Iz and Pal (Bedouin Buddies)


Iz and Pal

Jonathots Daily Blog

(4168)

Sitting Thirty-Seven

Thursday insisted on following Wednesday.

The rally was set to begin at 1:00 P. M. Karin decided to arrive half an hour early. There was already quite a crowd gathering—milling around, glancing at one another to see if anyone had an idea on what was going on. She had tried to call her editor to see what his intentions were about attending the event but there was no answer. She sure could have used his grouchy kindness at this point.

Ever increasingly, a stream of people in cars, jeeps and even some with bicycles, paraded into the desert scene. They toted signs:

“Boys go home!”

“Honor your father!”

“Jews are Jews and Arabs are Arabs!”

“Spare the rod and spoil the child!”

And one particularly nasty one proclaimed, “Ishmael was a bastard.” Fortunately, a couple of fervent Muslims came and tore it up before too much display time was possible.

At 1:00 P. M. sharp, with about two hundred folks gathered, the politician stepped lively to the forefront, carrying a bullhorn. Karin could tell he was a politician because he was smiling too much, shook everyone’s hand and had a huge button on his lapel with a picture of himself. He addressed the crowd through the bullhorn.

“My dear citizens, we are gathered here today to right a wrong. It is not often that we are able to have such a power, such a privilege. Today, we can restore these boys back to their divine, loving position. Today, we can bring together God’s greatest gift, and God’s amazing unit—the family. For these two boys have gone on errant ways, hearing the deceiving voice of rebellion, and have abandoned both their senses, their cultures and their homes. We are here to see an end to foolishness. We are here to see the restitution of what is right. Yes, the rejoining of what has been broken.”

The politician pulled down the bullhorn and lifted his right arm into the air, as if inviting a smattering of applause in the desert heat. He then made a dramatic turn toward the encampment of the boys. Karin and the entire assembly, en masse, as if on cue, pivoted to view.

The region around where the boys had settled was a disaster area. After many weeks, garbage was everywhere, along with construction cones, Port-a-johns, fast food wrappers and magazines blowing in the wind—a landscape of disarray.

“Jubal and Amir!” bellowed the politician through the bullhorn, “Come out and be restored to your families.” An anemic cheer came from the observers in response to the beckoning.

But the boys were nowhere in sight.

After about thirty seconds, the politician repeated his plea. Then, a very faint sound. A tiny voice, almost inaudible, came from inside the tent. The people turned to each other, trying to figure out what had been spoken, so the politician lifted his bullhorn and said, “What? We can’t hear you.”

Karin, exasperated, shouted. “That’s because they don’t have a bullhorn.” She shocked herself. Everyone turned to peer at her with mingled expressions—part in agreement, but mostly disapproving.

Quickly, a second bullhorn was located, and a young boy was summoned to run it up the hill as far as he could, watching for danger, and throw it near the tent opening. Completing the mission, he returned, to a few cheers from the crowd. And then, an arm reached out to pull the bullhorn into the tent.

The politician summoned, “Now you can speak, and we can hear you.”

All at once there was a screech from the enclosure followed by a phony, basso profundo voice. “I am the Lord your God.”

There was a little giggle at the end, which came through the bullhorn loud and clear.

Some chuckles trickled through the gathered horde, quickly terminated by the politician holding up his hand. “Jubal and Amir, we want you to come out and be restored to your families.”

A delay.

Then Iz spoke through the bullhorn—much more basso profundo. “Man with the loud voice, I am the Lord your God. I want you to leave the boys alone.”

Then Pal came on with his own God-impersonation. “Don’t listen to him. I am the Lord your God.” More stifled laughter.

The politician dropped the bullhorn to his side in disgust. He turned to the audience and pleaded, “This is not funny. We’ll just have to go up and get them.”

A lady raised her hand and spoke from the midst. “I’ve heard they have weapons.”

“A grenade,” quickly confirmed a man.

“Does anyone know this for sure?” asked the politician, scanning the gathering.

An unseen man in the back piped in. “No. But I’m not willing to find out.” A few more chuckles.

Suddenly, another screech came from the tent—Iz, singing.

“I’m gonna rock and roll…all night. And party every day!”

He sang it again, this time with Pal joining him.

The politician was furious, finished with any negotiations. “They’re just mocking us!”

Karin felt a light tap on her shoulder. She turned, and there was her editor. He whispered, “Hold on. I think it’s about to get really interesting…”

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Iz and Pal (Bedouin Buddies)


Iz and Pal

Jonathots Daily Blog

(4147)

Sitting Thirty-Four

Wishing the silence could continue, yet nervous over nothing being said, at length Pal spoke. “Your throw-up really smells bad. Extra bad. I think it was that fish and mustard.”

Iz took a deep breath, as if preparing for a long speil. “Yours smelled worse,” he enunciated. “It just all stunk really, really bad.”

For some reason, both Iz and Pal found this statement to be the funniest thing they’d ever heard. They laughed as much as their sore ribs would permit. After a few minutes, the giggling calmed, gradually allowing them to settle in on a refreshing still.

But determinedly, Pal once again broke the silence. “Is it really the end?”

“Well, it’s sure not the beginning,” said Iz.

A pause.

“Holy peace,” said Pal quietly.

Iz jerked his head in his friend’s direction. “What?”

“I was just remembering,” Pal’s voice sounded sleepy, almost dreamy. He continued. “When I was nine years old, Father took me to Jerusalem, and there was this man with a long beard and gray hair down his back, carrying a small sign. It read, Holy Peace. What do you think of that?”

Iz didn’t have much interest. “I don’t know.”

Pal turned toward his friend. “What is holy peace?”

“I don’t know,” Iz repeated. “Maybe just that old man’s dream.” Iz was not comfortable with the discussion, the change in emotion and the sudden solemnity.

Pal either didn’t notice or didn’t care. “I was only nine, but for some reason, those two words stuck in my mind. ‘Holy peace.’ I’ve never been able to shake them.” He glanced over at Iz to see if he was listening, then continued. “To me, holy peace is being able to do what you need to do, without hurting anyone else.”

Iz was angered by this. “How can you do that? Because if they want what you want, then there has to be a battle.”

“Does there?” challenged Pal. “I mean, if there are two of something, can’t you share one? And even if there’s one, can’t it be broken to make two? Why isn’t that possible? Is it just stupid?”

“No,” said Iz. “It’s not stupid. But it’s just the way boys think. By the time they become men, they have to have it all.”

Pal looked to the heavens and then over to his friend. There were tears in his eyes. “Here’s to staying boys.”

Iz smiled but turned away. “Holy peace,” he mused. “I guess to me, holy peace is just living in a world without being afraid that the little bit you’ve got is going to be taken away.”

“Who will take it?” asked Pal.

Iz promptly replied. “Always the ones who don’t really need it—who just want to see if they can get more.”

“Are you talking about your Pada?” questioned Pal.

“No,” spat Iz. Then he thought. “Well, maybe. He’s just a tiny version of all the craziness that lives around him. Tries to pretend to be strong because that’s what everyone tells him he should do. But he’s only strong with me, and weak with himself. He wants me to be afraid of him. I can’t do that to me…or him. I can’t live with that fear.”

“So you love your Pada?” asked Pal tenderly.

“Who knows?” replied Iz, trying to escape too much feeling. “I try. But I’m too young to know. Do you love yours?”

Pal looked down at his hands, then straight ahead. “Sometimes I wonder what his face looked like the first time he saw me—I mean, after I was born. I would love to see that face. I would love to know that for one moment, I pleased him. Iz—I want to think he loves me, but only because that’s what I’m supposed to think. Do you know what I mean?”

Iz quietly nodded his head. “Yes, I’m afraid I do. That’s why we’re here. We both got tired of guessing. Is it ever to early to start doing?”

Pal rolled over on his side. “Iz? Holy peace.”

“Yeah, what about it?” asked Iz.

“Holy peace is being with you,” said Pal sweetly.

“Same here, Pal.”

It was the last thing they remembered that Wednesday evening. The desert night stole their minds, generously providing sleep for their depleted souls.

 

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Iz and Pal (Bedouin Buddies)


Iz and Pal

Jonathots Daily Blog

(4119)

Sitting Thirty

There was an attempt at a silent meeting of the minds.

Those melting in the desert heat who were over eighteen years of age peered at one another, trying to decide who should speak up next to foil the efforts of the little ingrates. In the meantime, Iz frowned. He had grown weary of the conversation.

Before the inquisitors could come to terms on whose turn it was to interrogate the boys, Iz spoke up. “Here—I have some questions. Listen, if you can answer them, then I will certainly stay silent and receive what you have to say. Let me start with you, Rabbi. Are Ishmael and Isaac brothers—both sons of Abraham?”

The shirt and tie cleared his throat. “Well, actually, half-brothers. Abraham had Ishmael with a slave girl and Isaac was born under the true promise of God.”

“E-e-e-e-h-h-h, there’s the buzzer,” said Iz. “Wrong again. They’re either brothers or they’re not. And actually, Ishmael was Isaac’s older brother. Don’t you think God knew he needed an older brother? Weren’t they supposed to stay together?”

The mullah stepped forward. “My answer would have been quite different…”

“Yes,” Pal interrupted. “I know your answer. I learned it early on. You believe Ishmael was a child of promise, too, and he was mistreated by the Jews and forced into exile, where God raised him up to be equal. But here’s my question, Mullah. Doesn’t that make him the underdog? Aren’t you always teaching that we have to struggle to live up to the same standard as the Jews instead of having our own identity, our own mission?”

The mullah chuckled. “You are so young. You do not understand, and I don’t have the time to educate you.”

“Next question,” said Iz, inserting himself. “This one goes to the guy with the funny collar. Was your Jesus a Jew, and if he was, why didn’t he come as an Arab instead?”

The collar spoke. “By the way, I am Father Shannon, and you’re right. I believe in the divinity of Jesus Christ, and we do believe Jesus was a Jew…”

Pal raised his hand. “So why should I care about him? Why do I want another Jewish guy to be in charge of me, telling me I’m not part of the promise of God?”

Blue jeans interceded. “Actually, according to Christian theology, Jesus was Jewish on his mother’s side, but spent most of his early years in Egypt, as an Arab. Lots of theologians believe God wanted Jesus’s disciples to take the message to the Jews, Arabs and Afrikaans first. Well, they really didn’t. They ended up taking it to the Jews, Greeks and Romans.”

“You see?” screamed Iz. “They screwed up, and because they screwed up, you all got different names for the same things that end up doing nothing for anybody. And Pal and I get messed up because we don’t get to be friends, ’cause you guys can’t even agree on what clothes to wear. One of you’s got a collar pinching your throat, another is dressed like a businessman, you over there—well, you’re wearing a robe like some sort of shepherd, and dude—you’ve got on blue jeans, trying to pretend like you’re young.”

“I hear a lot of anger,” said Blue jeans.

“I see a lot of stupid,” said Pal.

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Iz and Pal (Bedouin Buddies)


Iz and Pal

Jonathots Daily Blog

(4078)

Sitting Twenty-Four

Pada was surprised at how easy it was to acquire the address of the gentile boy’s father. He drove to the home, walked up and knocked on the door.

When it opened, a man stood there in front of him, not that different from himself, both in appearance and in countenance—not a mirror image, but still—more alike than different.

Pada spoke deliberately. “Are you the father of Amir?”

“Who are you?” the man responded.

“I am the father of Jubal.”

“And who is Jubal?” he countered.

Pada drew a deep breath. “He is the boy with your son, in the desert.”

The man in the doorway vigorously shook his head. “You mean the boy who has tricked my son into disobeying his father, and who is living like an animal in the sand?”

Pada was up to the fight. “That’s strange. I thought it was your boy who deceived my son.”

The two men eyed each other.

There was no semblance of friendliness—no indication that an invitation would be extended to enter the home. This conversation certainly would be conducted standing in the doorway.

Pada continued. “I didn’t come here to argue with you, but I guess, to ask you, overall, what do you think we should do?”

The man smirked. “You want my opinion?”

Pada pursued with more vehemence. “Actually, I want an answer. Your opinion will suffice.”

The man leaned in a little closer and responded coldly, “I think until my people are given their freedom and the land they deserve, such atrocities by the children will be rampant.”

Pada sighed. “Ah. Politics. Must it always be politics? I am here to talk about our children, not the condition of our people.”

Amir’s father raised his finger and pointed at Pada’s face. “But it is about our people. It’s about thousands of years of you Jews arrogantly believing that you are the only sons granted inheritance in this land. I am a son of Abraham.”

“I am, too,” insisted Pada. “But that can’t be possible, because there’s no way that the two of us could actually be brothers.”

Amir’s father stiffened. “I do not want to be your brother. I just want my father’s inheritance.”

Pada stepped back to escape the intensity. “Why can’t we speak of our children?” he pleaded.

“What children?” the man asked.

“Your son—Amir, am I right? And my son, Jubal.”

Amir’s father shook his head. “I don’t know if you have a son named Jubal, but I have no son named Amir. You see, disgrace has no name, and dishonor cannot live in my house.”

Pada shook his head. “Nor will I allow it to live in mine,” he retorted. “Jubal is a shame to me. Yet he is my shame.”

The angry man moved as if he was going to close the door but stopped short of completing the deed. He spoke through a smaller crack. “I have no shame, for I have no disgrace, for I have no son named Amir.”

He was about to finish closing the door but stalled, inserting a thought. “Do you really expect to come to my house as a Jew and talk to me of earthly things? Family and children? If we do not agree on the heavenly, how can we ever discern the earth? You are not my enemy. You are just nothing at all.”

Having completed his speech, Amir’s father slammed the door Pada’s face. He stood for a moment, wondering whether to pound on the door until the man responded, but finally turned on his heel and made his way down the steps to his car.

For a moment, he wondered if he had a part in causing the rage in Amir’s father, or bringing about the disrespect he felt from Jubal.

Then all at once he remembered his own father’s words: “The Palestinians will serve us, just as our children are born to do so.”

Pada smiled and nodded his head. So it was, so it is and so it shall be.

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Iz and Pal (Bedouin Buddies)


Iz and Pal

Jonathots Daily Blog

(4064)

Sitting Twenty-Two

Karin was embarrassed.

She had promised “the boys in the sand” that she would come up with some answers—or just do anything contrary to their belief that she would do nothing–so she took some time to gather together a sampling of the gifts donated during her phone solicitation. Matthew stared at her in disbelief—partly because of the frenzy of nerves that had overtaken her in accumulating the items, but mostly because he couldn’t figure out how this particular collage of “things” had any central theme.

They drove until Karin was able, through trial and error, to remember where the encampment was. Then, much to her surprise, she saw that many other of the gifts had been delivered to Iz and Pal, including the portable toilet, orange construction cones, fruit baskets, and what appeared to be bags of hamburgers. She shook her head, unable to conceive how anybody had been able to find the location.

As she climbed the hill with her trinkets, she observed the boys opening and closing the door to the toilet, poking their heads inside and giggling. “It’s a toilet!” she shouted.

They jumped back, startled. She covered the remaining distance quickly, and gently patted Iz on the shoulder. “I didn’t mean to scare you,” she said tenderly. “So, what do you think of your new toilet?” She stood back, holding out her hand as if introducing royalty.

Iz shook his head, perplexed. “Why do we need a toilet?”

“Well,” said Karin slowly, “don’t you get kind of tired of, like, burying your stuff in the desert?”

“No, actually it’s kind of fun,” inserted Pal. “I mean, every once in a while you forget, and you dig up one of your old…”

Karin interrupted. “I got the idea!” She lifted her hand to stop any further explanation. Suddenly remembering her guest, she turned to Matthew, who had just arrived. “Iz and Pal, this is Matthew Bradley, and he is here to take your picture.”

Matthew stepped forward. “Hey, dudes. You see, I’ll take this box and point it at you, and what you look like will come through this lens…” He paused to point at the front of the camera and continued. “And from this lens it goes onto what they call film, and makes a picture of your faces.”

He said each word slowly and deliberately, like a missionary schoolteacher. Karin intervened. “Matthew, they are not Aborigines. They have seen cameras, and they’ve had their picture taken. And by the way, they don’t think you’re stealing their souls. Just tell them how you want them to stand.”

Matthew paused, rubbing his chin. “Karin, what is the theme of the picture?”

Karin rolled her eyes, trying to make sure that Matthew didn’t notice. “Theme? There is no theme, Matt. I need a picture of these boys so I can get more attention for their situation.”

Matthew signed, impatient with her ignorance. “Well, if you just wanted a picture you could have picked up one of those disposable cameras,” he said, disgusted. “Listen, Karin, I’m more than a ‘photo guy.’ That’s your problem. You see me as so, so, so very small…”

Karin realized that what she deemed logical he felt was unappreciative. She eased over and gave him a sideways hug (so as to avoid his breath) and said, “Matthew, I’m sorry. I just don’t know about picture themes. What do you think?”

Matthew, immediately healed by the gratuitous apology, was elated. He suggested the two boys embrace as a symbol of their friendship, but since the boys had never really embraced before, it looked terribly awkward. Then, in a brief flicker of pure dumb luck, they managed to hug each other and turn to the camera with huge, cheesy grins.

It was an inspiring moment.

“What are you going to do with the picture?” asked Pal.

“I’m going to try to make your picture famous,” Karin replied, “so you don’t have to be.”

The boys nodded (the way twelve-year-olds do when they don’t really understand adult talk, but also don’t want to hear any more.)

Truthfully, Karin didn’t really understand herself.

Yet several hours later, in a small darkroom, Matthew developed the photo and presented it to Karin. Never in her journalistic life had she seen a picture reflect such clumsy warmth and genuine homespun tenderness. A tear came to her eye, which she reached up and dried quickly. It was no time to be sentimental.

There were still cows to get into the barn.

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Iz and Pal (Bedouin Buddies)


Iz and Pal

Jonathots Daily Blog

(4057)

Sitting Twenty-One

Matthew Bradley was a photographer with a lesser known news organization with the unfortunate acronym of W.U.S.—Wire United Service.

Matthew refused to be called Matt because he felt that using his full name, Matthew, along with Bradley, might remind people of the famous photographer, Matthew Brady, from the Civil War, who no one remembered anyway.

He was sweet—which in the world of romance, is akin to leprous. He wasn’t unattractive, but certainly never did anything to paint his old barn. He nervously talked too much, and his voice was pitched high. His cheeks were sunken and his teeth, with just a touch of “buck” to them, threatened halitosis. For his breath was just south of peppermint with a hint of garlic, which made close contact just a little stuffy.

Matthew liked Karin. He was infatuated. She was a female and he, a male. Twice a month he asked Karin to go out on a date. She had never accepted the offer—not only fearing that he might become too obsessed, but also having little desire to provide the lion’s share of the small talk.

Even though Karin was not interested in him as a potential boyfriend, she had never needed a photographer as much as she needed one now. Pictures were required so that the public could catch a vision of what was going on in the desert with Iz and Pal.

Taking a deep breath, Karin picked up her phone and called him. She told him that she wanted to see him. There was a very long pause. Matthew replied, “Who is this really?”

After thoroughly convincing him of her pedigree and authenticity, they met for a brief luncheon, at which time she explained her dilemma. He never took his eyes off what seemed to be a region below her nose and above her mouth. It was unnerving.

Yet he agreed to go with her to the desert location to take pictures—if she agreed to attend a correspondence dinner with him in two weeks, where he was going to receive some sort of simple award. Even though Karin was dedicated to the project and wanted to do what she could for the two young fellows, she still paused for a moment to consider what an evening with Matthew would be like—especially if he was juiced up with the energy of grasping a small trophy.

Still, she knew how important this visual would be to her article—and taking heart from contemplating that some forms of cancer can take effect suddenly, be diagnosed and kill in less than fourteen days, she agreed.

They split the bill, she offered him a mint and they headed off into the desert.

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Iz and Pal (Bedouin Buddies)


Iz and Pal

Jonathots Daily Blog

(4050)

Sitting Twenty

Actually, there was no Yellow Pages printed out by the local community.

Even though the town was emotionally depressed, spiritually entrenched and socially retarded, it had culturally caught up to the current century in technology. Therefore most astute businesspeople found their information via their computers. Yet there were several private schools in the city which had agreed to put together a Yellow Pages, including telephone numbers and business ads, to raise money for their institutions so that their students could have at least some good of the better, if not the best.

Karin’s editor, in a fit of civic pride and an unusual bout of generosity, had purchased twenty of the volumes, which now lay around the office ignored, threatening to be fire hazards.

Karin tired of web surfing, so she resorted to one of the catalogues, which began with a table of contents, including:

Agencies

Banks

Child Psychologists

Doctors

Educators

Financiers

Grocers

Helping Hands

Insurance Companies

Judges

Kan-Ga-Roofing

Labor Organizations

Mothers

Newspapers

Office Supplies

Priests

Q-Tie-Pie Child Care

Religious Organizations

Senators

Teachers

UNICEF

Videos

Women

X-Ray Technicians

Youth Clubs, and the

Zoo

Yes, everything from A to Z. It seemed that blessed benefactors were bountiful—an alliteration of possibilities of people to hit up.

Karin entered the project optimistic and energetic, but soon found that no one wanted to become involved—at least not directly or openly. Yet amazingly, almost everyone offered something, even if it was just negative advice. After about six hours of calling, Karin sat back, having secured the following assistance through her persistence:

One Port-a-john toilet

Sixteen orange construction cones

Seven miscellaneous books in Aramaic

Two fluorescent green soccer balls

Four pairs of tennis shoes

One hundred dollars-worth of gift certificates for food items

One teddy bear

A bag of army men

Three Bibles

Two Korans

A single copy of the Talmud

Seventeen sympathetic sentiments

Eighteen guarantees to participate “if someone else does something first”

A promise from a politician to do his part after he was elected

And a bag of all-black jellybeans

Karin perused the list carefully, trying to determine if there was any theme to the collection, and finally decided that the common thread to the whole encounter was: thoughtful but basically worthless.

Persisting, she decided to chase down one more idea. Some press coverage would help, but nobody at the wire services and news agencies expressed interest. A universal chorus arose from all hearers. It was either, “no story there,” or the story that was there was too scary to chase.

As a matter of fact, one cranky son-of-a-gun called the situation “blasphemous.” When Karin inquired what made it blasphemous, he replied, “That’s easy. If you want to make money and you live in the Middle East, anything that’s too hot to handle is best determined to be blasphemous.”

He continued, “It would be like someone calling me on the phone who said he had a huge scoop about an abortion doctor who discovered the mysterious gay gene while vacationing with his mistress in Red China.” His conclusion to Karin? “Although intriguing, there’s no part of the topic that’s public-friendly, so therefore, it must be classified as blasphemous and be avoided—like a Biblical plague.”

Karin listened carefully, wanting to object to comparing the two boys to locusts, but before she could speak, he added, “Arabs and Jews want to pretend that they don’t have a problem, and they certainly don’t want two upstarts reminding them that they are lying to each other.”

She tried to insert a thought, but the line was dead. She was pretty sure he hung up on her. Still, one possibility remained.

She picked up her phone one last time and called…

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