Mayan Lego Set
Keep turning the crank, May. Maybe you’ll crank out an answer. Hit the right line-up and the past and future will fall out the bottom like a Vegas jackpot and you’ll be PlayDate of the Month for History Channel.
There was something soothing in the clockwork reliability of the wheels turning within wheels, the little gears meshing solidly as they rolled each little Maya glyph in place to generate new combinations of human attempts to depict the silent sheets of time. She’d dialed up her birthday (12 Bakun, 18 Katun, 6 Tun, 3 Winal, 16 Kin, I Cib Tzolkin, 4Mol Haab ), the day she got her doctorate (), the day she lost her virginity(). And kept spinning it all the way forward, to where the glyphs stopped and the last three signified the winter solstice of 2012. 0.0.0.0.0. Otherwise known as 5 Imix, 4 Kankin, Lords of the Night #0 Triple lemon. Locally noted as December 21, 2012 AD. 20/12/2012 does have a little more ring to it than 9/11/2001, huh?
She turned away from the huge calculator, its gearwheels stretching past the floor and ceiling of the museum hall. And wasn’t that a lot of the problem, right there? It was in a museum! Not exactly breaking news. It had been on TV, in U.S.A. today (writhing in glee at the cool graphics to go with the over-simplified factoids), the tabloids. A jillion psychics and psychos, mediums and medianauts, astrologers and asshologers, were all over it. There were seminars and conventions like Star Trek. She been trying to come up with a “Trekkie” type name for Mayan Calendar groupies.
She walked over to the displays of Mayan buildings, highly accurate and spotless white models under the glass floor, stared down at Palenque and Chichen and Uxmal like an astronaut god. They always reminded her of the little white buildings on the “Game Of Life” board. Probably built with Lego then customized, she thought. Wonder if there’s a Mayan Set out with snap-on blue warriors and feathered serpents.
But she had to admit, Burkhardt had been right. You take what’s laying on the table and build on it, he’d told her, add the next layer. Forstemann had cracked open the hieroglyphics with the Dresden Codex two hundred years ago. And that lay on the table until Thompson, Lips, Deckert and L’huillier had added layers of interpretation on top of that, then that lay on the table until Vickie Bricker came along and figured out the whole calendar system. The remarkable interlocking wheels of days that had suggested the cogwheel analogy she’d just been playing with, though the Mayans hadn’t made any of those sidereal gearboxes. Wheels weren’t their long suit: math and stargazing were. It was the stuff of public imagination, but nobody remembered Bricker now, did they? They talked about Arguelles and McKenna and the other New Age nutrolls.
Burkhardt had pushed her towards the next layer: beyond the Great Cycle. “The Day After Doomsday” was his idea of a killer book. And with her meticulous scholarship and–as the old letch was always quick to toss in–her looks, she’d be a media star as well as an academic hero. The Sagan of archeology, the Lord Carnarvon of MesoAmerica. The Laura Croft of real life. But not if she couldn’t figure out a way to turn this thing up to Eleven.
If she could just get past what she termed “materials failure”. The realworld proof was not co-operating. She turned expectantly as Luis came up behind her. She was sure he’d struck out again. However much he desperately wanted to get on base. The museum staff had gone ballistic when she requested dismounting the Jade Codex so she could examine the back of it. But Luis had been ecstatic to help: convincing the stuffy old political appointed staff at the Museum of Mayan Culture to honor her impressive credentials, doing the physical job and paperwork himself. To end up with nothing.
When she’d first come down to Chetumal Luis had been highly apologetic that most of the relics in the state trophy museum were replicas, especially the big impressive stones. She’d soothed his embarrassment on that issue with her genuine opinion that it was better that way. The reproductions were excellent, sufficient for study, perfect castings taken from molecular polymer molds. People could see the evidence, feel the impact of their past: when they were glorious lords of existence, not marginalized aborigines. Better this way, she said, than looting the original stones and hauling them in like captives. Leave them where they belonged, not kidnapped like the Elgin Marbles.
Luis, a fresh-scrubbed INAH rookie aided by political activities while studying in Mexico City and a powerful uncle with PRI connections, was extremely happy to hear such an opinion. He fit in well with the current National History Institute concept of creating cashflow Disneylands rather than boring digs. And he’d been extremely excited when she showed up talking about the obverse of the Jade Codex.
It was improper to call it a Codex, of course: it was more like a tablet. A pocket calendar, if you like. A slab of very dark jade the size of a legal pad and a half inch thick, it was intricately carved in a medium that had held the detail better than the limestone steles and friezes. Obsessively copied, lovingly displayed. And now revealed as inadequate. Maybe.
She’d shown him the citations to make him believe the probability that there was more on the back of the jade tablet, and that it was highly significant. “Just having an obverse is really unique,” she had told him. “It’s like the U.S. Great Seal.”
“What the escudo of the United States?”
“Yes. The only national seal with an back side. You must have known that. It’s famous.”
“Oh, wait, the pyramid and eye.”
“Exactly.” Find me an archeologist who hasn’t been blown away by that image, and spent a career denying it, she’d thought. “The occult side of the official story.”
“So the Estados Unidos has a Dark Side.” He asked with playful innocence. Like most Latin Americans with college education he pretty much assumed it was all dark.
“Not dark: just out back,” she had chuckled. Then struck a movie pose and wickedly croaked out, “Come over to the Back Side, Luke.”
Her backside was something Luis was dying to come over, but the other side of the ersatz jade slab had come up smooth and empty; mounting studs cast right into it.
But now he stood there grinning, ready to play his trump. It had been like pulling hen’s teeth to get it and she’d know that. There was some deep departmental embarrassment about the Jade Codex. But he’d gotten the lead. He held up a printout in front of her, but couldn’t wait for her to read it. He said, “At Cobá.”
Her gratitude was marvelous to behold. Licking his mental lips, Luis offered to drive her up to the Cobá site himself. She was just so damned hot. Quite beyond the firm curves on the delicate bone structure, the graceful fluting of her face and throat and calves, she was “China”. The Yucatan borrows a lot from Cuba, including music and food, and one bit of slang was the term China or chinita to describe the highest and most erotic style of female. And if there was ever a girl who was chinisima, it was the lovely archeologist, Doctor MeiMei Chiang.