Tuesday, November 03, 2009

Toracinia and Crede de Moros - The de Menubal kingdom


Don Vital Hayim de Menubal de Toracinia, whose name was now officially rendered as El Rey de los Reyes Vital Hayim in order to reflect his new self-inflicted kingly status, would soon find out that his choice of land was a fortunate one indeed.

On the very edge of the outcrop, there lived a sort of clan or tribe of rather strange people, who claimed to see visions of horses and snakes and the moon and unicorns dancing around the land.

Today, we would call them schizophrenics and treat them accordingly, but at that time they were either seen as possessed by spirits, or mad. Among them were two older men who claimed to be personalities from earlier times, obscure or perhaps renowned noblemen and squires whose names meant little to their new overlord, Don Hayim Vital de Toracinia.

He found that one of them, a dissheveled, unkempt alcoholic of indeterminate age, inhabited what appeared to be the ruins of an old fortress, and claimed to be "El Defendante del Crede de Moros" - the Defender of the Faith of the Moors. As far as de Menubal was concerned, this meant that the ruins were of an old Moorish castle, and it was time for him to remove the harmless old lunatic and establish himself as "El Defendante Real del Crede de Moros," or the Regal Defender of the Creed of the Moors.

So, the Don deftly dismembered and disposed of the now former inhabitant of the castle, and displaced another squatter, Alfonso de Majnoun, with a duly produced parchment showing that he, Don Hayim Vital de Menubal, was now the Regal Defender of the Creed of the Moors and therefore the only rightful inhabitant of the castle.

He was decent enough to provide the second unfortunate with one of his forged alms cards, and to send him to the nearest Jewish town where he was able to use the cards to obtain food free of charge at the local branch of HyperNebela. Of course that food was paid for by the alms fund of the kehilla, who had never seen this latest arrival before but had to accept him as he could not communicate.

Now, Don Vital Hayim was ready for action as he set out to use the remaining psychotic squatters as free labor to turn the castle into the Grand Palace of Toracinia del Crede de Moros, and to have two slightly more talented and lucid squatters melt down base metal and plate it with adulterated gold before placing it in a hastily manufactured stamping device that embossed: "Cinco Reals del Toracinia de Crede del Moros" and a picture of a shechita knife on the front, with a legend "accepted as real tender in all subterranean transport of the Lands of the Empire of Spain, Portugal and Andalusia" on the back.

In other words, by issuing phony tokens, Don Vital Haim de Menubal, El Defendante Real del Crede de Moros de Toracinia, had managed to build what was in essence the first subway. It consisted of a tunnel dug under the unusual little town's kosher slaughterhouse which in turn led to the mikve. Visitors were pulled by a donkey drawn wagon and deposited in the mikve, clothes and all. Residents and visitors were lured to purchase these coins with real gold or silver coins, and then forced to use the subway by rather menacing local psychotics, each of whom received a token a day as their token wages.

And Don Vital Hayim would melt down all the legitimate coins he received from travelers, after having his trusted smelter make a proper impression of their head and tail sides so that he could stamp them on recycled iron swords which he melted down and then plated ever so lightly with the gold of the legitimate coins.

These new counterfeit base metal coins, in high denominations, were gladly accepted by market sellers who handed over change amounting to at least eighty five centavos on the real in legitimate coinage. Invariably, a Toracinian would appear at the market in rags, saying he had come to buy one egg, or one sharp pepper, for his King. And the merchants would accept his real and give him just that, with quite a handful in change.

The eggs were saved for throwing at chariots which entered Toracinia on Shabbat, which was called for a different day each week. And the peppers were soaked to make a blinding, irritating solution that was added to the de Menubal ancestral product "La Barata" so that the mixture could be thrown at women and girls who dared enter the new kingdom on days when entrance was restricted to men.

As for the kosher slaughterhouse, it schechted far more customers than meat. Since Toracinia was so well known for its adherence to tznius, unwitting consumers from as far afield as Yemen would travel to purchase kosher meat there. They were asked to put up a fifty per cent deposit in verifiable coinage and to enter the mikveh via the tunnel before even choosing a cut of meat. Of course they could not enter without purchasing a token, so that they purchased same in the hallway of the butcher shop and handed it to the rather floridly psychotic mikveh attendant, who insisted he was Avraham Avinu and was also the mashgiach for the schechita. Avraham Avinu would then appear after tevila and prove that the unwitting mark had paid for the meat with a token, and that he had paid with counterfeit coinage, which was of course actually produced in Toracinia and substituted for the real coins which the traveler had brought.

After the mark forked over a few more coins, he would be presented with a package of "Nacional Ebreo" smoked meat, a rather unreliable and distasteful product, simply wrapped in a certificate signed by the illiterate wannabe Avraham Avinu as mashgiach. If any customer would protest, he would be duly attacked by the mashgiach, and then would quickly get on his horse or donkey and leave town fast.

But all of these scams were nothing compared to the "Flores de Toracina" and "Bayit del Reposo (Rest Home) del Crede del Moros" that was perpetrated by the son of Don Vital Hayim, Don Samuel Gronem, Gronem being a corruption of the name Geronimo (Jerome).

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