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And in and of Itself
For most of their travels, the results remained nil. On the quest to find this special something, each member of the team sought to discover greatness. Marshawn Tutnall, English major extraordinaire, persuaded his classmates into journeying with him on an odyssey. The Vernice Armour University in Newark, Delaware students embarked on this adventure at the earliest time in the spring. Four men, four women. They knew not what treasures they would find, but reconciled those uncertainties with a will and a push to achieve.
Take into Consideration
“We’ve got to find it,” Clint Garrett, a law student ready to tackle objective law, pronounced to the seven other members. They sought Professor Alvera Drum. She was diminutive but she exhibited a formidable demeanor.
“So, Professor Drum, what letter comes before A?” Tutnall asked.
“Well, in the Greek alphabet, Alpha is the initial letter followed by 23 other characters. What you are searching for is the impossible. But how can you know? Now, let me tell you what you ought to do. You’ve got Black and white races. The alleged worst and the best. Deal with it. I mean no other race likes to be called by the color of their skin accept these two. Think about it. Brown people don’t even want to be called Hispanic or Latino. They prefer to wave the flag of nationalism. Yellow people; they rather be called by their nationhood as well. And reds, they wish to be called by their country of origin, too. if they’re from the Western Hemisphere, Northern part and there are any of them left, they would rather be named by their tribe. Your efforts are futile. How can you prove it? How can you prove that there are no letters before A and after Z and the rest? What you ought to focus on is helping your fellow man. I mean, take into consideration the environment at least. We are all one. Your inquiry into the alphabetic system will lead to nothing but failure. Please leave my office. Have a nice day.” The professor who had removed her glasses now placed them on her face.
The professor's words did not discourage the collective. Each individual tasked him or herself with the role of fulfilling the call of discovery. Vivica Majestic crunched numbers like nobody’s business. She illustrated her acumen in the field of stock analysis by discovering links to numbers and letters and their origins. Porsha Wittingly crafted artwork that resembled the handiwork of Yoruba tribesmen. She contributed her knowledge of one of the first languages spoken by humans. Minnie June called upon her expertise in the field of data processing. She could whip up reports with a confidence and know-how that encouraged her fellow classmates to take heed. For much of her academic career, The prowess of calligraphy lied in Gwyneth Holcomb. Gwyneth’s ability to sketch out the letters of the alphabet brought about a sophistication that few others could match. Latimer Davies constructed theories on radical Black nationalism in favor of capitalism. He has failed to link the two, but his studies continued. This distinguished him from the rest of his economics students. Denton Stack exhibited a proficiency in the discovery of new words. His linguistic aptitude prepared him for classwork which required the comprehension of portmanteaus, slang, rhetoric, and a whole host of dialects and tongues. Rhonda Rhodes displayed her adeptness with the study of mathematics. Since the third grade, she had aced her tests and passed Advanced Placement courses in every subject from algebra to calculus.
Just a Different Form
For hours, they pored over ancient texts. Some felt of baby skin, tender to the touch and just as precious. They studied the Greeks, the Romans, the Japanese, the Zulus. Nothing. The question burned within them: why? Why had there been no recollection of this sacred missing thing? Why had history books neglected to cover the origins of the untalked about piece of non-history? That the true way to find out about it would be to acknowledge that there exists no such thing?
Across from the university campus, the octet channeled the souls of those who’ve left. Not in a mystical way but rather a sense of consciousness expressed by those who’ve come before them.
“Davies, put that Mobile Pay app away, and concentrate!” Scolded Garrett.
“I’m almost done transferring the funds for next semester. Let me be great,” Davies snapped.
“Let’s look to the Newark Library Club,” Holcomb announced. The eight of them treaded towards the private library in downtown Newark, Delaware. The place exuded activity and welcomed all of the students to browse, research, and delve into the topic which they sought to know. What is it about the alphabet and the connection to some mystical force beyond the realm of reality? How does the universe permit no non-existant from co-mingling with that which exists? These students, energized and informed of the ways of disciplines across the spectrum of knowledge, endeavored to determine whether a riddle, a passing phrase might be the key to unlock all that ails the world. But it would have to be done skillfully. Deftly. All eight of them would put their learnings to the test. At the NLC, they plunked down into desks in the study room. While the university library usually saw crowds of students engaged in the educational process, the NLC offered ample space and literature that might aid them. The private schools in which they all attended rated like luxury vehicles (Garrett, Davies, Vivica) mid level productions (Stack, Gwyneth, Rhonda) and economy lines (Tutnall, Porsha). Nonetheless, each student earned diplomas to go to Vernice Armour. The privatization of the schools allowed for the flow of funds to irrigate the halls of education. Every dollar advanced the cause of academics and boosted all of their studies. That cash would supply them with the opportunity to develop their skills and devote themselves to their schooling.
“I think I’ve found something,” Porsha said. She lifted up to the light a page that may’ve brought their search to an end.
“It reads: ‘The Greeks argued over whether to include multiple letters before the one letter Alpha. But the Christians insisted on leaving the idea of a letter before A and after Z and in between the letters to signify that like the non-sensory, out of the context of reality being in which they worshipped, it would be eternal.’”
“What?” Baxter quipped. “‘Nil.’ we’ll name that letter before A and after Z ‘Nil,’”
“Just like there’s no ‘dark side of the moon,’ so there are no letters at the beginning or end of the alphabet.”
“So, that’s it?” Baxter asked. “We just stop right here?”
“No.” Tutnall responded. He withdrew from his satchel an orb that glowed with all of the knowledge that man has ever recorded. The orb weighed about seven ounces and projected a clear picture in full high definition the bygones gone by and the current state of the world.
“With this we have the power to forever change our course,” Tutnall said.
Stack had an idea. “King Tut,” he said to Tutnall. “Hey, man, why don’t we seek out Dr. Neptune?”
“You know, that might just do it.”
Dr. Neptune stood 6’4 and groomed a goatee. He lived in Wilmington in an apartment overlooking the Riverfront. He engaged with his listeners and imparted much needed knowledge.
“Now, I recognize all of you in going down this path. My professors once presented this problem, not as a riddle but as a serious, significant query: Is there a letter before A? I mean we know ‘A is A’ right? But what about its predecessor? It must have some say in the matter,” Dr. Neptune intoned.
“Dr. Neptune…” Vivica said.
“Yes, young lady?” Dr. Neptune said.
“Well, where could we even begin? The letter ‘A’ represents the start of a series of units which represent the sounds that the human mouth forms. The image of the ‘A’ corresponds with the head of an ox. So, my question is: what came before?”
“That, my child, is a question for the ages. It lies in the realm of metaphysics and epistemology and pertains to the very existence of everything in the universe.”
“ I think I found it. I mean I truly do. The letters before and after the alphabet correspond with the idea that whatever sound the human mouth can make must mean that there is a set number of letters to represent those sounds,” Porsha said.
“Yes, Porsha. That’s good,” Dr. Neptune said. “If we examine the fact that all of the sounds that make up the alphabet are taken...wouldn’t that explain why there is no letter before A or after Z?”
“That’s true, Dr. Neptune. All the sounds are used,” Davies said.
The eight of them stood around Dr. Neptune in his spacious apartment. They gathered that he would be the key to unlocking the mystery of the unspoken letters.
“This is treason against reason, forgive me for rhyming,” Dr. Neptune said.
“No apology necessary, sir,” Stack said.
“We appreciate your time concerning this matter, Dr. Neptune,” Tutnall said.
The cabal headed towards the door of the apartment.
“Thanks sir,” they said in unison and left the professor.
All of them counted their wins and came up with the next step on their voyage. Stack suggested a destination.
“Look, we’ve tried the library, we’ve asked two professors, and now we should consider going to the Think Tank,” Davies said.
“The Think Tank?!,” Minnie queried emphatically.
“Yes. Davies. I do believe that we should be able to find the answer in a bottle of beer and some wings,” Garrett smirked.
“I’m serious,” Davies stood his ground.
“Tut?” Gwyneth said.
“Yeah. We ought to unwind a bit to get try to capture this idea we’ve been pursuing,” Tutnall answered.
The faction proceeded to the town watering hole known better as The Think Tank. There, most of the students involved themselves in all sorts of bacchanalia and talk usually centered around the current politics or philosophy of the day.
Inside the Think Tank, scholars played spades, checked opponents in chess, swigged brew from mugs, and pontificated or philosophized about the daily topics. The blues took up all of the play list and gave the setting a setting an exuberant, life-affirming vibe. The coterie of adventurers moved their way past the bar and occupied seats near the exit. The night was warm in April and allowed for them to get a gust of fresh air every now and again. But they did not stray from their task. They got right to the crux of the matter.
“Okay. We’ve gathered enough information to make a solid case that shows the fact that letters outside of the alphabet, any alphabet, do not exist,” Vivica said.
“But it’s like professor Drum said: ‘how can you know?’”
“Actually, to prove a negative is impossible. And in fact, because ‘A’ and the rest of the letters exist, we ought to start from there and recognize that all that is real exists, and nothing less,” Tutnall said.
“I think that with all of this discussion about the nature of existence we should actually know the end game by now,” Rhonda said.
“Just look at the other letters which the Phonetic International Alphabet rejected,” Porsha observed. “Everything from ash to the ampersand includes not a corresponding sound but more than one character representing a single idea. Similar to ‘W’ but that involves a sound representation. And regardless if these forgotten letters remained in the alphabet we know today. There would still be a beginning, middle, and end. With no letters in between.”
“You know my dear, I think that you have just solved our puzzle. Now, let’s listen to this classic by Cally McMay.”
The eight of them found themselves on the dance floor, moving to the 4/4 time. Each one calculated their steps with the ease of a rideshare driver easing down the avenue. Stack and Rhonda grooved with Garrett and Vivica. Davies twirled Gwyneth. And Tutnall and Porsha leaned in for a kiss.