Sit Down Comedy … October 18th, 2019

Jonathots Daily Blog

(4201)

Sit Down Comedy

“Love your enemies.” A peculiar idea.

First, how does that happen? If you’re really a lover, how do you make enemies? Do some people just hate to be loved—therefore they have to hate you because you’re the one who loved them?

Or is it that you fail to love your neighbors, and in the meantime, they turn into enemies, so now you’ve got a real problem.

How can you love your enemies? Doesn’t the word “enemy” connote some sort of conflict?

Does Jesus love Satan? They’re enemies.

Does Speaker of the House Nancy Pelosi love Donald Trump? They’re enemies.

There seems to be a prerequisite of a certain amount of disfavor, if not hate, in levying the word “enemy” onto someone else.

So what’s the purpose of the love? Are we speaking figuratively, as in, “compared to the amount of dislike we could muster, we sure seem loving in our discretion?”

Or is it that condescending “love your enemy,” like they do with gay people?

“I love the sinner, but I hate the sin.” How does one do that?

For this to work, the sinner would have to believe he or she is sinning, rather than following a sexual orientation. Any way you look at it, it’s hatred.

So how do you love your enemies? Doesn’t it express a weakness that leaves you vulnerable? Someone gets ready to punch you in the face, and you say, “Listen—I love you.”

Do we think it’s a deterrent?

Does “turn the other cheek” spare a cheek from being hit? Or just make you defenseless?

God knows, pessimism is a destructive virus. But likewise, optimism leaves us all gooey and doughy—half-baked.

I don’t know about you—I don’t want platitudes.

I don’t want someone to say, “Love your enemies,” and then if I try it, they chuckle and say, “No—not that way.”

Or, “Come on, kid. You’ve gotta stand up for yourself.” But we’ve been standing up for ourselves for a long time.

Israel stands up for itself in the Middle East. So do the Arabs.

Standing up for oneself is really the formula for a stand-off, isn’t it?

Yet what good does it do to introduce love into a volatile situation?

It seems so ridiculous to people, even those who claim to believe in the Gospel, that they try to ignore it and think of all sorts of ways to hurt one another.

How did I ever get goddamn enemies? Did I think I was loving, but ended up being an asshole? Or did I insist I imitate a loving person while being an asshole? Come on.

Words are useless unless you know what they mean.

When the words “love” and “enemy” occur in the same sentence, I, for one, need more information.

I’d rather not have enemies. Will being a loving person help with that? Now, there’s an idea.

I don’t want to pick a fight. Picking a fight is such a futile process. There’s a chance you’ll win. There’s a chance you’ll lose. But if you win, you still must have some sort of concern toward the person you beat the crap out of. Otherwise, people will think you’re wicked. I guess it’s alright to be hateful as long as you aren’t wicked.

When people say they’ll pray for you, do they? Or is the statement the prayer?

I think maybe the human race could do much better if high-sounding ideas like “love your enemy” were better explained, and really shitty attitudes, like, “every man for himself,” were exposed.

My thought is, if somebody is your enemy and you aren’t able to whoop him, you’d better find a way to get along with him.

And if you think you can whoop everybody, it’s safe to say that you’ll eventually get whooped.

I’m not in the mood for a good whooping—either to give one or to take one.

So I guess the thought is:

Once you find out that someone is pissed at you, control the vibe.

Nurture the energy that flows his or her way, and make sure they have no reason to turn the feud into a vendetta and the vendetta into a war.

 

 

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Iz and Pal (Bedouin Buddies)


Iz and Pal

Jonathots Daily Blog

(4196)

Sitting Forty-One

Three days passed.

Karin found it difficult to sleep. She nibbled like a rabbit, trying to sustain her energy. Although she watched all the news reports, she heard nothing. It literally seemed that Iz and Pal had vanished from the face of the Earth. She made many phone calls but was unable to get in touch with anyone who knew anything.

Then, on Monday morning, while she was warming up her coffee, a special broadcast came across the television screen from the International News Network. She was brought to a standstill, staring in disbelief. There, being played out before her eyes, in a news conference, was a guy at a podium behind many microphones. He looked like Matthew Bradley, her photographer/suitor. Yet she shook her head, rattling in her own brain. It couldn’t be possible—because this man wore the trappings of a Catholic priest.

She lifted the volume as he stepped toward the microphones, placing a piece of paper on the podium. “I have a brief statement from the IEA. The two boys recently rescued from the desert and carried to a decontamination center to be tested and treated for injuries have unfortunately died from exposure to lethal chemicals. The boys, Jubal and Amir, who became known as Iz and Pal, left a final statement before passing on. And I quote:

We meant no harm. We just loved each other. Isn’t that a good thing? We wish you all holy peace.”

The Bradley doppelganger continued. “Both the boys were given medication to ease their pain and passed away last evening in their sleep. The IEA asked me, as a man of the ministry, to speak to the public. And may I personally add in comfort and closing, it is just blessed to know that Iz and Pal have gone to a better kingdom.”

With this, the priest folded up his sheet of paper, nodded his head and stepped away from the podium as a barrage of questions was shouted at his retreating form.

But there were no answers. He was gone. That was it.

Karin sat in front of her television for a long time. She wondered why she wasn’t crying—then realized it might be because Matthew Bradley was impersonating a priest. In other words, if the priest ain’t really a priest, then maybe, just maybe, the boys ain’t dead.

Trying to be comforted by the possibility of a false report, nevertheless, finally her emotional will broke. Her anguish and fears began to strangle her internally, draining the life from her soul. She couldn’t breathe. She stood to her feet, attempting to regain the simple ability to take in air and release it.

She felt so foolish. She had been part of tragedies before. She had seen men and women mutilated by bullets, and children blown up by bombs. Why in the hell was this striking her so deeply? Why did she let these two boys into her heart? Why hadn’t she been savvy enough to realize that this had no way to have a happy ending? It was doomed by all those doomsayers who spread doom all over the countryside in the name of their Deity of Doom.

She finally was able to sit down and calm herself, on the energy of one possibility. Maybe Iz was with his friend, Pal, and they were both alive. Karin didn’t know if believing such nonsense was optimistic or just dangerous. But she was tired of being cynical.

As she gradually regained her composure, she heard a knock at the door. Startled, she slowly stood, walked over and opened the door. A young Arab man was standing next to Jubal’s mother. She searched her mind to remember the name. Yes. Shelah. That was it.

It was very unusual to see a woman in public during the day with such a young man—one obviously not her husband. Karin was suspicious.

The young man knew he had surprised her, sympathetic to her predicament. “I am Talsan,” he explained quickly. “I am Amir’s…sorry…I am Pal’s older brother.” He turned toward the older woman, then back to Karin. “I suppose you know that this is…”

Karin interrupted. “Yes, this is Iz’s mother. Shelah, am I right?”

The woman nodded her head, continuing the submissive profile she had displayed on Karin’s visit to her. But then, out of nowhere, she spoke up. “Yes,” she stated. “As you say, I am Iz’s mother. May we come in?”

The sudden burst of speech from the silent woman surprised Karin. She welcomed the pair into her house. Karin offered them food and drink, which they both declined as they took seats on the couch.

Talsan said, “There is much I should say but the most important part is to tell you that I love my brother, and I refuse to believe that he’s gone.”

Before Karin could comment, Shelah piped up. “I will go further. My spirit—the mother within me—everything I hold dear—tells me that my son is still alive and breathing.”

Karin looked at Talsan and then at Shelah. She wasn’t certain what to say. She wanted to agree with them because she felt much the same way, but three fools don’t make a majority. The newspaper woman inside her rose up and cited, “You both realize that they don’t normally give out a false report from the IEA—and whether you trust Americans, or anybody from the West, I have worked with them many times, and they’re decent folk who would certainly not harm two little boys.”

Talsan started to speak, but Shelah patted his hand and said, “We are not accusing anyone of harming Iz and Pal.” She glanced over at Talsan. “We are just saying…well, I’m just saying…”

Talsan interjected, “It is me, too.”

Shelah nodded and continued. “We are just saying that we have done very poorly by these children of God and it is we who are believing that God will allow us another chance.”

Karin found it very difficult to object. All the words being spoken were sentimental hogwash, but still, they were the thoughts stirring in her own heart as well. She decided to offer a possibility. “Did you hear the announcement from the priest?”

They both nodded their heads. “Good,” Karin said. “Because his final thought was that the boys had possibly suffered enough and were redeemed to a better kingdom.”

Talsan jumped in. “I know this could be true. I’m not a fool. I’m an educated man. But it does seem ridiculous to accept the words without confirmation.”

“And beyond that,” Shelah emphasized, “Should there not be at least an attempt for us to let God, the authorities, but mostly the boys know that at the end of their journey there were people that loved them? People that sought them out and people that honored their memory?”

Talsan dipped his head as tears filled his eyes.

Karin realized that whatever powers may exist in the universe, Somebody Somewhere had granted her this visit from mother and brother, to restore her faith—and to help her make a decision she certainly yearned to do.

She took Mother Shelah and Brother Talsan by the hands and said, “I want to thank you for being brave enough to come here. But I wonder if you could be just a little braver still. Would you agree with me—no, more than that. Would you join me on a trip to America to make sure that these two great fellows really have gone to a better kingdom?”

Shelah quickly nodded her head, eyes glistening. Talsan thought for a minute, but then realized there was no way to avoid such a journey and ever be certain in his soul.

An unlikely trio of pilgrims made a covenant with one another to travel to the States to learn the truth about two wonderful guys that they all loved.

 

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Iz and Pal (Bedouin Buddies)


Iz and Pal

Jonathots Daily Blog

(4189)

Sitting Forty

Macklin Harrisonburg took a moment to catch his breath from the climb up the hill. While he was puffing out some air to keep from hyperventilating, the voice from inside the Port-a-john spoke again—more emphatically. “Who is it?”

“It’s the ice cream man,” answered Macklin, mustering some cheer. “What flavor would you like?”

A pause—a long, thoughtful delay. “No!” came the voice again. “Who is it really?”

Harrisonburg grabbed another large breath of air and inquired, “Have you ever heard of Mackie’s Ice Cream?”

There was what seemed to be a little giggle as the door was quickly opened and Iz appeared, staring at the man in yellow. “Where’s the ice cream?” he asked. Iz was standing next to Pal inside the toilet, each of them holding a small pink stick.

Macklin sized them up for a quick moment, peering at their little pink sticks. “Hmmm,” he began. “I sure hope that isn’t your preference in ice cream flavor. If you want my opinion, those are pretty pitiful looking cones.”

“It’s poison!” spat Pal. “We are not going to let them take us!”

Iz gave Pal a small punch in the arm as they gazed at one another and nodded their heads. Pal reached over to shut the door, but the big ball of Yellow Wonder stepped in the way. “I don’t know why you’d want to eat poison when you can come to my ranch, where I have barns and barns of ice cream. You see, my name is Macklin Harrisonburg—but most people know me as the Ice Cream Man, and they call me Mackie.”

With this, the portly gentleman removed his hat, made a short bow and continued. “I have come here to rescue you and take you back to meet the sweetest woman the world ever made—my dear wife, Marguerite. I tell you gentlemen—she cooks meals that make children screech in delight, and I make ice cream that causes them to smile until their ears slide to the back of their heads.”

Iz and Pal laughed. They didn’t want to—the man was corny. But he sure seemed fun. They had been wondering if they would ever see fun again, so they chose to invite him into their little enclosure. Once inside, Pal looked down at the toilet and said, “Mr. Ice Cream, that’s the only seat we have. But we didn’t do anything on it.”

“Or in it,” Iz added.

“Thank you, fellows,” said Macklin, easing down onto the small space. Iz and Pal did their best to wiggle and shift to make room for the large man to spread out.

“Now listen, my friends,” Mackie explained. “Here’s my plan. Why don’t we go ahead and get out of here? If you don’t mind leaving your homes here in the Middle East, I’d love to have you come and live at my ranch. I’ve already adopted ten other children from all over the world. I guess you could say we’ve got every flavor of them, too.”

Macklin grinned at the boys, who peered at him in disbelief. He shifted his bottom on the seat and resumed. “In a minute, they’re going to come and pick up this little building and carry you away. Don’t be afraid. Just hang on the best you can—and we’ll take you to safety, far away from this crowd. Once you’re there, you can decide what you want to do.” He paused. “Do you have any questions?”

Iz glanced over at Pal and replied, “That’s your plan?”

Macklin couldn’t help himself. He burst into laughter. “Well,” he said, “that’s the shortened version. Maybe we can call it the traveling version since you’re gonna be moving out of here real soon.”

“Listen,” Pal interrupted, “I don’t want to be mean, but why are you doing this?”

“Because I can,” said Macklin. “Because someone should. Maybe just because I will. But mostly because I can always use two new friends.”

Iz shook his head. “Well, what’s in it for you? Nobody does nothin’ for nothin’ for nobody.”

Macklin took a long moment to make eye contact with Iz, in search of the young man’s heart and soul. He wiped some sweat from his brow. “I don’t think about that anymore, young sir,” he replied. “I guess I’ve got so much in my life that I don’t have to get something out of everything. I mean, money or fame. Here’s what I believe: when God blesses you with more than you need and you don’t have to worry about cash anymore, then there’s only one thing left for you to do…”

Macklin paused so long that Pal asked, “What’s that?”

“Well, that’s easy,” Macklin smiled. “Have fun, love everybody you can, and get rid of your last dollar by the day you die.”

He laughed again, and Iz and Pal decided to join in with him. After all, even if the old man was crazy, crazy sure sounded better than where they were.

“Now,” Mackie said, “are you ready, boys?”

“We’re ready, Mr. Harrisonburger…large-burger,” said Iz, giggling.

Pal stared at him. “That’s not right.”

Harrisonburg pulled himself up, using a piece of nearby wall and stood. “You can just call me Mackie,” he replied.

“Alright, Mr. Mackie,” Iz said. “We’re ready.”

Mackie looked down at Iz and Pal. “Before I leave,” he said, “would you do me a favor and take those little stinky pink sticks you’ve got in your hands and throw them in that toilet?”

Pal glanced at Iz nervously. “No, no,” Macklin continued. “It’ll be alright, son.”

The two boys carefully threw their suicide sticks into the toilet. Pal was relieved. So was Iz, but he tried to act reluctant. This accomplished, the ice cream giant stepped out of the Port-a-john and descended the hill.

And the worker bees came a-buzzing.

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Sit Down Comedy … September 13th, 2019

Jonathots Daily Blog

(4166)

Sit Down Comedy

The government the forefathers envisioned–being of the people, for the people and by the people—has devolved into a puzzle of political pandering.

Perhaps the worst part of the scenario is that those people the government was supposed to serve have accepted the bastard that’s been birthed and deemed America.

This has primarily been brought about by the assertion that the more complicated a thing is, the greater the chance that it will succeed.

So imitating the worst parts of former kingdoms which had emperors, senators, dignitaries and conquering, we have accumulated a history of pursuing a dream which has gradually left us sleepless.

America has boiled down to three P’s

  1. Party

The political party you identify with, which means you concede to accept the universal platform

  1. Plans

How can we make it seem that we’re addressing the difficulties in our nation and the world around us, without ever explaining step-by-step, how it will be initiated day by day?

  1. Personality

We are obsessed with rooting for our candidate-tainted-with-scandal while condemning your candidate-tainted-with-scandal.

Our leaders should be selected on the following:

A. Could we work side-by-side with them on a job?

B.  Could we work for them if they were our boss?

C.  When problems arise, what demeanor do they take on?

There’s the word: demeanor

The Presidency, the Senate and the House of Representatives should be voted in based on the demeanor of the candidates who will need to mull great quandaries yet find ways to simplify them for immediate attention.

So what is meant by demeanor? It begins with one simple principle:

Don’t attack

If you feel the need to bring down your adversary in order to make yourself look strong, then you do not possess the demeanor to be part of the leadership of this great country. Therefore, the people with the correct demeanor also:

Refuse to retaliate

For such defensiveness is a sign of avoiding looking foolish instead of persevering with great ideals.

Case in point: Does anyone think we are doing good in the Middle East?

The argument presented is that “bad things will happen if we leave.” We should pose a question: Since we know what we’re doing is foul and we don’t know that leaving will make it worse, why do we continue to stubbornly pursue the inefficient?

We are led by people who first attack and then retaliate.

You should not vote for anyone based on their policies or their political party. Ask yourself if you could work with them, if you could work for them and if he or she carries a pleasant disposition, seeking ways to solve problems instead of losing perspective and exacerbating the situation.

A leader of the United States of America must possess the wisdom and wit to have good cheer.

It was not Thomas Jefferson, John Adams or George Washington that launched our country in the correct direction. What held everything together in the beginning was what we need now:

The congenial cleverness of Benjamin Franklin

Franklin never saw a problem where he didn’t create an invention. He couldn’t even stand to watch lightning without inviting it down to explain itself. This is what we need.

Our candidates are pugnacious.

It is exactly the opposite of what makes good leadership for democracy.

So when I watch the debates or I look at Washington, D. C., I ask myself, could I work side by side with this person? If he or she were promoted, could I enjoy them as my boss? And, are they looking for a simple answer to begin the journey to completion, while maintaining a sense of “all is well” with good cheer?

 

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Iz and Pal (Bedouin Buddies)


Iz and Pal

Jonathots Daily Blog

(4092)

Sitting Twenty-Six

Two weeks passed.

Uneasy time.

Karin went out to the desert on multiple occasions. The boys seemed fine. There was plenty of food, plenty of play. She brought along soap and suggested they use some of the water to wash off the dirt and grime. They seemed better, and they also smelled better.

Iz and Pal had even begun to read some of the books that had been offered to them. They schooled one another by creating math problems and brain teasers. Everything seemed weirdly normal—eerie. Yet deep in her heart, Karin knew this brief hiatus from reality would certainly not continue.

And then it happened. The worst possible scenario.

Somebody was campaigning for some sort of office in a nearby district, trying to win a seat in some sort of assembly. This candidate decided he needed a cause.

For the picture taken by Matthew had gradually eked its way into the news media, even gaining the attention of some of the larger wire services.

Even though initially the Iz-and-Pal-escapade had been viewed by the public as a lark—a feature story—all at once things changed. It was no longer just two boys cavorting in the desert until they grew tired of each other. Politics entered and changed the scene.

Certainly it only takes a politician to turn an innocent situation into a global fiasco. The candidate, who was desperately seeking a cause, blew the whole matter out of proportion. He was convinced that a combination of issues prevailed: children’s lack of respect for their parents mingled with Jewish and Palestinian frustrations about unresolved causes, aggravated by threats from young ones who needed to be returned to a subservient profile. “Someone should do something about it!”

This statement is often the beginning of much that troubles us in the world. Who knows? Maybe many of the things that bother us would soon disappear, either through boredom or just the changing of the guard. But when someone takes on these things as a cause, then we are propelled on a merciless journey of discovering what’s right and what’s wrong—an odyssey fraught with bantering, bickering and eventually, Bolshevism. After all, Fascism is just some ugly, opinionated adult way of stealing someone’s toy and forcing a new way to play with it.

The candidate railed until it was decided there would be a rally held in the desert near the encampment where Iz and Pal had established their playground. At the rally, speeches would be made, followed by an active attempt to “rescue” the boys from their irresponsible outing. The police would be there, and the parents of both young men would be encouraged to take the children back to the safekeeping of hearth and home.

It was a disaster in the making.

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Iz and Pal (Bedouin Buddies)


Iz and Pal

Jonathots Daily Blog

(4064)

Sitting Twenty-Two

Karin was embarrassed.

She had promised “the boys in the sand” that she would come up with some answers—or just do anything contrary to their belief that she would do nothing–so she took some time to gather together a sampling of the gifts donated during her phone solicitation. Matthew stared at her in disbelief—partly because of the frenzy of nerves that had overtaken her in accumulating the items, but mostly because he couldn’t figure out how this particular collage of “things” had any central theme.

They drove until Karin was able, through trial and error, to remember where the encampment was. Then, much to her surprise, she saw that many other of the gifts had been delivered to Iz and Pal, including the portable toilet, orange construction cones, fruit baskets, and what appeared to be bags of hamburgers. She shook her head, unable to conceive how anybody had been able to find the location.

As she climbed the hill with her trinkets, she observed the boys opening and closing the door to the toilet, poking their heads inside and giggling. “It’s a toilet!” she shouted.

They jumped back, startled. She covered the remaining distance quickly, and gently patted Iz on the shoulder. “I didn’t mean to scare you,” she said tenderly. “So, what do you think of your new toilet?” She stood back, holding out her hand as if introducing royalty.

Iz shook his head, perplexed. “Why do we need a toilet?”

“Well,” said Karin slowly, “don’t you get kind of tired of, like, burying your stuff in the desert?”

“No, actually it’s kind of fun,” inserted Pal. “I mean, every once in a while you forget, and you dig up one of your old…”

Karin interrupted. “I got the idea!” She lifted her hand to stop any further explanation. Suddenly remembering her guest, she turned to Matthew, who had just arrived. “Iz and Pal, this is Matthew Bradley, and he is here to take your picture.”

Matthew stepped forward. “Hey, dudes. You see, I’ll take this box and point it at you, and what you look like will come through this lens…” He paused to point at the front of the camera and continued. “And from this lens it goes onto what they call film, and makes a picture of your faces.”

He said each word slowly and deliberately, like a missionary schoolteacher. Karin intervened. “Matthew, they are not Aborigines. They have seen cameras, and they’ve had their picture taken. And by the way, they don’t think you’re stealing their souls. Just tell them how you want them to stand.”

Matthew paused, rubbing his chin. “Karin, what is the theme of the picture?”

Karin rolled her eyes, trying to make sure that Matthew didn’t notice. “Theme? There is no theme, Matt. I need a picture of these boys so I can get more attention for their situation.”

Matthew signed, impatient with her ignorance. “Well, if you just wanted a picture you could have picked up one of those disposable cameras,” he said, disgusted. “Listen, Karin, I’m more than a ‘photo guy.’ That’s your problem. You see me as so, so, so very small…”

Karin realized that what she deemed logical he felt was unappreciative. She eased over and gave him a sideways hug (so as to avoid his breath) and said, “Matthew, I’m sorry. I just don’t know about picture themes. What do you think?”

Matthew, immediately healed by the gratuitous apology, was elated. He suggested the two boys embrace as a symbol of their friendship, but since the boys had never really embraced before, it looked terribly awkward. Then, in a brief flicker of pure dumb luck, they managed to hug each other and turn to the camera with huge, cheesy grins.

It was an inspiring moment.

“What are you going to do with the picture?” asked Pal.

“I’m going to try to make your picture famous,” Karin replied, “so you don’t have to be.”

The boys nodded (the way twelve-year-olds do when they don’t really understand adult talk, but also don’t want to hear any more.)

Truthfully, Karin didn’t really understand herself.

Yet several hours later, in a small darkroom, Matthew developed the photo and presented it to Karin. Never in her journalistic life had she seen a picture reflect such clumsy warmth and genuine homespun tenderness. A tear came to her eye, which she reached up and dried quickly. It was no time to be sentimental.

There were still cows to get into the barn.

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Iz and Pal (Bedouin Buddies)


Iz and Pal

Jonathots Daily Blog

(4022)

Sitting Sixteen

The editor sat, staring her in the eyes. He refused to avert his gaze, so she continued hers, hoping to win the standoff.

She could hear herself breathing. The quiet between the two of them made it possible for her to feel her heart beating.

After a moment, he leaned back in his chair. “No,” he concluded. “You’re wrong. The truth is, we don’t ‘got to do’ anything. Just because you’ve lost your objectivity doesn’t mean I’m going to follow you over the cliff.” He shook his head. “Young lady, you’ve got to remember what your job is. I just hate it when people try to do other people’s jobs. Hell—I don’t want my butcher talking to me about tomatoes, and I’m not particularly pleased to have my dentist comment on my haircut.”

He continued. “Here’s the thing. I don’t want my reporters, or in this case, you, pretending that she is really privately working as a social services agent. You’re a reporter, so start acting like one.”

Karin stood tall, walked over to the chair and sat down. “A reporter’s first duty is to find the story,” she said. “Try finding a story without becoming involved in the lives of the people who are dictating to you what you must write on the page. How antiseptic do you think you can become before doing all your work wearing kid gloves? Yes. I won’t deny it. This story reaches me. I guess from your perspective, you would claim it’s dirtied me. But nevertheless, it is a story. If you think I’m too passionate, edit my copy. Or isn’t that what you do?”

He smiled. The editor was always amused at Karin’s spunk—sometimes even drew it out or exaggerate it by generating fictitious conflict. He waved his hands in the air as if surrendering and said, “Okay. What’s your angle?”

Karin paused. She didn’t want to come across too verbose, or worse, off-point. What was her angle? She had already lied and had appeared too high-strung. So where did she intend to go with a story like this one, which was begging to become an obsession?

“Let’s help them.” That’s all she said.

The editor ferociously shook his head. “There you go again, back to saving the world. Don’t you understand, girl, if the world were to blow up tomorrow, I would put out my last edition of the paper ten minutes before the explosion, and have my sales team on the street drumming up advertising—until we were all dead.” He pointed at her. “I’m a newspaper man. I don’t care about solutions. Sometimes they get in my way. I know you don’t want to hear that, and if you ever told anyone that I said that, I’d call you a disgruntled employee and a liar. But I don’t dare care about solutions because if I do, I’m gonna miss the next juicy problem that needs to be addressed. It is not my intention to give you a sermon. I’m just trying to get your head back on straight. I need my good reporter back.”

Karin felt a quick flush of pride over being dubbed “good.” The editor’s compliments were infrequent. He was as cheap with his praise as he was with his pocketbook. But she pressed on.

“Let me go back out there. How about this? Let me see who comes to them. Let me just report how it plays out without trying to affect it in any way.”

“What is it they want?” the editor asked.

“I thought you didn’t care,” chided Karin.

He snorted. “Isn’t what they want part of the story?”

Karin sucked in a deep breath. Maybe she was tired. Maybe it was her religious training. Or maybe she was just being softened by the editor calling her a good reporter. Who could say? But she was plagued by a guilty conscience. She couldn’t go on. Her presentation to her boss was built on sand—the granules of a lie. She had to tell him the truth—so Karin took a few minutes to relate the whole story—the broken-down vehicle, the angry sergeant, the boys, the hand grenade, the confrontation and the fact that the weapon ended up being a dud.

She explained that the grenade was buried in the desert, and how the one boy seemed plagued with some craziness. She finished up by describing the wrestling match and the ride back to the city.

The editor listened quietly and carefully, conscious not to appear alarmed or disapproving.

“So you see,” Karin concluded, “I feel a little responsible for the two fellas. I know there’s a story here, but God forgive me, I need to be part of how this story pans out.”

The editor eyed her for a lengthy span of time. While he mused, she offered one afterthought. “Let me take it just a little further.”

He closed his eyes and shook his head, but then changed it to a nod. He grumbled, “Let me make some calls.”

 

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