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


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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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Catchy (Sitting Two)This Young Man … June 18th, 2017


Matthew Ransley was an advertising agent but fancied himself an executive. He was a founding partner in a company called S.E.E.D.S.–an annoying, elongated acronym: “Selling Everything Everywhere, Delivering Success.”

Matthew was very good at what he did. He worked at being congenial but if sufficiently aggravated, could launch into a rampage to defend one of his well-guarded opinions.

It was Tuesday when the phone rang and Mariel, his secretary (though she preferred “executive assistant”) was not yet at work to answer, so Matthew found himself taking the call. It was from Marcus Tomlinson, an attorney—an attorney for the estate of Arthur Harts.

Matthew knew who Arthur Harts was, and had even heard that the old man had died. He listened carefully as Mr. Tomlinson explained about the recent reading of the will and the revelation of the “Make Jesus Popular” addition.

It did cross Matthew’s mind that it might be a crank call. But the attorney established credibility because he seemed to know what he was talking about, including an abundance of information about Matthew and his agency.

“The reason we called you is that we thought that your agency’s name, S.E.E.D.S., sounded a little religious, and in doing a background check on you, we also discovered that you had some interest in matters of faith and such when you were a student back in college.”

Matthew smiled. He remembered. College–a chance to plan your future while simultaneously ruining your life. After graduation he had included every piece of resume-worthy material possible on his application to gain employment.

He had begun a club during his college years, launching a fledgling organization initially called the “Son of One” (he being the only member at the time.) His vision was to create a para-religious/party-motivated/pseudo-intellectual club, which would attract both thinkers and drinkers.

Before too long he achieved a member and they became the “Crew of Two.” Then came another and they became the “Tree of Three.” When a fourth joined, they dubbed themselves the “Core of Four.” A fifth inductee created the “Hive of Five,” and a sixth, the “Mix of Six.” When a seventh young lady cast her lot with the organization, they became the “Leaven of Seven,” where they remained throughout their university years, garnering no new converts.

Matthew assumed this was what the attorney was referring to when he mentioned “some interest in matters of faith.” Honestly, the seven young folk liked to talk about God and politics until the wee hours of the morning while indulging in “the beer and bong.” It was hardly a consecrated conclave, but rather, dedicated to the proposition that all men–and women–are created equally arrogant.

“What is it you want?” Matthew asked. It was too early to chat–or reminisce.

Mr. Tomlinson proceeded to explain that one of Arthur Harts’ dying wishes was to give two hundred fifty million dollars towards increasing the popularity of Jesus.

“How popular does he need to be?” asked Matthew. “I mean, they named a religion after him, and, if I’m not mistaken, doesn’t our entire calendar run by the date of his birth?”

There was a moment of silence. Then Lawyer Tomlinson spoke in metered tones. “Let me just say that I don’t know much about religion, or God for that matter. I am merely performing the literal last request of a very wealthy man.”

“So what do you want me to do?” inquired Matthew.

“What do I want you to do? I guess I want you to tell me that your agency will take two hundred and fifty million dollars and at least try to make Jesus more popular.”

“We could start a rumor that he and Elvis are going to get together and cut an album.”

A pause. “Sounds fine with me,” replied Tomlinson.

Matthew chuckled. It was becoming quite evident that this lawyer was merely going through the motions of fulfilling a contractual oddity. On the other hand, as unusual as the request sounded, the two hundred and fifty million dollars did offer a bit of sparkle. As a founding partner in his business, did he have the right to reject such a lucrative offer simply because it was weird?

The lawyer piped up, uncomfortable with the delay. “Perhaps you could suggest someone else.”

Matthew laughed nervously. “No, I don’t really think I could suggest anyone else. I’m not familiar with any All Saints Agency or God Almighty, Inc.”

“It is two hundred and fifty million dollars. I mean, can’t you do something?”

“Yes,” said Matthew. (He figured it was always better to say yes to two hundred and fifty million dollars. You can revise your answer later, but in the meantime, well, it’s two hundred and fifty million dollars.)

Matthew punctuated his acceptance by adding, “Maybe we could get Jesus to date a supermodel.”

“I think he’s dead,” said Tomlinson, without inflection.

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