Catchy (Sitting 67) Just When You Realized the Donkey’s Ears Were Not As Long As You Originally Thought… September 23rd, 2018

Jonathots Daily Blog

(3804)

The name of the restaurant was Vous L’Appelez, which was French for “You Name It.”

It was one of nine restaurants at the Haven on the Mount which offered all sorts of fine cuisine at very reasonable prices since money was not an issue.

The frustration of cash had been removed from the compound by using credits and bartering as a way of distributing goods and services instead of passing around American currency, which really had no relevance. Each family maintained their own personal accounts in other parts of the world, depending on whether they wanted to be “missing in action,” or “presumed dead.”

But Vous L’Appelez had a wonderful advertising scheme of offering anything you wanted to eat–as long as you phoned ahead. Matthew had rented the entire facility for the evening, for what he hoped would be a very special night.

It was the six-month anniversary of his arrival in the mountains, and he felt it was time to sit down with Leonora, offer a ring and a proposal he hoped she would not refuse. Their relationship was sweet. It was well-thought-out. It was without contention–for after all, everything in the region was minus strife and the pursuit of vanity. Their romance was clean, free of obstruction.

But there were moments when Matthew felt that the energetic young woman, who had a tendency to lose interest very quickly, was absent and that her mind was floating to other concerns, even during their times of intimacy.

He had no way of proving it. Every time he brought up some problem with their connection, she cited a hundred examples of bliss and joy. So pushing past his own foolish insecurity and overbearing need to throw a wrench into all great works, he set up this dinner–this meeting, this moment–to once and for all enter a relationship with a woman that would last for more than a night.

It had been an amazing six months. Although he had seen Michael Hinston for some meetings and luncheons, and made sure to connect with Jo-Jay, and even had a coffee a time or two with the billionaire king himself, most of his daytime hours were spent being mentored and emotionally healed by Joshua Jackson.

Joshua was a large man–formidable. Almost frightening. Had it not been for his gentle eyes and warm embraces, Matthew would have been intimidated.

Joshua knew everything.

He knew all the stories of what led up to Matthew’s arrival at the Haven on the Mount and he seemed to have a unique way of taking the cumbersome Bible scriptures and bringing them down to common sense and simplicity for the often-cynical former marketer.

They developed such a deep friendship that several of the residents mistook Joshua and Matthew for lovers. So Matthew was careful to spend his days with Joshua and his nights with Leonora. He wanted to at least appear bi-sexual.

Joshua filled in many of the blanks. He explained a phenomenon that Matthew had never considered–that in every organization there always existed a subversive core of individuals who wanted to use the power of their authority to gain wealth, even if they had to hurt other people.

It made no difference if the organization was a library, a country or a bank–tucked deep into the underbelly of every business or corporation were the radicals who desired to manipulate.

Joshua had been hired to find those under-bellies. It was his job to join them, fellowship with them, drink their favorite booze and learn how to prevent their nasty plans from destroying the movement.

Therefore he often appeared to be the enemy, when he was actually the stopgap who kept tragedy from befalling the lives of those who were trying to bring a little peace on Earth, goodwill toward men.

Joshua had planned the abduction of Jo-Jay, rescuing her through that kidnapping from being murdered by a car bomb. He had carefully placed her in the Amazon forest, knowing full well that another member of the team, Reverend Paulson, would be nearby for the recovery when the time was right.

(Matter of fact, the Paulson family, with both children, were currently dwelling in the Haven on the Mount–a blessed retirement for years of bringing the Gospel to the ignored.)

Joshua had also quietly saved Jubal’s life several times, and had even set in motion a plan to foil the plot in Salisbury, North Carolina, killing believers, by joining up with the three assassins. Joshua’s plan was to murder the trio right before the attack. Unfortunately, his fellow-assassins got nervous and antsy, and decided to instigate the job before Joshua arrived.

When Joshua came to Salisbury and saw the death and destruction around him, he was overcome with grief and took his pistol and aimed it at his head to take his own life, feeling he had failed.

It was Carlin Canaby who stopped him; otherwise he would have been marked by all eternity as one of the deceased murderers.

This was before Carlin became known by the group, standing on the sidelines to make sure “the edges didn’t curl up.”

Joshua told story after story of his work among the more sinister, rebellious elements around the country–how each secret counter-culture had manufactured an America in their minds that was run either by Satan or greed.

Time and time again he stepped in to fill the need–a space which was fortunately unknown to most people because of his effectiveness.

Notably, the Christian Liberty Operation (the CLO) used him as an operative and because of his work there, he was able to expose an errant terrorist group within their own ranks, preventing disaster–thereby legitimizing what turned out to be a worthwhile organization.

Matthew fell in love with Joshua–a brotherly love he had never experienced before. He had never known anyone like Joshua. Joshua was candid. Joshua was self-effacing, without being frightened or imbalanced.

Joshua loved people.

After he was convinced that Matthew could be trusted, Joshua shared the story of Prophet Morgan. He did so quietly but defiantly. Joshua still questioned what happened to the young preacher. He believed that Arthur Harts had made a hasty decision because of his dislike of the Southern boy.

Joshua explained that there was no doubt that Morgan was a drug addict. He had started as a boy–to try to keep up with his father’s tent revivals, to stay alert and energetic, but then he was never able to get out from under the monkey on his back, which gradually turned into a gorilla, smashing him into the ground.

Joshua worked with him. Because Prophet Morgan did not know who Joshua was or why he was there, Joshua was able to take him on like a little brother. But the Prophet was determined to fulfill his own dark self-prophesy.

When it became obvious to Joshua that the boy needed help and rehabilitation–perhaps to be brought to the Haven on the Mount to heal–Harts refused.

He explained to Joshua, “To everything there’s a season. This is not a season for the young Prophet.”

Three days later, Morgan took his car out into the middle of the desert and found a way to kill himself. Even though many people in Vegas thought it was a murder, it was, in fact, a horrible suicide.

Joshua closed the story by saying to Matthew, “I do understand. And I do appreciate the importance of the decision. I just don’t agree.”

Matthew had six months of rich conversations and revelations in his mind as he sat down to dinner with Leonora.

He had requested all forms of baked and broiled seafood along with tropical fruits. She loved that mixture and so did he. They dined, they giggled a bit, and they both chilled with joy over being together in such a safe utopia.

Dinner came to an end and Leonora was growing a bit impatient from hanging around the restaurant. Matthew knew he needed to make his move.

What was stopping him? Why didn’t he just reach into his pocket and pull out the ring–a family heirloom provided by Billionaire Harts for the occasion–and place it on her finger?

There was one question–an unanswered, festering notion–that he needed her to explain. It was so awkward, perhaps petty. But still–he wanted to know.

Matthew geared up his courage, guzzled some mineral water, took her hands, looked into her eyes, and said, “I have a question.”

She nodded her head, maintaining her eye contact.

“When I was so sick,” he began, “and it was obvious I needed a liver transplant–but more importantly, I needed you–why did you choose that moment to go away?”

She surprised him. She bristled, stiffened and pulled her hands back.

“Why are we going into this now?” she asked. “I thought…”

Then she stopped.

“You thought what?” asked Matthew.

She shook her head. He leaned forward, drawing closer to her face.

“No, Leonora. Tell me. You thought what?”

Leonora stood to her feet, stepped behind her chair, pivoted and spoke. “I thought you were going to propose to me tonight.”

Matthew leaned back. “What gave you that idea?”

Leonora stepped a couple of feet away, and then turned and replied. “You know what gave me that idea. My grandfather said he gave you the family heirloom ring, and also permission to ask. I thought that’s what this dinner was about. Why are we talking about old silliness when we have our lives ahead of us?”

Matthew craned his neck to stare up at her.

“So which part of this is silly? Me being sick? Me being weak? Me needing you? Or you disappearing?”

“It’s all silly,” she said, moving back into her chair. She took his hands again. “Come on. The past is the past. Why are we ruining this moment, worrying about what’s already happened?”

Matthew took a deep breath and spoke words he had only whispered in his heart in the middle of the night.

“Because, Leonora…I don’t think you love me.”

He shocked himself when he heard the words. They were so lonesome as they hung in the air, without any support; abandoned, needing a place to find rest, but orphaned in the silence.

“You don’t think I love you?” Leonora said. “Haven’t I shown you I love you? I’ve never loved a man the way I love you.”

Matthew interrupted. “I believe that. I do. I just don’t know…Well, I just don’t know if that’s enough for me.”

Leonora stood to her feet again, repeating her pivot around her chair.

“Matthew Ransley, what is it you want? What do you want from me? Am I to be your devotee? Am I supposed to cheer your every move? Should I lessen myself so you feel better?”

Matthew jumped in. “So you think you have to lessen yourself to be my equal? Is that what you’re saying?”

Leonora walked across the room with all the appearances of departing, but stopped a few paces from the exit.

“What I’m saying,” she spit, “is that I don’t like complications. You see what I have to offer. You see who I am. You see how I function. You know my height, you know my depth–and if it isn’t enough, then fine. But don’t ask me to pretend to be your dream girl. I’m nobody’s girl. I am Leonora. I don’t plan on changing that. I am just like my instrument–the oboe. Yes. I’m just like the oboe. You put the right reed in me and you finger me correctly, and add the breath, and I will play you a beautiful tune. It may sound like a silly analogy and it probably is. But not nearly as ridiculous as this conversation. So do you love me? Are you going to give me the ring? Or are we going to sit and talk about this all night?”

Matthew sat and stared at the self-aware but also self-serving lady before him. She was perfect. That’s why he couldn’t be with her.

“Yes,” he said. “I will give you the ring so you can return it to your grandfather. You deserve better than me. Privately you know that. It’s just that sometimes your private thoughts get in my head.”

Leonora walked back to the table, took the ring, thought about speaking, but decided to just walk away.

Matthew sat and stared for a long time at the space once occupied by the woman he desired. He realized that desire is just not enough.

He took his phone out of his pocket, dialed a number and spoke.

“Plan Z.”

The owner of the restaurant, realizing that things had not turned out the way Matthew had anticipated, came over and gave him a tender, Christian hug, and said the meal was free. Matthew patted him on the shoulder, stepped out into the night air, climbed onto the golf cart which had been provided for his needs, and drove the one mile to the airport.

His jet was waiting for him.

Matthew realized that he could stand to live in the Haven if he and Leonora could have had a life together. But a sanctuary of safety was never what Matthew wanted in his life. He would much rather be in the chaos, and try to find a way to tie two ends together, to create some wholeness.

He did not belong at the Haven in the Mount. He was more of a Jubal, a Jasper, a Rolinda. He was going home.

But he was going home with a change in his heart–a belief that Jesus was not only popular, but brought a message and a lifestyle which was essential for Planet Earth.

Matthew was returning to his life–but this time as a believer.

Arriving at the airport, the pilot loaded his bags into the plane, and as he was about to climb up the steps and leave Paradise forever, he heard a voice.

“What’s your hurry?”

He turned around. It was Jo-Jay.

“You didn’t think you were gonna leave without me, did you? I want to tell you, Matthew. This place is so good it makes me feel bad.”

Matthew laughed and gave her a big hug.

“Are you sure?” he asked.

“Am I sure what?” inquired Jo-Jay.

“Are you sure about going back?”

“Well,” said Jo-Jay, “when I was coming here to the airport, thinking I was going to leave by myself, I felt pretty good about it. But now that I know I’m leaving with you–well–I still feel pretty good about it.”

She burst into laughter. He joined her.

They climbed into the airplane, and taxied down the runway, taking one final look at the Eden of the Hills.

“Maybe we’ll visit sometime,” said Matthew, looking over at Jo-Jay.

Jo-Jay chuckled. “Hell, Matthew. There’s no maybes in our world.”

The two leaned their heads back, feeling completely at peace.

It was time for them to go into the world and live the Gospel.

THE END

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

Jonathots Daily Blog

(3797)

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

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

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

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

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

But now all he wanted to do was sleep.

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Matthew just stared at him, perplexed.

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

Michael paused.

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Then there was a third voice–another visitor.

“I guess that’s my cue.”

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

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

Matthew nodded.

“My name is Arthur Harts.”

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

The whole group joined in with a large chuckle.

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

“So why am I here today?” he asked.

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

Matthew leaned in. “You know Milton?”

“And he, me,” replied Arthur.

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Matthew could only nod.

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

At length Matthew spoke.

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

 

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Catchy (Sitting 63) Milton and Liver with a Side of Onions… August 26th, 2018

Jonathots Daily Blog

(3776)

Jubal hated the beach–even one as beautiful as the stretch of sand in Miami.

He had no interest in tanning any further, and ocean water gave him the creeps because of all the unknown creatures bumping up against his legs.

For sixteen days he had been in south Florida, trying to set up a meeting with Milton Crenshaw, his mission person, who had written a book called “Jesonian.”

He had been able to acquire an autographed copy of the volume from the Internet for $2.99, so most days he sat in his room reading. Every time he called Milton’s house he encountered a personable, but crusty older woman named Cully. She was a long-time friend and business partner with Mr. Crenshaw, and she made it clear to Jubal that Milton didn’t like interviews, didn’t take interviews, and basically didn’t trust interviewers.

Even though Jubal tried to explain that his intentions were pure, Cully cut him off at the pass, leading to this extended vigil of an unwarranted and unwanted stay in “Beach City.”

Jubal didn’t even favor Cuban food. He joked with one of the waiters that Cuban food was “Mexican food without a soul.” Getting some nasty glances from nearby patrons, he decided he should stop his comedy routine.

Yet on the morning of the sixteenth day the phone rang as he was sitting down, getting ready to enjoy his five-egg-white omelet and wheat toast. It was Cully.

She explained that she’d been able to convince Milton to see Jubal that afternoon for two hours. Jubal was overjoyed. He took the directions, as Cully explained that they lived in a trailer park–a simple life–surrounded by a multitude of neighbors of all cultures.

Finding himself on the doorstep of the small mobile home of Milton Crenshaw, Jubal knocked on the door. Opening up to him was a woman–Cully, he assumed–sixtyish, energetic, physically fit and absolutely grounded in courtesy.

She ushered him through the door and there he was. Sitting in a wheelchair was a big man–about 325-plus pounds–with a bald head and a huge smile. He stuck his hand out.

“Milton Crenshaw. Sorry you’re not going to get to meet my wife. She’s off working one of her assignments at a local department store.”

Jubal nodded. Cully offered something to drink and Jubal opted for an iced tea.

She brought the tea and Jubal sat down in a chair next to Milton. Crenshaw noticed that Jubal was looking at Cully, so he piped in. “I don’t do much of anything without Cully in the room, so I hope you don’t mind. If your matters are personal, and you would rather she not hear, I’ll make an exception, but other than that, let us enjoy her presence.”

Jubal glanced at both of them and once again, nodded his head.

“So what is it you want to know, young man?”

“I’ve been reading your book,” Jubal began. Milton interrupted.

“Cully,” he said, “that makes six readers…”

He laughed and so did Jubal, who realized that Milton had no intention of pretending he was something he wasn’t, nor did he expect Jubal to fudge on the truth.

Milton continued. “And I’ve been keeping up with your work, young man. You certainly have captured the fire of the Gospel in your rallies.”

“What do you mean by the fire of the Gospel?” Jubal asked.

“Well, my son,” Milton explained kindly, “the Gospel is not just the good news. It’s the explanation of why everything is here. You see, Jesus did not come to complete the Old Testament stories, linking Moses with the Christ. Jesus came to link the Creator with Earth–so his teachings are full of science, references to nature, personal awareness and an understanding that the kingdom of God is inside each of us. So what I mean is that you bring the enthusiasm, but much of what you share fails to bring the heart and the mind and the soul of Jesus of Nazareth. Yous is the strength.”

Jubal crinkled his brow. Milton continued.

“You see, I can tell by your face that you’ve fallen into the errant thinking that because you’re doing something successful, it must be complete. Nothing could be further from the truth. What you’ve done is, you’ve struck up the band and made people aware that faith should have the works of joy. But Jesus had a heart. And oh…Jesus had a soul. And of course, we’re all in pursuit of the mind of Christ.”

Jubal’s heart melted. The room was so quiet, the tea was so cold, the smile on Cully’s face was so sincere, and Milton’s voice was so soothing that as he sat there, he experienced a sensation of healing in his own soul.

For two solid hours they talked.

Milton explained that the whole message of the Gospel was simply, Your will be done on Earth as it is in heaven.

“In other words,” Milton shared, “Everything that works on heaven works on Earth. It’s just a matter of linking things up instead of acting like there’s some spiritual war between good and evil.”

It didn’t take Jubal long to realize why he was there. The Soulsbury Movement had passion but no direction. No way for people to carry the groceries of faith and hope to their homes to make real meals.

“So,” Jubal asked, “what is Jesonian?”

Milton lifted his head up and spoke. “It is the realization that Christianity has failed simply because it’s trying to follow a book instead of the Spirit. Jesonian is the Spirit of Jesus, brought into practicality in the lives of human beings living on the Earth right now. I think it’s a rallying cry.”

When Jubal heard those words–‘rallying cry’–a chill went down his spine and he nearly dropped his glass of tea.

That was it: the world needed a word to explain the yearning.

They needed a word to represent their hearts.

And they needed a word that had not been tainted by crusades, killings, bickering and molestations.

Jubal started to cry.

Milton sat quietly, looking off in the distance, giving his brother a private moment. Cully rose to her feet, offering the visitor some Kleenex. There was a juncture of sweet silence for about five minutes, as all the people in the room took time to consider good things. It probably would have continued, except Jubal’s phone buzzed with a message.

It read, “Matthew in hospital. Emergency.”

Even though Jubal knew he needed to leave, he wanted to cap his conversation with Milton with a sense of appreciation. He stood, walked over and hugged the man in the wheelchair.

He leaned down and whispered in his ear, “Listen, my brother. I want you to come and speak in front of a huge crowd of people, and tell them what you told me today.”

Milton pulled back and laughed. “It is my understanding that to ‘go into all the world’ requires a pair of legs, and knees that are not busted up–and a body that is not quite so plump.”

Milton reached up and put his hand behind Jubal’s head, pulling him close to his face. “You are my legs, brother. Just come down here every once in a while, and we’ll talk Gospel.”

Jubal wept again.

He hugged Milton and Cully, and was on his way to the airport–to fly to Las Vegas to see what was happening with his friend, Matthew.

*****

Meanwhile, one week earlier, Michael Hinston, with the aid of Jo-Jay, had discovered through blood tests that his liver was a match for Matthew. So when they received the notice that Matthew had been rushed to the hospital, Michael made immediate plans to fly to Vegas and surprise Matthew with the good news that he was a donor.

The morning of his departure, Jo-Jay discovered that the CLO was making moves to bring an indictment against Michael Hinston from the American people, for malfeasance and the misuse of campaign funds. Michael was scheduled to be picked up for questioning that very morning.

Jo-Jay kept the information from him and drove him to the airport to catch the plane. Michael had no idea that he was about to face new persecution.

Michael sat on the plane and cried, knowing that he had the blessed position of being able to offer life.

Jo-Jay stayed behind and made phone calls, setting some plans in motion. Upon arriving in Las Vegas, Michael found a limousine waiting for him at the airport, which zoomed him to the hospital in no time at all.

He stood at the bedside of an old friend–who certainly did look old.

“I have some good news and some bad news,” said Michael, taking Matthew’s hand.

Matthew sighed. In a weak voice, he replied, “Well, I don’t need any more bad news, but you better give me that first.”

“Well, the bad news,” said Michael, “is that this drama you have planned–your death–has to be temporarily postponed.”

Matthew squinted up at Michael, who continued. “Because the good news is that it turns out, my liver is a match for yours. So I’m going to give you a piece of mine. It may be the first time in our lives that we ever agreed on anything.”

Matthew laughed, which was interrupted by his crying–tears of relief and gratitude.

Michael didn’t want to wear him out, so he excused himself and headed off to prepare for the operation.

A couple of hours later the medical staff entered Matthew’s room to prep for surgery.

“Where is Michael?” Matthew asked. “Can I see him? How was his operation?”

Questions poured out of Matthew. The nurses calmed him down, gave him a sedative and he was on his way.

The next thing Matthew knew, he was waking up in recovery, surrounded by friends–Jo-Jay, Soos, Jasper and Jubal. They were all beaming.

It must have gone well, he thought.

He looked at the people in the room and even though his throat was sore, he whispered, “Would you pray for me?”

Jubal looked surprised. “What’s this? A change of heart?”

Matthew coughed and smiled. “A change of liver…” he managed.

They prayed. Exhausted, Matthew dozed off halfway through the supplication.

The four visitors left the room. Soos and Jo-Jay headed to the nurses station to get information on future treatment. Jasper turned to Jubal and asked, “When are you gonna tell him?”

Jubal replied, “I don’t know. I guess when he’s ready.”

Jasper continued. “What happened?”

Jubal shook his head. “I don’t know. All I know is that Michael passed away on the operating table.”

 

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Catchy (Sitting 58) Sand Building…. July 22nd, 2018

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Shifting.

A gradual erosion of confidence among the populace about the once-favored “Jesus movement.”

It was difficult to know where it started. Perhaps this loss of faith was just a trait of the human race–just no longer able to tolerate goodness.

Although folks insist they are in pursuit of “peace on Earth, goodwill toward men,” they still continue to huddle around the television set to hear of wars and brood over body counts.

A movie–a parody–was released by Hollywood, entitled “Dullsbury.” It was supposed to be a gentle poking of fun at the Soulsbury experience. The premise was that the government and the elite of New York decided to isolate all of the “stupid people” and place them in a huge camp in Upper State, telling them they had won the lottery. For some reason, it didn’t occur to the “winners” why the settlement was called “Dullsbury” and had streets named “Retard Lane” and “Brain-Dead Boulevard.” Yet attempting to maintain some sort of evenness, the Hollywood ending to the motion picture was that many of the people who deemed themselves to be intelligent packed up their belongings to go live in the simplicity of Dullsbury.

But the message was clear: good is cool, but bad is hot–and the majority of the American people like their burritos caliente.

Things were further complicated when Michael Hinston was indicted on suspicion of breaking campaign finance laws and taking a bribe.

Jasper also ran into problems on his comedy tour. In trying to explain the evils of racism, he used nasty words like “nigger, chink and wetback,” causing an uprising leading to cancellations. Liberals everywhere denounced his offensive terminology.

Not to be outdone, Jubal was recorded at a rally in Egypt saying that “it was up to the Israelis to come to the peace table in good faith, and compromise.”

He was immediately dubbed anti-Semitic. He refused to retract his statement, and so became the subject of great debate on talk shows.

It wasn’t an uprising–it was a deterioration.

Like so many things that happen in life, it simply took the steam out of a heated movement and turned it lukewarm.

The two surviving graces were Jo-Jay and Carlin. Both stayed faithful to the cause. Jo-Jay kept marching in the same direction with her boots on the right feet. And Carlin continued to counter the cynicism and scandal with humor and humility.

But pretty much single-handedly, he took on the brunt of communicating the mission with little reinforcement coming from anywhere–especially Las Vegas.

Matthew completely checked out–whatever interest or intrigue he once had for the project was gone.

He pursued a love affair with an oboist. He studied her. He played her. He leaned his feelings in her direction.

Day and night he thought of new ways to pleasure her in the bedroom, and when he wasn’t thinking of sexual techniques, he was remembering the ecstasy he felt when he was in her arms.

He was smitten.

He was old enough and smart enough to know it wasn’t love. He certainly could have called it by that name, but he knew it was actually an advanced dose of infatuation, mingled with personal affection.

But it was all about the sex.

Over the past year, Matthew had indulged in so much intercourse that he had forgotten what it was like to be sexually entwined–what it meant when someone kissed you deeply without fulfilling a checklist, racing toward orgasm.

The relationship between Matthew and Leonora would have been perfect if they never had to leave the bedroom. But even though the joy between the sheets was exhilarating, both of them struggled during their conversational times to make it seem purposeful, or perhaps, meaningful.

Interaction was awkward–especially since Jasper and Soos had dropped in, and it was obvious that Leonora possessed a hostile profile toward all things divine.

Matthew was not so inclined. He didn’t hate God–he just wished that God would move to the other side of town, and not frequent the neighborhood shops. He didn’t want a world without God, but he wanted no God in his world.

Unfortunately, he felt compelled to follow the energy of Leonora’s atheism. To compromise, he stopped taking all phone calls from his cohorts on the front lines of the Jesus campaign. It was his way of tipping his hat to Leonora’s aggression, without shaking his fist at the sky.

Carlin, realizing he needed to have contact with Matthew, flew into Las Vegas. But even though they found themselves in the same building, Matthew was careful to avoid placing them in the same room.

There was no meeting. There was no agreement.

Carlin felt that the weight of the calling shifted to his shoulders, and he was ill-prepared to play the part of “Chief.”

In despair, frustrated and angry, Carlin headed back to the airport to return to Washington, D. C., to meet up with Jo-Jay and try to find a way to still “go into all the world” and share the Gospel.

As Carlin stood in the security line at the airport, two gentlemen in black suits, white shirts and black ties approached him on his right and left sides.

Lefty whispered in his ear, “Would you please come with us?”

Carlin looked to his right and then back to his left and realized he was wedged between two mountains of male humanity. He thought it best not to make a scene. He was led down the thoroughfare, through a door. A private jet stood ready.

Safely out of the airport, Carlin began to struggle with his captors. They were too strong. He shouted, but the roar of the jet engines covered his screams. In no time at all, the two hooligans physically lifted Carlin and carried him up the air steps and into the Learjet.

They dumped him into a large, comfortable seat.

Carlin quipped, “I sure hope this flight has a meal. So far the service sucks.”

 

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Catchy (Sitting 49) Soulsbury… May 20th, 2018

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At Matthew’s request, Carlin made the tour of the network morning shows to answer questions about the tragedy on behalf of the corporation.

Wearing a black fedora and a black t-shirt with red lettering which read “Romans 5:20,” he went from one station to another, answering two repetitive questions: (1) What does Romans 5:20 signify? and (2) What does this massacre mean for the movement going forward?

Carlin, having realized that this was going to be the thrust of the inquiries, had prepared his answers well. As to the first probe, he explained that Romans 5:20 was from the Bible, and that it stated that “where sin doth abound, grace doth much more abound.”

This perfectly led him into the second answer. What was going to happen to the movement? “Since it was a movement, it would move–and the choice was to move forward.

While Carlin took care of the public relations side, Soos “hit the ground loving.” She had not joined the others on the plane to Las Vegas, but stayed in Salisbury, donating her blood, talking to the victims, passing out food and doing her best to console those souls God sent her way.

Simultaneously, up in Baltimore, Mother Rolinda was working with ten young women who aspired to the priesthood. She popped into the motor home that had been purchased as a gift by Matthew for her work, took the ten young women with her and headed to Salisbury. She figured there was no better way to learn the ministry than by ministering.

Jo-Jay, stuck in the middle of a nonsensical investigation of evil-doing in Washington, D. C., climbed into her BMW and headed south. By evening time, Rolinda, Soos and Jo-Jay were linked up and spreading as much tenderness and kindness in the community as their bodies would allow.

Meanwhile, back in Las Vegas, Matthew and Jubal were trying desperately to avoid each other. They had always been a little intimidated by each other, but now there was not much to say or much that they agreed upon. Matthew was ready to move forward and Jubal was stalled in a mental traffic jam. How could he go on? The death toll left him vacant of spirit.

Over the next four days, funeral after funeral and tribute after tribute, meshed together into a massive requiem for the lost angels of Salisbury. Condolences, prayers and money rolled in.

Yes, Jo-Jay, realizing that the families would need finance, had started a fund for them, which, within twenty-four hours, had accumulated thirty-one million dollars.

But Soos felt there was more to be done. She was sitting and sharing this with Rolinda when all at once, she stood up, left the room, and headed off to City Hall. She formulated her plan en route. It was really quite simple. She asked the mayor to give permission for a local park to be set aside as a memorial to those who had been stolen by the violence. She envisioned an open sanctuary, where people could come from all over the country and commune with one another for a day or two, express their frustrations and in doing so, maybe discover hope for tomorrow.

Salisbury had a new mayor–a women who was immediately touched by the idea, and in no time at all, squeezed out approval from the city council.

With Matthew’s permission, Soos purchased a hundred high quality tents which slept eight people, and six motor homes.

She called it the “Camp of Remembrance.”

When Carlin got wind of the idea he realized it was not only a great spiritual possibility, but a boon for the promotion. He scheduled himself onto more talk shows, spreading the vision for the “Camp of Remembrance.” In no time at all, people from all over the country made their way to Salisbury, North Carolina–rich, poor, all sorts of colorations and faiths.

Some stipulations were established: no cars within ten miles of the camp so as not to block traffic. No media, cameras, videos or promotion allowed. And a suggestion that people wear their simplest garb. This was further accentuated when Chaneilson, the famous world-wide model, arrived in jeans, t-shirt and no makeup. She stayed for a week–feeding the hungry, playing with the children and sitting and listening to nighttime conversations by the fireside.

The Camp of Remembrance quickly became a conduit for healing. People talked to each other. Cell phones were not prohibited, but generally speaking, were pocketed, as folks made eye contact and connected with one other.

Musicians, ministers and even the hip hop rapper, Secession, came, sharing his heart and giving a new name to the whole adventure.

One night, as a group sat around a blazing fire, he suggested the town should be reclaimed and declared to be “Soulsbury,” where souls could come and bury their fear and prejudice.

The name immediately gained the approval of the nation. Still–no Jubal. No Matthew. And no idea whatsoever of what would become of the rallies.

About three weeks after the tragedy, in the little town of Sunbury, Ohio, a rally was held in the middle of the small town square, with five hundred attendees. There was no professional band with drums and horns and guitars, but they did their best. The high school band appeared, some local singers sang, some nearby farmers provided cider, and hamburgers were cooked on a plethora of grills. The rally was not nearly as polished, and perhaps not nearly as exciting, but it was real, and belonged to the community.

Soon other towns all across the nation were following the example of Sunbury. Churches opened up their doors and allowed people to come in for prayer, discussion and faith-building, using the example of the miracle that was happening in Soulsbury.

After a month and a half, there were nearly two thousand people who had moved to the Camp of Remembrance, to find themselves, their hearts, and to try to believe in their dreams once again.

In the little community, crime disappeared, guns were holstered and differences were discussed instead of ripping at the fabric of peace.

Soos became a permanent part of the tent city. When the tents Matthew provided were filled, other people brought more tents and other sleeping quarters. Rolinda and the sisters worked very hard to maintain a clean and orderly grounds.

It became such a scene of tranquility that the Vice President of the United States paid a visit–and when his motorcade was stopped ten miles from the city, he was driven in a small van by the local police to the location. He made a decision to spend the night and listen to the congregated share their hearts by the fire. The Secret Service was incensed, and might have won the day except that the Vice President insisted that he be afforded the chance to take on the whole experience of the Camp of Remembrance.

What had begun as a series of pep rallies for Jesus across the nation and world had now settled in to a thoughtful consideration of what it really meant to believe.

The movement was changing. Jubal was still nowhere to be found. Matthew was hiding in Las Vegas.

But the heart of the people was in Soulsbury.Donate Button

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Catchy (Sitting 48) Suite 1002… May 13th, 2018

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Jubal humbly requested that conversation be held to a minimum on the flight back to Vegas. It seemed agonizing to make small talk, and any attempt to relive the moment of the catastrophe was too painful.

So when they deplaned and Matthew arrived with a bucket of questions, Jubal stayed just long enough to extend politeness, then excused himself to take a taxi back to his room at the casino. Suite 1002–just two doors down from the Promenade. His room was a little smaller, but no less elegant.

Jubal quickly put his key card into the door with frenetic energy. Entering the room, he slammed the door, and threw his bag on the bed as his eyes fell on the full decanter of cognac which was offered in his room as a courtesy. He had never used it.

He didn’t drink much. As a young man, he occasionally went out on the town, but found himself to be a testy drunk with a nasty disposition, and had to apologize to too many people the morning after a binge.

So long before he settled in to a marriage, he determined to keep alcohol for only cuts and bruises.

Sitting in his chair, he got his wallet and pulled out two pictures. One was a woman with long, gorgeous hair and a sparkling smile. It was his wife, Lydia. The other well-worn photo was of a little girl about ten years old, equally as vivacious as her mother–his daughter, Carissa. He laid them on the table and stared at them, as he had done many times before.

But tonight it was even more significant, and unfortunately, more agonizing.

Jubal, a struggling musician, had met Lydia in Troy, New York, trying to discover a way to make a living while progressing his career in percussion. There was never a question as to whether they were in love–perhaps not love at first sight, but more an understanding that they would take it slow to make it look authentic, even though in their hearts, they were both convinced that the search for a companion was over.

Within the year they were married, and the next year they had a daughter and named her Carissa. They joyously struggled–that’s how Lydia viewed it. Money was difficult to come by, but there was always that little surprise that came just at the right moment, which pulled them through another week, another month and eventually, another year.

Jubal tried to supplement his gigs by doing some telemarketing, but there were few commissions. His heart was in the drums, not in drumming up business.

Lydia, on the other hand, got herself on a fast track as a free-lance assistant to legislators in nearby Albany, the capital. She found the job through a fellow named Barclay. He insisted that she refer to him solely as “Barclay.” She never knew if it was his first or last name.

The money was helpful, the work was rewarding, but the relationship with Barclay was aggravating. Lydia shared with Jubal that Barclay was always just a little too close–a touch on her shoulder when simply pointing in the right direction would have sufficed. And standing next to her, he would periodically bump his hip into hers–just enough to be intimidating, but not enough for her to proffer an objection.

She was simultaneously overjoyed and miserable, keeping the misery to herself.

Then one Friday afternoon, Lydia’s mother, Cheryl, came into town from Florida for a surprise visit. Jubal, Carissa and Mom were waiting for Lydia to come home from work to begin an exciting weekend. An hour passed. Then two.

In the third hour, Jubal decided to make some phone calls. He discovered that Lydia had left Albany hours earlier. He was concerned. Yet Cheryl comforted him, saying she was sure it was “just traffic” or “something had come up.” It made sense. Friday afternoon was always a time for back-ups.

But as night set in, Jubal decided he needed to investigate the situation. He asked Mother Cheryl to take care of Carissa and said he would stay in contact.

As he came down the stairs from their simple, two-bedroom apartment, he noticed that Lydia’s car was in the parking lot. He peered around to see if she was anywhere in sight, but saw her nowhere. He headed over to the car. He was about to open it with his spare set of keys, when gazing into the back seat, he saw his lovely wife–his dear companion–lying face down, motionless.

He quickly opened the door, reached across the front seat and shook her gently. No response.

Instinct kicked in. He eased into the front seat, started the car and drove to the hospital. Ten minutes later she was declared dead on arrival.

It took two hours for the doctors to come out to talk to him. He decided not to call back to Cheryl, since the information he had contained no answers.

All at once, he was confronted by a doctor, with a policeman standing next to him. They both had questions. Some of the things they wanted to know Jubal could answer–but mostly the missing time from when Lydia left work to when he found her was a complete mystery.

The doctor explained that she had been sodomized and smothered to death. When Jubal heard those words, his knees buckled. He grabbed a nearby chair to keep from falling over. He barely comprehended when the policeman asked him his whereabouts, unaware of how fortunate he was that Lydia’s mom afforded him an alibi which, as it ended up, he needed.

Jubal made his way back to his apartment, where he had the painful duty of telling his daughter and mother-in-law that Lydia was gone.

It was a full two days later when some of the story line began to come together. It became evident that the last person Lydia saw was Barclay. To Jubal’s horror, Barclay painted a picture to the police that he and Lydia were involved in a romantic tryst, and that he had broken it off that Friday afternoon. He said that she was so distressed she threatened harm to herself.

The funeral was held the following afternoon. At no point did any of the ceremony, the prayers or the well-wishing seem real to Jubal.

Matter of fact, he barely noticed when a young woman from the church came to Carissa’s side to comfort the little girl. Carissa was weeping. The woman said, “Don’t cry, my dear. You will see your Mama soon.”

When Carissa heard this, the tears stopped immediately. She asked, “When? When will I see Mama?”

The lady responded, “Your Mama is in heaven waiting for you. She is with Jesus. They can hardly wait to see you.”

Carissa was comforted by the counsel.

That night Jubal’s beautiful daughter opened up, began to talk and ate a little dinner. After a dessert of ice cream with chocolate sauce, she said to her daddy, “I’m sleepy. Can I go to bed?”

He hugged her and held her just a little longer than usual. He couldn’t fight back the tears. He released her and said, “I love you, my sweet.”

She gave him another hug around the neck and scurried off to her room. Jubal made his way to his own bed, and spent a tormented night, his dreams offering sweet memories of love-making and nightmares full of the terror of his loss.

In the morning, he went in to see his little girl, to take her into the breakfast nook for pancakes. It seemed she was a little sleepy-head.

He came over to the bed to tickle her, but she did not respond. He took her pulse. He put his head down to listen for her heart, but her skin was cold and bluish-gray.

Carissa was gone.

Next to her, on the night stand, was an empty vial of pills, and a mostly consumed glass of milk. The prescription was for Oxycontin, which Jubal had used for a back injury. Carissa had swallowed them all.

There was a note written on yellow construction paper with blue crayon. It read, “I love you, Daddy. But I went to see Mommy.”

Jubal gazed around the room, looking for a knife so he could jab it into his heart, to end the pain.

Cheryl walked in and immediately assessed the situation. She grabbed him around the arms, sensing that he was in danger of doing harm to himself.

He shook her off and went to his room, put on his clothes and drove to Albany. He was looking for Barclay.

After a half a dozen inquiries, he discovered that the man’s name was Barclay Faxwell, and that he was at a retreat in the Poconos.

Getting all the information he could, Jubal climbed into his car and drove to the mountains. Part of him felt he should be back at home with his dead daughter and mother-in-law, but he realized there was a more important job for him to do.

Arriving at the convention center, with the hills in the background, Barclay Faxwell was pointed out to him. Jubal followed him all day long. Since they had never met, Faxwell was unaware of his presence. It was a long day, but eventually Barclay made his way to his room. Jubal trailed.

Before Mr. Faxwell could enter his accommodations, Jubal grabbed him from behind. Barclay was a big man, but mostly in girth rather than muscle. Jubal put a knife to his throat–one he had procured off of a serving tray in the hallway.

Silencing him, he walked Barclay to his car, forced him into the trunk, slammed it and drove deep into the Poconos.

After about a half an hour of driving, he stopped his car and set aside the knife. To Jubal, this was personal. He wanted to hurt this monster. He didn’t want him to get off easy. Of course, Jubal had no evidence that Barclay had anything to do with his wife’s death, but he did know the man was a liar. Lydia would never have been unfaithful–not because Jubal was such a special husband, but because she was such a special person.

He removed Barclay from the trunk and walked him half a mile into the wilderness. All of a sudden, he stopped. When Barclay tried to turn around to find out what was going on, Jubal began to pummel him with all of his anger, hatred, remorse, pain and misery. Barclay fought back but he was no match for an enraged drummer.

All at once, the rotund man grabbed his heart and crumpled to his knees. He tumbled to the ground like a giant oak.

Jubal stood for a moment, panting, wondering what in the hell was going on. When Barclay didn’t move, Jubal slowly inched over and checked his pulse. The son-of-a-bitch was dead.

Jubal perched on Barclay’s back, wondering what to do next. He realized he couldn’t report the incident without risking prison, so he scouted the terrain and found a small cave in the side of the rocks. It was about fifty yards away. Using his remaining fury, he drug the fat man to the entrance and stuffed him as deep into the cave as possible so that there would be no visible sign of Barclay to anyone passing by.

Jubal stepped out of the cave and looked in every direction. Not a soul.

Barclay would either rot in peace–or be groceries for several weeks for a big black bear.

Jubal made his way back to his car. He realized there was no reason to return to Troy. Cheryl could bury the little girl.

Barclay’s wallet had fallen out during the struggle. It was full of cash–eight hundred dollars. So Jubal, with eight hundred dollars, climbed into his car and set out to run from the nightmare which was now his life.

He pointed his car west. At first, the thought of going to Los Angeles seemed divinely inspired. Yet Las Vegas seemed a better choice. Certainly the casinos would need some sort of musician who knew how to keep a beat.

He drove day and night, subsisting on pure fury. He wrestled with his own insanity.

He arrived in Vegas, immediately took on some work, and never told his story to anyone. Rather than losing his faith over losing all he had, he gained his faith and was given a new life.

So on this night, with the tragedy of Salisbury filling his mind with rage, his history beckoned a recalling. It still hurt.

Suite 1002 was filled with sobs and tears.

After an hour, Jubal picked up the decanter of cognac and poured a shot into a glass. He walked over to his bed and lightly sprinkled the covers with the cognac.

He had no intention of defiling the memories of his loved ones by becoming intoxicated. But maybe, while he slept, the fragrance of the cognac would allow him to dream that he was drunk–and the pain was gone.

 

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Catchy (Sitting 47) Fallen from the Sky… May 6th, 2018

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Perhaps a great discussion could have ensued between Carlin and Jubal about the power of ethics and transparency with the public. Think tanks could have weighed in on the historical nature of complete candor as opposed to releasing information gradually, so as to not overwhelm the common man.

Surely many churches, businesses and even politicians could share their rendition of “liary” as opposed to just simply stating the facts.

But on the following Thursday afternoon, in Salisbury, North Carolina, in the town plaza, eight thousand beautiful human beings gathered underneath a hilarious burst of sunshine, to eat North Carolina barbecue and listen to Jubal and the boys crank out the tunes.

Politicians, rock stars and mill workers walked together with tears in their eyes over the tenderness of the fellowship and the simplicity of what could be accomplished with a little food, love and music. In the midst of the jubilation, a private airplane flew overhead trailing a banner which read, “God Bless America.”

The crowd cheered. The plane flew by three more times, banner flapping in the wind. Jubal instructed his bandmates to improv a salsa version of “God Bless America,” which totally revved the audience into a joyous mania.

Then, to complement the banner, three skydivers jumped out of the airplane wearing red, white and blue jumpsuits and sporting American flag parachutes as they tugged on their ropes and floated to Earth.

The cheers were nearly deafening.

The crowd assumed that Jubal planned the beautiful surprise, and he thought it was a courtesy extended by the community. The three sky visitors landed, each one holding a flag, waving them in the wind. The crowd screeched and ran forward as the police edged ahead to protect the gents from being swallowed up.

Jubal and the band continued to play, although they had temporarily lost the attention of the audience.

The three newcomers disconnected from their parachutes and tore off their flags, throwing them to the ground.

Then the crowd gasped in horror. What had appeared to be flagpoles in the hands of the skydivers were actually assault rifles.

Because the police had approached the trio first, the paratroopers shot them down in thirty seconds, then raced into the crowd, shooting, maiming and killing as they went.

The scene was so surreal that it took Jubal and the cast a moment to realize what was happening. When Brother Carlos finally understood that they were under attack, he quickly ushered all of his friends into the nearby semi-truck which had carried the equipmnent for the rally.

All the participants jumped into the empty trailer of the semi as others from the crowd tried to make their way in as well. After about thirty seconds, Jubal ordered the door closed, jumped into the driver’s seat, and headed off toward the closest murderer. The man was so busy shooting that he didn’t realize that Jubal was bearing down on him with megatons of truck. Jubal didn’t give it a second thought. He slammed down the gas pedal and rolled over the killer, crushing him beneath the wheels.

The shock of this bought some time for one of the policemen, who was lying wounded, to grab his gun and aim carefully, firing a bullet into the face of a second attacker.

There were two down.

Jubal had to decide whether to go back around, risking the truck being riddled with bullets, or depart the area, with his passengers intact, and then come back after delivering them to safety.

Meanwhile, the third assassin continued to shoot at will. There were bodies everywhere. People were crying for help, others kneeling and praying over their friends.

But the police–an escort of about eighteen officers–lay very still on the ground, near the spot where the perpetrators had landed. Before Jubal could get the truck turned around to chase the third offender, five men from the crowd charged the assailant. Two were shot and a third grabbed the assassin, taking the gun, as the shooter ran into the nearby trees, attempting to escape. Unfortunately, he ran in the direction of about twenty men from the crowd, who were hiding in the woods. They tackled him and they beat him and beat him–until he was dead.

Jubal drove the truck up, careful to not strike any wounded soul on the ground. He climbed down and walked among the dead and wounded.

He fell to his knees. Jubal wept.

By the end of the day, thanks to the kindness of strangers and the excellent work of emergency medical staff, 167 wounded people were transported to hospitals. Seven were paralyzed, four were brain dead–but about 150 were treated, with a prospect of surviving the hellish ordeal.

Unfortunately, five souls died in the hospital, joined by another 83 who lay dead in the plaza.

88 people gone.

Jubal took his staff to the airport and they flew out immediately. Several of them questioned whether it was proper to leave the area without talking to the authorities. Jubal didn’t care.

The whole event was especially stunning to Carlin, who had attended on his first missionary trip with the team, to encounter such a meaningless slaughter. Once in the air, Jubal conducted a prayer meeting for about a half an hour as his team, which had witnessed evil in motion shared hearts and lifted up their concerns to a heavenly Father.

At the end of the prayer session everyone fell silent, waiting to hear what Jubal would have to share.

“We need time for reflection,” said Jubal. “We need to quiet our souls and not flamboyantly be sharing the experience on every talk show with every giddy host who wants to slide us into a slot to fill time. We should go ahead and cancel the rallies for the time being, and let’s see where God takes us.”

There was a general agreement. Except for Carlin.

Carlin patted Jubal on the shoulder and said, “I know this sounds right to you, my friend, but it isn’t. This was done today because there are people who are afraid. I don’t know who they are. But they’re afraid enough that they organized this massacre. They have learned in their dens of iniquity, that if you can scare people, you can control them. Let’s be honest. We are fuckin’ scared. But it’s the last thing in the world we need to be. I think what we should do is to hold one rally two weeks from now, and gather hundreds of thousands of people, to object to the insanity, to reject the blood-shedding, and to stand up for what’s right.”

No one liked Carlin’s idea–but no one could argue with it.

That night it was announced on the news that two different organizations took credit for the “Salisbury Slaughter”–Zion’s Warriors, a renegade, pro-Israel terrorist group, and White Light, a supremacist organization, bound and determined to return America to its Anglo-Saxon roots.

Meanwhile, in Las Vegas, Matthew heard about the tragedy via television. For twenty minutes there was silence in every casino. Everything stopped running. Everybody ceased jabbering.

Matthew took that time to drive to the airport. He needed to be there when the jet arrived. He was certainly not going to be much comfort to them, but perhaps they could bring some solace to his tormented soul.

 

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