Catchy (Sitting 59) Come See a Man Who Told Me All Things I Ever Did…. July 29th, 2018

Jonathots Daily Blog

(3748)

Awake.

Lying flat on his back, Carlin stared up at the ceiling. He tried to remember. Where was he? How did he get here? What was the last thing he remembered?

Being in an airplane.

This was not an airplane, so he obviously had been drugged.

Looking down, he discovered he was wearing a blue cotton robe, which fell just below his knees. Glancing to his right, a wall–painted pure white. To his left, another, colored the same. He gradually eased up onto his elbows to observe his surroundings.

A small room, about the size of a one-car garage. There were no doors, no windows, and upon careful inspection, the walls were made of steel.

He was lying on a twin bed–fairly comfortable–with a pillow. Pulling up to a seated position, he discovered that behind him was a night stand with a Bible and a porn magazine lying side-by-side, with a not-so-subtle bottle of lotion perched nearby.

He got to his feet, surprised that he wasn’t woozy. Actually he felt pretty strong.

There was a toilet in the room and a small basin. Also one of those apartment-sized refrigerators and an ice machine. He opened it up to discover it was filled with food. There were cookies, candy, power bars, bottles of beer, soft drinks and even some vodka.

The ceiling was about twenty feet high–obviously to discourage any attempt to climb up and escape.

He looked for a telephone or any means of communicating with the outside. None.

About nine feet up, running along the steel walls, was a series of air vents. He counted. Eight in all.

He sat back down on his bed, and before he knew it, he was sound asleep.

The next time he woke up, he was very hungry. Carlin discerned that there must be some sort of gas flowing into the room. Part of the time it provided rejuvenating pure oxygen, and other times, some gas inducing sleep.

Clever. Otherwise the terror might cause insomnia, which could soon drive any prisoner insane.

Days passed–at least Carlin thought so.

It was difficult to determine. The only thing that made him fairly certain that a new day had come was when he realized that his robe had been removed and replaced with a clean one.

So there was obviously a way to get in and out of the solid, steel walls. But though he carefully examined each rivet and bolt, he was unable to discover an opening.

On one awakening, Carlin found that the refrigerator had been removed. The food was gone, as was the ice machine. In its place was a water cooler.

Upon the next awakening, he lost his bed. Just a blanket and pillow remaining. Also, the porn magazine and lotion disappeared.

On yet another rising, all the cookies, power bars and anything resembling food was removed.

He found himself in this room with a Bible, a toilet, water and a sink.

Days passed.

Carlin tried to figure out what had brought him to this place, and what possible interest anyone would have–for them to go to such trouble to care for his every need, and then restrict him.

And then, one day he awoke in a chair in another room which was also painted white. But it was larger.

He was wearing a bright red pair of pants with white tennis shoes and a red Nehru jacket–nothing he would ever purchase for himself. He was fastened to the chair by a set of hand-cuffs. Once again, he felt refreshed, fully alive, but bewildered.

Suddenly, a door in the back of the room opened and a portly fellow appeared. He was dressed in black pants, and like him, wore a Nehru coat–black.

The man was short, round, and more rolled his way to a chair placed about fifteen feet from Carlin’s. He sat. The Nehru jacket was a poor fit, and so stuck out like he had candy bars stuffed in the pockets.

Carlin smiled. But even more bizarre was the fact that this rolly-polly visitor was wearing a mask. Carlin squinted at the mask.

“Do you like my mask?” The stranger spoke up. Carlin observed that he had a bit of an Eastern European accent. He chose not to answer.

“I thought you would like it,” the visitor continued. “Wasn’t it your favorite as a boy? ‘Casper the Friendly Ghost.’ Remember? When you were just seven years old, and your daddy would not let you have the costume of Casper because he said that Halloween was of the devil?”

Carlin took a deep breath. He did not know this man. He did not recognize his voice. The surroundings were completely alien to him, yet the visitor seemed to know details of his life.

Carlin decided to use his usual weapon–his wit.

“Yeah, I had to trick the old man. I told him it was Casper the Holy Ghost.”

The fat man laughed. “Joshua Mensterhall was his name, am I right? That was your father.”

Carlin did not respond.

The intruder continued. “He was a preacher of sorts–very poor. I mean, money-wise. Always upset your mother, Myrtle, didn’t it?”

Carlin was unnerved, but had learned long ago that keeping your cool was the best way to stay out of hot situations.

“And then there was trouble,” continued the stranger. “Your mother divorced your father, your father fell into some dementia, if I’m correct. And you ended up being the ward of a family named Canaby. Missionaries. They decided to take you in as their new son.”

Carlin interrupted, perturbed. “Actually, they had three daughters and they needed a boy to work with them. You know–to lift things, run errands and all the other things the girls refused to do. I was a well-fed slave. Similar to today, sir. Except you won’t let me eat.”

“My name–for purposes of this day–is Frank,” said the man. “We shall call me Frank because that’s what I plan to do with you. Be frank. I wanted you to know that I was aware of your life. I am fully up-to-date on the fact that you still maintain a personal belief in God though you find all the systems of the world devoid of value. That’s why you started your company, Liary–trying to find a better way to lie, which hurt fewer people.”

“Listen, Frank,” inserted Carlin, “I wouldn’t phrase it that way. And if you’re so concerned, why do you have me handcuffed to this chair?”

Frank slowly stood up and headed over to Carlin. “I’m so sorry. I didn’t realize it was so uncomfortable. I did buy the velvet cuffs to ease any pressure on your skin.”

Frank took a key and unlocked the cuffs on the one end which held them to the chair.

Carlin quipped, “Why don’t we just take off the whole damn thing?”

“Never abandon what you might need later,” said Frank, waddling his way back to his chair.

Staring at the very vulnerable back end of his adversary, Carlin challenged, “How do you know I won’t jump up here and attack you to make my escape?”

Turning around to sit, Frank laughed. “Oh, my dear friend. There are at least a dozen ways you would be killed before you got within a foot of me.”

Carlin quickly looked around the room, horrified. “Good response,” he said. “Let me ask you this. What would keep me from jumping to my feet and running out the back door, getting away?”

Frank chuckled. “I suppose the best answer to that would be months and months of not exercising.”

Carlin had to laugh. “Well, there must be a reason you have me here. So sensing that I’m not going to hurry you, let me sit back in my ridiculous outfit and become as pliable as I possibly can.”

Frank nodded his head. “That’s what I liked about you. I mean, when I studied you. You aren’t afraid of dealing with reality and taking it as it comes.”

Carlin stood to his feet. “Is it alright if I stand?”

“Surely,” said Frank. “Just don’t move. My snipers are a bit peckish.”

Once again, Carlin looked around the room, baffled, in terror.

“Is there any way I could get you to take off the mask?” inquired Carlin.

“Not on our first date,” said Frank. “Maybe someday. But now, onto matters that concern you. Soon you will be back to your home, and because of the particular chemicals we have mixed together, this entire event will seem like a dream rather than an actual occurrence. That’s good. You will discover that while this is happening to you, other members of your team are also being welcomed and taken care of in like manner. Five of you in all.”

This startled Carlin more than anything else that had happened over the duration. Who? What? Why?

He decided to pursue the who. “What members of our team?” he challenged.

Frank scooted back into his chair. “There’s no harm in you knowing. Like I said, it will seem like a dream to all of you–except when you construct all the pieces together, a concrete message will appear.”

Frank paused. “I see I am merely confusing you. Well, to answer your question: Jubal, Jasper, Soos and Jo-Jay. They, like you, are part of this master plan.”

“Master plan?” asked Carlin.

“Well,” said Frank. “Perhaps that’s a bad name for it. Let us just say that matters have reached a point where it is necessary for–shall we call them, outside forces?–to intervene. To make sure that what you folks have begun has a fulfilling ending.”

“I don’t know what the hell you’re talking about!” Carlin was suddenly furious. “What gives you the goddamn right to interrupt the lives of five adult people?”

“I have no right,” said Frank. “But for this season it’s better to interrupt the lives of five souls, with the possibility of salvaging millions.”

Carlin shook his head. “I’ve heard this bullshit all my life. The end justifies the means. The greater good. Honor the traditions. This is the best way we can handle it. Frank, let me be frank with you. Every time I’ve heard those words, human beings have gotten hurt.”

“A very astute observation,” said Frank. “And you are correct. It is a potential danger. So let me not keep you any longer with this aimless discussion. Each one of you will be given a single piece to remember. Only when you join together–the five of you–will you form the complete message that will give you direction.”

“God damn it, I’m not James Bond, you son-of-a-bitch.” Carlin stood up, walking forward. As he did a bullet whizzed by his head. He leaped back, desperately grabbing onto his chair.

Frank shook his head. “I told you my snipers were a bit overly caffeinated…”

Gasping, Carlin said, “Peckish was the word you used. I’d call them goddamn peckers.”

“Now,” continued Frank calmly, “to your piece in the puzzle.”

“Hold on, hold on,” said Carlin. “What about Matthew? He’s the one that got all of this started. Why isn’t he in this mix?”

Frank held up his hand, demanding silence. “Everyone has their place. Just learn yours.”

Carlin shook his head, wanting to be rebellious, but realizing the price he might pay for his assertive nature. “I’m listening,” he said.

“Your piece of the puzzle, Mr. Canaby, is a name. I want you to remember it. I want you to retain it for the moment you will need it. The name is Terrence Eldridge.”

Carlin interrupted. “Shouldn’t I write that down?”

Frank laughed. “Oh, no, no, no. You’ll remember it. We made sure. We’ve studied your brain for a long time.”

Carlin was about ready to object when everything went black. It remained so for some time.

At least, it must have been some time.

Because the next thing he knew, he was waking up in Washington, D.C. in his own bed, wearing his own black satin pajamas, with the sun streaming through the windows.

Once again, he was refreshed and energized. He had no idea how much time had passed.

He sat and tried to remember what had transpired, but it was like bits of the story were running out of his brain, like water from a falls. With each passing minute, he retained less and less.

Finally, there was just one thing left. A name, with shadows.

Terrence Eldridge.

Carlin was convinced he’d had a nightmare which affected his emotions greatly, but he couldn’t come up with any details.

It seemed like a bad dream.

Until he rolled over and saw the velvet handcuff dangling from his wrist.

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Cracked 5 … May 12th, 2015

   Jonathots Daily Blog

(2578)

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Unclaimed Tributes for Mom on Mother’s Day

A. Mom, go check! I dumped all my cooked peas behind the refrigerator.

 

B. My kindergarten hand-print was really my friend, Carlos.

 

C. Your breast milk tasted like Virginia Slims.

 

D. Mom, I never told Dad about the plumber’s many visits.

 

E. The first time I tried on your panties, I knew I was transgender.

 

Virginia Slims

 

 

 

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Untotaled: Stepping 47 (April 20th, 1969) Demise… December 27, 2014

  Jonathots Daily Blog

(2456)

(Transcript)

Even though I only lived a few blocks from the high school, I drove my car there–because I could.

I also went home for lunch even though it was basically against policy. Once again, because I could.

On April 20th, I decided to drive to my abode to raid the refrigerator, avoiding the cafeteria surprises. On my way I stopped off at my mom and dad’s little loan company and there was a note on the door. It read:

Closed. Family Emergency.

I knew what that meant.

My dad was in failing health. More accurately stated, he was dying. Forty-five years of cigarette smoking had caught up with him, riddling his body with cancer. So desperate was his situation that there was a quiet celebration among the family when it was discovered that the disease had spread to his brain and in doing so, had closed off the pain centers, making him less of the suffering soul.

I didn’t want to go to the house but I knew it was expected. I pulled up in the driveway and was climbing the steps to the porch when I first heard it: from the upstairs, through the walls, was the hideous volume of my dad gasping for air.

It was a death rattle.

I could not bring myself to go in. I turned around, headed back to school and was so angry–at my dad and at myself–that I skipped the next two classes.

I was furious at myself for being so cowardly, and a rotten person because I didn’t want to be near my father in his last moments.

And I was infuriated with him for destroying his body with smoke instead of dealing with his inadequacies.

I arrived back at school for the last hour of classes. After the session was over for the day I headed to a friend’s house and hung out for the rest of the evening.

Nobody knew where I was. I liked it that way.

I arrived home at ten o’clock. My older brother was waiting for me. He told me that our dad had passed away a couple of hours earlier.

I didn’t feel much, barely even noticing how pissed off my brother was that I hadn’t been there for the death-bed.

He was my dad–but I never knew him. And in like manner, he didn’t know that much about me.

Now he was dead. His ashes of ashes would turn to dust.

I cried.

Honestly, it was not for my lost parent. I cried, feeling sorry for myself.

He deserved a better son. But he should have been wise enough to realize that teenage sons don’t get better.

That is the duty and the mission … of a father.

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The Thirty Second Philosophy … September 12, 2013

Jonathots Daily Blog

(2003)

fridgeWatching television yesterday, my favored program of the moment was suddenly interrupted by a testing of the Emergency Broadcasting System. It consisted of about thirty seconds of beeps and buzzes, totally destroying the dialogue of the show and making me wonder why such an intrusion was necessary.

But it did get me thinking: what if it ended up not being a test?

What if that broadcasting system leaped into my life to proclaim that a cataclysmic disaster was in the making? Yes–what if I was informed by the announcer that we had thirty seconds to live before an unexpected meteor struck the earth, a series of atomic bombs exploded or a tidal wave from an angry ocean suddenly blew across the mainland?

Just thirty seconds.

I thought to myself, what would I do with that portion? Then I amazed myself with a very quick answer.

Four things:

1. Thanks, God. (No need to get grumpy at that point, right? Atheism lacks promise.)

2. I love you all. (Getting picky over people seems a bit fruitless, too.)

3. I sure hope we’re right about that heaven thing. (Worse than dying in thirty seconds is the prospect of it being really, really permanent.)

4. You can have anything left in my refrigerator. (Honestly, there was some pretty good stuff in there … )

There you go. That’s what I came up with. After all, thirty seconds isn’t much, but it’s certainly sufficient to express gratitude to the Creator, have some appreciation for my fellow travelers, hope for the best and share my bologna.

As the Emergency Broadcasting System test ended, I was emerging from my bizarre musings when I paused and thought over my four selections prior to the Apocalypse. It was a pretty good list. Matter of fact, I’ve decided to adopt it in ALL aspects of my life–even when I’m not threatened by termination.

I shall dub it my “Thirty Second Philosophy,” but use it 24/7.

  • Thanks, God.
  • I love you all.
  • I sure hope we’re right about heaven.
  • And you are welcome to anything left over in my refrigerator.

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The Back Room … September 22, 2012

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It was small.

Even in my childhood memories, the space was cramped and overpopulated with furnishings and just stuff. It was a back area in my mom and dad‘s loan company which had been partitioned off with accordion doors allowing for privacy, because they had those smoky windows in them that looked like broken glass or glued-together pieces of rock candy.

There was a refrigerator, although my memory serves that not much food ever stocked the shelves, a desk, where my dad would sit and do income tax returns for local farmers to make extra money during that particular season.

That desk was also the location of one of my first adventures into mischievous boyhood–peering into the future of manhood–because my dad kept a stack of detective magazines in there, which I would slip away and read occasionally, giving me my first glimpse into the carnal interactions between men and women. I can still feel the tingles.

My dad also tried to hide his cashews in that drawer next to the magazines, and I also partook of those delicacies, I’m sure much to his disapproval. In the far-left hand corner of this back room was a water closet. It’s amazing–after all these years I can still remember that little toilet, which grew smaller and smaller as I grew bigger and bigger–and a tiny sink, which offered only cold water to the passing traveler.

There was a large green cabinet in this tiny room, taking up a tremendous amount of space. In it was the residue of many of my dad’s dreams which never actually survived sleepiness. One of the things inside that green cabinet was a miniature printing press my dad bought, hoping he could make a little extra money by providing business cards and wedding invitations to the area consumers. He even printed some business cards for my high school music group. It took six weeks to accomplish, and to my memory, was the only thing that printing press ever achieved before being placed into the green cabinet of oblivion.

There was also a couch right underneath an air conditioner, which never worked. I mean the air conditioner. The couch was quite functional, and became one of my favorite spots in my teen years, especially when there was a chore to do at home, like mowing the lawn. My parents would find me asleep on that couch and abruptly awaken me with a rebuke about my laziness. It’s probably why still, to this day, I find it difficult to sleep in front of other people.

Completing the furnishing of this miniscule arena was an old piano. I know that sounds ridiculous. Why would you have an old piano in the back of a loan company? Well, because it was a loan company, my mom and dad would obviously provide finance to people in our community, who often promised to pay back the sum and ended up falling short of that lofty goal. One delinquent client offered the piano to my mom and dad in replacement for the payoff on his loan. They reluctantly agreed and stuck it in the back of the loan company with aspirations of selling it and retrieving some of their revenue, but never finding the time to write an advertisement.

So I played that piano. Sometimes I got yelled at because I was playing it when customers arrived, and my father seemed to think it was ill-advised to have a financial institution doubling as a lounge. But it was on that piano that I wrote my first two songs, when I was eighteen years of age. I don’t know why I didn’t think of composing before that particular juncture in my life, but on that day I wrote one song, and without stopping, turned around and wrote another one. Within a year’s time, both of those tunes ended up on a 45-RPM record, which I believe sold twelve copies (I assume, one to each of the disciples).

Back to that couch…it was also where my second son was birthed. It wasn’t planned that way. We were not gypsies or raised in barns. It’s just that Dollie, my wife, was in labor and wasn’t quite certain of her symptoms, so she waddled on down to the loan company to see my mother, and before help could arrive, our son did. Oh, it was big doings in the town. There was such a crowd out in front of the loan company to see the new baby that I barely had space to get through the door to visit my new kid. I hadn’t seen that many people lined up in Sunbury, Ohio, since Farmer Johnson quietly advertised that he had some hard cider available.

That back room holds so many memories for me. Matter of fact, during one financially lean time, Dollie and I slipped in there with our little boy, Jon Russell, to sleep on the hard floor at night because we had no other place to go. My father had passed on my then. My mother certainly would not have approved, so I acquired a key from her, made a copy, and we snuck in at eleven at night and were gone by seven in the morning. We just spread a blanket on the wood floor, lay down and were grateful for shelter.

About twenty years ago I went back to my little community to take a look at that back room. I know it’s corny–but I had to see it.  It was gone. The building that once held my mom and dad’s loan company had been transformed into a hardware store, removing walls to create space. So I ambled my way back through the dry goods and ended up in the area, as far as I could tell, that had been the back room. It was now filled with shelving, nails, screws, hammers and saw blades.

But I took that private moment to reflect on the back room and how much it provided for me. It gave me my first festering of manhood. I deeply enjoyed my snatched cashews. There was the occasional uninterrupted nap on the couch, which later ended up being the birthing bed for my son, Joshua. There was the green cabinet with the quiet printing press, and the loud piano, which proclaimed boldly that I had the ability to do something other than be a small-town flunky. There was even the floor, which provided me a place of rest.

While people insist that too much in the realm of commerce, religion and politics is done in the “back room,” my version patiently nursed me through an evolution of foolish youth, preparing me to walk out ready to meet people in the real world.

The back room. Like Joshua, it was kind of my birthing chamber. It was there that for the first time in my life, I took what was available to me and tried my darndest to use it the best I could.

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