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Premiered – 1 May 2004 (Beltane)


Chapter 13

Heir Apparent


Dan Sewell Ward


As Tina and her right hand man, Gordon Medson, exited from the exclusive environs of Valentino's, her limousine pulled up alongside. Gordon quickly opened the rear door as the limousine came to a stop and Tina stepped inside. He then joined the chauffeur in the front seat. By the time they were both inside and the limousine was pulling out into traffic, another limousine rounded the corner and pulled over to the sidewalk 30 feet short of Valentino's. Zachary D'Michael Gilan stepped out of the second limousine, opening the door by himself -- full of authority and confidence as to where he was going. With no particular flair he tucked a letter he had just read into his coat pocket. But then he stopped short, as if surprised by a large elephant. Instead of your average pachyderm, however, it was merely a large sign over the door, which read: Wild Veggies Cafe.

Zak shuddered slightly. Why did he have such weird ex-wives!? Was the fact that they were his ex-wives the reason they were so weird? Alternatively, why did they select such strange places in order to have a simple lunch!?

Zak glanced around hoping that no one he knew would see him enter what was clearly a hangout for all manner of deviants, revolutionaries and anarchists. Seeing no one who could identify him for a future line up, he quickly took a deep breath -- one could never tell what terrifying fumes and/or incenses might lurk inside -- and ducked into the alleged eating establishment.

Once inside, he took a quick appraising look around and was moderately surprised. He even quit holding his breath. Wild Veggies Cafe appeared to be well lighted, free of smoke, fumes or imported L. A. smog, equipped with clean white tablecloths, and visited by well dressed, business crowd patrons. No more than two people could have qualified as deviants, and as it turned out, they were from Iowa . (People from Iowa , incidentally, don't come from cities within Iowa ; they just come from Iowa . Such thinking is traditionally New York .)

Wild Veggies Cafe was also replete with plants which seemed to be thriving, an attribute which in New York City inevitably required some form of Divine Intervention. Even the two waitresses seemed reasonably well attired if not downright healthy looking -- which in itself could be suspicious, as it is almost impossible to be healthy in The Big Apple. There was even a pleasant aroma, although Zak was fairly certain that it was, in fact, incense burning. Only it didn't rile the nose or overwhelm the palate. After a moment's hesitation, Zak decided that breathing without a mask could be risked.

A pleasant looking young lady then interrupted his thoughts, inquiring if he would like to eat. Zak allowed that such was what he had in mind, and after a short discussion concerning his expected luncheon partner, he was shown to a pleasant table, surrounded by shrubbery and from Zak's point of view, probably the best table in the restaurant in terms of privacy. The pleasant lady then left, armed with instructions to bring Zak's ex-wife to the table when she arrived. Zak meanwhile settled into place, feeling reasonably comfortable. For a moment, he smiled, considering the possibility that this place was not bad at all.

Then he picked up the menu...

Wild Veggies Cafe did not have your standard menu. Wild Veggies Cafe had instead a vegetarian's environmental manifesto. Instead of carefully worded descriptions to wet one's appetite, each selection's description provided the prospective patron with all the reasons they could feel good about their selection, and how each selection contributed to the earth's health and well being. "Leg of Lamb Linguini", for example, used no lamb (which might otherwise contribute to devastating the Grecian, Welch, and/or Wyoming landscapes), no linguini (due to some obscure slight by Italians to the Greenpeace movement), and no leg of anything (lest a Hindu think that perhaps a great aunt was being dismembered). Instead, the selection utilized three variations of tofu, mixed with brown organic rice, uncooked broccoli, locally grown Chinese pea pods, and a green pepper stuffed with sesame and other edible and semi-edible seeds.

Naturally , Zak very nearly gagged. The idea such a selection would have added so much to the environmental movement did not move him at all. On the contrary, he became rather concerned that the menu might take an inordinate amount of study just in order to find anything that he was capable of eating.

He was right. It took ten minutes of concentrated effort, after which he had narrowed down his choices to going hungry (and tossing the menu across the room in disgust), advocating the elimination of Pittsburgh on environmental grounds (by his selecting "Pit Bulls Anonymous"), helping to fund the dismantling of all California off-shore drilling rigs (by selecting "Albacore and Albatross With Roasted Otter, Ala Carte"), and The Fund to Torpedo Empty Tankers ("Seagull Seasar Salad"). After a few more moments of consideration, Zak decided Pittsburgh was the most expendable and closed the menu.

On cue, Lisa Delos Gilan arrived, smiling broadly at the pained expression on Zak's face. After the traditional initial greeting, comments on how well everyone looked, the state of the weather (strange!), and how pleased everyone was to find the time to see one another, Lisa asked, "What did you select?"

Zak grimaced slightly. "Pit Bulls Anonymous."

"Oh Good," Lisa replied, "I've always wanted to get rid of Pittsburgh ."

"I take it you've been here before."

"Every chance I can possibly get – especially when someone else if paying!" Lisa smiled, as if to answer Zak's question of 'Why would you come back!?' "You're going to love the food! Fresh ingredients, nothing but organic farming, and blessed by passing it over some very powerful crystals."

Zak groaned inwardly, determined he would not ask what a crystal could accomplish, even a very powerful one.

"Everything's strictly vegetarian, of course. They don't even so much as break an egg here. Not even for a sauce."

As a waitress arrived at the table, Lisa turned, bristling with authority. "He's decided to dump Pittsburgh , I'm supporting Antarctica , and we'll both have spring water from Eldorado." The waitress smiled and left, ready again to strike a blow for environmental movements everywhere.

Zak smiled marginally as he asked, "What's the Antarctica ... selection?"

"Penguin Parsnips and Polish Pears," Lisa answered. She smiled slightly, recalling the first time she had caught on to what constituted the Antarctica and the Polish connection. Then she took a deep breath, realizing for the first time of the morning the chance to do so.

"I never realized," Zak began, “that you were so much into environmental causes."

"Only indirectly," Lisa answered. "My first priority is health. But how can you have health if you can't breathe the air, drink the water, or eat the food? And with the ozone hole expanding on a daily basis, all of life is threatened with eradication, irradiation, and well, all sorts of things!"

"Like what?" Zak was clearly skeptical. When Lisa only looked at him, as if he had suddenly lost his reason, Zak added, "I'm breathing the air, drinking the water, and eating the food. Even beef and pork. I'm healthy enough."

"Oh?" Lisa frowned slightly, ready to challenge the assumption. "And how long will you live? Barring accidents, until your eighties? And in what kind of health? Drugged to the hilt by cooperative doctors!?" Lisa didn't wait for a reply. "Probably. Whereas if you were truly healthy, you'd easily make it to two hundred! Physically healthy and mentally alert. No drugs! Unless, of course, the doctors got to you first!"

The last statement caught Zak's attention even more than the prior one. "What are you talking about? The doctors...?"

"There's a saying," Lisa confided, "If you put your complete trust in a medical doctor, you could end up in the hospital!"

"Well, yes," Zak began, “I rather think that that's somewhat the point.”

"I mean," Lisa continued, "Can you believe that those bloodsuckers are still ordering radiation and chemo therapies for cancer patients when both treatments have been shown to not only make the cancer worse, but do such a multitude of other damages to the body that they constitute cruel and unusual punishment!? Can you believe they're still refusing to add homeopathy, herbal medicines and a whole host of holistic practices, which actually cure the patients!? And just because the holistic treatments are so incredibly inexpensive!! And what about the pervasive conflict of interest in which they regularly engage by diagnosing illnesses, and then prescribing and reaping the windfalls of extraordinarily expensive treatments!?"

"You're not real thrilled with the medical profession," Zak said, "are you?"

Lisa stopped in mid-thought. She considered Zak's comment and then slowly smiled. A rather threatening smile, actually. Quietly and ominously, she said, "No one in their right mind would be thrilled with the medical establishment! Or!" she added, "the government's attempts to conspire with it."

Zak missed that one. "What?"

"Take for example the Great Cholesterol Con," Lisa explained. "Surely you remember that scandal! That's when it became apparent the government, the AMA and the big drug pushers were trying to declare half the population threatened by cholesterol and then put them on expensive medications for the rest of their lives! It's the greatest attempted fraud in history!"

Zak held up his hands. "Yes, I do seem to recall something about that. I just never bothered to be tested."

"That was smart. The tests were grotesquely inaccurate and all one had to do to avoid too much cholesterol was to switch to a vegetarian diet." Her voice turned slightly sarcastic. "Instead of all the garbage the meat, dairy, and egg producers have been pushing for the last fifty years or so!"

Zak was already aware of the dismal conditions under which the major food factories were producing their alleged food -- the grotesque conditions had begun to become common knowledge in the last several years. He was also aware of "The Great Cholesterol Con", but neglected to tell Lisa that he probably would have been tested if he had had time. Instead, he took off on a different tack, "Does your son, an honorary director of the AMA and one of its prime supporters, know about your views?"

"Who cares? Aaron's a nerd." Then softer, "A well-meaning nerd, but he's still a nerd. I'm not sure where he gets it from."

The slight against Aaron bothered Zak. "Aaron's done a lot of good work for me. I have a lot of respect for him."

"I'm sure you do," Lisa replied, clearly softening her words. "But he's always been a bit of a tight ass, never really learned how to laugh."

"That's not necessarily a major flaw," Zak added. "I, myself, have never been known for laughing a great deal either. You can't be the life of the party and run a major enterprise like Worldwide Enterprises!"

Lisa was quiet for a moment as she thought about the possible implications of Zak's statement and his defense of Aaron. Then she smiled and said, "We all have minor flaws in our character. And considering the difficulty of Aaron's birth, it wouldn't be too surprising for him to have a few imperfections. Like, perhaps, a slight inability to bond. Even if he's never likely to admit to it!"

"What are you talking about?" Zak asked. "What difficult birth?"

Lisa looked at Zak for several seconds, frowning her best frown, thoroughly disgusted that he would not even be aware of the difficult birth of his son. She briefly considered cutting his throat and/or other key appendages before she answered in a low, guttural voice. "Being on that stupid yacht of yours, out of sight of your brand new wife, that bitch, Helen! With a defunct M.D., trying to deliver twins... It wasn't a picnic, Zak!"

"I can imagine," Zak ventured, hoping to defuse the recently activated neutron bomb.

"No, you can't!" Lisa replied, the preponderance of evidence on her side. "Tess was easy enough, but having Aaron felt like nine days of sheer torture!"

"Nine days!?" Zak was understandably incredulous.

"Possibly a slight exaggeration," Lisa admitted. "But he was still lucky to be born the same day as Tess." Then as an afterthought, to make things totally convincing, "But they do have different Sabian Symbols!"

Zak laughed. "What in the world," he asked, "are 'Sabian Symbols'?"

Lisa looked at him for a moment, thinking. "I forgot," she replied, "You're not exactly into astrology, are you?"

Zak felt defensive, particularly since he'd actually had some recent exposure to it; in fact, just enough to make him think he actually knew something -- a common malady among otherwise intelligent people. "Well, I know a little..."

"Really?" Lisa was obviously not convinced.

"I know that one billionaire once remarked that millionaires don't use astrology, but that billionaires do!" This was the sort of quote that Zak could really get into.

"Which is obviously what swung you over. But suffice it to say," Lisa interrupted, "that Tess' symbolism, her Sabian Symbol, represents a release from social inhibitions, while Aaron's denotes political power from established institutions. Rather different if you think about it, especially for twins!"

Zak thought about Lisa's brief statement for several seconds, recognizing that Tess and Aaron could, in fact, be rather aptly, albeit briefly, described as such. Zak repressed the shudder which reminded him of how much he still had to learn. For a moment, his hand came up to touch his coat, wherein a letter from his sister rested comfortably. 'So much to learn,' he thought. 'About most everything.'

With Zak momentarily distracted by his own inner thoughts, Lisa gently added, "It's all connected, you know."

"I'm beginning to think so," Zak replied, rather halfheartedly.

"Rather like the 'Butterfly Effect'," she continued, "Where the flap of a butterfly's wings in Peru could lead to a tornado in Kansas ."

Zak glanced up suspiciously. "I know some scientists who might differ..."

"Which just means they're from the dark ages," she announced. "Science can be wrong! And in fact it's often dead wrong!"

"Of course," Zak defended, "But it's got a pretty good record to date."

"It's a terrible record!" Lisa's voice rose with certain authority. "Whereas nature is inevitably right. Therefore, if one listens to nature, instead of listening to science, they're a lot less likely to make mistakes. Let's face it: It was the specialist that created nuclear waste. There was no thought of the implications, no recognition that everything is connected."

"I don't know," Zak replied, beginning to think it was time to retreat.

Lisa smiled gently, making one final bid to carry her point. "A fundamental tenet of science is separation, splitting things into convenient little cubby holes where only some known physical link can connect things. But that just isn't possible. We can't observe anything without influencing it. Even quantum physics has demonstrated that fact. There are no uninvolved observers. Everything connects with everything. There are no closed systems. And the closer the vibes, the stronger the connection."

The word "vibes" was sufficient to send up warning flags in Zak's mind. He was already having discussions about the prevalence of vibrations in every aspect of the universe, but he was not quite ready to incorporate the concepts into his everyday thinking. He was, however, spared momentarily from further need to incorporate new ideas by the waitress bringing the luncheon entrees.

For several minutes, Zak could back away from world class discussions and, instead, concentrate on lunch. He was, in fact, obligated to do so, having to make specific decisions on virtually each mouthful. The various tastes were pleasant enough but very different, each bite being an adventure into the unknown. Lisa even contributed a portion of her own meal, adding yet a few more classics to Zak's increasing repertoire of 'Things I've actually eaten'.

About two thirds of the way through the meal, Lisa asked, with great subtlety, "Why are you doing this, Zak?"

Zak suddenly felt under pressure. "What?"

"This meeting, the money. Why are you being so generous to me? Supporting all these causes which you hardly understand, let alone advocate."

Zak was quiet for several seconds. "Just settling some old scores." He smiled, "Isn't that what you would prefer?"

"There was a time when you showed absolutely no interest in my feelings, and just took whatever you wanted." Lisa watched Zak intently, recalling innumerable slights and insensitivities.

Zak grimaced. "I could get away with it. Now I can't." The blunt statement of fact brought up a hundred questions in Lisa's mind, but before she could formulate even one, Zak quickly added, "Besides, it's all for a good cause, right? I mean, I'll have to take your word for it."

"Naturally," Lisa answered evenly. "I only work for the good causes. Exposing the medical garbage, the government's duplicity, it's part of my destiny. I'm even taking on the Social Security Ponzi scheme!"

"Oh, God," Zak muttered, "What's that?"

"Social Security. It's a Ponzi scheme. You know: Rob three Peters to pay one Paul. Then steal from nine Toms to pay the three Peters. Then twenty-seven Joans to pay the nine Toms. And so on, ad infinitum. The whole system is failing, it's already way beyond bankruptcy, and it's very clear that the senior citizens have sold us down the creek! They've taken the goodies and left their children and grandchildren holding the bag! You knew that!" Then she reconsidered. Suddenly incredulous, she asked, "Didn't you?"

"Oh, that," Zak answered, declining to see another sacred cow butchered in the Wild Veggies Cafe. "Sure. I remember now."

"Heavens! I would think so! If it's not abundantly clear by now that the world can't continue to live of the backs of the younger generation, shoving all the debt into the future, then they'll never see it. The only saving grace is that all of the crises that we're experiencing now are just the prelude to the necessary changes. One can be extraordinarily optimistic knowing that the dinosaurs who have dominated our psyches for so long, are dying from their own obesity."

"Yeah," Zak added, "I've already had the lecture on our economic disasters. Several times." His voice had that trace of fatal resignation. Even though he now accepted the reality of the problem, there was nothing he, as an individual or head of Worldwide Enterprises, could do about it. Obviously, it was a job for people with a totally different approach. Zak's only bright spot was he was fairly certain he knew who could do something constructive.

Lisa, meanwhile, was on a slightly different track in her thinking. "Are you settling with everyone?"

It took a moment for Zak to make the transition, but then he admitted. "Why not?"

"Because it's not like you," Lisa gently noted.

Zak smiled broadly. "You're right. It's not like me to be generous." Then his smile faded slightly. "Or spend a great deal of money on everything from radical day-care centers to foundations to save the dolphins!"

"So why are you doing it?" Lisa's question demanded an answer.

Zak looked at her for a moment. "Let's just say," he replied, "I lost a bet. As a matter of fact, several bets. And now, someone else is... well..."

"Someone else is giving the orders!" Lisa's amazement was second only to her firm confidence in the revelation.

"Something like that," Zak admitted.

" How interesting !" Lisa smiled, even in her astonishment. Then she thought of an idea, potentially even more incredible. "Is it a woman!?"

Zak was immediately thrown off stride. His voice wavered as he asked, "A woman?"

"Is there another woman in your life!?" Lisa's smile was still there, complemented with a sense of utter fascination at the incomprehensible. "Are you doing this for some female!?"

"No!!" Zak answered with slightly too much vigor. Then, "I mean, it's not some woman giving orders. Not to me, anyway!" Then he seemed less adamant. "I'll admit that I've been seeing a lady fairly regularly, lately. But she's not ordering me around."

"You're kidding!" Lisa was almost bouncing up and down. (This had the effect of catching the attention of several of the other patrons and a waitress. More importantly, the waitress was not sure she was going to allow such untoward behavior in her restaurant. Maybe they could get away with such things in Valentino's, but not in the Wild Veggies Cafe!)

Meanwhile, with Zak indicated that he wasn't attempting a massive jest, Lisa asked, "But who!? Do I know her!?"

Zak smiled as he admitted that Lisa undoubtedly knew her. After a few additional moments of Zak's credibility being strained and Lisa being wowed with several revelations, Lisa began to realize the implications.

"That explains it!" she announced. When Zak looked bewildered, Lisa explained, "All the changes that I've seen in you lately. She's responsible! She's the one teaching you." Then she felt the amazement even more. "She's even taught you something about women!"

Zak laughed. "She's done that! I must admit, it's been very interesting!"

"I can imagine!" Then Lisa kidded him. "Aren't we something!?"

Zak laughed even harder. "Very much!"

Lisa watched her ex-lover for several moments, thoroughly enjoying what she was seeing. She smiled her most sincere smile as she told him, "You've changed, Zak. You've really changed!"

In a moment of introspection, Zak added, "I know. And I'm still changing. Day by day; night by night. Sort of a process without end. And rather essential to life, I suppose."

Lisa continued to watch him, her admiration growing. "I may even come to like you someday, Zak."

Zak looked at her, trying to judge the intent. When it was clear that she meant it in the most positive way, Zak smiled. "That would be nice."


Chapter Twelve – Mother and Daughter

  Forward to:

Chapter Fourteen – Who's Left



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