Not Long Tales … January 21st, 2020

Jonathots Daily Blog

(4489)

24.

Turn Left on Oak Meadows

by Jonathan Richard Cring

Eddie Sparrow committed adultery, if that’s what they still call it.

An affair. A slip-up. A bungle in the jungle. A close encounter of the lustful kind.

Perhaps the strangest part of the whole experience was that he had this tryst with a young lady he was competing with for a promotion. In the process of trying to gain the new position, they were thrown together by the corporation—with tests and projects—so they could prove themselves worthy and literally “win” the position. Eddie became obsessed with her.

Her name was Lorraine.

Eddie already had a beautiful wife. He often heard unfaithful husbands explain that they “still loved their wife”—they just couldn’t help themselves with their new partner. He used to scoff at such a notion, insisting that self-control could win the day.

But when he ran across Lorraine, and she was just as willing as he was to break some rules, his body lit up with fire and he had no desire except to melt over her like hot wax.

A torrid affair it was. Sneaking, lying, not willing to trust anyone, because if the wife found out there would be trouble. But if the company found out there would be equally dire straits, since there was a non-fraternization policy written into the rules.

Right in the middle of this crazy-ass experience, it was decided that Lorraine would get the bump-up. She became his boss.

Eddie didn’t care—he wanted to continue. So intense was his drive to stay with Lorraine that he informed his wife, Cheryl, that he was greatly saddened, but he had lost his enduring love for her and wanted a divorce.

Then insanity gained the room.

Lorraine, who had been so involved in their social experiment, lost interest. Once she acquired the job and realized she was his boss, the thrill of the pursuit, the danger of the escapade and the excitement over Eddie disappeared.

She broke off connection with him. When she did, he begged and he pleaded, knowing that he had no wife to go back to and that his life was meaningless without her devotion.

Lorraine didn’t care. When Eddie persisted, she filed a sexual harassment suit against him with the company.

When the two of them gave their depositions—hers being his unwanted attention and constant haranguing through email (she provided evidence)—and his being that the two of them had been involved in a far-reaching romance for weeks—well, when both stories were shared, the board decided to accept hers.

Realizing he was on probation with the company, rejected by his lover and unwanted by his wife, a crazed Eddie stole the keys to a company car (one of those with a German name, a Japanese engine, a French paint job and a California interior) and took off.

Eddie figured he had about twenty-four hours until the authorities would be called. He decided to make the best of his time.

He drove south for about three hours, listening to music and opening the windows to let in fresh air to keep him awake. He mused over his plight.

Hungry, Eddie pulled over at a diner called “Our First Stand.” Walking in the door and seeing all the empty chairs and booths, he felt sorry for the place, wondering if this was also going to be their last stand. He was greeted by a waitress named Nesla and he sat down, making a crack about George Armstrong Custer being beaten by the Indians, and how he felt much like the old general himself. Nesla stared at him with that look young people often give when they don’t understand a word of what an older person has said—and therefore assume they’re crazy.

But privately, Eddie had decided to order, in honor of the Little Big Horn, a cheeseburger and a big piece of custard pie. He laughed to himself, surprised he was still able to find humor in anything.

Waiting for his meal to arrive, he went back to considering his dilemma.

Certainly he couldn’t continue to run in a stolen car. Eventually he would have to go back, just to have the ability to go forward. He tried to tap his feelings, only to discover that he wasn’t sure whether he loved any woman, or if he ever wanted to work a job again in his entire life.

Somewhere between the cheeseburger and the custard pie, fatigue set in. It had been quite a day. Rejected by two women and dishonored by his company, he was ready for sleep—or at least to roll around in a bed until insomnia subsided. He asked Nesla to give him directions to the nearest motel.

“Well, that would have to be Wycliffe,” she answered. “Thirty miles down that road. They got four motels. Most of them are pretty ratty, but I haven’t heard of anybody gettin’ killed.”

With this, she turned on her heel and headed back to retrieve food (not needed, because nobody was there).

Then all at once, somebody was there. Eddie turned, looked up, and standing next to him was a dude in his late twenties or so—pretty down on his luck, by the cheapness of his clothing and the smell emanating from his body. He was standing so close that Eddie was a bit unnerved.

“Can I help you, my dear friend?” Eddie asked at length.

In rapid fire, the man responded, as if the material had been memorized for a high school play. “If you go down three miles and turn left on Oak Meadows, there’s a place you can stay.”

The monotone and speed of his voice was almost comical, but Eddie, resisting laughter, inquired, “Is it a motel?”

“No,” said the young man, “just a place you can stay.”

With this, he turned away, walked toward the front door, opened it and disappeared. Eddie took a moment to look around for Nesla, to see if she was aware of this other location. She was nowhere to be found. He called out for service. No response. She didn’t even come out when he was standing at the checkout, ready to pay for his bill.

Giving up on waiting, Eddie left the price of the meal and a nice tip sitting next to the register, headed out to his over-stated sedan, climbed in and drove the three miles south.

Apparently, the first time he missed it. So at the six-mile mark on the odometer, he turned around and drove back. This time, off to the right (which would have been to the left) he saw the road sign. “Oak Meadows.”

He turned right and immediately found himself driving on a gravel road. He smiled. He loved gravel roads. As a boy, whenever their family car turned onto the gravel road that went to his grandparents’, he would giggle. To him it sounded like the tires were chomping on peanut brittle.

This one was narrow and covered on both sides with trees, with a deep ditch in between. About a mile-and-a-half up, Eddie saw a man standing, staring off into the distance. He pulled over, rolled down his window and said, “Excuse me, fine sir. I was wondering if you could tell me…well, I was told there was a place down this road where you could rent a room for the night. Like a motel?”

The man slowly turned around, held out his hand and said, “My name is Clancy Johns, and I have such a place, about two miles ahead. Now, I must tell you, it is not a motel but a room in my house that I let out to strangers who don’t want to drive all the way to Wycliffe.”

Eddie listened very carefully. The man had a presence to him—maybe it was his aged face. Or his simple demeanor. But Eddie immediately was drawn to him. It was a visceral connection he didn’t really understand, but the man seemed solid. Truthful. Reliable.

He shook his head. Foolish to draw such a quick conclusion about a total stranger. While he was still parsing his thoughts, Clancy spoke again. “Now, I also must warn you, it is a very simple home. But for fifty dollars for the night—no more and no tips—you get a room, a bathroom, it includes supper and breakfast.”

Eddie searched his mind for something clever to say, or even profound. “My needs are simple,” he said quietly.

Clancy laughed. “Then you would be the only one, my brother. Yes—you and you, alone.”

Clancy started walking in the direction of his house. Eddie shouted after him, “Mr.—Johns, is it? Clancy?” But the old man did not turn. Eddie pulled up next to him. “Would you like to ride in the car with me?”

Clancy bent down to look into the car, then right into the eyeballs of Eddie Sparrow. “Then I would miss my nightly walk, now, wouldn’t I?”

With this he stood upright and began walking again.

“I’ll meet you there, then,” said Eddie. He drove on ahead, and in less than a minute-and-a-half he was at an old farmhouse. He parked his car, got out and turned around like a little kid’s top, to see what he could see.

It was rustic, mostly gray and much in need of a coat of paint. But Eddie liked it. He wondered how long it would take the man to make it up the path. Suddenly, Clancy appeared at the front door of his home and called to him. “What’s keepin’ you, traveler? I already got supper goin’.”

Eddie stared. How was it possible for the old man to have made the journey quicker than his speedy car? But shrugging his shoulders, he grabbed his overnight case, headed up the path, opened the door and entered.

The interior looked like it had been decorated in the 1930’s by a family more intent on saving money than impressing guests. Still, it had all the elements one would need to survive, and even included a well-kept, dark-brown horsehair couch.

Clancy walked into the room behind him. “I warned you,” he said. “We aren’t the Holiday Inn.” He glanced around and laughed. “I guess we ain’t even an inn.”

Eddie smiled, scooted into the living room and plopped down on the horsehair couch. “It looks like home to me,” he said.

“Speaking of that,” said Clancy, “where would be your home?”

“Now, there’s a good question,” said Eddie. “If you’d have asked me yesterday, I would have said my home was in Hartford, Connecticut, and I was married to a beautiful woman and had one teenage son.”

“And if I was to ask you today…?” inquired Clancy.

Eddie took a deep breath. “Well, I’d tell you that the home still exists. It’s just not mine anymore.”

“Trouble with a woman?” Clancy asked, walking toward the kitchen.

“How did you know, my brother?” questioned Eddie.

Clancy stepped back into the room to make his point. “Well, it’s not that women are a problem, but when they get with us men, they don’t always show their best side.”

“I don’t know, Clancy,” Eddie said, lifting his eyebrows. “This girl showed a lot of good sides.”

Eddie went on to explain his situation in great detail as Clancy ducked in and out of the kitchen to make sure all the “eatin’s” were being prepared. Eddie told him about the affair, his decision to leave his wife, and ended up ‘fessing up to being reprimanded and how he illegally “borrowed” a car from the company.

He stopped, waiting for Clancy to comment. Instead, he stepped back into the kitchen, then returned with a big smile on his face. “Well, here we go! We’re gonna have fried chicken. We’re gonna have corn on the cob—and I’m talkin’ about those long cobs with a little sugar sprinkled. And we’re gonna have butter potatoes. I call ’em butter potatoes because I put so much butter in them that they’re about as yellow as a lemon meringue pie.”

Eddie was astounded. Clancy had just described the meal Eddie had asked his mother to prepare for his sixteenth birthday—complete with the butter potatoes and the sweetener on the cobs.

“That happens to be my favorite meal,” said Eddie.

Clancy laughed. “I’m glad to hear that, but honestly, I can’t imagine anybody being disfavorable to it. It’ll just be a few more minutes. Just keep doin’ what you’re doin’.”

Eddie sat still, breathing in the air of contentment. Looking over at the coffee table, he saw a large book with a leather cover on it—cowhide.

He reached over, picked it up and held it on his lap. He opened it, turned a page, then another page. On page three, there was a very small Polaroid—with a picture of his wife, Cheryl, when she was about twelve years old. She was with two other girls he couldn’t identify. He leaned over and peered closely at the picture. He was startled when Clancy spoke.

“Do you like my photo album?”

Eddie looked up. “Yes. I hope you don’t mind. It’s beautiful. Where did you get the cover?”

Clancy smiled and sat down next to him. “Well, let me just say that was a gift from a friend.”

Eddie paused, allowing time for a story to follow. Clancy eyeballed him carefully as if wondering whether to continue. “Yes…” shared Clancy, “she was a friend. I had her for fifteen years. She listened to me grumble about problems on the farm. And the only time she ever complained was when I spent too much time on her teats.”

Eddie smiled. He really enjoyed this old man. Clancy continued, completing his joke. “Oh, you do know I’m talking about a cow, don’t you?”

Eddie nodded. Clancy went on, “Because of her complaints I called her Bossy, but she really wasn’t. She was the best kind of friend you could ever have. She listened carefully, never judged, didn’t offer too much advice, and then, at the end of the experience, she offered you the milk of human kindness.”

Eddie chuckled. “What happened to Bossy?”

Clancy rubbed his knee. “Oh, she died. All things do, you know. But I didn’t want her to just be gone. So I took her hide, cleaned it, tanned it and put it on the cover of that photo album I love so dearly, knowing I would look at it frequently, and whenever I did, I would run my hands over the cover—just like I used to pet her in the barn.”

Some tears stood in Clancy’s eyes. Eddie was moved, too—not so much at the thought of the cow, but because a man could be so devoted. Changing the subject, Eddie asked, “I saw a picture of my wife in your photo album.”

“N-a-w-w-w,” drawled Clancy. “How could that be?”

Eddie opened to the Polaroid and pointed it out. “Is that your wife?” asked Clancy, incredulously.

“Yes,” said Eddie. “Cheryl.”

Clancy shook his head. “Her daddy was an old war buddy. We called that little dear Cee-Cee. She was such a beautiful little girl. So full of joy. And if you ever got discouraged, she’d whip up a quick batch of hope.”

Eddie paused, lost in thought. He could remember Cheryl that way, but it had been many years since he had seen the brightness in her eyes.

“Then,” said Clancy, “there must be a picture of her brother, Thomas.”

Eddie sat up and blurted, “Where? Where? Show me where.”

Clancy reached over, turned a couple of pages and pointed. “There he is. My goodness gracious. Such a small world, huh?”

Eddie stared at the picture of Cheryl’s brother, Thomas, as tears came to his eyes. Thomas was two years older, and Eddie’s hero. He had drowned in a boating accident. Eddie had been traumatized—never able to replace the deep hole left behind from Thomas’s absence.

Clancy excused himself, explaining that he was going to finish up dinner, and that it would be on the table in about five minutes.

Eddie sat, turning pages. There was a photo of his Uncle Barney, the jokester of the family. There was even an old shot of his grandfather. Eddie had only seen the man twice in his life.

Clancy called him to dinner, and they sat down at the table. Clancy looked up to heaven and said, “Not many thoughts on my mind, sir. Just glad to have the company. Amen.”

The chicken was the best Eddie had ever eaten. The butter in the mashed potatoes dominated—dribbling down his chin—and the corn was sweeter than molasses.

He would have eaten more, but the cheeseburger and custard pie weighed down underneath, threatening to rebel. After dinner, Clancy told him to just leave the dishes on the table, that he’d take care of them later.

They took cups of coffee into the other room and sat down as Eddie continued to look through the photo album with Bossy’s cover.

About ten pages in, Eddie saw a picture of his lover. Lorraine. At least it looked like her. She was a young girl in the photo, and she was with her family.

Eddie turned to Clancy. “Who’s the girl in this picture?”

Clancy squinted and said, “Another war buddy’s daughter. I believe…” He paused. “Yes. We called her Lori, but her name was Lorraine. And that’s her mom. I can’t remember her name. And her Dad, Michael.”

Eddie asked, “Who is the girl with her—in the wheelchair?”

Clancy grew quiet. “Well, that’s her crippled sister. She fell off her horse, severely damaged her body and never walked again.”

A breath of silence. Clancy broke it by standing up and saying, “Well, if you don’t mind, I’m gonna do me some dishes—my form of therapy. Then I’ll be headin’ off to bed. Breakfast will be promptly served at seven. Or who knows? Maybe eight.”

Eddie laughed. He reached up to shake hands, but it suddenly seemed inadequate, so he stood up and hugged the old man.

Clancy grinned. “Well, thank you for that. Everybody needs to feel one of those wrapped around him every once in a while.”

An hour passed. Then two.

Eddie was so engrossed in the photo album that he didn’t even hear Clancy finish the dishes or slip up the stairs. The deeper and deeper he went into the album, the more people he saw that he thought he knew—mostly in their younger days, in older times.

He looked across a room that had more memories than future. He cried. It was the last thing he remembered.

With the morning light coming in through the window and into his eyes, he realized he’d never made it up the stairs to his room. He had just laid down and cuddled up on the horsehair couch.

He felt good.

Matter of fact, he couldn’t remember a time he had ever felt better. He looked at his watch. It was 8:15 A. M.

He called out, “Clancy! I’m so sorry to have overslept!”

There was no answer.

Eddie took a deep breath and could swear he smelled homemade maple syrup. He stood up, walked through the house and up the stairs. Clancy was nowhere to be found.

He stepped out the door into the morning chill. The old man had disappeared.

Eddie came back in and walked over to the breakfast table. It was all set—for one. French toast, corn beef hash and maple syrup. All of his favorites. He ate his fill, thinking that at any moment, Clancy would come walking in.

He never did.

Soon it became obvious that he needed to go, so he wrote a note expressing his appreciation. In the note, he told Clancy that he was taking that picture of his wife as a young girl and would return it as soon as he could get a copy made.

He left a hundred-dollar bill on the table for services rendered, walked out, got into his car, drove down the gravel road to the highway—content.

He turned left, drove about three or four miles and suddenly realized he’d forgotten his phone. He found a wide space in the road, turned around and drove back. At about the four-mile mark, he began looking for the sign to Oak Meadows. He’d done that the first time, too. So he turned around and drove back. Missed it again.

The third go-around, he inched his way to make sure he didn’t miss the sign. He still didn’t see it.

He drove the few miles back to the “Our First Stand Diner,” and saw Nesla, who was there for another shift. He asked her if she knew about the Oak Meadows “bed and breakfast,” as he called it.

She didn’t. He explained to her that a gentleman had told him about it when he was there, eating, the night before. She looked at him confused, because there hadn’t been an additional customer when he was there.

He thanked her, climbed into the car, and made the decision to make his way home.

There was nothing positive waiting there. When he arrived, he was rebuked for taking the car and fired.

He went to see his wife, but she was too hurt—and rejected any possibility of reconciliation.

He did not call Lorraine. He was afraid of “three strikes and you’re out.”

He drove about thirty miles down the road to an exit for a little town called “Oak Meadows.” Reading the exit sign, he laughed, but still pulled off. He found an Oak Meadows Inn, and made arrangements with the manager, a fellow named Garrett, for a weekly rate. He paid for a month.

Eddie’s plan was to make no plans until plans came his way.

Trying to make conversation, Eddie said to Garrett, “This is really interesting, because just last night I stayed at an old man’s house on Oak Meadows Road.”

Garrett, a little aged himself, deadpanned, “Well…there are a lot of oaks and a good number of meadows.”

Eddie parked his car and found his room—104—and opened his door. He turned on the lights and looked over at the bed. Pinned to one of the pillows was a fifty-dollar bill.

The note read, “Your change.”

 

The M Word … April 30th, 2019

Jonathots Daily Blog

(4031)


THE

Related image

WORD


The word that should never be spoken—too dangerous because of its possibility of misunderstanding:

THE M WORD IS MOST

Most of the time

Most everybody

Most of them

Most of us

Most High God

Most popular

Most intelligent

Most ignorant

Most beautiful

Most spiritual

Most valuable

Most agree

Most disagree

MOST OF THE PEOPLE…

We believe in strength with numbers.

We use the most to cower the least.

We tout predominance.

After all, most people in Dixie in 1859 supported slavery.

Most people in Tennessee in 1956 were in favor of Jim Crow.

Most folks, in 1965, considered divorce to be an unforgivable sin.

For many decades, most of the American people insisted that homosexuality was a perversion.

Most of the most is an attempt to intimidate, deny difference and reject the possibility that simplicity can come from a minority perspective.

Most is a social manipulation, a spiritual intimidation and absolutely, cultural bullying.


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Jesonian … June 16th, 2018

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“When are we going to stop all this stuff you’re teaching and go back to who we really are?”

This statement seems to ooze from the twelve disciples throughout Jesus’ entire three-and-a-half year ministry.

They didn’t mind being taught, just as long as they didn’t have to learn.

And they didn’t mind learning sometimes, as long as they didn’t have to apply.

And applying was alright every once in a while, as long as it was a one-time thing that didn’t need to be repeated.

You can look at the disciples as either some of the whiniest men that ever walked the face of the Earth, or be candid and admit that they were typical.

Typical of us all.

Every one of us arrives at the Gospel with too many pre-conceived ideas. No wonder Jesus referred to the experience as being “born again.” Otherwise, we try to join a club that pursues all the traditions we have contrived since our birth.

Why are we going to Samaria?

Why was this man born blind?

Why do you talk so tough to the Pharisees?

Why can’t we divorce women?

Why are we supposed to love our enemies?

Why don’t we kill the Romans and start over again?

Why can’t I be scared in a boat when there’s a storm?

Why are we inviting tax collectors into our really neat band of brothers?

Why can’t we bring down lightning and thunder on the Samaritans?

You see, the Gospel is not just a plan of salvation, it’s also salvation from our plan.

Because without the Gospel, everyone would run hither, thither and yon, starting their own renditions of what Jesus said, coming up with funny-sounding names, and focus on one doctrine over another.

Wait. We’re already doing that.

The greatest gift you can give to yourself is to know that Christianity is a lifestyle, not a religion.

It is not a revolving door, where we enter to worship, and leave to catch the beginning of the football game on Sirius Radio on the way home.

The Gospel is the essence of eternity, functioning on Earth. No other philosophy, no other interaction and no other manifesto ever came along which included God, Nature and people.

Instead, each of these other religions focus on one of these factors. In some religions, God is over-emphasized. Other approaches place too much importance on Nature. And of course, there are philosophies which contend it’s a human situation–i.e., every man for himself.

The Gospel is not going away. It is not going to be replaced or even mingled with provincialism. It took the disciples a long time to understand this.

But if we all join together with good hearts and good cheer, we might be able to shorten the process and get people rejoicing again, with exceeding gladness.

 

*****

If you like the mind of Jesus without religion, buy the book!

                $7.99 plus S&H

*******

The producers of jonathots would humbly request a yearly subscription donation of $10 for this inspirational opportunity

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Salient…June 11th, 2018

 Jonathots Daily Blog

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There are matters that are too important to ignore or leave to chance. These are salient moments.

Even though it is not the holiday season, I found myself thinking about the song, “I Saw Mommy Kissing Santa Claus.”

If you are six years old, the title of this tune is frightening, leading your young mind to believe there’s a divorce in the making, custody battles and certainly a scandal awaiting the great Toymaker to the North.

If you happen to be older–let’s say above fourteen years of age–you don’t have quite the visceral reaction, since you have some inside information which might explain the circumstance. In other words, there might be a reason that Mommy is kissing Santa Claus that the young tyke isn’t fully aware of.

This is the advantage of knowledge, especially when it’s clothed with a great coat of common sense, and sits in a comfortable chair, with calmness.

Yet we, who are supposed to be grownups, are being carried away by all sorts of foolishness and deceptions, as if we are unaware of the possibility of different interpretations.

In politics, we’ve convinced ourselves that lying is an acceptable part of the practice, even though, in our mature minds, we are cognizant of the fact that no liar ever totally gets by with his or her fabrication.

In social interaction, we don’t seem to be able to distinguish the difference between a very poorly executed attempt at flirtation, harrasment, stalking and rape.

And in our religious realms, we deem ourselves to be the judges of humanity, when we were warned by the Judge of All not to don His auspicious robes.

To put it plainly, we are much smarter and more sophisticated than we pretend to be. Just as we know Mommy’s not really kissing Santa Claus, we likewise know that politicians can’t lie without eventually being destroyed, men and women need to learn how to interact with each other without singeing the edges with sexuality, and God needs to be worshipped instead of our fellow-human-beings defamed because they fail to measure up to chapter and verse.

We can do better.

  • We can actually take responsibility for the intelligence we’re supposed to have.
  • We can walk in the mercy we require for ourselves.
  • And we can garner the respect for one another that our own souls yearn to receive.

So for our salient moment:

Be as smart as you need to be by making sure you do not dumb down the world around you by pretending that dumb things should be heard.

 

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Catchy (Sitting 50) Hiding Out… May 27th, 2018

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The digital clock on the nightstand read 2:14 A. M. when the phone in the darkened room pierced through the silence.

Jo-Jay stirred from a contented sleep. She had taken out the motel room for the night to have some private time, away from the hustle and bustle of the tent camp at Soulsbury. She also yearned for a deep, cleansing shower in a bathroom full of steam, warm and cozy.

She sat up as the phone continued to ring. It took her a moment to recall where she was. She eased her way from under the covers, picked up the receiver and said, “Hello?”

On the other end of the line was the nighttime captain at the Salisbury police department. “Jo-Jay, this is Bob down at the police headquarters. We’ve…uh…Well, let’s say detained…this guy. And he’s asked for you to be his contact. You know–his one phone call.”

Jo-Jay had made sure to get to know all the Salisbury policemen, because they were a great aid to the cause at the Camp of Remembrance.

“Who is it?” she asked the captain, with a crackle in her voice.

“I don’t know, my dear. He just wants to talk to you.”

“What did he do?” asked Jo-Jay.

“Well,” said the captain, “I guess you would say he was suspiciously lurking around the campgrounds.”

Jo-Jay nodded her head, even though she did not understand, and told Bob that she would be right down. She threw on the easiest clothes she could find, grabbed her keys, money and purse, ran a comb through her hair and scurried out the door. The police department was only three blocks away, so in no time at all she was standing outside the building, staring through the window at a nighttime skeleton crew, drinking coffee and trying to stay awake.

Coming through the door and walking up to the desk, she introduced herself. The captain stepped forward, greeted her and patted her shoulder. He walked her down a hallway to an interrogation room.

He stepped to the side, allowing her to go in ahead of him. Entering the room, she nearly laughed. Sitting on a chair, dressed in a dirty, wrinkled, stained navy blue suit with a powder-blue dress shirt which certainly had not been laundered in weeks, with disheveled hair and at least three days of sprouting beard, was Michael Hinston.

Jo-Jay had not seen him since the night of the kidnapping and confrontation. She felt no fear, but she also felt no tenderness.

His eyes were swollen, threatening tears. “I bet you didn’t expect to see me,” he said quietly.

The captain interrupted. “Do you know this fellow, Jo-Jay?”

She stared at Michael, wondering if she actually did know him. She absently-mindedly turned and said, “Yeah. It’s fine, Bob.”

Jo-Jay motioned for the captain to leave and sat down with Michael.

He was handcuffed to a chair. She squinted her eyes, sighed, and inquired, “What in the hell are you up to?”

“Do you want the short version or the long version?” he asked with a slight chuckle.

“Actually, I want to be on my Posturepedic mattress back at the Holiday Inn,” she replied, “but since you’ve robbed me of that, why don’t you give me the medium version, edited for television?”

Michael launched. “I’m no longer a Congressman. You might have figured that out. Here’s the story, Jo-Jay. I fell in with some bad people. And what I found out was, I was pretty comfortable with them, which of course, made me bad people, too. So even though I didn’t have anything to do with what happened to you or your friends, I heard rumblings of what might have been the story line. We can get to that later. Anyway, I was told that it was nearly my duty to take a kick-back from Caine Industrial, to subsidize my lack of living expenses. The attorney who instructed me in the ways of Washington and such graft was a guy named Milford Hays. Here’s the truth, Jo-Jay. I kept that fifty thousand dollars he gave me in an envelope for four months. Yet when it came time to consider braces for both Alisa and Bernice, my daughters, and private schools, my salary just fell short. I was tired of being noble. I was sick of being short on a dollar. I ran the check through several different methods of cashing and retrieving–trying to disassociate myself from the funds. And I didn’t think about it anymore until last month.”

Jo-Jay interrupted. “Is there an end to this story?”

Michael bowed his head a bit, sitting still, then slowly lifted his eyes and looked at Jo-Jay. “Jay…I really need someone to be nice to me right now.”

She paused, looked him in the eyes, drank in the depth of his sincerity and nodded. He continued.

“Well, you see, I didn’t realize… Well, a lot of things. But mainly I didn’t realize there was a plot by Caine Industrial to discredit and humiliate me, so they could remove me from my seat and could put in their own flunkie. They sent pictures to my wife of me cavorting around the Beltway with a prostitute. They weren’t real. But that doesn’t mean much to a devoted, aging wife with two children who felt like she gave up her dreams for mine.”

He shook his head. “So a major leak showed up in the media about me taking kickbacks, complete with evidence–accounts and witnesses. The head of the party in Ohio told me I needed to resign. Right after that phone call, I got served divorce papers from Barbara. It came with a restraining order. She was able to convince a judge that my temperament was so unpredictable that she and the children might be in danger. I wasn’t even able to go back and get my clothes. Barbara moved–took the children somewhere. She left three notes behind–one from her and one from each girl. Let me just say that they were not messages of encouragement. The words ‘devastated’ and ‘disappointed’ appeared frequently. Everything I purchased on payments suddenly came due–at least it seemed that way. I was arrested, and they gave me a choice. I could plead guilty to a misdemeanor with a ten thousand dollar fine, or go to trial and risk fifteen years in jail. I took the plea, and as I walked out, I saw the attorney, Milford Hayes, chatting with the district attorney.”

He shook his head again. “All I had was my wallet and this suit. They had picked up my rental car and they froze my bank accounts. I walked out the door of city hall, down the steps, and put out my thumb–to hitch-hike.”

Michael stopped. “Jo-Jay, did you realize that people don’t hitch-hike anymore? I had a horrible time getting anybody to take me anywhere. Finally a truck driver took me into Virginia and dropped me off at a truck stop. He said the best way to get a ride was to sit around the coffee shop and listen to where truck drivers were heading, and then negotiate a deal. It took me three days. I finally found Trucker-man Jackson–that’s what he called himself–heading to North Carolina. I jumped in. Over two days, I developed a toleration for Merle Haggard on the way to Salisbury. I never told him my story–I think if he had found out I was from Washington, D.C., Jackson would have kicked me out of his cab. But I think the filthy suit did make him wonder about my origins.”

Michael sighed. “Well, finishing this up, I arrived in town early this afternoon, and just walked around the Camp of Remembrance. Since I didn’t know anyone…you weren’t there…I didn’t get a tent. So I was hanging out next to a tree when the police came upon me. My reasons for being there were sketchy and my appearance was less than reassuring. So they brought me here.”

Jo-Jay leaped in. “And you thought of me.” She took a breath. “I want to tell you, Michael. I learned a long time ago that it’s not a good time to ask a favor unless you’ve given a favor and believe there might be one available to withdraw.”

Michael nodded his head and considered speaking, but chose silence–a profile Jo-Jay also selected for a couple of minutes.

At length, Jo-Jay asked, “So what do you want to do?”

With tears in his voice, Michael choked out, “I want you to give me the favor I don’t deserve. Vouch for me. Let me get out of these damn clothes. Wash up. Buy a pair of jogging pants, a t-shirt and tennis shoes, and I’d like to be of value to the work here.”

Jo-Jay laughed. “That’s just like everybody,” she said. “After they use up all the good shit in their lives, they suddenly want to give God the husk.”

Michael nodded his head. “Everything you’re saying is true. Everything I’m saying is theory. But everything is closed off to me…but you.”

Jo-Jay agreed to help.

For the next three weeks, Michael grew out his hair, his beard and managed to grow a heart. He actually became a favorite around the camp, because anytime anyone asked, “Can I get some help?” Michael would respond, “I was waitin’ to hear that.”

He was especially helpful with the older gentlemen, who often had more complaints than value. He turned them into a little army of workers who carried groceries and picked up trash.

Although Jo-Jay was still leery of Michael’s intentions, after three weeks, he was succeeding in gradually making a believer out of her.

Meanwhile, back in Las Vegas, Matthew and Jubal continued to hide out.

On a Thursday night, Matthew had a strange realization–he had made an initial run through all the clean prostitutes in the town. He found out, because when he asked for a new one, they sent him one he had already met.

Matthew laughed sadly. He knew this was not what he wanted. He had never envisioned himself a “carouser.” But he knew he could not stand to be a follower.

Simultaneously, on the strip Jubal Carlos had made his way backstage to the Sahara, to hook up with an old friend of his, a master at makeup. Jubal’s request was simple. He asked his friend to take makeup, latex and wigs, and turn him into the prettiest version of himself possible.

He wanted to become a woman–not because he was transgender. Just because he wanted the experience. It took four hours of intense effort and extreme electrolysis, but afterwards, a statuesque, dark-haired beauty walked out of the dressing room.

She needed a name. Jubal decided on Jennifer Carmen.

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Salient … May 14th, 2018

 Jonathots Daily Blog

(3673)

There are matters that are too important to ignore or leave to chance. These are salient moments.

“With great regard.”

It is a phrase that was often used to describe the honor given to truth. “With great regard for the truth.”

Gradually, painfully, and almost silently, we have taken the truth and set it aside, believing it to be impractical. Lying seems to be a “second nature” condition of human beings. Folks feel more comfortable viewing it that way. Assuming people are lying takes away the responsibility to hear the truth.

Yet no lie survives history. In other words:

  • Alexander wasn’t so great.
  • The Third Reich did not last for a thousand years.
  • And the Crusades achieved nothing except the deaths of innocents.

All lies are eventually exposed.

So what is truth? Is the Bible truth? Unfortunately, the Good Book has been used for a lot of bad. There are doctrines which were promoted years ago, which have proven to be too stringent.

After all, there were no witches in Salem, there is no way to prohibit human couples from divorcing, and gay people can’t live their entire lives closeted.

So truth is not about laws or regulations from government or religion. Truth, very simply, is: “Based upon what we know, this is the way things appear to be.”

But we need a way to get there. Yes–we need a way to speak the truth that will give us life. Truth can never be achieved unless it’s greased by the motivation of love.

Truth told without love is vengeance.

Truth told without love reeks of lies.

And truth told without love takes life instead of giving it.

If we use love to humbly speak the best of our knowledge, we will gain life.

And what do we mean by life? Permission to continue our freedom as long as we grant it to others.

When we disregard truth and we begin to use pride, vengeance and selfishness to generate the lies that hurt others, we eventually will have our own lives snatched from us.

There is a way that leads to truth, which brings us life. If we use love to speak the truth we presently know, then we’ll be given a life we can live freely.

So here is your salient moment: Just because the inclination is lying, it does not mean that lying can ever settle in and find peace.

After all, it is the truth that makes us free.

 

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Catchy (Sitting 46) Liary… April 29th, 2018

Jonathots Daily Blog

(3658)

Carlin Canaby was the only son of Joshua and Myrtle Mensterhall, itinerant evangelists who toured the south, holding revival meetings in Southern Baptist churches.

Carlin was born in a tiny town in Mississippi and by the time he was two years old, was singing “Jesus Loves Me” to congregations to help promote his father and mother’s ministry. He was as cute as a button, but became more and more unfastened as he got older, and was privy to the hypocrisy of the whole process.

His mother and father were often cheated out of offerings, as churches insisted there was some errancy in the message which caused them to dock the payment. But more often than not, there was no explanation at all–just a paltry sum handed over after fourteen days of work.

This never seemed to hamper Joshua’s enthusiasm to “preach the Gospel to every living creature.” That is, every living creature unless they were black, Hispanic or involved in some untoward practice viewed as heinous by the religious system he revered.

Carlin’s mother, Myrtle, had the personality you would expect from someone named Myrtle. She was nervous, uptight and deathly afraid of anything that resembled a germy speck of dirt. She played just enough piano to accompany Joshua’s incompetent singing.

The pair had very little appeal, and even though revivals were scheduled to last for two weeks, they were often cut short due to lack of attendance.

Still, everything went along reasonably well, with biscuits, grits and gravy provided by the local churches, until Myrtle became involved with Reverend Rudy. Reverend Rudy was a chunk of a man, with a girlish giggle and a prancy walk. He loved to lean down into the faces of young boys and ask them what they wanted to be when they grew up–with a big whiff of tobacco bouncing from his breath.

Carlin didn’t like him. He especially found him distasteful when he walked into the room and discovered that Reverend Rudy was very interested in his mother’s groin. Rudy pretended to be dabbing off some imaginary coffee which had spilled on her lap, but it was obvious to the thirteen-year-old Carlin that there was more going on south of the border than picking cotton.

Sure enough, 24 hours later, Reverend Rudy and Myrtle announced their intentions to pursue a life together, just as soon as a quick divorce could be acquired from Joshua Mensterhall.

Carlin’s dad was devastated. He had lost a wife, a piano player and an accountant to try to keep the wheels of the Gospel somewhere in the middle of the dirt road.

And even though Joshua was not the unfaithful one, word spread that he was “a divorced man,” so the revivals lined up for the future canceled, one at a time.

Myrtle made it clear that she didn’t want the boy, so Joshua took Carlin, and for a season they were homeless, panhandling and street preaching.

One day an old black gentleman named Carlton Canaby happened by while Joshua was pontificating to passers-by on a particularly difficult passage from Jeremiah. The Negro gentleman asked him what he was trying to accomplish. Matter of fact, they decided to have coffee together, careful not to enter any restaurant, but instead, getting styrofoam cups from the local gas station, and heading for a nearby park.

Joshua poured out his heart to Canaby, who ended up being a reverend himself, with the National Baptist Church. (This was the Negro outgrowth from the Southern Baptist.) Pastor Carlton decided to invite the pale preacher in, to hold a meeting. Even though many of the parishioners at Pastor Canaby’s church objected to a white man preaching–especially one teetering in an adultery situation–the friendly pastor insisted, and Joshua and Carlin were scheduled in for a two-week revival, complete with eats.

Joshua was horrible. Being a white man raised in the south, he thought himself superior to those he was teaching. On the third night, a young man in the congregation rose to his feet, interrupting the sermon time and said, “You don’t know much about colored folks, do you?”

Those in attendance burst into laughter and Joshua stood, red-faced and defensive. Canaby came forward, easing the tension, and said, “Our brother is here to learn, to heal, to grow and to be himself without apology.”

For some reason, this touched the heart of Joshua Mensterhall. He burst into tears and fell on his knees, pleading to the heavens with an anguished cry. The congregation surrounded him and the true revival began.

It lasted for two months, until one night, after the service, Pastor Canaby was abducted by some angry white men in a pick-up truck. They did not approve of mixing races, so they took Canaby into the woods and hung him from a tree. Fortunately for Reverend Canaby, they had twisted the rope too tight around his neck. It caught on his shoulder muscle, which sustained his life until others arrived and cut him down.

But he was never the same. Perhaps it was the lack of oxygen from the hanging, or just a good old-fashioned dose of fear. He retired into his own soul, where he seemed to receive some comfort.

Shortly thereafter, Joshua died.

Carlin was made a ward of a missionary family named Richardson. They were traveling on mission to Equador. Carlin hated every minute of it. He nearly burst in anger, waiting for his eighteenth birthday so he could run away and start his own life.

When he did, he rejected the name “Richardson” and “Mensterhall,” and took on the name “Canaby,” in honor of the brave dark man who had befriended a bewildered white minister and his frustrated son.

Since that time, Carlin had made it his life work to expose hypocrites with his organization, “Liary”–which was defined as finding a way to tell the truth in the most pleasant way possible, without flirting with the lie.

Carlin had recently received a phone call from a notable businessman, asking him to intervene in the Jubal Carlos campaign, to assist by softening some of the blows of disapproval that were coming over assumed scandals.

This is what brought him to the hotel, where he found an extremely defeated Matthew Ransley.

Matthew immediately liked Carlin, but Jubal Carlos was quick to express his disfavor. Jubal didn’t like anything associated with lying–even if it was an attempt to prevent its severity.

Matthew found himself in a war: one in his heart, his soul, his mind and the excesses that were gradually eating away at his body.

He thought to himself, I wonder how Carlin would spin my life? What positive things could he find that would sweeten my tale?

It was obvious there was a transition coming. Would it take them deeper into the discovery of Jesus, or just make them another clever organization with a hint of charlatan?

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