Not Long Tales … November 26th, 2019

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16.

Falling Leaves

Clouds are just water vapor. They have no lining—certainly not a silver one.

This is probably the first thing any villager from Blanchport, Pennsylvania learns growing up near the West Virginia border, where eking out a surviving wage without hating your work is considered heaven.

Murtrand Gillogly was only seventeen years old when she met Benson. He was tall, muscular and worked in the coal mines, so had a little extra money—more than the average boy walking the streets or plowing the fields.

She fell in love. Well, at least enough to give herself over to him in the cab of his Ford pickup truck. They had only consummated their confirmation on three occasions when Murtrand found out that she had missed her time.

Not knowing what to do, she finally decided to go to the town doctor. “Murty,” he said. (That’s what all the locals called her.) “Murty, I want to tell you something real simple. You’re pregnant.” He peered at her. “I imagine that’s not good news for you, so I will grant you the privacy of keeping my mouth shut until you want to yap about it.”

The young girl was terrified but had enough sense to confess to her parents, her preacher and a few close friends. They all did the wrong thing—what often happens in small towns with small minds.

They condemned her.

It became especially problematic when after three-and-a-half months, the hospital, twenty-five miles away, confirmed that she was carrying twins. Benson, her boyfriend and baby-maker, had decided to hang around—until he received this latest news. There was something about two babies popping out that scared the living shit out of him.

He explained that because there was so much expense that needed to be covered, he was going on a “miracle journey.” That’s what he called it–a “miracle journey” to Las Vegas–to win enough money to take care of the family, for now and all time. Murty was suspicious—but still moved that he had the desire to be a breadwinner, even if the crumbs came from the gambling tables. She sweetly kissed him on the lips and promised to remain true.

That was the last time she ever saw him.

Six months later, by the ordination of nature and sheer will and purpose of the human body, Murty gave birth to two boys. Feeling particularly traditional and proud of herself, she decided to name one Clarence and one Cameron.

Concerning the community, no support and no real sense of acceptance came her way throughout the first part of the twins’ growing up time. For in Blanchport, Pennsylvania, once you sin, it’s not forgiven unless God shows up and does it Himself.

And He doesn’t come around very often.

So Murty did a little waitressing, telemarketing and even pumped gas down at the local convenience store, to keep shoes on four small feet and grits in three bellies.

She loved her boys.

She was really proud of Clarence. When he was only seven years old, he walked by the town bank and noticed that somebody had dropped a hundred-dollar bill. His first instinct was a good one. He took it inside and presented it to the bank president (or some fellow wearing a tie) and explained that he had found it just outside the door, so figured it might belong to somebody inside.

The banker patted him on the head, told him he was a good little gent, and said they would advertise, letting people know the money had been discovered.  But he added that if it wasn’t retrieved in the next thirty days, little Clarence could keep it.

He had a terrible time sleeping. He even picked himself up a giveaway calendar from down at the drug store and started marking off the days. The whole town was rooting for him. Matter of fact, he acquired a nickname. Instead of Clarence, they started calling him “C-note.” He liked it, even though he didn’t know what it meant. But when they explained that a hundred-dollar bill was called a C-note, he was flattered and overjoyed.

It was the twenty-ninth day of waiting to find out about the prize money when the banker called Clarence to his office. The little boy sat down, anticipating his hundred dollars—ready to scream just as loud as he could.

The banker smiled, cleared his throat and said, “Young man, I want to tell you how admirable it is that you brought the money in when you found it. Some boys would have run off to the candy store or hid it in a jar in the back yard. Unfortunately, I’m sorry to report that as it turns out, after the books have been budgeted and calculated, that hundred dollars belongs to the bank.”

Clarence cried. He tried not to do so. He tried to keep what the preacher always called a “stiff upper lip,” but even though his lips seemed quite all right, his eyes were pouring.

The banker came from behind his desk, put an arm around the boy and said, “Now, now. Don’t you cry. Because we at the bank have decided to give you five dollars as a finders fee.”

Now, it wasn’t much money. Certainly not a hundred. But it seemed to be enough encouragement to turn off the water faucets in his eyes.

He ran out of the bank with his five-dollar bill and down the street. He bought something for his brother, Cameron, something for his mother and something for himself. They had a wonderful night together, celebrating their sudden wealth and how much they loved each other.

Only one problem arose from the situation: Cameron was pissed off that he didn’t have a nickname, too. After much deliberation and even a little bit of prayer, he decided that from that point on, he wanted to be known as Camo.

It didn’t have any meaning. Yet from that moment, the twins became known as C-note and Camo.

Their eighth year looked similar to their ninth. And the tenth year was marked by a brief visit to some friends in Harrisburg.

They went to school, they wore the clothes provided, they smiled at the right adults and when those grown-ups weren’t looking, they had their fun.

One of their favorite pastimes was climbing an old mulberry tree down by the railroad tracks. It was a huge one—about eight enormous branches going up to the sky. Each boy marked his courage by how high he was willing to go on the branches leading to heaven.

C-note had made it to the third branch. Camo was still sitting on the second one, mustering up the courage to shimmy up the tree.

One day, they foolishly invited their mother out to watch them climb. She was terrified. She almost forbade them to do it anymore, but after much pleading she made a compromise. “You can climb that, but no higher than that third branch,” she said, pointing it out to them. She made them point it out, too, so there wouldn’t be any misunderstanding.

But it is truly amazing how quickly a mother’s advice evaporates in the heat and enthusiasm of a climb.

On the Monday morning before Thanksgiving, C-note decided it was time to go to Level 4. Camo was scared—shaking like a leaf.

C-note mocked him for his cowardice. “If you’re gonna be a big boy, you’ve gotta do big things,” he said.

Having never reached for the fourth branch, knowing nothing about it, C-note was unaware that the fourth branch was broken. And even though he was a young boy, his weight was still enough that when he grabbed on, a big piece of branch broke off in his hands and he fell to the Earth. The fall seemed to last forever, as he stared up into the top of the tree and the world began to spin.

All at once he landed—flat on his back.

He waited for the pain. He was surprised he was still awake. Suddenly his ears opened, and he could hear Camo screaming. And then, the sounds of one, two, five, maybe ten people running in his direction. He was so scared he pooped his pants. Now he was dying and going to stink.

Something odd, though, was that he didn’t feel damaged. He didn’t think he was dead. And when the people began to gather around him, he could make out faces, which meant his brain was still working.

It took about five minutes, but the doctor arrived, and with the assistance of a couple other men and one woman, they moved him gently, and the doctor checked him over for broken bones, cuts, bruises—and found nothing.

Camo explained that C-note had fallen from the fourth branch, which was about twenty feet up in the air. Then one of the observers looked down, pointed, and said, “Look! That’s what saved you.”

C-note, now fully conscious and aware of what was going on, turned around and saw a mashed wild turkey, which had broken his fall—but had also broken its neck. It was lying on the ground, looking like…well, looking like an eighty-five-pound twelve-year-old boy had fallen twenty feet from the sky on top of it. The bird did not fare well.

C-note was pronounced sound of body.

The turkey was dead on arrival.

Everybody laughed, then cried. And then, when it occurred to them that they had experienced a bona fide miracle of supernatural intervention, they sat down under the tree and got real quiet. Here’s what they thought.

“How did a turkey end up at exactly that place at exactly that time, when a little boy was falling from the sky, unless God Himself plucked it from the woods and placed it there, granting it final purpose? And we all know–this is one of the more noble ways a turkey can die.”

C-note was mystified and angered by the whole situation. He shouldn’t have been climbing the tree—not that fourth branch. Why did a turkey have to die because he was disobedient? And why was God going around asking turkeys to help dumb little boys?

It just didn’t make sense.

By this time the city newspaper—even though Blanchport was not a city—had sent a photographer to the scene. As they carefully removed the carcass of the sacrificial fowl, the photographer asked if C-note would be willing to kind of “re-enact” what happened.

He shook his head. “I ain’t climbin’ that dumb tree and falling again just so you can get a picture.”

The photographer patted him on the shoulder. “No, no. I just want you to sprawl out on the ground there and pretend you’ve got a turkey under your back.”

C-note squinted. Mrs. Marlins stepped in and explained what the photographer was trying to communicate in more kid-like language. So C-note spread himself out like he’d just fallen from the tree. The newsman took two shots, which appeared in the newspaper three days later.

In the meantime it was the talk of the town—no, much more than that. It was the only thing anybody could think about.

The preacher down at the Pentecostal Church was certain it was a sign from God that little Clarence was a prophet.

Some of the more sensitive folks who dressed up their dogs in costumes—that type—had a memorial service for the turkey.

And speaking of the turkey, something had to be done with it. It was suggested that it would be wonderful to pluck the bird, dress it and give it to Murty and her little family for Thanksgiving.

The grocer threw in some ‘taters, snap green beans, gravy and miscellaneous sweets to complete the deal. It was so thrilling.

The television station in Pittsburgh contacted the mayor and asked if they could bring in a camera crew to do an interview with C-note about the whole magical turkey event. (Although it never happened because some other more important news came along to delay them, the town felt important, always knowing they had been considered.)

It did nothing to calm the heart and soul-searching of Clarence.

He asked advice from his schoolteacher. Her words were, “Be grateful.”

He asked the oldest lady in the community—who everybody called Aunt Rachel—what she thought he should feel and do about the dead creature. She closed her eyes, looked like she was praying for a moment, and then said to C-note, “I just talked to the turkey in heaven…and he forgives you.”

Unimpressed with her response, C-note went to Deacon Connelly, who did a lot of hunting and had shot a turkey or two in his time. C-note wanted to discuss his feelings, but Deacon Connelly was so impressed with the fact that it was a clean kill and there was no need to remove buckshot from the carcass that he chattered away, unaware of the boy’s turmoil.

On his way home from Deacon Connelly, C-note ran across the drifter referred to as “the town drunk.” C-note was pretty sure his name was Mandrake. Mandrake was a nice enough fellow when he was sober, which was so in infrequent that nobody thought of him as a nice fellow.

But on this day, he’d only had a little bit of the juice. When C-note called to him, he answered, “Boy! I got a new name for you. They oughta call you ‘Fallin’ Leaves.’”

C-note was confused. He wanted to ignore Mandrake, but he kept going. “You see what I mean?” asked Mandrake. “You got yourself a dead turkey. You know why?”

C-note shrugged.

The drunk continued. “You have a dead turkey because that’s what your fallingleaves.”

Mandrake burst into laughter. C-note was not amused, even though he kind of understood the joke. It just seemed improper to be laughing so near the demise of his savior.

His brain popped up the word “savior” without him even thinking about it. It wasn’t like C-note thought the turkey was Jesus Christ. And even though Jesus might be saving his soul from hell, the turkey kept him from getting’ there.

It left him cold, a little frightened and humble.

When he got home and saw that his savior had been plucked, oiled and was heading for the oven, he burst into tears again.

Camo screamed at him. “Godammit, would you stop cryin’? Mama might decide not to cook it.”

His mother tried to comfort Clarence, but he just could not wrap his mind around eating his savior. He didn’t think he could even watch other people devour his protector.

About four hours later, Mama came into the room and found him in a fitful sleep. She gently woke him up, whispering, “Dinner’s ready.”

He just shook his head. He didn’t know what to say.

She hugged him real tight—the way mothers are supposed to do in those situations. He was expecting sympathy, but instead, he got the razor of her truth.

“There’s two things I want you to understand, Clarence.” (She had never gotten used to calling him C-note.) “The first thing I want you to understand is that in five minutes we’re gonna walk out of this room and gorge ourselves on turkey and fixings before it gets cold. I will not hear any more nonsense about trying to preserve a bird that’s already gobbled its way to glory.”

She paused, eyes glittering. “And the second thing is, you can honor this bird by learning from it. As you eat this meal that we did not expect to have, you can speak to the meat provided and say, ‘Thanks for catching me. I’m sorry it cost you your life. No disrespect, but may I say, you sure do taste good.’”

C-note didn’t want to listen to his mother’s counsel, but memories of the yardstick she kept in the closet and occasionally applied to his backside made him more pliable.

For the rest of his life, he never ate a turkey dinner without thinking about the one that rescued his life. The one that kept him going. And whether it was a miracle or not, the intervention was sweet.

For every creature on Earth will eventually experience a falling…

And only time will tell what it leaves.

The T Word … June 18th, 2019

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THE

Image result for gif of letter t

WORD


The T word that should never be uttered in the common ease of human conversation is:

TRUTH

Human beings are incapable of knowing the truth.

Even though I’m sure the tiny portions that do dribble into our souls have the capability of making us free, we must admit that they are mingled with much superstition, false teaching, selfishness and inaccuracy.

Actually, the best we human beings can hope for is to be truthful.

In other words, “This is what I’ve experienced, this is what I’ve seen, and this is what I’ve picked up to be workable from the lives of others.”

And even those insights often lack the hindsight to give us foresight.

Every one of us is repulsed by a human who walks in the room and insists he or she knows the truth and we don’t. Every religion that proclaims its rendition of “divine understanding…” well, all of them are like children sitting around reading fairy tales, pretending they comprehend chemistry.

We can all work on being truthful.

But if you’re quoting someone else, it’s hearsay, even if you insist they are prophets, or “the Son of God.”

If you’re judging others, it is condemnation, even if you have tablets of stone which are able to crush their spirit.

And if you are sure you’re right, it is arrogance, although you may walk with a great history of being precise.

Truth is what causes the foolishness of superiority that launches the wars that kill the children.

I shall work on being truthful–but I will not take the writings of men and women I never knew and share their hearsay, condemnation or supremacy to make you feel small.

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Jesonian … August 28th, 2018

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It was a nasty insult, compounded by the fact that it was delivered in front of an audience instead of offered privately behind the scenes.

It came from a friend–actually a relative–who had once made it clear that he was a supporter, a believer and prepared to do whatever was necessary to see the cause advanced.

Yet because he had recently been arrested for disagreeing with a king, he had lost some of his fervor, and had become jaded, lying in the moldy hay of solitude.

So the prisoner sent his followers off to his cousin with a little piece of fussiness.

“Are you the one we’re really looking for, or is there another one coming?”

His name was John and he baptized–matter of fact, he baptized the person he was questioning. So when these faithful couriers delivered his stinging words, the first reaction from Jesus was probably anger and resentment.

Jesus’ response to the disciples of John was, “Come along and follow me today, and see what I do.”

At sunset, he presented, “Go back and tell John what you’ve seen–how lepers are cleansed, souls are healed and the Gospel is preached to the poor.”

But before they could take off to deliver the message, Jesus turned to the crowd–the very same crowd who heard John doubt him–and he praised his old friend.

He said, “When you went out to see John, you didn’t go out to see somebody blown by the wind, wearing fancy clothes. You saw a prophet–and more than a prophet. John is probably greater than anyone born of a woman. But you folks need to keep in mind–in God’s eye, even the least of you is just as important as John.”

The crowd understood.

The crowd marveled.

The crowd was waiting for Jesus to kick John’s ass.

He didn’t.

Jesus found a way to praise the man for what he had done, while still pointing out that he needed to be more resilient.

So you see, President Trump, if you want to follow the Master, you must learn his ways.

And if you want to lead a country, you have to discover a pathway to praise your “John” for what he is due, while still wishing there had been more agreement.

*****

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Jesonian … July 14th, 2018

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In Luke the 7th Chapter, a Pharisee named Simon invited Jesus to dinner.

Why?

As the story rolls out, it becomes obvious that it wasn’t a “special” invitation. Jesus arrived to a very generic, all-male environment, believing that he was a special guest, but was ushered in to be seated as if he’s one of hundreds at a Golden Corral Buffet.

You see, Simon wanted to be “the guy.” He wanted to be that fellow who was open-minded enough to extend an invitation to Jesus. But at the same time, he was sure to portray that he was not getting on board with the Carpenter’s crowd.

Nasty politics. Insincere feelings.

So Jesus plopped down to have dinner, thoroughly ignored.

Except for one woman. She was a whore.  Luke makes it clear that she was not an out of work prostitute, nor one who had decided to forsake her profession.

Matter of fact, we are led to believe that she had just come from the job site to see Jesus. She probably still had the smell of a man on her. She certainly had the look of evil to those religious men who had presumably gathered to consider the turn of some phrase uttered by a prophet a thousand years ago.

She brought a gift–ointment. She brought her tears, and she used her hair to dry those tears as they drizzled on his feet.

It was a sensual experience.

It was so intimate that the Pharisees, especially Simon, became infuriated that Jesus did not stop the awkwardness of the moment.

They whispered. “If he were truly a prophet, he would know what kind of woman she is…”

When Jesus realized they were critiquing the woman’s gentleness and mocking her right to be considered, he spoke up.

First, he asks Simon’s permission to speak to him. He doesn’t yell. He doesn’t offer counsel where it is not wanted. He asks for the grace to share.

And then he explains the three essentials to reaching people–whether it’s for God or for business.

He tells Simon, “When I came here you offered me no water, you gave me no kiss and you provided no oil. Yet this woman has given me the water of her tears, has kissed my feet with her warmth and anointed me with oil she brought in her alabaster box.”

Water. Kiss. Oil.

All humans need all three of these.

We need water to be cleansed. We need water to drink. We need water to be refreshed, instead of having things withheld, leaving us thirsty.

Simon thought they were going to have a great conversation over dinner about their disagreements. Jesus said, “You don’t get it, dude. It’s about water. It’s about offering a kiss.”

Intimacy.

I, for one, am sick and tired of ministry that has no connection. It takes more than three or four scriptures being read aloud for us to feel caressed.

The human race has not failed. Rather, the messengers of God have settled for meetings in dark rooms to discuss minutia.

The woman gave Jesus a kiss and he said it was good.

There is no ministry without intimacy. If you don’t plan on looking deeply into someone’s eyes, drying their tears and hugging them, then quit. Save yourself the aggravation of performing religious duties that have become meaningless.

And finally, it was the oil–the oil of gladness, the oil of healing.

It touched Jesus.

How magnificent is it to know that you are a woman who has just risen from the bed of being with a lover, and worked up the gumption to come to Jesus’ feet humbly, admitting your confusion, and know that you moved him?

Ministry is not about theology.

Ministry is not about church.

Ministry is not about praise and worship.

It’s about bringing the water for cleansing, the kiss for intimacy and the oil for healing.

Jesus did not come to Earth to explain Heaven.

Jesus came to Earth so we once and for all could make sense of Earth.

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Catchy (Sitting 35) Feel the Steel … February 11th, 2018

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Tremaine Wilkerson was black…to this day.

He and Matthew had become friends in high school, mainly because Tremaine was the only black student within three counties and also, Matthew wanted to place on his college entrance application that he had a black friend.

Their closeness was cemented when the two of them were elected to attend a conference in Atlanta, Georgia, and they were driving around at night, in a car which they had boosted from one of the sponsors to go joy-riding, when they were stopped by an Atlanta police officer.

It was two o’clock in the morning and neither Tremaine nor Matthew appeared a drizzle over sixteen years of age. Matthew was at the wheel so the officer asked for a license and registration. (Matthew was impressed that he was able to come up with half of the request.) The policeman was not appeased.

The cop was greatly interested in Tremaine. For you see, Tremaine was a very large boy–the kind you think should play football or basketball, although he had given no attention to either sport. He had also allowed his hair to go natural–so he had a huge Afro, which would only have seemed appropriate for a dancer on Soul Train. The Atlanta constable did not find it particularly appealing.

He had Tremaine get out, pushed him up against the car, had him spread his legs and searched him for anything that might seem the least little bit controversial.

Matthew realized he needed to do something, so he interrupted the cop and said, “Listen, I have to admit I’m a bratty kid–wealthy–and this young fellow is my butler. He didn’t want to go out on this drive, but it was his job to keep an eye on me. I foolishly borrowed this car, and now I see how ridiculous it was. So if you will just forgive me, I’ll drive us back and we’ll never do anything so stupid again.”

Matthew knew the speech was very flimsy, but the policeman seemed relieved that the black fellow was not an equivalent, but rather, a servant. He gave a stern warning to Matthew and sent them on their way.

Tremaine never forgot it.

So when Matthew was trying to draft a plan to get information about what was really going on with Jo-Jay, Carlos and the mysterious death of Prophet Morgan, he decided to contact Tremaine, who was now married, living in Kalamazoo, Michigan, working as a chemist, writing poetry on the weekends.

Matthew outlined the following plan:

He wanted to use Tremaine’s ethnic appearance to scare the shit out of Michael Hinston. So Matthew hired four good-natured buddies who were “goon-like” to assist Tremaine in kidnapping Michael Hinston following one of his handball game at the local Y, and take the distinguished Congressman to the back unit of a storage facility in Alexandria, Virginia.

Tremaine listened carefully, trying not to interrupt, but about three-quarters of the way through the unfolding of the plot, he felt compelled to interject.

“Matthew, you do know I’m a chemist?”

“I do,” said Matthew, “but can I say that I’m interested in some of the other aspects of your chemistry?”

Tremaine frowned. “You mean the fact that I’m black and have a ‘fro?”

“Yes,” said Matthew, “and pretty muscular.”

“I work out,” said Tremaine.

“It shows,” cited Matthew.

Now Matthew knew that Tremaine was an altruistic soul. Matter of fact, Tremaine had a soft spot in his heart for the black kids on the south side of Chicago, and volunteered every summer for two weeks to assist with the young folks, and gave money based upon his budget.

Matthew offered, “If you’ll do this for me, I will donate $25,000 to the dudes from South Chicago.”

Tremaine shook his head. “You do know kidnapping is against the law, right?”

Matthew feigned surprise. “No…I wish you hadn’t told me.”

Matthew laughed but Tremaine didn’t. Yet for some reason the passive black man from the Wolverine State agreed to participate.

It was not terribly complicated. Michael Hinston popped out of the YMCA whistling a happy tune and was immediately nabbed by the four hired goons, had a bag thrown over his head, and was tossed into a nearby beat-up Ford van.

Realizing that Tremaine was not going to be prepared for such an encounter, Matthew had written a script for him.

“Lay there quietly and don’t say a word or I’ll slit your throat,” warned Tremaine, with too many delays for the speech to sound natural.

Congressman Michael kept objecting while offering money, favors and possible other Congressmen who would be better to kidnap because of their more powerful positions.

Cued by the script, Tremaine continued. “Shut up! Shut up, honky bastard! Shut up, Congressman Whitewash!” and finally, “Shut up or I’ll kilt you!”

There was one other line, which was, “Stop axing too many questions!”

Arriving at the storage unit, Matthew met the van with a finger on his lips, warning Tremaine and the goons to remain silent so the Congressman wouldn’t know he was present.

The script continued with stage direction: “Tremaine, you do the lines, and I, Matthew, will do all the motions.”

They carried Hinston into the storage unit, pulling down the door for privacy, sat him in a wooden chair, tying him to the slats and legs. Michael was obviously distressed. Matthew motioned for Tremaine to read his next line.

Tremaine looked down, reading ahead, and then back up at Matthew, perplexed. Matthew nodded, encouraging him to go ahead, so Tremaine uttered, “I be knowing that yous be a killer. You kilts the Prophet and took the young woman and spit her out in the jungle.”

Tremaine turned to Matthew, looking like he had just bitten into a lemon. Matthew again encouraged him to continue.

“I be’s tellin’ you this one time. You talk or I’m gonna cuts your tongue out and stick it in your hand.”

Tremaine stepped back and admired himself for this particular performance. When Tremaine mentioned “cut your tongue out,” Matthew lifted the bag, stuck a knife underneath and rubbed the cold steel against Michael’s cheek. Matthew then pointed at Tremaine.

Tremaine glanced at the script, and using his best inner-city voice, growled, “Feel the steel.”

Michael peed his pants.

It was unpleasant to experience, but made the goons standing in the background giggle uncontrollably. Matthew tried to silence them but he, himself was quite amused.

There was no need for further intimidation. Michael began to expound on the story of his life. He shared everything he knew–which ended up being very little.

He explained that he had been coerced by the CLO to have Jubal Carlos arrested in Vegas, and to suggest that there should be an investigation into Jubal and the movement over the mysterious murder of Morgan.

He knew nothing about Jo-Jay.

He knew nothing about further plans.

And he closed off with a whimpering sigh, whining, “I’m nobody. Just ask anybody.”

Matthew believed him. He walked over and quietly loosened the ropes on Michael’s wrists and legs. Tremaine had one final line:

“You stay here for an hour, you white bastard, and then you can loosen yourself and leave. But don’t you be makin’ trouble for my people. Life began in Africa, and your life could end there.”

When Tremaine finished the line he gave a huge grin and a thumbs-up to Matthew, approving the script.

Matthew, Tremaine and the four goons departed.

Matthew made good on his $25,000 donation and gave a thousand to each goon.

So for under thirty thousand dollars he found out nothing, except as always, the easy explanation was never the correct one.

 

 

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Catchy (Sitting 33) Too Many Meetings … January 28th, 2018

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Prophet Morgan was dead.

But he was not a victim of his own hand by suicide. He was killed.

While the medical examiner was studying the body during the autopsy, she discovered a pinprick under his right armpit. A needle mark. It prompted her to investigate further. She found evidence of potassium chloride. Somebody wanted Morgan dead, and used a lethal cocktail to stop his heart.

It also became obvious that the suicide note, though written by Morgan’s hand, did not contain his thoughts. Checking his groin, they found that electrodes had been attached to his body to generate severe pain, causing him to submit to his assailant’s will.

For Morgan, character that he was, had purposely misspelled some words and used bad punctuation to let all of his friends know that the note did not come from him. Everyone in the organization knew that even though Prophet talked like a hillbilly, he was actually a grammar Nazi, and went off into fits of rage over a misplaced comma.

Matthew sat quietly during the Inquest as four or five dozen people listened to the medical examiner explain how a beautiful young man had landed in an untimely grave. It was too much.

In the midst of the Q & A with reporters, Matthew rose, left the building, climbed into his car and drove to the Sahara Casino, punching the elevator button for the ninth floor, where a suite of offices had been provided by the owners as a courtesy to Jubal Carlos and the movement.

Matthew was alone. He was quiet. He had some time to think. But it was one of those nasty occasions when having an opportunity to contemplate was a punishment, not a relief. There was just too much shit in the stall to appreciate the horse.

Matthew knew good things were going on–that the rallies were meeting great emotional and spiritual needs in the populace. Matter of fact, his partner in business, Landy, had recently attended a session in Las Vegas and had accepted Jesus as her personal savior. At least that’s how she phrased it.

She was a different person. She now hopped the plane, going from city to city to be part of the Gospel caravan. She sat for hours talking to the prostitutes who were new members of the staff, interviewing them about what it was like to be whores–and how the change in their lives had saved them from eradication.

Matthew envied her. It couldn’t be that easy. Mumbling a few words and a prayer, and promising allegiance to a two-thousand-year-old creed did not seem to have the energy for explaining away the hell that went on in the world, nor the power to curb the appetites in his own being, which often left him vanquished instead of victor.

As he sat in his office listening to the hum of the flourescent lights, sorting through the everyday process of his existence, he was suddenly interrupted by Soos, who raced through the door, shutting it quickly behind her.

She didn’t waste a moment. “Listen, Matthew, I don’t have much time. Here’s what I need you to know…” She glanced at her arm for a watch, but there was none there. “In a few minutes a man is going to come here. I want you to be cool. I want you to ignore me. I’m going to go over and hide in this closet. For God’s sake, don’t tell him I am here. Just carry on your conversation, listen to what he has to say, and please… be cool.” She paused. “Oh, I already said that.”

She didn’t wait for a reply, but opened the closet door, slithered in and shut it quietly behind her.

As soon as the closet door closed, the buzzer on Matthew’s desk sounded. Since there was no secretary, some visitor had discovered the large, red button on the reception wall and was asking entrance. Matthew strolled to the door and opened it.

Standing there was a man in his mid-thirties, about six-feet seven-inches tall, broad shoulders, long blond hair which fluttered down his back, a deep brown tan, and with the physique of a defensive lineman from the National Football League. Matthew was startled at his appearance. He was looking at a Viking in a suit.

The guest, aware of the reaction, stepped forward and held out his hand, which more resembled a southern smoked ham. “You must be Matthew. My name is Jackson Priestly, but my friends call me Joshua.”

A chill went down Matthew’s spine. The name Joshua had some special significance. He tried to remember. What was it? Yes–it was Jo-Jay’s warning. “Beware Joshua…”

Matthew placed his small hand inside the monster mitt, shook it and said, “Well, what can I do for you, Jackson?”

Jackson motioned to the office, inquiring, “Could we go in and sit down?”

Matthew nervously held his hand out, gesturing toward the door. “Sure. I can sit down.”

It was only a few steps from the reception area to the office, but it was awkward, with Matthew not knowing whether to let the giant go first, or whether he should precede him. He stalled at the doorway, deciding to go in first, so they both ended up trying to enter at the same time, bumping into one another.

Matthew made his way to his desk, glancing at the closet door, knowing that Soos was listening, and therefore, if there was going to be a murder, she would be a witness. Horrible thought. But keep in mind, he had just come from an inquest.

“So what can I do for you, Jackson?” Matthew repeated, trying to upload some of his business decorum.

“I’m a spokesman,” Jackson began, “for the CLO. Our organization is very simple. Our slogan is ‘Maintaining the faith, faithfully.'”

Matthew nodded without responding.

“I’m going to be honest with you, Matthew,” Jackson continued. “We’re concerned.”

Matthew didn’t even blink an eye.

Realizing he was being given space, Jackson explained, “We’re concerned about this campaign you’re conducting about Jesus Christ.”

He paused. Again, no response. He pushed on.

“What has us bothered is the trivializing of an age-old message with eternal values being marginalized to become a street-vendor philosophy. Yes, complete with hot dogs and hamburgers, pennants and hats.”

Matthew said nothing.

“It’s a mistake,” declared Jackson. “I know you may consider this a bit of short-sightedness–for us to critique any contribution that would bring focus to the Christ. But the Master needs more than focus. He needs honor. He needs glory. He needs respect. He needs position. And even though you may not agree, he needs to be showcased as ‘Lord of Lords and King of Kings.'”

Matthew took the moment to insert some shock value. “Well, then, you’ve got a helluva fuckin’ problem, don’t you?”

Jackson was visibly startled at the profanity. Matthew smiled internally, overjoyed that he had struck a blow against the armor of this pious knight of religion.

“What do you mean?” challenged Jackson.

“Well, Jackson, my man,” Matthew said, “all your attempts to elevate the resume of Jesus of Nazareth have only succeeded in making him inaccessible to the masses, and gradually turning him into a religious icon, which I think even you might agree, is contrary to his druthers.”

Jackson shook his head. “I would not presume to know the druthers of the only begotten Son of God…”

Matthew interrupted. “Honestly, big fellow, I’m just working off of his material. You see, people who talk like you were frightened by Jesus, so they ended up killing him. Isn’t that amazing? People who are spiritual think they do service to God by killing someone…”

Matthew probed into Jackson’s eyes, looking for a flit of weakness, but he stared straight ahead.

“Let me give you a little lesson,” Jackson said. “I will keep it brief because I know this school of thought is not necessarily to your liking. It’s about the Feast of Tabernacles.”

Matthew squinted.

Jackson chuckled. “It was a turning point in the ministry of Jesus. He was working in Galilee, he was blessing the people, he was healing. He spent an afternoon with his family, and they began to chide him, asking him why he didn’t go to Jerusalem for the Feast of Tabernacles, where the market would be larger for his message and he would have a chance to be more popular. Now let me explain this–we’re not sure what the family’s motivation was. Some theologians think there was a plot to kill Jesus, which was going to be executed on the road to Jerusalem, with his brothers being privy to the plan. But that’s neither here nor there. Jesus sees right through their pressure and decides not to go to the Feast of Tabernacles–but then later changes his mind. Arriving at the feast, he realizes it was not Galilee. It was not sitting around Peter’s house waiting for someone sick to arrive to get help. Even though Jesus was the Son of God, he found himself like a little ant, running around a huge Temple.”

Jackson went on. “He stood in the middle of the square and screamed, ‘If anyone is thirsty, let him come to me and drink!’ He got attention. He created a stir. He became popular. But that popularity ended up jeopardizing his freedom to speak his mind and to save souls. It actually put him at the mercy of the Romans, who had no toleration for variety. So you see, a little trip to Jerusalem to gain popularity hastened his demise.”

Jackson paused.

Matthew sat, leery of him. This was a well-educated, intelligent, intuitive, well-rehearsed creature of knowledge. He was scary. He was dangerous. Matthew chose to play innocent.

“Honestly, Jackson,” he said, “I don’t know anything about the Bible. I wouldn’t even know how to spell it if it weren’t for that little Sunday School song about the B-I-B-L-E.”

Matthew laughed alone at his joke. “So let me ask you to take thirty seconds and sum up what you’re trying to communicate to me.”

Jackson stood to his feet, ready to exit after his closing comment. “You have lost a dynamic young man–Prophet Morgan. Now is an excellent time to reflect. How about ten days of mourning? Shut down the rallies, and take that time to realize the heat of the fire you’re trying to handle. You look smart enough. Use your brain to discover a better way.”

Jackson nodded, turned, walked to the door, and disappeared.

Matthew, in his chair, was shaking. He felt handled, out of his league and threatened.

Suddenly Soos burst out of the closet door, nearly scaring Matthew to death.

“Who was that? Who was that?” she questioned breathlessly.

Matthew sat, trying to gather his thoughts. “I don’t know, Soos. You heard the same thing I did.”

“I heard it,” said Soos, “but I didn’t really see him. What was he like? Was he a monster? Jo-Jay says he’s dangerous. He is Joshua, right?”

Matthew shook his head.

There had just been too many meetings.

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Cracked 5 … December 26th, 2017


Jonathots Daily Blog

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Presents That Were “Accidentally” Left Behind After Christmas Morning

A. “Start Your Own Beehive in Your Garage: 12 Easy Steps”

 

B. “Mr. Spock Reads Dr. Spock: Raising Kids the Vulcan Way”

 

C. “A Tub of Ant Butter and Willy-Worm Bread from African Missionaries”

 

D. “The Four Hoodie Sweatshirt–for the Man Who Likes Choices”

 

E. “Toiletries from the Holy Land: Smell Like a Prophet”

 

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