and two men walked into the room. Just as we desired. They were smaller, but they knew how to do the job. One of them I knew. “Stepan!” I greeted them, “And another I don’t know.” Stepan had been a Makarovian guard. He was one that stood guard with Penelope Baldwin when she got caught and was being held in that little room on the third floor. Stepan nodded and waved at the man beside him. “This is Vesil.” He looked young like Mercea. He was blond. There a few in Makarovia and Alec’s hair was a lighter shade of blond. I think. Alec had it trimmed so short, it was almost invisible. Vesil was clean-cut and well-groomed. I couldn’t recall any male in Makarovia that wasn’t. He was my height. He bowed, “Your Highness.” “That’s your one,” I gave a smirking grin. “I’m sure Stepan told you I have a name I prefer you use.” I went on quickly, “I know the protocol and all that is what you’re told, but when it’s just us, I’m Eric, okay?” Vesil nodded, “That includes Peter, Yuri, and Stepan?” “Peter and Yuri are in the family,” I grinned as I said, “I insist on it after I teach someone what,” I said in English, “cum dump and jack sack means,” I told Peter, but Yuri didn’t know. “Cum dump?” Yuri repeated in English, “Jack sack?” I chuckled, “We’re already on a first-name basis, Yuri.” Of course, I explained the meaning of the words and why I used them with Penelope Baldwin. The likelihood of them ever being used again was very slim. I saw what they were wearing. I saw Vesil had a red t-shirt on with large black lettered Yudashkin. The Y was huge, and the other letters were of different sizes appearing like jumble if you didn’t know Valentin Yudashkin was a famous clothing designer whose popularity exploded as the USSR fell apart. There was meaning with that. Stepan had on a blue shirt, no design. However!! He had on what was highly prized in East Europe. Wrangler Jeans. I have to stress this. They were American made and purchased in Boston. The assholes at the Kremlin couldn’t say you couldn’t wear what you wanted, but they didn’t make it easy to get them. Jeans arrived in the Russian USSR in the nineteen-fifties on sailors, pilots, and children of diplomats. There were smugglers of denim. Grandma said it was because it was due to them being a sign of freedom and capitalism. I don’t know, but they both had them on now. Who can resist clothing where the more you wore it, the more comfortable they were? I saw Stepan had on Reeboks and Vesil had on Nike, and don’t get it twisted! I’m not that kind of gay. I couldn’t just identify the designer from the cut or style. Stepan’s shirt, wranglers, and shoes were labeled on them; and who would mistake Nike’s checkmark? That’s why they’re put there so people like me, the fashion-label challenged, knew what they were. “We’ll be back,” I told everyone and no one. We went down to where the vehicles were kept. A century ago, they kept horses, carriages, and sleighs. It was much bleaker during the long winters. Those horses were secured in the deepest part of the stable to keep them warm as possible. One of the many things to prepare was the care and feeding of these animals. I wondered about the food for them and the wastes! I was told about the bales of hay and where they had oats to feed them. Believe it or not, the dung (horse shit) was a good fuel! They pooped, it was dried and used to help keep them warm. You wouldn’t heat marshmallows or hotdogs over those flames, but it kept them warm. With the doors shut, I had no idea how it would smell down here, and I will be fine never knowing. Grandpa swore horse shit and cow shit was the best for roses. I never doubted him. He and Grandma had plenty of roses and even entered competitions with them. Now, what odors you couldn’t miss was that of oil, grease, and exhaust from the vehicles. As the weather was pleasant, the doors were open, letting in a fresh breeze. The people down here knew we were coming, so my red Cobra sat waiting. Yes, it’s damned unfair! I have this great car. I have loved it since I saw it. I’m a guy! This car was HOT!! Only now I never drive! That was damned unfair! I won’t bore you with the “poor me” routine. He was shiny and polished like the day I drove it home from the dealership. That was also unfair and to make it worse, when we came back it will again be washed, waxed, and polished again. The comments I made about the backseat being small was a little overdone by me. There was room for passengers and legroom but getting in the back would be tight with Alec or Mercea. Even with the driver’s and passenger’s seat pulled all the way forward as far as it can go, they probably would have a tight fit. I didn’t care! Everyone slid in and I started it. When that engine made instant deep lobbing sounded of power, like a purr from a tiger, I felt the rush in my chest as adrenaline pumped. I tingled. “Eric!” Peter said from the passenger seat. I realized he’d said my name twice before and I hadn’t heard him. He wasn’t worried. He was very amused! He pointed at the open doors. “That way.” I grinned, “I just hope I remember how to do this. I hope it’s like riding a bike,” I glanced at Peter, “you never forget.” I did remember. Putting it in first gear, I pressed on the accelerator and with a quick squeal of rubber on the brick floor and we shot out the doors and into the courtyard. I was having fun! My three passengers were just a little concerned. I saw Peter grab what was called the “oh, shit” handle above his head above the door. It is aptly named because that was what the face said. I let out a rebel yell the Dukes of Hazzard would be proud of. I didn’t drive that crazy all the time. A sports car on the streets of Stryia was unknown. A somewhat crazy driver from the Southern portion of the United States was never even considered possible. I slowed it down on the road into Stryia. I had been through the streets, but we were always going to and from something, but now this was where I wanted to go. Styria’s underground was very necessary to give Makarovians the freedom to go and do things when the weather was restricting them to their homes. You knew that. As crowded as those new tunnels could be, the Makarovians were not crowded up here. Peter had explained this was a time to prepare, but they didn’t have to run around as before. They had to prepare, but not as frantically. They took joy in being in the great outdoors and walked to shops on the streets. Couples strolled hand in hand, arm around the other as they went. I saw something and slowed down immediately. The streets weren’t the wide avenues in large modern cities. Most people didn’t drive here, but the ones who did, parked along the curb. “What?” Peter asked to find out what was going on. I pointed at a shop, “That’s what.” We were so used to coming to the Makarovian Gourmet Coffee Shoppe from below, I almost missed it. This was the shop above ground! “He’s buying,” Peter grinned at Stepan and Vesil waving at me. After getting their coffees I had to reassure them about spilling in the car and pointed to the cup holders. Anyone of us could spill. There were parks. Areas of level ground which markings of a sports field. Be it their football (what we called soccer), rugby, field hockey…you need a level field. At the moment, some young people were playing field hockey. The hockey stick was the giveaway. “I don’t really care for field hockey,” Peter confessed. “I have more control on the ice.” He looked at me directly and reminded me, “You said you’d learn.” “I’m going to!” I shot back. “I’d do it now, but no ice. You promised to learn to scuba dive!” “I’m going to!” He said it exactly as I did, grinning. A stifled chuckle came from the backseat. I looked in the rearview mirror as Stepan tried to keep it from coming out. “Stepan,” I said, “Are you coming back to Boston?” He sobered a little, “I’ll be rotated back at the beginning of the New Year.” “Great!” I said and looked at Vesil, “Were you posted in Boston?” Peter jerked his head in my direction. “He makes a point to know every Makarovian personally.” I nodded blowing a put on an air of patience. “Naturally,” I said matter of fact. “By our own laws, didn’t I marry them before I married you?” Peter’s eyes got very large and blurted in English, “Excuse me!!” I wasn’t bothered at all, “I think so.” I sucked the straw to get the cool iced latte. “Oh, no, no, no,” Peter shook his head. However, the effect he may have wanted to be gotten was lost in his big smile and the laughter. “If anything, we were married at the same time.” “Were we?” I asked innocently, “Didn’t they say we do first?” I held two fingers up, “Twice! The first time was a year ago?” “What!?” Peter blurted. “No! A year ago they were asked if they might consider you as a prince if you were my husband. We were all engaged at that time.” He pointed at me. “And using the way you think,” he grinned, “if you were married to all of Makarovia and Makarovians we’re all married at the same moment. Stepan, Vesil, Boris, Yuri, Olek, Mom, and me! We’re all Makarovian!” “Well thought out!” I said to Peter. Stepan leaned toward Vesil, “I told you.” “I just finished advanced training,” Vesil said. “I finished my mandatory two years of mezitli escort service. I was sent for advanced training to become an agent. I hope to come with you two back to Boston when you go back.” “Great!” I said. We went to that large traffic circle in Stryia. There were many figurines surrounded by some beautiful flowers of many colors from white to red and every shade of purple. We had to get out and strolled among them. It was a very large circle of level ground which was prized. On both sides of the river that cut this valley, there were limited areas that we level and that was where the Makarovians built their city so long ago. Life here was not bad at all now. It could have been anywhere in the world as a dozen or more couples lounged on green grass to get a little bit of warm sunshine. There were male couples, female couples, and males with females couples…it still amazed me that no one here thought anyone was odd! There was the happy sound of children laughing, running, and squealing as they avoided being caught by whoever was “it.” Every child in the world knows that game. I present an idealistic life. A delighted squeal attracted my attention as a little girl about seven years old just barely dodged being grabbed by a boy about her age. It was idealistic! No language was heard or needed. It could be anywhere in the world, even the United States. Okay, the stone houses and red roofs were not very American. The lack of some people tossing a football or baseball…some sort of ball around and the dark shadow of those huge mountains that surrounded the valley told you it wasn’t the United States. I looked back at the one fat tower in Makarovia. A skyscraper before there were skyscrapers. The citadel/palace. It wasn’t built to be pretty. You know that. Other than housing the royal family it was built to protect the people of Makarovia and hide! I knew it as home now and to me; it was beautiful! That definitely wasn’t constructed in the United States. The citadel was built before there was the United States! Maybe Vikings in Canada and Native North Americans, but not many others. Other than those few things, it was the same. Sort of. I looked at Peter, “This is ground you can plant on.” I commented. Peter nodded and touched a flower petal gently, but left the flower alone, “It is planted on.” The flower he touched, he smiled at, “These are Mom’s favorite flowers.” The petals were long, light pink, and delicate, but in full bloom. As I said, I knew roses. I knew these weren’t roses. “These are Fairy Lilies,” Peter explained. How the name came about was easy to see. The petals looked like they could be wings on a fairy. I knew Lilies by name and was confused. “Aren’t Lilies tropical plants?” I asked. Peter smiled, “Tropical and temperate zone plants.” He nodded and then shrugged, “One of the scientists we,” he used his fingers to give air quotes, “acquired…had defected to Russia from Geneva.” “He went to Russia. When?” I asked, “Why?” “Thank god you didn’t ask who, because I don’t remember,” Peter chuckled. “It was during the late sixties or early seventies when he was young and certain he was smarter than everyone.” “That detail you remember, but not his name?” I muttered with a smirk. Peter’s eyes rolled and his head wavered in frustration, “I don’t remember him at all!” His hands waved at his sides in futility. There were a couple of muffled chuckles from Stepan and Vesil, but Peter kept ongoing. “I wasn’t here yet! This is Mom’s story.” “Okay,” I said. “I’m listening.” “Mom said he was very smart,” Peter said. “He was a brilliant geneticist, chemist, and botanist. He went to Russia because he thought the lack of restrictions in Russia would allow experimentation the West wouldn’t. He knew he could clone anything or anyone. He was going to genetically enhance men to make the perfect soldier and spy…” I nodded, “Which every red-blooded American at that time just knew that was what those Reds were doing.” I interrupted mockingly smug. “Do you want the rest of the story about the damned flower, or not?” Peter growled. “You can,” I gave a one-shouldered shrug, “or I can ask Mom. Whatever.” I kind of felt sorry for Stepan and Vesil who were trying their best to keep their laughter under control. This was a routine Peter and I did often to relieve tension or just for laughs. “Anyway,” Peter said and motioned to the flower. “That was a gift to Mom when she became Queen.” He bounced a little and said proudly. “These are Queen Alla Ivanov’s Fairy Lilies!” I looked over what had to be hundreds of blooms. There were other flowers, but none as plentiful as these. I knew they came from bulbs like tulips. They needed the cold which these babies got plenty of in the winter. “These are genetically altered?” Peter shrugged, “Altered, spliced, or whatever. They love it here.” “Wait!” I had a lightning bolt of an epiphany hit me between the eyes. Being gay, drama was always just below the surface. “Is this his only example of what he did?” “I heard he had many things that failed,” Peter said. “This one he got right. His cloning and genetic altering were almost all failures. He was working on wheat and corn that could grow in Russia.” I remembered one of the many discussions about global warming that concerned a lot of people was worried about a shift in the climate. The United States and other countries that shipped wheat, corn, and many grains overseas. Fear that warming would shift making Canada and Russia the world’s new breadbasket. “He worked from the early seventies until the early nineties in Russia,” I said to confirm. Teasing and jokes were forgotten by me. “Why was he here in Makarovia?” Peter shrugged, “Because he was like we are? I don’t know, but a few years before it all fell apart, they sent him here.” He nodded and looked at me. He shook me, “This time I do know what you’re thinking. He had some successes, but our problem is this,” He stomped on the ground. “Other than this park and some others, we didn’t have the land to plant on.” I nodded, “I know, I know.” I waved at the park. “But, Peter, if he had success with the wheat and corn, they might do even better in the terrace greenhouses!” Peter nodded grinning, “Sure, but as Olek says, we were busy!” “Yeah, yeah,” I said but was thinking. “He died here in Makarovia?” Peter nodded again, “But this was the only successful thing he had.” He paused as he tried to remember, “I think.” In fairness, it was a chaotic few decades. The USSR collapsed and Makarovia was left to fend for itself. Olek the first dies leaving his eldest son king. Uranium was found and Olek the second kept it secret somehow while asking powers in the West to help. “He kept notes?” I asked. “I never got that part of the story,” Peter shrugged. “We need to talk to Mom,” I said with a sense of urgency. “Eric,” Peter said patiently. “I think a couple of more hours or even days won’t spare any extra lives. Can we continue our sightseeing?” It was really irritating to hear logic. I still needed more impulse control. I turned to Vesil and pointed at him. “Whatever Stepan told you about the two of us, I hesitate to say he was right when I don’t know what it is. He was probably right.” I smiled. “Recently, the role of our Security Agents has changed.” I waved at them from head to toe. “The required attire for one.” “Our agents now are friends,” Peter grinned, “so, be prepared to be gotten to know in the near future.” He threw his arm around me, “especially with this one.” “That means,” I said, “if we do something you find funny, silly, or stupid; laugh!” Peter nodded, “You’ll be doing that a lot with him.” “Just because of me,” I stated looking at Peter. “You are the best straight man a comedy team can have,” I said. “I love to play off you!” “Straight man?” Stepan asked. There was fun again explaining the direct English to Makarovian translation and meaning. I did explain what I meant called Peter a straight man. They knew enough English, but this “straight man” term. It wasn’t about Peter being gay or straight, but the person involved with a joke that played innocent about the joke. Often, Peter was innocent because he really didn’t know. No acting was required. My brand of humor was sometimes difficult to understand. I was proud of that. Stryia was pretty! That wasn’t surprising, but I was delighted at what I saw. There was no trash! That isn’t a lie or exaggeration. The streets and sidewalks were clean. Even the park was free of litter. Becky, one of the three student photographers from Northeastern that came to take better and more recent pictures of Makarovia and the royal family, she said Stryia looked like a fairy tale village. She was right. “The village or towns are always this clean?” I asked as we resumed our walk through the flowers. Peter gave a grudging nod, “Well, less than a month ago we had the focus of the world. Less than three or four years ago, it practically said; Makarovia!? Where the Hell is That? Now, Makarovia! Yes, I Know Where That Is!” He threw his arm over my shoulder and squeezed me to him. I grinned, nodding as my arm went in his far back pocket. “This news program will tell the world we’re Makarovian and we’re here.” “We had a wedding?” Peter nudged. “All those guests? You know you always clean things up before guests arrive.” I glanced Stepan and Vesil who walked behind us but at a little ridged. “Guys,” I turned to them. “Another thing you need to do, please?” Peter smiled, “Relax!” “You’re walking like you’re in a military formation or something,” I added. “Habit,” Stepan shrugged. The people in Stryia knew who we were, but they didn’t rush at us. We were known by every Makarovian. Granted, we had been an oddity to the world but known by Makarovians. The problems we had with the paparazzi told us this was not going to happen in the rest of the world. Here, we were at home. Looking around I finally knew what was missing. “Peter, where are the pets?” “Pets?” Peter asked, “It’s kind of difficult caring for a dog or cat when you’re trapped indoors.” “I guess that would be hard,” I nodded. I had complained about the lack of air circulation in our room, I couldn’t imagine that with the smell of dog or cat poop. There are minor differences, but people are still the same everywhere. It was amazing how things just came up giving us more to be done. Yuri took us to the gathering area of the palace where people were setting up cameras for tomorrow’s press conference. A man wearing a headset was speaking to someone I hoped was on the other end. “Peter, Eric,” Yuri waved at this man who apparently enjoyed his meals. While not fat in his late thirties he had more pounds than he needed above his belt. He also had dark brown hair and when the light shone through it I saw a deep red. “This is Augustus. He does a lot of work on our network of Wi-Fi and computer systems.” Augustus bowed, “Your Highness.” He smiled, “I prefer Auggie if you don’t mind.” Peter stuck his hand out and shook his hand, “Pleased to meet you, Auggie!” I did the same thing in shaking his hand, “And we prefer Peter and Eric if you don’t mind.” I grinned. He wasn’t bad looking but couldn’t hold a candle to Peter. I couldn’t help it and said, “I always wondered what the guys in the AV Club at school did after graduation.” Saying it Makarovian or English I would get the same blank looks from guys that had no idea what I was talking about. Maybe you need reminding, too. Those Audio/Visual guys during Middle School, Junior High, or High School pushed carts of video players and televisions to classes to show a movie or presentation. Public schools couldn’t have one in every classroom because of the budget. They had to share. The male and female students who took them to the classrooms were often dismissed as geeks. I don’t think so. They knew more than how to switch it “on” and press “play.” Taking us to where the “studio” was, he even got Peter to prerecord what he was going to say. The studio was basically a closet. Maybe a little bigger, but no glass partition between Auggie and Peter. I took Peter’s hand, “Just keep it light and casual.” Peter nodded, “Right, light, and casual.” He froze. “Wait! What channel if they’re looking at their television?” Auggie laughed and gave Peter the website and channel. Peter took a breath and sighed. “Surprise!” Peter said, “This more than a test to see if you’re receiving the signal. This Prince Pedro Ivanov. Tomorrow will be special. There will be a Press Conference given by my brother King Olek. That will be at two in the afternoon. Your Prince Eric tells me we rely too much on foreign countries to bring needed things to us. That includes information, entertainment, and education. We are beginning a broadcast to Makarovians in Makarovian. He says it’s a way of telling the world we are here.” He smiled at me and shrugged as if everyone would hear it when it was broadcasted. “I hadn’t thought of it, but he did. Now, I agree. Makarovia is no longer going to be overlooked. We are no longer going to be robbed and forced to hide. We are Makarovia. We are proud and we will be a country that has power and be a positive influence in this world. We are here and we are going nowhere but up. In the words of my favorite Southerner from the West,” Then he grinned and said in English. “We ain’t going nowhere!” I had to bite my tongue to not laugh. “King Olek will be addressing the world, so he will be speaking in English. We need to give other countries a chance to learn our language.” Peter gave the instruction on what channel to choose and what website with the promise more was coming. He signed off and looked at us. “Do you think I need to do it again?” “No,” Auggie said smiling. “That was perfect.” I walked to Peter pulling him to as I bent over to get to his seated position, “I never want to hear from the old Peter again.” I kissed him. “Auggie’s right. That was perfect. You’re a natural! Not an um or pause anywhere. No stammer and no slang.” Then I stood up straight. “I should be offended.” “Why!?” Peter’s eyes widened in surprise. I nodded, “You tell me nothing happened, so why did you include Ted Dawe?” “Ted Dawe!?” Peter blurted, “I never mentioned Ted!” “You did, too.” I had to hold it together until I got the desired effect. “You said; my favorite Southerner from the West. I never said what you claimed, so it has to be him.” I saw a grin form on Peter’s face. “The number of Southerners at Northeastern is kind of limited. Unless there is another Southerner I don’t know about, he’s it.” Peter blew a breath, “Aw,” he said shaking his head grinning, “You always do this to me.” I gave his shoulder a soft punch, “And you always fall for it. That’s what makes you the perfect straight man!” Peter got up from the chair and kissed me. “I love you.” “I know,” I said with a happy bounce. “I love you.” He put his arm around my shoulder as we were leaving. “I know.” Then he frowned as he thought, “Are you sure you’ve never said that to me or someone else and I was there?” “Not even as a joke,” I said. “We speak Makarovian with each other. English if Mario’s there…” “I swear I heard it,” Peter said. “It was your voice.” “Maybe all your bouncing around in my head can explain it,” I stopped. “Then again, my mother, Grandma, and our Mom would have fits! Ain’t going nowhere? Ain’t, meaning not, going nowhere. Does that mean we are going somewhere? Isn’t that pozcu escort a negative, negative?” Peter laughed, “You work on that and let me know.” We left Auggie telling him we’d make another recording for in the morning after we spoke with Olek, Helga, and Mom. Especially Mom. I told you I needed more impulse control. I thought I was doing well as we sat for dinner. “I’m telling you,” Yuri said happily. “Peter recorded a great portion of what will be heard tonight on the broadcast.” I nodded, “I told him I don’t want to hear the old Peter again.” Peter smiled, “He’s doing a great job holding something in. I know he’s about to burst.” It sounded a little smug. Then he gave me a light punch in the shoulder. I smirked at Peter, “I was fine.” I muttered. Peter gave a little shrug, “A little more pressure…” he made a sound of an explosion and his fingers he motioned down imitating debris. “Fine!” I said a little sour, “He showed me the flowers in the Traffic Circle Park, and he showed me those Queen Alla Fairy Lilies.” Mom smiled at the memory, “Ah, yes. Dr. Gottfried Keller’s gift to me when your father married me.” She looked at Olek. “Why don’t I remember him well?” Olek asked no one. Mom laughed, “You were still a child when he got here. He was extremely smart.” “I gathered that,” I said. “He got a flower that is a tropical and temperate zone flower to thrive up here in a very cold zone. How’d he do that?” Mom took a moment as she thought, “Let think how to explain what he said. I speak English fine, but,” she took Mario’s hand, “Mi dispiace.” She said quickly. “Dr. Keller explained it in Russian. Geneticheskaya anomaliya? Mutatsiya?” You had to give Mom credit. She covered three languages in one breath! My eyes grew. I knew they had because I could feel it. “He created a sport!?” Mom brightened, “Yes! That’s it!” There were a few faces that were confused at the table, but Olek voiced it, “A what!?” I nodded, “A sport in biology is a mutation that makes an offspring drastically different from the parents.” I explained. “This doctor managed to cause a mutation for the purpose of being different.” I turned to Peter and shook my finger at him, “and I’ve known what a sport is since I was ten years old. I owe it to Charles Wallace from the book A Wrinkle in Time. I also know tesseracts, or the folding of space, to travel massives distances instantly thanks to Mrs. Whatsit, Mrs. Which, and Mrs. Who. It did a Hell of a lot better than any Warp Drive.” I turned to Boris on my other side. “I loved that book!” I turned to Peter again. Peter was again smiling and asked, “Did I say anything?” “Oh,” I reluctantly conceded jabbing that finger in his direction, “but you were thinking it,” I stated simply. “He managed to mutate a lily that should have died in the cold and yet it thrives! And it reproduces!” “Now who’s reading whose mind?” Peter asked. Mom nodded, “More and more come from them year after year.” “I was also told he was working on creating a strain of grain and corn that could grow in Russia,” I added. “Did he do it?” “He had many failures,” Mom said. “I heard that, too,” I said nodding. “The problem has been Makarovia’s dependence on imports from other countries for food. One problem is the available fertile land to plant on.” Even I was having difficulty because I did feel like I was acting like I knew everything. I can assure you; I know I do not. As with Peter and the others, they had gotten used to seeing things a certain way. It had been a busy couple of decades and things had changed in Makarovia pretty damned quickly. Not one person at this table was simple or stupid. This particular method was working. It wasn’t broken, so fixing it just never occurred to them. “General Burke and General Hammond are helping us with the Greenhouses both on more level and rocky land and on mountain slopes…” Peter piped in, “…and if we combine the two of increased land and sturdier plants with a longer growing season that will help with the yield,” Peter finished for me. He jutted his head in my direction. “I got that back in the park.” I pointed at Peter, “Exactly.” I was getting charged up as I spoke. “Increased land, a longer growing season, and the heartier plant could make a big difference! Even hydroponics, but that’s later.” I tried to explain. “I know you would have thought of it yourselves, but…he can’t have done just the one plant. Are there other plants he had success with?” Mom was a little puzzled, “It’s the only one he gave us. It was said he had done it within Russia.” She shrugged. “That was almost at the very end of the Soviet Government. A major reason was the economy.” She looked at Boris and Yuri. “I can’t say too much about things there, but there were the occasional problems keeping the stores stocked with food items.” “Were there lines for bread?” I asked. She frowned, “Bread lines?” Pausing a minute and the nodded with a sad smile. “Oh, yes. The bread lines.” She gave a grudging nod. “There were shortages. In the 1970s we had a big one. Normally the food supplies were well rationed in the cities. We had it again in the 1990s.” Boris nodded, “But that was pretty much true for everything you needed to purchase.” Yuri grimaced, “Yes, like toilet paper.” Mom chuckled a little, but nodded, “There were people that Russia sent down here. As with Dr. Keller, he was sent here to get him out of the way.” She shrugged slightly, “He was to turn things around for Russia. The leaders wanted him to have success but wanted a return for their investment. Crops that could grow in colder and harsher climates could make Russia very important to the world. A country that was dealing with starvation would become grateful allies.” “Of course, it would,” I said with conviction. Mom nodded, “It wasn’t necessarily due to the kindness of anyone.” If you lived in that time, you know what the threat was. Those nasty, lying, thieving, pinko, commie bastards! Please, let there have been a gasp with what I just told you. I am Scottish, but I’m also Russian as well as other nationalities. Not all of what we were told was true. Propaganda. Things were told on both sides of the Cold War to instill dislike and keep the distrust alive. The people in Russia weren’t the enemy. Just as the people in the United States weren’t the enemy. Just like us, they get up, dread going to work and pay bills. They stay alive and make the most of it. Yes, there are some evil people. Some. They were also on both sides of the Cold War. What I’m going to say will make some people angry, but when has that ever stopped me? The principals and concepts of Communism were good. String him up!! We knew he was a Red!! No, I’m not. In an idealistic world, many philosophies are good. Even the philosophy of Nazis was good. On paper. When humans are entered, then there are problems. Big problems. So many things influence people from the way they are raised and the environment they were raised in. Sigmund Freud was almost right. He was a pioneer in Psychotherapy. He was also a drug addict. Cocaine. He saw the danger when one of his patients nearly died using Cocaine, so he “supposedly” gave it up about 1890. Yes, that was another rabbit, but Mom was chasing hers when this one came out. We started with the Fairy Lilies of Dr. Gottfried Keller and went to the fall of Communism with some psychological rabbits. Hell, Karl Marx was born a century before the Nazis! Mein Kampf was Hitler’s book and Karl Marx was his prophet. Go! Get, rabbit! Enough! “Dr. Keller was sent to help us?” I asked. Mom nodded just once, “That is what his papers said.” Her tone said clearly that she didn’t really believe that. “Mikhail Gorbachev was General Secretary of the Communist Party at the time. There was some restructuring.” Yuri nodded, “Perestroika.” “Why was he here?” I asked again. “To hide him?” Mom shrugged. “He was…” she thought a moment, “a bit odd.” Then she went on, “I’ll try to give a better description…” Then Olek’s eyes grew as he blurted, “Mysha!?” Mom frowned, “I didn’t like that name then and I don’t like it now.” She wasn’t even angry at Olek because she smiled, too. “The Mouse!?” I knew what Olek said and you had to smile. Just as Peter had dropped the little mouse he had down that girl’s blouse to prevent Olek from making a grievous mistake about a future queen. I got the feeling this was an example of Olek’s mischievous childhood. Now, I wondered where Peter got the mouse. I hadn’t seen a mouse here. “He was!” Olek grinned. “He was just above one hundred and fifty-two centimeters and maybe forty-five kilograms!” (That’s five feet and a hundred pounds for those of us who don’t use metric.) “And he had this,” now Olek had to think, “he would talk to himself.” Olek grinned bigger, “Now, I remember him!” “He spoke out loud to himself?” Boris asked a little shocked. Olek gave a reluctant nod, “Well, he mumbled to himself. Dad said he was consulting with himself.” “A rapid speech?” I asked. “Pressured speech?” Olek nodded again. “Yes. I could never understand him.” “He never spoke to you?” I asked to be sure. Olek snorted, “He didn’t like children. He communicated that very well.” “Why? What do you think?” Peter asked and held his hand up, “And spare us the I’m not a Psychiatrist bit. You knew the symptoms to ask about.” “Well,” I said, “I’m not.” Looking at Mom, “He was intelligent.” “Extremely.” She said firmly. “More than a genius.” “I can’t give you a diagnosis,” I smiled. “I’m hearing all sorts of possibilities from Bipolar Disorder combined with other brain chemistry issues. If I didn’t know better, I think he could be the sport. He sounds like Charles Wallace from A Wrinkle in Time. Extremely intelligent, small for his age and socially awkward.” I sighed. “Without all the metaphysical and psycho-social elements.” I looked at Olek. “Was he welcome here?” “Certainly,” Olek said and bowed his head slightly. “I was a child when I gave him that name, but I remember him. I never called him that name.” “Where was his lab? Where did he live?” I asked. “Did he leave notes?” “He died and his things were gone through,” Mom explained. “His lab equipment was put in storage.” “It could be nothing,” I admitted, “but somehow, he changed or added a genetic sequence to an existing plant. Not just a cell. It’s in the entire bulb and there have been many generations of that plant. I’ve read theories of killing one cell’s genetic material and new ones added with bacteria as the transport. That was a theory for the SunBean plant. One parent was a Sunflower and the other a bean plant.” “Yesh!” Peter said, “What did it look like?” “It resembles a little of both,” I remembered the odd plant at the Medical University. Not by me, but by students the Botanist and Geneticist Dr. Sallee. Dr. Sallee saw interest and let me see what they did. “Why!?” Olek asked. I shrugged, “To see if they could? They had other things like limons,” I said looked at them, “combined a lemon plant with a lime plant? Or the Tangerana. A tangerine and a banana?” Now they were all looking at me strangely. Except for Grandma who was laughing to herself and nodding. “I know, you’re all wondering if he is suddenly ill, joking, or being tricked.” She shook her head, “That’s what I thought. Until he brought me one of those Tangeranas. It had the long body of a banana, the skin was smooth, but you couldn’t peel it like a banana.” She chuckled, “He cut it and gave me a piece and it tasted a little like both.” Then she looked at me, “But you told me that like any hybrid it’s extremely rare for them to reproduce, the seeds didn’t germinate.” “That’s right!” I said but looking at their faces. “We weren’t trying to change people or animals, but if we could make one plant produce a nutritious fruit or vegetable that grows in harsher climates…” I shook my head. “Dr. Keller did it! How did he do it?” Peter nodded with a sigh, “I guess we’ll be going through the storage.” “Are you going to understand what he wrote?” Helga asked. “I will say now,” I said. “I won’t. Most scientific minds develop a shorthand only they and maybe another understands.” I looked at Mom. “Did he work with anyone? A lab assistant?” “No,” Mom shook her head. I nodded, “Instead of writing what he did again and again, he probably used a single word or symbol.” “But why did they send him here?” Olek asked. “To keep him safe?” Mom asked. “We couldn’t fool all of the Russians. There were those who knew what we were good at, and hiding treasure and people is one of them.” She motioned to Yuri and Boris. “They knew to come here.” “So good at it,” I said, “we forget where we hid some of it.” “You will recognize it when you see it,” Helga said with no doubt. “But we have a busy couple of days,” Peter said to change the subject. Mario was smiling in a big way. We had kept him in the conversation by speaking English. He knew what was going on. Mom looked at him pleased, but puzzled, “What is it, mio caro?” Hah! I knew those words! Mom just called him “dear.” Mario glanced at Mom, “Being here is exciting!” He shook his head. “I’m happy to be included.” Olek laughed, “And you’ll be in the middle of all of it!” When dinner finally concluded we all pretty much parted for the evening. I felt bad that Olek and Helga weren’t on any honeymoon. Future Step-Aunt Marian shouldn’t mind if they took the Duchess, but it just returned from Peter’s and my honeymoon. There was also the island Mario owned just north of Sicily…and again, just used. When you think about it, Mario said being here with us was exciting. Being part of the Basso family sure wasn’t boring. In many ways, they were living a royal life. Responsibilities and restrictions were a part of their life. We were promised that everyone would listen to the evening broadcast that was happening in thirty-eight minutes. Dining with Henri I learned to be precise. “What do you think about this Gottfried Keller?” Peter asked as we walked slowly through the palace toward our rooms. Our hands were lightly touching. The nearly constant contact wasn’t even done on a conscious level anymore. He smiled at some thought or thoughts and his face held compassion. “I know what you said about wanting to get away from death. You have had a lot of it in little more than twenty-five years…I support whatever you say. You seem to have a gift. You might be running away from a calling.” I had to smile hearing that. “This isn’t Nineveh.” He stopped and therefore we both stopped, “Where?” I chuckled, “Nineveh. Jonah? Old Testament?” I shook my head and smiled at him as I narrowed an eye at him. “Are you sure you went to Sunday School?” “Almost every Sunday!” Peter replied and his hand waved over his own face, “Until those things came.” He referred to the acne which he finally was cured of. “Then the priest and I need to discuss some things,” I shook my head. “You’ve got some information missing.” “Nineveh. Do you mean Jonah and the whale?” Peter asked with a grin. “It could have been a huge goldfish. Jonah was called by God to go to Nineveh who was going to destroy the Assyrian Capitol, but he ignored the calling and went in the opposite direction! There was a storm that was causing the ship to sink. Jonah was cast overboard and swallowed by the giant Guppy! The storm stopped. There’s a big difference between a fish and a whale. The Bible says a fish. It never said a whale.” Peter was standing the gaping at escort bayan me again. He caught himself and shook his head. “Where do you keep all this!?” I shrugged, “I told you. I remember…” Peter joined with me saying, “…because it’s interesting.” He nodded. “I got that, but you find a lot of different things interesting.” “Sure,” I stated the obvious, “it is! When it comes to where we came from…and especially where we’re going in the future; that’s very interesting!! Why do you think people make such a big deal about psychics? We really want to know!” “But you said you didn’t believe the Bible!” Peter protested. I shook my head, “No I don’t. At least not all of it, I don’t, BUT,” I raised the finger that I used to make points and watched him smile when I did, “much of it has been proven true! The history and facts have been proven in many cases.” I shrugged, “It’s even helped to solve mysteries of lost cities. The same with the Qur’an. Testimonies were written by people who were there or heard from someone that was a witness!” I shook him lightly. “People were telling me my eternity is based on what is written there…Hell, yeah, that’s extremely interesting to me!” I took his hand and we started walking again. “I appreciate how this family listens and respects what I say. I can’t give you anything about Dr. Keller if I can’t talk with him. There are many possibilities with the man.” I sighed. “I might if I see some of his writing and get a sense of how his mind works,” I shrugged again, “and even then, I can’t be certain.” I stopped us again. “I didn’t run from the possible calling you mentioned. I still use it.” I pulled him into a kiss, “but be glad. If I had gone with medicine, we probably wouldn’t have met, and I wouldn’t know what a wonderful Human Being you are or about this great country. I am exactly where I need to be.” I kissed him again gently, “with you.” “This what I find the most interesting about you,” Peter said softly. “You can be the most annoying, wisecracking son-of-a-bitch with some outrageous comments and then you say the nicest, most loving things afterward.” His arms came around me tighter. I tightened the embrace, “I love you, Peter.” Shaking my head, “I will never want to hurt you emotionally or physically.” Peter’s chuckle this time was very quiet and light, “I know…all of what you said, I know.” “Who wants to be predictable?” I asked, “Spontaneity keeps things exciting. Are you bored with me?” I wasn’t really worried about that, but everyone hopes things are good with that special person. Peter’s smile was so bright and said with certainty. “Not even once.” His smile faded a little, “Are you ever bored with me?” “Never!” I said instantly. “I hope I never go too far with my humor.” Peter shook his head, “You don’t. I adore you.” “I know,” I touched his face, my thumb under his left light gray-green eyes. “I can see it.” Reading body language was learned, and I understood his body language very well. However, his eyes said far more and spoke clearly to me. This was what I always wanted. Our marriage changed because we changed. There was this comfortable familiarity with each other. The open and free expression just made it better. We could be ourselves with each other. Maybe we both understood each other so well, we could read each other’s minds. The broadcast Peter recorded was sent over the connections right on time to all Makarovia. I hoped everyone received it well, but Peter and I were…indisposed. It was a good thing someone had opened a window, or it would have gotten extremely hot in our rooms from the heat we made. It was during the morning hours I felt the cool breeze travel across me. It was a good thing it did, not just because of last night. People normally move at night. They roll over or shift for a more comfortable position. The movements were sort of restricted the nights before because of Peter’s spooning of me. Normally. That morning I woke up, facing the other direction! Peter was on my right side, so I usually faced left. When I opened my eyes, I was facing right. Big deal, right? I wasn’t bothered, but I felt lighter. Nothing was holding me down. Then I heard the quiet…buzzing, sort of? Someone was sound asleep. As I’m the one saying this, you know this position wasn’t me. Peter or I had moved, and he tried to get back in his usual position and we both missed doing that, but he was comfortable, so I ignored it. I didn’t want to stir around much and wake other parts of me. A messy, mass of curly black hair was all I could see. The smile was just there on my face because I was happy. I could bore you if I expounded on the feelings I had for him, but you know about them. He was part of me. I hadn’t moved! I swear, but the rhythm of his breathing changed, and he stirred. Is it important? Not really and this will be a little mushy, so if you’ve had enough then skip this. I understood how little hearts are shown to indicate love. This moment, I could see those little red-heart shaped bubbles flying all around us. My imagination is very, very good. A friend once told me about the over-usage of “goo-goo baby eyes” statements. My reply to that was, “I happen to like goo-goo baby eyes very much! I can’t get enough goo-goo baby eyes! Could it be you’re not getting enough goo-goo baby eyes?” Being mushy isn’t a bad thing. To me, the lack of any mush is the “bad thing.” Consider this a warning; there will be a lot more goo-goo baby eyes coming. Romance is nothing to be embarrassed about. It’s what Humans were made to do. I often compare us to the animal kingdom. Why? Because we are animals! Do the laws and rules of morality apply to them? I’ve given many examples showing you they don’t apply. It isn’t girly or masculine. There are animals that mate for life. Unfortunately, Humans aren’t always one of those animals. They can be, but half the time they aren’t. Do animals love? I don’t know. Okay, okay, you’ve seen this rabbit before, so I’ll move on. Everyone has a routine when waking up. Some are true of everyone, like the waking stretch and orienting yourself to where you are versus where you were when dreaming. I used to have pretty lucid dreams and my favorite was the flying dreams. No plane necessary. Almost everybody has them and as with people none are the same. I didn’t have the superman kind of dream. I could be standing in the backyard and simply float up in the air. I could see the top of trees, houses and… yes, this another rabbit. I really like this one. The last thing, they are a reflection of your life. I was happy most of the time and those lighter than air dreams were a reflection of that. There were some dreams where I couldn’t get more than a foot off the ground. Dreams are gages about a person. The flying dreams were a reflection of life and a sign I was having trouble. These days, I wake up and the dreams fade quickly. Back to Peter’s waking routine. I saw and felt him do the stretching we all do. I hadn’t done mine yet. He knew something was different. I wasn’t exactly where I was supposed to be. While not on my back, I faced him. He looked at me and I saw his eyes adjust and focus. Seeing me now, he smiled, “Good morning.” This is one of those moments. From now on, I’ll warn you of a goo-goo baby eyes moment. GBE? Running fingers in his sleep tossed hair, I smiled and said softly, “Good morning.” Yes, the tone I used and expression on my face caused his head to back up an inch as he looked happy but curious. “What?” I chuckled lightly, “What needs an explanation?” He pointed at my face, “That look.” He scooted to get us more even. “I’ve seen and can recognize most of your expressions. This seems to be a combination of several.” I shrugged, “I love you.” I stated simply. “Sometimes when I look at you, I get the surge, like a big wave on the beach. This one just keeps coming.” Peter shook his head, “There you go again with the nice things.” He marveled softly, “And this early in the morning.” My sense of humor kept this GBE short. “How else could I explain all the little red hearts drifting around in the air?” I pointed up. “Can’t you see them?” I chuckled. “There are dozens of them. Some pop but are replaced by new ones.” Peter chuckled, “I believe you.” Then he smiled bigger. “Some of those hearts are from me!” Then he looked a little irritated. “Damn it.” He said in a gruff softly and threw the covers back. “I’ve got to go.” I burst out laughing as I watched Peter’s lily-white ass rush to take care of his need, “And this time, it wasn’t my fault!” I would never get tired of seeing all of Peter. Was that objectifying? I don’t think so. Was I attracted to his body? Absolutely. His body’s attributes caught my attention and I got to know him and fell for him hard. That’s what species do. Find the best example of the other person and join our lives. That isn’t pornographic any more than that bird that does the dance and shows his colored feathers to attract a female. If liking to look at Peter’s ass is porn, then next time you watch that bird flash his feathers, know you’re watching bird porn. Many men and women will pose for you to look at their bodies. I defend those that do even for money. They had bills to pay. If showing you their bodies helps them do that and they don’t mind, why not? Yes, there are many, many who are tricked and exploited. That’s a crime. Children are used and to me that’s just unfathomable to me. That’s a HUGE crime. My tastes about what I considered to be attractive aged as I did. No child, male or female attracted me. There are many psychological reasons for that including trauma. Others pose for free for the thrill! Showing bodies to induce emotions in others, such as desire! That is certainly like bird porn! All things silly aside, I was concerned about Olek and Helga. The idea of being absolutely honest about what happened is a good one…to a point. As much as we, his friends and family, accepted the situation, it was known by all of us that many out there in the world will see Olek was correcting a mistake. Peter and I weren’t the only controversial couple. We knew we’d face a lot of disapproval. Olek and Helga knew why they were married was an admission of the wrongdoing. When Peter’s and my wedding was coming up all of Makarovia supported us. That Olek and Helga were married would also be accepted by Makarovia and the family. Helga even voiced her concern right when she found out she was pregnant. The fear that she would be seen as a money-grabbing whore she was well aware of that. It was such a concern that international press conference was going to happen. Olek had one before when he revealed Makarovia’s uranium. We had our friend Anderson Cooper do a live broadcast of the upcoming wedding. Denying a perception of error would not be realistic or possible. Neither Olek nor Mom let anyone’s ignorant comments go with no reply; that including heads of state like the Vice-President of the United States. The unique thing was the third soul that was growing in Helga that was innocent. A child we welcomed…not just to solve the succession problem, but as a member of the family was on the way. It was unique that we were not scurrying around trying to cover up anything. The controversy would follow the child and admitting it hopefully would minimize the controversy. All this would be moot if there were complications. (How often do you get to use the word: moot?) Helga needed to carry this child to term and deliver a healthy child. In the past being pregnant was a major health concern. I don’t want to scare anyone, but it still is. Having a child and raising it to adulthood was tricky a hundred years ago or so. Miscarriages happened often, stillbirths where the baby doesn’t survive the birth, there were many concerns. That’s why you don’t go, find out you’re pregnant and not come in for seven or eight months until it’s time to give birth. Medicine has greatly improved, but pregnancy is monitored frequently to assess the progression to be sure both infant and mother were doing well. Just because you make it to the birth there are still so many things to worry about. Birth defects and disease are just some. If you’re alive to read this, congratulations! You made it! The one big question; was it moral? I can’t answer that. Using any written guide, be it the Torah, Bible, the Quran (there are many spellings) or Vades for Hindus, Tripitaka for Buddhists…many guides are out there with one theme. Love. Love yourself and other people and don’t take what isn’t yours. Taking, as in taking someone’s health or life away. It’s not yours! Some say what we did was a sin and immoral. People would say what Olek and Helga did was a sin and immoral. When a woman was brought before Jesus, He was asked about His view of the sin she was caught doing. Adultery. As it was written: Let he without sin throw the first stone. I found it interesting that the sin was done by her alone. They only brought her. Where was the man she was having adultery with? Huh? Was anyone harmed by Olek and Helga? She didn’t just get pregnant. They both did! Yes, this rabbit needs to leave. I’ve chased him for decades! We cleaned up, dressed, and went down to where Auggie had recorded the one Peter had done the night before. Auggie would be coming in before the international news broadcast at two in the afternoon. A young man was there at the moment. As with Mercea and Vesil, he looked young. Maybe Peter’s and my age? He had finished his schooling and mandatory service and now worked the department doing the radio and the Internet. The Information Technology department in Makarovia? Peter had told me there wasn’t any unemployment, but how many were employable? The IT Department required skills I wouldn’t have thought many here would have. I didn’t know what training was given, so what do I know? He was dark headed like most in Makarovia. Alec, Vesil, and Mom were the blond-haired people. He was thin and had a nice face. He saw us and bowed instantly. “Your Highness!” He blurted. We did the same as we did with Auggie. When it’s just us, use our names. “I’m Tomas,” he said taking our hands and shook them. “Tomas is Romanian, isn’t it?” I asked. He nodded, “My grandfather,” he explained with a smile, “My mother’s father. She is from Romania.” “You spent many winter months with them,” I said. “You went to school there.” Tomas looked surprised, “Yes, I did! How did you know?” I shrugged, “A logical conclusion.” Just like Rolph’s wife Andreea who was educated in Ukraine, he was educated in Romania. I didn’t doubt a child could get an education in Makarovia, but children who were educated elsewhere had access to things that children in Makarovia didn’t. Now, I was helping with that, it would change here. Not because of any abilities I had, but with the improvements underground, new classrooms were opening down there. With the money now steadily coming in, we could become a nuevo riche country; newly rich and no real plan on how to use it. Mom was cutting back, but she was still controlling what we had done. What she did with a lot less was a miracle. The same with medicine. Shoo rabbit! At eight-thirty in the morning, I sat with Peter. He had a rough script we’d written out to cover the essentials of how, when, and what to do. The why would be addressed by Olek at two that afternoon? “This will be a good thing,” I said. “Just keep that in mind as you speak.” Peter scowled, “Do you want to do this?” He was holding the script toward me. Neither offended or bothered in any way, I shook my head, “And take the spotlight from you? No way. You’re the star.” Then I got serious. “Keep in mind that there was no real wrongdoing in your head. It will be reflected in your tone.” Peter nodded, “Got it.”

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