Wherever You Go…

I decided that I would write at least some of those chapters I mentioned in my last post.  Since I had to be out and about today and running errands that included an enforcedly inactive hour and a half (give or take a few minutes) I decided I’d take along my laptop and see what I could do.

I drove to a local mall, parted company with the rest of my party who had a long appointment that would keep them busy for nearly two hours, and strolled to the lobby at the center of the mall, where they had a respectable seating area.

I mouse with my right hand, and I need a table on which to do it (my thigh doesn’t work so well, and I’m no good with a joy switch – or whatever you call that thing on the computer).

The area was fairly deserted at that hour, so I selected a comfortable seat (see arrow), set everything up, got out my bits of paper towel (yes, I was guilty of a little backsliding) and went to work.

I broke twenty minutes into things because I needed caffeine, and they had a coffee stop (Starbucks) there.  Lattes are nice, though I received some strange looks when I said I didn’t want any flavoring syrup in my drink.  Perhaps it would have made them feel better if I’d asked for whipped cream or assured them that I’d be shaking some Splenda into it?  They were pretty pleasant, though…

I opened Scrivener, skimmed through the various chapters, adjusted some wording, grinned at some changes I’d forgotten…  The scene set up my hero’s disappearance:


     He pulled one of the gilded stools forward and sank into it, closing his eyes. A year ago his wife would have been with him. They would have come into these rooms, she to her own chamber, he to his. A few minutes later they would be in this room, sitting knee to knee, talking about the day’s events – Tuia’s dry humor would have him chuckling at the remembered conversations. He would call for a jar of wine, would open it with his own hands, pour two cups, and sip from his.And she would take his cup, turn the rim and sip from it. Leaving a kiss in the cup.  How odd that he hadn’t thought of that in months…

     Guardsmen swung the doors open. He nodded to them and went into his chambers. The luxurious appointments were all anyone could desire – piles of pillows, gilded chairs, a harp in the corner (when had he ever played a harp?), elegant vases in gilded bronze ring stands. He thought a cup of wine would be soothing – and then he remembered that His Majesty had to call for wine, that it would never do to have one’s wine sitting untended. What if there was an assassination attempt?

 So far, so good.  He was back from visiting his son’s tomb.  He’s tired, and this is a visit of state.  A feast is set for that evening…

He raised his head, watched a man enter, flanked by two guards. He looked familiar… Of course. The Nomarch (title akin to ‘Duke’) of the Third Nome, headquartered in Thebes. He rose, greeted the man, accepted his homage with a kind smile.
     When can I simply sit down and catch my breath?
     The man was still talking. He made some response.
     “Thank you, Sire!” the man said. “Till this evening!” And he bowed himself out of the room.  Seti closed his eyes. A banquet.
     His sight seemed to blur behind his eyelids. He could picture himself telling his corps of guards that the great lords of the third Nome could damned well eat their meals in garrulous comfort away from him.
What a pity he could not respond that way.
     He nodded to the major-domo. “Send my servants in,” he said. “I will prepare for the feast.”
     The door closed softly.
     A feast. Two weeks after a bereavement… No. After I learned of a bereavement.
** ** **
     “Thank you, Kha,” he said after he had been bathed and oiled and robed to everyone’s satisfaction. He tweaked the pleated linen sleeve of his robe. “I have a charge for you: assemble as many sheets of parchment as possible. The best quality. Have it brought to my chambers.

He attends the feast, returns to his chambers…

     The moon was riding high in the night sky when he returned to his chambers. He disrobed, suffered his servants to bathe and oil him, and then dismissed them. The night was relatively young. He went to the balcony of his chambers and looked across the Nile toward the east, warming with the first, faint light of false dawn.

     False dawn… His mind circled around the term. A precursor to dawn, an indication of dawn’s approach while still in the night.

     He smiled at himself. Well and good, he thought. He had to move forward, or else remain in darkness and grief. This was the proper time.
     He looked around the chambers. There were so many things there that he did not need, things that had only become necessities since the death of Horemheb, when his line had become entangled with the exigencies of royalty. He could still live frugally and comfortably with what could be packed in one small satchel.
     His smile widened. It was time to do so. The papyrus was awaiting him, as he had ordered. He had his own writing kit. He eyed the reed brushes and thought for a moment.
     And so, in the third hour before dawn, Men-Maat-Re Seti Merneptah, King of Upper and Lower Egypt, stepped out of his world and left.
** ** **
     Word did not come until five hours after dawn. Thebes was a tolerant and understanding city. His Majesty had suffered a severe blow, and he had borne it with pride and courage. Who could blame him if he lay abed late? Or if he chose to warm his bed with the caresses of a woman? Indeed, it was a wise thing to do.
     But there was no woman, and the bed was cold and unmarked.
** ** **
     Intef (he’s the prime minister and an old friend) sat back in his chair and tilted his chin back to allow his manservant to shave him. The scent of the unguents was almost intoxicating, and the action had become a morning ritual that helped to soothe him and prepare him for the day. He let himself drift, thinking over what had happened and what would happen… he prided himself on his ability to prepare for whatever came.
     He thought nothing of the slap-slap of sandals on the packed earthen floors, and when reality burst into his chambers and shouted the news, his first thought was to regret not having that second glass of wine when he arose.

And the rest of the story goes from there, with ensuing havoc, people milling around, reading letters, shouting orders, calling for the guard, dismissing the guard because His Majesty ordered in one of his letters that they were not to call for the guard.  His Majesty’s Major-Domo issuing smug orders until the moment when the prime minister, frowning at a document given to him, raises his head and says, “His Majesty directs you to return to Memphis.”

I sipped my latte.  Not bad.  Needs a lot of polishing, but the ideas were preserved.

Someone was looking at me surprise (you don’t see a lot of people tapping away at a word processing system in the middle of a mall).  I smiled, folded the paper towels with the writing, and ran a spell check.

Not a bad morning.  One down and three to go…

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