A Map of Far Places

A Map of Far Places

Status: In Progress

Genre: Action and Adventure

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Status: In Progress

Genre: Action and Adventure

Houses:

Summary

Jim Potter is dreaming of an adventure, be careful what you wish for, Jim.
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Summary

Jim Potter is dreaming of an adventure, be careful what you wish for, Jim.

Chapter1 (v.1) - Jim's Dream

Author Chapter Note

Jim's Dream

Chapter Content - ver.1

Submitted: March 20, 2017

Reads: 83

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Chapter Content - ver.1

Submitted: March 20, 2017

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James Theodore Potter was a solitary man.  At 27, he had never experienced a close relationship, had never gone on a “second” date, mostly because he never had many “first” dates, and he had very few friends.  He was a loner.  His parents were a model of the middle-class; his father was a technician at the local telephone company, his mother a secretary at a local elementary school.  Jim was an only child.  He was a good student, often tutored by one or both of his parents.  After graduating from high school with a 3.95 GPA, he attended a local community college studying business administration.  With help from his father's union connections he was awarded a two-year scholarship by the local phone company which paid his tuition.  To pay for books and other expenses he got a job as a night janitor at a medical equipment company in Des Moines, Iowa.  It was a good job but only paid minimum wage.  Study and classes all day, catch a few hours sleep in the evening and report to work at 11PM  After two years he grew frustrated with the night shift and often found himself daydreaming about a better life.  He finished his Associates degree in Business Administration and started working towards a Bachelor's degree in Marketing.  The course material fascinated him and he grasped the basic concepts easily.  He applied for a sales position at the medical equipment company to get some "real world experience".  This meant that he had to quit his night job, something he never regretted.  Two weeks later he was hired, starting work immediately.  He enjoyed the work and quickly became one of the company’s leading sales representatives, working full time.  His work schedule forced him to cut back some of his classes.  His boss allowed him to adjust his schedule to make it easier to attend classes.  Jim graduated 18 months later with a BA in Marketing and was given a twenty percent raise.

The methods businesses used; marketing plans, production schedules, customer service, corporate goals, and profit and loss constantly fascinated Jim.  He had a very logical and inquisitive mind.  He was a fast learner and an avid reader.  Always asking the difficult questions, most times he already had the answer; “…never allow yourself to be surprised by an answer.” Jim would tell his co-workers.  He thrilled at management’s reaction when he would ask pointed questions; it was like a game to him.  To win an argument with Jim Potter required verifiable, well-presented facts, “…’cause I’m the boss!” would only encourage Jim to press on with even more direct questions.  Through his “game”, he discovered an accounting error that saved the company almost $5 million.  He was salesman of the year in his second year on the job.  One of Jim’s favorite hobbies was watching sci-fi shows and movies and observing the mistakes, improbabilities and inconsistencies that the writers used to make the plot somewhat believable, what Hollywood called “continuity”.

Marketing medical equipment was, in some ways, similar to research.  Jim could spot a need by looking at a company’s public financial reports and their customer service reviews.  He was an expert at finding clues buried in spreadsheets, IRS filings, web site corporate statements, and other public documents.  He would always know exactly what a company needed and what they were looking for before contacting them to schedule a meeting, he always did his homework.

Jim’s sales personality was an act that required a lot of mental and emotional energy.  He was naturally an introvert so he had to become “Mr. Potter” for his sales calls.  This dual personality was easy at first but it was becoming difficult to maintain, often causing periods of deep depression.  He discussed this with his doctor but he refused to resort to any medication, Prozac was recommended, but Jim refused.  He needed the edge for his sales persona and he was afraid that medication could dull that edge.  He found that alcohol helped him through the tougher times but after a DUI arrest last year in Seattle he swore off drinking.  This left him with very few alternatives.  He was beginning to feel trapped in his dual life.  He needed a release, he needed an escape.  Jim Potter was burning out.

Frequent travel had always been a necessity.  The company had divided the global market into territories; Jim’s territory was North America.  When he started selling, it was really rewarding, but after just five years it was beginning to wear him down.  The same sales pitch, over and over again, was getting old, even though it was very successful.  Constant travel and long hours had destroyed what little social life he had enjoyed.  He was successful enough to purchase a home in a quiet little suburb of Des Moines called Carlisle.  He had owned the house for only three years and was seldom there, it was showing signs of neglect.  The lawn was weed infested, landscaping was non-existent, and it was in serious need of a paint job and a roof; the neighbors had started to complain.  Jim was starting to feel the heat and he wished he could just get away from it all for a while.  He needed time to sort things out and get some perspective in his life.  He loved to hunt and fish, it provided some of the solitude he needed to recharge his batteries, but rarely did he have time for it.  Every other week it was the same; fly out on Sunday evening for meetings first thing Monday morning, sales calls all day Tuesday and Wednesday, follow-up meeting Thursday and back home on Friday.  When he wasn’t traveling, he was “chained” to a desk making cold calls and doing research.  He needed some excitement… if only he could see into his future.

In five years on the job Jim had been to every state in the US several times and much of Canada and Mexico.  He very much enjoyed his trips to Mexico; the people, the culture, the relaxed atmosphere, his visits always felt like a vacation.  On one trip to a remote clinic in Mazapa, a small village about an hour outside of Mexico City, he stopped at a local gas station in San José and picked up a map so he could find his way back to the airport.  He threw the map in his sales case but never used it remembering that his cell phone had a recently updated GPS app.  Jim’s appointment that day was with Carlos Hernandez, a friend he had met three years ago who managed several clinics in the local villages as part of a private health-care network.  Carlos had invited Jim into his home in Calpulalpan and made him feel like family.  Carlos’ family drew Jim out and allowed him to relax and become the person he had always wanted to be, friendly and outgoing.  Jim had traveled to Mexico several times in past years and he always made room in his schedule to visit the Hernandez family.

After his first trip to Mexico, Jim signed up for a Spanish language course at the local community college.  The instructor, Hector Ordoñez, was born in Playa Del Carmen on the Mexican Riviera.  Hector talked at length about the Mayan culture and the significance of the ruins spread across the Yucatan.  Twenty minutes of each class was set aside for discussion of Latin-American culture, an important component of learning the language.  Hector’s lectures and the Hernandez’ family hospitality shaped Jim’s fascination and appreciation of the Mexican people and their culture.  It also planted a seed in Jim’s mind that would grow into something that would change his life.

On this trip, Jim found out that Carlos was not only interested in some new equipment for his clinic; he wanted to introduce Jim to a very nice young woman at his company, Maria Lopez, an accountant at the clinic in Calpulalpan.  Jim went along with the introduction and set a dinner date with Maria.  He arrived at the clinic to pick her up and take her to dinner.  The evening was pleasant, the food was good, but there was no chemistry and it ended before it even got started.  She was very pretty but language was a significant obstacle, Maria’s English was just as broken as Jim's Spanish.  Jim’s social inexperience and awkwardness doomed the relationship before it had a chance to develop.  The dinner date was awkward but polite.  Jim talked with Carlos after returning from his dinner date.  “What did I do wrong?” Jim asked.  “No se’, I guess you must try again, mi amigo.” Carlos offered.

Jim closed the sale of a surgical equipment sterilizer for the Mazapa clinic, thanked Carlos for his hospitality, and made his way back to the airport in Mexico City.  While waiting for his flight he stopped at the duty-free mall and was admiring some of the local artisans work.  He was intrigued by a certain piece of Mayan art, which had an inscription on it “Mapa de lugares lejanos” (Map of Far Places).  It was a fascinating piece, an intricate carving in a square piece of stone about 12 inches by 9 inches.  It looked like four fishes in a box with their tails extending outside the box in all four directions.  Just then, final call for his flight was announced so he did not have time to purchase the piece.  He arrived back home that evening after a direct flight into Chicago and a connecting flight to Des Moines.  Carlisle is only about 30 minutes from the Des Moines airport, the airport shuttle dropped him off at home around 8:30 PM.  It was Friday night and he had no plans for tomorrow.  Next week was “cold call marathon” as he called it.

As he was unpacking, he found the map he had picked up at the little gas station in Mexico.  He tossed it on his desk and continued to unpack.  After fixing himself a microwave TV dinner and opening a cold beer, he sat down at the desk to check email and browse the Internet for a while.  He had been gone 5 days and only 15 emails were waiting, one from his Mom inviting him to dinner on Sunday and 14 unsolicited ads.  After deleting the ads, he replied to the dinner invitation, Mom’s cooking was infinitely better than frozen TV dinners.  He noticed the map and took a closer look at it.  It looked old but in remarkably good condition and it looked very similar to the art piece that he saw at the airport in Mexico City.  “Damn, I should have bought that piece.  I will next time I’m there.” he said to himself.  The map had some unusual markings on it and an embossed cover design that looked like a box with four fish tails sticking out of it.  The cover was quite ornate and embossed.  Opening the map produced a small cloud of dust.  He thought it would be a map of Mexico but, at first glance, it did not have any familiar landmarks.  The map showed a nondescript land mass with some slightly familiar markings.  Looking at it closer, he could make out what appeared to be Tulum, Playa Del Carmen and Cancún but not as they are now.  The language used on the map looked like some strange dialect of Spanish.  He could read some of it but there were words he did not understand.  Jim found a dictionary on line, http://www.uqroo.mx/libros/maya/diccionario.pdf, that translates Maya to Spanish and Spanish to Maya.  He soon realized that this was going to be a major research effort just to understand the map.  The towns on the map were small villages at best and there were no roads.  The road from Cancún to Tulum is currently a four-lane highway.  Jim concluded that this was the Yucatan Peninsula of ancient times.  It was a hand drawn map and it was rotated 90 degrees to the left putting East at the top.  East is the most important direction in Mayan Culture, where the sun rises.  The map was covered by many symbols that he did not recognize.  After studying the map for almost two hours, Jim realized that the cover image could be some sort of overlay key.  The embossed image could be separated from its backing and showed to be almost transparent.  When the transparent cover image was placed over the map and aligned with the four compass points of the map, it revealed a set of lines connecting the sites of Mayan ruins and monuments on the Yucatan Peninsula.  The lines corresponded with the ancient roads or ‘sacbeob’.  “Is this a treasure map?” he thought to himself.

Dinner with his parents was very comfortable.  His dad talked of retirement, his mom complained of low pay for teachers.  Jim showed them the map and what he thought it could be.  “What are you going to do about it, son?” his dad asked.  “I don’t know yet.” Jim replied.  “I have to find out more about this map, there are just too many questions and I don’t know where to go for answers.” Jim said as they were finishing up the meal.  His mother was serving ice cream and said “Maybe you need to take a vacation, dear.”  She then deliberately placed an ice cream spoon on the map directly over the coastline where Tulum was located, just a subtle hint.  "Whatever you need to do about this, know that we support you one hundred percent." Jim's parents said at the end of the evening.

He spent the next few days researching the ruins and monuments on the Internet when he was supposed to be researching prospective clients.  His boss was becoming concerned and called Jim into his office.  “What’s going on with you, Jim?” he asked.  “You seem very distracted this week.  Have you made any calls yet?”.  Jim was barely listening; his mind was on the Yucatan.  “I just don’t know, boss.  There is something I need to do and I don’t know how to do it.” Jim said.  “How can I help?” Jim’s boss asked.  “I don’t know that you can, I don’t even know what I need to do.”  Jim left the office and went back to his computer and started looking up things about the Yucatan and the Maya.  He found that there were several mysterious stories of long forgotten treasure buried deep in the jungles of the Yucatan Peninsula.  What had he discovered?  There were many questions and he needed to find answers.  This was no longer a simple curiosity, it had become an obsession.  His mother’s comment about the vacation stuck in his brain.  In Jim’s mind, there was only one-way to get these answers, he had to go to the Yucatan!  As irrational as it seemed when he said it out loud, “I have to go to the Yucatan!”, he could not shake the thought of getting some answers.  Everyone in the office looked at him oddly.  Was he going insane?  Was the job finally pushing him over an emotional cliff?  Was there some kind of spell or curse associated with the map?  Was he being affected by some outside force?  He had a significant amount of unused vacation so making the decision to go was relatively easy, and he had his parent’s “blessing”.  He called his boss and arranged coverage during his vacation.  His boss questioned the short notice but Jim explained it as a “family issue”.  “I’ll go down there for a few days and see what happens” he told himself, unaware of what was to come.


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