FRIDAY EVENING - 8:33pm 12/19/86 The Beast

Through his meditation, Jason can hear Joey mumbling something that reminds him of a Buddhist chant. Joey opens his right eye.

“Please don’t stare, Jason. It puts the stabby section of my brain on immediate high alert.”

Caleb grins out of sheer awkwardness. He sees a man-shaped poppet on the seat next to Joey. Ever looking to diffuse a violent confrontation, he changes the subject.

“Joey. Is that your pagak?”

“Good catch, Caleb. But in my dialect, we call it pajak. (beat) Less guttural, more reverent in its tone.”

Jason is curious.

“What...what is...”

Jason takes the bait, and Caleb intercepts. Just like the sport of Center Mass.

“The pajak is a Cóng Manii sacred practice that binds an adult to a sanctified vessel or poppet in a symbolic representation of its S’iin, or Annointed.”

He looks at Joey in deference, but Joey simply nods and smiles in approval.

“Impressed. Go on.”

“Once bound, the S’iin places within mementos from key experiences of his life to form a sort of spiritual record of his life lived. (beat) You’ll notice that Joey’s pajak is nearly empty. If a pajak ever fills, the S’iin stores the contents in a secret, special urn or receptacle called a fet’kaal. Allowing the S’iin to resume the keeping of his life experiences.”

Joey soft hand claps in his leather, fingerless gloves.

“Where did you learn so much?”

Caleb blushes. Of course.

“The education protocols on Praemos Station were heavily focused on cultural education. Cóng Manii culture and religion has always been my favorite subject.”

Mike tousles Caleb’s hair.


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