"You really like telling other people what to do don't you" Muttered Tintin
"Fuck yeah!" rejoined Peggy "I'm a dictatrix after all"
Martine looked confused "Wouldn't the female of dictator be dictatress?"
"Well it's a portmanteau" said Tintin "it's a combination of dictator and
oh god now I wish that I didn't understand. Anyway what your saying is that Martine should act more like you. You know maybe the fact that she doesn't feel comfortable disagreeing with you has more to say about you than her?"
Peggy shrugged "Sure, but I just think it would be nice if she had the confidence in her own opinions and ability to articulate them. Maybe what I'm trying to say is that she ought to act more like Ms. Castafiore here. And besides the world is full of jerks like me and honey" she now addressed Martine "if you can't stand up to someone as ridiculous as me, and I like you. Anyway if you can't stand up to me what are you going to do when some asshole starts trying to push you around?"
"Hey!" said Tintin and Carredias in unison "Not all men push women arou
"Most of them do" said Bianca and Peggy in unison. Martine just mumbled that she didn't know what she'd do. Peggy noticed that her eyes flickered to where Wagg was standing watching as his wife tried to calm the screaming baby, and get the three boys to stop fighting, and find the twins who were crawling around under the chairs.
Bianca had started to amicably tell Peggy about a boyfriend of hers whom she refused to name but sounded a lot like Colonel Sponz.
"And then he says 'But I left my wife for you' and I say 'that doesn't mean that you own me'. I never said I was going to marry him! I never said a thing, niente. But of course he's got this delusion that all I want to do is give up my career and settle down in Bordoria of all places!"
"I know it's the most depressing place on the freaking planet"
"But the awful thing was that he told the tabloids, I ask you! Why do they all want us to drop whatever it is that we're doing for them?" the diva threw up her hands in despair.
"Because most of them, I say most Ramon kind of gets this, our little stint in the jungle aside
Though I probably shouldn't talk after all I did quit my job as an arms dealer, I'm not sure if it was a good idea or not. Maybe that's why a palace in San Theodoros sounded so appealing I couldn't think of anything else to do but I just hated what I was doing."
"Do you think it was the realization that what you were doing might have been destroying your soul?" Quipped Tintin
"That's assuming I have a soul, handsome." Peggy rejoined "Anyway as I was saying, most of them don't get the fact that we hate doing chores as much as they do. I'm guessing if you had to stay at home with nothing to do you'd go nuts"
"I do not do chores! I think I'd drop dead before I washed dishes" cried Bianca
"Exactly! When I was in that damn straw hut I actually thought I was going to die of boredom. Well what I did was hit the Loch Lomond and hard! I mean I was even getting used to the random gunfire and giant snakes"
"Random gunfire and giant snakes? This sounds interesting" Interrupted Jocelyn Wagg "So if men and women hate doing the chores who does them?"
"The maid" said Bianca
"The butler" chipped in Tintin
"The husband" stated Peggy
"Whoever doesn't have the money, if you make the money or have the money then you don't have to do the chores" added Carredias
"Yes a cup of tea would be lovely" Finished Calculus.
Jocelyn nodded "So pay someone or force someone, got it. What about the snakes?"
"I lived in the middle of a guerilla camp in the jungle for a while with my rebel husband and his Picaros. It sounds a lot more interesting than it was, as I was telling the Milanese Nightingale here. Don't start drinking, I made a joke earlier but seriously, don't start. I'll give you one good reason that they don't tell you in health class and that is empty calories. Also beware midlife crises; they make you do crazy things. Oh dear I just gave some advice, Tintin's going to get his panties in a twist."
"I don't wear panties"
"Oh really" said Peggy with a rather nasty smile "When a woman gets accustomed to finding iguanas in her bedroom she knows it's time to revaluate her life choices. I mean I most of the people I was with could only speak Spanish, everyone had guns and it was crawling with roaches. But I suppose it could be worse I could have been living in L.A.!" Peggy laughed at her own joke and looked around "No one else thought that was funny? Aw well none of you guys are from the states. But if you want an interesting story I suggest you ask pretty boy over there."
Peggy gestured at Tintin who shot back "You can't talk to a man for any length of time without taking a crack at his masculinity. If Freud could have met you he'd have a field day." Martine giggled but quickly covered her mouth embarrassed.
"What you think I got a case of penis envy? I don't think he's right to say that all women have that but I personally would
yeah I suppose so."
"Sometimes a cigar is just a cigar" said Martine, blushing.
Calculus had walked over to Carredias and now asked him what time if their plane had left or if he watch had ceased to function. Everyone tried to explain what was going on at once and Tintin took advantage of the confusion to ask Martine if she'd like to take a walk with him. She nodded enthusiastically and the two headed off just as Bianca found a way to sing "the flight is delayed"
Once they were out of earshot Martine asked him if the professor had a hearing aid.
"He's convinced that his hearing problem isn't that severe. When it's really essential he's been known to use one, like when he was working on the moon rocket."
Martine sighed "He must be brilliant. Eccentric, but brilliant."
Tintin had a thought and after a moment's deliberation decided to voice it "You're right he's very eccentric, especially when it comes to women. Why he wastes his compliments on Bianca Castafiore with a girl like you around I can't figure."
Martine turned bright red and tried to hide how happy the compliment made her. "Thank you. But Ms. Castafoire is very beautiful, and she's so nice"
Tintin admitted that Bianca always had the best of intentions but added "Of course she's so self absorbed to notice the actually consequences of her actions."
"The one I didn't like was Mr. Carredias. I don't like to judge but he seemed
Tintin shrugged "He's alright, a little odd but alright. I must admit to being glad to be rid of Peggy Alcazar for a while. That shrew gives me a headache."
"You also called the gallery bookkeeper a shrew." This remark caught Tintin off guard.
" he started but then decided that if he drove her away he drove her away "I suppose I'm not terribly comfortable with women. I don't
I don't understand them
truth be told they scare me, even you
just a little. Maybe that's why I was nasty enough to accuse you of murdering your boss. You've every right to walk away now."He glanced sideways to see Martine lost in thought. He tried to apologize. "I'm not sure why I said that, its late and my mind doesn't seem to be working properly."
"Thank you for being honest Mr. Tintin. Truth be told I feel the same way about men. Peggy Alcazar is right, I don't know what I'd do if I had to deal with a really bad one. I suppose I feel the same way about you. You're my age but you've accomplished so much
its very intimidating
.you also know so many important people
nothing I have to say could match up." There was a pause "I suppose I already failed as a judge of men. I mean I fell for that mystic. I really thought Endadine Akass was someone special. At those meetings I felt like I was involved in something greater than myself, I felt
transcendent, yes that's the word. And it was all just a scam."
Martine looked so despairing that Tintin took some time before responding but when he did he felt as though he'd gotten it right.
"Don't feel bad Martine. People who think of themselves as "rational" may not fall prey to mystics but that doesn't mean they're right. You have the right to believe in anything that is live enough to tempt your fancy. Plenty of people don't believe in the supernatural and they pride themselves on being so reasonable about it, but they can't be because in my life alone I've seen many things that can't be explained away. Inca curses, levitating monks, prophetic seers; why even the professor's pendulum, they all point to some forces greater than you or me that I can't even begin to explain. I don't know, nobody knows for sure. I used to
but I'm not sure anymore." Martine reached over and took Tintin's hand.
"Thank you." They walked like that for a while, going nowhere, for no particular reason. They just savored the feeling of the other's hand and the knowledge that the world was a strange and mysterious place. If they couldn't quite understand it what was wrong with that? Better to still search for answers than to forge ahead convinced that you knew all.
It was Martine who broke the soft silence.
"When you say you used to think that you understood, well what made you change?"
"When I was younger I was a very devout Catholic. Wherever I went I went with a Christian heart and a desire to do good. And to me it seemed as though god were on my side, he seemed to favor me. But all this left me blind to other perspectives. I saw the world in black and white. But when I was in China I met a young boy called Chang who I often think about. He and I got to know each other and we just had this moment where we realized that we'd both been looking at the other's culture at completely the wrong angle, and that people have all these preconceived notions that they don't bother to examine. If they did they'd realize that we're not really that different. But more than that, it was that "different" didn't necessarily mean "wrong". It sounds so silly to say it like that but when I was younger I thought that anything that wasn't rational, Catholic, and European just made no sense. So I started thinking, there's so many different religions out there, how am I to say mine's right? Also as I said, if God is a Catholic god why can Incas torture Christians? Or Buddhists have special powers?" Tintin was surprised at himself but he had never put this in words and now it streamed out of him until finally "I lost my faith. Yes, that's how you say it."
"Do you miss it?" asked Martine
"I suppose, sometimes I miss the certainty. There are some ideals that I'll never give up but
well a while ago I lost that clear sense of right and wrong. I think it was before I went to San Theodoros. The Captain and the Professor were all upset about the Castafiore-Thom(p)son business and I just thought 'What's the point? So they've been arrested by some tin pot dictator?' then I got there and the feeling just deepened. I used to think that if I just did the right thing it would sort everything out. But that country, well the whole country's farcical. I saw how ridiculous Alcazar was, his revolution, everything. So I realized that it didn't matter what I did San Theodoros would still be a place that no one cared about and everyone just used because they wanted power, or oil, or a puppet state, or bananas."
"Do you care about it?"
"I never thought that Alcazar was a wonderful man, I just thought that Tapioca was a tyrant and Alcazar was going to, I don't know
I suppose I just like him. But I at least thought that he was better than his rival." Tintin paused then "I'm sorry Mis
"I'm sorry Martine, I shouldn't go on like this"