In return, they gave me a mantra to chant several times daily. It was, they informed me, from an ancient Latin work of great mystical import. It begins like this:
Centrum est obscurusSo far, so good. I was always an indifferent Latin scholar, but I figured that that meant something like "The center is dark, the darkness is breathing." (Actually, on closer inspection I believe it means "The center is dark, you [plural] are breathing the darkness." Also, the first line should properly be "Centrum obscurus est," as Latin sentences are usually ordered subject-object-verb, not subject-verb-object like English. But now I'm just showing off, as is my wont.) What dark centers, etc. might have to do with world peace is anyone's guess, but it is not for me to meddle in the ways of magicians, especially not magicians with the technical savvy to peddle turnkey e-incantation solutions.
Then came this:
Este scris, aceasta putere esteLike I said, my Latin is indifferent, and all I could tell was that there was something about writing in there, and something else about shame. But "al flinctei" and "Te invoc," while they do look Latinate, didn't look like actual Latin to me. My suspicions came to a head with the next two lines, which is where it went all to hell:
drepul poporuil meu dea conduce
Nici mort nici al flinctei
Te invoc, spirit al trecerii
Reda trupului ce separa omul de animalNow, even if "magic glob de cristal" hadn't been enough of a tipoff, I know that there is no letter j in Latin. Its presence here is explained by the fact that this part of the incantation is actually Romanian. How do I know that? Because I Googled it. It turns out that not only is half of the incantation Romanian, but the whole thing was cribbed from various episodes of "Buffy the Vampire Slayer." And I was all set for that world peace, too.
Cu ajutoral acestui magic glob de cristal
This evening, after receiving e-mail advertising sensational spring savings at tupperware.com, I was suddenly reminded of an e-mail account I had set up months ago for the purpose of irritating spammers with. I went to check on it and sure enough, the inbox contained about five hundred spam e-mails. I had set up this account as Becker's brother Eric, so a lot of the subject lines contained his name. It had been inserted there, of course, by some very simple mass-mailing program. Machines fabricating intimacy with a man who doesn't exist.
But Eric lives in my head, so in a way I guess the e-mail actually did reach him. It had subjects like "Eric Becker, how much is your family worth to you?"
"Probably nothing," says Eric. "My parents kind of disowned me when I was eighteen, and my sister is a schizoid personality whom I haven't spoken to in twenty years. They could all be dead for all I know. But thank you for asking."
Total word count: 68,153