Up and down the dull coastline of her desk, Amerylys ticked her fingernails, Minnie Mouse airbrushed onto each bismuth pink shield. She was back from Ladies where she’d flattened out Newsweek from its bug-swatter twist to read about the chief of the Cloud People, his vow to leap off a high cliff if a certain foreign petroleum company purchased his tribe’s ancestral land from the Colombian government.

Who would want that sort of thing on their conscience? There was a stamp-sized photograph of the chief, pudding faced, with black, beveled hair and the sexy, charismatic gaze of the not-quite-holy man. His story sat to the left of another article (both were recipe-card sized), about world forest fires and greenhouse temperatures, beside a pink graph nobody would leap off of anything for. Flags-not math-inspired sacrifice, thought Amerylys. With her Disney nails, she sliced out the Cloud Chief’s small story, not wanting to lose his heroic possibilities. This was the second bit of news sparking the dry foolscap of her afternoon. The first was the gorilla, recently delivered to her garage by a young eco-terrorist, Moser, now airborne, leaving Phoenix for a week’s walking tour through Cluj, a medieval city in Romania-at the sudden behest of his newest lover, an aspiring historian named Boris.