Cracked 5 … May 25th, 2019

 


Jonathots Daily Blog

(4056)

Cracked 5

Five Characters That Would Make Terrible Presidents

 

A.  Scrooge McDuck

 

 

B.  Darrin Vader (Darth’s oldest son, who is presently governor of South Dakota)

 

 

C.  Wiley Coyote

 

 

D.  Andy Amoeba (a single cell living in my toilet bowl)

 

 

E.  Any one of the Munchkins (a personal prejudice)

 

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Sit Down Comedy … April 26th, 2019

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It is completely unlikely that anyone over the age of seventy in the United States of America has not heard, spoken or nervously laughed at a joke containing the “N word.” As painful as this may be, we were a country that was comfortable with bigotry.

Likewise, is there any chance that there’s a human being over the age of fifty who hasn’t stated, repeated or stood silent when the word “fag” was offered in an adult conversation? For years, this was the way we described anyone we deemed incapable of the tenacity, strength and energy to succeed.

And dare I say, there is probably no one over the age of twenty-five who has not referred or heard a reference to the female of our species as “bitch.”

It’s just the nature of our journey. We are born without the ability to walk, talk or use a spoon. We graduate from high school and enter grown-up land unable to solve problems, and therefore often opt for selfishness, in order to protect the little we have. As the old song says:

I wish I knew then what I know now.

But do you?

Do you really want to be the first white person in Montgomery, Alabama, who comes to the conclusion that Jim Crow laws are evil and must be overturned?

Do you desire to be the straight person, who during the AIDS pandemic of the mid-1980’s, decides to defend the gay community instead of insisting they brought a plague down on mankind?

And even more recently, do you want to believe the stories of women who were subjugated by domineering men, when it seems more popular, or at least politically acceptable, to come to the side of the accused, dominant, masculine figure?

There are no rewards for those who think ahead of their time.

Society has a history of putting to death those who finally clarify their message, especially when that proclamation is contrary to cultural standards and mores.

You can be popular—or you can be right.

You can’t be both.

It wasn’t even popular in 1863 to free the slaves, even though supposedly we were fighting a war to do so.

It wasn’t popular to take those same slaves—after the war was already over—and give them human and states’ rights.

It took us until 1919 to allow women a chance to vote—and even after that “lightbulb decision” was enacted, there were many places in our country where females were not allowed to serve on juries.

Being spiritually insightful, emotionally empathetic, mentally progressive and physically fit never places you in the forefront of anything.

BEING A LEADER MEANS…

If you decide to be a leader instead of a follower, you will lead alone—since the followers have already pledged their allegiance. Yet we, as a people, count on certain souls to walk a lonely path, pursue through resistance and overcome public opinion to bring us the solutions which lead us into a spirited life instead of rendering us dispirited.

As we judge candidates, senators, congressmen, President and judges, let us keep in mind that they gain their positions by either being voted in or approved. In order to get a vote or be approved, you have to get the blessing of those who walk in the present—not those who have the presence of mind to know where history is walking.

If I knew then what I know now, I would either have to forget it so I could still be fairly popular, or else decide to take the path untraveled—alone.


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Sit Down Comedy … April 19th, 2019

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It happened two weeks ago.

I yelled at somebody when I should have chatted. I judged instead of questioned him. I attacked instead of approached.

I Could Spin It

I can tell you a thousand reasons why I did. I could even spin it so you would be on my side. Yet at the end of that exertion, you would be deceived, and I would still be wrong. I was overwrought.

I didn’t need a hammer when a toothpick would have been just as effective. It wasn’t necessary to scorch the Earth when no fire was required.

I did it because I could.

I was offended and I wanted to make sure the person who offended me felt as small and insignificant as possible.

Following this indiscretion, I was briefly tempted to be self-righteous. But there is a seed inside me which has grown into a full, blooming Tree of Life, which will not allow me to hide my motivations or make excuses for my iniquity.

Understand, there’s nothing special about me.

I’m an average person—not particularly a great guy. Just a dude.

Yet I found it intolerable to live with my bratty behavior. It bugged the hell out of me and the heaven into me. I had to make it right.

I didn’t want to.

My position, my prowess and my pride screamed that this one little breach of propriety was nothing, and I had a large enough resume that I should be forgiven no matter what.

This is the bullshit that shows up right after the bull does its dance—and the dancing bull always believes he’s right because he’s powerful. So he figures that where he shits shouldn’t matter. Everybody knows he’s a bull anyway.

Where is the Bonfire of Sanity?

I don’t want to live that way. I’ve never wanted to live that way. And since I’m just a “God-loves-me-anyway-piece-of-shit,” it tears at my soul that we live in a nation in which we can’t find two decent people to rub together to ignite the bonfire of sanity.

Our Attorney General has been thrust into an impossible situation—but still squeaks like a mouse.

The Democratic Party seems to be disappointed that there isn’t more filth to parade in front of the American people.

And our President is proud that his lame-brain ideas were not enacted by his staff and is taking a bow for being protected from his pending bloopers.

Is there anyone who could be just as contrite, torn-apart and upset as I am? I, who am the “me”—who am not much of anything?

On a normal day I would say that I am the chief of sinners, but I keep getting voted out of the position as the Tribal Council brings worse candidates forward for consideration.

Is there anyone who will join me in saying that there will be no justice until we finally confess the injustice in all of us?

Is the search for power so intoxicating that our consciences are rendered powerless?

I am tired of watching people who should be more intelligent, more forward-thinking, and more qualified than me act worse than I do. How could anybody find a lower position of character than I often portray?

Yet they do.

America Needs to be Cleansed from All Unrighteousness

But according to tradition, God is only faithful and just to do that once we’re willing to confess our sins.

 


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Sit Down Comedy …March 29th, 2019

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I, too, have no collusion with rushin’.

Slow down

That’s what I say.

Slow-cooked chicken. Give the bird a chance to reflect on its journey before you dip it in the gravy.

I like the slow lane on the freeway, just in case, on a whim, I decide to exit.

I’m the guy you honk at because I’m going the speed limit

And for some goddamn reason this has ruined your life.

I had to quit football because there was running. I loved the blocking. I loved the tackling. Looked pretty good in the uniform. I could not convince my coach that running was unnecessary. He explained that the other team would have people carrying the ball, and we must chase them, and stop them. I suggested we surround them and move in slowly for the kill. He didn’t agree.

I was at a department store yesterday, entering the door, when two ladies in front of us stopped to chat with a friend. It blocked the entrance. I was happy. For a few moments I didn’t have to move.

The lady right in front of me, turned and peered at me, hoping to get support for how stupid it was for these two women to be talking to another human, blocking her progress. She move her cart around them, but there was no room. Finally the two women who were having the delightful conversation realized they were being assaulted from the rear and stepped aside.

The lady zoomed by, disgusted.

She’s fast.

I’m not. All my turtles win by a “hare.”

So you can imagine how ill-suited I am for a season in which how speedily things are accomplished is more important than the quality of what is produced. I dare to say that’s the entire problem in our nation.

We have the evangelical church, which is racing around looking for signs of Armageddon and the Second Coming of Christ, while young people are testing the temperature and depth of the oceans, convinced we’re all in hot water, preparing to cook like lobsters.

Here I am, slowing down

We have picked our past four Presidents because they were like fast cars and we were acting like teenagers.

Bill Clinton was not ready to be President. He and his wife had not yet made their peace about his flirtations and womanizing.

George W. Bush should never have been President. We should have put him in charge of CIA Black Ops, and he could have murdered Saddam Hussein, which would have saved tens of thousands of lives and about a trillion dollars.

Barack Obama was also ill-prepared for the transition. Although a pleasant man, he did not understand the futility that had to be overcome to lead the country and fell victim to cunning minds.

And Donald Trump was doing extraordinarily well working with buildings and an “Apprentice” here and there, without being given a job which cannot always be negotiated through “The Art of the Deal.”

It was all too fast

And because of that, we are in the midst of an ongoing “clean-up on Aisle 3,” with mistakes being made which don’t seem to mop up.

So not being in a hurry to give my opinion, and allowing myself a space of time to think, I will tell you…

(to be continued)


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

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365.

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

Matthew got well.

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

The room groaned. Jo-Jay scratched her chin.

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

“Who’s the wake for?” asked Carlin.

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

 

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Catchy (Sitting 21) ‘Why’ Is a Nasty One … November 5th, 2017

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“So what brought you here?” asked Carlos, as he eased his way up to find a more comfortable spot on the bunk.

Matthew glanced around at the stark confinement of the cell and laughed. “I wonder how many times that question’s been asked in this jail.”

Jubal laughed very loudly, the way a man does when he’s nervous and doesn’t exactly know what to talk about and is grateful for a joke to fill the space.

Matthew said, “As I was telling you, we have this plan on how to use the money…”

Jubal interrupted. “No, I figure we’ve got more time than that. I already understand that story line. I was talking about what brought you to the point in your life where you want to take on some crazy idea to advertise Jesus of Nazareth.”

Matthew quickly fired back. “Money.”

“Nothing else?” inquired Jubal.

Matthew smiled. “We all keep pretending there is something else, don’t we? We discuss high-sounding values, which end up smashed to smithereens by the time they get through a budget meeting. Or somebody runs for President, promising a chicken in every pot, when actually they’re trying to figure out how much money they can make off of legalizing pot. My friend, it’s all about money, because without money, we can’t pay the light bill to sit in a room and argue about high-sounding ideals.”

Jubal tilted his head, frowning. “I guess I would be surprised with your answer–might even call it cynical–except, well, I live in Las Vegas. If they could, they’d wallpaper the casinos with money, just to tempt the tourists to come in and gamble to get it.”

“I know there are things that are important,” Matthew continued. “I know you have to have values you treasure. Otherwise, when you close your doors at night, you’d be terrified, with a gun in your hand, because the world is so screwed up.”

“The world is a screwed-up place, but we’re part of the screw-up, right?” inserted Jubal.

“I don’t like to think of myself as screwed-up,” said Matthew. “Imbalanced, a little greedy. Maybe sometimes I drink too much alcohol. But I can tell you–there are more times I don’t drink enough.”

Jubal laughed–this time, just a little. “So is it hypocritical to advertise a God that you don’t necessarily believe in?”

Matthew objected. “I didn’t say I didn’t believe. Goddamnit, you can’t live in this country without believing. You can’t do business. and expect to get customers if you’re going to deny their God. I just place God where he belongs.”

“And where would that be?” challenged Jubal.

“Watching,” replied Matthew calmly.

“Let me go with that,” said Jubal. “So let’s say I’m walking down the strip, and I see two men fighting and they’re really hurting each other–and I decide to watch. Who in the hell am I?”

“Smart,” replied Matthew quickly. “Look at you. You’re not a big fellow. What in the hell do you think you’re gonna do? You’re gonna get tied up in the mix-up and you’re gonna get hurt. And truthfully, every time we start believing that God cares or that God loves the world, all we do is start blaming Him for every little piece of shit we’ve come up with. I guess maybe I love God more than other people. I don’t want to believe in Him so much that I blame Him for everything.”

Jubal sat quietly for a moment. He decided to change the subject. “In about an hour, they’re going to give you the choice between a bologna and American cheese sandwich and a turkey pot pie.”

Matthew, grateful for a different topic, leaped in. “Well, I personally love a turkey pot pie.”

Jubal shook his head. “No. You loved the turkey pot pie your mother made when you were a kid. This variety comes in two forms–burned on the top or raw.”

Matthew laughed. “No, you’re wrong. It’s just like my mother’s.”

He sat for a second and then asked, “Why aren’t you eating?”

Jubal replied, “I don’t know. It seemed like a noble idea. I mean, I’ve heard of people fasting to make their point. I didn’t make any point–I just got hungry. And now, every time I shift my legs I can smell myself. Honestly, Matthew…that is your name, right?”

Matthew acted affronted. “How can you ever play the son of God if you can’t remember my name?”

“Play the son of God…” Jubal reflected. “Sounds wrong, doesn’t it?”

Matthew stormed. “No. What’s wrong, my friend, is for you to be in jail, smellin’ like my old dog, Bogo, because you were out helping the homeless.”

Carlos squinted. “What do you mean, smellin’ like your dog, Bogo?”

“When I was a kid, my dad found an abandoned sheep dog, and decided to bring him home. He was adorable and loving, but he had so much hair that every time he took a dump, some of it would stick to his fur. Being a good pup, he tried to clean it off himself, which was gross beyond all measure. But every few weeks my dad would point to Bogo, and I knew that meant I had to go and wash his behind and trim his fur. I remember that smell. I have not inhaled it since I was a kid–until I walked into this cell today.”

Carlos smelled his shirt. “Are you saying I smell like the back side of your crappy sheep dog?”

“Identical,” panned Matthew.

Jubal lifted his hand as if making a pledge. “I promise, the next time they offer soap and water I will participate.”

Matthew gave him a thumbs up and said, “Even though I’m not a religious man, I can say amen to that.”

“I’m not a religious man,” said Jubal. “When I’m working in the casinos and I see the pretty titties on the showgirls or some groupie who thought my drumming was particularly divine and tempts me with her entirety, I’m just as horny as the next guy. No, Matthew–I would make a terrible religious person. That’s why I decided to follow Jesus.”

Matthew quarreled, “Jesus was religious.”

“No, he wasn’t,” said Jubal. “If he had been, religious people would have really dug him and sinners would have run away in terror. Instead, sinners cuddled up to him, ate with him, drank with him, slept by the fire with him. It was the religious people who were terrorized.”

“Yeah, I get that,” said Matthew. “I’ve heard that old song and dance. But you see, move ahead and he’s nothing but an emaciated Jew hanging on a cross. Look at it this way. When we were kids we studied Zeus, Apollo, Mars, and Athena in class.”

Jubal nodded. “Yeah, we did. Except you mixed Greek and Roman gods.”

Matthew stood to his feet to accentuate his point. “You see, that’s what I mean. Nobody cares anymore. Even when we studied them in school, we didn’t study them as a religion. It was called mythology. They were myths–even though any Greek or Roman of the time would have vehemently objected to term. It’s all just a bunch of crap. The only reason the stories still exist is because they’re so childish and dumb.”

Jubal interrupted. “So I guess what you’re trying to say is that just as Poseidon and all the other gods disappeared and became part of an old culture, that the same thing will happen to Jesus?”

Matthew shrugged, easing back down onto the bunk. “Not for a while. It’ll start with Jonah and the whale, Noah and the ark. But eventually all these stories that have been called sacred will become mythology.”

“It’s been two thousand years,” Jubal noted.

Matthew considered the thought. “Yeah, I know. I’ve even had some moments when I thought having a God would be a good thing. Honestly, my friend, being around you has made me doubt some of my doubts. But we’ve already eaten away at a lot of the stuff. Because after all, what’s the difference between an emperor who thought he was a god, living in Rome, and the Pope?”

“Let me make something clear,” said Jubal. “I’m not asking you these questions because I’m trying to convert you.”

“Good luck if you are,” punctuated Matthew.

Jubal resumed. “No, I’m just trying to figure out who I’m working with. I’m just trying to decide if I should work with it. I’m just trying to clear my head about what parts of the story I believe and what parts are myth to me. Mostly, I’m trying to learn about you without asking ‘why.’ Matthew, I hate the word ‘why.’ It’s usually mean-spiritied, challenging, ferocious…”

Matthew chuckled. “I never thought of it that way, Jubal. ‘Why’ is the nasty one, isn’t it?”

“It is,” Jubal agreed. “But unfortunately, it’s the one that always demands to be answered first.”

 

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Catchy (Sitting 18) Clippings … October 15th, 2017

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Michael Hinston sat back in a leather chair which had been a gift from a Congressman from Mississippi who had recently remodeled his office, had no need for the extra furniture piece and “saw no reason for it to go to waste.”

In Michael’s hand was a plain manila envelope–the kind you would buy at a dollar store. There was no writing on the outside, except in the lower right hand corner, in small letters, was the name, Milford Hayes.

It did not take Michael any time at all to recollect who Milford Hayes was. Ever since the visit in his office, when he was given the fifty thousand dollars from Caine Industries, he had recalled the conversation with the stranger many, many times.

He hated himself because he hadn’t kicked the bastard out the door.

He hated himself for being part of a political system that allowed such corruption.

He hated himself because corporations thought they could buy and sell politicians like sides of beef.

He also hated himself because he had already spent some of the money.

And unlike more noble souls who could suddenly possess a fit of conscience and give the money back, he had no such resource.

He was in.

Whatever “in” meant.

And apparently, with the arrival of this envelope, he was about to find out.

He picked up the phone and asked his secretary to hold all calls, though nobody was actually phoning him. This was another troubling part of his journey in Washington. He had been elected by rural hometown folks in Ohio, but nobody in the Capitol even knew he was alive.

He had thought he was going to be invited to dinner with the President, but when it turned out that his vote was not needed for an upcoming piece of legislation, apologies were offered and he ended up eating pepperoni pizza with his family.

So now, sitting in his cast-off chair, in his uncomfortable office, with the knowledge in his mind that his wife and children despised their new home, he slowly opened the envelope.

Pulling out the contents, he found a clump of press clippings held together with a paper clip, and a white business envelope with the words “For the Kids” written on the outside.

He set the white envelope to the side and thumbed through the articles. They had one central theme–they were tiny news announcements, reports, opinions and press releases about his friend, Matthew, taking on the Harts fortune to popularize Jesus.

Included was an 8 X 10 glossy picture of a young man with long hair. Scrawled in magic marker across the photo was the name, Jubal Carlos.

Satisfied that he had discovered the essence of the newspaper clippings, he moved toward the business envelope. He opened it. Inside was a note written on 20-pound typing paper, along with ten one hundred-dollar bills. The note read:

It’s time to do something. It’s time for you to earn your money. Your nosy friend has decided to take on the challenge and we must do what is necessary to stall his efforts. The picture is of Jubal Carlos, a freelance musician from Las Vegas who lives on the street with the homeless and the indigent. Your buddy from college plans on using him. Don’t you think it would be a good idea for you to use your congressional clout to have the local authorities investigate him? It couldn’t hurt, right?

I have enclosed some “pin money” for little Alisa and Bernice. Stay faithful. Milford Hayes.

Michael put the letter down and stared at the picture of Jubal Carlos. He didn’t know what to do. The young man in the photograph certainly seemed likeable–a bright countenance.

Why would he want to trouble someone causing no trouble?

Why would he allow himself to be part of some plot against an old friend?

Why should he care what a dead, old billionaire wanted to do with the rest of his money?

But what truly haunted Michael was the thousand dollars. Just twenty minutes earlier, his wife, Barbara, had called to tell him that the school was launching a field trip to New York City. There would be additional expense. The secretary from the school said it would cost $500 for each daughter. Barbara apologized for laying a thousand-dollar burden on his mind while he was at work.

Michael paused, shaking his head. Now, twenty minutes later, he was staring at a thousand dollars in cash. A coincidence? A miracle? A blessing?

Or did Milford Hayes and Caine Industries know too much about his daughters?

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