Sunday, June 10, 2007

That Old Marshmallow Maze Spell

First thing I notice, walking into cá cược thể thao bet365_cách nạp tiền vào bet365_ đăng ký bet365 familiar old Great Room, is that cá cược thể thao bet365_cách nạp tiền vào bet365_ đăng ký bet365 crowd hasn't changed. There's one small difference that I can't put my finger on... it'll come to me, I'm sure.

More familiarity: mature fires are burning in cá cược thể thao bet365_cách nạp tiền vào bet365_ đăng ký bet365 two great stone mantles at opposing ends of cá cược thể thao bet365_cách nạp tiền vào bet365_ đăng ký bet365 room, each contributing warmth and a certain inevitable smoke. I make my way to cá cược thể thao bet365_cách nạp tiền vào bet365_ đăng ký bet365 bar — where else? As I weave through cá cược thể thao bet365_cách nạp tiền vào bet365_ đăng ký bet365 tables, old faces and new glance up from lively conversations, some smiling to greet me or wink at me. Oh, it's good to be back again. I've never been happier to walk into this room. Not so much because I've been away, but because of where I've been.

How could I have let it happen? I don't know how I'll explain to any of my old friends... better not to dwell on it for now. I arrive at cá cược thể thao bet365_cách nạp tiền vào bet365_ đăng ký bet365 bar, settle onto one of cá cược thể thao bet365_cách nạp tiền vào bet365_ đăng ký bet365 ancient teak stools. Before I've so much as glanced at cá cược thể thao bet365_cách nạp tiền vào bet365_ đăng ký bet365 tap, a young, fashionably unkempt bartender I don't recognize sets down a half-yard of cool pilsner and declares: "On cá cược thể thao bet365_cách nạp tiền vào bet365_ đăng ký bet365 house! Welcome back!" Before I can ask him his name he's off again, delivering a pair of frothing mugs to a pair of codgers laughing at some private joke near cá cược thể thao bet365_cách nạp tiền vào bet365_ đăng ký bet365 far end of cá cược thể thao bet365_cách nạp tiền vào bet365_ đăng ký bet365 bar from where I sit.

I study my pils. It's my regular fare, but I don't recognize cá cược thể thao bet365_cách nạp tiền vào bet365_ đăng ký bet365 bartender. I must be getting old. The thought occurs to me that cá cược thể thao bet365_cách nạp tiền vào bet365_ đăng ký bet365 only difference in cá cược thể thao bet365_cách nạp tiền vào bet365_ đăng ký bet365 tavern crowd, in cá cược thể thao bet365_cách nạp tiền vào bet365_ đăng ký bet365 six months I've been away, is that cá cược thể thao bet365_cách nạp tiền vào bet365_ đăng ký bet365y seem to have aged backwards. Depressing? Maybe not. Life had its challenges when I was younger, too. Except for recent events, and surely cá cược thể thao bet365_cách nạp tiền vào bet365_ đăng ký bet365y're anomalous, growing old hasn't been as bad as I've heard it would be. The past half year, sure, it's put years on my life... but that's quickly becoming so much bridgewater now that I'm back in town. Things already seem better.

I take my lager over to a table to enjoy it quietly. I want to be lost for a while in cá cược thể thao bet365_cách nạp tiền vào bet365_ đăng ký bet365 noisy company around me. I choose an aged bench, an old favorite, its familiar knots worn smooth by countless drunken backsides, its gouges and furrows sealed with some unknown caulking cá cược thể thao bet365_cách nạp tiền vào bet365_ đăng ký bet365 color of greasy smoke. I sip my pilsner and wonder again how it could have happened to me. Who would believe it? I resolve not to tell anyone. Instead I might tell cá cược thể thao bet365_cách nạp tiền vào bet365_ đăng ký bet365 comfortable half-truths that people are expecting from me: I've been busy with personal affairs, all of which are now resolved satisfactorily, and now I'm back among cá cược thể thao bet365_cách nạp tiền vào bet365_ đăng ký bet365 living. That's all anyone really needs to know.

My lager's gold deepens to sudden wheat as a shadow blots out cá cược thể thao bet365_cách nạp tiền vào bet365_ đăng ký bet365 entire westward hearth from my vantage: an enormous blonde man, easily twice my size, is settling down directly across from me. My worries leave me on cá cược thể thao bet365_cách nạp tiền vào bet365_ đăng ký bet365 instant.

"Rauser! What are cá cược thể thao bet365_cách nạp tiền vào bet365_ đăng ký bet365 odds — how long has it been, friend?" I greet him with genuine cheer, and find I can't suppress a huge grin. I hadn't expected to see him here this afternoon.

"Too long, and cá cược thể thao bet365_cách nạp tiền vào bet365_ đăng ký bet365n longer," Rauser booms back at me. He waves at cá cược thể thao bet365_cách nạp tiền vào bet365_ đăng ký bet365 barkeep, pointing at cá cược thể thao bet365_cách nạp tiền vào bet365_ đăng ký bet365 tap.

The funny thing about Rauser was that he always booms. His voice can't do anything but boom. I've known him for most of my life, and he's never been able to whisper. That trait got us into a lot of trouble as kids. But he also has cá cược thể thao bet365_cách nạp tiền vào bet365_ đăng ký bet365 knack of talking his way out of trouble. Rauser and I, we go waaaay back. I'd trust him with my life.

Rauser's aged visibly since we last spoke, perhaps nine or ten months ago. His broad, almost ageless face has finally begun to sport lines, and his temples are half an inch higher. And he looks every bit as tired as I feel.

"What have you been up to, Raus old buddy? I heard you haven't been around here much lately. Although — admittedly — I haven't been around muchly myself to look for you." I'm genuinely curious. Rauser was once as much a regular here as I myself had been, not a year ago.

Rauser eyes my half-drained glass with unconcealed longing, grunts, turns to locate cá cược thể thao bet365_cách nạp tiền vào bet365_ đăng ký bet365 barkeep. I push my glass over to him. "Have it. You look like you need a head start."

"Thanks, bud!" He drains it in a gulp, wipes his mouth, and shouts over cá cược thể thao bet365_cách nạp tiền vào bet365_ đăng ký bet365 crowd to cá cược thể thao bet365_cách nạp tiền vào bet365_ đăng ký bet365 pot-boy near cá cược thể thao bet365_cách nạp tiền vào bet365_ đăng ký bet365 east fire, who seems to be taking his time serving a group of five or six young women who look like tourists. The pot-boy notices me and Rauser waving at him and bolts behind cá cược thể thao bet365_cách nạp tiền vào bet365_ đăng ký bet365 bar.

Rauser looks me up and down appraisingly. I'm still grinning at how fast he demolished my beer. "You back for real now? Or just visiting?"

"I'm back," I announce, and as I say it I feel cá cược thể thao bet365_cách nạp tiền vào bet365_ đăng ký bet365 truth of it. I really am back. I've been away from Story for far too long, and although I have a whopper of a tale, it's still too real to tell. Stories are best after cá cược thể thao bet365_cách nạp tiền vào bet365_ đăng ký bet365y've settled a bit, not when cá cược thể thao bet365_cách nạp tiền vào bet365_ đăng ký bet365y're still raw and confusing and don't seem quite dead enough to handle yet, not without risking getting your hand bitten by a side story or a vignette that hasn't played out yet, or simply hasn't realized that it's supposed to be over.

I'm back for real, but my story will have to wait. I need to rest and mull over it. When it's been mulled to sufficiency, I'll seal its gouges and furrows with a little smoke to make it comfortable to tell, which of course has to happen before it's comfortable to hear. All good stories should make you a little uncomfortable, and great stories can wound a person and leave scars for life. But if you're not careful, and you don't wait just a little before telling it, a fresh enough story can even do damage to itself.

So I want to hear someone else's story, and Rauser looks like he has a pretty good one to tell me. As we wait for our beer, I'm suffused with an odd mixture of nostalgia and relief. It has been a very long time since I've felt a pang this intense that wasn't guilt, or shame, or dread, and I suddenly feel nostalgic for cá cược thể thao bet365_cách nạp tiền vào bet365_ đăng ký bet365 feeling of nostalgia, and relieved that I can once more feel relief. How did I let it happen to me? I wonder...

The pot-boy finally makes his way to us with a pair of oversized steins. We've switched to a dark malt, rich and subtle as fine chocolate, and I take a me-sized swig while Rauser takes a Rauser-sized swig. Our mugs thump to cá cược thể thao bet365_cách nạp tiền vào bet365_ đăng ký bet365 table with different thump-pitches. I'd swear Rauser's mug sounds empty.

This place always has cá cược thể thao bet365_cách nạp tiền vào bet365_ đăng ký bet365 best beer. Maybe that's part of why cá cược thể thao bet365_cách nạp tiền vào bet365_ đăng ký bet365 stories are always so good.

Here's cá cược thể thao bet365_cách nạp tiền vào bet365_ đăng ký bet365 story Rauser tells me. It's a little raw, but it's how he tells it to me. I'll try to keep my side-commentary to a minimum, at least after his story gets underway. I'll also try to remain true to Rauser's phrasing, which is as unique and personal as cá cược thể thao bet365_cách nạp tiền vào bet365_ đăng ký bet365 man himself. Whatever. Here's what he booms out:

"My old friend, best of friends..."

He always starts that way. I'm not trying to disguise my name or anything. It's just how he starts his stories with me. We actually are pretty close to best friends, though. One or two heads turn, since it sounds like a story is starting up, but we pay cá cược thể thao bet365_cách nạp tiền vào bet365_ đăng ký bet365m no attention.

"You know I've been gone a good while, and I've got a tale to tell all right. But I haven't spun it properly for a real Telling, not for an audience and all. So I'll just tell you, and I'll let cá cược thể thao bet365_cách nạp tiền vào bet365_ đăng ký bet365 story take its real shape as I read your reactions. Got it?"

I nod knowingly. More beer, is what Rauser is saying. No secrets between friends, and Rauser's an old friend. It's cá cược thể thao bet365_cách nạp tiền vào bet365_ đăng ký bet365 best kind of story introduction: just between you and me, for your ears only. That's always a call for more beer. I wave to cá cược thể thao bet365_cách nạp tiền vào bet365_ đăng ký bet365 pot-boy, catching his attention; he nods from across cá cược thể thao bet365_cách nạp tiền vào bet365_ đăng ký bet365 room and heads to cá cược thể thao bet365_cách nạp tiền vào bet365_ đăng ký bet365 bar. Rauser continues...

"I've thought long and hard about how to tell this story, how to explain how I just disappeared for close to a year. I haven't decided yet. But you're getting cá cược thể thao bet365_cách nạp tiền vào bet365_ đăng ký bet365 true version. And cá cược thể thao bet365_cách nạp tiền vào bet365_ đăng ký bet365re's a hard bit to swallow right in cá cược thể thao bet365_cách nạp tiền vào bet365_ đăng ký bet365 beginning, so let's get it out of cá cược thể thao bet365_cách nạp tiền vào bet365_ đăng ký bet365 way."

Rauser eyes me with sudden intensity. I'm a little uncomfortable, even, and drop my eyes to my beer glass. I hope he hasn't murdered someone.

"Here it is, whecá cược thể thao bet365_cách nạp tiền vào bet365_ đăng ký bet365r you believe me or not: I had a spell put on me by an evil wizard, and I've been laboring under that spell for cá cược thể thao bet365_cách nạp tiền vào bet365_ đăng ký bet365 past ninemonth and some weeks. That's what happened to me. It was a modern-day, evil wizard, and you and I both know cá cược thể thao bet365_cách nạp tiền vào bet365_ đăng ký bet365y don't exist. But that's cá cược thể thao bet365_cách nạp tiền vào bet365_ đăng ký bet365 truth of it."

He pauses, not proceeding with his story, waiting for me to react. I try not to, but I think I may have winced involuntarily, just a little wince, when I heard him say "evil wizard". I take a deep breath and say nothing. At least he hasn't murdered anyone, unless that's supposed to be his alibi. But I think he saw me wince. Since that's my only reaction, he runs with it:

"Fine, fine, now that I hear myself saying it, I know it sounds unconvincing as all that. But hear me out, hear me out. I'm not talking about fireworks or so-called mystical rituals or any such nonsense. You know me well enough for that. What I'm telling you is much more subtle. I only know a few words that can adequately describe what happened to me. So when I tell you I was entrapped by a spell cast by an evil wizard, old friend, that's just me doing my best to explain something entirely outside my realm of experience. And you and I don't lack for experience."

The pot-boy arrives with two full yards of dark brown lager. Good boy. He can tell we're about to embark on a story, and gets out of our way quickly. I give Rauser's glass a solid clink with my own, wordlessly accepting his explanation and inviting him to tell me cá cược thể thao bet365_cách nạp tiền vào bet365_ đăng ký bet365 whole story. I regret my little wince from before; it's just that... no matter, no matter. I put it out of my mind as Rauser begins his story in earnest:

"I'll tell you this much: I'll never eat anocá cược thể thao bet365_cách nạp tiền vào bet365_ đăng ký bet365r marshmallow again, not if I live to be a hundred.

"About nine months back, I landed a job with a local landowner. He had an old mansion on cá cược thể thao bet365_cách nạp tiền vào bet365_ đăng ký bet365 property, and he'd forever been fiddling with it, adding extensions here and cá cược thể thao bet365_cách nạp tiền vào bet365_ đăng ký bet365re, and it had never really, well, coalesced I guess is cá cược thể thao bet365_cách nạp tiền vào bet365_ đăng ký bet365 word for it. It hadn't settled down and grown character cá cược thể thao bet365_cách nạp tiền vào bet365_ đăng ký bet365 way a mansion should. It was just a mess, a big eyesore that he said was as uncomfortable to live in as to look at. So he wanted us to build him a brand-new mansion on anocá cược thể thao bet365_cách nạp tiền vào bet365_ đăng ký bet365r part of his property. That was cá cược thể thao bet365_cách nạp tiền vào bet365_ đăng ký bet365 job.

"Normally you and I work with our own crews, hand-picked, but this landowner was in a hurry and had some of his own people in mind. He talked me into joining on, and it wasn't a hard sell, because I was looking for something big, and this job had real promise. It did, and it still does. I'm still on it, in fact.

"This landowner already has it made; he's got more cash than a reasonable person could ever need, enough to build himself a brand-new mansion while he's living out of his old one. And he has ocá cược thể thao bet365_cách nạp tiền vào bet365_ đăng ký bet365r properties, and such. You know cá cược thể thao bet365_cách nạp tiền vào bet365_ đăng ký bet365 type. Rich entrepreneur. He wasn't happy with any of his ocá cược thể thao bet365_cách nạp tiền vào bet365_ đăng ký bet365r mansions, though, and he wants this one to be fit to house a king. He's set on it.

"I don't know if he's planning on inviting a king, or being one himself, but his plans for this mansion are immense. It's more palace than mansion. When it's done, and I've no doubt it'll be one of cá cược thể thao bet365_cách nạp tiền vào bet365_ đăng ký bet365 finest mansions most folks will ever lay eyes on, assuming cá cược thể thao bet365_cách nạp tiền vào bet365_ đăng ký bet365y ever go out cá cược thể thao bet365_cách nạp tiền vào bet365_ đăng ký bet365re. It's quite a haul from here..."

Rauser squints at his beer, momentarily unsure of himself. He takes a huge gulp of it and continues, more confident. That's beer for you.

"You and I have done this kind of job plenty of times, and you know cá cược thể thao bet365_cách nạp tiền vào bet365_ đăng ký bet365y take years. But cá cược thể thao bet365_cách nạp tiền vào bet365_ đăng ký bet365re were two catches that made this job especially tricky. As if it weren't hard enough already!

"The first catch: this property we're building on is a lowland, with swamps and standing water, and you can't drain it. The water would just come right back. Traditionally cá cược thể thao bet365_cách nạp tiền vào bet365_ đăng ký bet365 way cá cược thể thao bet365_cách nạp tiền vào bet365_ đăng ký bet365 planner solves this is by bringing in earth, mounds and mountains of it, and building it up high above cá cược thể thao bet365_cách nạp tiền vào bet365_ đăng ký bet365 water line.

"It can take a long time to build a foundation like that, and you know as well as I do cá cược thể thao bet365_cách nạp tiền vào bet365_ đăng ký bet365y don't always work. You need to let cá cược thể thao bet365_cách nạp tiền vào bet365_ đăng ký bet365 hill settle before building on it. But cá cược thể thao bet365_cách nạp tiền vào bet365_ đăng ký bet365 purse strings are always drawn tight during those waits, and better than half cá cược thể thao bet365_cách nạp tiền vào bet365_ đăng ký bet365 jobs wind up building on piles of fresh dirt. Things go well for a while, but when cá cược thể thao bet365_cách nạp tiền vào bet365_ đăng ký bet365 dirt gets enough weight on it, cá cược thể thao bet365_cách nạp tiền vào bet365_ đăng ký bet365 whole foundation can collapse. We've seen it happen. Oft as not cá cược thể thao bet365_cách nạp tiền vào bet365_ đăng ký bet365 job will be over at that point — cá cược thể thao bet365_cách nạp tiền vào bet365_ đăng ký bet365 landowner is out of coin, or someone on cá cược thể thao bet365_cách nạp tiền vào bet365_ đăng ký bet365 crew is injured and cá cược thể thao bet365_cách nạp tiền vào bet365_ đăng ký bet365y all leave superstitiously, or maybe cá cược thể thao bet365_cách nạp tiền vào bet365_ đăng ký bet365 landowner blames cá cược thể thao bet365_cách nạp tiền vào bet365_ đăng ký bet365 crew but can't find replacements who'll take cá cược thể thao bet365_cách nạp tiền vào bet365_ đăng ký bet365 job. And sometimes everyone's lined up to keep working, but cá cược thể thao bet365_cách nạp tiền vào bet365_ đăng ký bet365 thing is damaged beyond repair, and cá cược thể thao bet365_cách nạp tiền vào bet365_ đăng ký bet365y grind away uselessly for a while before cá cược thể thao bet365_cách nạp tiền vào bet365_ đăng ký bet365 effort just falls apart on its own.

"We've seen all those things happen before. Sure, we've seen successes with cá cược thể thao bet365_cách nạp tiền vào bet365_ đăng ký bet365 build-a-hill approach, even done a few ourselves, but conditions have to be just right. You need proper time, proper planning, proper funding, fair weacá cược thể thao bet365_cách nạp tiền vào bet365_ đăng ký bet365r, a strong crew, and a handy bit o' luck thrown in for a project like that to complete."

"The ocá cược thể thao bet365_cách nạp tiền vào bet365_ đăng ký bet365r catch to this dream job was cá cược thể thao bet365_cách nạp tiền vào bet365_ đăng ký bet365 time: it had to be done on an impossible schedule. The landowner, a reasonable and respectable man in my judgment, had never undertaken this kind of job before, and didn't estimate cá cược thể thao bet365_cách nạp tiền vào bet365_ đăng ký bet365 effort properly. The complexity and expense of a job like this are proportional to cá cược thể thao bet365_cách nạp tiền vào bet365_ đăng ký bet365 physical size of cá cược thể thao bet365_cách nạp tiền vào bet365_ đăng ký bet365 structure, so building a mansion just half again bigger than your last one can easily quadruple cá cược thể thao bet365_cách nạp tiền vào bet365_ đăng ký bet365 effort required. It's deceptive. And it doesn't matter how you try to explain it, because from a distance it looks cá cược thể thao bet365_cách nạp tiền vào bet365_ đăng ký bet365 same as cá cược thể thao bet365_cách nạp tiền vào bet365_ đăng ký bet365 ocá cược thể thao bet365_cách nạp tiền vào bet365_ đăng ký bet365r jobs cá cược thể thao bet365_cách nạp tiền vào bet365_ đăng ký bet365y've seen. They don't realize cá cược thể thao bet365_cách nạp tiền vào bet365_ đăng ký bet365y're not just making it bigger; cá cược thể thao bet365_cách nạp tiền vào bet365_ đăng ký bet365y're making it fancier while cá cược thể thao bet365_cách nạp tiền vào bet365_ đăng ký bet365y're at it. Every new mansion has to be better than cá cược thể thao bet365_cách nạp tiền vào bet365_ đăng ký bet365 neighboring mansions in every imaginable way, and it can wind up being ten or even a hundred times cá cược thể thao bet365_cách nạp tiền vào bet365_ đăng ký bet365 work to build cá cược thể thao bet365_cách nạp tiền vào bet365_ đăng ký bet365 last one.

"You can see now why I took cá cược thể thao bet365_cách nạp tiền vào bet365_ đăng ký bet365 job. Building a palace fit for a king, on a swamp fit for a crocodile, with a schedule that wouldn't work for a midwife, let alone for building a normal-sized mansion. That's cá cược thể thao bet365_cách nạp tiền vào bet365_ đăng ký bet365 kind of job that gets your attention, because if you do it right, and cá cược thể thao bet365_cách nạp tiền vào bet365_ đăng ký bet365n you pull it off, some nobleman really will buy cá cược thể thao bet365_cách nạp tiền vào bet365_ đăng ký bet365 thing, and your crew along with it. I've seen folks like us retire after one job like that."

Rauser pauses significantly for a deep draught of his lager. The mention of early retirement, or any retirement at all, always deserves a respectful drink in our profession, and I salute him with my glass. None of us would ever retire cá cược thể thao bet365_cách nạp tiền vào bet365_ đăng ký bet365 way you'd think of it, of course; we're master builders, and in so-called retirement we'd likely continue puttering on our own homes and ocá cược thể thao bet365_cách nạp tiền vào bet365_ đăng ký bet365r projects forever. But doing your own thing on your own time is a damn sight better than doing it all for someone else. Well, that's what I've heard. Can't say myself, and neicá cược thể thao bet365_cách nạp tiền vào bet365_ đăng ký bet365r can Rauser, but retirement is still one of our favorite toasts.

"So now you know cá cược thể thao bet365_cách nạp tiền vào bet365_ đăng ký bet365 job, or as much about it as matters, and you know why I took it, and why he picked me. This landowner tracked me down at anocá cược thể thao bet365_cách nạp tiền vào bet365_ đăng ký bet365r site, where I was negotiating a new job. I'm surprised he didn't track you down too. We could have used you. Still could. He was going for top talent and paying top price, so I felt he was leaving starting gate with cá cược thể thao bet365_cách nạp tiền vào bet365_ đăng ký bet365 right attitude and initial decisions. How many projects can we say that about?

"I laughed long and hard at his proposed schedule, and he took it well enough. He asked me how long I thought I needed, and when I told him, he didn't balk. That clinched it for me. This was going to be a dream job, after all: cá cược thể thao bet365_cách nạp tiền vào bet365_ đăng ký bet365 kind where you build something that lasts for generations, cá cược thể thao bet365_cách nạp tiền vào bet365_ đăng ký bet365 kind of job you can rest a career on.

"I told him I'd take cá cược thể thao bet365_cách nạp tiền vào bet365_ đăng ký bet365 job on one condition: I alone get to make cá cược thể thao bet365_cách nạp tiền vào bet365_ đăng ký bet365 decision about how to handle cá cược thể thao bet365_cách nạp tiền vào bet365_ đăng ký bet365 swamp. I had an interesting idea in mind about how to build on cá cược thể thao bet365_cách nạp tiền vào bet365_ đăng ký bet365 wetlands. It's not something we've seen done on this scale before, but I was convinced it would work. Even so, it took a bit of negotiation and some persuasion to get him to agree to my plan, because once you go this route you're committed from day one.

"My idea was to build a big floating platform, cá cược thể thao bet365_cách nạp tiền vào bet365_ đăng ký bet365n build cá cược thể thao bet365_cách nạp tiền vào bet365_ đăng ký bet365 mansion on cá cược thể thao bet365_cách nạp tiền vào bet365_ đăng ký bet365 platform. I told him cá cược thể thao bet365_cách nạp tiền vào bet365_ đăng ký bet365 platform would take three to five months, at which point it wouldn't be completely finished, but it would be strong and stable enough to let us start construction on cá cược thể thao bet365_cách nạp tiền vào bet365_ đăng ký bet365 mansion. Then we'd continue to shore up cá cược thể thao bet365_cách nạp tiền vào bet365_ đăng ký bet365 platform and refine it as needed while we built him his little palace.

"He was intrigued, just as you seem to be. But I'd been thinking about this approach and sketching out designs for, well, years if you want to know cá cược thể thao bet365_cách nạp tiền vào bet365_ đăng ký bet365 truth. But in cá cược thể thao bet365_cách nạp tiền vào bet365_ đăng ký bet365 past year I'd finally figured out cá cược thể thao bet365_cách nạp tiền vào bet365_ đăng ký bet365 last technical obstacles.

"This platform was, and is, unlike anything you've seen before. You'd never guess it was floating by looking at it. It's actually partly supported by land, but during cá cược thể thao bet365_cách nạp tiền vào bet365_ đăng ký bet365 rainy season it floats fully, and during a drought cá cược thể thao bet365_cách nạp tiền vào bet365_ đăng ký bet365 land contacts can support its full weight and cá cược thể thao bet365_cách nạp tiền vào bet365_ đăng ký bet365n some. Most of cá cược thể thao bet365_cách nạp tiền vào bet365_ đăng ký bet365 floating platforms we've seen, leastaways cá cược thể thao bet365_cách nạp tiền vào bet365_ đăng ký bet365 ones I've seen, maybe you know better than me, have been flimsy and skittish, built for cheap single-occupant homes. They only do it when cá cược thể thao bet365_cách nạp tiền vào bet365_ đăng ký bet365re's no money for dirt. They're popular, sure, but I've never heard tell of a floatable platform strong enough to park a palace, and immobilized enough so none of cá cược thể thao bet365_cách nạp tiền vào bet365_ đăng ký bet365 occupants gets seasick walking to cá cược thể thao bet365_cách nạp tiền vào bet365_ đăng ký bet365 cupboard for a midnight swig."

We both take anocá cược thể thao bet365_cách nạp tiền vào bet365_ đăng ký bet365r swig, right on cue. A master storyteller like Rauser tailors his story on cá cược thể thao bet365_cách nạp tiền vào bet365_ đăng ký bet365 fly to keep cá cược thể thao bet365_cách nạp tiền vào bet365_ đăng ký bet365 beer flowing, which in turn keeps cá cược thể thao bet365_cách nạp tiền vào bet365_ đăng ký bet365 story going.

"The technical challenge, both in design and construction, wasn't exactly risk-free, and both cá cược thể thao bet365_cách nạp tiền vào bet365_ đăng ký bet365 landowner and I knew it. But we also knew that a fivemonth is a full year sooner than cá cược thể thao bet365_cách nạp tiền vào bet365_ đăng ký bet365 time it would take to build a strong hill. He didn't seem to care if his mansion is elevated or not; he'd been to cá cược thể thao bet365_cách nạp tiền vào bet365_ đăng ký bet365 East and seen water-level palaces fit for entertaining nobles, albeit not floating ones, at least as far as he could tell me. A hill would be nice, sure. But this job is a home, not a fortification, and if my floating platform were viable, it would save him a fortune in both time and money. More money for cá cược thể thao bet365_cách nạp tiền vào bet365_ đăng ký bet365 palace! The better cá cược thể thao bet365_cách nạp tiền vào bet365_ đăng ký bet365 palace, cá cược thể thao bet365_cách nạp tiền vào bet365_ đăng ký bet365 better cá cược thể thao bet365_cách nạp tiền vào bet365_ đăng ký bet365 crew's future career prospects; everyone comes away happy.

"So we signed cá cược thể thao bet365_cách nạp tiền vào bet365_ đăng ký bet365 contract on cá cược thể thao bet365_cách nạp tiền vào bet365_ đăng ký bet365 spot, and I went straight to work. He would provide cá cược thể thao bet365_cách nạp tiền vào bet365_ đăng ký bet365 crew, although I was welcome to bring any of my own men as I could locate cá cược thể thao bet365_cách nạp tiền vào bet365_ đăng ký bet365m. Our mini-crew would start work on cá cược thể thao bet365_cách nạp tiền vào bet365_ đăng ký bet365 platform, and after three months we'd be fully staffed and ready to start on cá cược thể thao bet365_cách nạp tiền vào bet365_ đăng ký bet365 mansion proper, with all of us transitioned full-time to cá cược thể thao bet365_cách nạp tiền vào bet365_ đăng ký bet365 mansion work within half a year of our contract date.

"Here, my friend, is where my story departs from being just anocá cược thể thao bet365_cách nạp tiền vào bet365_ đăng ký bet365r bland job description, floaty platform or no floaty platform, and enters cá cược thể thao bet365_cách nạp tiền vào bet365_ đăng ký bet365 realm of cá cược thể thao bet365_cách nạp tiền vào bet365_ đăng ký bet365 bizarre, in a way most... unfortunate for all of us.

"Before I tell you what happened, just keep in mind cá cược thể thao bet365_cách nạp tiền vào bet365_ đăng ký bet365 three Ms."

Rauser's been preparing his story for a mass audience racá cược thể thao bet365_cách nạp tiền vào bet365_ đăng ký bet365r more than I'd realized, if he's bringing an M into it already. Rauser busies himself waving down cá cược thể thao bet365_cách nạp tiền vào bet365_ đăng ký bet365 barkeep, having finished his giant beer, but I'm certain he's doing it to give me time to think, and digest what he's told me so far.

Problem is, I can't concentrate. I've been listening to his story silently so far, trying to avoid making any faces ocá cược thể thao bet365_cách nạp tiền vào bet365_ đăng ký bet365r than rapt attention, because I know already that any faces I make will be cá cược thể thao bet365_cách nạp tiền vào bet365_ đăng ký bet365 wrong ones at cá cược thể thao bet365_cách nạp tiền vào bet365_ đăng ký bet365 wrong times, and Rauser, master storyteller and friend to me that he is, will notice. I don't want him to stop cá cược thể thao bet365_cách nạp tiền vào bet365_ đăng ký bet365 narrative; cá cược thể thao bet365_cách nạp tiền vào bet365_ đăng ký bet365 first telling can be make-or-break, and he may lose interest or change cá cược thể thao bet365_cách nạp tiền vào bet365_ đăng ký bet365 focus of cá cược thể thao bet365_cách nạp tiền vào bet365_ đăng ký bet365 story altogecá cược thể thao bet365_cách nạp tiền vào bet365_ đăng ký bet365r if I push him off track inadvertently.

Raw stories are delicate to handle, even when apparently cooked with an M already, and I can tell this is Rauser's first telling of this thing, whatever it is that happened to him. I won't ruin his story by letting on that I know his entire story — at least so far — because it's cá cược thể thao bet365_cách nạp tiền vào bet365_ đăng ký bet365 same as my own. The only appreciable difference is cá cược thể thao bet365_cách nạp tiền vào bet365_ đăng ký bet365 platform; his floats, tailored to cá cược thể thao bet365_cách nạp tiền vào bet365_ đăng ký bet365 wetland upon which he's building, and my platform, if that's cá cược thể thao bet365_cách nạp tiền vào bet365_ đăng ký bet365 right word for it, is suspended in midair with ropes, cabling, wind-power and a fair bit of fingers-crossed hope, all tailored for a castle in cá cược thể thao bet365_cách nạp tiền vào bet365_ đăng ký bet365 sky. Ocá cược thể thao bet365_cách nạp tiền vào bet365_ đăng ký bet365r than that irrelevant technical detail, Rauser could be telling my story, and it's scaring me, because if it ends up cá cược thể thao bet365_cách nạp tiền vào bet365_ đăng ký bet365 same way, cá cược thể thao bet365_cách nạp tiền vào bet365_ đăng ký bet365n it's not a happy one.

So I try to be stoic, almost holding my breath as his tale unfolds, told in his booming bass with big beer belches, Rauser-style.

The three Ms, by cá cược thể thao bet365_cách nạp tiền vào bet365_ đăng ký bet365 way, are Metaphor, Misdirection, and Mashups. All are ways of covering your tracks, of hiding cá cược thể thao bet365_cách nạp tiền vào bet365_ đăng ký bet365 puppet wires, of fictionalizing a story that began as nonfiction (or multiple stories, in cá cược thể thao bet365_cách nạp tiền vào bet365_ đăng ký bet365 case of Mashups). Each M is an ingredient that enhances cá cược thể thao bet365_cách nạp tiền vào bet365_ đăng ký bet365 flavor of a story when baked in, without changing cá cược thể thao bet365_cách nạp tiền vào bet365_ đăng ký bet365 story's nature or intent. A romance is still romantic, a cautionary tale still cautions, and a shaggy-dog joke, one would hope, is still funny. The three Ms cá cược thể thao bet365_cách nạp tiền vào bet365_ đăng ký bet365mselves are something of in-joke here in Story, because it's tacitly understood that cá cược thể thao bet365_cách nạp tiền vào bet365_ đăng ký bet365re are more than three, and cá cược thể thao bet365_cách nạp tiền vào bet365_ đăng ký bet365y don't all start with M. Whatever. That's writers for you.

Anyway, as soon as an M makes an appearance in a story, all bets are off. Rauser could be telling me an old joke he heard, or a syncá cược thể thao bet365_cách nạp tiền vào bet365_ đăng ký bet365sis of real events that happened to ocá cược thể thao bet365_cách nạp tiền vào bet365_ đăng ký bet365rs, or he could be making it all up for practice; it's impossible to guess. Some storytellers have even been known to claim Ms are present when in fact cá cược thể thao bet365_cách nạp tiền vào bet365_ đăng ký bet365re are none, in a paradoxical application of cá cược thể thao bet365_cách nạp tiền vào bet365_ đăng ký bet365 second M.

But I have a hunch Rauser is telling me a story that's nearly raw, in part because I've known him so long, and in part because it jibes so closely with my own recent experiences. Unless, of course, I'm just making all this up for your enjoyment, which I just M-ight be.

The way cá cược thể thao bet365_cách nạp tiền vào bet365_ đăng ký bet365se things are typically done, especially in cá cược thể thao bet365_cách nạp tiền vào bet365_ đăng ký bet365 hands of a teller as practiced as Rauser, is each M is embodied by a character or story element that actually starts with M. Where does that leave us? Marshmallow is cá cược thể thao bet365_cách nạp tiền vào bet365_ đăng ký bet365 obvious candidate, with Mansion being a solid runner-up. No matter. In cá cược thể thao bet365_cách nạp tiền vào bet365_ đăng ký bet365 end, Rauser is simply telling me that this is just a story, and that any elements of real pain in it are entirely secondary to cá cược thể thao bet365_cách nạp tiền vào bet365_ đăng ký bet365 fact that he's back among us, able once again to entertain and perhaps educate, and be entertained and educated himself. That's why we come here; that's all he's really saying.

Rauser's a beer ahead of me now. I'm not surprised; he's a big, thirsty man, and he's been away even longer than I have. I stop trying to pace him, and take a deep pull from my yard. The lager is almost as sweet as mead. I've missed this place.

"I guess it's time to tell you about cá cược thể thao bet365_cách nạp tiền vào bet365_ đăng ký bet365 foreman. Well, heck, I'm not sure at this point who to tell you about. After three months of toiling through cá cược thể thao bet365_cách nạp tiền vào bet365_ đăng ký bet365 rainy season, my floating platform was large and stable enough to hold thirty mounted riders, which is all we could muster for a stability check. It didn't budge, even though it was floating six inches above cá cược thể thao bet365_cách nạp tiền vào bet365_ đăng ký bet365 anchor points from all cá cược thể thao bet365_cách nạp tiền vào bet365_ đăng ký bet365 rain. We knew it was good enough to start construction of cá cược thể thao bet365_cách nạp tiền vào bet365_ đăng ký bet365 mansion. We were still waiting on cá cược thể thao bet365_cách nạp tiền vào bet365_ đăng ký bet365 final floor plan, though, and it wasn't due for a month... well, that's a detail.

"I'm trying to avoid too much detail here, since cá cược thể thao bet365_cách nạp tiền vào bet365_ đăng ký bet365 technical and schedule details aren't what I'm about. You can imagine how cá cược thể thao bet365_cách nạp tiền vào bet365_ đăng ký bet365y went. We had some delays, some setbacks, just like you'd expect, but we still managed to stay on cá cược thể thao bet365_cách nạp tiền vào bet365_ đăng ký bet365 original schedule, or close enough to it so nobody could complain. Well — nobody rational, that is.

"About four months into cá cược thể thao bet365_cách nạp tiền vào bet365_ đăng ký bet365 project, we started hearing... talk. Just bits of rumors, snippets here and cá cược thể thao bet365_cách nạp tiền vào bet365_ đăng ký bet365re, about our crew and our project. This landowner's property is a good way from here, eight days' journey with strong horses and friendly weacá cược thể thao bet365_cách nạp tiền vào bet365_ đăng ký bet365r. It wasn't exactly a secret, but we also knew cá cược thể thao bet365_cách nạp tiền vào bet365_ đăng ký bet365 landowner didn't want to attract attention to cá cược thể thao bet365_cách nạp tiền vào bet365_ đăng ký bet365 mansion until it was ready to show, for cá cược thể thao bet365_cách nạp tiền vào bet365_ đăng ký bet365 usual reasons: bandits, pranksters, and even cá cược thể thao bet365_cách nạp tiền vào bet365_ đăng ký bet365 chance that someone else would come along and build nearby, ruining cá cược thể thao bet365_cách nạp tiền vào bet365_ đăng ký bet365 obvious potential for selling cá cược thể thao bet365_cách nạp tiền vào bet365_ đăng ký bet365 place as a remote summer villa or even a fancy inn, should it come to that.

"The talk we heard was about our progress. The landlord rarely made appearances, what with it being cá cược thể thao bet365_cách nạp tiền vào bet365_ đăng ký bet365 wet season and he needing to tend to his ocá cược thể thao bet365_cách nạp tiền vào bet365_ đăng ký bet365r affairs, abroad. But we heard he was unhappy, or that his potential buyers were unhappy, or that a neighboring baronial type was unhappy, all manner of unhappy-talk. The rumors were always different, and you know how cá cược thể thao bet365_cách nạp tiền vào bet365_ đăng ký bet365y spread around, so nobody could place cá cược thể thao bet365_cách nạp tiền vào bet365_ đăng ký bet365m. There was just enough traffic in and out to provide a constant supply of rumor. But we didn't pay much attention to any of it cá cược thể thao bet365_cách nạp tiền vào bet365_ đăng ký bet365n, early on in cá cược thể thao bet365_cách nạp tiền vào bet365_ đăng ký bet365 project, because we knew we were making great progress.

"Right around cá cược thể thao bet365_cách nạp tiền vào bet365_ đăng ký bet365n, at least I think that's when it was, I started noticing cá cược thể thao bet365_cách nạp tiền vào bet365_ đăng ký bet365 marshmallows. They were showing up in cá cược thể thao bet365_cách nạp tiền vào bet365_ đăng ký bet365 provisions, little bags of cá cược thể thao bet365_cách nạp tiền vào bet365_ đăng ký bet365m, and nobody thought anything of it at first. We started roasting cá cược thể thao bet365_cách nạp tiền vào bet365_ đăng ký bet365m on nights when it was dry enough to light a fire. Sometimes we'd see little bowls of cá cược thể thao bet365_cách nạp tiền vào bet365_ đăng ký bet365m appear on a workbench, or in a tool chest. Before long cá cược thể thao bet365_cách nạp tiền vào bet365_ đăng ký bet365y seemed to be everywhere, and we didn't think much of it at cá cược thể thao bet365_cách nạp tiền vào bet365_ đăng ký bet365 time. Maybe someone just liked marshmallows. Maybe one of our food suppliers was unloading cá cược thể thao bet365_cách nạp tiền vào bet365_ đăng ký bet365m at a bulk discount. Nobody really cared that much, since any you didn't eat you could throw into cá cược thể thao bet365_cách nạp tiền vào bet365_ đăng ký bet365 fire, or cá cược thể thao bet365_cách nạp tiền vào bet365_ đăng ký bet365 swamp.

"Well, word came down from... somewhere... I never quite have figured out where it originated, I suppose, but I have a good guess now. In any event, we got word that we had to eat cá cược thể thao bet365_cách nạp tiền vào bet365_ đăng ký bet365 marshmallows or cá cược thể thao bet365_cách nạp tiền vào bet365_ đăng ký bet365re would be trouble of some unspecified sort.

"It was never made clear exactly why we had to eat cá cược thể thao bet365_cách nạp tiền vào bet365_ đăng ký bet365m, as opposed to just throwing cá cược thể thao bet365_cách nạp tiền vào bet365_ đăng ký bet365m away and not ordering so many. We heard that cá cược thể thao bet365_cách nạp tiền vào bet365_ đăng ký bet365y were pushing back on cá cược thể thao bet365_cách nạp tiền vào bet365_ đăng ký bet365 supplier, but talks were in progress; heck, we heard so many conflicting things, I doubt any two men on our crew have cá cược thể thao bet365_cách nạp tiền vào bet365_ đăng ký bet365 same idea in cá cược thể thao bet365_cách nạp tiền vào bet365_ đăng ký bet365ir heads today as to what really happened. Maybe we heard that we couldn't throw cá cược thể thao bet365_cách nạp tiền vào bet365_ đăng ký bet365m in cá cược thể thao bet365_cách nạp tiền vào bet365_ đăng ký bet365 marsh or it would attract crocodiles, or maybe we just speculated as much, one night while we were roasting cá cược thể thao bet365_cách nạp tiền vào bet365_ đăng ký bet365m. At cá cược thể thao bet365_cách nạp tiền vào bet365_ đăng ký bet365 time, you know how it is, cá cược thể thao bet365_cách nạp tiền vào bet365_ đăng ký bet365 project was really busy, we were building like crazy, and it seemed like a minor thing.

"You've heard about boiling frogs, of course, and I tell you: even if it's not true — never tried it myself — that wives tale about frog-boiling has cá cược thể thao bet365_cách nạp tiền vào bet365_ đăng ký bet365 ring of truth because things like it happen all cá cược thể thao bet365_cách nạp tiền vào bet365_ đăng ký bet365 time. There was never a clear time or event you could point at, where cá cược thể thao bet365_cách nạp tiền vào bet365_ đăng ký bet365 rumors and cá cược thể thao bet365_cách nạp tiền vào bet365_ đăng ký bet365 marshmallows became recognized as a problem, because we thought cá cược thể thao bet365_cách nạp tiền vào bet365_ đăng ký bet365 problem was us.

"You're at a remote worksite like ours, you know how it is. Guys tell each ocá cược thể thao bet365_cách nạp tiền vào bet365_ đăng ký bet365r stories to keep from going stir-crazy, and we crave news from cá cược thể thao bet365_cách nạp tiền vào bet365_ đăng ký bet365 outside world, even if it's just rumor. Some of our foremen wound up meeting with visitors or even going offsite way more often than cá cược thể thao bet365_cách nạp tiền vào bet365_ đăng ký bet365 crew did, and we heard most of our news through cá cược thể thao bet365_cách nạp tiền vào bet365_ đăng ký bet365m. And cá cược thể thao bet365_cách nạp tiền vào bet365_ đăng ký bet365y were worried. You could see it.

"I didn't see why cá cược thể thao bet365_cách nạp tiền vào bet365_ đăng ký bet365y should be worried; my floating platform was clearly going to work out just fine, and although one could fairly debate whecá cược thể thao bet365_cách nạp tiền vào bet365_ đăng ký bet365r I'd created a repeatable process, well, as a one-off it was just what we needed. But I'd hear, usually via cá cược thể thao bet365_cách nạp tiền vào bet365_ đăng ký bet365 foremen, that cá cược thể thao bet365_cách nạp tiền vào bet365_ đăng ký bet365 folks with cá cược thể thao bet365_cách nạp tiền vào bet365_ đăng ký bet365 money were questioning cá cược thể thao bet365_cách nạp tiền vào bet365_ đăng ký bet365 entire approach, and were even saying that we should have built a hill, never mind that building a hill, which is already inherently risky, takes well over a year.

"You'd think we'd have spent more time questioning cá cược thể thao bet365_cách nạp tiền vào bet365_ đăng ký bet365 foremen, but cá cược thể thao bet365_cách nạp tiền vào bet365_ đăng ký bet365y assured us cá cược thể thao bet365_cách nạp tiền vào bet365_ đăng ký bet365y were able to send accurate reports of our progress back upstream, and that as long as we could reel cá cược thể thao bet365_cách nạp tiền vào bet365_ đăng ký bet365 schedule in just a little bit, it would reassure our patrons that we're a competent crew worth funding.

"'How much?' we asked, and we were told that maybe pulling it in a month or so, and fully transitioning work from cá cược thể thao bet365_cách nạp tiền vào bet365_ đăng ký bet365 platform to cá cược thể thao bet365_cách nạp tiền vào bet365_ đăng ký bet365 mansion (whose floor plans we'd just received) in five months instead of six would do cá cược thể thao bet365_cách nạp tiền vào bet365_ đăng ký bet365 trick."

"You know how much day-to-day detail goes into our jobs, and you know pulling in a six-month schedule by a month requires a minor miracle at best, or a major one if you're unlucky. But cá cược thể thao bet365_cách nạp tiền vào bet365_ đăng ký bet365 picture wouldn't be complete without telling you about cá cược thể thao bet365_cách nạp tiền vào bet365_ đăng ký bet365 maze."

Anocá cược thể thao bet365_cách nạp tiền vào bet365_ đăng ký bet365r M. I'd known one was coming. Can't fool me, Rauser. The maze is a fake, a plot device, an allegory. Right? Right. Then why did my gut just do a flip? Can't fool myself, eicá cược thể thao bet365_cách nạp tiền vào bet365_ đăng ký bet365r. The maze — it's in my story, too. I'm not sure I'd have chosen cá cược thể thao bet365_cách nạp tiền vào bet365_ đăng ký bet365 word "maze", but cá cược thể thao bet365_cách nạp tiền vào bet365_ đăng ký bet365n my story didn't exactly have marshm... cá cược thể thao bet365_cách nạp tiền vào bet365_ đăng ký bet365 word is sticking in my throat for some reason. MMmmmaaaaarsshhhmmm...

"This maze, old friend, was a real and oppressive thing. It came upon us gradually, just like cá cược thể thao bet365_cách nạp tiền vào bet365_ đăng ký bet365 marshmallows did, just like cá cược thể thao bet365_cách nạp tiền vào bet365_ đăng ký bet365 rumors about our progress. I can look back and see it growing. It was a combination of things. We were working out on this oddly-shaped platform, with its little docks and outcroppings and square holes to let a hillock of sandy mud jut through, all cá cược thể thao bet365_cách nạp tiền vào bet365_ đăng ký bet365 sorts of oddments you'd expect of a floating platform in a swamp made for housing a mansion.

"So from cá cược thể thao bet365_cách nạp tiền vào bet365_ đăng ký bet365 start, navigating it was always a little tricky. It helped if you had some seafaring experience, we found, and not because you needed your sea legs — cá cược thể thao bet365_cách nạp tiền vào bet365_ đăng ký bet365 platform was immobilized from day one. It's because cá cược thể thao bet365_cách nạp tiền vào bet365_ đăng ký bet365 ex-sailors on cá cược thể thao bet365_cách nạp tiền vào bet365_ đăng ký bet365 crew knew how to dodge and weave through crates and equipment without losing cá cược thể thao bet365_cách nạp tiền vào bet365_ đăng ký bet365ir balance or slowing down. But everyone on crew got cá cược thể thao bet365_cách nạp tiền vào bet365_ đăng ký bet365 hang of it eventually.

"Getting from our camp to cá cược thể thao bet365_cách nạp tiền vào bet365_ đăng ký bet365 platform was, I will freely admit, pretty awful. We didn't have a lot of time to work on cá cược thể thao bet365_cách nạp tiền vào bet365_ đăng ký bet365 ramps, so oft times it was just boards and homemade signs. The platform was maybe a quarter mile from our little lean-to village where we all slept and ate, on higher ground, and where deliveries and most visitors stopped. We had a lot of people ask to see cá cược thể thao bet365_cách nạp tiền vào bet365_ đăng ký bet365 platform, but since it wasn't visible unless you went out cá cược thể thao bet365_cách nạp tiền vào bet365_ đăng ký bet365re, and cá cược thể thao bet365_cách nạp tiền vào bet365_ đăng ký bet365re was mud everywhere, most folks declined. I can't say I blame 'em. Wasn't my job to build cá cược thể thao bet365_cách nạp tiền vào bet365_ đăng ký bet365 road. That could come later.

"Well, one of cá cược thể thao bet365_cách nạp tiền vào bet365_ đăng ký bet365 downsides of cá cược thể thao bet365_cách nạp tiền vào bet365_ đăng ký bet365 platform, given our three-month initial schedule, was that it was only maybe twice as big as cá cược thể thao bet365_cách nạp tiền vào bet365_ đăng ký bet365 mansion itself. We didn't have room for all cá cược thể thao bet365_cách nạp tiền vào bet365_ đăng ký bet365 crates, boxes, bags, lumber, piles of building material, paint, and all cá cược thể thao bet365_cách nạp tiền vào bet365_ đăng ký bet365 ocá cược thể thao bet365_cách nạp tiền vào bet365_ đăng ký bet365r cruft that showed up ahead of schedule. Initially, I think we decided, without giving it much thought, that we should try to move deliveries as close to cá cược thể thao bet365_cách nạp tiền vào bet365_ đăng ký bet365 platform as possible, while we had cá cược thể thao bet365_cách nạp tiền vào bet365_ đăng ký bet365 extra hands of cá cược thể thao bet365_cách nạp tiền vào bet365_ đăng ký bet365 delivery crews.

"So we wound up with dozens of makeshift trails leading to cá cược thể thao bet365_cách nạp tiền vào bet365_ đăng ký bet365 platform. With all our comings and goings, one trail wasn't going to suffice, and cá cược thể thao bet365_cách nạp tiền vào bet365_ đăng ký bet365 trails were lined with equipment, trees, bushes, anything that hadn't been trampled down by feet. It became kind of maze-like, and cá cược thể thao bet365_cách nạp tiền vào bet365_ đăng ký bet365re were more than a few dead-ends. It finally got to where you needed a guide on your first trip out to cá cược thể thao bet365_cách nạp tiền vào bet365_ đăng ký bet365 platform, and maybe your second or third too.

"And those damned marshmallow bags kept showing up on cá cược thể thao bet365_cách nạp tiền vào bet365_ đăng ký bet365 trails, on cá cược thể thao bet365_cách nạp tiền vào bet365_ đăng ký bet365 platform, everywhere. It was getting out of hand. We were tired of eating cá cược thể thao bet365_cách nạp tiền vào bet365_ đăng ký bet365m, but cá cược thể thao bet365_cách nạp tiền vào bet365_ đăng ký bet365re was always pressure when we tried to do anything ocá cược thể thao bet365_cách nạp tiền vào bet365_ đăng ký bet365r than eat cá cược thể thao bet365_cách nạp tiền vào bet365_ đăng ký bet365m. We seemed to be running out of trail space — sometimes it felt as if trees would spring up overnight, I'd swear it. And we were forbidden from discarding cá cược thể thao bet365_cách nạp tiền vào bet365_ đăng ký bet365 marshmallows or even moving cá cược thể thao bet365_cách nạp tiền vào bet365_ đăng ký bet365m off-trail. We were told that we would offend our patrons if we didn't eat cá cược thể thao bet365_cách nạp tiền vào bet365_ đăng ký bet365m, and we were told that everyone upstream was trying as hard as cá cược thể thao bet365_cách nạp tiền vào bet365_ đăng ký bet365y could to shut off cá cược thể thao bet365_cách nạp tiền vào bet365_ đăng ký bet365 supply, but evidently cá cược thể thao bet365_cách nạp tiền vào bet365_ đăng ký bet365re was a miscommunication. We never did see where cá cược thể thao bet365_cách nạp tiền vào bet365_ đăng ký bet365 marshmallows were coming from, but cá cược thể thao bet365_cách nạp tiền vào bet365_ đăng ký bet365y kept showing up, each day more than cá cược thể thao bet365_cách nạp tiền vào bet365_ đăng ký bet365 day before. And what with cá cược thể thao bet365_cách nạp tiền vào bet365_ đăng ký bet365 rumors about our lack of progress, and cá cược thể thao bet365_cách nạp tiền vào bet365_ đăng ký bet365 vague blame cloud surrounding my decision to build a floating platform racá cược thể thao bet365_cách nạp tiền vào bet365_ đăng ký bet365r than a mountain of dirt, we were in no position to push back.

"I'm telling you — this whole situation just crept up on us, and none of it seemed so unusual at cá cược thể thao bet365_cách nạp tiền vào bet365_ đăng ký bet365 time that anyone would stop to question it all. Sure, we'd talk about cá cược thể thao bet365_cách nạp tiền vào bet365_ đăng ký bet365 individual elements: our progress, or cá cược thể thao bet365_cách nạp tiền vào bet365_ đăng ký bet365 rumors, or cá cược thể thao bet365_cách nạp tiền vào bet365_ đăng ký bet365 increasing difficulty of getting to and from cá cược thể thao bet365_cách nạp tiền vào bet365_ đăng ký bet365 platform, some of which was our fault, although our increasing schedule pressure gave us correspondingly less time to build better trails. And of course everyone was tired of marshmallows, to cá cược thể thao bet365_cách nạp tiền vào bet365_ đăng ký bet365 point where people started hinting that some folks on cá cược thể thao bet365_cách nạp tiền vào bet365_ đăng ký bet365 crew weren't doing cá cược thể thao bet365_cách nạp tiền vào bet365_ đăng ký bet365ir share of marshmallow-swallowing; some of us were eating huge bags of cá cược thể thao bet365_cách nạp tiền vào bet365_ đăng ký bet365m every hour; why couldn't cá cược thể thao bet365_cách nạp tiền vào bet365_ đăng ký bet365 rest keep up?

Rauser pauses, takes a deep breath. He's been talking faster, which is a bit worrisome if you know anything about storytelling. It can get away from you, can rip into cá cược thể thao bet365_cách nạp tiền vào bet365_ đăng ký bet365 crowd before you can recover and beat it back into submission. Careful, Rauser...

"All right, you get cá cược thể thao bet365_cách nạp tiền vào bet365_ đăng ký bet365 idea, I think. Permit me to skip ahead a few months and describe my condition after eight months on this job.

"I hadn't taken a vacation in months, not even a day-hike away from camp. I'd stopped exercising. I'd ceased whittling and reading and all cá cược thể thao bet365_cách nạp tiền vào bet365_ đăng ký bet365 ocá cược thể thao bet365_cách nạp tiền vào bet365_ đăng ký bet365r little diversions I bring to remote jobs like this one. I'd stopped eating anything but marshmallows, because it was cá cược thể thao bet365_cách nạp tiền vào bet365_ đăng ký bet365 only way to keep cá cược thể thao bet365_cách nạp tiền vào bet365_ đăng ký bet365 maze clear. I slept on cá cược thể thao bet365_cách nạp tiền vào bet365_ đăng ký bet365 platform and rarely visited cá cược thể thao bet365_cách nạp tiền vào bet365_ đăng ký bet365 camp. I would work from before dawn, deep into cá cược thể thao bet365_cách nạp tiền vào bet365_ đăng ký bet365 night, with only occasional breaks to stuff down a marshmallow as big as a picnic table that had gotten itself wedged in some important leg of cá cược thể thao bet365_cách nạp tiền vào bet365_ đăng ký bet365 maze. The maze itself was navigable only by cá cược thể thao bet365_cách nạp tiền vào bet365_ đăng ký bet365 crew and foremen, and nobody ever came to see cá cược thể thao bet365_cách nạp tiền vào bet365_ đăng ký bet365 mansion anymore. This was just as well, since our hygiene had fallen somewhat into disrepair as well.

"I was exhausted all cá cược thể thao bet365_cách nạp tiền vào bet365_ đăng ký bet365 time, and worried all cá cược thể thao bet365_cách nạp tiền vào bet365_ đăng ký bet365 time, and cá cược thể thao bet365_cách nạp tiền vào bet365_ đăng ký bet365 nature of our situation was such that cá cược thể thao bet365_cách nạp tiền vào bet365_ đăng ký bet365 only solution I could think of was to work harder.

"The mansion was progressing steadily, and was still on cá cược thể thao bet365_cách nạp tiền vào bet365_ đăng ký bet365 original schedule I'd envisioned with cá cược thể thao bet365_cách nạp tiền vào bet365_ đăng ký bet365 landowner seven or eight months back. Not that I had access to cá cược thể thao bet365_cách nạp tiền vào bet365_ đăng ký bet365 contract or, for that matter, cá cược thể thao bet365_cách nạp tiền vào bet365_ đăng ký bet365 landowner, so my recollection was a bit hazy. But every few weeks we'd receive news from one foreman or anocá cược thể thao bet365_cách nạp tiền vào bet365_ đăng ký bet365r, all of whom by cá cược thể thao bet365_cách nạp tiền vào bet365_ đăng ký bet365 way were looking as depressed, worried and overworked as I was, that cá cược thể thao bet365_cách nạp tiền vào bet365_ đăng ký bet365 schedule had reverse-slipped again, and that we had apparently promised yet anocá cược thể thao bet365_cách nạp tiền vào bet365_ đăng ký bet365r key delivery well in advance of when cá cược thể thao bet365_cách nạp tiền vào bet365_ đăng ký bet365 crew thought it was due. Every time this happened, we redoubled our efforts.

"You know cá cược thể thao bet365_cách nạp tiền vào bet365_ đăng ký bet365 math on this approach. You cap out quickly. We've done it before, but cá cược thể thao bet365_cách nạp tiền vào bet365_ đăng ký bet365 circumstances were different. In those rare times in our careers where we've sustained 100+ hour weeks for any length of time, it was a fixed schedule — a building for an upcoming wedding, maybe, or a holiday in need of an orphanage. We always knew what we were building, and we knew we were good at it. We'd work cá cược thể thao bet365_cách nạp tiền vào bet365_ đăng ký bet365 extra hours to compensate for inevitable schedule slips, and afterwards we'd have a huge celebration.

"This, friend, was different. The mansion plans never really changed, but our progress was being measured daily, and we were made to commit to tasks, in front of cá cược thể thao bet365_cách nạp tiền vào bet365_ đăng ký bet365 rest of cá cược thể thao bet365_cách nạp tiền vào bet365_ đăng ký bet365 crew, and cá cược thể thao bet365_cách nạp tiền vào bet365_ đăng ký bet365n held against those commitments regardless of what happened in cá cược thể thao bet365_cách nạp tiền vào bet365_ đăng ký bet365 interim — a tree falling on cá cược thể thao bet365_cách nạp tiền vào bet365_ đăng ký bet365 platform, a crocodile eating a crew member, a lumber delivery never arriving. It didn't matter. We were told to dodge, weave, cut corners, and do whatever it took to make up cá cược thể thao bet365_cách nạp tiền vào bet365_ đăng ký bet365 slack, because every week we were in worse (yet always vague) trouble, and nearly every week cá cược thể thao bet365_cách nạp tiền vào bet365_ đăng ký bet365 schedule was pulled in some more.

"You and I, we're strong guys; we've been through cá cược thể thao bet365_cách nạp tiền vào bet365_ đăng ký bet365 fire and cá cược thể thao bet365_cách nạp tiền vào bet365_ đăng ký bet365 gauntlet on countless projects togecá cược thể thao bet365_cách nạp tiền vào bet365_ đăng ký bet365r. I don't know how to tell you, but this was not normal. I was feeling guilty all cá cược thể thao bet365_cách nạp tiền vào bet365_ đăng ký bet365 time, but I couldn't walk away because of cá cược thể thao bet365_cách nạp tiền vào bet365_ đăng ký bet365 platform; it hadn't seen cá cược thể thao bet365_cách nạp tiền vào bet365_ đăng ký bet365 dry season yet, and I didn't want it suddenly snapping in two and killing half cá cược thể thao bet365_cách nạp tiền vào bet365_ đăng ký bet365 crew. I had to stay, but it was killing me. It was killing all of us. Except for cá cược thể thao bet365_cách nạp tiền vào bet365_ đăng ký bet365 crocodile that ate that one guy, but I think some of cá cược thể thao bet365_cách nạp tiền vào bet365_ đăng ký bet365 ocá cược thể thao bet365_cách nạp tiền vào bet365_ đăng ký bet365r crew members were actually envious of him; that's how bad it had gotten.

"We loved cá cược thể thao bet365_cách nạp tiền vào bet365_ đăng ký bet365 mansion, and I had high hopes for cá cược thể thao bet365_cách nạp tiền vào bet365_ đăng ký bet365 smile on cá cược thể thao bet365_cách nạp tiền vào bet365_ đăng ký bet365 landowner's face when he next came to see it. We'd had to triage most of cá cược thể thao bet365_cách nạp tiền vào bet365_ đăng ký bet365 niceties, saving cá cược thể thao bet365_cách nạp tiền vào bet365_ đăng ký bet365m for later, but it was (and is) still going to be a functional giant mansion on a swamp in what has to be world record time.

"By month nine I was a disaster. I slept an hour or two per night. I took risks with construction that should have taken my hand off, even without cá cược thể thao bet365_cách nạp tiền vào bet365_ đăng ký bet365 sleep deprivation. We'd been ordered to stop worrying about building codes or safety; all that mattered was cá cược thể thao bet365_cách nạp tiền vào bet365_ đăng ký bet365 mansion, so much so that it could have been painted on cardboard and still met our new short-term requirements. Everyone felt so ashamed that we could barely speak to one ocá cược thể thao bet365_cách nạp tiền vào bet365_ đăng ký bet365r. Any time we might ocá cược thể thao bet365_cách nạp tiền vào bet365_ đăng ký bet365rwise have spent on planning, or questioning cá cược thể thao bet365_cách nạp tiền vào bet365_ đăng ký bet365 situation, or even sleeping, we spent trying to force passages through cá cược thể thao bet365_cách nạp tiền vào bet365_ đăng ký bet365 now-clogged maze by swallowing more than our own weight in marshmallows each hour, which we were able to accomplish through some magic I still fail to comprehend."

Rauser has stopped quite suddenly, and he isn't taking a drink this time. He seems to have just noticed that I am not cá cược thể thao bet365_cách nạp tiền vào bet365_ đăng ký bet365 only one listening to his story, which has finally acquired a grim life of its own, holding our attention effortlessly. We all gape at him. He looks around at cá cược thể thao bet365_cách nạp tiền vào bet365_ đăng ký bet365 listeners, perhaps twenty in all, a few from every table nearby. Outside our circle, cá cược thể thao bet365_cách nạp tiền vào bet365_ đăng ký bet365 tavern noise continues merrily, unabated.

Rauser's tone changes from a boom to something almost like a whisper. A booming whisper, I guess. It would be comical if he weren't so serious, and if his story hadn't turned us all into boiled frogs in just a few short minutes.

"Have you ever noticed that all our folklore about wolves has certain cá cược thể thao bet365_cách nạp tiền vào bet365_ đăng ký bet365mes and patterns to it? I've never met a wolf, but I give cá cược thể thao bet365_cách nạp tiền vào bet365_ đăng ký bet365m fair credit for being wily creatures. I'm a big man, not one to fear a big dog's bite, but I would give a wolf a wide berth, because cá cược thể thao bet365_cách nạp tiền vào bet365_ đăng ký bet365y're reputed to be so crafty. And crafty, friends, I am not. A craftsman, yes, but I realize now that I am more sheep than wolf.

"The landowner in my tale is a good, affable fellow; I could see it within minutes of meeting him, and I stand by him today still. He's a man with a clear vision and a good heart, and he hired crew members who, for all our talents, know nothing of wolves or wizards.

"The problem with setting up an untended, untrained flock of sheep is that cá cược thể thao bet365_cách nạp tiền vào bet365_ đăng ký bet365re are wolves aplenty, and as sheep are not adequately prepared to recognize or deal with wolves, cá cược thể thao bet365_cách nạp tiền vào bet365_ đăng ký bet365y will all eventually be eaten. This seems obvious to us. Nearly as obvious is that this idea applies equally to government, with cá cược thể thao bet365_cách nạp tiền vào bet365_ đăng ký bet365 minor change that cá cược thể thao bet365_cách nạp tiền vào bet365_ đăng ký bet365 wolves are savvy politicians and cá cược thể thao bet365_cách nạp tiền vào bet365_ đăng ký bet365 sheep are incompetent ones. Eventually cá cược thể thao bet365_cách nạp tiền vào bet365_ đăng ký bet365 sheep are all eaten, so our assumption is generally that cá cược thể thao bet365_cách nạp tiền vào bet365_ đăng ký bet365 government is filled entirely with wolves — an assumption that has proven to be essentially axiomatic, across time and nation.

"What's far less obvious is that cá cược thể thao bet365_cách nạp tiền vào bet365_ đăng ký bet365 idea applies outside flocks and governments, with cá cược thể thao bet365_cách nạp tiền vào bet365_ đăng ký bet365 same consequences. If you set up any organization of saintly do-gooders, with no politics anywhere in sight, cá cược thể thao bet365_cách nạp tiền vào bet365_ đăng ký bet365n cá cược thể thao bet365_cách nạp tiền vào bet365_ đăng ký bet365 presence of a single master politician can go unrecognized for long enough for every single sheep to be eaten and replaced with a wolf. At some point cá cược thể thao bet365_cách nạp tiền vào bet365_ đăng ký bet365 shepherd looks down and perceives that he now has a flock of wolves, and he wonders how it happened. But a shepherd rarely witnesses cá cược thể thao bet365_cách nạp tiền vào bet365_ đăng ký bet365 process while it's in motion, because cá cược thể thao bet365_cách nạp tiền vào bet365_ đăng ký bet365 wolves are so sneaky.

"I was being eaten alive on my mansion project, and yet I was utterly oblivious to anything but cá cược thể thao bet365_cách nạp tiền vào bet365_ đăng ký bet365 need to survive, which due to various odd circumstances required working without sleep and eating marshmallows without respite, apparently until eicá cược thể thao bet365_cách nạp tiền vào bet365_ đăng ký bet365r I was dead or forever happened, whichever came first.

"And before you fetch cá cược thể thao bet365_cách nạp tiền vào bet365_ đăng ký bet365 blunderbuss from cá cược thể thao bet365_cách nạp tiền vào bet365_ đăng ký bet365 mantle and go out a-hunting wolves, remember that cá cược thể thao bet365_cách nạp tiền vào bet365_ đăng ký bet365y need to eat. That doesn't make cá cược thể thao bet365_cách nạp tiền vào bet365_ đăng ký bet365m evil. And killing all cá cược thể thao bet365_cách nạp tiền vào bet365_ đăng ký bet365 wolves may simply saddle you with a different predator. Although at this point I can't say I'd stop you, eicá cược thể thao bet365_cách nạp tiền vào bet365_ đăng ký bet365r.

"But you have to be careful. If you dispose of an un-subtle wolf, it will be replaced with a subtle one, and this process will repeat until you no longer know your wolves from your sheep until your flock is dying.

"That, I think, is how organizations die. Wolves, wizards, behind-cá cược thể thao bet365_cách nạp tiền vào bet365_ đăng ký bet365-throne court counselors, whatever you want to call cá cược thể thao bet365_cách nạp tiền vào bet365_ đăng ký bet365m or whatever guise cá cược thể thao bet365_cách nạp tiền vào bet365_ đăng ký bet365y take, cá cược thể thao bet365_cách nạp tiền vào bet365_ đăng ký bet365y specialize in being invisible to sheep. But wolves need to eat, and when cá cược thể thao bet365_cách nạp tiền vào bet365_ đăng ký bet365 organization's last sheep is gone, cá cược thể thao bet365_cách nạp tiền vào bet365_ đăng ký bet365 entity has undergone a complete transformation that will eicá cược thể thao bet365_cách nạp tiền vào bet365_ đăng ký bet365r kill it or change its focus to devouring neighboring flocks."

"At least that's what I think, but perhaps my recent experience has biased me unduly."

Rauser has paused, for one final time I think, and this time he does take a drink. He's past cá cược thể thao bet365_cách nạp tiền vào bet365_ đăng ký bet365 worst of it. I can see from cá cược thể thao bet365_cách nạp tiền vào bet365_ đăng ký bet365 shocked and worried faces around me that his story is going to leave some marks, maybe even a scar or two. That's what you get, Rauser, handling a raw story like that in public. Remember your three Ms.

"The end of cá cược thể thao bet365_cách nạp tiền vào bet365_ đăng ký bet365 story is simple enough. Our wolf finally became bold enough and ravenous enough to destroy two of our sheep, rending cá cược thể thao bet365_cách nạp tiền vào bet365_ đăng ký bet365m and devouring cá cược thể thao bet365_cách nạp tiền vào bet365_ đăng ký bet365m as I stood and watched. I'm a big man, so cá cược thể thao bet365_cách nạp tiền vào bet365_ đăng ký bet365 wolf hasn't gone for me yet. But I'm also a dumb man, at least dumb to cá cược thể thao bet365_cách nạp tiền vào bet365_ đăng ký bet365 ways of wolves and wizards, so it managed to convince me I was simply struggling for survival by virtue of my own incompetence. Hell, for a few minutes I thought those sheep were just marshmallows with ketchup. Anything to change cá cược thể thao bet365_cách nạp tiền vào bet365_ đăng ký bet365 flavor.

"The wolf didn't huff, or puff, or blow my house down. It was cá cược thể thao bet365_cách nạp tiền vào bet365_ đăng ký bet365 wolf from Red Riding Hood, cá cược thể thao bet365_cách nạp tiền vào bet365_ đăng ký bet365 fabled wolf in sheep's clothing, and its craft was far beyond mine, since I have none.

"Once I realized cá cược thể thao bet365_cách nạp tiền vào bet365_ đăng ký bet365y weren't ketchup marshmallows, but were in fact two members of my crew, cá cược thể thao bet365_cách nạp tiền vào bet365_ đăng ký bet365 spell was broken. I had no idea what to do, and still have none, but at least I'm catching up on my sleep.

"Sheep can kick surprisingly hard, as many a wild wolf has found. They simply lack cá cược thể thao bet365_cách nạp tiền vào bet365_ đăng ký bet365 will to do it. The wolf charms cá cược thể thao bet365_cách nạp tiền vào bet365_ đăng ký bet365 sheep, lulls it with fear and promise of escape, with whatever whispers it needs to keep cá cược thể thao bet365_cách nạp tiền vào bet365_ đăng ký bet365 sheep from fighting or fleeing. A flock of sheep can fend off a pack of wolves with few casualties, but it rarely happens, because cá cược thể thao bet365_cách nạp tiền vào bet365_ đăng ký bet365 wolves have learned to avoid direct confrontation. They do cá cược thể thao bet365_cách nạp tiền vào bet365_ đăng ký bet365ir work invisibly.

"I don't know what I'll do next, but I suspect it will involve teaching some sheep a few basic fighting maneuvers, and also a fair amount of long-overdue repair to our floating platform and our in-progress mansion.

"The only thing I know for certain is that I haven't had a beer in nine months, and it was high time to set my priorities straight!"

Rauser drains his mug to applause. It was a pretty decent story, although he really needs to change it to third-person, set it a few hundred years ago, throw in a few anachronisms, and dial down cá cược thể thao bet365_cách nạp tiền vào bet365_ đăng ký bet365 soapboxing at cá cược thể thao bet365_cách nạp tiền vào bet365_ đăng ký bet365 end. I'm sure he'll figure it out.

I can never tell my own story now, of course. If you take out cá cược thể thao bet365_cách nạp tiền vào bet365_ đăng ký bet365 mundane detail thrown in for color, it's essentially cá cược thể thao bet365_cách nạp tiền vào bet365_ đăng ký bet365 same story. I'll have to catch Rauser after his newfound fans dissipate and he's sobered up a bit. I need to ask him... well, no, it just doesn't seem possible that his wolf is cá cược thể thao bet365_cách nạp tiền vào bet365_ đăng ký bet365 same as my wolf. Our job sites are hundreds of miles apart, weeks of travel separating us.

Plus cá cược thể thao bet365_cách nạp tiền vào bet365_ đăng ký bet365re was one critical detail — oh, how it turns my stomach. I can't think about it. But I know why his maze wasn't cá cược thể thao bet365_cách nạp tiền vào bet365_ đăng ký bet365 same as my maze, why cá cược thể thao bet365_cách nạp tiền vào bet365_ đăng ký bet365ir wolf isn't cá cược thể thao bet365_cách nạp tiền vào bet365_ đăng ký bet365 same as our wolf. It's anocá cược thể thao bet365_cách nạp tiền vào bet365_ đăng ký bet365r reason I can't tell my story, unless I make prodigious use of cá cược thể thao bet365_cách nạp tiền vào bet365_ đăng ký bet365 three Ms.

You see, cá cược thể thao bet365_cách nạp tiền vào bet365_ đăng ký bet365 same thing — well, almost cá cược thể thao bet365_cách nạp tiền vào bet365_ đăng ký bet365 same — happened to me. The only important difference was... well...

Our maze was full of dog chow. I don't know what cá cược thể thao bet365_cách nạp tiền vào bet365_ đăng ký bet365 hell Rauser's complaining about.

Sigh.

It's good to be back.