Not Long Tales … December 31st, 2019

Jonathots Daily Blog

(4475)

21.

Onederkind

by Jonathan Richard Cring

Dr. Jesse Kinrod had never done anything wrong in his life. Well, at least nothing to get him arrested by the authorities. At twenty-nine years of age, his vices were limited to failing to wash his clothes, arriving late for his shift at the hospital and allowing his scruffy, curly frock of hair to tumble down into his face.

But no one had ever placed handcuffs on his wrists, toted him away and stuffed him in a jail cell.

Tonight was the night.

Sitting in his beat-up, half-restored Camaro, revving the engine, he pointed the hood at the sheriff’s car and accelerated. They collided head-on at about thirty-five miles an hour, with the most awful screech and crunch imaginable. Shaken a bit, he stared over into the face of the shocked and befuddled peace officer, who had apparently been eating tacos at the time, with all the ingredients now strewn across his chest.

The aging sheriff sat stock-still, trying to get his bearings, then looked over at Dr. Jesse, who was patiently waiting to be nabbed and cuffed. Pulling himself out of his car, the sheriff limped over to the destroyed Camaro and screamed, “Get your goddamn hands on the dashboard, and then slowly—did you hear me?—SLOWLY reach over, open the door and get out.”

Jesse realized his brain was a bit discombobulated from the crash, and decided he should think over the instructions carefully—because the cop was pretty jittery, and had his finger on a big gun, unholstered and pointed in his direction.

Once safely out of the car, Dr. Jesse Kinrod listened carefully as he was instructed to put his hands on the hood and spread his legs. He was searched for a weapon but had none.

The sheriff, still fuzzy, stared at Jesse’s bare feet. Yet another violation.

Neither car could make the short journey to the headquarters of the Peterson County Sheriff’s Department, so a van was beckoned and the sheriff climbed in with the crazy, barefooted crasher in tow, and headed off to the jail.

Once the two men were inside, Dr. Jesse was placed in an interview room, listening to four or five policemen outside his door, whispering frantically and trying to figure out what kind of nut job they had uncovered in the middle of a dark night in the dark town in the desert.

At length, the sheriff entered the room, a bandage on his forehead. He sat down with a plop, exhausted from the ordeal.

He began. “Honest to God, boy, I hope you’re flat-out crazy—because the idea of you having a reason for what you did out there in the middle of the street in the middle of the night just scares the shit out of me.”

It was spoken with such a homespun drawl that Jesse nearly smiled, but caught himself just in time, realizing that this was no occasion for jest.

The sheriff paused, waiting for an answer. Then he probed, “Well? Are you gonna tell me why in the hell you nearly killed us both?”

Jesse drew a deep breath. “I needed to talk to you.”

The sheriff frowned. “We do have telephones, you know. We also have a front door, which opens both ways. You really don’t need to get my attention by destroying my cruiser.”

Once again, the response was so mature and congenial that Jesse nearly laughed. As the sheriff was waiting, the door to the interview room opened and the receptionist stuck her head in, asking, “Does anyone want coffee?”

They both did. She left and returned very quickly with two cups of coffee, neither man in the mood to converse.

Jesse took his first swallow. He leaned back in his chair and said, “I’m sorry. Probably there was a much better way to do this, but I didn’t know how to convey the seriousness of the situation without the drama.”

“I’m not much into drama,” said the sheriff. “I leave that to my little granddaughters, discussin’ their young boyfriends.”

Jesse ran his hands through his hair and said flatly, “I’ve got a story to tell, and I don’t think you’ll believe me. But I do need you to hear me.”

The sheriff shook his head. “Well, legally, I’m not supposed to talk to you. You’re supposed to be shipped off to the hospital, checked over…”

Jesse interrupted, laughing. “Not the hospital—that’s where I work. And I can tell you—because I’m a doctor—that I’ll probably end up with a little whiplash in the morning, but there are no broken bones or contusions.”

“You’re a doctor?” asked the sheriff suspiciously.

“Well,” said Jesse, “when I’m at work I’m a doctor. Tonight, apparently I’m playing the part of a fool.”

At that moment, a deputy barged into the door, whispering something into the sheriff’s ear. The deputy then straightened up, staring at Jesse like he expected him to turn into a werewolf.

The sheriff shooed the deputy out, and when the door was closed, he spoke slowly and clearly. “Well, they tell me you are who you say you are. So for the love of God, son, why would an educated man like yourself decide to throw his life to the wind?”

“Is that a question?” asked Jesse. “I mean, do you want me to answer?”

The sheriff paused. “Yes, I guess so. I mean, I’ve always heard this statement said in movies, but it seems appropriate tonight. This better be good…”

Jesse risked a smile. He took another drink of his coffee and leaned forward, putting his hands in the cuffs on the table. “I was in love with the most lovable woman I’ve ever met. I know that’s a strange beginning. But I want you to understand how this thing came at me…like a freight train.”

He paused. “I was so happy. Shit. I even looked forward to coming home at night and figuring out what to cook for dinner. When we made love, it was total… Well, it was art.”

The sheriff interrupted. “Jesus Christ, boy, I don’t want to hear this.”

Jesse nodded his head. “I know. I just wanted you to understand that there wasn’t any trouble on the horizon. There wasn’t trouble in the living room. And there sure weren’t any problems in the bedroom. I actually had to convince myself that this was the last woman I ever wanted to have in my life when we made love.”

The sheriff just shook his head.

Feeling the freedom to continue, Jesse took a deep breath, trying to gain some sense in his brain. “I think I was gonna ask her to marry me. But here’s where it comes in. She’s a doctor, too. Honest to God—like somebody wrote it for television. Two doctors falling in love in a small town in California.”

He squinted. “But you see, her work’s different. She’s the head of pediatrics over there at the Mercy Clinic—you know, in the middle of that huge forest stuck out there in the sand?”

The sheriff nodded. Everybody knew Mercy Clinic. It had gained national attention, being one of the only hospitals across the country that still offered late-term abortions without any questions. There had been protests and the press corps across the nation and come, asking every man, woman, child and lizard what they thought about the clinic being nearby.

Now that the hullabaloo was over, nobody ever spoke of it.

So the sheriff knew the place.

Jesse continued. “I can tell by your silence that you’re acquainted with Mercy Clinic. But honestly, sheriff, she did the work for just that reason. Mercy. She convinced me. I thought those type of abortions were evil, but she explained to me that complications can come in late in a pregnancy, or there can be dire changes through deaths, divorces, or just a final regret that produces the need for the baby to be aborted.”

He continued. “I didn’t ever believe in it, but I certainly understood her heart.”

Jesse explained, “Well, we were talkin’ about such things, because I took her to San Diego for the weekend, and I was gonna ask her to marry me. I had the damn ring and everything. She stepped out to get us some tamales that she heard were the best in North America, and I was left alone in our motel room, jazzed up, but also kind of curious. I did something I shouldn’t have done. I looked through her briefcase. She had agreed to come on the trip as long as I understood she had some work she needed to do. I thought she was talkin’ about Mercy Clinic—but when I thumbed through the papers, they were all about a man named Dr. Carmine and a place called Onederkind.”

He looked over at the sheriff. “If you’re takin’ notes, there, sheriff, it’s O-n-e-d-e-r-k-i-n-d.”

The sheriff was not scribing anything, but he grabbed a piece of paper from his pocket and a pencil lying on the table and pretended to enshrine the word for all time.

“My girlfriend,” Jesse began, “and by the way, her name is Lacy. Dr. Lacy Sanderson. She stayed away for quite a while. By the time she returned with the tamales, I had read most of the notes in her file.”

“So what did it say?” asked the sheriff, sprouting some interest.

“You see, that was the problem,” Jesse answered. “There were things I read that shocked me, but I was in no mood to be shocked, since I was just about to marry this woman, or at least propose. So I tried to brush it out of my mind. But after I finished off my third tamale, I was unable to ignore my feelings. So I asked her. Well, I didn’t really ask her. I just said the word: Onederkind.

“She stopped in the middle of her chewing, and slowly but precisely set her tamale on the plastic paper provided. Then she reached over and slapped me across the face. Well, you can imagine, sheriff…I recoiled like a spurned dog. I did not know what to expect, but the violence took me aback. She changed right before my eyes. She said, ‘You goddamn son-0f-a-bitch. How dare you go through my briefcase? How dare you go through my notes? How dare you say you love me and then intrude on my person?’”

“I was wounded but didn’t want to remain silent, so I said, ‘It’s because I love you that I want to know. Why do we have secrets? Why haven’t we talked about this?’”

“Now get this,” said Jesse. “Thinking we were gonna launch into an argument about states’ rights and all, she just looked at me coolly and replied, ‘I didn’t tell you because you’re a child and you’re so locked into the medical system that you could never comprehend anything but your charts and graphs.’”

Jesse went on. “Now, sheriff, this is why I ran into your car. For the next ten minutes, without blinking an eye, she explained to me what she really does for a living. She is united with a licensed, but renegade, doctor named Carmine. He has two missions. The first one is to provide late-term abortions for frantic, conflicted women who find themselves in need of one. But the second mission is to make sure that rather than killing those babies—crushing their skulls or whatever the hell is they do with them—that after they remove them from their mothers’ uteruses, he whisks them away and keeps them alive.”

The sheriff gasped. “Is he some sort of a pro-life freak? Or…”

Jesse interrupted. “Oh, no. No, sir. He isn’t keeping the babies alive to keep them alive. He keeps those babies alive, sheriff, for research.”

“Research,” repeated the sheriff.

“Yes,” replied Jesse. “Because it’s much easier to test medicines, chemicals and treatments on living subjects, Dr. Carmine uses these newborn babies that were going to die anyway, as test subjects for drugs, cures and vaccinations.”

The sheriff sat for a long moment. “Well, it does sound sick. But weren’t the babies gonna be dead anyway? He keeps them alive, uses them for a time…and then, does he adopt them out to families? I suppose that would be a crime.”

Jesse sat up in his chair and spoke angrily. “No. Here’s the crime, sheriff. Because it’s not legal to use human beings as rats or guinea pigs, when the babies reach one year of age—when they’re just about ready to do all their crawling, walking and talking—he gives them a shot and puts them to sleep.”

The sheriff was quiet. Jesse joined him in the silence, allowing for thought to live in the room, to give it a chance to bring meaning.

“So what you’re saying,” said the sheriff, “is that babies that were gonna be aborted are kept alive and used to test new drugs and treatments…”

Jesse interrupted. “Or to harvest their organs. Use their stem cells. Whatever Dr. Carmine feels is necessary to push along the progress of research at a pace that will bring faster results.”

The sheriff sat and shook his head.

“I know what you’re feeling,” said Dr. Jesse. “At first, I was torn—that even though it was unorthodox, or maybe even like Frankenstein, it still had a stream of good in it. But because there aren’t enough women who want third trimester abortions, Dr. Carmine was finding himself needing to advertise, if not encourage, women who were teetering in their indecision, to opt for termination.”

Jesse concluded. “You see, sheriff, there’s nothing good about it. It’s dark. The worst kind of sinister. It makes us believe it might be good.”

“So,” the sheriff asked, “what did you say when she told you all this?”

“Now it gets interesting,” Jesse answered. “While we were sitting in the motel room, suddenly there’s this knock at the door. Lacy gets up, opens it, and there’s these two big, burly fellows. One she referred to as Bruno and Bruno called his buddy Henry. Lacy quickly explained that since I knew, she was gonna have to wrap me up in tape and forbid me to leave the room until it was clear what my intentions were. In other words, what was I going to do with what I now knew?”

“Honest to God, sheriff, I always thought I would be able to protect myself if I was ever attacked, but these two guys just took me over, put me in a chair, pinned down my arms, wrapped me in duct tape, pushed me back and wrapped duct tape around my chest and the back of the chair. I wanted to struggle—but without knowing what to do—they were able to duct tape my legs to the bottom of the chair. They looked over at her when they were preparing to tape my mouth. She said, ‘Wait. Let’s give him a chance to speak, so he can ask questions.’”

“So I did. I asked her—even though it was controversial—what was wrong with working on chimpanzees to do the research. She told me, ‘They’re chimpanzees. They aren’t human.’ I asked her where her moral conflict was. Had she ever questioned it. She replied, ‘I work with pediatric AIDS patients. Do you know what it’s like to watch a little girl die of AIDS simply because she was born to a mother who’s HIV positive?’”

“Of course, I didn’t know what that was like. She continued. ‘Dr. Carmine has made progress in AIDS, childhood cancer, even paralysis. You see—’ she said, her voice turning into a scream. ‘That’s the problem. He makes great progress, but he can’t share it because he would have to reveal how he came to his conclusions. So even though the babies are helpful, and their clean, pure systems make it possible for the tests to register with great clarity, no one the hell can ever find out, because dead babies will resurrect the living babies, who are used to give life to other people…’”

“Well, I interrupted her and said, ‘Yeah, and in doing so are rewarded by losing their lives.’ She slapped me across the face again. By the way, it was at that point I decided that not to ever give her the ring. She said, ‘You’re so goddamn conventional and stupid. It wouldn’t have to be that way. If we really cared about people instead of just caring about babies so we can take pictures, Dr. Carmine could share his discoveries and hundreds—maybe thousands—of lives could be saved.’”

“’Okay,’ I screamed back at her. ‘Let’s follow your logic. So he learns all these things he can’t share while simultaneously stealing babies, which he eventually has to kill because they’re starting to want to live.’”

“Bruno stepped in at this point and asked her if she wanted him to tape my mouth. All she said was, ‘Get him out of here.’”

“And they did. I do not know how they got me down the stairs and through the lobby without somebody noticing that I was in peril, but in no time at all, I found myself in the back end of a pickup truck, just as night was falling.”

“We drove for thirty minutes—into the deepest desert that Bruno and Henry could find. They pulled over, removed the tape from my legs and hands and took off my boots. They confiscated my cell phone and gave me a small canteen of water. Finally I got the courage to ask, ‘Are you gonna leave me here?’ They laughed. ‘Yeah, dope,’ Henry said. ‘If you go east, it’s fifteen miles to a town. North, twenty. South, thirty. And West…hell, I don’t know. Whatever happens, you’re gonna be busy for a while. I would not recommend that you go back to town telling your loony stories.’ So with this final admonishment, he jumped back into the truck with Bruno and they took off, scattering sand in all directions.”

“I stood there for a moment as it grew darker and darker. The sounds of desert life filled my ears. Swishing, croaking and growling…” Jesse shuddered. “I was in trouble. I walked a mile until I found a road. I decided to walk down that road—hopefully until somebody found me.”

“They did. A fellow in a motorhome drove up, and even though he was a little frightened by my appearance I was able to convince him that I was the victim of a crime, and he let me get in and he drove me.”

The sheriff leaped in. “So you came back here, got in your car and decided to hit me so you could tell your story…”

“Well,” said Dr. Jesse Kinrod slowly. “Not exactly. Honestly, I didn’t think there was much need to come back to Fisher, since they probably had planted drugs in my apartment or something to discredit me.”

“So I found out that my friend in the motorhome was willing to drive me to the edge of the forest. You know—where the Mercy Clinic sits.”

The sheriff nodded.

“He let me out. He was willing to give me a pair of shoes, but his feet were as small as a Japanese dancer’s, so I was out of luck. I walked the mile down the driveway to the Mercy Clinic. It was a warm night, so the Clinic had its windows open. I walked around all four sides, listening to conversations floating into the night air. That is, until I heard someone call someone else Dr. Carmine. Just then a car pulled up, parked close to the door and out stepped my never-to-be fiancé, Lacy. She climbed the steps and disappeared inside. Before I ever knew it, she was in the same room with Dr. Carmine. I sat and listened to them talk, as she explained what had happened with me, intruding into her affairs and being knowledgeable of the system. Listening to Dr. Carmine, I was not more impressed with his mission. He had that lilt of superiority that often accompanies maniacs who think they’re Messiahs. Neither one of them wanted to suggest what to do with me, but it was Lacy who finally said, ‘He’s got to disappear.’”

Jesse looked over at the sheriff. “Do you get it? ‘He’ was me. So that’s when I decided to come back and, let’s say, get your attention.”

The sheriff was nearly moved to tears. He stood up and patted Jesse on the shoulder. “Son, I’m sorry. I don’t like what they’re doin’. It’s certainly immoral. It’s definitely illegal. But your testimony against them is incredible—because you just ran into a police car with your beat-up Camaro. Your story wouldn’t go anywhere. If you’re able to cover the damages on the cruiser with your insurance, why don’t we just call it a bad night? Why don’t you go home, forget that girl, and just hope that there is a God and He’ll make everything right.”

Jesse stared up at the sheriff and said, “I don’t think you understand. I’m here to turn myself in.”

The sheriff shook his head. “I told you. That’s not necessary.”

“Oh, yes, it is,” said Jesse. “What I didn’t get the chance to tell you was, before I left Mercy Clinic and hitched back into town, I went in there and stole the scalpel off his tray and killed that goddamn doctor and that bitch who lied to me.”

Dr. Jesse Kinrod raised his hands to surrender to the justice of the county.

The sheriff just shook his head over and over and over and over again.

Catchy (Sitting 62) Meeting II, Three and 4…August 19th, 2018

Jonathots Daily Blog

(3769)

“I usually don’t meet with white people.”

Terrance Eldridge.

Carlin paused, considering the statement. “Well, I usually don’t meet with a racist,” he replied.

Terrance stiffened. “I’m not a racist. I wasn’t casting an aspersion on the white race. I was merely saying that usually white people don’t want to hear what I have to say.”

Carlin smiled. “Maybe if they knew you weren’t going to be reluctant to see them they might be more receptive to your words.”

Terrance leaned back in his chair, reached over and took a sip of coffee. “You see, you feel comfortable being self-righteous, my friend. That’s because you’re white. If I take a dignified position, I’m uppity. Or radical. You may not be aware, Mr. Canaby, but America works on the ‘Hue-y’ decimal system. ‘What is your color? Then we’ll place you on the appropriate shelf.'”

Carlin just shook his head. “There’s nothing new here, Mr. Eldridge. This is the same drivel that’s been shared through Malcolm X, Farrakhan and any number of urban rappers who rail against the system and present themselves as victims.”

“Not victims,” said Terrance. “Just unable to join in the game without being proclaimed a loser before it even begins.”

Carlin sighed deeply. “Well, I’m not here to argue with you. Let me just sit here as the oppressive white person in the room and listen to you rattle on for half an hour, and then deliver my report. But I’ll tell you right now–somebody’s made a mistake in choosing you for anything. You are an agitator. Yes, an agitator. You come along just to stir people up, without offering any solution. And I, as a white man, don’t have any problem telling you that you’re sand blowing in the wind.”

Terrance eyeballed him. Then he spoke slowly. “I think I like you, Canaby. I think you’re stupid. I think you have no grasp of the problem. But you speak your ignorance eloquently.”

Carlin lifted his hands in the air and replied, “Then we agree. We’re both talking asses.”

“Perhaps we should start over,” reasoned Terrance Eldridge.

For the next half hour, the black educator did his best to present a coherent message to his pale brother. Basically it was pretty simple. As long as white people were deciding what black people were, black people would be unable to make decisions for themselves. Even if the decisions made by white people were favorable–“they’re great athletes” or “no one is as strong as they are”–black people were still victims of slavery.

They are really African-Americans, Terrance pointed out.  They deserved to be honored with their history one month a year. But even when such concessions are made, they are still chosen by a white committee.

Terrance explained that the black man achieved nothing by being angry at white America or at the nation in general. This just played into the hands of false patriots, who wanted to believe that equality had already been achieved, and what the black race was looking for was entitlement.

Terrance had two visions.

One was educational–huge weekend rallies held in big cities, inviting famous athletes and musicians to come and share, and to punctuate the fact that the black race, although brought to the United States under evil pretense, still owns their portion of the American dream.

The second piece involved taking the finest actors in Hollywood and making five movies–entertaining but also inspirational–about the journey of the black race in America. Each movie would take a different era, beginning with Movie One: 1750; Movie Two: 1850; Movie Three: 1950; Movie Four: 1960, Movie Five: Today.

Using the foundation of the Alex Haley series, Roots, there would be storylines connecting all the eras, to show what progress had been made and what progress still needed to be pursued. The movies would be entitled “AmeriKin” in honor of Terrance’s book.

So with the combination of the rallies and the release of the films, a new awakening could come into the black community, to seek common ground with all races in the country, to claim the space reserved and preserved solely for them.

The meeting ended up lasting an hour. Carlin listened carefully. Even though Eldridge was guilty of both erroneous opinions and overly zealous projections, Carlin could see where there would be value in having a movement among black Americans to claim their true heritage.

Terrance closed his discourse by saying, “I don’t know why you’re here, Mr. Canaby. I don’t know what this is all about. I don’t know whether you’re a spy or just a nice guy. I don’t know whether curiosity brought you here or if I’m going to walk out in the hall to say good-bye and get blown away by an assassin. So let me just say this–I will find a way to do all the things I’ve mentioned here. I will not judge whether these things will be successful until they’re accomplished. And if I’m the only black boy in America who claims his true kinship in this country, you will have one of us to deal with.”

Carlin smiled. He suddenly felt close to the dreamer. They stood to their feet. Carlin gave Terrance a hug. Terrance recoiled a bit, but reciprocated.

Carlin walked out the door, comically mentioning that there was no assassin–because they couldn’t find one on a Thursday afternoon. He headed for his car.

He had done what he was told. He had completed his mission.

What in the hell did it all mean?

*******

Jasper was freaked out.

He thought he was supposed to meet up with a comedian named Mickey Kohlberg at a comedy club. Jasper was used to comedy clubs. They were pleasant holes-in-the-wall in the middle of Downtown Somewhere.

But Jasper became unnerved when the corporate jet flew him to Tel Aviv in Israel.

Jasper did not like the Holy Land. First of all, it wasn’t very holy–more bloodshed had been perpetrated there than any place in the world. And honestly, Jasper never found it to exactly be land. There was so much contention, so much disagreement, over who owned the little strip of property, that it was difficult to believe that anybody would ever be able to put up permanent housing.

Landing in Tel Aviv, Jasper was handed an envelope by a fellow dressed in black, with no neck. He sat on the tarmac and opened it. It read: “You will be taken by car near Jerusalem, where you will meet up with Mickey Kohlberg at a location called the Sinai Club.”

That was it.

Jasper had a million questions–but the only person to ask was his driver, who only spoke Hebrew. Or was it Farsi? Jasper could not distinguish.

He decided to take a nap on the ride, and the next thing he knew he was sitting in front of a building made of cement blocks–unfinished, unpainted, resembling more a bomb shelter than a commercial venture.

Jasper climbed out of the car and a very small man with wire-frame glasses, long, black curly hair and a beard came walking up, and introduced himself as Mickey Kohlberg.

For a brief moment, Jasper was mentally and physically unable to function. He wordlessly followed Mickey inside.

He couldn’t fathom being where he was. He thought he was heading to a comedy club. What was sitting in front of him was a makeshift structure without air conditioning–without electricity–filled with small round tables and rickety wooden chairs.

Because Jasper felt so overwhelmed, he just allowed Mickey to do the talking.

“This is what we do. You may not know it, but you’re sitting on the border of a disputed territory. You go fifteen feet in one direction and you’re in Israel. Fifteen feet the other direction, you’re still in Israel–but not according to the Palestinians. They believe it’s their land. It’s a little bit hard to define who ‘they’ might be–coming from Bedouin backgrounds, they don’t exactly have a formal government or leader. They have a claim. They believe the land is theirs.”

“Every night I open up this club, put some candles on the tables, and I invite people from Israel and from Palestine to come to this structure and sit down together…and laugh. This club has been blown up five times. That’s why we keep building it in cement blocks. Makes it much easier to reconstruct.”

Mickey smiled a bit sadly. “So you may ask, how do I bring these people together? I find the only thing they really share in common is Jesus of Nazareth. He was once a prophet to the Jews and also one to the Muslims. I don’t sit here and share his teachings, but I take his teachings, his thoughts, and even parts of his life, and I turn them into comedy routines. Because I’m not making fun of Jew or Muslim, they are completely willing to laugh at Christian.”

“Now don’t misunderstand me. I am very respectful. But I do poke fun. Especially when I talk about how Americans have turned their religion into guns and bombs instead of compassion.”

Jasper held up a hand to stop Mickey. “I don’t understand,” he said. “What do you expect to achieve?”

Mickey sat for a long moment before answering.

“I believe,” he mouthed slowly, “that if we can show, even for a moment, that Palestinians and Israelis can agree on a common laugh, we might gain the world’s attention and get comics, musicians or artists from all over the world to come and sit in our little stone building and encourage the possibility of communication.”

Jasper sat very still. He realized that such an effort would require much money, a whole lot of motivation and twisting some arms.

“And what is the end game?” Jasper inserted.

“The end game?” repeated Mickey, uncertain of the meaning.

“Yes,” said Jasper. “Where does this take us? What is the next step afterwards? Where are we going?”

“I don’t know,” said Mickey. “Honestly, I just come here in the afternoons with a bunch of friends–early enough to rebuild the stones if necessary, and grateful if we don’t have to.”

“You’re a dead man walking,” observed Jasper pointedly.

Mickey welled up with tears. “There are worse ways to go,” he said. “That’s why I call is ‘Dying Laughing.'”

Jasper felt horrible for his nasty comment.

He told Mickey he would go and report what he had found and see what the people wanted to do about it. Jasper explained that he didn’t even understand why he was there.

“Just one more question,” posed Jasper. “Why do you call it the Sinai Club?”

“Mount Sinai was the last time that God spoke to my people,” Mickey answered. “I just think it’s time again.”

Mickey stood to his feet and walked out of the building, terminating the interview.

Jasper picked up a handful of the sandy floor of the club and tossed it across the room. He strolled out of the concrete bunker, hopped into the car and headed back to the Tel Aviv airport. The jet flew him to Washington, D.C., arriving ten hours later.

Coming down the steps of the jet, he found himself face-to-face with Jo-Jay, who was getting ready to board.

“Where you been?” she asked.

“Hell,” replied Jasper. “At least, the closest place to hell there is on Earth.”

He walked across the tarmac to the hangar and disappeared.

Jo-Jay shook her head and headed into the jet, waiting for them to refuel. She was on her way to Phoenix, Arizona. There she was scheduled to meet up with the young man named Careless.

She had done a lot of reading. She had a lot of stats and facts–the kind of useless information that makes interviewers feel informed, but actually does little to acquaint them with the subject.

Careless had selected his name based on the idea that if rich people were so rich that they weren’t concerned about money anymore, then they should start acting like they cared less and find ways to care more.

He was an igniter.

He felt it was his job to connect people of great finance with people who had Earth-changing ideas. He called it “the MacDonald project”–after Old MacDonald who had the farm.

In this scenario, the “farms” were worthy projects, organizations, research or efforts to quickly and efficiently impact the human race.

He envisioned a situation where he would be the conduit between those who had money and those who could use money efficiently to heal, protect, save and inspire.

He called it the E.I.O. Project.

Eeliminate

Iilluminate

Oobliterate

He was looking for people to take one of the “MacDonald farms,” a stash of cash, and in a 365-day period, either eliminate an evil or a disease, illuminate a nation or a race of people, or obliterate an injustice that exists on the planet.

Each one of these “farms” would be given fifty million dollars and at the end of a year, would be asked to account for how they used it and what effect they felt their project had achieved. There would also be a private investigating committee, which would likewise review and summarize.

If one of the “farms” was successful, the following year they would be given a hundred million dollars. If they were not, they would be replaced by a new “farm.”

Many people had been critical of Careless, contending that one year was insufficient to evaluate any effort. Careless, on the other hand, explained to his billionaire clients that too much time was spent by charities deliberating the best way to do something instead of experimenting with the next way.

It was radical.

Jo-Jay fell in love with him. Not romantically–but she believed she had found a common spirit. Even though Careless was well-versed in the subject matter, there was a simplicity and optimism in him that was infectious. She left her meeting inspired–realizing that the billion dollars he planned to raise to get the project going was chump change to the fifteen potential clients he was pursuing.

It was an interesting possibility.

Jo-Jay departed overjoyed, thinking to herself that the whole world could use such a sensation.

*******

On Thursday, at 1:15 A.M., Matthew checked himself in to the Las Vegas hospital. It had been a rough week.

Leonora had left him. He wasn’t angry at her–she had hung around for several weeks, even though his ability as a lover had diminished to nothing.

His body was taking on the pallor of a dying man.

She tried, but she was just too pink to be gray. She was too young to be around debilitation.

When she left him, he wanted to turn to the bottle, but now he felt too weak to even get drunk.

When he woke up on Wednesday morning and realized that his left leg was not moving, he knew he was in serious trouble. He spent the day crying, thinking, and even for a brief moment, tried a prayer.

But at midnight he realized it was time to call a private ambulance to pick him up and take him to the hospital.

He was only in the examination room for about an hour when the doctor appeared and confirmed the situation.

“You are in the final stages of liver failure. Your other organs are beginning to give up in sympathy. You need a transplant and you need it now. Before you ask me, I will tell you–we’re talking no more than a week. I’ve had your name pushed to the front of the list for donors. We shall have to see.”

The doctor left the room.

Everything was so still that Matthew could hear the buzzing of the flourescent bulbs.

He needed to talk to someone.

Who in the hell should he call?

 

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

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(3650)

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

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

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

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

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

Kids were everywhere.

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

It was surreal.

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

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

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

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

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

What in the hell was she doing in that alley?

What in the hell was he doing in that alley?

Why was he driving so fast?

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

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

“How are you related to Carrissa?”

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

He prayed.

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

One from his heart.

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

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

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

“All night?” asked the nurse.

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Maybe it’s better this way?

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

“What do you mean?” asked Matthew.

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

“I am responsible,” said Matthew.

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

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

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

Liary?” questioned Matthew.

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

“Are you an attorney?” inquired Matthew.

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

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

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

“Do I know you?” asked Matthew.

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

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

 

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

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(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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Catchy (Sitting 29) Prayer Do Well … December 31st, 2017

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(3538)

Matthew had finally gotten the hint.

After pursuing Michael Hinston for nearly three days, it had become completely obvious that “Mikey” was avoiding him. The latest evidence was that Matthew found Michael in the lobby of a hotel, and Michael feigned having an anxiety attack, pleading to go to the hospital and therefore refusing to speak to him. It was a scam. (Of course, it would be difficult to prove it, and certainly boorish to accuse.)

So Matthew decided to take two days off from trying to contact Hinston, and pursue a different approach. Via Michael’s Facebook page, he discovered that the Congressman was going to be meeting with some Boy Scouts from Ohio for a prayer breakfast on Saturday morning at some sort of local “Pancakes-R-US.”

Without any warning, Matthew descended upon the private affair. Upon walking through the door of the restaurant, put his arm around Michael and introduced himself to all the boys and men in uniform, as “the Congressman’s old friend from college.” As Matthew had anticipated, Michael was in no position to contradict him.

So Matthew sat through the entire breakfast, including the little speech offered by Hinston, waiting for the chance to corner him afterwards, with a series of questions which remained unanswered, festering in his soul.

As Michael stumbled through his little talk, which was half Biblical and half anecdotal, Matthew was astounded at how his dear friend had settled into a malaise of confused identity.

Matthew nearly chuckled aloud when Michael made some reference to Nehemiah. Nehemiah? How irrelevant was it to find the most irrelevant parts of an irrelevant book, to try to make an irrelevant point?

He stifled his giggle.

After an hour-and-a-half of too many carbs, too much sweet and a bounty of Bible, the meeting was over. Michael tried to excuse himself out the back door, but Matthew anticipated his selected exit and was waiting for him. As Michael exited the rear kitchen door, Matthew was standing there, waiting patiently.

“Not leaving, are you?” asked Matthew, stepping toward him and nabbing his arm. Michael lurched back in horror (the way cowards often do.)

“No,” said Michael. “I was just going to go look for you.”

Matthew smiled and decided to let the little lie wiggle away. He continued. “I just have three questions, Congressman–and knowing you’re a busy man, I will recite them to you all at once in their order of importance. First, what do you know about Jo-Jay’s condition, and why she ended up in the hospital?”

Michael attempted to reply but Matthew held up his hand to stop him. “No, no, no. I said three questions. Secondly, why are you avoiding me? And finally… Let me see. Yes. Where in the hell did you get that ugly tie?”

Michael squinted at Matthew and replied, “The tie was a gift from my children, and I would prefer you not let them know you think it’s ugly.” Michael actually smiled.

Matthew was relieved that underneath the crustiness of dried-up government red tape there might be a human being languishing in terror.

“Second answer,” Michael continued, “I wasn’t avoiding you. I was just busy. And finally, I don’t know anything about Jo-Jay. You remember, we weren’t exactly close. She was the one who came up with the awful nickname, Mikey.”

Matthew chuckled. “That’s just Jo-Jay. If she can’t get your love, she’s gonna get your goat.”

Michael bristled. “Always defending that pack of ne’er do wells, aren’t you?”

“Ne’er do wells,” Matthew repeated. “Are we going to continue the whole conversation in Olde English? Or betwixt will we return to the common man’s vernacular?”

Michael attempted to pull away from the hold Matthew had maintained on his arm. “I think I’ve answered your questions.”

Matthew laughed out loud. “To those people in there you may be Congressman Hinston, but to me, you’re the goddamn little twerp I used to send on beer runs. So don’t get uppity. I’m not in the mood for it. Jo-Jay is in a hospital, quarantined with an Amazonian virus, and all the clues point to you.”

“What clues?” demanded Michael.

“I guess I overstated my premise,” said Matthew. “Just one huge clue. She wrote your name on the mirror of the compact I found in her purse. She’s either really horny for you or she’s trying to let us know that you’re mixed up in her trouble.”

Michael frowned. “You are a foul spirit.”

“Back to the Olde English,” Matthew noted. “And thou art a fuckin’ liar.”

The moment froze in its heat. The two men might have gone to blows had it not been for a ten-year-old Boy Scout who came out asking for an autograph.

Michael stared at Matthew. “I should probably sign this young fellow’s menu, don’t you think?”

Matthew shook his head, released his hold on Michael’s arm and stood back, patiently waiting for the ceremony to finish. But instead of signing the boy’s paper, Michael put his arm around the little scout and walked back into the restaurant to join all the others who still remained.

Matthew felt angry, foiled, trapped and foolish. He walked back to his car. On the way, he noticed a black SUV, which he assumed belonged to the Congressman, since most of the cars in the parking lot had Ohio tags. Matthew leaned down to the back tire on the driver’s side, stuck a toothpick in the plug and released the air until it was flat. He rose to his feet, walked to his car, climbed in and headed off to the hospital.

It was a childish thing to do–letting the air out of the tire–but it brought him a strange sense of satisfaction.

As he drove to the hospital he received a text from Walter Reed Medical Center, pleading with him to come as quickly as possible. A chill went down his spine. Why would they send such a text? It had to be bad news.

Matthew felt one of those urges that occasionally overtake the human spirit–to just drive on, change his name and start over again. But he was needed.

So he parked at the hospital, jogged inside, went up to the quarantine level, and as he stepped out of the elevator, a doctor grabbed him by the coat sleeve, pulling him down the hallway.

“What’s going on?” asked Matthew.

“It’s too hard to explain,” replied the doctor.

They arrived outside Jo-Jay’s room, and through the door Matthew could see, much to his surprise, that standing next to her bed was Jubal Carlos. It seemed he had slipped past security, into her room, without anyone being aware. He stood there, holding her hand and talking to her.

Matthew turned to the doctor. “What’s happening?”

“Hold on,” said the doctor, pointing back into the room. “Look.”

Matthew turned, and as he did, he saw that Jo-Jay had shifted in her bed and was sitting up, talking to Jubal.

“Oh, my God.”

That’s all Matthew could say. The doctor just shook his head. “Honestly, there wasn’t anything we could do for her. This fellow came in the room, and the next thing we knew, she was sitting up, talking. Just like that.”

“Can I go in?” asked Matthew.

“I don’t know the answer to that,” replied the doctor.

Matthew didn’t wait. He opened the door, walked inside and Jo-Jay gave him a smile.

“What are you doing?” Matthew addressed his question to the entire room.

Jubal started laughing. “Well, I would like to tell you that I came in here and laid hands on her, prayed for her and she was healed. But the truth of the matter is, once I got in here I turned into an absolute chicken and stood about seven feet away, trying not to breathe the air. I was about ready to pass out from a lack of oxygen when this little princess woke up on her own, looked at me and said, “Where in the hell am I, and why in the hell are you here?”

Matthew looked back and forth between Jubal and Jo-Jay to see if they agreed on the story.

“Are you okay?” he said to the frail patient laying before him.

“No,” said Jo-Jay. “I was kidnapped, abused, and dumped in the Amazon Jungle. How have you been?”

“Better than that,” said Matthew.

Jubal interrupted. “Now, we’re not gonna do something weird and pretend that she was healed by me, right? I realize you’re promoters, and that’s the kind of thing you do.”

Matthew shook his head and Jo-Jay replied. “The last thing I remember was getting on a plane, and the next thing I knew, I was staring at you, and you looked scared.”

Jubal smiled. Matthew smiled. Jo-Jay was all business.

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Catchy (Sitting 28) Mikey … December 24th, 2017

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(3531)

Matthew lost track, but it certainly was several dozen phone calls before he was able to coerce the information to find out where Jo-Jay was. Details were sketchy and information was limited by red tape, but from what he was able to gather, it seemed that half an hour outside of Dulles International Airport, on Flight 451 from Brasilia, the cockpit had radioed ahead that a violently ill patient was on the plane, and they needed emergency assistance upon landing.

The patient was Jo-Jay.

It seemed that during the flight she had begun to vomit, spiked a high fever and her skin turned blood red. She was delirious and was terrifying all of her fellow travelers.

Upon landing, an ambulance immediately took her to Walter Reed Medical Center, where she was quarantined, placed on a drastic regimen of antibiotics, and presently lay helpless, limp and unconscious.

Matthew didn’t waste any time. He drove over to Walter Reed Hospital, rehearsing a cock-and-bull story about being related to Jo-Jay, only to discover upon arrival that they were so glad to see anyone who knew her that they embraced him with both questions and information.

Actually, the latter was lacking. There was not much they could tell Matthew about her condition.

Except that she was dying.

All her organs were beginning to fail, and she was under a death sentence from an unknown virus from the Amazon. She was surrounded by people in paper and plastic garments, moving in and out, diligently trying to care for her still frame.

Matthew just sat, looking through the window in total disbelief. How in the hell did this happen? What was Jo-Jay doing in Brazil?

There was no way to ask her. She was comatose.

Matthew noticed one of the nurses coming out of the room toting a purse. He recognized it as belonging to Jo-Jay. He needed that purse.

Distracting the nurse with a question about the medical chart and alluding to the fact that he might be able to give some added input, she set the purse down and slipped away for just a few moments–long enough for Matthew to reach inside the bag and pull out Jo-Jay’s “brain.” That’s what Jo-Jay called it.

It was a notebook she had kept since college, filled with ideas, feelings, recipes and little quips she had picked up to remind herself about better aspirations. Grabbing the treasure, Matthew hurried away to an empty room, entered, shut the door, turned on the light and sat down to read.

Total disappointment. For some reason the book was empty.

No pages.

As Matthew peered down at the binding, he realized that the pages had been carefully cut out of the book, probably with a razor blade. There certainly had been something inside that someone did not want anyone else to see.

Matthew was startled by a knock at the door. It was the nurse, who had discovered his hiding place. She held up Jo-Jay’s purse.

Matthew readied himself for a rebuke, but instead she asked him to rifle through the purse, to see if there was anything he might identify which might help them with a diagnosis. He had no idea what to look for.

The purse was full of nothing recognizable–except there was a powder compact in the bottom of the purse, partially open.  Matthew lifted it out and unlatched it. There, on the small mirror, written in what appeared to be lipstick, was one word:

“Mikey.”

 

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Jesonian: Reverend Meningsbee (Part 28) He That Has An Ear … November 6th, 2016

 Jonathots Daily Blog

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Reverend Meningsbee

Little Hector McDougal was just fifteen days old when his mama and papa, Jessie and Marty, brought him to the Garsonville Church for an official baptism. The parents were so grateful for little Hector that they could not wait to see him sanctified in all the right spots.

Yet there was some sadness mingled in with their joy. Although Hector was born with all of his digits in place, immediately after his arrival he developed a severe bacterial infection in both of his ears, which left him deaf. No one was sure if it would be permanent, but the hospital certainly wasn’t prepared to offer much hope.

So even though Jessie and Marty had a baby, they had resigned themselves to the fact that he would never be able to hear the praises they so wished to heap upon his ears.

Now, Reverend Meningsbee was not very experienced at baptisms, so he had reviewed the liturgy and pageantry feverishly. He even bought himself a bright-colored tie with Mickey and Minnie Mouse on it, having read somewhere that children were nearly hypnotized by the bright colors.

So you can imagine how surprised the pastor was when he dipped his fingers in the water, placed it on the baby’s head, and the child began to scream and holler like a wounded animal. Everybody immediately turned and stared at the preacher, wondering if he had somehow pinched, shocked, poked, stabbed or wounded the hapless repenter.

Meningsbee just stepped back in horror.

The baby continued to scream with hellish decibels–so much so that Mama felt it necessary to hurriedly leave the sanctuary to tend to her little one. Daddy trailed behind, holding a blanket in one hand and a pacifier in the other.

This left Meningsbee standing there in his Looney Tunes tie, sheepishly looking at the congregation, feeling like he had hexed the young fella.

The screaming continued.

Attempting to be clever, Meningsbee suggested that the gathered sing “Brahms’ Lullaby,” only to realize that nobody knew the words. A nervous, tenuous, but meaningful humming ensued. It did not calm the raging storm which had burst across the brow of Hector McDougal.

As a precaution, a decision was made to rush the little one to the hospital to see if the medical field could somehow remove the screaming curse.

Needless to say, the morning’s worship service was shortened–and considerably less appreciated by the folks who had hoped that their minister would be much more successful on his christening journey.

Stranger still, four hours later the phone rang at Meningsbee’s house and Jessie McDougal, with motherly tears, explained that the little boy had been squalling because he could hear. Apparently it was quite a surprise to him, and set off the onslaught of his throat alarm.

Yes–after testing Hector, the doctors found there was a healing, and he was now able to hear just as well as any other fifteen-day-old infant.

The news spread quickly.

It became known as “the miracle baptism.” Matter of fact, three days later at the Wednesday night “Stay and Pray” service, many of the congregational members contended it was God speaking to the church–to become an international center of healing. They suggested that the whole outreach of the Garsonville Church should be using the sacraments of baptism and communion as vehicles for God to intervene–healing the sick and maybe even raising the dead.

After all, they explained, Meningsbee wanted it to be a Jesus church–and what could be more like Jesus than a “hallelujah healing?”

Meningsbee did not know what to say. He was not sure how they came up with such a conclusion based on Hector’s experience, but he also did not want to dampen their hopes and dreams.

“Folks, it could be that what happened to Hector was meant for Hector and Hector alone. Just his personal piece of God.”

Everyone was baffled at Meningsbee’s ignorance. Certainly God would not give his grace to one poor little boy, and not intend it to be offered to the masses.

Meningsbee persisted.

“I’m just saying, maybe it’s not like Coca-Cola, to be bottled up and served over the counter to anyone with a dollar-fifty who needs a magical elixir…”

No one was listening. Meningsbee was not shouted down. It was worse. He was ignored.

Complicating matters, a news organization–one of them with all the letters in its name–called and wanted to come and do an interview with the church folk, pastor, mayor, city elders and even teenagers, to discuss the strange and bizarre happenings in Garsonville, Nebraska. You see, they deemed that with all the church splits, a suicide, drug overdose and now deaf ears being opened, it was quite a feature story, and the news division felt they could market it pretty well to their listening audience.

Reverend Meningsbee was against it. But the church council saw it as a wonderful chance to share the faith and vision, and show people on the West and East Coast that God truly did favor the prairie.

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