Iz and Pal (Bedouin Buddies)


Iz and Pal

Jonathots Daily Blog

(4161)

Sitting Thirty-Six

Most people knew him as the editor of the newspaper but were unaware of his name nor anything about his background.

He liked it that way.

It had been his experience that the more people know about you, the less they are truly concerned and the more interfering they become.

He knew who he was. His name was Alexander Omar Percea. He was a confirmed bachelor and he was old enough that it was wise to forget the exact number.

He had been raised by an Egyptian diplomat who had made it his mission to set in motion peace talks between the Arabs and the Israelis. His father was a gentle man, who became more irritated and agonized over the years as there was no progress toward understanding. Yet he taught his son one very important rule: once you have done what is available to be done by you, don’t do any more. He explained to his young offspring that lamenting the opportunity to change the world only leaves one hating the people in it.

Alexander considered many occupations where he could pursue his aspirations and finally landed on journalism.

But now that the printed word was becoming less and less appreciated and effective, he took his father’s advice. He continued to do what he knew how to do and let it play out however it wanted to play out.

Alexander had the guideline of never getting involved in the type of adventure which had left his father dead of a stroke at age fifty-six. He loved his father very much, but as a young man, he stood back watching the soul of his dad being eaten by the wolves of indifference.

Not for him. Matter of fact, he verbalized his feelings while standing over the coffin of his daddy. “Father, I love you. But I won’t be you. The world can have my time. The world can have my interest. But they shall not have my spirit.”

Alexander had settled into his role as an editor, behaving like an old chicken, pecking at words and sentence structure, putting out the very best newspaper he could. Confident that he had done so, he was able to sleep at night without having his internal being tugged from all directions.

That is, until Miss Karin (as he called her) lured him into the story of the two boys in the desert. Even while hating himself for allowing his mind to be fluttered away with concern for the lads, he acknowledged that he was entrapped—hoping that just this one time, there could be a merciful happy ending to a story in his homeland instead of death and destruction.

He couldn’t sleep. He couldn’t think. He found himself worrying, much the way his father had over his two “children”—Israel and Palestine.

But as promised, Editor Alexander Omar Percea sat down and did what he could for the cause and was finally able to convince himself that it was enough—because it was all he had.

He prayed. Not just to one God; Allah, Jehovah, Jesus, Buddha–to every religious icon he could think of. There was no need to leave any deity ignored when Iz and Pal could use all the help that heaven and Earth could muster.

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Iz and Pal (Bedouin Buddies)


Iz and Pal

Jonathots Daily Blog

(4085)

Sitting Twenty-Five

As it turned out, orange construction cones make great soccer goals for runaway boys in the desert, dreaming of football stardom.

Iz and Pal were desperate for a diversion—a way to physically explode with energy, allowing their muscles to stretch and ache. With the arrival of the cones, the soccer balls, the tennis shoes and the hamburgers, they had the makings of a deliriously exciting life.

Sweet play.

They vigorously kicked the ball, imagining acclaim and cheers in the great arenas of the world capitals as renowned soccer players, drawing applause and the favor of men with the pleasure of many women.

They fell, exhausted, in the sand, laughing, liberated from conventional restraints, simply content to live in the moment’s lingering bliss.

Nothing seemed wrong. Therefore, nothing was wrong.

During one of these respites, Iz posed a question. “Pal, what do you think will become of us?”

Pal, still ablaze from the fervor of the game, asked enthusiastically, “Do you mean before or after we win the World Cup?”

Iz frowned. “No, really. Where do you think this is going?”

Pal realized his friend was once again turning serious—an attribute he didn’t favor much but decided to tolerate from his more melancholy partner. Settling into some solemnity, he replied, “I don’t know.”

Iz perked up. “I think I do.”

Pal drew a deep breath and inquired, “Well, tell me what’s gonna happen.”

“They’re going to take us back,” said Iz. “They’re going to make us go home.”

Pal shook his head. “They haven’t been able to do that so far.”

Iz shifted to his knees, grabbing his friend by the shoulders. He stared into his eyes. “That’s because they still think we have a hand grenade. When the soldier tells them the truth, they will come for us.”

Pal’s eyes welled with tears. “I don’t want to go back.”

Iz settled down on his backside and looked at Pal carefully. “Don’t want to? Or won’t? Which is it, Pal? You know we have to decide. It could happen at any moment. We have to decide.”

Pal was confused as to what Iz might be referring—very concerned. “We have to decide what?” he posed cautiously.

Iz didn’t miss a beat. “We have to decide what we’re going to do if they come here and try to make us go back.”

“Well, we don’t have a hand grenade,” Pal said flatly.

Iz shook his head vigorously. “Don’t be stupid. Did you think we were going to use the hand grenade?”

Angry, Pal rose to his knees. “Don’t call me stupid. I hate that. If we weren’t going to use the hand grenade, why did we have it?”

Iz scoffed at him. “To scare them away. That’s why. But they won’t be scared anymore. I can just feel it. They’re coming for us.”

Suddenly Pal was overtaken by a streak of tenderness. “Iz,” he said, “I won’t let them take you.”

“How will you stop them?” demanded Iz. “My father is so angry—so mean. I can still feel his anger pouring all over me, making me shrink before his eyes, becoming a little ant that he could step on at any time and mash with his foot.”

Pal was shocked by the words. It was a true revelation into his friend’s soul, but a sudden one that left him bewildered. He reached out to touch his comrade’s arm. “Listen,” he said, “No one’s going to mash us anymore.”

Iz looked up with a glassy stare. “Are you with me, buddy?”

“You know I am,” said Pal.

“No,” insisted Iz, gaining an unnatural intensity. “Are you with me?”

Pal was startled. “With you for what?” His friend’s reactions sometimes seemed chilling, foreboding. There was something frozen, perhaps dead, in the heart of Iz that never quite warmed or showed life, no matter how much joy came into their situation. Pal felt equal—but still overwhelmed.

Iz continued. “Are you with me to the death?”

“Death?” Pal lurched back, unable to hide his shock.

Iz shook his head. “I won’t go back alive.”

Pal drew a deep, ragged breath. “Iz, I don’t want to die. I came out here because I wanted to live.”

Iz rose up and pointed his finger at Pal, screaming. “But what if they won’t let us live? What if they just come out here and act like we’re silly little boys and spank us, ridicule us, and take us home? I’m telling you, Pal. I can’t go back to Pada. I will not be that scared little ant anymore.”

Pal nodded his head in agreement, if not understanding. “So what do we do?”

Iz scrambled to his feet and ran over to the portable toilet. He opened the door, reached in, grabbed something and returned quickly. He held a pink stick in his hand. Breathlessly he explained, “Pal, these came with the toilets. They are poison. If they come for us, we will break this stick into two pieces and each one of us eat our half.”

Eat it?” Pal shouted.

“I won’t go back,” repeated Iz calmly.

Pal wanted to object. Pal needed to reason with his perplexed, confused friend. But Pal was just twelve years old. So a sense of allegiance swept over his heart.  He felt no need to resist. The plan was made, and it seemed to make sense.

Time would tell.

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The K Word … April 16th, 2019

Jonathots Daily Blog

(4017)


THE

Related image

WORD


I lived in Nashville, Tennessee for nearly twenty years. Overall, I found it a very pleasant experience.

Yet seventy-four miles south of my home, on Interstate 65, was a town called Pulaski. It is the community where the Ku Klux Klan began. So most assuredly, confidently and sadly, I will tell you today’s word that should never be used again—the “K” that should not be spoken—is the Ku Klux Klan.

The K Word is the Ku Klux Klan

It’s not so much their views. I don’t agree with anything they say. Yet if they were coming from a position of personal experience, I might need to consider their perspective. But no member of the KKK has spent fifteen years playing in the National Football League, surrounded by black men. If they had done this and come out with a negative insight, then I would have to conclude that they had a right to their opinion.

Or if some of the members had lived in Israel for ten years and after the visitation, had stated that Jews were greedy and less than human, I might question their premise but certainly would have to acknowledge that they had been involved in a live-in experiment.

But there’s no member of the Ku Klux Klan who has spent any time with members of the black race or the Jews. They are not well-traveled individuals who, after careful research, developed a doctrine of the division among the races, with the hypothesis being that “white people are better.”

These are little boys and girls who were never allowed to formulate their own thinking but instead, absorbed the prejudice, anger and fallacious notions of their ancestors.

Unfortunately, these ancestors came to the conclusion that keeping their cotton crop in the black was much more important than the blacks who made it possible for them to have a cotton crop in the first place.

They are childishly ignorant—ignorant because the philosophy they cling to was long ago abandoned by people of reason, science and emotional well-being; childish because they’re still trying to please parental figures, aunts, uncles, grandfathers and ancient kin who held to a belief system that found its only power by leaving others powerless.

There is a school of thought that if you want to do away with the Ku Klux Klan, then let them speak their mind, let them be heard, and they will be revealed for who and what they are.

Unfortunately, unfoldings in our country over the past ten years tell us that giving breath to a murderer is granting license to murder.

This is why I’m saying the KKK should never be mentioned. It should not be discussed. It should not evoke either anger or apathy.

We should pretend that it does not exist until it’s so small that evolution can swallow it back into the earth—where it will finally die—with the graves of those who were once so presumptuous.


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Iz and Pal (Bedouin Buddies)

Iz and Pal

In a basket full of oranges, it is often the singular, lonely apple which gains attention.

This is an endearing characteristic of the human race—we are intrigued by difference while simultaneously frightened of the diversity.

So in our day and age, in the midst of clamoring for resolutions, often based on military might, a breath of fresh air comes into the atmosphere of pending war in a region ironically referred to as “The Holy Land.”

Amir and Jubal, two boys who grew up in different camps of a raging, never-ending conflict—one Arab, one Jew—find one another. They rename themselves “Iz” and “Pal” and strike out to change the world around them by creating a love between them. They determine to maintain their friendship amidst the granite-headed thinking of a stubborn society.

“Iz and Pal” chronicles the journey they take, the friends they encounter along the way, the surprising enemies—with a stunning resolution which will keep you riveted to the pages of this odyssey in exploring the value of peace.

Starting next week, I will share sittings from this novella with you, and hope that, in its simple way, it can transcend the pessimism of fruitless negotiations and invite an essential revelation:

After all, no war is ever finished until the children say “No more.”

 

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Jesonian … October 23rd, 2018

 Jonathots Daily Blog

(3834)

It is thoroughly possible, plausible and even necessary to separate Christianity from Judaism without being considered an anti-Semite.

Jesus spent the majority of his ministry providing parameters for a New Covenant, which was followed by the Apostle Paul becoming downright blunt over the need to extract the message of Jesus from the Jewish tradition.

Yet most evangelicals and many mainline denominational churches continue to foster a sense of equivalency between the Old Testament and the New Testament simply because they know two important factors about their congregations:

  1. They don’t want to lose the ability to seek revenge with “an eye for an eye and a tooth for a tooth.”
  2. They need Jesus to remain the “Lamb that was slain” instead of the Lion, roaring out his commands.

INFUSION OF JESUS

So actually, the teachings of Jesus, the personality of the Nazarene and the mindset of the Christ are often considered to be an intrusion to the organized church instead of welcomed as an infusion.

Simply put, Jesus did not come to contradict the Old Testament–but he certainly did arrive to countermand it. If you’re not familiar with that word, it is most often used in military circles to explain why some officer, usually of a higher rank, comes along to revoke or change the orders of the previous commander. It’s a nice way of saying, “We’re going to change things up.”

MEN OF OLD

Jesus cleverly referred to it as “fulfilling the law.” What an excellent, political word! He then turns around, and in fulfilling that Law, disassembles the instructions of Moses by referring to those who founded Oral Law and taught it as “men of old.”

If we want to become a Jesonian church, infusing the lifestyle of Jesus instead of viewing it as an intrusion, we must understand that, as Hebrews the First Chapter explains, God used to speak through Moses and the prophets, but not anymore. Now He speaks through Jesus.

So stop using Old Testament patriarchs to try to countermand Jesus.

Case in point: it is no longer the Kingdom of Israel–Jesus describes it as the Kingdom of God, which is located inside each and every believer. The new Holy Land is within your soul.

The challenge in this generation is to cease looking at our example, Jesus, as an intrusion, and begin to take his choices and use them as an infusion into our everyday existence.

It should keep us busy–because it’s very difficult to insist that Jesus was a Jewish prophet when he said things like:

“Before Abraham was, I am.”

“God can take stones and make children of Abraham.”

And “Your house is left to you desolate.”

Jesus was a new day.

Jesus was a new way.

And he came along proclaiming

“What you say? Go my way.”


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

                $7.99 plus S&H


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Catchy (Sitting 64) One Year Persisted… September 2nd, 2018

Jonathots Daily Blog

(3783)

365.

An odd number–a peculiar collection of time to signify the passing of one year of human life.

Matthew got well.

Not better. Not what a physician would call a “marked improvement.” Rather, Matthew took the little piece of liver from the life of Michael Hinston and generated it into a new human form. He was grateful–especially at first.

At Michael’s funeral, he wept like a baby, testifying as Lazarus, who had risen from the dead, of his appreciation and humility over being afforded such a gift.

He mourned. In the process of mourning, he found comfort in his old friends, who he once believed to be adversaries trapped in a religious fervor which frightened him.

But as time passed, and it did, he was less and less concerned about the past and more and more curious about what might lie in the future.

He was unable to find Leonora. She had done the impossible–disappeared. He checked musicians unions, concert halls and even companies that sold oboe reeds, to see if they had any information on his Leonora. She was gone–and if her goal was to make her retreat clean and complete, she had been successful.

Matthew tried to bury himself in the work. Even though his thankfulness had an air of spirituality to it, his human doubts had grown even stronger with the death of Michael and the loss of Leonora.

He feigned appreciation. He imitated faith. It wasn’t completely absent from his soul–just waiting in line behind hundreds and hundreds of unanswered questions.

Carlin became his good friend. The work of Terrance Eldridge, with his book, “Amerikin,” had spread into the Hispanic community, and also the Asians. There was a move to see Mr. Eldridge run for President, and rather than taking on the mantle of either party, he began “the Lincoln Party,” with the slogan, “Ameri-Can when Amerikin.”

He was rising in the polls daily, but more importantly, at least to Carlin, a true dialogue on the roots of racism had spread across the country, producing both solace, and at times, violent reactions.

Terrence Eldridge’s nephew was assassinated at one of the rallies. The act was caught on film by the networks. The shooter was a member of an emerging and marauding group of citizens who called themselves “The Migrators.” They were unashamedly advocating for an Anglo-Saxon, white America, and were gradually moving their families to Montana to escape the insanity of “racial blurring.” Thus, the name, “Migrators.”

Jubal took his meeting with Milton, and began to market the word Jesonian like a new cereal from Kellogg. Everyone seemed to love a term that described belief in Jesus without an allegiance to the religious system. Matter of fact, many of the Protestant denominations began to advertise themselves as “Jesonian Baptists” or “Jesonian Methodists” or “Jesonian Pentecostals.”

Jubal tried to visit Milton once a week to get a burst of inspiration, clarity and enthusiasm, to take out into his Jesonian rallies, which now offered a definition for what once had been a frat party with a Bible.

Soos mourned Michael Hinston. Matter of fact, money was provided for a permanent memorial in Salisbury, North Carolina, called “Soulsbury USA,” dedicated to Michael Hinston. Since no charges were filed against him before his death, those pursuing the indictment quickly faded away, figuring that any incrimination cast on the man would only create a backlash for them.

Jasper labored with Mickey Kohlberg at the Sinai Club. It was not easy. Gradually, comedians from America and even pop stars made the pilgrimage to the site, under heavy guard, to share their talents and add their agreement. It was one of those things that was popular for a few months, until things went back to normal.

Mickey continued to hold nightly comedy routines at the club. There were threats and occasional bombings, but he persevered. Finally, both the governments of Israel and Syria condemned the project and made it illegal to participate. For a few weeks, some faithful Arabs and Jews persisted, but eventually it was just Mickey.

One night in June, with the stars and the moon as witnesses, he walked into the club, which was empty, stood on the stage, and he launched into his routine.

Jasper was due to arrive the next day to discuss future plans on how to transform the seeds of the idea into an international movement. But Mickey decided to go to the club one more time, faithfully, as he had done every night since its inception.

He was standing onstage, talking to an empty room with a microphone in his hand, when a young fellow–no more than a teenager, clad in black robes and a black hood–stepped into the back. He lifted up an assault rifle, aimed it at Mickey and began to recite prayers.

Mickey, knowing there was no escape, said loudly into the microphone, “So now I will know what it’s like to die onstage.”

The young man fired and fired again, and fired a third time, even though Mickey had fallen to the ground dead.

In happier news, the movement of Careless, with the billionaire donors and the E.I.O. farms, had sprouted great victories. Careless had succeeded in putting together what he referred to as “The Faithful Five,” a quintet of billionaires determined to change the world with their dollars. Not only did they use their money to fund great ideas, which offered cures, answers, plans and relief, but they also pooled together to quietly, behind the scenes, purchase the two largest providers of medicine in the United States and the free world.

Upon gaining controlling interest of the companies, they immediately lowered the cost of the drugs necessary to keep people alive and thriving. They challenged hospitals to stop being profit-making machines and return to the position of sanctuaries for the sick.

It was a drastic transition. Everybody in every corner of the world felt the impact, both in their pocketbook and their sense of well-being.

There was a split in the Catholic Church. Sister Rolinda becoming a priest had created such great havoc that those of the ancient ways felt the need to separate themselves from the apostate.

It was very simply dubbed, “Old World Catholic” and “New World Catholic,” divided rather evenly geographically between East and West, and poor and solvent.

The Old Church kept the old world with the old problems of old destitution.

The New World Catholics rejected the need for a Pope, maintained the cardinals and bishops, but made it permissible for priests to be married. They ushered in forty days of fasting and prayer to repent over the atrocities which had been committed against women and children over the decades. It was an amazing vision of the world giving up its power in order to produce lamentation and the first fruits of joy arriving in the morning.

Carlin was catching Matthew up on many of the happenings across the world, while also reporting that of the 250 million dollars provided by the deceased billionaire, there was still 73 million left. Although Carlin admitted a lot of money had been spent, so very much had been accomplished.

They were in the middle of their fellowship, sipping on fruit juice and seltzer (Matthew’s new drink of choice) when there was a knock at the door.

Matthew, who was very comfortable on his couch, motioned to Carlin to see who it was. Opening the door, there stood Jo-Jay, Soos, Jubal and Jasper, smiling and carrying trays of food and drink.

Jo-Jay pushed past Carlin and the others trailed behind her, dropping off their goodies onto any available surface. Once the clatter ceased, Jo-Jay turned to the room and spoke.

“I don’t mean to interrupt what’s going on, but interrupt I shall.”

Everybody laughed, found seats and prepared for one of Jo-Jay’s comedic, but often long, dissertations.

“I will not take long this morning,” she said with a giggle, “because I shouldn’t. And the reason I shouldn’t is that too many speeches at a wake makes it hard to stay awake.”

The room groaned. Jo-Jay scratched her chin.

“I thought that would be funnier,” she said.

“Who’s the wake for?” asked Carlin.

Jo-Jay stepped over, grabbed a glass and poured some champagne, freshly popped by Jubal. She held the glass up and said, “This wake is for me.”

She confused the entire room, because no one in the world seemed more alive than Jo-Jay. It appeared to be a rather sick joke. She continued quickly.

“I have just received a diagnosis from my doctor. So to dispel all suspense, let me just say, I have bone cancer. I am dying. They gave me six months to live if I chose to go through agonizing chemotherapy, and six weeks if I choose the short way to get home. I decided that I don’t want a few extra months of vomiting, so I’m here to conduct my own wake–because I know you damn losers could never come up with a good one. You’d cry, get sentimental, question God and say stuff about me that I’m sure would be mostly true, but certainly exaggerated due to the circumstances.”

Matthew stood to his feet and moved toward her. She lifted a hand to stop him.

“Don’t you try to keep me from dying, Matthew. You have an overly emphasized sense of importance, but not even you can take the grim out of the reaper.”

Matthew’s eyes filled with tears. “There’s got to be something we can do.”

“Absolutely,” agreed Jo-Jay. “I want you to sit, I want you to eat and I want you to listen to me rattle on about how excited I’ve been to be alive, and how damn angry I am about checking out. If you can’t do that, leave me the hell alone. If you can, let’s have a party–a salute to me before I no longer am me anymore.”

Everybody in the room was on the verge of tears, but laughed anyway. Jasper grabbed a crab leg and bit into the shell without cracking it. “I’m up for it,” he said.

The gathered grabbed plates and glasses, shaking their heads and trembling over the notion of losing such a dynamic package. Matthew gently grabbed Jo-Jay by the arm and pulled her into the bedroom, where they could be alone.

Matthew looked deeply into her eyes. “You can’t die,” he insisted. “We never screwed.”

Jo-Jay glanced over at the bed. “There’s a bed, boy,” she observed. “What doth hinder you?”

Matthew broke down and cried like a little boy who failed to receive his promised bicycle from Santa. Jo-Jay held him, comforted him and stared off in the distance–uncertain of what her brief future might hold.

 

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

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(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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