Alphonso Beard or How to Become a Leader
Someone shook my hand – calmly and methodically – as if testing my reaction to the surrounding reality, which was so indescribably sad in the previous days that, finally, I was ready to surrender and accept the tragic fate that foreshadowed my “miserable” future in the Warrior Farm. I grabbed the arm of the new guest with my trembling hands. When my eyes leveled with the face of a powerful intruder of my dining room, a scream froze on my lips. His head was fully covered by an animated panda mask.
A mask that would be authentic were it not for the odd glasses and a small red funny hat on the top of the panda’s head. The man laughed, pushing my sticky hands away from his spotless suit. A sound of dread has filled the space around us. The panda-man said: “For Apollon’s sake, shut the fuck up, will you? My name is Alphonso Beard; I’ve been waiting to meet you, Mr. Harmless. I’ve wanted to thank you for your brave decision to access the sick in our closed community of brave warriors. We, the people of Gunung Kinabalu, can’t tell you how much that means to us.” He paused, then went to the opposite wall and pressed two invisible buttons. The sides of the wall moved apart, and, to my surprise, he entered the most gorgeous library in the world. The room was very large, about 378 feet long and 411 feet wide, with barrel-vaulted ceilings built in the shape of a flower. The floor was covered in multi-colored tiles.
“I have something for you,” the mask continued, pulling out an oddly shaped book from the endless shelves. “I wrote that in the first month of my arrival to the Warrior Farm. Since then, I have never stopped writing… Of course, I had some necessary breaks with all the excitement of never-ending love affairs and then the LKED issues, but this town would never survive without me. I am the opposite of chaos.”
The library room stored 18,000 volumes written by Alphonso Beard on every topic of life, such as science, medicine, philosophy, sex, military, and law. I looked at the titles on the covers: ‘How to act like a King,’ ‘How to play on people’s need to believe if you want to create a cult-like following,’ ‘How to fool your wife, colleague, companion, or enemy.’
“Are they all ‘HOW TO’ books?” I asked, intrigued by the titles.
“Yes. Is it that obvious?” Alphonso laughed. It seemed the man behind the mask was thrilled by my reaction.
“‘How to enjoy life on Warrior Farm: Guide for Doctor Harmless.’ Chapter 1: Be the only one who can do what you do. The more people want you, the freer you are. Make people depend on you for their health, happiness, or prosperity… and you have nothing to fear.” I read aloud.
“This booklet is my welcome gift to you,” the ruler of the town added. “Because – believe it or not – you are really one of the nicest doctors I’ve ever met. And we’ve had a few in the past half-year.”
“What had happened to the previous doctors?” I asked.
“What if I die too?”
“Well… I’ll miss you. We all will.”
Alphonso Beard was eager to share his achievements with me: he was the one who loved to brag, play, and kill. He invited me to visit one of his castles. I thanked him for the rare opportunity and announced my desire to leave immediately: I was feeling suffocated in my new house.
Palace #77 looked quite simple on the outside – a white cubic base topped with a black cylinder. We walked in, took the stairs to the cylindrical part that was lined with thousands of bookshelves. We went up to the top, to the open bar, and sat on the ugly green chairs facing the sunset. Alphonso Beard poured me a drink.
“How is your 34th wife feeling?” I heard she had some trouble with her teeth last night.”
“She is fine, Doc. Our wonderful Mrs. Sweet Hellfire reinstalled all her teeth. I might visit her tonight; all that thinking about flesh and new mouth usually makes me really horny.”
I coughed, “I wonder how a busy man like you can handle so many wives? For example, how do you remember all their names?”
“There’s a guide for that in the library,” the mask replied. “It is called ‘Always say less than necessary.’ By the way, my 34th wife is from Bolivia, Mrs. Hydra UnstoppableTide. She arrived at the Warrior Farm to become a simple baker… Ah, the most extraordinary baker, I must admit, but I made her my wife and the Judge of the Board Committee. You’ll meet her soon enough, Doctor Harmless,” Alphonso placed his empty glass on the napkin with the infinity circle.
The eerie thought pierced through me. I had seen that sign of two rings before, in the cave where the cold body of The Sherriff had been left to rot. We looked at each other, a flicker of tension between us.
“You need to rest, Doc. Tomorrow, at 6 am, we’ll meet again, at the Board meeting, where you’ll have to prove your innocence in the matter of Sheriff’s murder.”
“It will be easy,” I said with a triumph.
“No doubt, we know it was Mrs. Sweet Hellfire.”
“What is the sentence for the murder in your country?”
“The punishment is very mild: a) the slave market in the Back-Block Province; it’s located on the border with the Beluga Clan. Or b) a hundred thousand blows on the Peace Square in the middle of our town. Let me assure you, either way, you’ll be fully satisfied, Mr. Harmless. You can always marry my second assistant; I’ve heard you were truly impressed when you met her this morning.”
I didn’t say anything. I needed time to think.