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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Iz and Pal (Bedouin Buddies)


Iz and Pal

Jonathots Daily Blog

(4182)

Sitting Thirty-Nine

Seeds meticulously planted weeks before suddenly came to bloom in the blazing desert sun.

For Macklin Harrisonburg was not your garden variety genius. He was an audaciously wealthy man, the founder and director of Mackie’s Ice Cream—the one with all the cavalcade of flavors.

Well, you see, Macklin opened up his newspaper one day (which he read religiously despite the current preference for receiving such international information via the computer). Peering through the paper, he came across the picture of Iz and Pal—the one taken by Matthew Bradley. Although there was nothing more than a small caption, he was deeply moved by the tender embrace of the boyhood companions. He decided to call Mr. Bradley on the phone, get details about this Middle Eastern pair, and also, in the process, offer Matthew a job.

“How would you like to make $80,000 a year taking pictures of ice cream?” posed Mr. Harrisonburg.

“Cones or sundaes?” Matthew inquired with a chortle.

“Both,” quickly retorted the billionaire.

Matthew agreed to accept the deal and join Mr. Harrisonburg at his one-hundred-twenty-two-thousand-acre ranch in Nevada. The place was big enough to apply for statehood. The ranch included five thousand head of cattle, two thousand sheep, one thousand hogs, two hundred buffalo, fifty camels, thirty llamas and one unicorn (which was really just a llama vexed with a large wart on its head).

It was from the headquarters of this ranch that Macklin Harrisonburg devised a plan. His secretary informed him that he had received a call from the editor of the local newspaper near the campsite of the boys. He returned the message and in doing so, learned more about the story, including a secret part—about the buried hand grenade.

Macklin loved to plot, so this got him thinking, which led to some chuckling, and ended up with the ice cream mogul hatching a master delight.

First, calls were made to the International Environmental Agency, telling them about the hazardous waste possibilities at the desert location. Then he contacted Armistice International, informing them of potential buried weapons. And finally, he called some friends he knew in the Israeli Army. He quickly created a coalition of allies—cooperative, willing, and determined to secure the space.

One final thing—Macklin decided it would be best if he owned the surrounding property so there wouldn’t be any furor with the locals over trespassing. Through some careful negotiation and bizarre translations, Harrisonburg purchased a kilometer of the desert in all four directions.

He wanted to do what was right—not an easy thing. Often what’s right gets in the way of what’s expedient. But he placed calls to the father of each boy, to explain his intentions, but they would not speak with him except to claim that they had no sons—since the young men birthed from their loins were in “devilish rebellion.”

He checked for additional relatives, studied local law on the custody of children, and finally, he made a personal call, to Nevada—to a little lady who had been his wife for nearly thirty-five years.

“Marguerite?” he sang. “I have found me two more boys to work our ranch and to love back to life, if you think we have room at the table.”

There was a brief delay on the other end, and then a sweet reply. “I’ll get Jose and all the boys gathered, and we’ll just begin building a bigger table.”

He laughed—the kind of laugh a man emotes when he knows he’s with a good woman and his soul is tickled by the fingers of blessing.

When Macklin arrived at the desert scene in his yellow limousine, he was immediately intimidated by the large hill. Physical exercise was rarely necessary for an ice cream executive, but he was determined, and steadied himself on the arm of a friend who walked by his side, and with a little extra oom-pah in his polka, he made it up the hill, breathing heavily, and knocked on the door of a Port-a-John.

At first there was no answer. And then, a boy’s voice crackled from inside. “Who is it?”

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Iz and Pal (Bedouin Buddies)


Iz and Pal

Jonathots Daily Blog

(4175)

Sitting Thirty-Eight

Before Karin really had a chance to absorb what the editor had said, or even welcome him for that matter, Iz and Pal came running out of the tent, tossing the bullhorn down the hill, and disappeared inside the portable toilet, slamming the door behind them.

The editor quipped to Karin, “I guess that would be the visual representation of getting the crap out of here.”

She smirked and feigned a chuckle. It really wasn’t that funny but the attempt at humor was certainly welcome in the midst of the ongoing farce.

A man possessed, the politician screamed, “Who’s going with me? I’m going up there to get those boys! Who will join me?”

Before anyone could respond to him, attention was diverted toward two huge clouds of dust billowing across the desert in the near distance, heading this way.

The rally-goers just stared, and in less than a minute a pair of stretch limousines, bright yellow, came speeding their way into the camp. The limousines came to a halt and men jumped out of the doors, popping everywhere. Finally, after many had made their exits, one short, portly man in a yellow suit emerged from one vehicle.

He wasted no time. He apparently seemed to know his mission, slowly climbing the hill with a friend and heading toward the Port-a-John.

The politician squinted, staring at the arriver. “Who’s that?” he asked to no one in particular.

Karin looked over at the editor, who grinned. “I told you—I made some calls.”

The large tubby man dressed in yellow arrived at the Port-a-John and politely knocked. For about thirty seconds, there was an inaudible conversation going on through the door. Then all at once it opened, and he went inside, slamming it behind him.

Karin was not quite sure what the occupancy limitation was on a Port-a-John, but considering the girth of the yellow man, they had certainly reached it.

The crowd turned silent, standing like statues, gawking at the scene. The politician was just about to raise his bullhorn when even more clouds of dust appeared in the distance. Rumbling, nearly sounding like they were growling, three humongous truck/vans, looking like huge cracker boxes on wheels, arrived with smoke and heat, backing up the crowd and leaving the surrounding folk encased, choking in dust.

These trucks were bright orange with yellow spheres on the side, with lettering in green: I-E-A. Inscribed beneath the sphere in script were the words, “International Environmental Agency.”

It looked and felt very official. The back door of one of the vehicles slid open and out jumped one—two—three—six—eleven men donned in shimmering orange suits with air hoses and plastic faces in the front, looking like they had landed from outer space. Simultaneously, the other two trucks opened up. More orange-suited creatures leapt to the ground, bustling and hustling, nearly knocking over unsuspecting townspeople.

Karin soon lost count. Thirty? Forty? Maybe even fifty. She had never realized how frightening activity could be—how overwhelming it was just to be surrounded and encompassed by so much orange.

The audience, startled, having not recovered from the first barrage of vehicles, was inundated by the arrival of still more. These were smaller, purple trucks—four in all—with a white sphere on the side, bearing a large A-I—“Armistice International.” These trucks were occupied with people dressed in purple jumpsuits, who unloaded equipment, machines, computers and what appeared to be metal detectors.

Suddenly, the tiny hill in the middle of nowhere was transformed into a beehive of activity. There must have been nearly one hundred technicians, constructing a headquarters and gradually moving up the hillside toward “Camp Iz and Pal.”

Several of the orange-clad invaders took off their headgear. They were women—tall, Nordic and stern. They passed leaflets out to all the people. Karin looked over at the editor. He was wide-eyed with wonder. Breathlessly he exclaimed, “I didn’t make this many calls!”

Then one of the leaflets was thrust into Karin’s hands. She glanced down and read it.

“You must disperse immediately. You are trespassing on private property and interfering with an international investigation. This area is off-limits to the public and has been deemed to be an unsafe locale with a possibility of toxic waste and a location of deadly weapons and war mines. You have ten minutes to vacate or be arrested.”

Karin couldn’t think. Nothing seemed to make sense. What was going on? Then she looked up the hill and saw the stout man in yellow (strongly resembling a walking lemon) emerge from the portable toilet. As soon as he stepped out, he motioned and ten men climbed up, picked up the toilet, carried it down the hill and carefully slid it into the back of one of the orange trucks—apparently Iz and Pal therein.

Then the rest of the army of orange and purple beavers busied themselves pulling down the tent, picking up garbage, digging holes, placing unknown specimens into plastic bags, while running other pieces of garbage under detectors.

The teams of purple and orange were a professional whirlwind, and within five minutes’ time it was as if the boys had never been there, in the solitude of the sand.

Holes were placed in the ground, encircling the entire region with orange tape, warning “TOXIC WASTE.”

Meanwhile, people stumbled to leave—at first slowly, and then at a frantic clip, as if running from monsters.

Karin stood and stared at the scene before her. She had to do something.

Then the truck containing the “Iz and Pal Port-a-John” slammed its door shut, the mysterious man in yellow climbed into his limousine, and the vehicles headed off toward the city.

Karin tried to scream her objection, but everything was so loud that her voice made no sound.

 

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Iz and Pal (Bedouin Buddies)


Iz and Pal

Jonathots Daily Blog

(4050)

Sitting Twenty

Actually, there was no Yellow Pages printed out by the local community.

Even though the town was emotionally depressed, spiritually entrenched and socially retarded, it had culturally caught up to the current century in technology. Therefore most astute businesspeople found their information via their computers. Yet there were several private schools in the city which had agreed to put together a Yellow Pages, including telephone numbers and business ads, to raise money for their institutions so that their students could have at least some good of the better, if not the best.

Karin’s editor, in a fit of civic pride and an unusual bout of generosity, had purchased twenty of the volumes, which now lay around the office ignored, threatening to be fire hazards.

Karin tired of web surfing, so she resorted to one of the catalogues, which began with a table of contents, including:

Agencies

Banks

Child Psychologists

Doctors

Educators

Financiers

Grocers

Helping Hands

Insurance Companies

Judges

Kan-Ga-Roofing

Labor Organizations

Mothers

Newspapers

Office Supplies

Priests

Q-Tie-Pie Child Care

Religious Organizations

Senators

Teachers

UNICEF

Videos

Women

X-Ray Technicians

Youth Clubs, and the

Zoo

Yes, everything from A to Z. It seemed that blessed benefactors were bountiful—an alliteration of possibilities of people to hit up.

Karin entered the project optimistic and energetic, but soon found that no one wanted to become involved—at least not directly or openly. Yet amazingly, almost everyone offered something, even if it was just negative advice. After about six hours of calling, Karin sat back, having secured the following assistance through her persistence:

One Port-a-john toilet

Sixteen orange construction cones

Seven miscellaneous books in Aramaic

Two fluorescent green soccer balls

Four pairs of tennis shoes

One hundred dollars-worth of gift certificates for food items

One teddy bear

A bag of army men

Three Bibles

Two Korans

A single copy of the Talmud

Seventeen sympathetic sentiments

Eighteen guarantees to participate “if someone else does something first”

A promise from a politician to do his part after he was elected

And a bag of all-black jellybeans

Karin perused the list carefully, trying to determine if there was any theme to the collection, and finally decided that the common thread to the whole encounter was: thoughtful but basically worthless.

Persisting, she decided to chase down one more idea. Some press coverage would help, but nobody at the wire services and news agencies expressed interest. A universal chorus arose from all hearers. It was either, “no story there,” or the story that was there was too scary to chase.

As a matter of fact, one cranky son-of-a-gun called the situation “blasphemous.” When Karin inquired what made it blasphemous, he replied, “That’s easy. If you want to make money and you live in the Middle East, anything that’s too hot to handle is best determined to be blasphemous.”

He continued, “It would be like someone calling me on the phone who said he had a huge scoop about an abortion doctor who discovered the mysterious gay gene while vacationing with his mistress in Red China.” His conclusion to Karin? “Although intriguing, there’s no part of the topic that’s public-friendly, so therefore, it must be classified as blasphemous and be avoided—like a Biblical plague.”

Karin listened carefully, wanting to object to comparing the two boys to locusts, but before she could speak, he added, “Arabs and Jews want to pretend that they don’t have a problem, and they certainly don’t want two upstarts reminding them that they are lying to each other.”

She tried to insert a thought, but the line was dead. She was pretty sure he hung up on her. Still, one possibility remained.

She picked up her phone one last time and called…

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