Catchy (Sitting 17) Come and See … October 8th, 2017

Jonathots Daily Blog

(3454)

 

Matthew stared at his computer screen which had a heading of “International Federated Mercantile Institution”–a fancy name for “bank.” He had been peering at the same page for nearly a half an hour. Actually, the same number. It read, “Balance: $248,798,565.38.

It was hard to fathom. He had mixed feelings. There was joy over having that much capital to play with, but also a responsibility to turn it into somewhat of a completed vision for what Old Man Harts had desired.

What was originally 250 million had been eaten away by legal fees, surveys, transportation and just the transactions that happen when legal and business minds collide. It was still a hell of a lot of money. A hell of a lot of money for a heavenly purpose.

Matthew remained uncertain about why he had decided to take on the project. Even a week ago his inclinations had been negative. But something happened in Vegas that didn’t stay in Vegas.

He’d had an awakening. Not so much a religious eruption, but rather, a clarity of thought. When he met Jubal Carlos, who was working frantically to assist the homeless, Matthew asked himself what was he doing to make the world just a little less crazy?

He didn’t want to be overly analytical. He was certainly basically a good person. He tried not to purposely do harm to anyone and on occasion his generosity was worthy of note.

But was it possible to do more? Especially if you were granted hundreds of millions of dollars to try?

So after the awkwardness with Jo-Jay and Soos in the suite at the casino, he decided to meet with Tomlinson, and see if he could change the attorney’s mood into a positive direction instead of the grumpiness that had ensued.

He stopped off at headquarters and picked up Sister Rolinda and Prophet Morgan, realizing that the uptight attorney with the bow tie, Tomlinson, would have no counter for such creatures.

Sure enough, when Prophet began to preach salvation to Tomlinson and Sister Rolinda recited promises and possibilities for inner healing, the barrister couldn’t wait to transfer the money and get the crazies out of the room.

It seemed strange to Matthew that in a world of emotional agnosticism, Prophet Morgan and Sister Rolinda carried the day with their passion.

But what finally sealed the deal, causing Tomlinson to loose the purse strings, was the plan. Matthew was going to get Jubal Carlos to travel the country, playing the part of Jesus–in character, in appearance, in wisdom, in knowledge and in pungency.

Jubal already had the look. He had the intensity. And he certainly had the inclination to be a helper of mankind. Keeping him out of churches and just in public arenas–colleges and even rock festivals–would create the adequate controversy that could simulate the upheaval which occurred two thousand years before in Israel, when the real guy walked the earth.

It was a plan that needed tuning, clever applications, great press releases, You Tubes and even maybe a short movie. But once again people could come and see Jesus–even though it wasn’t the actual one, but another human being, carefully crafting an image that was sensitive and faithful to the original.

The slogan for the campaign would be “Come and See.”

Prophet Morgan was ecstatic.

Sister Rolinda thought it had potential, but she wanted to meet Jubal to see if he had the goods.

All systems seemed an outrageously wonderful “go.” There was only one problem:

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Catchy (Sitting 16) Switch … October 1st, 2017

Jonathots Daily Blog

(3447)

Matthew was still so rattled from his meeting with Jubal that when he arrived back at his hotel on the Vegas strip, he couldn’t remember his suite number. So in his usual overcomplicated, confusing way, he explained his situation to the front desk clerk, who retrieved his number from the records and then said, “That suite, 772–your wife was here earlier to pick up the key.”

Matthew didn’t have a wife.

His face apparently communicated that thought, because the young desk person giggled and winked.

All the way up on the elevator, Matthew wondered if he was headed toward a surprise hooker hired by some of his clumsy friends, or if there was a serial killer waiting to end his brief and tumultuous life.

He took the key provided by the winking worker, carefully opened the door and walked in. Sitting on the edge of his couch–pensively, as if waiting for a dental appointment–was Soos.

“What are you doing here?” asked Matthew, quickly shutting the door.

“I followed you. Well, we followed you.” She said, rising quickly to her feet.

Matthew crossed the room, leaned against a chair and asked, “Why did you follow me, and who is we?”

Soos sat down, took a deep breath and replied, “We is Jo-Jay and myself, and why… Well, that’s why I’m here. You see, Jo-Jay has a crush on you and she wanted to follow you to Vegas hoping that something might actually happen in Vegas that could stay here. Well, she was too chicken to come by herself so she asked me to come along, and then when we got here, she was too scared to come up here. So she asked me to go first and talk to you to see if you were interested in her and if you would mind her coming to visit your room.”

Soos stopped speaking, as if she’d actually made sense.

“Are we in the fourth grade?” queried Matthew.

“No,” Soos answered. “But to be completely fair, it’s been since the fourth grade that we had to do stuff like this to find out if people like us…”

Matthew eased down into the chair. “Well, of course I like Jo-Jay. And I like you, Soos.”

“What do you mean?” Soos sparked.

Matthew paused. “Well, I mean I think we have a lot of history, and you’re an attractive woman, I’m a reasonably acceptable man with good grooming habits…”

“And nice eyes,” interrupted Soos.

“Thanks,” replied Matthew. “I don’t see them often. Basically the mirror.”

“They’re nice,” said Soos with a smile.

Matthew considered the situation. “So let me get this straight. You’re supposed to come and find out if I would …welcome?…a visit from Jo-Jay so she won’t be embarrassed if I wouldn’t? Do I have this right?”

“Sounds dumb, doesn’t it?” Soos inserted sheepishly. She continued. “It’s especially weird because I like you, too. I can’t tell her about that because it would make her crazy. So I thought I would just lay in the weeds, so to speak, and see if you rejected her, and then wait a respectable length of time…say four days…”

Matthew jumped in. “Four days, huh? Where’d you come up with that?”

“It just seems like a little more than three days,” explained Soos. “Anyway, I would then be able to tell you that I think you’re attractive also, but I wouldn’t feel bad about it because you would have already kicked Jo-Jay to the curb.”

Matthew stood to his feet and sighed. “I’m not gonna kick anybody to the curb. I’m just tired and I’m going to bed.”

Once again, Soos leaped to her feet and moved closer to him. “Would you like some company?”

She touched him on the cheek.

“So we’re skipping Jo-Jay…?”

Soos interrupted. “And the four days. I’m too damn young to be alone tonight in Vegas, and way too old to wait.”

Matthew chuckled and headed toward the bedroom. Soos pursued. She pulled him over to the bed by his belt and said, “Are you interested in me?”

Matthew, looking down at her hands, said, “I’ve always found it very difficult to be disinterested in any woman who had her hands in my pants.”

“Not very eloquent,” said Soos, “but who am I to be picky?”

She pulled him down to the bed, he fell over her, and she put her hands on his shoulders and kissed him. She started to remove her blouse when suddenly there was a commotion from the other room.

“Hi! The door was open. I hope everybody’s decent!!”

It was Jo-Jay. There was no time to reframe the choreography. Jo-Jay walked in the room with an expression she might have displayed upon finding herself as a time traveler arriving on the deck of the Titanic at about midnight.

Horrified.

Matthew felt the need to speak, but his brain disagreed. Soos jumped in to fill the awkward moment. She slowly untangled herself from her hold on Matthew as she self-consciously buttoned up her blouse and explained, “Listen, this may seem weird, but it really doesn’t have to be. We are all mature sophisticated adults. The atmosphere is here, the moment is understood and the participants are ready. Why don’t I just move away from the bed and Jo-Jay can come in and resume the action-in-progress? I know it sounds a little avant garde, but a few kisses, a couple of tweaks–and it’ll be a distant memory.”

At this point, Soos moved over and tried to push Jo-Jay toward the bed to create the switch.

Matthew was perplexed, intrigued and somewhat repulsed by the whole situation.

For a brief moment, Jo-Jay considered the extraordinary hostage exchange. Then she stopped in her tracks, turned to Soos and said, “I thought you were my friend.”

Soos replied, “I am your friend. But it’s also been a long time since anybody’s rung my bell.”

Matthew felt it was time to speak. “Listen, I’m not trying to ring anybody’s bell, or whatever euphemism you want to insert. I just came to my room to go to sleep.”

“So why is she in your bed?” asked Jo-Jay.

Matthew answered, “Well, if I was using sports terminology, I would say she tackled me for a loss on the play.”

“I don’t know what that means,” said Jo-Jay in a huff. “I liked you and wanted to spend some time with you…”

Matthew interrupted. “So why didn’t you just tell me?”

“Because good girls don’t cavort. That’s what my mother told me long before I knew what the word ‘cavort’ meant. Since I now do know, it would be improper for me to offer myself to you without knowing whether the offering would be acceptable.”

Matthew shook his head. “Hell, have we just gone Old Testament here? Please, ladies, nothing personal. No decision is being made about the future. But right now I need to be alone without the temptation of any lovely lasses.”

Soos said, “Well you don’t have to insult us.”

Matthew sighed. “I don’t know how I insulted you but if I did, I’m sorry, but since I don’t know what I did, maybe we should just talk about this later when we’re not in a room together playing musical beds.”

Jo-Jay turned on her heel and headed toward the door, stopping briefly to throw back a final comment. “I will leave the fornication to the two of you.”

Soos grabbed her purse and followed along. “Wait! I’m not gonna fornicate. I just came up here to represent you.”

Jo-Jay turned around and hugged Soos. “I know. The brute seduced you.”

Matthew lifted one finger in the air. “Let me point out that I am neither a brute nor did I seduce anyone. Just stating for the record.”

Jo-Jay responded, nearly in tears. “I thought you were different.”

“I am different,” said Matthew. “I thought you were not crazy.”

“Well, you were wrong,” Jo-Jay replied. She scurried out the door and into the hall.

“I wouldn’t call her for a couple of days,” Soos whispered to Matthew. “She’ll need some personal space to work this out.”

Matthew lay back on the bed, the memory of female hands in his pants still dancing in his head.

But mostly on his mind was what he envisioned to do with Jubal Carlos.

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Catchy (Sitting 14) Abashed … September 17th, 2017

Jonathots Daily Blog

(3433)

Matthew knew.

Yet he was surprised to find out that Landy Loren also knew. She sent him an email.

“Dear friend: Sorry to hear that Tomlinson is not interested in making Jesus popular. I can think of two hundred and fifty million reasons for it being a great idea, but since, so to speak, another lawyer is going to snuff out the light of the world, be comforted that I am dropping my lawsuit. It wasn’t anything personal. Just business, you know. Yours, Landy Loren”

Matthew pondered. Was it that obvious? Was it completely evident to everyone that this request of an eccentric billionaire to try to popularize Jesus of Nazareth was about to go the way of the dodo?

Why? What was the real reason?

Matthew understood that the controversy scared the hell into everybody. Panel after panel met to discuss the idea, and snubbed the possibility as being either irrelevant or irreverent. There was one little boy in a small Midwest town, who quietly said, “I’d like to meet Jesus.”

But generally speaking, the reactions were negative. An angry man in Birmingham, Alabama, bellowed at Matthew, “Jesus doesn’t need your help to do his job!” while an Episcopal Bishop in Chicago, Illinois, wearing the drapings of his profession, spoke in a nearly inaudible voice and asked, “Which Jesus are we talking about?”

Matthew felt abashed–that uncomfortable sensation of being embarrassed for feeling something he wished he didn’t. The whole experience had just left him uncomfortable in his own skin. Where he was usually blithe and carefree, uproariously overjoyed over his abiding indifference, he was suddenly plagued with fits of introspection.

It was maddening.

But he couldn’t deny the bizarre union of souls who had come together, who would never have made acquaintance if it had not been for the project. Finding Soos, Michael and especially re-linking with Jo-Jay had been enriching to his tired soul.

He felt something for Jo-Jay. He wasn’t sure what it was, but it was more than just a passing business interaction. He could tell because when they chatted together, the tones were soft, nearly whispers; and upon leaving her presence, there was the tingle and ooze of romance.

But Matthew was too busy to be romantic.

He was too busy to think about his life.

And he was much too busy to take on any new silly project which no one wanted to happen anyway.

It was when Sister Rolinda showed up at the office to offer her services to the cause that he gained a little piece of insight on his turmoil. Rolinda had been a nun for thirty-eight years in the Roman Catholic Church, and had left (or been ousted, depending on the story you believed) because she no longer wanted to be a sister, but demanded the full status of the priesthood.

The Pope disagreed, along with all of his cohorts. So she left.

She was a sage with a hint of oracle. When Matthew was in her presence, he believed there was a chance she was actually hearing something from the heavens she was trying to translate into Earth words. She was creepy, sweet, kind and prided herself on making the best pineapple upside-down cake this side of the Mississippi. One day she stared deeply into Matthew’s eyes and said, “You have been chosen to do this.”

A chill went down his spine.

For after all, what could bring together a Congressman, a hippie, a prophet, a former Catholic nun and his business partners, who normally had no interest whatsoever in the content of anything, especially their character.

But he realized the longer he waited the more likely it was that Tomlinson would close the door. And once it was shut there would be no way to gain entrance.

He needed to move fast.

He needed to decide if he wanted to go back to being “Matthew the Rambler,” or investigate this new, confused being crawling out of his own skin.

He remembered a statement made by an old man in Des Moines, Iowa, during one of their test marketing meetings. The aged gent had slowly and deliberately stated, “It’d take Jesus to make Jesus popular.”

Matthew agreed.

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Catchy (Sitting 13) Can Bad Come Out of Good? … September 3rd, 2017

Jonathots Daily Blog

(3419)

In a fit of weary and dreary delusion, Soos stumbled her way through the parking lot en route to her Hertz Rent-a-car, fumbling with her keys. Opening the door, plopping her exhausted backside into the bucket seat and slamming her bag beside her, she gently hammered her head on the steering wheel and unleashed a poetic proclamation of prayer.

“Dammit!”

Having just sat through four-and-a-half hours of meeting–no, not just meeting, mindless meeting. No, more than that–mindless, menacing meeting–with seven or eight folks which could have been nine, her brain had turned inside out, dumping both its knowledge and its will to live, exposing the insanity that had always lurked within.

She ran the words through her mind.

“Soos, I was wondering if you could type up some notes to summarize today’s meeting with the attorney, Marcus Tomlinson.”

She had stared at Matthew, who made the request, as if he had possibly had a stroke. How was anyone supposed to sum up four-and-a-half hours of lethargy in motion? For after all, it was a meeting to prove that a meeting had occurred, to discuss why a meeting was necessary, to conclude that a future meeting would be required. It was like paint drying while staying wet.

It began painfully slow, but Soos knew she was in real trouble when Tomlinson arrived with a guest–a tall, elegant man of color in his late forties, garishly dressed in expensive clothing which shouted its value. His name was Bishop Merrill Handerling. He was the director of the Believers International Fellowship (B.I.F.)

She remembered thinking to herself that Bif was the villain in “Back to the Future.” Quickly regaining her maturity, she attempted to listen as Matthew, Randall, Jo-Jay, Marcus Tomlinson and Bishop Merrill discussed the potential, but mostly the dangers, of the project of making Jesus popular again.

Although Attorney Tomlinson was careful to be respectful of Arthur Harts, who had been dead for less than three months, he also made it completely clear, in his litigious way, that the old fart was crazy.

The Bishop objected to any criticism toward the billionaire–but also wanted to establish that he felt there was a sinister element in commercializing Jesus and turning him into the new “flavor of the day.” (At this point, the dignified black gentleman actually held for laughter. Jo-Jay was generous and giggled a little.)

How was Soos supposed to immortalize the collision of imaginary trains of thought? No one actually knew what they were talking about. To some degree, no one actually cared.

But things really stalled when Prophet Morgan stepped into the room, arriving late, and the Bishop and the Prophet came face-to-face. Soos remembered thinking to herself that it sounded like great stage direction for a Shakespearean play. It became quickly obvious that everything Bishop disliked Prophet approved of, and likewise, everything that profited the Prophet baffled the Bishop.

They just didn’t like each other.

Meanwhile, Matthew sat over in the corner trying to shrink and disappear, looking like he wished he was a cube of ice that could simply melt.

Soos was shocked. After all the discussions and back-and-forth agreements, it seemed that Attorney Tomlinson was trying to find a way to euthanize the whole “popular Jesus” idea, hoping he could use this overstated Bishop to be the hit man.

After hours of exhausting listening, Soos spoke up for herself. She remembered the moment well because it was so contrary to her normal personality that it seemed to be coming from a different person who had temporarily taken occupation of her soul.

“I don’t think anything bad can come of doing something good.”

That’s what she said. It was not terribly intellectual, but in this room full of disconnected thoughts, it sounded almost Biblical.

Matthew sat up in his chair as if suddenly aware that life was still going on. The Bishop accidentally spoke a quick “amen” before realizing that Soos was disagreeing with him. And Prophet? Well, Prophet leaned over and kissed Soos on the mouth.

Immediately after that simple statement, the meeting was adjourned to a future time which would be determined in the future if such a future was necessary.

It was also shortly after that statement that Soos received the instruction to “type up a summary” of the meeting–her punishment for profundity.

She now sat in her car and just tried to decompress. She needed a diversion. If she were a drinker, this would require a martini. If she were an exercise freak, she would need to go run. If she were religious, prayer would be demanded.

But Soos was a carboholic.

On her way back to the Holiday Inn Express, she picked up a dozen doughnuts.

 

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Catchy (Sitting 12) A Collision of Colossal … August 27th, 2017

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(3412)

Susannah Lacey, known as “Soos” during her infamous days of cavorting around the campus with the “Leaven of Seven,” was waiting at the headquarters when Matthew arrived on Wednesday morning. She looked exactly the same, except age had etched a little worry and miles onto the terrain of her frame.

She gave a big smile as Matthew came into the door, raced up and gave him a hug. taking his breath away.

They had never been terribly close. It was an awkward situation. Matthew always suspected that Soos had a crush on him, and she believed it was the other way around. So not so certain that any crush existed, no romance ever came to fruition.

But Matthew had a great respect for Soos. She was a “reasoner.” When it seemed like all problems were surrounding the “Leaven of Seven,” threatening to destroy their idealism, she came through like Joan of Arc, rescuing their innocence. (Usually it consisted of buying a pizza or finding some marijuana, which made them all feel nasty-cool.)

She explained to Matthew that she had gotten his message and was heeding the call as if he were Commissioner Gordon turning on the Batman beam to summon the crusader. Matthew was not terribly familiar with the reference but giggled anyway.

While the greeting was still in full swing, in walked Prophet Morgan. He hadn’t left the offices since his arrival. Prophet was a pleasant enough sort, though he had the sniff of the brimstone which accompanied the fire of his faith. Matthew thought he seemed sneaky. Having heard his full story, Matthew thought it was a miracle that Prophet Morgan wasn’t in either an insane asylum or jail upstate.

At age five, his drunken father, who was an evangelist with a tent revival, decided to bring his little boy up onstage to pray for people, and lo and behold, the tiny Prophet Morgan laid his hands on a woman and spoke in an unknown language. The next morning she awoke completely healed.

No one took the time to wonder if she would have been healed anyway, or if she was really that sick in the first place. The word spread like a grease fire–a five-year-old prophet with the gift of healing, sent by God to the backwoods of Arkansas to transform His people.

In no time at all, huge crowds were showing up at the tent revival meetings and Prophet’s father was getting rich on the proceeds of his sprout.

About a year into the process, at age six, Prophet had a nervous breakdown. Matthew guessed that’s what you’d call it. The six-year-old started running around the room, only stopping to bang his head against the wall. He was placed in a mental institution, where he stayed until he was twelve.

Prophet explained that no one ever told him why he was there or how he would ever get out. One bright, sunny day, someone left the back door open to the asylum while spray-washing some chairs. The twelve-year-old detainee simply strolled out, started running, and never stopped.

That was the story thus far. Obviously there were many more tales to be told. But Prophet Morgan was a young man burdened by old demons.

He took an immediate liking to Soos, who found Prophet to be a bit bizarre in appearance but just ethereal enough to grease her wheels.

While the two of them were making friends, the phone rang. It was a call from Michael Hinston, from Washington, D. C. Matthew was surprised to discover that Michael had a change of heart and was now interested in the “make Jesus popular” project.

Matthew hung up the phone scratching his head, trying to figure out why, all of a sudden, all these elements were falling together. Well, if not together–at least colliding with one another.

Another phone call came in. It was Marcus Tomlinson, who had originally asked Matthew to consider the 250 million dollar project. He explained that he would be flying in the next day to talk about the future of the idea.

As Matthew hung up the phone, he felt there was a gloominess emanating from Tomlinson–coming with some bad news. Or maybe it was good news.

Maybe the burden of making the decision about this bizarre errand would be taken off Matthew’s shoulders.

He wasn’t sure.

Prophet Morgan stepped over and slapped him on the back, awakening him from his thoughts of deep escape.

“Quite a day, huh?” said the prophet.

“Yes. A lot going on,” Matthew answered, preoccupied.

Prophet looked off in the distance. “I remember an old Creole woman in Louisiana I once met, who said about this kind of day–the one we’re living in right now–she called it a ‘collision of the colossal.’ Lots of things happening, but no way to be sure if any of them smell of God.”

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Catchy (Sitting 10) The Three Muster Tears … August 13th, 2017

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(3398)

Randall changed his mind.

He came into the office on Monday morning, apologized for the legal maneuvering and explained that he was interested in being part of the project.

Matthew was suspicious. Perhaps Randall was just trying slip into the inner workings to find out if there was any money in play–to gain further ammunition for the court battle.

Matthew always hated himself for being cynical, regretting it even more when he was right.

Randall apparently sensed Matthew’s skepticism. “I suppose you wonder if I was visited by three ghosts, who spooked me into joining the club.”

Matthew said, “Well, I wouldn’t call you Ebenezer Scrooge, but you certainly might have attended one of his seminars.”

Randall laughed. “I was trying to explain it to Landy last night. She was pissed off at me. But you see, I’ve spent my life watching opportunities come my way, and analyzing them so much that they seem to run away from me in terror and leap into the lap of friendlier faces.”

Matthew got quiet, allowing Randall some space.

Randall continued, “I thought about it. Here’s an old man who dies who wants to give 250 million dollars to take an old religious icon who is known for loving and giving, and make the dude popular again. I thought to myself, what in the hell is wrong with that? Sure, I wish it wasn’t religious, or tied to some church, but when you need a cure, you don’t ask where the medicine comes from, right?”

Matthew just nodded his head.

About that time, Jo-Jay walked into the room and said, “I feel the same way. At least, I think so. I don’t want to miss out on something. I feel like I missed drugs and rock and roll. I never protested against anything. I missed civil rights. Gay rights. All rights. And by the way–what is heavy metal anyway?”

“It’s when you stack up a lot of light metal,” Matthew answered, chuckling at his own joke.

Randall added, “It was worse for me. I even missed Barry Manilow. My parents were very strict. It wasn’t all religion–part of it was our culture. But I wasn’t allowed to do much but study, go to school and attend church.”

Matthew sighed. “So you’re a church boy…”

Randall shook his head. “No–I went to church but I was never a church boy. I used the hour in church to quietly express my hatred for the Divine. While others sang praises, in my mind I asked God questions and then laughed at Him when He failed to come up with an answer.”

Jo-Jay stared in disbelief.

“So you want to do this because…?”Matthew posed.

Randall shook his head. “I don’t know. I know there are no answers in politics. Most of the law is mumbo-jumbo. Education just makes people smart-asses. There’s gotta be something else. I really don’t think it’s Jesus, but maybe we could at least get people to think.”

“Or maybe,” said Jo-Jay, “we just advertise the church and they end up ripping off more money from poor folks and spreading the message of doom and gloom.”

Matthew shook his head. “You know how sometimes the more you think about something, the better it sounds? I gotta tell you–the more I think about this the more it seems like a gigantic turd factory.”

“So you’re quitting?” Randall asked, surprised.

“Well, actually, I never started,” responded Matthew. “I just said I would check it out.”

“And here I came along to go on the magic carpet ride and Aladdin’s folding up shop.” said Jo-Jay.

Matthew squinted his face. “I would be Aladdin?”
Randall inquired, “And the magic carpet ride would be what?”

Jo-Jay laughed. “You guys are definitely over-educated, under-informed and without any natural feeling.”

“Part of me thinks I should say thank you,” Randall said.

There was a knock at the door. Matthew opened it to find a large man dressed in bib overalls and a plaid shirt, with a huge head of hair combed straight back. He reached out a big paw for greeting. Matthew placed his little hand into the acreage, shook it, and asked, “May I help you?”

The big, burly country boy responded. “Yes. My name is Prophet Morgan. I’m here to help you make my man Jesus, popular.”

All at once, Jo-Jay broke out in tears, which for some reason stimulated Randall to do the same, causing the recently arrived Prophet Morgan to sprout his own waterworks.

Matthew stared at the three of them in disbelief. “What in the hell is going on?”

Jo-Jay cleared her throat and managed a little smile. “I don’t know. But it’s neat shit.”
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Catchy (Sitting 9) A Given Inventory … August 6th, 2017

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(3391)

It was good to have Jo-Jay along on the trip back to headquarters. She was energetic, funny and very generous. She wanted to buy Matthew a whole new wardrobe, but he settled for a black leather fedora, which made him look dangerous–in a goofy kind of way. Arriving in town, Jo-Jay took her leave so she could acquire lodging for what was more and more appearing to be a protracted stay.

When Matthew came into the office, he was greeted by Randall, Landy and a stranger. It was obvious that the stranger was a lawyer. (Matthew contended that barristers had a certain “sniff” about them.)

Randall and Landy asked Matthew to sit down, and then explained that they had no interest whatsoever in being a part of the project that Arthur Harts had proposed, to popularize Jesus. But they did want to sign an agreement that any money that came into the business or profits incurred would be equally shared among the partners.

“So let me get this straight,” said Matthew. “You don’t want to work on this promotion. But if the promotion does well, you want to be able to acquire your share of the profits. Is that about right?”

Comically, both of them turned to the attorney for approval before answering. He nodded his head, and they mimicked. Matthew laughed.

“Randall, Landy…” said Matthew. “It is a bit amazing to me that we have this great thing going together until we find out there may be some money. It’s like my old Grandpappy used to say. ‘Poverty has many friends because you have to huddle by the fire. But being wealthy allows you to purchase an island hut with central heat.'”

Randall and Landy stared at Matthew, bewildered.

I’ll tell you what,” said Matthew, picking up the document they had given him. “I’ll look this over.” He thumbed through it. “Fifty-seven pages long. And I’ll get back to you.”

“Don’t take too long,” said the attorney, minus expression but with a threatening air.

Matthew went into his office and pulled up his emails. There was an expected one from Paul Padwick, wishing him well but wanting no part of the endeavor. There was also a second contact from Michael Hintson, continuing to apologize for missing his airplane. Michael had only one question: was the Catholic Church backing the idea? Because he could certainly use the support from those in his district who favored a Pope.

Susanna–Soos–was thinking it over. Mary Rogers Kent (Mother) was now a Buddhist. Lydia Lars, otherwise known as Layla, said she would contact him the following week, after the woman who did her astrology chart weighed in on the possibility.

Matthew was suddenly overcome by an uncontrollable giggle.

He had been given an inventory. Now he had to decide what he could do with it.

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