Xi the Prince, Putin the Spy and the Mullah were sitting on the beach at the Iranian Caspian resort at Ramsar. They were cheerless and alarmed due to the identical nightmare the three had been experiencing – the three of them in a leaking boat adrift in the stormy ocean. It was their view that somebody had put a spell on them and the US , as the common enemy of the three, was the prime suspect. Xi, the tech savvy and expert at ferreting out the dissidents on the internet, had been trying to smoke out the source of the spell using various strings and filters on Google. He had banned Google in China but it was available in Iran sometimes, at speed as indifferent as Iran’s Mullahs are about the plight of Iranian women.
After fifteen minutes of tapping and exasperation, Xi looked up from his phone. What does this mean for us, “We are not bound by traditions from other times and other cultures and owe no allegiance to any person or power greater than the Divinity manifest through our own being … We acknowledge a depth of power far greater than that is apparent to the average person. Because it is far greater than ordinary it is sometimes called ‘supernatural’.” That is almost my motto in life, said Putin. Mine too, echoed the Mullah just before Xi repeated the same words. Isn’t it spooky, wondered Putin. I never shared it with anyone; how did it get on the internet? Putin was tempted to stretch his hand to read it for himself on Xi’s phone but checked the impulse; dictators don’t like anyone taking a peek into their phone. Putin, instead, asked Xi about the devil who had posted it on the web.  Xi dropped the bombshell, “It is from ‘The Thirteen Principles of Belief’ of ..” Xi’s voice trailed as the other two necks craned forward for the source. Yes, please go on, implored the Mullah. “Of … the American Council of Witches’,” Xi blurted out to take the burden off his chest.
It was Putin who finally spoke after the three had been sitting shell-shocked, for what seemed an eternity. “So that is how the spell found us and latched on to us, much like the Covid virus latching on to human cells.” Xi shifted uneasily in his chair. Any mention of the virus always left a bad taste in his mouth. China was just conducting a noble experiment that had gone awry. His scientists had assured him that one of the properties embedded by them in the virus was that it will read Xi’s thoughts and obey, like the rest of China does. It did obey for sometime as it killed millions around the world and Xi mocked those countries. Then something unexpected happened and it stopped obeying, coming to haunt China with a vengeance. What if the Chinese people someday stopped obeying him? That thought made Xi shiver and watching this even the Mullah pulled the shawl close around him against the cool sea breeze. The fear of people disobeying was real and immediate for the Mullah with violent demonstrations all over his land. Putin is immune to cold in addition to being immune to criticism. He had been photographed dipping in a pool surrounded by snow. All spies have to go through that during training. Yet, the sound of the surf breaking on the shore was not soothing to the group already disturbed by the threatening sound of the ocean in the  nightmare. The Mullah was apprehensive that the blame will come on him for choosing this cold, disconcerting venue.
The Mullah addressed Putin to distract from Xi’s discomfort, “You’re right about its latching on to us. Since Biden cannot do anything about us, he has stooped so low as to use witches against us. I know he uses them because some of our countrymen based in the US told me that he had used the witches against Trump and later to protect his son Biden from Republicans’ intense attempts to nab him.” True, agreed Putin as he scrolled through his phone and found a news from BBC of February 25, 2017. “Everybody trusts BBC” said Putin. “Even Gorbachev said he trusted only BBC as he sat in his dacha destroying my USSR.” Putin wiped the tears of that painful memory and read the headline: “Witches cast ‘mass spell’ against Donald Trump.”
According to the news, the spell required use of “a stubby orange candle, an unflattering picture of Mr Trump, and a Tower tarot card.” The incantation was interpreted as “ripping the bullhorn from his hands, smashing his phone so he can’t tweet, tying him up, and throwing him in a dark basement where he can’t hurt anyone.” Usually these incantations end with “So mote it be?” The witches saw the power of Trump and changed it to “You’re fired!”  that being a signal to burn the picture of Trump. Putin elaborated, “Democrats rejoiced and Biden is a Democrat.”
Crestfallen, the three retired to their suits. They were angry, not only with the US, its witches and with Biden, they were angry with each other. They decided to take it off their chests and each sent long messages to the other two. Sitting on an oil tanker a few miles from the coast, US agents were monitoring every stroke on the keyboards of this trio’s phones.
(In the next episode – Friends without limits write to each other)

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