4: We’re Off to See the Peace Dudes
by Jimmy Abdul Gandhi Geronimo Rogers
I love challenges. Especially figuring out what makes people tick. Sir Reginald was a wonderful enigma. I wish
we’d had more time to spend together. He
really was a good apple, and he was just starting to shine. And I really wish Jesse could have seen the
“Uncle Reg” I’d seen in the brief time I knew him.
Anyway, Jesse and I didn’t waste any time getting started. I wasn’t very sure at the time which would
be the greatest challenge for me -- saving
the world, or helping her to find herself. I mean, I had a pretty good grip on who she
was on the inside, but she certainly didn’t, and it was going to be hard to help
her figure it out.
Not that bringing peace on earth, even for a day, would
be an easy task. I wasn’t entirely sure it was really possible,
but it was an interesting proposition, and I knew that the process
would be much more interesting than the final tally. If we could actually engage seven billion people
in wanting to make it happen, it would be transformative, regardless
of whether or not we actually pulled it off.
tried to explain it to Jesse, but she only blew up at me. “How childish to think that PEACE is possible
in this world! The Twentieth
Century was the bloodiest century ever.
The Twenty-First hasn’t begun very well.
The World Trade Center tragedy left the entire world
feeling vulnerable. Then our government's and the American Administration's
new policy of pre-emptive war, and the revitalized nuclear weapons
campaigns, which carried over into the next Administration.
Not to mention that there
are more than thirty major ongoing armed conflicts in the world.
To say nothing of the violence in our neighborhoods and our
schools, or the injustices all around us.
It’s all too big and too much, and people are just too
evil for there to be peace in this world…even for a day!”
She was full of anger and resentment and would not stand
for any more of my attempts to help her see that for every story
about violence and injustice we see in the news, there are hundreds,
even thousands of untold tales of compassion and kindness. Of course she was resigned to do whatever it
took to make One Day In Peace possible.
But this “peace thing” we were about to embark upon was
just something she had to do, and she had no desire or intention
to become concerned, let alone transformed.
But the fact
is, a major transformation had already taken place in her since her Uncle had
died. However, it was definitely not for
the better. Gone was the fabled “Queen
of Mean,” as almost everyone, for years, had called her behind her back. Now she was withdrawn and sullen almost all
the time. Her spirit had been crushed,
and all that remained was disappointment and a general resolve to plod through
whatever was expected of her. But of course,
I had a plan, and I knew her transformation would occur, all in due time.
Anyway, we were on a red-eye to her new home on the island
of Peaceotpia for a brief paper-trail layover, and then quickly
winging it to South and then Central America. Jesse, in her wonderful new golden locks (and
I was right, she looked amazing as a blonde) kept hoping that
the Vivaldi concerto on her mp3 player would make me and the
whole “peace nightmare” go away. But every time she opened her
eyes, I was still there.
I, meanwhile, was politely trying to figure out the Rubik’s cube the flight
attendant had brought me at Jesse’s insistence.
I was having the worst time.
“I thought you geniuses are supposed to be great at that thing,” Jesse
I blushed. I loved a challenge,
but I equally hated not being able to rise to a dare.
And I NEVER give up, no matter how pointless it may seem. “Right, well, spatial geometry is my short suit,
my Achilles heel, my... darn this thing...”
Jesse rolled her eyes and pulled off her head- phones.
“Now where is that stewardess? The
service in coach is awful. Why couldn’t
we just fly first class ... or take the company jet?” she whined.
She seemed to whine a lot lately.
Jess, we’ll need to watch our nickels and dimes, and tuppence and sixpence...”
I giggled, then got serious again. “This
is going to take some doing, and all we have is half your Uncle’s liquid assets
to work with. A mere 100 million pounds.
Here let me get the stewardess for you.”
As you might have figured out by now, I’m a bit of a ... well show-off. I unbuckled my seatbelt and started somersaulting
down the aisle. Needless to say I got the
flight attendant’s attention (and everyone else’s on the plane, as well).
She chased after me as I somersaulted back up the aisle, rolling the beverage
cart in front of her as fast as she could go.
By the time she’d reached us, huffing and puffing, I was seat-buckled,
beaming innocently up at her as if I’d never left my seat.
“How good of you to come to our aid,” I said with a grin. “The little lady will have a gin and tonic ...
make it a double, and I’ll have the same. With
a twist of lemon.”
Jesse groaned and pulled the headphones back over her head.
Out of breath, but not a hair out of place, the flight attendant beamed
through her plastic, toothy smile, “I’m sorry young man. How about a Cola for
Why is it that people refuse to see I’m a worldly man
inside this adolescent’s body?
“Excuse me, Ma’am, but I’m of legal age in 47 countries,
including Mozambique, Kazakhstan, and Her Majesty's United Kingdom."
was not impressed. “Sonny, if you’re 21,
then I’m going on ... sixteen,” she laughed as she poured Jesse’s drink.
“Ma’am,” I snapped, “you couldn’t pass for thirty-five if you had thirty-one
facelifts. Biologically I’m fourteen years and 52 days.
Doesn’t matter how old I am on the outside; I’m full-grown on the inside, and
here are my legal papers to prove it.”
She wouldn’t even look. “That may
be so, but I can’t serve you alcohol unless you’re biologically twenty-one years
old. Now was that a Pepsi or a Coke?”
“Never touch caffeine, Ma’am. Most
used drug in the world. I’ll have a ginger ale. With that twist of lemon. And it looks like the lady will need another
gin and tonic!” Indeed, Jesse had downed
her drink in one long swallow and was now squirming uncomfortably in her chair.
I pulled out a bill, and the flight attendant handed Jesse another of those
tiny bottles of gin and a can of tonic, all the while making sure I went nowhere
Jesse poured the bottle into the plastic glass, doused it with some tonic,
and downed the second drink, gagging on the ice cubes.
Boy Wonder,” Jesse said after the flight attendant had wheeled
away her cart and she’d stopped coughing.
“Now tell me again. You
worked for my uncle for two months and you got him to agree
to this cockamamie scheme. I’ve Yes-sired him and tried my darndest to
please him for over twenty years, and not once did he accept
even one of my ideas without putting me through the ringer.”
Perhaps my powers were getting to her after all.
“Miss Jesse, I’m a fourteen-year-old Ph.D. with a triple doctorate, and
I’ll be taking my bar exams next fall. Thanks to your Uncle’s clout, I’m my own
legal guardian. I’m just an orphan, but
I work fast. Yes ‘um, I bloody well work
fast,” I reiterated patting myself on the back.
“Obviously,” she hissed. “It’s also
obvious that you’re not British! Your accent
I was definitely hurt. “Oh...” But you can’t keep me down for long. “Whatchya talkin’ ‘bout, Jesse?” I countered. “You dissin’ me? I’m just your homey from the hood. Wassup wit you?” She rolled her eyes and fumbled for her headphones
and a magazine.
“Okay, you’re right Jesse. It’s true, I’m as American-Pie as you, although
your accent works wonderfully.”
She dropped the headphones and the magazine and stared at me. “Huh?”
“Yeah, Lady,” I declared putting on a Brooklyn accent, “Noo Yawk born and
raised. Jist like you. ‘Cept me from Brooklyn, you from Westchester
was speechless. “I... um...”
“Yes, and before your six years in foggy London...” I said in my very best
Indian accent, “I am wanting to bet you had a very good Indian accent while your
Uncle was busy cornering the tea market when you lived in India for two years. And I bet you blended right in with the other
strong-like-ox Russian girls when he took over the vodka industry before that.
Not sure you did as well when your Uncle dragged
you off to China, but I’m sure you pulled it off somehow.”
She started laughing. “So you know
all about me, eh.”
Ma’am. More than you
know. You’re an orphan, just like me. Sort of. Your
mother died when you were two.
Your father deposited you on your uncle’s ivory-columned
brass-knockered doorstep when you were three-and-a-half, and
then disappeared off the face of the earth.
You’ve been uprooted from place to place as your uncle’s
conquered one corporate world after the next, and you’ve constantly
blended in like a chameleon and became who you thought he wanted
you to be so you could try to please him. You turned yourself into the queen of mean just
for his love and attention.
You’ve been a dutiful niece since age three-and-a-half,
and you still are, and he’s dead. Except now your heart’s not
in it at all because he’s gone, and you can’t fight the good
fight to prove yourself to him anymore, and now you’re barely
going through the motions.”
She stared at me for quite a while without speaking a word. Then she smiled. “You’re absolutely right, Kiddo. What a fool
I’ve been. And this is what I get for being
that dutiful niece. I now have to take orders from a 14-year-old know-it-all kid.
Sir Reginald really must have hated me!”
How I wished I really were older and could comfort her properly. “Look, Jesse.
Things aren’t always the way they seem.
He was a bit eccentric, but I know he had his reasons. Someday they’ll all make sense. You just have
to believe me. And now that I’m in charge,
well, you can be just yourself.”
She started laughing again, but it was a much softer laugh. “Right. That’s
why I’m Jesse Gold now, with these golden locks.”
She closed her eyes and shook her head. “Whatever.
Look, he never gave me any love, but I’m going to do this and get that
money. At least I’ll have that.” She was quiet for a while. Slowly the tension in her jaw began easing a
little. “So what’s your story, Boy Wonder?
What was a Brooklyn boy doing in England in the first place?
And why do you have so many names?”
she really want to know about me, or was she just being polite? Didn’t matter, I’d tell her whatever she wanted
to know, if she asked. There
was an amazing woman in this Jesse Gold, and in my capable hands
she was going to blossom beautifully. “I guess I’m a bit of
a mutt -- I picked my own middle names and chose a name representative
of each of the cultures I come from. I never knew my parents, but I was loved and
nurtured by a global village.
It’s my life’s goal to bring the whole world together
to see we’re just one big family, and if we work together it
could be a much better world.”
Jesse sighed and gave me a really sweet smile.
“Okay, Junior,” she said as she rumpled my hair.
She leaned her seat back a bit and sighed again as she closed her eyes
for a moment. “So what’s the plan? We have
to bring peace on earth for a day. How
do you propose we begin?”
Did I sense a tiny inkling of interest in the campaign after all?
This might be even easier than I thought.
“Well, Jess, first I just want to say I’ll do everything I can to help
you secure what’s rightfully yours.” With
all my heart I meant it.
“Well, the first thing we have to do is register ‘One Day In Peace, January
1’ as a trademark in your name, as Jesse Gold, anyway.
I’ve drawn up the papers. You just
have to sign.” I pulled them out of my
bag and booted up the laptop while I was at it.
opened her eyes and pulled the chair up to the upright position. She was laughing again. “You’ve drawn up the
papers...? Oh, that’s right, I keep forgetting,
you’re a fourteen-year-old lawyer.”
“Yes I have, and no I’m not yet. As I’ve mentioned, I’m taking the bar exams
“Right.” She slurped on her ice
cubes and swirled them with her twizzler. “And why is it we need to trademark
this whole ‘peace’ operation? It’s PEACE
“Well, Uncle Reggie’s will says YOU have to bring One Day In Peace.” Oops wrong choice of words, or maybe I did it
on purpose to try to impress her.
“Uncle Reggie, eh...”
that’s how he insisted I address him... Anyway, as I was saying,
in order for this to work, we’re going to have to get a lot
of people involved. Seven billion, actually. We’ve got to give away an idea, but get everybody
to participate. We trademark
it, then sign a document allowing the world to use it freely. That way, nobody can step in and claim it as
their own. Once this
idea catches on, the ‘Sir Reginald’s’ in the world are going
to be jumping in to try to corner the market on peace, you mark
my words. Anyhow, this way, when the world celebrates One Day
In Peace, YOU’LL have brought it no matter what particular effort
actually technically brings it about.”
“Uh, huh. Okay. You’re one smart little rainbow cookie.”
“Okay, but tell me again why we’re flying to South America twelve hours
after we land in Seattle.”
“Well, we’re supposed to track down these Peace Dudes in this article I
found on the Internet.”
“I figured YOU were the one who brought the article to Sir Reginald attention!”
“Of course -- Gandhi is my middle name; peace is my game.
Trouble is these Peace Dudes are going to be difficult to track down.”
I’d been tapping quietly on the laptop, and turned the screen to face her. “I’ve been trying to trace them through the
Internet, but none of them has stayed still ... They’ve left a zigzag trail around
the world. Look at this itinerary for the
past five years.”
Jesse was impressed with the detailed list.
“You found all that on the Internet!?”
“Of course,” I exclaimed. “You can
find practically anything on the World Wide Web.”
Professor, so tell me about these Peace Dudes -- they certainly look like an unlikely
band of heroes. But he’s awfully cute.”
“Arthur Taylor. Married,” I snapped. Maybe
I was just a little jealous, I admit it. “Well,
they’re separated now. He was just barely twenty when he started working on the
One Day In Peace, January 1, 2000 campaign. Family man trying to follow his dream of helping
to create a more peaceful world. Had a toddler back at the turn of the millennium.
She’s my age now, with a little brother.
Anyway, Artie was part of a traveling peace troupe called the Peace Dudes. They went all around the country and across
various parts of the world in their Magical Peace Bus, setting up Peace Fairs
and getting local activists and performers to join in. The Peace Bus’s goal was to inspire people to
think about and work for a more peaceful world, and spread hope for One Day In
Peace, January 1, 2000 - a worldwide day of peace to start a New Millennium.”
“The Millennium started in 2001, didn’t it?”
that was a subject of debate back then and one of their many
stumbling blocks, apparently.
Anyway, they had a great rock-musical skit -- he was
King Arthur of the Peace Table. At first his wife traveled with them, but after
their daughter was born, well, his wife ‘grew up’ and found
a way to practice her beliefs and keep her feet on the ground. She’s a social worker now. Arthur couldn’t settle down, even after the
Peace Dudes went their separate ways, and she finally couldn’t
take his burning fervor to save the world.
Then the bankruptcy and the endless hours he’d spend
on the computer spreading his message, whatever it happened
to be that month...”
“Okay, I get the picture,” Jesse interrupted.
“So this month he’s out saving the rainforests in South America.”
“That’s what the e-trail indicates.”
“Uh, huh. And the Peace Dude in the middle.
Or should I say, Dude-ess... The one with the lovely, long dreadlocks and
the dark sunglasses.”
“That’s Maya Amaru GrandVisions. It
is said that she is descended from ancient Emperors and Great Chiefs of the Mayan
and Incan empires, with a little Aztec, Cherokee, Inuit, Maori, and a few other
indigenous tribal-leader lines as well. At
an early age it was prophesied that she would lead ‘her people’ to a better world. Oh, and she’s legally blind. Although she’s been known to ‘see’ a lot of
things no one else can. All kinds of legends
and myths surround her life -- it’s said she’s walked on water on several occasions.
The last few years she’s been a guide across the Andes for tourists seeking
ancient Incan ruins, although she can often be found paddling rivers up and down
South and Central America.”
“A guide... you did say she’s blind, right?”
a bat ... but that hasn’t stopped her from being the best guide ever. Never lost a tourist yet, and no one else knows
the world’s exotic treasured spots better than her.”
Jesse sighed again. “Okay... Now the hippie Peace Dude on the end.”
“That’s his name. Calls himself
just that, ‘Peace Dude.’ His friends call
him ‘Peace’.” Jesse rolled her eyes. “Or ‘Merle’,” I added. “He liked to play Merlin in the rock-opera skits
they performed on college campuses and in grade school auditoriums. After January 1, 2000 he simply disappeared.
He’s resurfaced every now and then, with a flurry of email from email@example.com. Last I can figure, he was meditating up in a
cave up in Costa Rica operating as a local Shaman. You know, ‘wise man.’”
Jesse clicked her tongue and rolled her eyes yet again. Absently she picked up the Rubik’s cube and
fidgeted with it. “I know what a Shaman
is, thank you very much. So, great, all
three of these ‘Peace Dude’s’ are out in the wilds of South and Central America
somewhere and so we’re heading for the rainforests. I hope you packed me a good
umbrella and some galoshes. Good grief.
Let me see that picture of them again.”
watched her as she stared at the smiling, clean-cut, youthful face, the peaceful
blind Mayan and the middle-aged hippie. She
studied their faces in the picture beside her cup of ice, and I studied her.
Looking down I noticed she’d stopped playing with the Rubik’s cube.
She’d gotten it completely in order. I
grumbled softly to myself and leaned back in my chair.
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Ch 5 | Ch 6 | Ch
7 | Ch 8 | Ch 9 |Ch
10 | Ch 11 |
Ch 12 | Ch
13 | Ch 14 | Ch 15 | Ch
16 | Ch 17 |
Ch 18 | Ch
19 | Ch 20 | Ch 21 | Ch
22 | Ch 23 |
Ch 24 | Ch
25 | Ch 26 | Ch 27 | Ch
28 | Ch 29