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The Dawamali - An Adventure

Ambrosia

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Nilshanks
Embry Valley Studios, Ambrosia

Roger Barr sunk into his chair like a larvae seeking refuge within the cocoon, both wincing and cringing as the lead actor of this train wreck of a mini-series, 'The Life of Ambrose' hammed through his lines with an impossibly horrendous attempt at an Elbener accent. Barr had been promised that the project would be groundbreaking, a new take on Ambrosian history, but he should have known better than to trust Todd Embry and Embry Studios to do anything other than this steaming mess.

"Better to lose one's money than one's reputation, my dear Krause." Barr lamented before pulling out a matchbox from a hotel in Kadikistan and setting the script ablaze. The young producer at his side was turning red, fuming behind a thin blonde mustache that he manipulated with wax daily. "You call being a Kadiki propaganda mouthpiece 'reputable'?" Krause fired back with rage. Barr, the second face and voice to his most controversial project to date: 'The Mladzic Interviews', was proud of the interviews: they were nuanced, groundbreaking, and indeed provocative. This mini-series, Sons of Ambrose, that he had been asked and paid quite handsomely to act as 'Guest Director' on was trope-ridden trash.

"That's the only part of this project that will ever catch fire, I'm out!" Barr said, throwing up his hand dismissively at the actor who had broken the scene to see what was happening.

"Go back to Ivar, Barr!" Krause shouted with a teeth bared, "You'll never work in this country again!"

Roger took a deep breath of the cool air conditioned air before hurling himself into the high desert heat of Embry Valley, temperature 35 C. A car was not waiting for him, no, the aging director had not been meant to be chauffeured away for another hour so he was forced to march across the blazing lot to a blue sedan where his driver Mark was almost certainly taking in his daily peanut butter and pickle sandwich for lunch.

Barr knocked on the mirrored window until it came down, his flustered driver shocked to see him out so early. "PB&P again?" Roger queried through squinting eyes. "Why yes, how did you know Mister Barr?"

"You may keep the devils hidden from sight, but the smell cannot be obscured good sir. And besides," Roger said, smiling for the first time all day, "What else do retired (Ambrosian) Marines eat for lunch every day?"

"So are you saying you want one, sir?" Mark cracked, pulling out a brown paper bag from between his feet.

"If the butter is crunchy, and the pickles are speared: damn it, I'm in!" Barr said was Mark extended the horrendous Ambrosian Collapse Era food out to him. "My Father lost everything in '58: his job, my mother, and our house. But you know what? We never went hungry, it was PB&P three times a day and you know what else?"

"You haven't eaten one since you got so rich, sir?" Mark theorized aloud. Roger crunched into the sandwich ravenously, the memories of his childhood both good and bad rushing in for the first time in years. His tastebuds brought him back to 1963, he was at the library because it was the only safe space he knew away from both is father and his bullying tormentors. Sure Roger Barr Senior always kept his boys fed, but he was also a mean drunk that bounced from job to job after their mother's death.

A librarian, Mrs. Farah had caught the twelve year old Roger Jr. eating his sandwich between an aisle with a book about Ambrosian railway tycoons out on the ground where he sat with criss-crossed legs. "I'm so sorry, Ma'am" he remembered offering as the dark skinned adult came bearing down at him. "You should be!" she hissed through a whisper, "Not because eating in the library is not allowed, but because you are reading the wrong book!"

Sticky, sour, and gummed up Roger remembered his mouth bursting open to ask: "What is the book?"

Mrs. Farah reached down and returned the young Ambrosian book to its place before shooting past Roger in a fast paced walk. Roger, already on his feet, followed with an impossible hunger for knowledge. When she found it he was disappointed, the cover was torn and decayed, and he could not even read the title any more from the outside.

"What is it?" Roger asked. "I have brought you to the book, must I really read it out loud for you as well? Lazy ivory children, I knew I should have thrown you out into the . ."

"I'll read it!" young Roger shouted, causing Mrs. Farah to press her finger to her lips to shush.

Some pages were loose or missing from time to time, but what Roger discovered within was the most amazing adventure story he had ever encountered. It was called: "The Dawamali", and now all these decades later Roger was certain this would have to be his next film.
 
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