Catchy (Sitting 66) Please Remain Seated Until the Airplane Comes to a Halt… September 16th, 2018

Jonathots Daily Blog

(3797)

Never had Matthew been so overjoyed to get to the company jet. He was exhausted.

Yet he was not plagued by the usual nagging doubts that accompanied such fatigue. Something had truly happened back at Milton’s house.

He refused to be one of those arrogant agnostics who, when confronted with the obvious power of faith, decide to turn to stone, bouncing testimonies off of hardened hearts.

What happened to him had nothing to do with Milton–or Jesus Christ, for that matter. It had erupted from inside his own being–a cry he had stifled for years and drenched in a baptism of alcohol.

Milton had succeeded in “undaming” Matthew’s own personal damnation. Once that was accomplished, the waters flowed. Matthew had no idea what any of it meant, but knew when the jet arrived in Las Vegas, he would need to do some soul cleaning, which would include his house.

But now all he wanted to do was sleep.

The jet had a lovely lounge area with four huge leather chairs which eased back to make wonderful surfaces for slumber. He asked the pilot if he had a small sleeping aid, to help him tone down of his jumpiness and hysteria. It was a bit unnerving that the pilot offered such a pill to Matthew.

Matthew inserted jokingly, as he popped the sleep aid into his mouth, “Now, it’s just me taking one of these, right?”

The pilot smiled politely, obviously having heard the joke many times before.

Taking a big gulp of tonic water–his new replacement for whiskey–he swallowed the pill, and before the plane taxied off the runway, he was gone. There were no dreams, just a blissful, cloudy darkness.

Matter of fact, Matthew didn’t move a single muscle until he slowly awoke, realizing that the plane had stopped. There was a presence in the lounge with him.

He opened his left eye by itself (which he was unaware he was able to do). In the blur of sleepiness, he saw the shadow of a person sitting across from him. He gradually teased the other eyeball to join the sight.

Without moving his head or flicking a muscle, he quietly intoned, “Is this heaven? Because I would swear that you look exactly like Michael Hinston.”

The “apparition” calmly replied, “Well, if it’s heaven that’ll be up to you, but I not only am stuck looking like Michael Hinston, I also am forced by birth to be him.”

Matthew jerked to attention, turned, and stared at his old friend. “I was pretty certain you were dead. Are you such a good politician that you found a way to cheat death?”

Michael laughed. “No, Matthew. There’s a lot to tell you. And they sent me aboard this plane so you wouldn’t be overwhelmed.”

This made Matthew burst into laughter. “Oh, I see,” he said. “Somebody coming back from the dead was supposed to be a calming influence.”

Michael stood to his feet, stepped over and gave his friend a hug. “Well,” he answered, “in the scheme of things that may be true.”

Matthew took a deep breath. “Well, I guess I should ask you how you survived not breathing.”

“The only way I know how to do that,” replied Michael, “is to escape not dying.”

Matthew just stared at him, perplexed.

“Let me give you the short version,” said Michael. “Maybe later on we can go into more detail. I was actually in the hospital, being prepared for surgery, when they discovered the pending indictments against me in Washington, D.C. A man walked into my room–you’ll meet him later–and explained my situation. He told me that I could give a piece of my liver to you, recuperate in the hospital and end up in a struggle over my Washington, D.C. indiscretions for the next five years until all of my credibility and the legacy of my life with my children was drug through the mud and hung up for everyone to see. Or…”

Michael paused.

Matthew jumped in. “You’re stopping the story now? Are you kidding me? Or what?”

“Or,” Michael continued, “I could come here. Fake my own death and continue my life, free of the obstruction and the criticism of those who were interested in bringing down the Jesonian movement.”

Matthew craned his neck and winced. “You can tell I’ve really been out of the cycle. I didn’t know we called it that.”

“It needed a name,” said Michael, “or it was going to become an orphan.”

Matthew, being an old advertising warhorse, nodded. After all, it was not nearly as important that gelatin taste good as it was for it to be forever referred to as Jello.

The two men sat for a moment, allowing the information to settle like dust in a storm.

Finally Matthew asked, “So how does one fake one’s death?”

“Well,” said Michael, “when they took the piece of liver from me for your recovery, they went ahead and removed my appendix, which gave them my DNA. They replicated that in a laboratory here on the grounds, and placed it in a cloned body, which ended up easily fooling the Las Vegas coroner.”

Matthew squinted. “So they made a clone of you, from your appendix, that was so good that they fooled the medical examiner?”

He sighed. “Is this going to get weirder?”

Michael thought for a moment. “No…but similar.”

Matthew reached over and downed the remaining tonic water. “Let’s start with where I am. Or is this Vegas?”

Michael shook his head. “No. This is not Vegas. This is… Well, there’s someone else here that wants to see you. I’m going to let her continue.”

Matthew turned his head to look behind him. It was Jo-Jay. He gasped.

He wasn’t just surprised to see her, but also to see her looking so well. The last time he had eyeballed her in Las Vegas, her countenance was ashen. But there she was–beautiful Jo-Jay–living and breathing.

She leaned down and hugged him, holding it for a long moment. Matthew began crying again, just like he had at Milton’s house. He was tired of holding it back. Hell, he was glad to see his friend.

But he was also growing impatient with being in the dark. Jo-Jay, as always, sensed his mood. She sat down in the leather chair across from him, took his hands and said, “You are sitting on the tarmac of a place called The Haven on the Mount. The description would be much too difficult, but let me just say that our benefactor bought four connecting mountains in the state of Montana, hollowed out the center and has constructed a small city. It’s on nobody’s radar. No GPS. No one knows it’s here. And I was allowed to come and be the beneficiary of research that is being conducted, which is in the final stages of finding a cure for cancer. I volunteered to be a guinea pig, and have been cancer free for thirty days. Not only cancer free, but rejuvenated–like I haven’t felt since I was nineteen years old.”

Jo-Jay burst into tears–not broken, but tears of gratitude for being given such an opportunity.

Then there was a third voice–another visitor.

“I guess that’s my cue.”

It was an older gentleman. He made his way into the compartment, holding out his hand. Matthew shook it, and the man sat down in another of the comfortable leather chairs. He was wearing a suit which had once been in style, and remained fashionable because it was so well-tailored. He carried a cane. He settled in and began.

“Mr. Ransley… May I call you Matthew?”

Matthew nodded.

“My name is Arthur Harts.”

Matthew laughed. “That’s odd. I once knew a billionaire who became my client after he died who had that very same name.”

The whole group joined in with a large chuckle.

Arthur continued. “You see, we had some experience with faking deaths because we had already done mine.”

“That’s right,” said Matthew. “I was there for your funeral. I thought it might help me get the money if I walked past your casket. You sure looked dead.”

Mr. Harts cleared his throat. “My scientists do wonders with cadavers.”

“Wow,” said Matthew. “I don’t even know what to say to that.”

“Let me explain it this way,” said the billionaire. “I was tired of being rich and not being able to make a difference. You see, as long as I was alive I was a business man–not taken seriously for anything else–and I was done with business. I was ready to try to make the world run more like Eden instead of doing its best impression of Hell.”

He took a breath. “So I decided to die. I found a place–this place–and I took my fortune, enjoyed some fruits for myself, but gave the abundance of the orchard into the hands of younger folks like you, who had a hunger and thirst to see the world become a more righteous place. Mr. Ransley–excuse me, Matthew–can I tell you? You have done an amazing job.”

Matthew was touched, befuddled and angry, all at the same time. Harts looked at him and continued.

“I built this complex–a city with about 20.000 people, and called it ‘Haven on the Mount.’ A place for researchers, scientists, musicians, artists, inventors and even prayer warriors, could come, free of harm, and work on one goal. It was the dream of Jesus–that God’s will be done on Earth as it is in heaven.”

Michael nodded his head. Jo-Jay welled up with tears. But Matthew cut to the chase.

“So why am I here today?” he asked.

“Well,” said Arthur, “you are here because you’ve done an outstanding job, as I said, and because you have found some peace in your own soul. At least, that’s what Brother Milton told me.”

Matthew leaned in. “You know Milton?”

“And he, me,” replied Arthur.

“So you know about our meeting yesterday?” Matthew inquired slowly.

Jo-Jay burst in joyfully. “We’re so happy for you, Matthew. You fought the good fight of faithlessness. Now, I guess the message for you is, you’re being given a chance to enter the joy of the Lord.”

Matthew leaned back in his chair, his eyes moving from one person to another, seeking sanity.

Harts laughed. “You are such a precious boy. I knew you would have doubts about this. We welcome those doubts here. Without doubts we would never have built this sanctuary for progress. It wasn’t constructed on faith–it was formed from our doubt.”

His eyes glinted. “We doubted the human race could survive much longer, wallowing in nothing but ignorance. We doubted our ability to change anything. We doubted that four mountains could be hollowed out to make living quarters for twenty thousand people to generate the electricity of renaissance. We’ve doubted every single thing, every step of the way.”

Matthew sat up in his chair. “But what about Jubal? Jasper? Sister Rolinda? And Soos?”

As he mentioned the last name, he glanced over at Jo-Jay.

Michael spoke up. “Matt–they are where they’re supposed to be. The world needs them right out there in the middle of the pot, making soup. Nothing could have happened without those four souls. If you remove them, perhaps nothing new will ever happen again.”

Matthew lightly smacked his head. “I almost forgot–Carlin. Where’s he?”

Jo-Jay giggled. “Oh, Carlin’s here. You see, Carlin is Mr. Harts’ grandson. He was…how shall I put it? He was this movement’s Paul of Tarsus…”

Michael interrupted. “I guess at that point, it would have been Saul of Tarsus…”

Matthew held up a hand. “You’re talkin’ Bible. I’m lost.”

Arthur patted Matthew’s knee. “Don’t worry about it, Matthew. God called Paul because the early church had begun to stagnate, and Paul came along to take the message outside the city of Jerusalem, venturing into the whole world. My grandson has a great ability to change the curtains in a room from blue to red without you ever seeing that he’s messed with the rods…”

Matthew nodded his head. “Damn. That’s a good description of Carlin. So he’s your grandson?”

“I have two grandchildren,” said Arthur. Matthew nodded, expecting to see pictures. But instead, stepping into the lounge was Leonora.

Matthew couldn’t breathe. His mind tried to gather fragments–thoughts that might provide some explanation. He stared, wide-eyed, as if struck by a bolt of lightning.

Leonora stepped up to him, bent down and tenderly kissed him on the lips. “I am Mr. Harts’ granddaughter. What I’m about to say will be confrusing at first, so listen all the way through.”

Matthew could only nod.

She continued. “I’m in charge of the Music Conservatory here. My grandpa asked me if I would go to Las Vegas to try to save your soul…”

“What the hell?” Matthew interrupted, in total disbelief. “You are the biggest, fat–well, not fattest–but largest atheist I’ve ever met.”

Jo-Jay stepped in and said, “They knew that if someone started attacking the work you had done in making Jesus popular again, you would defend it.”

Leonora continued. “That’s right. If I had tried to preach to you, you’d have run to the desert. You probably would have drunk yourself to death. But I was such an obnoxious disbeliever that it made you find the gold in your own movement.”

“Fuck,” said Matthew. “And I mean that as a prayer. You’re absolutely right–and I hate you for it. But you are right. So it was an act? Sleeping with me? Standing on our heads licking each other–that was all just a plan to get me to sign on the dotted line?”

Leonora moved forward and put her arms around his neck, kissing him. “No. Never. I never intended to fall in love with you. Just be an irritant to your spirit. But I did.”

“You did what?” asked Matthew, pulling away. “Are you saying you fell in love with me?”

He pushed Leonora away and looked her in the face. “You left me in agony–not knowing where you were–and that’s your way of expressing love?”

Harts interrupted. “What Leonora was trying to do…”

Matthew pointed a finger at the billionaire. “Shut the hell up, old man! This is between me and her.”

Matthew looked at her with hurt eyes. “If this whole damn setup here is just a plan to manipulate people’s lives, then God damn you all. Here’s what I tell you–I’d rather have a world filled with explosions, evil and demons than see goody-goody folks like you trying to control everybody by promoting a puppet empire of Jesus freaks.”

Arthur, not at all offended, clapped his hands slowly. “There you have it, Matthew. There’s the problem. When are we interfacing, interacting, and when are we interfering? It’s hard to know. That’s why we need you. You won’t let us become goody-goody puppet masters.”

Leonora couldn’t remain quiet any longer. “I don’t know where this is going to go. I’m not prepared to give up on us. If you stay, I will answer all your questions, and learn from your doubts. If you go, I will have to go with you.”

The billionaire sat up and said sharply, “I can’t let you do that, Leonora. I can only guarantee your safety here.”

She turned to her grandfather and said, “What part of ‘I love you, Matthew’ do you not understand? I already walked away from him once because you asked me to. I won’t do it again.”

Suddenly the room was still. No one moved. No one spoke. Everyone was waiting for Matthew to assimilate all the data. Arthur tried to speak, but stopped, realizing that it was ill-conceived.

Leonora held Matthew’s hands, looking into his eyes. Jo-Jay cuddled up next to Michael and closed her eyes in prayer.

At length Matthew spoke.

“Well, I never make a habit of landing somewhere without taking in a few tourist attractions. Is there a tour? And if there is, I demand a golf cart.”

 

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Catchy (Sitting 39) And On the Third Day… March 11th, 2018

Jonathots Daily Blog

(3608)

Cassidy Templeton was a lineman for the electric company in Logan County, Oklahoma, which served the little town of Guthrie, population 11,000. Overnight, Guthrie went from being a quiet village of contented Sooners to a disaster area, as a tornado passed through, leaving behind a swath of destruction one mile wide and four miles long.

Cassidy was called in the middle of the night, and by the time he arrived and gathered his gear, the sun was peeking through, beginning to show the aftermath of a Mother Nature temper tantrum.

He was driving his truck on a county thoroughfare when he noticed a car stopped in the middle of the road. What was more disconcerting was the huge tree that was uprooted, sprawled across the electrical lines, pulling them down, closer and closer to the car below, as a heavy branch continued its descent.

Cassidy didn’t understand why the person in the vehicle didn’t back up to get away. He leaped out of his truck and ran up to the car, discovering a woman in her thirties, frozen in her ten o’clock/ two o’clock position, hands on the wheel.

He screamed but she didn’t respond. He looked in the back seat and saw three children buckled into position. He could hear the tree crackling above him, putting more and more weight on the lines, which were looming nearer and nearer to the car.

He just reacted. Instinctively–and stupidly–he ran and grabbed the wires to keep them from touching the car. He was struck down in the middle of the road with the full impact–electrocuted.

The woman regained her senses, backed her car up, put it in park, got out and dialed 911. Within three minutes there were firefighters and EMTs at the scene. But it was fruitless. Cassidy Templeton was dead.

They took him to the hospital, where after an hour of noble effort, he was officially declared DOA. His body was rolled into the morgue, his clothes were removed and a toe tag was attached so he could be autopsied later by the coroner.

That normally would have been the end of the story–except six hours later, a very dazed and confused Cassidy sat straight up.

Before he could realize his vulnerable position of nakedness, he got down from the table and strolled into the hallway, to the horror of the nursing staff. Fortunately, one of them noticed that he had a toe tag, and had emerged from the morgue.

He was gingerly led to a treatment room, where doctors examined him for four hours, only to discover that reports of his death were greatly exaggerated.

Cassidy was alive.

His hair was completely burned off his body and his hands were toasted, but all the other systems of his human anatomy seemed to be functioning at a high level. When friends and family arrived, frantically and joyfully, to see their loved one, they were all astounded at how mentally alert he was.

Cassidy had never been ignorant, but had eschewed most of the attributes of learning in favor of hunting. Now he sat in a chair and spoke with the articulation of a politician, without the accompanying lies. He explained to his family that something had changed. It wasn’t that he felt smarter–just that everything he had ever experienced seemed like fresh visions in his mind. He even remembered algebra.

In the midst of a horrific toll from the tornado, Cassidy’s story line was immediately picked up as a “feel good” closer for the nightly news.

Meanwhile, back at headquarters, Jubal Carlos decided to fly the whole troop into Guthrie for a noontime rally on the third day after the tornado. Matter of fact, it was the lunchtime of the morning that Cassidy was released from the hospital. The forty-six-year-old lineman went straight from his examination room to a stage in the middle of town, surrounded by about three thousand folks and the national press.

Jubal Carlos had no idea what Mr. Templeton was going to say at the rally. He had no time to prep him. Matter of fact, Cassidy arrived in a pick-up truck driven by his wife and accompanied by his son, got out, climbed up on stage, comically pounded on the congas for a few moments and then stepped toward the microphone.

Jubal spoke. “Well, I guess you know who this fella is. Around the team, we’ve started calling him “Lazman.” You remember–Lazarus, who Jesus raised from the dead?”

The crowd cheered and Cassidy giggled. There was a sweet, childlike quality to him that nearly startled Jubal, but he went on. “I have asked Mr. Templeton–can I call you Cassidy?”

Cassidy lit up a huge smile and nodded his head.

Jubal continued. “Anyway, I’ve asked Cassidy to come and speak to you all today, and he has literally just driven up from the hospital to be with us.”

Carlos glanced over at Cassidy, giving him a once up-and-down. “Damn, that’s the best-lookin’ dead man I’ve ever seen.”

Cassidy clapped his hands and the crowd roared with laughter and cheers. Jubal didn’t say anything else, just held out his hand, offering the platform.

Cassidy paused, glancing out at the crowd, exhibiting a few nervous twitches, and then slowly moved forward, stopped, and then spoke into the microphone, a bit surprised at how loud it was.

“It is amazing that you have to die to find out how dead you were. At least, that’s the way it worked for me. I loved my wife, I loved my town. I thought I loved God. I loved to hunt and I loved the shotgun my Grandpa gave me. I loved sweet corn with lots of butter…”

Each time Cassidy mentioned an earthly delight, the crowd murmured approval. He continued.

“But that morning, when I saw the woman and her children in the car, about ready to be pressure-cooked–yes, I guess that’s a good way of puttin’ it–I realized in a breath of time that to do nothing was to be a coward. Oh, my God, I did not want to be a coward. I didn’t want to wait and then later tell people I was following protocol. I didn’t want to see them pull four dead bodies from the scene when one would be better.”

He chuckled. “Unfortunately, that was gonna be mine.”

The audience responded with nervous laughter.

“So everything I had ever been taught, seen, believed, experienced and hoped entered my legs and pushed me forward. My hands decided to give up my life. I’d like to tell you that I thought about it. I’d like to say I was trying to do the right thing, but actually, in that split second, my something-or-other believed it was the only thing.”

Some “amens” chorused from the audience.

“They tell me I was dead. I don’t know much about that. I suppose I could tell you I saw God, Jesus or maybe Elvis. I didn’t. The next thing I remember after grabbing for that wire was looking down at myself in the hallway, standing upright, without my boxer briefs. It almost killed me again.”

The audience roared.

Cassidy concluded. “So I’m not gonna take much more of your time. But I would encourage you to go out some place by yourself, sit for a spell–and check if you’re dead, so you don’t have to die.”

He finished, then slowly walked away from the microphone as a stillness fell over the crowd.

Jubal left the tender moment alone. Everybody stood in silence for a good solid minute.

Cassidy had time to walk off the stage–a makeshift-flatbed-trailer–and start ambling toward his truck. Suddenly the gathered erupted in applause and he was surrounded by people who just wanted to touch “the Lazman.”

That night, every network led with the story. Every newspaper in America carried the picture, an insight or an editorial, and nearly all the souls in America stole a moment to take their own pulse.

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