Catchy (Sitting 56) The Quintets…. July 8th, 2018

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(3720)

Jip, Cho, Bo, Jack and Sam were five young men from all over the world who got together, tried to learn each other’s full names, failed miserably, and so settled for shorter handles.

They shared two things in common.

Each member of the quintet was a trusted intern for an Ambassador to the United Nations.

Jip was from Japan; Cho, China; Bo, Russia; Jack, England, and Sam, the United States.

Their other commonality was a deep-rooted faith in Jesus, especially fresh since the recent awakening sweeping the world. Realizing they were just interns, they focused on what they could do to make a difference.

So every morning, a half-hour before going to work with their Ambassadors, they met in the pantry of the kitchen of the Bruxbury Hotel in Midtown Manhattan, where they lodged while in the Big Apple.

The purpose for the meeting was simple: the five young men chatted and conversed–calling it prayer and hoping their heavenly Father would give them insights on how to impact the more traditional and often vicious side of the United Nations.

They decided on kindness. Rituals were begun:

Jip walked into his boss every morning with fresh flowers.

Cho brought in an array of new teas from China to allure his superior.

Bo slipped a little vodka into the coffee, with a wink.

Jack ordered very expensive marmalade from England.

And Sam always stopped off to pick up a Nathan’s hot dog from down the street, which made his boss beam.

At the end of every session in the pantry, the gentlemen closed with a single thought:

“In kindness, beget kindness.”

They believed their purpose was to create a comfortable, gentle and merciful environment for their employer which just might cause him or her to go into the United Nations with a warmer heart.

It is difficult to know whether it was the vodka in the coffee or the ever-changing climate in the world, but matters of statehood were becoming more civil and less sectarian.

The quintet of interns took no credit for it. They just gave the glory to the Father.

*****

Matthew was dismissed from the hospital feeling a decade older and looking two. He sensed that he was becoming an old man before he had ever been an adequate young man. He felt sick. He looked sick. His skin was yellow from the liver infection and his eyes drooped, as if they were desperately preparing to leap from the perch on his face.

Matthew finally came to the conclusion that alcohol was a problem. In his crude way, he had decided that it was coming down to a choice between Jack Daniels or Jane Pussy. Knowing that he was not going to leave the latter alone, he chose to break his covenant of life-long affection for Mr. Daniels.

He sought some counseling and joined a couple of programs, and after a few weeks, he was a shaky non-drunk.

Refinement.

Yes, Matthew decided he needed some refinement to escape the smear of liquor, and also the goodness of the infernal revival.

So he went to a grand opening of an art display in one of the larger casinos. He was unaccustomed to attending such gala events and always felt lonely because it was required that he step forward and introduce himself, and he would rather frequent the darker corner.

So he found himself strolling around behind the displays when he heard a horrific sound–like a wounded animal. He followed it, turned and discovered a young woman with dark-brown hair adorned in a cocktail dress. She had her back to him and was holding some sort of horn. She was blowing into a reed.

“That was you?” he asked.

Without turning around, she responded, “I suppose you’re referring to the sound.”

Matthew stepped around so he could see her face. It was a sturdy, but beautiful one. “Are you calling ducks?”

She blew her reed again and replied, “No. Just any barnyard animal. And considering the pile of food on your plate, looks like I got me a hog.”

She looked up, her eyes twinkling. Matthew was instantly in love. He had forgotten he was carrying a plate full of food, favoring the shrimp puffs. But here was a woman with a biting sense of humor, unafraid of his advances.

She continued, “What I’m blowing is my reed, because I play the oboe. I play the oboe with a string quartet, which makes us a quintet. And you might think to yourself that being the only reed instrument in a quintet of strings, there would be a measure of alienation. And if by alienation, you mean incrimination, jealousy, anger, disdain and misery–well then, you would be right.”

Matthew eyed her for a moment, and then inquired, “You don’t like to play the oboe?”

“Uh, no,” she replied flatly. “No one likes to play the oboe. The oboe is like William the Conqueror going out to find a few innocent serfs who have not yet signed up for the clarinet. He captures them and imprisons them in double-reed bars.”

Matthew squinted. “Do you always talk this way?”

She paused as if in deep thought. “Yes, come to think of it. I do. Do you enjoy it? Or were you intending to be mean?”

Matthew held out his hand and said, “My name is Matthew Ransley.”

She reached across the short distance and shook only his fingers. “My name is Leonora Fenzi. But just go ahead and call me Leonora Fenzi.”

Matthew smirked. “But that’s your whole name.”

“No, there’s a middle one. Juniper. As a courtesy to you, I left that one out.”

“Fenzi,” said Matthew. “Is that… Well, I don’t know what to ask. What nationality is that?”

Leonora laughed. “Well, presently I’m attending a conservatory in Paris, but my nationality is Uncle Sam’s House. I grew up in Kewanee, Illinois.”

“I’ve never heard of that,” said Matthew.

“Oh, Paris? it’s right there in the middle of France,” mugged Leonora.

Matthew laughed out loud. “Paris I knew. It was the Illinois city that threw me.”

Leonora stood to her feet, blew a couple of notes on the oboe, and then said, “Do you know that I was the best oboe player in Kewanee, Illinois?”

“I know this one,” responded Matthew quickly. “You were the only player in Kewanee, Illinois, right?”

“No. There were two,” replied Leonora seriously.

“Really?” said Matthew.

“Yes,” Leonora responded. “The second player was a young girl with Down Syndrome, whose mother bought her a horn because the girl thought the keys were much shinier than on other instruments.”

“So…was she a close second?” asked Matthew, with a wry smile.

Leonora walked across the room to Matthew. “What brings you to this opening? You don’t look the type.”

“Is there a type that comes here?” asked Matthew.

“Yes,” said Leonora, reaching over and taking one of the shrimp puffs off his plate and popping it into her mouth. “Gay and rich. You’re not either one, are you?”

“Well, I’m not gay,” said Matthew. “I applied for years, but never got accepted to the club.”

He waited for her to laugh but she didn’t. “Anyway,” he continued, “I am fairly rich. Well… let me put it this way. I have money at my disposal.”

“Disposal?” questioned Leonora. “An interesting term for money.”

Matthew changed the subject. “What are you doing after you get done playing here?”

“Let me see,” she mused. “I’ll be going off with the string quartet to complain that the patrons didn’t listen to the music, and discuss how the shrimp puffs tasted like they were swimming on the bottom of the creek. And we’ll probably have a long discussion about how Wilhelm’s violin needs a new bridge. Yeah. That’s pretty much it.”

“Any of that you could avoid?” Matthew pursued.

“Only if I can get away.”

He steadied himself. “Would you like to go out to dinner with me?”

Leonora looked him up and down, glanced to her right and left, and posed. “Honestly, if you look at it from my perspective, you could be a serial killer. Many of them are quite charming, at least I hear. But you know, I’m going to say yes to the invitation–mainly because you’re so goofy, I don’t think you would know how to dispose of a body.”

Matthew furrowed his brow. “That was the most unusual yes I’ve ever heard, but I’m gonna take it. I thought we would go to an actual restaurant in Vegas instead of a buffet. What do you think?”

She suddenly turned and marched across the room quickly, speaking over her shoulder. “I think that would be fine because I don’t really care right now. I have to go play more Mozart.”

“I like Mozart,” shouted Matthew to her retreating frame.

Without turning, Leonora replied, “Oh, shut up. It’s the only name you know.”

Matthew stood and laughed. He threw aside his plate in a nearby trash can and thought to himself, “This could be good. This could be really good…”

 

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Catchy (Sitting 51) A Woman at the Well (Doing)… June 3rd, 2018

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(3692)

Matthew stepped out of the shower and dried himself with the $300 fluffy towel provided by the casino as a part of his luxurious accommodations. He stared into the huge mirror, surrounded by the finest lighting available, to accentuate and showcase the beauty provided.

After peering into his face for a moment, making sure the wrinkles were not opening up tributaries, he stepped back to eyeball his penis. It was respectable–at least, he thought so. And the women he was with last night seemed impressed. Matter of fact, she was out in the other room, waiting for the two of them to have breakfast before she took her money and scooted.

Taking a second look at his friend from “south of the border,” it did appear a bit bedraggled and weary. But what would a penis know?

His brain was stumped over a decision–talc or no talc? He liked talcum powder. It felt good–cool, with just a bit of a sting–but it never disappeared. For the entire day, you walked around like some sort of ghostly apparition, leaving white clouds of dust behind as you shimmied through the room. So he took some lotion and put it on his private area, which felt equally as good, but was more sticky than spooky.

He had absent mindedly been listening through the door, hearing nothing, when suddenly there appeared to be a conversation going on in the adjacent room. He turned off the bathroom fan so he could hear better. There were two women talking.

Who could it be? Who was talking to…? Uh…

He couldn’t remember her name. It was Russian. The name. She wasn’t Russian–she was almost San Fernando Valley. He could not remember. God, he hated it when he didn’t know the escort’s names. Because “sweetie, honey, dear” and “precious” would only take you so far before you started sounding like discarded dialogue from “Wuthering Heights.”

Maybe if he listened through the door he could catch her name from the person she was talking to. Who in the hell could it be?

Well, there was only one way to find out. He combed back his hair (which was still hanging in there, though threats of evacuation continued). He donned one of the thick, white, terry cloth, Penthouse robes and stepped out the door. As he did, his guest from the previous night was speaking.

“…and I especially like the story of the woman at the well…”

“Me, too.”

The “me, too” voice came from Soos, who looked up at Matthew, smiled and continued her dialogue with the unknown Russian.

“What I like about that story, Borish…”

Matthew blinked and nodded, mentally repeating the name three times in a row, hoping it would permeate his skull.

Soos continued. “Jesus knows everything about this woman–knows all her problems and failings, that she’d had five marriages, and she’s living with a man now, but he offers absolutely no condemnation.”

Borish sat for a moment. “I never thought about it that way,” she said. “Matter of fact, he commends her for telling the truth in her own non-truthful way, when she said she wasn’t married.”

Soos laughed.

Matthew couldn’t stand it any longer. “Soos–what’s going on? What are you doing here?”

Soos leaped to her feet and ran over to Matthew, giving him a hug. “I was worried about you. I hadn’t heard from you in some time, so I decided to take advantage of the fact that we have a jet, and fly here to see you.”

Matthew walked over and sat down in a large, expensive chair, crossing his legs modestly.

“Well, you knew I wasn’t dead,” he said with a bit of snip.

Borish looked at him with disgust. “Is that any way to talk to an old friend?”

Matthew looked over at Borish. “Just imagine how I might treat new friends,” he snarled.

This did not sit well with the young woman.

“Are you going to insult me?” she asked.

Soos stepped in. “What a great question! Do you plan to come out of the bathroom–your freshly showered self–and insult the whole room until everyone is convinced of your superiority and dominance?”

Matthew sat still, a bitter taste in his mouth. He hated to get bettered–especially by a woman.

Soos continued. “I was talking to Borish about Jesus.”

“Yeah, I gathered that,” said Matthew. He stood up and walked toward the door. “Where in the hell is our breakfast?”

“What did you order?” asked Soos.

Borish smiled, perching up on her knees like a young girl. “I’m starved!”

Matthew whirled around. “Well, don’t act like I didn’t feed you! We had steaks…you know. Before.”

Soos couldn’t resist. “Before what?”

Borish looked at Soos with big, wide eyes and said, “Mr. Matthew here hired me for the night. You see, I’m a prostitute.”

Matthew grabbed a magazine nearby and threw it down on the table. “Why did you have to say that?”

Borish giggled. “I was just practicing being honest–like the woman at the well.”

Soos laughed. “Well done!”

“Is it Sunday?” asked Matthew, striding over to his desk. “No, here’s my calendar. It’s not Sunday. So why are we talking about him?”

“Because he’s good seven days a week,” said Borish.

Soos applauded and the two women hugged.

Matthew moved over with the stealth of a roaring lion, sat back down in his chair and said, “I didn’t hire you to be glib.”

Borish looked up at Matthew. “I don’t know exactly what glib means, and I know that probably thrills you. But I have a life. It’s not a life people would approve of–and certainly the Sunday people who talk about Jesus would not believe that I could be a believer. But I do my best. But I have always wanted to try to do better.”

Soos looked at Borish, tears in her eyes, then over at Matthew, who was doing his best impersonation of a slab of granite.

Soos erupted. “Matthew, you’re just a goddamn son-of-a-bitch. If you want to have your faith crisis or your penis introspection or your drunken binges or your spending insanity, go right ahead. But there are some people who realize they’ve been given two nickels and are trying with all their strength and might to make it spend like a dime.”

Matthew frowned at her. “You see, that’s the trouble with you Christians. You talk in circles, expecting people to follow you. Just because your leader spoke in parables doesn’t mean they make sense today.”

He took a breath. “What are you trying to say? That I need to be nicer to the young whore? Doesn’t that come with the tip? Isn’t that me ordering strawberries and cream with Belgian waffles? Why do I have to believe that everybody who comes into my life is just as good as the last person who came into my life, who seemed, by the way, to possess more dignity? I don’t mind that she’s a prosptitute. Matter of fact, she’s damn good at what she does. Truthfully, she made me see God last night between the sheets more than she’s doing this morning. But I’m not going to pretend that she’s something she’s not.”

He stopped abruptly. He obviously had much nastiness to spew but he resisted.

Borish rose, walked over to Matthew and knelt beside his legs. “You don’t need to explain to me who I am. I got that. Not every morning of my life ends up in a beautiful casino penthouse with a kind gentleman who has ordered me breakfast. I spend just as many mornings looking in the mirror, trying to figure out what kind of make-up to use to cover the bruises. I know I’m a fool. I know I’m crazy. I know that every time a door opens in front of me there could be a monster waiting. I don’t know what else to do. I have needs. I have a child. It sounds like an excuse–even to me. But until I can get over making that excuse and be willing to live a little simpler, and maybe rely for a time on the kindness of family, or some strangers, I will be doing this.”

Matthew stood to his feet and walked away. Soos came over, knelt beside Borish and hugged her.

“My dear,” said Soos, “you don’t have to do this even one more day. What that gentleman over there has failed to tell you is that we have lots of money. And we have lots of Jesus. And if you’re willing to learn, we’ll give you a job–so you can take care of your daughter, but you can become a woman at the well of doing, instead of a woman who’s afraid of what’s gonna happen next.”

Borish looked at her in disbelief. They embraced. They cried. They stood up and started to make plans.

Matthew turned to them, enraged. “Would the two of you please get the hell out of here? I don’t want to lose my cool. I don’t want to hurt anyone. I just want you to get the hell out of here–and by the way, get the heaven out of here, too. I am sick to death of it. I shall eat my breakfast alone.”

Soos looked over at Matthew, confused, with a squinted face. She chose not to speak. She put her arm around Borish and said, “Why don’t you and I take in one of these breakfast buffets at the casino? We can make some plans.”

Soos and Borish walked by Matthew–Soos careful to place herself between the raging bull and the hapless lass. When they reached the door, Matthew spoke.

“Listen, I’m just trying to tell you…”

Soos interrupted. “Please do yourself a favor. Shut the hell up. Understand–there are people who love you, who still love you, even though you’re an asshole. There are some beautiful things going on in this country. Most of them are not at the bottom of a bottle or happening in this room. We’re waiting for you. Whenever you’re ready.”

Matthew gazed at Soos in complete disgust. He didn’t know what to say. So like men often do when they’re devoid of thought, he said something nasty.

“I hate you.”Donate Button

 

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Catchy (Sitting 48) Suite 1002… May 13th, 2018

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(3671)

 

Jubal humbly requested that conversation be held to a minimum on the flight back to Vegas. It seemed agonizing to make small talk, and any attempt to relive the moment of the catastrophe was too painful.

So when they deplaned and Matthew arrived with a bucket of questions, Jubal stayed just long enough to extend politeness, then excused himself to take a taxi back to his room at the casino. Suite 1002–just two doors down from the Promenade. His room was a little smaller, but no less elegant.

Jubal quickly put his key card into the door with frenetic energy. Entering the room, he slammed the door, and threw his bag on the bed as his eyes fell on the full decanter of cognac which was offered in his room as a courtesy. He had never used it.

He didn’t drink much. As a young man, he occasionally went out on the town, but found himself to be a testy drunk with a nasty disposition, and had to apologize to too many people the morning after a binge.

So long before he settled in to a marriage, he determined to keep alcohol for only cuts and bruises.

Sitting in his chair, he got his wallet and pulled out two pictures. One was a woman with long, gorgeous hair and a sparkling smile. It was his wife, Lydia. The other well-worn photo was of a little girl about ten years old, equally as vivacious as her mother–his daughter, Carissa. He laid them on the table and stared at them, as he had done many times before.

But tonight it was even more significant, and unfortunately, more agonizing.

Jubal, a struggling musician, had met Lydia in Troy, New York, trying to discover a way to make a living while progressing his career in percussion. There was never a question as to whether they were in love–perhaps not love at first sight, but more an understanding that they would take it slow to make it look authentic, even though in their hearts, they were both convinced that the search for a companion was over.

Within the year they were married, and the next year they had a daughter and named her Carissa. They joyously struggled–that’s how Lydia viewed it. Money was difficult to come by, but there was always that little surprise that came just at the right moment, which pulled them through another week, another month and eventually, another year.

Jubal tried to supplement his gigs by doing some telemarketing, but there were few commissions. His heart was in the drums, not in drumming up business.

Lydia, on the other hand, got herself on a fast track as a free-lance assistant to legislators in nearby Albany, the capital. She found the job through a fellow named Barclay. He insisted that she refer to him solely as “Barclay.” She never knew if it was his first or last name.

The money was helpful, the work was rewarding, but the relationship with Barclay was aggravating. Lydia shared with Jubal that Barclay was always just a little too close–a touch on her shoulder when simply pointing in the right direction would have sufficed. And standing next to her, he would periodically bump his hip into hers–just enough to be intimidating, but not enough for her to proffer an objection.

She was simultaneously overjoyed and miserable, keeping the misery to herself.

Then one Friday afternoon, Lydia’s mother, Cheryl, came into town from Florida for a surprise visit. Jubal, Carissa and Mom were waiting for Lydia to come home from work to begin an exciting weekend. An hour passed. Then two.

In the third hour, Jubal decided to make some phone calls. He discovered that Lydia had left Albany hours earlier. He was concerned. Yet Cheryl comforted him, saying she was sure it was “just traffic” or “something had come up.” It made sense. Friday afternoon was always a time for back-ups.

But as night set in, Jubal decided he needed to investigate the situation. He asked Mother Cheryl to take care of Carissa and said he would stay in contact.

As he came down the stairs from their simple, two-bedroom apartment, he noticed that Lydia’s car was in the parking lot. He peered around to see if she was anywhere in sight, but saw her nowhere. He headed over to the car. He was about to open it with his spare set of keys, when gazing into the back seat, he saw his lovely wife–his dear companion–lying face down, motionless.

He quickly opened the door, reached across the front seat and shook her gently. No response.

Instinct kicked in. He eased into the front seat, started the car and drove to the hospital. Ten minutes later she was declared dead on arrival.

It took two hours for the doctors to come out to talk to him. He decided not to call back to Cheryl, since the information he had contained no answers.

All at once, he was confronted by a doctor, with a policeman standing next to him. They both had questions. Some of the things they wanted to know Jubal could answer–but mostly the missing time from when Lydia left work to when he found her was a complete mystery.

The doctor explained that she had been sodomized and smothered to death. When Jubal heard those words, his knees buckled. He grabbed a nearby chair to keep from falling over. He barely comprehended when the policeman asked him his whereabouts, unaware of how fortunate he was that Lydia’s mom afforded him an alibi which, as it ended up, he needed.

Jubal made his way back to his apartment, where he had the painful duty of telling his daughter and mother-in-law that Lydia was gone.

It was a full two days later when some of the story line began to come together. It became evident that the last person Lydia saw was Barclay. To Jubal’s horror, Barclay painted a picture to the police that he and Lydia were involved in a romantic tryst, and that he had broken it off that Friday afternoon. He said that she was so distressed she threatened harm to herself.

The funeral was held the following afternoon. At no point did any of the ceremony, the prayers or the well-wishing seem real to Jubal.

Matter of fact, he barely noticed when a young woman from the church came to Carissa’s side to comfort the little girl. Carissa was weeping. The woman said, “Don’t cry, my dear. You will see your Mama soon.”

When Carissa heard this, the tears stopped immediately. She asked, “When? When will I see Mama?”

The lady responded, “Your Mama is in heaven waiting for you. She is with Jesus. They can hardly wait to see you.”

Carissa was comforted by the counsel.

That night Jubal’s beautiful daughter opened up, began to talk and ate a little dinner. After a dessert of ice cream with chocolate sauce, she said to her daddy, “I’m sleepy. Can I go to bed?”

He hugged her and held her just a little longer than usual. He couldn’t fight back the tears. He released her and said, “I love you, my sweet.”

She gave him another hug around the neck and scurried off to her room. Jubal made his way to his own bed, and spent a tormented night, his dreams offering sweet memories of love-making and nightmares full of the terror of his loss.

In the morning, he went in to see his little girl, to take her into the breakfast nook for pancakes. It seemed she was a little sleepy-head.

He came over to the bed to tickle her, but she did not respond. He took her pulse. He put his head down to listen for her heart, but her skin was cold and bluish-gray.

Carissa was gone.

Next to her, on the night stand, was an empty vial of pills, and a mostly consumed glass of milk. The prescription was for Oxycontin, which Jubal had used for a back injury. Carissa had swallowed them all.

There was a note written on yellow construction paper with blue crayon. It read, “I love you, Daddy. But I went to see Mommy.”

Jubal gazed around the room, looking for a knife so he could jab it into his heart, to end the pain.

Cheryl walked in and immediately assessed the situation. She grabbed him around the arms, sensing that he was in danger of doing harm to himself.

He shook her off and went to his room, put on his clothes and drove to Albany. He was looking for Barclay.

After a half a dozen inquiries, he discovered that the man’s name was Barclay Faxwell, and that he was at a retreat in the Poconos.

Getting all the information he could, Jubal climbed into his car and drove to the mountains. Part of him felt he should be back at home with his dead daughter and mother-in-law, but he realized there was a more important job for him to do.

Arriving at the convention center, with the hills in the background, Barclay Faxwell was pointed out to him. Jubal followed him all day long. Since they had never met, Faxwell was unaware of his presence. It was a long day, but eventually Barclay made his way to his room. Jubal trailed.

Before Mr. Faxwell could enter his accommodations, Jubal grabbed him from behind. Barclay was a big man, but mostly in girth rather than muscle. Jubal put a knife to his throat–one he had procured off of a serving tray in the hallway.

Silencing him, he walked Barclay to his car, forced him into the trunk, slammed it and drove deep into the Poconos.

After about a half an hour of driving, he stopped his car and set aside the knife. To Jubal, this was personal. He wanted to hurt this monster. He didn’t want him to get off easy. Of course, Jubal had no evidence that Barclay had anything to do with his wife’s death, but he did know the man was a liar. Lydia would never have been unfaithful–not because Jubal was such a special husband, but because she was such a special person.

He removed Barclay from the trunk and walked him half a mile into the wilderness. All of a sudden, he stopped. When Barclay tried to turn around to find out what was going on, Jubal began to pummel him with all of his anger, hatred, remorse, pain and misery. Barclay fought back but he was no match for an enraged drummer.

All at once, the rotund man grabbed his heart and crumpled to his knees. He tumbled to the ground like a giant oak.

Jubal stood for a moment, panting, wondering what in the hell was going on. When Barclay didn’t move, Jubal slowly inched over and checked his pulse. The son-of-a-bitch was dead.

Jubal perched on Barclay’s back, wondering what to do next. He realized he couldn’t report the incident without risking prison, so he scouted the terrain and found a small cave in the side of the rocks. It was about fifty yards away. Using his remaining fury, he drug the fat man to the entrance and stuffed him as deep into the cave as possible so that there would be no visible sign of Barclay to anyone passing by.

Jubal stepped out of the cave and looked in every direction. Not a soul.

Barclay would either rot in peace–or be groceries for several weeks for a big black bear.

Jubal made his way back to his car. He realized there was no reason to return to Troy. Cheryl could bury the little girl.

Barclay’s wallet had fallen out during the struggle. It was full of cash–eight hundred dollars. So Jubal, with eight hundred dollars, climbed into his car and set out to run from the nightmare which was now his life.

He pointed his car west. At first, the thought of going to Los Angeles seemed divinely inspired. Yet Las Vegas seemed a better choice. Certainly the casinos would need some sort of musician who knew how to keep a beat.

He drove day and night, subsisting on pure fury. He wrestled with his own insanity.

He arrived in Vegas, immediately took on some work, and never told his story to anyone. Rather than losing his faith over losing all he had, he gained his faith and was given a new life.

So on this night, with the tragedy of Salisbury filling his mind with rage, his history beckoned a recalling. It still hurt.

Suite 1002 was filled with sobs and tears.

After an hour, Jubal picked up the decanter of cognac and poured a shot into a glass. He walked over to his bed and lightly sprinkled the covers with the cognac.

He had no intention of defiling the memories of his loved ones by becoming intoxicated. But maybe, while he slept, the fragrance of the cognac would allow him to dream that he was drunk–and the pain was gone.

 

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Catchy (Sitting 45) Preyor … April 22nd, 2018

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(3650)

Matthew was pissed off, even more than his normal level of perpetual pissed.

He loved Las Vegas, but more the seedy side than the commercial side. So every once in a while, one of the large casinos would bring in some new pop star who was breaking records on the charts, out-doing the last new pop star who had outdone her predecessor.

The latest one was named “Loozeal.” She was all of seventeen years old, with more attitude than talent, but the young humans loved her–especially the girls.

Las Vegas was infested with females who had women’s bodies and child’s minds. It was annoying on so many fronts that Matthew tried to avoid the strip, hanging out in his room, drinking and experimenting with delicacies yet untried from the well-traveled room service menu.

But on Saturday night, he had a meeting at one of the casinos, so he was forced to drive into the middle of the melee known as the “Loozeal Appeal.”

Kids were everywhere.

Matthew hated children. Even though most grownups were childish, at least they occasionally made the effort to think about something other than their cell phone and own desires. He planned his meeting to get into town and out of town before the crazed hordes of little girls headed for the concert.

There was the smell of youth in the air. He despised it–a blending of cheap perfume, bubble-gum and just a hint of halitosis. Yuk. Gone was the true sniff of Las Vegas–fishy-smelling buffets with that whiff of urine and whiskey in the aroma.

He decided to take a short-cut. It was twilight, and he turned down an alley which was familiar to him–a way he escaped the strip without encountering so many tourists. He pressed on the gas pedal to zoom to safety.

About halfway down the narrow thoroughfare, he saw a huge garbage dumpster, and just as he was upon it–about to pass it–a young girl stepped out from behind it. He smacked her with his car, throwing her into the air. She landed on the hood, cracking his windshield.

Every kind of horror he’d ever experienced in his life descended on his soul as he realized what he had done. She lay bleeding, her face pressed onto his windshield.

For a brief second he thought about trying to escape. After all, that’s what he did best. When things became too difficult or uncomfortable, Matthew always became an emotional Houdini, disappearing at will.

His thoughts were brief, but long enough that he was ashamed of himself as he grabbed his phone and dialed 911. It took about four minutes for help to arrive, but it seemed like an hour. The girl was motionless. He was afraid to reach across the windshield to take her pulse, assist in any way, or even to move her. So he just stared at her face, which was gashed and bloody.

The EMT’s arrived and carefully removed her from the hood as the police began to take his statement. Matthew was so incoherent that they decided to take a breathalyzer, and even though he had taken one drink at his meeting, he was still well beneath the intoxicated number.

Matthew answered questions for what seemed like a solid hour as the girl was hurried away to the local hospital. His car was impounded as evidence, and Matthew was checked over by the EMT’s, to make sure he was sound.

The police reassured him that it seemed to be an accident, but told him to stay close in case they required additional input.

It was surreal.

All of a sudden he was standing alone in the alley, staring down at a tiny puddle of blood which had not yet congealed.

He walked back up to the strip, hailed a taxi and asked the driver what hospital was nearest to them. He asked him to take him there.

Arriving at the emergency parking lot, Matthew got out, paid the man and then stepped inside. He knew nothing at all about the girl, so he questioned the lady at the emergency room desk. She recalled the young lady coming through, but refused to give Matthew any information since he was not related to the patient.

Glancing down at her computer, Matthew saw that the young woman had been taken to surgery on the fourth floor. He made his way there–to the surgical waiting room, and charmed the nurse at the desk. He said he had witnessed the accident, and wanted to make sure the girl was going to be fine and would she keep him updated on the details?

Matthew sat for hours. Every once in a while he dozed off, then shook himself back to attention, ashamed that sleep would try to relieve his guilt.

What in the hell was she doing in that alley?

What in the hell was he doing in that alley?

Why was he driving so fast?

He realized he would never be able to say he was driving fast again, lest he be charged with reckless endangerment.

He looked at his watch and saw that three hours had elapsed. Simultaneously, a doctor came out of the operating room and whispered to the nurse. She motioned to Matthew to come over. The doctor apparently assumed that Matthew was a member of the family, and spoke to him.

“How are you related to Carrissa?”

Matthew paused for just a moment, then said, “I’m her uncle.”

The surgeon nodded his head. “So are you Mr. Jones?”

Matthew wasn’t sure if the surgeon was testing him or tricking him, but quickly responded, “Yes. Matthew Jones.”

The surgeon awkwardly shook his hand and said, “Well, Mr. Jones, here’s the situation. Carrissa has numerous broken bones, but that is secondary to the fact that being tossed in the air and landing on the windshield has given her severe brain trauma. We’ve drilled a hole in her skull to relieve the pressure, but she’s presently in a coma. And before you ask, I don’t know how long she’ll be in that state, or if she’ll ever recover. But I can tell you that the next 48 hours will speak volumes. If you have any other questions, my name is Dr. Zendquist.”

Matthew nodded his head and patted the surgeon on the shoulder. “Thank you for all you’ve done,” he said, his voice choking with tears.

Matthew got the room number for Carrissa, and headed down the hall, arriving at the door of 313. The room was still. Encircled by a curtain was a hospital bed. Matthew looked right and left, then pulled back the curtain. Lying on the bed was a damaged young girl, who looked even smaller than she had appeared sprawled on his windshield. She was covered in gauze and bandages, tubes coming out of her arms, legs and nose, and a ventilator nearby was noisily inhaling and exhaling her life. It was so ugly.

Realizing he was still alone, with no one anywhere in earshot, Matthew did something he had not done since he was a boy.

He prayed.

Not a polite prayer. Not a memorized one from a book of religious order. No.

One from his heart.

“God. The God of Jubal, Soos, Jo-Jay and Jesus. This is just screwed. I need your help. This girl needs your help. Please do something.”

Matthew left the room, stopping off at the nurses station to establish his “uncle” routine, and discovered that Carrissa Jones was from Iowa, and that her parents had been contacted, but wouldn’t be there until the next day.

Out of the clear blue sky, Matthew asked if he could stay in the room with Carrissa until they arrived.

“All night?” asked the nurse.

“If you wouldn’t mind,” Matthew replied.

She provided a small cot, blankets and a pillow. Matthew settled himself in for a vigil, waiting to see what his prayer would summon.

He stayed awake for a long time, taking the opportunity to examine life. What had brought him to this silent room, watching over a very damaged little girl?

He realized he wasn’t technically at fault. At the scene the police had surmised that Carrissa had come to the trash dumpster behind the casino where her pop idol had performed, hoping to find cups, discarded posters or anything that she could take as a souvenir of her time in Vegas, seeing Loozeal. It was a bizarre series of events ending in a tragedy.

About four o’clock in the morning, Matthew, having dozed off, was awakened by the arrival of nurses and a doctor. He was sent out of the room as these agents of mercy tried to revive Carrissa, who had gone into heart failure.

After ten or fifteen minutes, they came out of the room, a couple of them in tears. The doctor took Matthew’s hands and said, “She’s gone.”

He patted Matthew on the shoulder and said, “I know this is hard to understand, but maybe it’s better this way.”

As they walked away, he stared at the lifeless body of a little girl who just wanted a souvenir.

Maybe it’s better this way?

He turned and ran down the hallway, startling the staff, jumped into the open elevator, down to the main lobby and out the door, not stopping for a second to speak to anyone. He ran into the street and hailed a cab.

He took the cab back to his lodging, raced to his room, slammed the door, turned out the lights and whispered across the dark room, “Fucking shit. My prayer killed her.”

He turned on the light next to his bed, grabbed a bottle of Jack Daniels he kept nearby, and guzzled until he passed out.

The next morning, he awoke to a knock at his door. He thought he was dreaming, still under the influence of his old friend, Jack. The knocking persisted, so he struggled to his feet, stumbled to the door and opened it.

Standing before him was a well-dressed man in his early forties, his face exuding neither joy nor displeasure. He reached out to stabilize Matthew, who was wobbling.

“You must be Matthew Ransley,” he said matter-of-factly.

Matthew suddenly was engulfed by the memories of the previous day’s horror.

“I would give anything not to be,” he replied.

The gentleman helped Matthew walk back into the room and find a seat on the bed.

“My name is Carlin Canaby,” he said. “And you are in trouble.”

“What do you mean?” asked Matthew.

Carlin sat down on the bed next to him, put his arm around his shoulder and said, “You killed a girl with your car. And even though it wasn’t your fault, your life is so screwed up that it wouldn’t take an attorney much effort at all to prove that you’re responsible.”

“I am responsible,” said Matthew.

“Hush,” said Carlin. “Don’t be talking that way. You do your confessing to God. But you and I need to work on your story.”

Matthew leaned back and took another look at the stranger, disconcerted. “Who are you again?”

“I’m Carlin Canaby. I’m head of an organization called ‘Liary.’”

Liary?” questioned Matthew.

“Yes,” said Carlin. “Let’s take it one step at a time.”

“Are you an attorney?” inquired Matthew.

“Hell, no,” said Carlin. “I’m a consultant.”

Matthew struggled to his feet and walked to the other side of the room. “A consultant? I don’t think I need a consultant. I need an attorney.”

Carlin stood up and came over to Matthew’s side. “You will require an attorney, but you need to consult with someone before you ever go to one.”

“Do I know you?” asked Matthew.

“No,” answered Carlin. “I was sent here by a friend. And before you ask, I’ll tell you about the friend later. What I want to know is what you think about the accident.”

Matthew sank to his knees and said, “I killed a young girl. Twice. Once with my car, and the second time, with my prayer.”

 

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Jesonian: Reverend Meningsbee (Part 22) Thirty Days Has Remember… September 25th, 2016

 Jonathots Daily Blog

(3075)

Reverend Meningsbee

One month passed.

It’s one of those phrases a writer inserts to move the story along. But they don’t really move. Stories must be evicted from the hovel where they huddle to escape progress.

Ten days after the “Old Time Religion Community Church” signed its incorporation papers in the living room of Sammy Collins’ home on a table near the fireplace, he was rushed to the hospital, red lights flashing. He had collapsed at work and everyone was certain it was a heart attack. The town was abuzz with gossip and prayer.

As it turned out, it was a ruptured gall bladder, and while he was having his personal rendition of that organ removed, it was discovered that he also had high blood pressure and bad cholesterol.

It was suggested he slow down.

Also within the month, a crumpled letter arrived in the mail at Matrisse’s house, postmarked Atlantic City, New Jersey. Inside was a note and a ten-dollar bill.

In her own words, Kitty attempted to explain to Matrisse that she was on an odyssey to find herself, which had taken her to the East Coast, and that she had found a job as a bartender at one of the casinos which had managed to escape bankruptcy.

Kitty said she was sorry and happy at the same time–because she missed her little Hapsy, but knew she was well taken care of, and until Kitty could find all her answers, she was probably better off separated from her growing daughter.

Also, about fifteen days into the “month of remember,” an article appeared in the local paper about Patrick Swanson and the church meeting at the Holiday Inn Express, entitled, “A Gathering for the Young Up-and-Coming Conservative.”

It seemed that Patrick had found his target market, as they say in the world of social media. Being interviewed by the local reporter, he explained that the congregation did not believe in gay marriage, government interference, and were certainly strongly against gender blurring. What they were interested in were young families who wanted to see the country return to its original glisten and gleam.

Then, seven days ago, a young boy named Alex Bachman arrived at school early, went into the lower portions of the building to the furnace room, threw a rope over the top of a pipe and hung himself.

He left a suicide proclamation. It read:

They said it would get better. It didn’t.

Reverend Meningsbee was called by the family and asked if he would be willing to conduct a memorial service at the church building, free of godly trappings, since the Bachman family was a non-religious group of people (what the average Nebraskan would call “avowed atheists”).

The family also wanted Meningsbee to be the moderator–yes, that’s the word they used–for the event, and to give a retrospective on the life of young Alex, ending with a positive message of humanity, and everybody departing to walk to the local park to plant three trees.

At first Meningsbee wanted to decline, offering his best wishes and regards, but then, in a moment of clarity, he realized there was no other place in town they could go for such a commemoration–and that opportunity never arrives resembling anything of what we really want.

So on a Saturday afternoon, with memories of a month full of Garsonville life racing through his mind, he drives to the church, on his way to a presentation which denies the importance of everything he believes.

What should he say?

What did he feel?

Maybe he should have studied more.

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