Perhaps You Shouldn’t

An Anasazi Story by Jeff Posey.

“The Fat Man is disgusting,” said the High Priest. “Why don’t you clean him out? We could make man corn out of him. It’d feed fifty of your warriors. Maybe more.”

“He’s too useful to us,” said Pok, chief of the Masaw Warriors. They were alone except for the High Priest’s fortuneteller, who sat like a statue saying nothing. Pok thought he’d rather make woman corn out of her than man corn out of the Fat Man. “He helps my warriors relax, have a little fun. If it weren’t the Fat Man offering these things, it would be someone else. It doesn’t make sense to take him out.”

“You talk as if he were your friend. I didn’t think you had any friends.”

“Friends are not something I need. Good warriors are what I need.”

“Do you trust the Fat Man? I always feel like he’s up to something.”

“Of course he’s up to something. He’s always scheming for ways to increase his power. Who isn’t? If he weren’t so fat I’d put him in charge of recruiting warriors.”

“Why don’t you?” asked the High Priest. “Then you’d have control over him. As it is, he’d turn against us like the shifting wind.”

Pok found the High Priest’s worries about the Fat Man amusing. What could possibly be threatening about a poorly organized petty criminal the size of two men? “He has no army. His power comes from low-quality corn beer, fresh prostitutes, and gambling. A half-dozen of my sorriest warriors could erase him before the shadows move.”

“He bears watching.”

“Oh, I watch him. I have my eyes and ears in his organization. If I find out he’s doing anything against us, I’ll take him down.”

A quarter mile away, the Fat Man sat in a council of men who ran operations for him at the other great houses in the canyon. His two bodyguards stood at the entrance to the room. He surveyed all the faces. Each of these men had questionable loyalty. Some, he knew, maybe even most, would jump to support the winning side of any confrontation regardless of any oaths of allegiance or duty. So he chose his words carefully.

“I know each of you suffers beyond redemption for the horrors we commit that make us rich.” The men’s eyes around the table glanced at each other under their eyebrows. The Fat Man grinned. Then laughed. “You mean you don’t? Of course you don’t. Times are better for us than they’ve ever been. Totec Canyon has become the center of the world, and all things of value flow here and you get your share of it because of me.” He breathed noisily through his nostrils. “We must do all we can to keep it that way.”

“What do you mean?” asked the man who ran the business at the High House on the North Road, above them on the canyon rim.

“The world will change. It always does. Sometimes from places we don’t expect. But there is something you can rely on until the end of the world as we know it. If anyone betrays me, they betray us, and I will deal with them in the most memorable of ways.”

He scanned the room looking into each man’s eyes.

“Do you know something we do not?” asked the High House man.

“You know it as well as I do. When times are good, something changes and they become difficult again. When times are difficult, something changes and they become good again. Times are good now. But something will change. I want to know that each of you has your head in the right place.”

The Fat Man noticed that one man paid more attention than any other. One man watched his face with wide-open eyes as if he were trying to memorize every word he spoke. The Fat Man had suspected him before of being disloyal. When the man left the premises, the Fat Man would send someone to follow him. That boy Lightfoot would be good for the job.

Back in the High Priest’s great house in a dark storeroom, the High Priest whispered with Chumana, his fortuneteller

“Is the Fat Man the threat you’ve been talking about?” asked the High Priest.

“No, it’s something else. It’s still vague in my mind, but it’s not the Fat Man,” said Chumana.

“So who do you suspect?” he asked.

“Beware the secret desires in the hearts of men. Especially those close enough to do you harm.”

“The Fat Man?”

“Pok.”

“I trust Pok completely.”

“Perhaps you shouldn’t,” said Chumana.

# # #

Question for readers: Do the point-of-view shifts in this disturb you?

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19 Comments

Filed under #FridayFlash, Anasazi, Ancient Americans, Chaco Canyon, Chimney Rock, Historial Fiction

19 responses to “Perhaps You Shouldn’t

  1. Nice build-up at the end to keep the reader glued to your site, eager to see the next installment. I like how you’ve also created suspense. While the reader knows that eventually something bad will happen to change things (good foreshadowing, btw), the reader doesn’t know who will suffer, and it’s that lack of knowledge which keeps the reader hooked into the storyline.

    As for POV shifts, they didn’t bother me because you placed a transition sentence to cue in the change. If you’re worried about it, though, you can insert a scene break (or one centered #, if you prefer) to provide a clear indication that something has changed.

    Thanks for sharing the continued saga.

  2. While the action moves slowly, a lot is happening here, both on and off the page. The POV shifts did not throw me, but I would feel more grounded in the story if some of the dialogue were replaced with narrative.

  3. The POV shifts are smoothly done, Jeff. Still getting a handle on the story, as I’m new to this, but I’ve really enjoyed when I’ve read so far.

    More, please. 🙂

  4. battypip

    Magical. I’m with Dan about that line “I will deal with them in the most memorable of ways.” – it sent shivers down my spine and I’m rather glad you didn’t go into any details! I’ve probably said this before, but you are wonderfully skilful at portraying a culture that is so different from ours yet is populated by humans with the same human failings we see all around us.

  5. KjM

    The changes in point of view were, to me, artfully done. There was just enough of a transition to cue me as a reader: “A quarter mile away, the Fat Man…” and “Back in the High Priest’s great house…”

    I am enjoying the unfolding of this huge tale. The aspects you reveal each week, from different angles, give a multi-faceted view of this story.

    I like how you telling it.

  6. dan

    “I will deal with them in the most memorable of ways.” What a great threat. Another great fragment of the Anasazi’s stories. Can’t wait to see how this plays out.

    And I know I mention it every time, but the talk of good and bad times here really reflects the current issues with the economic downturn. I do love how these stories have something to say about the world we live in too.

  7. Pok still disturbs me so much (from your earlier stories mentioning him – couldn’t resist reading more last weekend) that it’s hard to read this as a self-contained flash now Jeff. I so want him to be wrong, and for him to be the one taken down.

    The shift in POV did not bother me either, but the last conversation seemed so short in comparison to the others, and I wouldn’t have missed it being gone altogether and saved for another future bit. I wanted to hear more about the one The Fat Man distrusted.

  8. Each week I feel like I am being drawn further and further into this, and I am eager to see what’s next (no shocker there).

    I don’t have a problem with POV. I think you handle the shifts smoothly, and I hardly bat an eye.
    ~2

  9. “I’ve removed poor Nuva.”

    Yikes. Sounds like the Fat Man is not the only one to watch out for. Characters, beware the author! 😉

    To answer your question, no, the POV shifts did not present a problem. I did a sort of double take at “I want to know that each of you has your head in the right place.” I think most ancient societies attributed loyalty to the heart, not the head. Seemed too 80’s to me. May be just my bias though.

    I love the complexity and interrelationships you are weaving together in these stories.
    ~jon

  10. And so the plot thickens. I’d have my eye on Chumana if it were me. As for POV shifts, I didn’t know they were potential sticking points until I read your question. You handled them smoothly. Another fine installment Jeff.

  11. soesposito

    Nope, the POV shifts were fine. Your dialog is great, very believable. I’m still catching up with the characters and knowing what the stakes are, but enjoying the writing!

  12. Another wonderful story from you! No, the POV shifts did not confuse or disturb.

    I enjoy reading your work, Jeff

  13. The POV shifts aren’t disturbing, but the twin concepts of man corn and woman corn sure did!

  14. Great story, as always! The POV shifts didn’t bother me, but a first time reader would be confused as to who Nuva is. You mentioned Chumana, the fortuneteller – but Nuva wasn’t identified, only named suddenly as being in the room.

    Can’t wait for next week’s installment!

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