A duck nesting on the lakeshore of Aloysius University’s Chicago campus has been accused of attacking minority students.
Aloysius has erected a fence on its lakefront to stop a spate of duck attacks on African-American, Native-American, Hispanic, East-Asian, West-Asian, Islamic, Female, Gay, Lesbian and left-handed students.
The duck, described as white, male, about 1-ft tall with an orange bill, has been accused of behaving aggressively towards minority students as they cross over a footbridge near the duck’s nesting place on the university’s campus in Chicago, Illinois.
The footbridge is used by hundreds of students everyday as a route between accommodations, academic and athletic facilities. Students report that the duck, who bears an uncanny resemblance to the spokes-duck for a large, national insurance company, only seems to target students from ethnic and social minorities.
Minority students feel as though they’re being targeted and bullied. “I’m from Honduras and the duck especially singles me out to attack! He focuses straight on me! I can see the racist hate in his beady, little duck eyes! I think he doesn’t like too many Hispanics being in America… even the ducks here are racist.”
Al Denté, 26, a white, Ph.D. candidate in Biology of Northern Italian ancestry, specializing in things with feathers, denies that the duck is racist. “It’s breeding season! He’s nesting! His mate is on the nest and the duck is simply trying to keep threats away.
Al Denté goes on to argue that a duck couldn’t be racist… that ducks have no sense of race… they just recognize threats… any threats… and act accordingly.
“This is ridiculous! Ducks have no sense of human race, for God’s sake! They just know humans eat them! Of course the little guy is trying to keep humans away from his nest.”
The Reverend Alf Sharpster denies Al Denté’s assertion. “The student is white! The duck is white! His victims are not! It’s another example of a white conspiracy to cover up white-on-minority crime that is being ignored by the white authorities for racist reasons!”
Sharpster has traveled to Chicago to organize rallies and protests against the duck. “We won’t leave until we get satisfaction,” Sharpster said over a champagne brunch in his luxury suite at the Drake Hotel overlooking Chicago’s Miracle Mile.
Meanwhile minority students on Aloysius’ Chicago campus continue to live in fear. “That duck bit me right on the ass simply because I’m Chinese,” a victim of the spate of duck-attacks reported!
Campus security had plans to taser the duck, but decided against it after the student chapter PETA threatened to shoot their fascist asses if they went anywhere near the bird.
A spokesperson for the university said, “We are blessed… truly blessed… with great avian diversity on our beautiful campus overlooking Lake Michigan. We have 10.7% black birds, 7.4% brown birds, 23.5% yellow birds, 2.8% red birds, 55.6% white birds and even a few purple birds, for whom we’re developing special recruiting programs. We are 37.5% Cub fans and 29.4% White Sox fans. At Aloysius University, we are 97.872% committed to diversity on campus, both in our ducks, a whopping 13.4% of our avian population, other birds, and in our human community as well.”
Joey Magoo, 29, a career English major at the university, said from his barstool at Tommy O’Helligan’s pub, “Damn bird’s definitely a white winger!”
This is my version of Wait, Wait, Don’t Tell Me, the NPR News quiz.
I’m running a contest to see which of my readers, either one of you, can identify the REAL story, which appeared in the media earlier this week because with only the crisis in the Ukraine, the collapse of the stock market, the disappearance of a passenger jet in Malaysia, and POTUS stomping for the minimum wage and pay equity, we’ve been having a really slow news week.
Two news articles are below. One is made up and the other represents an actual story in the news. Of course, names have been changed to protect the stupid and I’ve embellished the stories a bit.
Send your answer to me at firstname.lastname@example.org.
I will select a name from the legion of correct answers I receive, and send the lucky winner a copy of my book, A Grunt Speaks.
Here we go.
Story A: Sorority Suspended for Hazing
A sorority chapter at the Ms. Greene’s College for Young Ladies in Snotsville, CT has been suspended while officials investigate reports of hazing, including young not-so-ladies forcing men to wear female thong underwear and garter belts, wear false eyelashes and gloss lipstick, and take alcohol shots off each other’s writhing, sweaty bodies, according to local media reports.
Ms. Greene’s associate director of community standards and political correctness sent a letter last week placing the Pi Iota Gamma sorority, under an interim suspension “until this student conduct issue is resolved,” The Snotsville Times reports on Thursday.
The suspension was ordered following a probe of the alleged incidents by the Ms. Greene’s Courtesy and Security department and seventeen personal injury lawyers, TV news reports.
According to the letter from Ms. Alma Gedon the Fourth, members of Pi Iota Gamma, known as the Piggies around campus, are also accused of forcing a group of men involved with a fraternity from State College to drink beer, eat pizza, and watch NFL football games on a Sunday instead of going to church and doing their homework, the newspaper reports.
According to a spokesperson for the boys’ attorneys, they were severely traumatized by the incident and are now undergoing treatment for PTSD.
In the letter, Gedon the IV explained to the sorority that a suspension “indicates that the presence of your organization on campus could pose a threat to the health, safety, august tranquility and prestige of the campus community.”
The Pi Iota Gamma national and the Ms. Greene’s chapter did not immediately return messages seeking comment Thursday, the Amalgamated Press reports.
Story B: Fraternity Suspended for Hazing
A fraternity chapter at State University has been suspended while officials investigate reports of hazing, including men forcing women to wear sensible clothes, not use the “F-word” in public, and drink tea with lemon, according to local media reports.
State U’s associate director of community party standards sent a letter last week placing the Delta Upsilon Mu (DUM) fraternity under an interim suspension “until this evidence of student’s enforcing proper conduct is resolved,” The Morning Bugle reports on Thursday.
The suspension was ordered following a state police, FBI, IRS and Department of Homeland Security probe of the alleged incidents, according to TV reports.
According to the letter from Ab Normal, members of Delta Upsilon Mu, known around campus as “Dummies,” are also accused of forcing a group of women involved with a school sorority to refrain from using their mobile phones in crowded restaurants, not point at people, about whom they were gossiping, and other anti-social behaviors, the newspaper reports.
In the letter, Normal explained to the fraternity that a suspension “indicates that the presence of your organization on campus could pose a threat to the thoughtless party-hardy attitude of the campus community.”
The Delta Upsilon Mu national and the State U chapter were at high tea and did not return messages seeking comment Thursday, the Amalgamated Press reports.
A recently published study in the Journal of Gender Inanities says men fake orgasm not just for the relationship or for their own insecurity, but when there’s a game on TV, the Huffton Roast reports.
The U.S. study looked at 481 sexually active, hetero-sexual men with an average emotional age of 18½ who were in what a woman would describe as a “committed relationship” and asked why they faked it.
Their top four answers:
• Sexual adjournment (getting intimacy over with because there’s something on TV, like an NCAA basketball game, any football game, hockey, something NBA, even baseball… or, a few beers with the guys).
• Altruistic deceit (making the little woman feel better so she’ll stop ragging on him about “where has the magic gone,” “you never touch me anymore,” “don’t you think I’m sexy anymore” etc., etc., etc., blah, blah, blah… “your lips are moving but I don’t hear a thing.”)
• See the first reason, above!
• “Who the fuck knows, we don’t think much about it!”
The first answer fits traditional thinking about a faked orgasm — that it’s for the game, and why does this woman want me to do this so often — but the second shows an unexpected self-determination by men in bed, says study co-author Dr. Richard “The” Johnson.
“One caveat,” The Johnson warns, “The study looked at married men, or those who have been in what a woman might describe as a “committed relationship” for at least ninety minutes, and earlier studies have found this group can’t achieve orgasm as easily as single men having drunken, casual sex, with strangers, right after the bars close on the weekend.”
Still, an earlier study showed that 80% of men admitted to having faked the big O, reports the Fox Mews Network (FMN).
The question remains. How can a man “fake” an orgasm? I mean… well… you know… it’s… like… uh… out there!
The Johnson has a theory. “It’s a remarkable manifestation of a Darwinian adaptation of the male to threats in their environment.”
Men have developed the ability to have “faux orgasms,” The Johnson explains. Modern man has the ability to manifest dramatic external displays of pleasure in order to fool a woman into believing he really enjoys having sex with her. That way she won’t rag on him about it, or even worse, initiate “pouting-silent-treatment castigation syndrome” PSTCS. As in,
Man: “What’s wrong, Honey?”
Repeat every 15 to 20 minutes.
The guy-in-the-street seems to agree with the Johnson study.
“I mean it’s fuckin’ obvious… right,” said Pat McGroin, never taking his eyes off the five NFL games on the jumbotron TV’s in the Orange Shamrock Sports Bar and Social Club in a Chicago suburb on a Sunday afternoon?
McGroin explains, “We give ‘em the big wedding… right… we nod and grin when they tell us the tie clashes with the shirt… we agree with ‘em the red Camry’s nicer than the blue Mustang… we give ‘em a free hand with hanging the drapes… shades, not blinds! Jeez! Who cares… eh? They got 16 different names for off-white paint! Then they get all bent out of shape when we don’t want to perform for them in bed on demand like trained rabbits! Ya just can’t please ‘em, I tell ya! I hope the fuckin’ government didn’t blow too much of my tax money on this boondoggle of a study! Hey, Murph! Gimme another over here, will ya! I gotta be home by dinner!”
In another attention-grabbing sex study, nearly half of men report “sexual coercion,” through a woman’s use of “wiles” — alcoholic beverages, scanty negligees, home-cooked meals, cosmetics and discrete glances — in order to induce them into bed.
Pat Green has one more batter to face. At least that’s what he hopes. If he can get this guy out, his school, the St. Xavier Academy for Boys, wins the game and wins back the Bishop’s Cup.
It doesn’t matter that their regular season was mediocre at best… why not just call it what it is… their season sucked. They have a seven and sixteen record and this is their last game. But, any season they beat their arch-rivals, St. Agnes High School, is a good season. Besides, this is Pat’s last game in high school. He’s going to Fordham in the Fall, the Engineering Program. Still, he’d like to end his high school baseball career on a high note, a win over St. Agnes.
Traditionally, there always has been bad blood between the schools… why not just call it what it is… the schools hate each other.
The St. Francis Xavier Academy for Boys is a Jesuit school on the upper west-side of Manhattan that’s strictly college prep; a student has to have at least a B average just to get in. Tuition’s high, fifty dollars a month, and mandatory. Most of its grads go on to college, hopefully, to a good Catholic University like St. John’s in Queens or Fordham up in the Bronx. Even a city college would do in a pinch. Every year, one or two of their more gifted boys actually achieve Irish-Catholic, academic nirvana and is accepted to Notre Dame, way out in some distant and mysterious place west of New Jersey, called South Bend, Indiana. Such a wondrous occurrence is always mentioned by Father Rector during his graduation remarks.
Of course, there is always the fond hope that one, or maybe two, should Jesus be so kind, of St. Xavier’s graduates will decide to enter the priesthood, and go on to the seminary, preferably a Jesuit one. In order to nurture the vocations of the chosen few, and good academics for the rest of the boys because the good fathers know that teenage girls make teenage boys stupid, the school does not encourage their charges to socialize with members of the opposite sex. Being caught in a “public display of affection” with a girl within two blocks of the school gets a student a week of detention. Of course, then, there are no school dances, and, during the summer, the boys are encouraged to avoid mixed company, as well as other occasions of sin, and to attend mass every morning.
St. Agnes is a more “working class” institution. It’s a Marist Brothers school in mid-town near Grand Central whose goal is to give any Catholic boy, who desires it, a good, Catholic education despite any disadvantages, financially and academically. Their goals are as modest as the clay with which they work. The good brothers prepare their students to go on to one of the better jobs open to Catholics in New York City: the cops, fire department, sanitation, the subway, the buses, the trades or, for a lucky few, a white-collar with the city. In recent years, some of St. Agnes’ more promising grads actually got jobs with the phone company as messengers and frame men, demonstrating how liberal the city had become since the war. The school happily takes boys whose academic disabilities prevent them from getting into any of the better Catholic schools, even the recently arrived Puerto Ricans from the West Side and the Cubans from over in Corona, good traditional, Catholic cultures both, whose conduct and English are, shall we say, challenging. Tuition is nominally set at twenty-five a month, or whatever a family can afford.
The good brothers of St. Agnes have no delusions concerning the academic and social potential of their graduates. They assume that their boys’ most hopeful contribution to the future of Holy Mother Church is the begetting and nurturing of the next generation of Catholics. This, of course, requires an early marriage with a good Catholic girl, before the boys can become distracted by the alluring wiles of sinfully unfecund and extra-marital sexuality with some non-Catholic or, even worse, non-Christian. In order to facilitate this holy mission, the school organizes frequent mixers with the Catholic girls’ schools around the diocese, even going as far afield at times as the Diocese of Brooklyn, just across the river. A student can of course bring a date, as long as the girl is Catholic and is in good standing at some high school, even a public one; calls have been known to be made concerning this. Of course, these dances are carefully chaperoned and the behavior of the children carefully scrutinized by the brothers of St. Agnes and the teaching sisters of the guest school. Although the good brothers look forward to the next generation of Catholics, there’s no hurry to get it started. Slow dancing too closely merits a warning; a second offense means being thrown out of the dance, boy and girl separately of course, and one week of detention for the boy. Being caught making out with a girl on school premises is good for four weeks of the “Big D” and being banned from dances for a semester.
So, the boys of St. Agnes consider the boys of St. Xavier a bunch of spoiled, lace-curtain pansies, while the boys at St. Xavier consider St. Agnes boys a bunch of ignorant, shanty-Irish losers. That is the polite way of expressing the rivalry. If one were to ask one of the boys what they thought about their opposite numbers, out of the hearing of any of the Marist brothers or Jesuit priests of course, the most common answer heard would be, “They’re a bunch of assholes!”
To make matters worse, sometime back in the early forties, some Marists and Jesuits got together, probably over a sacramental bottle or two of twelve-year-old Irish, good Catholic stuff, not that Prot swill from the north. After a prodigious sharing out of the water of life amongst themselves, and a long, heated argument over which baseball team truly represented the spirit of New York, Irish Catholicism, the Yankees, Giants or even the lowly Brooklyn Dodgers, they came up with the grand idea for an annual baseball competition between the two schools. Although most ideas are “grand” after a few belts of the gargle, the Archbishop of New York, Francis Joseph Cardinal Spellman himself, may His Excellency be loved for as long as he lives and live as long as he’s loved, liked the idea so much that he donated a large sterling-silver cup, which forever after would be called the “Bishop’s Cup.” The winner of each year’s game was awarded the cup at their graduation ceremony in June by the Cardinal himself, may His Excellency be loved for as long as he lives and live as long as he’s loved, and got to display it in the center of their trophy cabinet. It was also rumored, at least among the boys, that the Cardinal himself, may His Excellency be loved for as long as he lives and live as long as he’s loved, gave the faculty of the winning school enough of the sacramental, twelve-year-old Irish, good Catholic stuff, not that Prot swill from the north, to fill the cup to the brim. Up the Republic!
So, boys, priests and brothers all took the game seriously. On the day of the game, all classes were of course cancelled. The entire congregation of each school, students and faculty, even the alumni, attended a special mass at nine a.m., St. Xavier in its auditorium, St Agnes in the parish church next to the school. There, each school asked Jesus, the Blessed Virgin and all the saints, especially Saints Patrick and Michael the Archangel, to intercede for them, to give them victory, and to smite their cross-town, cross-cultural rivals, who on that day were no better than a bunch of snotty-nosed, shifty-eyed Prots and heretics. After mass, faculty, students and alumni en masse got on the subway, the Eastside IRT for St. Agnes, the Independent Line for St. Xavier, and traveled to a ball field up in the Bronx for the annual game between the two Manhattan schools. The Bishop’s Cup itself was carried up by the previous year’s winner, and prominently displayed behind home plate on a table, covered in rich, shining, red fabric, bordered in gold, for that year’s winners to take back to their school in triumph after the game. The crowd, after a few nips of the sacramental water of life from silver flasks on the St. Xavier side, and pint bottles in brown paper bags on the St. Agnes side, got quite vociferously involved in the game. Even a few fights were known to break out, now and again. But, with a crowd full of cops, firemen, city politicians, and clergy, the fights never lasted long or amounted to much of anything more than some mussed hair, a rug or two askew, a torn shirt or an occasional bloody-nose. After all, the day was for the boys, baseball and the greater glory of God.
It was close to the seventh hour, almost time to pack it up and head south, when our last party arrived, this time down the road from the north west. Alaw, whom we had posted up that road as a scout, alerted us.
“Pen,” he reported to Athauhnu, “A merchant and his party are approaching the city.”
“How many,” Athauhnu asked?
Alaw shrugged and calculated, “The merchant… his woman… two body guards… a slave… four pack mules.”
“How far out,” Athauhnu asked again?
Again, Alaw shrugged, “Maybe five hundred passus… he’s in no hurry.”
“Let’s intercept,” I suggested.
Athauhnu grunted his agreement, then hissed, “Guithiru! Mount five!”
Then he turned to Alaw, “Is Rhodri keeping an eye on him?”
“Tis, chief,” Alaw nodded.
We walked our horses down off the reverse slope of the ridge and hit the road out of site of the city gate. There we mounted and followed Alaw to the northwest. We spotted the merchant’s party less than four hundred passus up the road. He halted when he saw us. His two guards attempted to look as menacing as they could in the face of nine well-armed riders.
We halted about ten passus away. Almost immediately Rhodri joined us from behind the merchant’s party and now they faced ten. I held up an empty right hand to show him I was not holding a weapon and asked in Latin, “Are you bound for the fortress of the Aedui.”
The man hesitated for a few heartbeats, then answered in a halting Latin, “Romani vos? You Romans?”
I answered, “We are from Caesar’s army. Are you not a Roman?”
“Non Romanus. Graecus.” he answered, “Not Roman. Greek.”
“Να μιλούν την ελληνική γλώσσα,” I said, “I can speak Greek.”
The man stared again, then smiled, “Like a Roman school boy trying to recite Homer for his tutor,” he said in Gah’el.
“Then Gah’el it is,” I agreed. “Where are you bound.”
“This is the road to Bibracte, is it not,” he shrugged?
“Tis,” I agreed, “Where are you coming from.”
The man shrugged, “I am coming down from the lands of the Senones, but I have been as far north as the Ocean, among the Veneti.”
I could tell Athauhnu and the men were uneasy about being out in the open while we talked, so I said, “We would like to hear your tales of the Senones and the Veneti. Perhaps we can talk out of the sun over in those trees.”
Now it was the merchant’s turn to be nervous about being waylaid by a band of brigands pretending to be Roman soldiers… or actual Roman cavalry looking to augment their wages… so I spoke again, “I am Gaius Marius Insubrecus, Decurio in Gaius Iulius Caesar’s Praetoria. And, this is Athauhnu mab Hergest, Pencefhul of the Soucanai, in the service of Caesar and the Roman people.”
The man’s eyes widened a bit at that. “Romans this far north and Soucani this far west! These are indeed interesting times.” Then, he looked up at the sun. “You are correct, young man, this sun is hot. A short rest under the shade of some trees would be welcomed.”
We moved over to a grove of trees to the north of the road. Alaw and Rhodri moved farther north to screen the road. Athauhnu dispatched Guithiru and two men to the south. The rest of our troop spread out securing the area.
As we dismounted, the merchant announced, “I am called Gennadios Emporos, Gennadios the Trader. The woman is called Evra. She claims to be from an island beyond Britannia, where the dead live. She was taken in a raid by the Veneti, years ago when she was a girl. Now she is my woman.”
“Not that long ago, Merchant,” she spat!”
Athauhnu’s eyes widened at that. “A woman from the island of the dead! Then that place exists.”
Gennadios shrugged, “She claims she never saw the dead feasting in golden halls. According to her, it’s a place of pigs, cattle and salmon in the rivers the size of tiuunai, tunnyfish. No! No walking dead. Just drunks, pigs and fat farmers. Eh, Meli Mou?”
The woman gave a dismissive grunt as she adjusted the pack straps on one of the mules.
“Ah! Where are my manners,” Gennadios said, “Wine! Evra! The skin of retsina! Three cups!”
Then he turned to us, “I doubt you’ve ever tried retsina. We use pine resin to preserve the wine. It travels well!”
Gennadios’ woman from the Isle of the Dead handed us cups, then poured the wine. It was golden yellow as it flowed from the wine skin. I could smell the pine resin. When all the cups were poured, we acknowledged our host and drank. I was surprised. It was light… delicious.
Gennadios smacked his lips, then said, “I had heard that Caesar had moved north of the Rhonus, but I hadn’t expected to see his men this side of Bibracte.”
“Really,” I said, “Where did you hear that?”
“From the Roman delegation to the Senones…” he began.
“Romans… among the Senones… who…” I began.
Gennadios held up his hand. “Yes, A Roman delegation arrived in the Senones dun, Agedincum… when was it… about a month ago… they had a broad-striper leading them… a noble or a senator… a real nob, he was… the rest looked military… bodyguards I would think, led by a narrow-striper… they had an audience with the uucharix, the tribal king, Caswalu… but they spent most of their time with his dunorix, Dramaelo… no love lost between those two, I can tell you… Dramaelo is older, but Caswalu seems to have favor with you Romans…”
“Do you know what these Romans wanted,” I interrupted.
“Wanted… oh, yes… they told the king that Caesar did not have the Roman Senate’s authorization to cross the Rhonus… that the Aedui were still friends of the Roman state…”
“They specifically mentioned the Aedui,” I interrupted again?
“They didn’t have to,” Gennadios tutted, “They had an escort of Aedui riders from the fianna of the Aeduan dunorix.”
“Deluuhnu,” I asked?
“The same,” Gennadios confirmed. “Why are you surprised? Didn’t you know that Dramaelo is married to Deluuhnu’s sister?”
“His sister,” I said!
“Oh yes,” Gennadios continued! “In fact, many of Dramaelo’s troops are Aedui… makes his king right nervous.”
“Did the Romans encourage the Senones to attack Caesar’s army,” I asked?
“Attack them,” Gennadios answered? “No… not in so many words… but the impression they gave was, if the Senones joined with the Aedui in defending Aedui territory against Caesar’s unauthorized incursion, the Senate would understand.”
Evra, who was sitting with the two bodyguards over by the mules, called over to Gennadios, “Labhair tú i bhfad ró, fear d’aois. Roinnt lá beidh go bhfaigheann mharaigh tú.”
I didn’t understand what she said, but some words sounded familiar, almost recognizable.”
Gennadios chuckled. “She’s telling me to keep my mouth shut,” he told us. “The women of the Gaelige… that’s what they call themselves on the Isle of the Dead… Gaelige… sometimes the people of Eriu… that’s their goddess of love… Aphrodite… you’d never know it from Evra… their women are like the women of the Gah’el… but ten times worse… they just do what they want… say what they want… when I get back to Masilia, I’d keep Evra locked up, but she wouldn’t stand for it… she’d tear my place apart and me along with it.” He chuckled again.
“Gaelige,” I said absently, “Almost sounds like Gah’el… but back to the Romans…”
“Yes, the Romans” Gennadios said, filling his cup and offering more wine to Athauhnu and me, which we gratefully accepted, “Quite generous they were too, especially to the dunorix. All nice new silver, too.”
Gennadios reached into his marsupium. He pulled out a silver coin and handed it to me. It was unworn, shiny, a newly minted quadriga, a denarius coin. I flipped it over and saw the image of one of this year’s consuls, my erstwhile patron, Aulus Gabinius.
Gennadios was talking, “…it worked out well for me… usually there’s not much hard currency among the tribes… I sometimes have to resort to barter… swatches of eastern cloth and pottery for chickens… that sort of thing… useless when I get home… a man needs silver to live in Masilia…”
I handed the coin back. “You didn’t happen to hear the name of the purple-striper did you,” I asked.
“Hear it,” Gennadios said, “I did better than that… I sold a skin of wine to his tribune… the man had a ghastly scar across his face… still red and puckered in places… said he got it in a skirmish with the Belgae last season… I hadn’t heard anything about Romans fighting the Belgae… he told me the man’s name was something like Pompius… that’s it… Gaius or Gnaeus Pompius… when Simathemeni… that’s my name for the scarred Roman… “Scar Face”… when this Simathemeni got a bit drunk, he referred to his companion as Minus… that means “The Lesser” doesn’t it? I never understood you Roman’s sense of humor.”
I certainly thought I recognized the name. Pompius… Pompeius… that was the name of Caesar’s colleague, one of the triumviri… but Pompeius Minus? Was he one of Pompeius’ freedmen. No… a freedman wouldn’t dare wear a broad, purple stripe regardless of who his patronus was. Did Pompeius Magnus have a son? If so, wouldn’t he be called Pompeius Iunior… or was Scarface making a sarcastic joke, like Gennadios thought.
Before I could ask, Guithiru came into the grove. He addressed Athauhnu, “Chief! A messenger came up from the Roman tribune. We’re to withdraw and meet him south of Bibracte.”
I sensed something important was up. Was it the battle in the south? Had Caesar been defeated. Were we cut off?
I stood up. “We thank you for your hospitality, Gennadios. We must depart.” I thought to tell him not to inform the Aedui of our presence, but telling a merchant not to share gossip and information made as much sense as asking a stream not to flow.
I reached into my marsupium and found a small silver mercurius, a sestertius coin, and handed it over to the merchant. “For the wine and the conversation, phile mou,” I told him.
Gennadios made the coin disappear into his own purse. “Vobiscum fortuna sit, mi amice” he said in Latin, “May Fortune be with you, my friend!”
“Et tecum,” I responded, unconsciously rubbing my lorica where my medallion rested, “With you also.”
I looked over to where Evra was sitting. The woman from the Isle of the Dead was glaring at me with the soulless black eyes of Hecate.
Unconsciously, I made the cornucellus, the little horn, with the fingers of my right hand to ward off the evil eye.