The operative known to me only as LVN--the source of the colloquial "Elviney"--is an enigmatic one. She has been employed by Pinochet's personal security detail and worked with several Maoist groups, and thus her associates have spanned the ideological spectrum. Her motives are her own.
Currently she is responsible for the education center, deceptively primitive in appearance. The children show her unquestioned loyalty and obedience, even love. This despite--or because of--the permanent missing status of a few of her unrulier charges. For me she has inspired surprise, bafflement, and yes, the occasional twinge of fear. (All of which I shall deny if it is repeated to her.)
In all frankness I never asked Lucas to take LVN as a lover. Nor would I have done so. The man's ego and impetuous loins are responsible for that. Yet, perhaps an advantage. When two of one's officers are locked in marital combat, it tests the mettle of both. Thus I may determine, as the plan progesses, who shall hold the more reins.
Yes, my trusted lieutenant Lucas and I have had many good laughs regarding the citizens of Hootin' Holler and their adherence to "old time" slave morality. They know--if only by osmosis--their Old Testament and their New Testament. But few among them are aware of the Newest Testament: the Book of the Fully Realized Man.
Well, they'll learn. Those who can learn shall be educated. Out of the weak and credulous masses shall rise the strong men and women of tomorrow.
Collapse onto the bed? Why of course I did! For a full week I've been testing designs for the new currency to be unveiled in the Western... Well, suffice it to say that I'm deep into a grand R&D project. And every other waking moment is spent securing the loyalty of my minions in these convoluted poker rituals. Well, it wears a man down.
Now I need sustenance. Food!
I trust Luisa. She may be prone to bestial rages, particularly in the presence of certain integers. (Long story for another day.) But in the kitchen, as in so many other locales, she shows a determined forward motion. In the vernacular, she knows how to git R done.
Yes, a baby born today is a boy or girl who will come of age in the new Eden. The grander, sweeter future that will be brought about by one Ezekiel "Snuffy" Smith and his minions. Yes, the citizens of the world that will be. In a way, they are the reason I get up in the morning. The reason Jörg... Excuse me, the reason "Jughaid" and I spend all that father-son time hacking into weather satellites.
So yes, when I heard that the Wiggins family had brought forth new life, I was excited. And not just because Alvin's wife has always struck me as a paragon of barrenness. No, I thought these youngling's deserved to be greeted by the man who will humbly shape their world.
Instead? Birds. And not real birds, either. Rather, it was three wren-like automata that I had assembled myself as a post-graduate project. (Not the entire project, of course.)
Well, the rest of the day I spent in a foul (not a fowl) temper. Luisa's skills as a masseuse, courtesan, and knife-thrower were certainly needed that night.
Why, one may ask, does Ezekiel Smith have a dead skunk under his porch? Well, one may ask, but if one is wise one will refrain from seeking too many details. Law of the exile, don't you know.
Suffice it to say that the poor creature was not the intended target of the experimental neurotoxin. But once it had wandered into the cloud, the man of science in me sat up and took notice.
The amalgamation of chemicals seems to have preserved the flesh, in a true paradox. The smell is actually becoming... sweeter? Yes, like honey and roses, although the scent of decay has crept in. Research continues between the poker games. Little two-toned martyr, your death has not been in vain.
And why do unregistered voters love me. Well, as much as it surprises even me, I have aroused a certain amount of affection in my fellow Hollerites. It could be that I always have a kind word for any soul I meet. It may be my generosity in distributing fish, when I catch one. (Or more. There is a precedent for multiplying fish. But now, now, mustn't blaspheme.)
The monitor chips that I've implanted in the heads of most inhabitants of the Greater Hootin' Holler metropolitan area may also be a factor. Now do not fret. The mechanics are harmless--by and large--and unintrusive. For the most part I let my neighbors go about their tawdry lives.
There is a possibility I could use the cerebral implants to bend these fellows and fellowettes to my will, should the circumstances arise. Needless to say, a forgettable local election does not qualify.
While I was dubious at first, Lucas has persuaded me that throwing streamers and babbling about "a chicken in every pot"* may make me more approachable to the common folk. Do I want them approaching me? At a time of my choosing, yes.
Meanwhile, I have the boy we've given the codename "Jughaid" patrolling the crowds, apprising me of the next generation in dumb muscle. This day shall not go to waste.
* Chickens are, on the whole, abysmally stupid. If one wants a chicken in one's pot, one can simply leave the pot on the portico and a chicken will step into it before long. That's how we done do it in these parts. To quote the vernacular.
It need hardly be said that when I tell Lucas that the key to a good marriage "is to not keep secrets", I mean the sort of marriage other than the domestic tranquility that so many of the sheep flock to. No, what I refer to is the special wedlock between a visionary leader and his trusted lieutenant. Lucas--"Lukey" to the tourists and sleepers--is due his share of the spoils. The portion he requires is something I barely notice, especially as he takes a good percentage of it in corn liquor and chaw. (In a previous life, Lucas was a commodities broker.) But I will not tolerate him lying to me. Mine is a jealous sect.
Luisa, well, bless her. She is busy inculcating the trigger words into the mind of Lucas' companion Elvira Lynn. "Berry patch" is an unconscious instruction to take a memory-altering sedative if taken prisoner. The others are rather esoteric, and I will keep them to myself for the present time.
A man of the law. An enforcer of slave morality. And yet while I may hold him in contempt, I cannot entirely dismiss the sheriff. While the laws he represents are soon to be swept aside--as my own transcendent law rises--he shows a certain... adaptive quality.
Laugh, old man, and the world will soon laugh with you. Because this silly little whodunit of yours? It will propagate the truth as I need it to be seen. Oh yes, you've heard me go on and on while ensconced in your drunk tank. And as you are at heart a trusting sort, you believed I was simply jabbering. Well, you'll be educated soon enough.
Yes, laugh sheriff. But as you set in motion the informational phase of my plans, know the last laugh shall be Snuffy's.
Ah, Luisa! Or, as we are expected to say in these parts, 'Weezy. (Gad.) Such a warm companion! Such a lethal aide! And so different from what you were before.
Yes, when I first recruited her from the lower ranks of the Stasi, Luisa was a shy German farmgirl who could barely hold her Luger straight. But I saw potential in her, and was determined to develop it.
She is a new kind of creature now, as her command of avian lore shows. Or rather, in a way that the exchange above only begins to demonstrate. If she sees a wren foraging on the ground, she is able to catch it in one hand a second after it takes flight. To comfort the bird or to wring its neck. I've been witness to both.
Mama is most certainly not the woman who gave me life lo these many years ago. Her identity is another story for another day.
Curse that carrot-topped fool Skeeter, and his ineffectual money-making schemes.
Yes, these soft Kentucky suburbanites always seem so awed and grateful when they're introduced to "mountainfolk" and "ur mountin' folk ways." For the first hour. A full day's tour, and their coddled stomachs have been turned by our water and our rather cultured meat. Life in this part of the land toughens a man, one reason Hootin' Holler--don't ask about the name--makes such an ideal base of operations. But a few tourists get sick, and lawyers come sticking their noses in. Reporters, *shudder*. My plans are not meant to be known, not yet.
Nor, for that matter, is my face. Oh no, no pictures. The name "Snuffy Smith" must remain a whisper, if that. Meaning that the camera held by that towheaded hausfrau must have an accident. Skeeter is responsible for this sheer Charlie Foxtrot. It is only right for him to clean up the mess. It would be lovely if harm could be spared the family themselves. Yes, I would prefer that, and hope it may be so.
Not just any man, obviously. A man of outsized talents, gifts, genius if you will.
Such a man will not be satisfied working for another, any other. Oh, he sees the value of labor, but it must be on his own terms. His ambitions will be so outsized as to terrify nearly all of his fellow beings. Those who are not repelled may find themselves compelled to serve him. For this man, "The world is my oyster," is not a mere cliché, but a confident vision.
Such a man is Ezekiel "Snuffy" Smith. Like Alexander the Great, like Napoleon, Snuffy feels the right--nay, the duty--to reshape the world to his own liking.
But it can't all come at once. The world powers are too entrenched. Stick your head up too far, too fast, and it's apt to be chopped off. And so Snuffy Smith bides his time. He waits, and watches, obscuring his towering intellect behind the pose of a shiftless hillbilly.