Tuesday, January 03, 2012

Gunpowder Tea, Chapter One, Part Three

Begin with the beginning.

When Traynor was about to detour through that flower-filled strait between the low rises of the British Empire Building and La Maison Fran├žaise, he stopped short and stepped over to the balustrade above the Sunken Plaza in front of the GE Building, his favorite spot in Midtown Manhattan. His gaze swept across the sunshades of the cafe in the plaza below, to the golden figure of Prometheus soaring above Mount Olympus and the zodiac, bathed in the waters of the fountains and the shine of the spotlights, holding high the sample of fire he had stolen from the gods. "Prometheus, teacher in every art, brought the fire that hath proved to mortals a means to mighty ends," stated the inscription on the granite wall behind the statue. Faced with the skyscrapers around him, Traynor could not but agree.

Another drink? After what had just happened, maybe not tonight. If he got kicked out of his other favorite hangout as well, he might start to feel drinks jinxed. He started to hum again.

Mine eyes have seen the number of the coming of the lord:
It is trampling out the vintage years whose heads are less than scored;
It hath loosed the fateful lightning of its terrible swift sword:
This truth is marching on.

Traynor just had to do something special before the summer and the millennium were over. Sure, the bean counters claimed the old millennium had another year's worth of blood in it, but someone who believed that the change from 2000 to 2001 would be more special than that from 1999 to 2000, someone who would not see the obvious, could not be trusted. Who cares if there was a year 0?

Anyway, whatever he did, whenever he did it, maybe he should not do it in the city, state, or even country where he tentatively intended to read law to one day help make it a little less asinine. If his rap sheet grew much longer, even his parents would not be able to protect him from getting disbarred before he ever got barred, uh, admitted to the bar. Five Flag Theory… He needed a place to play, a place where it would not matter if he ended up being a wanted man, uh, juvenile delinquent, in short, a place where he would never go again.

At the ass end of the Channel Gardens, Traynor turned north onto Fifth Avenue, his back to the Gothic pile of St. Patrick's Cathedral, and his head up at Atlas heroically propping up a hollow world below the International Building. One street crossing and one avenue crossing later, he (Traynor, not Atlas, although Traynor sure had an ego big enough for both) arrived at the bronze-colored box of Olympic Tower, now a black silhouette dotted with diamonds of light. His dad's duplex condo was on the upper floors. When Traynor entered the library off the living room on the upper level of the duplex, the red light of the answering machine on the desk was flashing. He pressed the appropriate button.

It was a message from his girlfriend. "Hi, you still recognize my voice? I'll be back soon, and then you can take me to that… Yadda, yadda, yadda."

That did not exactly make him a happy camper, as she was only a placeholder girlfriend. At first he had thought she looked all right and had a pleasant enough personality. However, it had not taken him long to decide that she was dull, unintelligent, a mees-tick, a dinner whore, jealous, and worst of all, not blond enough. Ah, hair the color of… He lost his train of thought.

She sounded like she expected him to pop the question, and failing that, would pop it herself. Would he go steady with her? Would he commit to an exclusive relationship? Well, he'd rather be committed.


Did he look that stupid?

Traynor went over to the huge globe in a corner to play Atlas: He made the globe spin, closed his eyes, and stabbed it with his index finger, stopping it. He had stabbed some hole in the wall called Sidi Ifni, Morocco. Yet he let on he hit Casablanca. Sounded more romantic. Why not see Casablanca in color? Plus, Casablanca reminded him of his mom's latest entry in her series featuring Isabella, the white slave of Timbuktu. Let's pay Isabella a visit and see about those more or less oriental delights. He sat down at the computer to help put some travel agents out of work (as the looters would put it), or speed the transition to a new economy with better jobs for all (as the sane people put it).

Down in his room, a packing Traynor also packed the .45 Colt 1911 automatic pistol his dad had given him for his birthday some months before. Officially, the gun was still the property of his dad. Traynor senior had the connections to get any firearms license he wanted from City Hall. He was literally and semi-officially above the law. Hell, he could probably have gotten a license to drag a howitzer down Fifth Avenue, with the mayor and the police commissioner blocking traffic for him.

His son was not content to muddle through by gaming the system. He would do something about it. Either the system would change, or it would be overthrown. Traynor junior believed that all people should be equal before the law, and that you should not have to have connections to have the law recognize your rights. Those stupid laws better be changed pretty damn quick. However, he was not stupid enough to obey them while they were still in force, particularly not if obeying could get him killed. Change the law if possible — bend or ignore it if necessary. And he sure did not believe in sucking up to its custodians. The law was an ass. Fuck the law. He would be the most lawless lawyer in legal history.

He hid his Colt, some spare magazines, and some boxes of cartridges in cutouts in the foam padding between the inner and outer shells of his suitcase. Better safe than sorry. The checked baggage would not be screened. Chances that Casablanca customs would find these items were near nil. And if they found them, it would be a welcome opportunity for them to demand a small baksheesh. Or maybe not so small.

Traynor went up into the kitchen to leave a note mesmerized to the refrigerator for his mom and dad to find when they got back from a book tour and some sort of mercenary mission, respectively.


Gone traveling. Will be back soon enough. (Don't hold your breath.)

Love and stuff,


Traynor had a deal with his parents. They would not try to parent him as long he would not try to educate them. Savages said, "It takes a village to raise a child." The Traynor clan knew it takes no one. Only in a dysfunctional family, Traynor was sure, can you grow up to be a decent person.

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