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Saturday November 4th 2017Tim Candler9

 

     It wasn't so much that the Sultan of Oman was heart broken at the news of his youngest son's departure from this earth, rather it was the disappearance of his youngest son's six valuable seamstresses that put an ire into the old man's eye. "A seamstress is a seamstress is a seamstress!" he riled at his advisors. And indeed the very idea of a royal seamstress being ordered to labor in the dirt by his reprobate youngest son for the sake of a couple of old bones was a disgrace the Sultan's pride was unable to tolerate, and he determined to find out exactly what had happened in that corner of a foreign field that would forever remain Muscat and Oman. He chose his baldest and ugliest eunuch, and he issued a royal command, "Henceforth thy name shall be Keith Schiller! Thou whilst adopt the mannerisms and accent of a New Yorker of Germanic ancestry, voyage to the land of the Barbarian and thou shalt discover the truth, and if the truth darest not meet with royal approval I shalt order thine head removed by a blind executioner." A cruel and unusual punishment the Sultan was rather fond of. Nor was it easy for Keith to reach Saint Barbara. Muscat was having a problem with Elphinstone, something to do with Zanzibar, sea travel was a tricky and the overland route was dogged by brigandage and the wretched Ottomans. Luckily for Keith he had a few connections in the lower decks of the British Navy and was able to reach Saint Barbara with an astonishing degree of promptness, which is just as well because otherwise an objective reader on a sensible planet like Jupiter might begin to doubt the veracity of this account of how Said's Cutting got its name, and just go for some totally joyless and completely wacky, ridiculous theory about out of control behaviors from spoilt rotten domestic pets chasing spiders and leaping onto badly thought out landscapes before plaster of Paris has properly set, and how there was indeed some very unchristian calling from the minaret beseeching Allah to bring down something like a Long Eared Owl to relieve an N scale enthusiast from his burden.

 

Past

     In Bronwyn Applegate's "My Life as a Pioneer" she recalls how her sisterhood had grasped the very real possibility of an adverse reaction in Oman. "The old lecher had very fixed ideas about who did what. But we gals were determined to follow in the footsteps of Saint Teresa. We would become Barefoot Carmelites or be martyred in the process. And anyway I'd already had a vision of the ideal site for our convent in the wild barbarian countryside, so there could be no retreat from our dream of simplicity in this extraordinarily backward part of the world." The minute the seamstresses knew that Saeed bin Saeed would never come out of the dinosaur tunnel, they kicked off their shoes and after a short, possibly unseemly pause they reminded Alejandra Pachis of the time she'd lifted the prince onto her shoulders intending to throw him into her unfinished duck pond. Alejandra recalled the moment well and she remembered the sets of heavy necklaces the young prince wore around his neck. "Never took them off," Bronwyn sighed. "Pure gold, worth a fortune!" This news spread like wildfire from one corner of Saint Barbara to the other. And when Keith Schiller arrived in Saint Barbara every last bit of rubble had been removed from Said's Cutting, it was so clean and tidy it was almost dust free, an N scale enthusiast's idea of perfection. The Industrial Magnet and investors who'd been made a little gloomy about their prospects after the tunnel collapse, were now delighted with the progress on their railway line. The new batch of young, mainly obnoxious Industrial Magnet representatives were all given fancy titles, and were strutting around getting their photographs taken. In his diligent hunt for the earthly remains of Saeed and his entourage Keith did find what could have been a bone from a seamstress' thumb in the rail line ballast of a poorly designed tight curve a little west of Saint Barbara's Halt. He didn't dare tell his master and instead he gave the Sultan of Oman a long, gory story about cannibalism amongst the infidel.

 

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