Dr. Bero, also called The Specialist, a medical doctor returning from service in a civil war analogous to the Biafran secession from Nigeria (1967-1970) but generalized by its echoes of similar conflicts such as the 1960-1964 Katangan conflict in the Congo (now Zaire). Bero began service as a doctor but found that he had a talent for intelligence work and has since become the head of intelligence, in which position he acquired the nickname “The Specialist.” He claims to have eaten and enjoyed human flesh, particularly testicles. He has sent four spies, masquerading as beggars, to watch his father, the Old Man, whom he has had confined in the basement surgery of their house. Against his father’s metaphysical proclamations of the new deity As, Bero claims to understand the nature of real (temporal) power. Bero’s four spies are former disciples of the Old Man. When the Old Man recaptures their allegiance and is at the point of “operating” on one of them, Bero appears and shoots him.
The Old Man
The Old Man, Bero’s father, also a medical doctor. He likes his regular arguments with the Priest. During the last of these, he submits that cannibalism should be made legal. Shortly thereafter, he follows his son to war and is given charge of convalescent patients, whom he converts to the partly obscurantist, partly cynical cult of As. His comments on cannibalism threaten to bring severe legal reprisals. His son rescues him and has him taken home to be confined in the surgery. At his first opportunity, he reasserts his control over the beggars. He is shot by Bero as he attempts to cut open the Cripple and sample his...
(The entire section is 686 words.)