"They were late, but it didn’t matter. The caravan was in disarray, with camels yet unloaded and a factor standing toe-to toe with the caravan master, both shouting with red faces and gesticulating arms. Humri was a great ox of a man, his shaven head puckered and scarred. His face was marked by a deep furrow that ran from his forehead to his jaw, emphasized by the missing teeth on that side...
The factor was almost as tall, but slender and quick. His thick hair was oiled and braided in the Hurrian fashion, and he mostly shouted in that language, too. It appeared that both men had run out of curses in their native tongues, and had moved on to others.
The factor was just as angry as Humri, and seemed to be fluent in more than a dozen tongues, but Humri had an amazing gift. His familial denigrations were poetic and pungent. His anatomical suggestions were inspired. But his rapid-fire, multi-lingual descriptions of the generational curses to be visited on the factor, his never-to-be-begotten offspring, his cousins, nephews, uncles and their descendants was dazzling. Deeply profane, it was the stuff of which great epic poems were wrought, and after a while even the factor noticed, and stopped in mid-curse, first in puzzlement and then in amazement as Humri carefully and lovingly cursed the factor for seven generations in each direction.
At last, each jackal-descended third cousin cataloged, fated and dismissed, Humri paused for a breath.
“Forty-five, then,” conceded the factor, his voice hoarse, his posture resigned.
Humri closed his mouth, drilled the factor with his one good eye, and apparently discerning no duplicity, nodded. “Forty-five, and done,” he said, his booming voice not a hair quieter.
Both men spat on their palms, and clasped hands. The factor turned to a small man behind him, who was standing ready with a wet tablet and a stylus, and muttered a few instructions. The factor made his mark, and the tablet was slipped into a small leather bag. The scribe trotted off with it, most likely to the master trader the factor worked for.
Humri bellowed out orders, and in a few heartbeats the chaos was banished, and from it arose the order and bustle of a caravan." (c) 2009 Michael Ehart
Coming this summer!