Cracked 5 … January 25th, 2020

Jonathots Daily Blog

(4300)

Cracked 5

Some Favorite Excuses for Being an Asshole

 

A. “I’m researching for a role in a movie.”

 

B.“I’m avidly religious.”

 

C. “I am married to one.”

 

D. “I have a brain tumor.”

 

E. “I am in politics.”

 

Sit Down Comedy … January 3rd, 2020

Jonathots Daily Blog

(4278)

Sit Down Comedy

“Come on in, Big Jon. We got pizza.”

Big Jon gave immediate heed to the call. He shimmied his way over to the box, lifted the lid, pulled out a piece and started to eat it, crust first.

Then came Scary Gary. When he arrived, the host also welcomed him with the generous offering of pizza. Scary Gary inched his way over and started lifting box lids, asking, “What kind did you get?”

The host, just a wee bit perturbed, replied, “Cheese, pepperoni, sausage and vegematic.”

Scary Gary grabbed a piece of cheese and waltzed into the room.

Then came Fussy Freddie. The host, still cheery, but a bit wary, said, “Come on in! We got pizza for everyone.”

Fussy Freddie paused, then walked very slowly over to the pizza boxes, and without lifting a single lid, demanded, “What flavors?”

The host cautiously replied, “Cheese, pepperoni, sausage and vegematic.”

First, Fussy Freddie did not find ‘vegematic’ humorous. He cited, “May I give you a suggestion? When you hold a party like this you might want to ask your guests what pizza toppings they prefer, so as to honor more tastes than simply your own.”

Fussy Freddie decided to pass on the pizza. He didn’t stay very long—mainly because everybody was afraid to talk to him, knowing that his subject matter was bitching about the party.

Now, let me explain. Over the years I have written about every subject under the sun and now seem to be heading into a new galaxy. But one thing I have stopped doing with my scribblings is presenting too many opinions, or for that matter, trying to be overly informative.

Human beings are simple to understand.

They line up everything they like and then give a name to it.

Whether this is political, religious or secular, their preferences become their faith.

So all I can do is help myself—and everyone I come in contact with—by stating what seems to be permissible for Earth interaction.

You can feel free to pick—in other words, there’s pizza there. Take a piece.

At a certain amount of risk, you can be picky. You can make it obvious that you have a preference of one thing over another.

But my God—don’t be prickly.

Even though we extol the power of our demands as a way of expressing our uniqueness, the human race as a whole considers it bratty to be prickly.

Pick? Yes.

Picky? Be careful.

Prickly? Goodnight, my love, goodnight.

It doesn’t matter what it’s about.

When you hear music, do you pick it up and enjoy it, no matter what style it is? Or do you criticize one style and tell people what you prefer? Or, worst of all, do you insist there’s only one kind of music—the tunes you revere.

Politics.

Pick a candidate. I guess you can be picky. But don’t be prickly. Don’t insist the person you want to vote for is the Second Coming of Charisma.

Religion.

Pick a god. If you’re going to be picky about it, nobody is going to listen to you anyway. And if you get prickly and demand that EVERYONE bow to your God, be prepared to have a large defense budget and find the initiative and end up killing people.

And the greatest notion I can give you on love is, pick someone you know who will probably continue to be thrilled to be with you. Don’t get so picky that you end up hunting out of your jungle and your appeal level. And please, don’t be prickly—unless you want to write a book on the joys of being alone.

  • Pick.
  • Picky.
  • Prickly.

One keeps the door open to humanity, one makes humanity suspicious and the final one just pisses the hell out of everybody.

Not Long Tales … December 24th, 2019

Jonathots Daily Blog

(4468)

20.

The Wysies

On July 19th, the project received the green light for filming—seven days commencing on the 2nd of December—to be aired for five straight nights, beginning December 19th through December 24th, Christmas Eve.

Expectations were high.

The network was always thrilled when any new angle on the holiday season could be unearthed in an attempt to capture a large market share during the December festivities.

This year was particularly exciting, because along with the entertaining new concept was the introduction of Zandy Carlisle to direct. She was an Asian gay woman with a disability—carpel tunnel syndrome. A promotional trifecta.

The premise of the show was simple. A twist and turn on the phrase “Wise Men” had become “Wysies.”

This was not the original title. At first it was spelled W-I-S-S-I-E-S. But after conducting a survey of potential audience, it was determined that the name was too close to “Wussies,” which made everybody laugh—but for the wrong reason.

So it was quickly changed to W-I-Z-Z-I-E-S. But this tested worse, since the inclusion of the prefix “wiz” brought forth images of urination as far as the eye could see. It was Zandy who suggested that using a Y took care of the pronunciation, and striking the extra S eliminated the “Wussie” or the “Wizzie.”

Actually, choosing the name was much more difficult than coming up with the blueprint of the show.

Basically it was a broadcast about five couples, all in their twenties, sent on a mission. Each couple would begin in Temecula, California, dressed in shorts and a shirt, barefoot and with fifty dollars. They would be instructed to walk all the way to the Burbank, California studios as their final destination.

The ninety-four miles between Temecula and Burbank were almost identical to the ninety-seven point six miles that the first Christmas couple, M & J, trekked from Nazareth to Bethlehem.

The rules were easy to understand. There were four things that needed to be accomplished:

  1. Each couple was to stay on foot with no motorized transportation, be it public or private.
  2. They must garner all food and drink from the kindness of strangers.
  3. They would also have to perform one huge, provable good deed.
  4. And finally, to keep everything lively, they should arrive at the finish line in Burbank with a donkey.

Each journey would be filmed, and on the final night, there would be a vote cast by the audience to proclaim the winner.

A rather extensive search took place for the right participants. Of course, in respect to the times, one needed to be gay, one was interracial—black and Asian. An additional couple was a prison romance which blossomed into freedom, with a great backstory. One selected pair was a very religious married team. And finally, there was one couple that was white bread enough to make peanut butter sandwiches for all of summer camp. Their names were Curtis and Morena—a pair of actors who had come to Southern California seeking fame and fortune, but willing to settle for either.

Curtis had been in the hunt for notoriety for about a year-and-a-half, and so far, had only procured a job as a stand-in for a talking jalapeno in a Mr. Mexico taco commercial. Morena had a bit more success—playing the notorious “Queen of Dirt” in a kitchen cleanser TV ad.

Long before the time for filming arrived, sessions were planned to discuss what was expected, beneficial, preferred and helpful for each couple. It was made clear that it was absolutely fine to mention God—but no more than once per episode, so as not to scare away the “uncertain” crowd or the “God is dead” demographic. At no time was Jesus to be included. There were just too many Jews, Muslims and Buddhists for the show to present itself as a billboard for Christianity.

Every couple needed to have a story, so questions were asked, and the search began for what approach would draw the public into the private lives of the contestants.

But first, it was made clear that the name “Wysies” was chosen because it gave a quaint, holiday sniff to what was actually a reality game show (“Wysies” being the Wise Men). That was coupled with the length of the journey being tied into the story of Mary and Joseph. It seemed to be just enough to provide a flavor of inspiration.

The back-stories were chosen.

The gay couple was to play out the persecution they had suffered in pursuit of gaining the right to be married in an America which was “the home of the free and the land of the brave.” Or maybe the other way around.

The black man and Asian woman had lived in Mississippi after he had completed a military tour of duty in Iraq. Their feelings had been greatly injured by the citizens of Dixie, who found their joining to be unnatural under God’s Law.

The two prisoners who had found love after jail had a natural set-up. He was in for trafficking drugs, and she had killed her former husband in a fit of rage when she found him sleeping with her younger sister.

The difficulty came when it was time to derive an appealing presentation for Curtis and Morena. After much questioning, it was decided to emphasize that Curtis was an orphan—since his father had died when he was ten, though his mother was still alive and dwelling in Columbia, Missouri. And Morena had been plagued by disease because she had terrible allergies to both hay and ragweed. (It was agreed that as long as they didn’t get too specific, a general mentioning of their circumstances could still stir the sympathies of the viewership.)

Director Zandy made it abundantly clear that a show of this intensity—this rich with human conflict—would have to emphasize forced feeling, forced fighting, forced exposure, and when necessary, forced story lines.

After the first four planning sessions, Curtis and Morena became disillusioned. It was especially disheartening when the religious couple stomped off the set after being informed that any testimony of their salvation or personal relationship with God had to be abandoned in favor of punctuating their own love story—with a strong dose highlighting their sex life.

That left four couples.

Director Zandy said she was thrilled when it came down to four because five stories were more difficult to squeeze into the time constraints. Even though Curtis and Morena became upset about the job, the first-place prize money of fifty thousand dollars would keep them working and striving toward their goal of becoming full-fledged actors—and was certainly worth putting up with some bleeding of the conscience.

After the planning sessions, and with a general understanding of the expectations, the cast members were sent back to their lives to fend for themselves until the filming began. Each week, Zandy sent off an email with little hints and encouragements on how to better access their greatest potential for winning the show.

Especially significant were the ideas on how to do a good deed. Matter of fact, Zandy referred to this as a “sloppy, sappy service.” In other words, something so obviously kind, generous and merciful that the audience at home would be brought to tears, convinced of the overwhelming goodness of the contestant.

Each week, Curtis and Morena read the directive from Zandy, feeling more and more unsure of their footing. Also, Curtis received alarming news about his mother, Catherine McDermott, who was showing the first stages of dementia—or perhaps warning signs of cardiovascular disease and the danger of a stroke. In other words, she was “ailing.” That’s how family and friends in Missouri expressed their fears for the worst.

Curtis didn’t know what to do. The main problems were his financial situation, fear of failure and his lack of passion about his aspiration for acting. He was frightened that if he went home to Missouri, he would never make it back to Hollywood. He was reluctant to share his feelings with Morena, who found his silence about his mother to be disconcerting, and soon was considering leaving him. She probably would have done so if it had not been for the commitment to “Wysies,” plus a nagging, heartfelt affection for the boy.

The next directive arrived the following week. Both Curtis and Morena were shocked.

Now, neither one of them were religious. But when they read Zandy’s message, the little, tiny piece of faith that still abided in them was stunned. The directive read:

“Good morning to you outstanding human beings and contestants for “Wysies!” I wanted to give you a heads up. During one of our planning sessions, it was discovered that some initial press reports have leaked—portraying the show as a religious broadcast about the journey of Mary and Joseph to the manger. The critics are already attacking it as being just another righteous ruse’ to punctuate the differences among the populace, aggravating the debate about the separation of church and normal life.”

“Of course, nothing could be more untrue. But once a rumor like this gets started, it must be stomped out quickly, or pretty soon a forest fire of misunderstanding will be set ablaze. So I am asking each of you to do a couple of interviews on a press junket in order to (a) advertise yourself; (b) be cute and humorous, bringing intrigue about the show; and (c) strongly establish that ‘Wysies’ is not a God thing.”

“I will contact you soon with times, dates and some possible lines you can use to sever this contest from Sunday School lingo.”

The email was signed:

“Your fearless friend and leader, Zandy”

This stimulated a discussion between Curtis and Morena. Neither one of them felt comfortable defending the faith. They were not like the religious couple, who yearned to preach the Gospel, but they also found no contentment in being included among unbelievers and those who were apathetic about a possible Creator in Heaven.

What began as a discussion about the show ended as an argument about their relationship. Morena was just as discouraged about their progress in the cattle calls of the entertainment industry thus far. Playing the “Queen of Dirt” had not garnered much business, and unfortunately, had not become a repetitive character for future commercials. (Matter of fact, those reviewed about the commercial were thrilled when she was sucked down the drain in the last scene.)

But Morena did not want to be the one to give up. If Curtis were going to leave, he needed to make it clear that he was the quitter—and if he wanted her around, he needed to offer a greater commitment than a tender pat on her bare butt after sex.

On the other hand, Curtis did not want to be the villain in the great tale of their lives. So ensued two or three days of continual fighting with perpetual finger-pointing.

“You’re the reason we’re failing!”

“If you just cared more, we might do better!”

In the midst of this, more calls came in from Missouri, expressing, in a quiet way, desperation over Mother Catherine’s well-being.

Curtis began to wonder if he could just abandon his dream and blame it on his mother’s condition. His problem with that plan was that Morena would always know about the little piece of chicken-shit mixed in with his nobility.

He could leave her, but then he would be arriving back in Missouri alone, into an atmosphere of dreary demise.

One night as they sat, heads spinning from the latest bewildering exchange of ideas, Curtis posed a very interesting question.

“Morena, do you think we can win ‘Wysies?’”

Morena was offended, and then surprised that she felt so insulted by a legitimate question. After all, there were three other couples. The gay lovers were certainly cute and flamboyant. The two prisoners had enough tattoos for three people. And the black and Asian couple—well, on top of military service, they had the applause of everyone who hated Mississippi.

Curtis asked again. “Do you think we can win this thing?”

Morena surprised herself. “No.” That was all she said.

Curtis turned to her, alarmed. “Then why are we doing it?”

Morena replied emphatically. “You know why we’re doing it! Exposure! Showing enough of ourselves that this time, you get to play the jalapeno instead of getting coffee for him!”

Even though the comment stung Curtis’ ego, it was still rather funny. He laughed. “And,” he retorted, “you might get the part of Princess of Clean in the next commercial—who gets to survive to sell yet another day.”

“So,” she said, “we’re hanging around here to participate in a contest where we have no chance of winning, and we’re hoping that our failure will draw enough attention to us that someone will want us in some sort of part because we were such dynamic also-rans.”

Curtis smiled. “You left out something,” he said. “All this is true—plus we have to find a donkey and get it to Burbank, California.”

Then something strange happened—odd indeed. Morena did something she had not done since she was a young girl. Matter of fact, she had been nine years old, and her dog was hit by a car and was lying in the middle of the street, twitching.

On that day, she had bowed her head and prayed. “God, heal my dog.”

Her puppy died. And so did her faith.

But now, in this moment of craziness mingled with humor and pathos, she prayed again. “God, would you get us out of here to someplace where we can breathe without being afraid?”

Curtis was shocked. The two of them had never even mentioned the word “God,” or thought about an Everlasting Presence, but without even thinking, when Morena finished her prayer, he said, “Amen.”

There were no phone calls. The sky did not open. There was no chill going down the spine.

They simply looked at each other and they both knew their next trek would not be to Burbank, but instead, across the country as best they could—to the bedside of a hurting woman in Missouri.

When Curtis called Director Zandy and quit, she was infuriated. She briefly tried to get him to change his mind, but when he wouldn’t, she explained that due to the nature of their contract, they would be required to sign a termination agreement, guaranteeing that they would never sue the show or the network. After this, Zandy curtly stated that the show would be “better with three couples anyway.”

When Curtis and Morena showed up in Burbank to sign their termination agreement, to their surprise they were both issued checks for five hundred dollars. They promised to never say a bad word about the show or do any negative promotion.

Shocked, bewildered, and dare we say, blessed, the two climbed into Morena’s old car—held together with rust and hopes—and headed toward Missouri.

They were in no hurry. It was a five-day journey, and they arrived on the exact day they originally had planned to begin filming “Wysies.”

Mother Catherine was still living in the old homestead. When they got there, she was sitting in the living room, staring out the front window. At first Curtis thought she was anticipating their homecoming—because he had called ahead to let the family know of their intentions. But when they came in, she continued to stare out the window to the undetermined outside.

He made his way to his mother’s side and touched her hand. Barely acknowledging his presence, she reached over and clasped his arm. Unexpectedly, Morena made her way up the stairs to the attic, where, as Curtis had explained, they kept all the Christmas decorations.

She emerged carrying a big box, shut the attic, came downstairs and opened it, beginning to remove the seasonal family treasures. This gained Catherine’s attention. She got up, walked across the room, and began to help Morena.

About five minutes into the experience, Catherine took Morena’s hands, and though she had never met her, she said, “We have done this before, haven’t we?”

Morena saw no reason to argue, so she nodded her head. Immediately, Catherine stood up, walked into the kitchen and took a stance next to the stove, as if considering warming water for tea or beginning a pot of coffee. She stared at the oven intently, as if seeking inspiration.

Concerned, Curtis followed her in. Seeing her stymied at the stove, he came up behind her, placed his hands on her shoulders, and then his arms around her neck, embracing her. Suddenly, from behind, he felt Morena’s tender arms squeezing his waist. The three stood there, connected, tightly holding one another, trying to draw strength from within.

That year, when “Wysies” aired, the ratings were so bad that they never actually finished the five days of production, pronouncing a winner.

Curtis and Morena spent the holiday season with Mother Catherine. Although they feared for her health, each day she actually grew stronger, more present and cognizant of the world around her.

By the time Christmas Eve rolled around, she was reciting memories, singing carols, and fixing the delicious chocolate chip cookies for which she was acclaimed.

Curtis and Morena fell in love—first, with Mother Catherine. Then, with the sweetness and nostalgia of the home. Next, with each other, as they sealed the covenant between them. And finally—and more slowly—they fell in love with God. Even though He had not done much to help Morena’s puppy, this time, on this occasion, and in this Christmas season, He had shown up…and answered their prayers.

1 Thing You Can Do to Start Having the Best Christmas Ever

Stop Being So Religious

It is really annoying.

You don’t have to purify the occasion by talking so much about it being Jesus’ birthday, or saying “Happy birthday, Jesus.”

You won’t win over a generation of cynics by imagining a huge cake with 2019 candles on it.

I caution my friends in the faith to do something very helpful in learning how to truly be a Christian.

Sit down every once in a while and just read the Good News.

There is an incident mentioned, in which the disciples of Jesus came upon a fellow who was having a real good time—celebrating off of the Nazarene’s success. Yet he was not giving any real credit to Jesus himself.

They confronted him, scolding him and saying he needed to come over and follow Jesus and do things the right way. Lo and behold, this independent spirit refused.

Well, the disciples ran back to Jesus in a full-blown-church-lady tizzy. “How dare he snub us and not give honor to you?”

They thought Jesus would rebuke the fellow, or perhaps even kill him for his insolence. Instead, Jesus said, “Leave the dude alone. For those who are not against us are for us.”

Yes, that person at the mall who only loves Christmas because he gets 80% off on electronic devices—he’s one of us.

And the family down the street who look on the December celebration as a commemoration of the Winter Solstice—they are with us.

And all the elves, Santa Clauses, mistletoe, fir trees, choirs, fundraisers and decorated plazas—they are with us, too.

It doesn’t matter what they call it.

It doesn’t matter if you think they don’t offer enough respect to the Bethlehem baby.

For one month out of the year, we stop teaching, breaching, preaching and impeaching and allow ourselves to consider “peace on Earth, goodwill toward men.”

Whatever wisdom people come up with themselves for December 25th, it will lead them to the Star in Bethlehem.

 

Sit Down Comedy … September 20th, 2019

Jonathots Daily Blog

(4173)

Sit Down Comedy

If the premise is wrong

Then the promise is gone

It is hysterical how historical this is.

Although many claims have been made over the years, once it was established that the premise—the thought behind the claim—was either ridiculous or evil, then those who were waiting for the promise ended up looking like they just bought a used car at “Lucky Billy’s Auto Emporium.”

I realize that as a reader you may have sympathies toward political parties, regional axioms, religious affiliations, and racial or cultural differences. But the shocking fact is:

Truth doesn’t care if our feelings get hurt on the way to marching toward justice.

Matter of fact, no matter how adorable, meaningful, helpful or God-given we insist our premise may be, once it is revealed to be wrong, there will be no promise forthcoming.

For instance, immigration.

The premise is made that if we build a wall, we can protect our country from all the murderers and rapists who are trying to come in.

Another premise is that if we open our country to those who wish to come, we will acquire great thinkers and build up the nation’s foundation.

Here’s the problem—we already have plenty of murderers and rapists right here and now, whose families have been around for many generations. We must also realize that people escaping to come to America may actually prefer to live in their own countries.

So both premises are found to be wrong, and therefore the promise doesn’t bloom. The truth? People shouldn’t have to come to America because they’re fugitives from crime, or they’re being tortured and starved.

America wants people to come because they want to.

These visitors are therefore willing to answer the needful questions and go through the procedures available. Then the promise is real—a country of immigrants who have found their home.

Based on that, our goal should be to go to the source, where the immigrants live, and assist them to make their country as pleasant as humanly possible—so they don’t have to relocate unless they truly wish to come.

Why don’t we try another one?

Let’s talk about poverty.

One premise is that if you give extra money to the rich and industrious, they can provide more jobs for people who don’t have the funds to begin their own businesses but will gladly step forward and receiving the work.

The other premise is that industrious and wealthy corporations, which should help, won’t. So we will tax them and force them to pour out their finances to people who live in poverty—whether these unfortunates are willing to work or not.

As you can see, neither premise will deliver the promise of assisting our fellow-human beings to be fruitful.

So what do we need to do? Obviously, we need to unveil a plan which taxes every American according to his or her prosperity—a sliding scale with the finance from such a collection being divided to fund those who want to work, assist the few that are disabled, and stimulate those who are impoverished due to their own lack of motivation.

Abortion.

The premise is that if we stop aborting babies, children can be born and grow into happy human beings.

Or the premise is that women who are already born and alive should have the only controlling decision on whether a baby will be born or aborted.

In both cases, the premise does not deliver a promise.

The real goal is to eliminate unwanted pregnancies.

We must do this by honoring the free will of the women and the babies. In order to achieve this, we must abandon archaic positions against birth control, sex education and allowing those who wish to adopt to include lifestyles that we may not favor.

As you can see, I could go on and on, but I will leave that to you.

Just remember, as you listen to these individuals running for President, who bought fifteen different suits of clothes, outfitted a bus and purchased buttons and flyers from the Cheapskate Publishing Company—yes, as you listen to them offer their premise, follow through to the promise.

Question whether the premise is faithful to what the Earth has already discovered to be true.

And always remember this:

If the premise is wrong, the promise is gone.

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The *** Word … August 6th, 2019

Jonathots Daily Blog

(4128)


THE

Image result for gif of alphabet

WORD


ASSHOLE

Can’t give up on each other.

BITCH

Upgrading, not degrading.

CULTURE

Be different. Find something the same.

DEVIL

May the hell be scared out of you.

EXCEPTIONAL

Not so much.

FUCK

Only for pleasure.

GOD

I don’t know and neither do you.

HELL

Hope not.

IGNORANCE

Everything I don’t know.

JERUSALEM

Just a town.

KU KLUX KLAN

Too much alliteration.

LUCK AND LOSER

Not for you to decide.

MOST

There’s always more.

NIGGER

Use the word, lose seventy I.Q. points.

ODD

By whose standard?

POLITICAL PUNDIT

Just a reason to wear a suit.

QUIET

Over-rated.

RELIGIOUS

Too much Godly—not enough God.

SARCASTIC

Nasty ninny.

TRUTH

Not for you and I to completely know.

USELESS

Not our call.

VICTIM

Find a reason to escape it.

WORRY

Wasted energy.

XENOPHOBIA

The stupidity of the less traveled.

YOUTHFUL

A state of mind.

ZEALOT

Too goddamn sure.

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Iz and Pal (Bedouin Buddies)


Iz and Pal

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(4126)

Sitting Thirty-One

And then all at once, an interruption came to rob the attention from the cause. The priest sank to his knees, seemingly overcome by the desert heat. He grabbed his head as the perspiration poured off his face. The gathered horde of critics moved to his side, deeply concerned for his well-being.

“You see what you’ve done, boys? I’m very tired of your disrespect,” said the suit.

The robe stepped forward threateningly. “You must learn to hold your tongue, young man.”

And the priest, still on his knees breathing heavily, voiced his objection. “My collar does not pinch me.”

He turned to those holding him up, finishing. “I will be fine, my brothers. Just a little too much heat.”

All the adults turned with one disapproving gaze in the direction of the pair of renegade escapees.

Pal stepped forward. “Listen, you should not be here. He’s sick. Just leave us alone. If you are truly men of God, as you say, you need to realize that there’s nothing wrong with love between two friends.”

“Honor your father and mother,” replied the suit.

All the men vigorously nodded their heads in agreement. They had finally found a common axiom which they could all agree upon.

Iz and Pal looked at the four men and then back at each other. Trying to talk to these immovable statues was a fruitless task. It seemed they were speaking different languages.

“Understand this,” said blue jeans. “We were sent to resolve this peacefully. We mean you no harm. We’re not trying to overtake you. But when they come with the rally, they will not be as nice as we have been to you.”

“Why can’t you just leave us alone?” demanded Pal.

“Because you are children,” responded the collar.

“Weren’t you a child once?” queried Iz.

Now standing solidly on his feet, he replied, “Yes. But I’ve put away childish things.” His face was still flushed with crimson.

Iz stopped and held his hands up in the air, requiring a reprieve. Several times the collar, the robe, the blue jeans and the suit tried to speak, but he covered his ears.

When Iz saw that their lips didn’t move any more and silence had settled in, he said, “I guess we’re just not ready to put away childish things—because you grown-ups pack away all of their dreams along with those childish things. We are not ready to be dreamless.”

The robe screamed at the top of his voice, “Is it true there’s a hand grenade?”

Pal was very nervous, but somehow or another managed to remain cool. He glanced over at Iz, who displayed an unsettling, icy stare. “Would you like to see it?” he asked. “Or would you like to hear it?”

The men were not willing to overwhelm the two boys—not at the risk of their own lives. The meeting was over. The committee stared at the unflinching features of the young men. One by one, the invaders turned and walked slowly down the hill.

Collar spoke as he left. “May it never be said that we didn’t try to warn you.”

Pal yelled after them as they trudged along. “How about Joseph and his brothers? They lived in Egypt and lived in peace—Jew and Arab. Did anyone hold a rally and try to stop them? Were they wrong, Mullah?”

There was no more response.

After all, the mission was not about discovering the truth or even discussing the facts. It wasn’t even about redeeming the time. The whole goal had been to get the little boys to do what little boys were supposed to do.

Yet what do you do when you’re old and the young will not listen? What is your recourse when boys grow into men without your permission?

Iz and Pal stood and watched as the men finished their walk and disappeared.

The rally would be in two days. That meant there were forty-eight hours of freedom left—guaranteed space for Iz and Pal.

They decided not to waste a second of it thinking about religious figures who frowned and never smiled…and also resembled melting snow that had no place in the desert.

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