Catchy (Sitting 53) Assigning Blame… June 17th, 2018


Jonathots Daily Blog

(3706)

She birthed triplets.

Jenesca Bradbury, in a matter of just a few minutes of time, brought three living souls into the world.

There was no father present–matter of fact, no father was ever brought up or even mentioned. Just three little boys and their mother.

She named them Jubal, Jasper and Jamison.

They were born into poverty, they learned to live in poverty, and most importantly, Mother Jenesca made sure they were happy, though poor.

For the first two-and-a-half years of their lives the boys lived in Salinas with their mom at their grandmother’s house. It was difficult. The house was small and Grandma was sensitive to too much noise.

So one night when Jenesca wiggled a furlough from the house for some private time, she sat at a bar and met a man named Roy.

Roy Carlos. He was a farmer from Clovis, who spent all of his time planting, picking and selling fruit.

After the second–or maybe it was the third–drink, Roy suggested that Jenesca pick up her three boys and move down to Clovis. He had an old Amish barn about four hundred yards from the main house which could be fixed up and turned into living quarters for her little family. He promised her work, pay, and a way to keep the kids busy with chores, which would provide a legitimate form of daycare.

Maybe it was the alcohol. Maybe it was the tugging emotions from the pedal steel guitar in the country music playing in the background. Maybe it was a young woman who was just tired of living with her mother and pretending she was dead. Whatever the reason, Jenesca agreed.

In less than a week, she, Jubal, Jasper and Jamison ended up on Roy’s farm, fixing up the loft in the barn, trying to turn it into something that resembled a home. Some folks from the local church brought in furniture and managed to hook up a stove and refrigerator to make it seem more functional instead of just a hair-brained scheme.

Like many women before her, Jenesca decided that this was what she was going to do and she would find a way to be content with it.

Roy was a happily married man, and his wife tried hard to be tolerant of the new young hen who had crept into the barnyard. Still–Mrs. Carlos was suspicious. Roy kept his distance, and Jenesca tried to be good, but within a year’s time they were lovers.

They were very careful to keep it quiet, and had all of their rendezvous at the Holiday Inn in Fresno. But Mrs. Carlos was always aware that when a teenager was hired to watch the three boys, it meant there was a party in the making.

Amazingly, it didn’t change anything. Maybe Mrs. Carlos was tired of Roy, or Roy had some magical personality that he unleashed on his wife at just the right moments. No one ever knew how the situation worked. After a while the gossips got tired of chatting about it, and accepted the fact that three young men were growing up in a barn, and three grown-ups were practicing what might be considered to be barnyard morality.

There was always work, and because of this, money was available. Not much. Mother Jenesca referred to it as “aggravating dough.” Just enough cash on hand to make you wish you had more.

The boys never enrolled in school. Although Jenesca was of European descent, all three of her sons had golden brown skin, leading everyone to believe that Jenesca had welcomed immigration. She wasn’t comfortable with her fellows being away from her, so she taught them. She taught them everything she knew, everything other people thought they should know and a whole lot of things from the Bible that she considered necessary.

They did attend church–one that mingled Baptists and Pentecostals who agreed to participate in each other’s activities to keep peace. All three boys were born again at the age of twelve. All three felt the God was calling them to do something other than pull rotten peaches from baskets. And all three of them had stars in their eyes while simultaneously surrounded by very dark nights.

It came time for Mother Jenesca’s birthday. The boys were fifteen years old and decided they wanted to do something special. She had never been on a trip. She cleaned up, dressed up and acted like she was going to Paris every time she drove down the road to Fresno with Roy.

Jubal, Jasper and Jamison wanted to send their mother on a trip to New York. They priced it: $823.

Jasper had an idea. There was a convenience store in Clovis. Out behind the store, surrounded by weeds, was a Camaro. It was ugly, but still in solid enough shape that it could be fixed up and sold to folks who liked such vintage wheels. Jamison got pen and paper and figured out that it would take about a thousand dollars to fix it up if they did all the work themselves. Then another thousand would be needed to put tires on it and give it a good paint job. Finally, a thousand dollars for the trip to New York.

So the three boys figured if they could get three thousand dollars out of the car, they would be coming up with the best birthday gift ever. They were told by those in the know that such a vehicle would actually garner about five thousand dollars.

There was only one obstacle. Could they talk the manager of the convenience store into letting them have the Camaro? After all, it had been growing with the sucker-plants for at least a year.

It was decided that Jubal would speak for the trio. They were completely delighted when the owner said if they could get it out of there, they could have it.

A time was set to meet with the store owner to sign the title over and for them to pick it up. Jasper borrowed the truck from Roy and headed out for the store.

They were all ready to collect their prize, but the owner was very busy. Matter of fact, they ended up sitting in the truck for three hours, until it was time for the store to close.

Then everything seemed to go just fine. The title was signed over, and they started removing the car from its buried condition. The owner left the store and drove away.

About fifteen minutes later, while they were hooking chains onto the car to pull it out, a Clovis police car rolled in. Jubal quietly and slowly got out of the truck and walked to the middle of the parking lot with his hands held high. Jasper followed Jubal’s lead and did the same.

But Jamison was stuck under the Camaro, trying to hook the chain onto the drive shaft. He didn’t see nor did he hear the police arrive.

So Jamison slid out from under the car and came walking up from the darkness with a big wrench in his hand. The young Clovis policeman was surprised. He had already pulled his gun to ensure there would be no trouble. When he saw Jamison emerging with the silver tool, he fired at him.

It was an accident.

He didn’t even know he had pulled the trigger until Jamison was lying on the ground bleeding. The two brothers ran over. Jamison had taken a hit between the eyes. There was no life; no movement.

It crashed into their minds that suddenly the three had become two.

******

This ended the essay written by Jennifer Carmen and delivered on Monday morning at the NBC affiliate. When she first arrived, there hadn’t been much interest in her presence, nor the project. Obviously, Raoul had not promoted the idea to the management.

But Jubal, anticipating the situation, had arrived with ten copies of the essay and passed them around to secretaries, copy writers and bosses.

As Jen chatted with a couple of sales people, suddenly the room was filled with moans, groans and tears. One of the big-wigs emerged from his office and said, “Who in the hell wrote this?”

Jen sheepishly raised her hand.

He continued. “Is this real? Did you get this story from Jubal Carlos?”

Jen nodded her head and answered, “Yes. That and many more.”

“So he has a twin brother?”

Jen nodded but added no further explanation. The next thing she knew, she was called into the office and given a contract for a nine-part series to be shared on the nightly news.

The boss introduced himself as Mr. Wiggens. Mr. Wiggens just sat there and shook his head, glancing over the piece one more time.

“I know they say this all the time, but this is gold. Hell, this is gold.”

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Catchy (Sitting 52) Jen… June 10th, 2018


Jonathots Daily Blog

(3699)

Manning the desk as weekend program director at a television station is an honor for an up-and-coming reporter, but also an acknowledgement that this particular individual does not have enough seniority to escape weekend work.

At thirty-three years of age, Raoul Matteen was the youngest person to be given the position at WCNC, the NBC affiliate in Charlotte, North Carolina. He was permitted a skeleton work force of about seven other people, in order to, as they say, “keep the home fires burning.” But he was fully aware that if any home fires in Charlotte, North Carolina, actually did start burning, they would usher in the real staff.

Arriving back from lunch on Friday, Raoul, who insisted on being called Matt to simplify matters, was informed that he had a visitor. The receptionist rolled her eyes in a seductive way and announced that there was a tall young woman with long, brunette hair waiting to meet with him. Matt decided to act miffed, as he had seen his mentors do many times before. But after putting up the illusion of “being too busy,” he asked the receptionist to send the young woman in.

In walked Jennifer Carmen.

She was wearing a beautiful black dress and black patent-leather shoes. She had been in town for three days, spending most of her time out at the Soulsbury Campgrounds. (She had purchased three identical navy-blue jogging suits with white piping for her visit to the revival park, hoping not to draw too much attention to herself.)

Yet she needed to know. Or he needed to know.

At no time did Jennifer Carmen forget that she was really Jubal Carlos with an extensive–and expensive–makeover. He walked around for three days, greeting people, introducing himself as “Jennifer,” and was even able to pull off his disguise to people who should have known him–Jo-Jay and Soos, primarily, who just welcomed him as “another one of the girls.”

He was confident he could pursue his plan.

The idea was simple. He decided to go to WCNC on the Friday, knowing that the young manager would be willing to meet with Jennifer, and that he could make an impression as Jennifer, to set up a scenario to meet with the higher-ups on Monday.

When Jennifer walked into the room, Matt stepped back, a little surprised, his eyes widening. Jubal smiled inside. He extended his hand with as much feminine grace as he could muster, and daintily shook Matt’s nervous paw before sitting down elegantly in a nearby chair. The budding executive decided to speak first.

“My name is Raoul Mateen, but everyone calls me Matt.”

Jubal cleared his throat to ensure that the voice he had rehearsed was fresh and ready to go.

“Well, Matt, my name is Jennifer Carmen, but everyone calls me Jen.”

There was an uncomfortable moment of silence. Since Matt had never had a meeting with anyone, he wasn’t sure how to conduct one. Sensing his inexperience, Jubal (Jen) continued.

“I don’t want to take too much of your busy time, so let me cut to the chase. Please forgive me for saying that. It’s such a cliche. As a writer, I’m always fighting cliches. You know what I mean?”

Matt nodded his head, totally fascinated.

“Let me phrase it this way,” continued Jen. “Let me tell you what I have, which you might be able to use.”

Jubal purposely paused for a second to see the wheels turning in Matt’s brain. It was deliciously devious. He then commenced his ‘Jen plan.’

“I am good friends with Jubal Carlos. I have been since youth. We grew up in the same neighborhood. We were always best buddies, and I know him like I know my own soul.”

Matt leaned forward in his chair and picked up a pen, fiddling with it in his right hand.

“Why haven’t you come forward earlier?” he asked slowly.

“Jubal asked me not to,” replied Jen flatly.

“And why did he ask you not to?” asked Matt, doing his best to interrogate.

Jen crossed her legs, tilted her head upward as if thinking, took a Kleenex and dabbed at the corner of her eye.

“Because there’s so much to tell. It’s difficult to know where to begin, and often in the world of the press, if you begin and even tell it all, they think there’s something being withheld.”

Matt tilted his head to the side, then stretched his neck and nodded his head, agreeing.

Jen resumed. “What I am suggesting, in the light of the Soulsbury phenomenon, is a series of articles–interviews, if you will–between Jubal and myself, enlightening the American public about this secretive man who has come on the scene to bring music and joy.”

Matt scrunched his face in displeasure. Even to a novice such as himself, the whole thing sounded crazy and contrived. He decided to present Jen with what he considered to be an insurmountable difficulty.

“Tell you what,” he said. “This is beyond my pay grade. My instinct is that our station would want one of our top reporters to conduct the interview, since we know nothing about you. No disrespect. So if you just come back on Monday and ask for the program director, and present your case to him the way you have to me, we can see about putting one of our award-winning journalists on the matter.”

Jen smiled. “Did they train you to say that, or have years of caution made you careful? Is it because you’re a foreign national and you don’t want to make waves, or does your upbringing tell you to be nervous with the white elitists?”

Matt stood to his feet, pointed to the door and responded angrily, “I think I’m going to ask you to leave. If I have problems, they’re certainly not going to be discussed with some stranger walking into my office and insulting me.”

Jen remained seated, but lifted her hands as if surrendering. “I’m very sorry. I guess I’m a little bit energized with the possibility of seeing this story get into the right hands, and maybe a little jumpy, or shall we say, defensive, about it?”

Matt put his arm down and eased back into his chair. “What was your name again?”

“Jennifer Carmen, but you can call me Jen.”

“Jennifer,” Matt concluded, “I am just not willing to be the fool. Do you know what I mean? When you’re working your way up the ladder, it’s a dangerous thing to try to skip rungs to get to the roof quicker. That’s when your foot can slip. And if you slip, you fall. And if you fall, there’s nothing or nobody to catch you. I’m doing real fine without your assistance. If this is a great thing, let somebody else determine that. But if it’s a setup for an asshole, I am not interested in pursuing the position.”

Jen leaped in. “Exactly. I wasn’t asking you to make a decision. I was asking you to allow me to go this weekend to the camp, meet with Jubal, do an interview and bring it in on Monday morning and let you read it. And if you think it’s good, take it to your bosses and see if we can’t make a deal.”

Matt leaned forward. “Are you telling me that Jubal is in North Carolina?”

Jen replied, “I’m telling you that I know where Jubal is. I’m not about to tell you where he is until I can strike a deal on these interviews. Let’s just look at it practically. You want to do something good for the station; the station wants first dibs on a great story. Jubal has things to share with the country, and I want a Pulitzer.”

Matt laughed. “A Pulitzer, huh? A Pulitzer about a cabana-band-leader who travels the world, hyping joy and handing out hamburgers.”

Jen stood to her feet, as if to leave. “Laugh all you want, Matt. But he’s the one changing the world. Not you.”

Jubal headed to the door, confident that he had sunk the hook deep into the guppy’s lip. As he was about to step through the door, Matt rushed to his side.

“Listen, Jen. I think you’re reading me wrong. Yeah. What have we got to lose? Monday morning bring me in, uh-h…” Matt paused, thinking. “Let say fifteen hundred words. Let me soak it up, pass it around to some copy-writers. If everyone’s hot on it, we’ll take it to the brass. That’s the best I can do. I can’t pay your expenses.”

Jen turned slowly, stuck out her hand for the shaking, and inserted, “I didn’t ask you to.”

Matt reached out and shook her hand. Jen turned on her heel and walked out the door. Matt called after her, “Where are you staying? In case I want to get ahold of you?”

Jen kept walking and without turning around, threw over her shoulder, “I’ll see you on Monday morning.”

 

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Catchy (Sitting 51) A Woman at the Well (Doing)… June 3rd, 2018


Jonathots Daily Blog

(3692)

Matthew stepped out of the shower and dried himself with the $300 fluffy towel provided by the casino as a part of his luxurious accommodations. He stared into the huge mirror, surrounded by the finest lighting available, to accentuate and showcase the beauty provided.

After peering into his face for a moment, making sure the wrinkles were not opening up tributaries, he stepped back to eyeball his penis. It was respectable–at least, he thought so. And the women he was with last night seemed impressed. Matter of fact, she was out in the other room, waiting for the two of them to have breakfast before she took her money and scooted.

Taking a second look at his friend from “south of the border,” it did appear a bit bedraggled and weary. But what would a penis know?

His brain was stumped over a decision–talc or no talc? He liked talcum powder. It felt good–cool, with just a bit of a sting–but it never disappeared. For the entire day, you walked around like some sort of ghostly apparition, leaving white clouds of dust behind as you shimmied through the room. So he took some lotion and put it on his private area, which felt equally as good, but was more sticky than spooky.

He had absent mindedly been listening through the door, hearing nothing, when suddenly there appeared to be a conversation going on in the adjacent room. He turned off the bathroom fan so he could hear better. There were two women talking.

Who could it be? Who was talking to…? Uh…

He couldn’t remember her name. It was Russian. The name. She wasn’t Russian–she was almost San Fernando Valley. He could not remember. God, he hated it when he didn’t know the escort’s names. Because “sweetie, honey, dear” and “precious” would only take you so far before you started sounding like discarded dialogue from “Wuthering Heights.”

Maybe if he listened through the door he could catch her name from the person she was talking to. Who in the hell could it be?

Well, there was only one way to find out. He combed back his hair (which was still hanging in there, though threats of evacuation continued). He donned one of the thick, white, terry cloth, Penthouse robes and stepped out the door. As he did, his guest from the previous night was speaking.

“…and I especially like the story of the woman at the well…”

“Me, too.”

The “me, too” voice came from Soos, who looked up at Matthew, smiled and continued her dialogue with the unknown Russian.

“What I like about that story, Borish…”

Matthew blinked and nodded, mentally repeating the name three times in a row, hoping it would permeate his skull.

Soos continued. “Jesus knows everything about this woman–knows all her problems and failings, that she’d had five marriages, and she’s living with a man now, but he offers absolutely no condemnation.”

Borish sat for a moment. “I never thought about it that way,” she said. “Matter of fact, he commends her for telling the truth in her own non-truthful way, when she said she wasn’t married.”

Soos laughed.

Matthew couldn’t stand it any longer. “Soos–what’s going on? What are you doing here?”

Soos leaped to her feet and ran over to Matthew, giving him a hug. “I was worried about you. I hadn’t heard from you in some time, so I decided to take advantage of the fact that we have a jet, and fly here to see you.”

Matthew walked over and sat down in a large, expensive chair, crossing his legs modestly.

“Well, you knew I wasn’t dead,” he said with a bit of snip.

Borish looked at him with disgust. “Is that any way to talk to an old friend?”

Matthew looked over at Borish. “Just imagine how I might treat new friends,” he snarled.

This did not sit well with the young woman.

“Are you going to insult me?” she asked.

Soos stepped in. “What a great question! Do you plan to come out of the bathroom–your freshly showered self–and insult the whole room until everyone is convinced of your superiority and dominance?”

Matthew sat still, a bitter taste in his mouth. He hated to get bettered–especially by a woman.

Soos continued. “I was talking to Borish about Jesus.”

“Yeah, I gathered that,” said Matthew. He stood up and walked toward the door. “Where in the hell is our breakfast?”

“What did you order?” asked Soos.

Borish smiled, perching up on her knees like a young girl. “I’m starved!”

Matthew whirled around. “Well, don’t act like I didn’t feed you! We had steaks…you know. Before.”

Soos couldn’t resist. “Before what?”

Borish looked at Soos with big, wide eyes and said, “Mr. Matthew here hired me for the night. You see, I’m a prostitute.”

Matthew grabbed a magazine nearby and threw it down on the table. “Why did you have to say that?”

Borish giggled. “I was just practicing being honest–like the woman at the well.”

Soos laughed. “Well done!”

“Is it Sunday?” asked Matthew, striding over to his desk. “No, here’s my calendar. It’s not Sunday. So why are we talking about him?”

“Because he’s good seven days a week,” said Borish.

Soos applauded and the two women hugged.

Matthew moved over with the stealth of a roaring lion, sat back down in his chair and said, “I didn’t hire you to be glib.”

Borish looked up at Matthew. “I don’t know exactly what glib means, and I know that probably thrills you. But I have a life. It’s not a life people would approve of–and certainly the Sunday people who talk about Jesus would not believe that I could be a believer. But I do my best. But I have always wanted to try to do better.”

Soos looked at Borish, tears in her eyes, then over at Matthew, who was doing his best impersonation of a slab of granite.

Soos erupted. “Matthew, you’re just a goddamn son-of-a-bitch. If you want to have your faith crisis or your penis introspection or your drunken binges or your spending insanity, go right ahead. But there are some people who realize they’ve been given two nickels and are trying with all their strength and might to make it spend like a dime.”

Matthew frowned at her. “You see, that’s the trouble with you Christians. You talk in circles, expecting people to follow you. Just because your leader spoke in parables doesn’t mean they make sense today.”

He took a breath. “What are you trying to say? That I need to be nicer to the young whore? Doesn’t that come with the tip? Isn’t that me ordering strawberries and cream with Belgian waffles? Why do I have to believe that everybody who comes into my life is just as good as the last person who came into my life, who seemed, by the way, to possess more dignity? I don’t mind that she’s a prosptitute. Matter of fact, she’s damn good at what she does. Truthfully, she made me see God last night between the sheets more than she’s doing this morning. But I’m not going to pretend that she’s something she’s not.”

He stopped abruptly. He obviously had much nastiness to spew but he resisted.

Borish rose, walked over to Matthew and knelt beside his legs. “You don’t need to explain to me who I am. I got that. Not every morning of my life ends up in a beautiful casino penthouse with a kind gentleman who has ordered me breakfast. I spend just as many mornings looking in the mirror, trying to figure out what kind of make-up to use to cover the bruises. I know I’m a fool. I know I’m crazy. I know that every time a door opens in front of me there could be a monster waiting. I don’t know what else to do. I have needs. I have a child. It sounds like an excuse–even to me. But until I can get over making that excuse and be willing to live a little simpler, and maybe rely for a time on the kindness of family, or some strangers, I will be doing this.”

Matthew stood to his feet and walked away. Soos came over, knelt beside Borish and hugged her.

“My dear,” said Soos, “you don’t have to do this even one more day. What that gentleman over there has failed to tell you is that we have lots of money. And we have lots of Jesus. And if you’re willing to learn, we’ll give you a job–so you can take care of your daughter, but you can become a woman at the well of doing, instead of a woman who’s afraid of what’s gonna happen next.”

Borish looked at her in disbelief. They embraced. They cried. They stood up and started to make plans.

Matthew turned to them, enraged. “Would the two of you please get the hell out of here? I don’t want to lose my cool. I don’t want to hurt anyone. I just want you to get the hell out of here–and by the way, get the heaven out of here, too. I am sick to death of it. I shall eat my breakfast alone.”

Soos looked over at Matthew, confused, with a squinted face. She chose not to speak. She put her arm around Borish and said, “Why don’t you and I take in one of these breakfast buffets at the casino? We can make some plans.”

Soos and Borish walked by Matthew–Soos careful to place herself between the raging bull and the hapless lass. When they reached the door, Matthew spoke.

“Listen, I’m just trying to tell you…”

Soos interrupted. “Please do yourself a favor. Shut the hell up. Understand–there are people who love you, who still love you, even though you’re an asshole. There are some beautiful things going on in this country. Most of them are not at the bottom of a bottle or happening in this room. We’re waiting for you. Whenever you’re ready.”

Matthew gazed at Soos in complete disgust. He didn’t know what to say. So like men often do when they’re devoid of thought, he said something nasty.

“I hate you.”Donate Button

 

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Catchy (Sitting 50) Hiding Out… May 27th, 2018


Jonathots Daily Blog

(3685)

The digital clock on the nightstand read 2:14 A. M. when the phone in the darkened room pierced through the silence.

Jo-Jay stirred from a contented sleep. She had taken out the motel room for the night to have some private time, away from the hustle and bustle of the tent camp at Soulsbury. She also yearned for a deep, cleansing shower in a bathroom full of steam, warm and cozy.

She sat up as the phone continued to ring. It took her a moment to recall where she was. She eased her way from under the covers, picked up the receiver and said, “Hello?”

On the other end of the line was the nighttime captain at the Salisbury police department. “Jo-Jay, this is Bob down at the police headquarters. We’ve…uh…Well, let’s say detained…this guy. And he’s asked for you to be his contact. You know–his one phone call.”

Jo-Jay had made sure to get to know all the Salisbury policemen, because they were a great aid to the cause at the Camp of Remembrance.

“Who is it?” she asked the captain, with a crackle in her voice.

“I don’t know, my dear. He just wants to talk to you.”

“What did he do?” asked Jo-Jay.

“Well,” said the captain, “I guess you would say he was suspiciously lurking around the campgrounds.”

Jo-Jay nodded her head, even though she did not understand, and told Bob that she would be right down. She threw on the easiest clothes she could find, grabbed her keys, money and purse, ran a comb through her hair and scurried out the door. The police department was only three blocks away, so in no time at all she was standing outside the building, staring through the window at a nighttime skeleton crew, drinking coffee and trying to stay awake.

Coming through the door and walking up to the desk, she introduced herself. The captain stepped forward, greeted her and patted her shoulder. He walked her down a hallway to an interrogation room.

He stepped to the side, allowing her to go in ahead of him. Entering the room, she nearly laughed. Sitting on a chair, dressed in a dirty, wrinkled, stained navy blue suit with a powder-blue dress shirt which certainly had not been laundered in weeks, with disheveled hair and at least three days of sprouting beard, was Michael Hinston.

Jo-Jay had not seen him since the night of the kidnapping and confrontation. She felt no fear, but she also felt no tenderness.

His eyes were swollen, threatening tears. “I bet you didn’t expect to see me,” he said quietly.

The captain interrupted. “Do you know this fellow, Jo-Jay?”

She stared at Michael, wondering if she actually did know him. She absently-mindedly turned and said, “Yeah. It’s fine, Bob.”

Jo-Jay motioned for the captain to leave and sat down with Michael.

He was handcuffed to a chair. She squinted her eyes, sighed, and inquired, “What in the hell are you up to?”

“Do you want the short version or the long version?” he asked with a slight chuckle.

“Actually, I want to be on my Posturepedic mattress back at the Holiday Inn,” she replied, “but since you’ve robbed me of that, why don’t you give me the medium version, edited for television?”

Michael launched. “I’m no longer a Congressman. You might have figured that out. Here’s the story, Jo-Jay. I fell in with some bad people. And what I found out was, I was pretty comfortable with them, which of course, made me bad people, too. So even though I didn’t have anything to do with what happened to you or your friends, I heard rumblings of what might have been the story line. We can get to that later. Anyway, I was told that it was nearly my duty to take a kick-back from Caine Industrial, to subsidize my lack of living expenses. The attorney who instructed me in the ways of Washington and such graft was a guy named Milford Hays. Here’s the truth, Jo-Jay. I kept that fifty thousand dollars he gave me in an envelope for four months. Yet when it came time to consider braces for both Alisa and Bernice, my daughters, and private schools, my salary just fell short. I was tired of being noble. I was sick of being short on a dollar. I ran the check through several different methods of cashing and retrieving–trying to disassociate myself from the funds. And I didn’t think about it anymore until last month.”

Jo-Jay interrupted. “Is there an end to this story?”

Michael bowed his head a bit, sitting still, then slowly lifted his eyes and looked at Jo-Jay. “Jay…I really need someone to be nice to me right now.”

She paused, looked him in the eyes, drank in the depth of his sincerity and nodded. He continued.

“Well, you see, I didn’t realize… Well, a lot of things. But mainly I didn’t realize there was a plot by Caine Industrial to discredit and humiliate me, so they could remove me from my seat and could put in their own flunkie. They sent pictures to my wife of me cavorting around the Beltway with a prostitute. They weren’t real. But that doesn’t mean much to a devoted, aging wife with two children who felt like she gave up her dreams for mine.”

He shook his head. “So a major leak showed up in the media about me taking kickbacks, complete with evidence–accounts and witnesses. The head of the party in Ohio told me I needed to resign. Right after that phone call, I got served divorce papers from Barbara. It came with a restraining order. She was able to convince a judge that my temperament was so unpredictable that she and the children might be in danger. I wasn’t even able to go back and get my clothes. Barbara moved–took the children somewhere. She left three notes behind–one from her and one from each girl. Let me just say that they were not messages of encouragement. The words ‘devastated’ and ‘disappointed’ appeared frequently. Everything I purchased on payments suddenly came due–at least it seemed that way. I was arrested, and they gave me a choice. I could plead guilty to a misdemeanor with a ten thousand dollar fine, or go to trial and risk fifteen years in jail. I took the plea, and as I walked out, I saw the attorney, Milford Hayes, chatting with the district attorney.”

He shook his head again. “All I had was my wallet and this suit. They had picked up my rental car and they froze my bank accounts. I walked out the door of city hall, down the steps, and put out my thumb–to hitch-hike.”

Michael stopped. “Jo-Jay, did you realize that people don’t hitch-hike anymore? I had a horrible time getting anybody to take me anywhere. Finally a truck driver took me into Virginia and dropped me off at a truck stop. He said the best way to get a ride was to sit around the coffee shop and listen to where truck drivers were heading, and then negotiate a deal. It took me three days. I finally found Trucker-man Jackson–that’s what he called himself–heading to North Carolina. I jumped in. Over two days, I developed a toleration for Merle Haggard on the way to Salisbury. I never told him my story–I think if he had found out I was from Washington, D.C., Jackson would have kicked me out of his cab. But I think the filthy suit did make him wonder about my origins.”

Michael sighed. “Well, finishing this up, I arrived in town early this afternoon, and just walked around the Camp of Remembrance. Since I didn’t know anyone…you weren’t there…I didn’t get a tent. So I was hanging out next to a tree when the police came upon me. My reasons for being there were sketchy and my appearance was less than reassuring. So they brought me here.”

Jo-Jay leaped in. “And you thought of me.” She took a breath. “I want to tell you, Michael. I learned a long time ago that it’s not a good time to ask a favor unless you’ve given a favor and believe there might be one available to withdraw.”

Michael nodded his head and considered speaking, but chose silence–a profile Jo-Jay also selected for a couple of minutes.

At length, Jo-Jay asked, “So what do you want to do?”

With tears in his voice, Michael choked out, “I want you to give me the favor I don’t deserve. Vouch for me. Let me get out of these damn clothes. Wash up. Buy a pair of jogging pants, a t-shirt and tennis shoes, and I’d like to be of value to the work here.”

Jo-Jay laughed. “That’s just like everybody,” she said. “After they use up all the good shit in their lives, they suddenly want to give God the husk.”

Michael nodded his head. “Everything you’re saying is true. Everything I’m saying is theory. But everything is closed off to me…but you.”

Jo-Jay agreed to help.

For the next three weeks, Michael grew out his hair, his beard and managed to grow a heart. He actually became a favorite around the camp, because anytime anyone asked, “Can I get some help?” Michael would respond, “I was waitin’ to hear that.”

He was especially helpful with the older gentlemen, who often had more complaints than value. He turned them into a little army of workers who carried groceries and picked up trash.

Although Jo-Jay was still leery of Michael’s intentions, after three weeks, he was succeeding in gradually making a believer out of her.

Meanwhile, back in Las Vegas, Matthew and Jubal continued to hide out.

On a Thursday night, Matthew had a strange realization–he had made an initial run through all the clean prostitutes in the town. He found out, because when he asked for a new one, they sent him one he had already met.

Matthew laughed sadly. He knew this was not what he wanted. He had never envisioned himself a “carouser.” But he knew he could not stand to be a follower.

Simultaneously, on the strip Jubal Carlos had made his way backstage to the Sahara, to hook up with an old friend of his, a master at makeup. Jubal’s request was simple. He asked his friend to take makeup, latex and wigs, and turn him into the prettiest version of himself possible.

He wanted to become a woman–not because he was transgender. Just because he wanted the experience. It took four hours of intense effort and extreme electrolysis, but afterwards, a statuesque, dark-haired beauty walked out of the dressing room.

She needed a name. Jubal decided on Jennifer Carmen.

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Catchy (Sitting 49) Soulsbury… May 20th, 2018


Jonathots Daily Blog

(3678)

At Matthew’s request, Carlin made the tour of the network morning shows to answer questions about the tragedy on behalf of the corporation.

Wearing a black fedora and a black t-shirt with red lettering which read “Romans 5:20,” he went from one station to another, answering two repetitive questions: (1) What does Romans 5:20 signify? and (2) What does this massacre mean for the movement going forward?

Carlin, having realized that this was going to be the thrust of the inquiries, had prepared his answers well. As to the first probe, he explained that Romans 5:20 was from the Bible, and that it stated that “where sin doth abound, grace doth much more abound.”

This perfectly led him into the second answer. What was going to happen to the movement? “Since it was a movement, it would move–and the choice was to move forward.

While Carlin took care of the public relations side, Soos “hit the ground loving.” She had not joined the others on the plane to Las Vegas, but stayed in Salisbury, donating her blood, talking to the victims, passing out food and doing her best to console those souls God sent her way.

Simultaneously, up in Baltimore, Mother Rolinda, was working with ten young women who aspired to the priesthood. She popped into the motor home that had been purchased as a gift by Matthew for her work, took the ten young women with her and headed to Salisbury. She figured there was no better way to learn the ministry than by ministering.

Jo-Jay, stuck in the middle of a nonsensical investigation of evil-doing in Washington, D. C., climbed into her BMW and headed south. By evening time, Rolinda, Soos and Jo-Jay were linked up and spreading as much tenderness and kindness in the community as their bodies would allow.

Meanwhile, back in Las Vegas, Matthew and Jubal were trying desperately to avoid each other. They had always been a little intimidated by each other, but now there was not much to say or much that they agreed upon. Matthew was ready to move forward and Jubal was stalled in a mental traffic jam. How could he go on? The death toll left him vacant of spirit.

Over the next four days, funeral after funeral and tribute after tribute, meshed together into a massive requiem for the lost angels of Salisbury. Condolences, prayers and money rolled in.

Yes, Jo-Jay, realizing that the families would need finance, had started a fund for them, which, within twenty-four hours, had accumulated thirty-one million dollars.

But Soos felt there was more to be done. She was sitting and sharing this with Rolinda when all at once, she stood up, left the room, and headed off to City Hall. She formulated her plan en route. It was really quite simple. She asked the mayor to give permission for a local park to be set aside as a memorial to those who had been stolen by the violence. She envisioned an open sanctuary, where people could come from all over the country and commune with one another for a day or two, express their frustrations and in doing so, maybe discover hope for tomorrow.

Salisbury had a new mayor–a women who was immediately touched by the idea, and in no time at all, squeezed out approval from the city council.

With Matthew’s permission, Soos purchased a hundred high quality tents which slept eight people, and six motor homes.

She called it the “Camp of Remembrance.”

When Carlin got wind of the idea he realized it was not only a great spiritual possibility, but a boon for the promotion. He scheduled himself onto more talk shows, spreading the vision for the “Camp of Remembrance.” In no time at all, people from all over the country made their way to Salisbury, North Carolina–rich, poor, all sorts of colorations and faiths.

Some stipulations were established: no cars within ten miles of the camp so as not to block traffic. No media, cameras, videos or promotion allowed. And a suggestion that people wear their simplest garb. This was further accentuated when Chaneilson, the famous world-wide model, arrived in jeans, t-shirt and no makeup. She stayed for a week–feeding the hungry, playing with the children and sitting and listening to nighttime conversations by the fireside.

The Camp of Remembrance quickly became a conduit for healing. People talked to each other. Cell phones were not prohibited, but generally speaking, were pocketed, as folks made eye contact and connected with one other.

Musicians, ministers and even the hip hop rapper, Secession, came, sharing his heart and giving a new name to the whole adventure.

One night, as a group sat around a blazing fire, he suggested the town should be reclaimed and declared to be “Soulsbury,” where souls could come and bury their fear and prejudice.

The name immediately gained the approval of the nation. Still–no Jubal. No Matthew. And no idea whatsoever of what would become of the rallies.

About three weeks after the tragedy, in the little town of Sunbury, Ohio, a rally was held in the middle of the small town square, with five hundred attendees. There was no professional band with drums and horns and guitars, but they did their best. The high school band appeared, some local singers sang, some nearby farmers provided cider, and hamburgers were cooked on a plethora of grills. The rally was not nearly as polished, and perhaps not nearly as exciting, but it was real, and belonged to the community.

Soon other towns all across the nation were following the example of Sunbury. Churches opened up their doors and allowed people to come in for prayer, discussion and faith-building, using the example of the miracle that was happening in Soulsbury.

After a month and a half, there were nearly two thousand people who had moved to the Camp of Remembrance, to find themselves, their hearts, and to try to believe in their dreams once again.

In the little community, crime disappeared, guns were holstered and differences were discussed instead of ripping at the fabric of peace.

Soos became a permanent part of the tent city. When the tents Matthew provided were filled, other people brought more tents and other sleeping quarters. Rolinda and the sisters worked very hard to maintain a clean and orderly grounds.

It became such a scene of tranquility that the Vice President of the United States paid a visit–and when his motorcade was stopped ten miles from the city, he was driven in a small van by the local police to the location. He made a decision to spend the night and listen to the congregated share their hearts by the fire. The Secret Service was incensed, and might have won the day except that the Vice President insisted that he be afforded the chance to take on the whole experience of the Camp of Remembrance.

What had begun as a series of pep rallies for Jesus across the nation and world had now settled in to a thoughtful consideration of what it really meant to believe.

The movement was changing. Jubal was still nowhere to be found. Matthew was hiding in Las Vegas.

But the heart of the people was in Soulsbury.Donate Button

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Catchy (Sitting 48) Suite 1002… May 13th, 2018


Jonathots Daily Blog

(3671)

 

Jubal humbly requested that conversation be held to a minimum on the flight back to Vegas. It seemed agonizing to make small talk, and any attempt to relive the moment of the catastrophe was too painful.

So when they deplaned and Matthew arrived with a bucket of questions, Jubal stayed just long enough to extend politeness, then excused himself to take a taxi back to his room at the casino. Suite 1002–just two doors down from the Promenade. His room was a little smaller, but no less elegant.

Jubal quickly put his key card into the door with frenetic energy. Entering the room, he slammed the door, and threw his bag on the bed as his eyes fell on the full decanter of cognac which was offered in his room as a courtesy. He had never used it.

He didn’t drink much. As a young man, he occasionally went out on the town, but found himself to be a testy drunk with a nasty disposition, and had to apologize to too many people the morning after a binge.

So long before he settled in to a marriage, he determined to keep alcohol for only cuts and bruises.

Sitting in his chair, he got his wallet and pulled out two pictures. One was a woman with long, gorgeous hair and a sparkling smile. It was his wife, Lydia. The other well-worn photo was of a little girl about ten years old, equally as vivacious as her mother–his daughter, Carissa. He laid them on the table and stared at them, as he had done many times before.

But tonight it was even more significant, and unfortunately, more agonizing.

Jubal, a struggling musician, had met Lydia in Troy, New York, trying to discover a way to make a living while progressing his career in percussion. There was never a question as to whether they were in love–perhaps not love at first sight, but more an understanding that they would take it slow to make it look authentic, even though in their hearts, they were both convinced that the search for a companion was over.

Within the year they were married, and the next year they had a daughter and named her Carissa. They joyously struggled–that’s how Lydia viewed it. Money was difficult to come by, but there was always that little surprise that came just at the right moment, which pulled them through another week, another month and eventually, another year.

Jubal tried to supplement his gigs by doing some telemarketing, but there were few commissions. His heart was in the drums, not in drumming up business.

Lydia, on the other hand, got herself on a fast track as a free-lance assistant to legislators in nearby Albany, the capital. She found the job through a fellow named Barclay. He insisted that she refer to him solely as “Barclay.” She never knew if it was his first or last name.

The money was helpful, the work was rewarding, but the relationship with Barclay was aggravating. Lydia shared with Jubal that Barclay was always just a little too close–a touch on her shoulder when simply pointing in the right direction would have sufficed. And standing next to her, he would periodically bump his hip into hers–just enough to be intimidating, but not enough for her to proffer an objection.

She was simultaneously overjoyed and miserable, keeping the misery to herself.

Then one Friday afternoon, Lydia’s mother, Cheryl, came into town from Florida for a surprise visit. Jubal, Carissa and Mom were waiting for Lydia to come home from work to begin an exciting weekend. An hour passed. Then two.

In the third hour, Jubal decided to make some phone calls. He discovered that Lydia had left Albany hours earlier. He was concerned. Yet Cheryl comforted him, saying she was sure it was “just traffic” or “something had come up.” It made sense. Friday afternoon was always a time for back-ups.

But as night set in, Jubal decided he needed to investigate the situation. He asked Mother Cheryl to take care of Carissa and said he would stay in contact.

As he came down the stairs from their simple, two-bedroom apartment, he noticed that Lydia’s car was in the parking lot. He peered around to see if she was anywhere in sight, but saw her nowhere. He headed over to the car. He was about to open it with his spare set of keys, when gazing into the back seat, he saw his lovely wife–his dear companion–lying face down, motionless.

He quickly opened the door, reached across the front seat and shook her gently. No response.

Instinct kicked in. He eased into the front seat, started the car and drove to the hospital. Ten minutes later she was declared dead on arrival.

It took two hours for the doctors to come out to talk to him. He decided not to call back to Cheryl, since the information he had contained no answers.

All at once, he was confronted by a doctor, with a policeman standing next to him. They both had questions. Some of the things they wanted to know Jubal could answer–but mostly the missing time from when Lydia left work to when he found her was a complete mystery.

The doctor explained that she had been sodomized and smothered to death. When Jubal heard those words, his knees buckled. He grabbed a nearby chair to keep from falling over. He barely comprehended when the policeman asked him his whereabouts, unaware of how fortunate he was that Lydia’s mom afforded him an alibi which, as it ended up, he needed.

Jubal made his way back to his apartment, where he had the painful duty of telling his daughter and mother-in-law that Lydia was gone.

It was a full two days later when some of the story line began to come together. It became evident that the last person Lydia saw was Barclay. To Jubal’s horror, Barclay painted a picture to the police that he and Lydia were involved in a romantic tryst, and that he had broken it off that Friday afternoon. He said that she was so distressed she threatened harm to herself.

The funeral was held the following afternoon. At no point did any of the ceremony, the prayers or the well-wishing seem real to Jubal.

Matter of fact, he barely noticed when a young woman from the church came to Carissa’s side to comfort the little girl. Carissa was weeping. The woman said, “Don’t cry, my dear. You will see your Mama soon.”

When Carissa heard this, the tears stopped immediately. She asked, “When? When will I see Mama?”

The lady responded, “Your Mama is in heaven waiting for you. She is with Jesus. They can hardly wait to see you.”

Carissa was comforted by the counsel.

That night Jubal’s beautiful daughter opened up, began to talk and ate a little dinner. After a dessert of ice cream with chocolate sauce, she said to her daddy, “I’m sleepy. Can I go to bed?”

He hugged her and held her just a little longer than usual. He couldn’t fight back the tears. He released her and said, “I love you, my sweet.”

She gave him another hug around the neck and scurried off to her room. Jubal made his way to his own bed, and spent a tormented night, his dreams offering sweet memories of love-making and nightmares full of the terror of his loss.

In the morning, he went in to see his little girl, to take her into the breakfast nook for pancakes. It seemed she was a little sleepy-head.

He came over to the bed to tickle her, but she did not respond. He took her pulse. He put his head down to listen for her heart, but her skin was cold and bluish-gray.

Carissa was gone.

Next to her, on the night stand, was an empty vial of pills, and a mostly consumed glass of milk. The prescription was for Oxycontin, which Jubal had used for a back injury. Carissa had swallowed them all.

There was a note written on yellow construction paper with blue crayon. It read, “I love you, Daddy. But I went to see Mommy.”

Jubal gazed around the room, looking for a knife so he could jab it into his heart, to end the pain.

Cheryl walked in and immediately assessed the situation. She grabbed him around the arms, sensing that he was in danger of doing harm to himself.

He shook her off and went to his room, put on his clothes and drove to Albany. He was looking for Barclay.

After a half a dozen inquiries, he discovered that the man’s name was Barclay Faxwell, and that he was at a retreat in the Poconos.

Getting all the information he could, Jubal climbed into his car and drove to the mountains. Part of him felt he should be back at home with his dead daughter and mother-in-law, but he realized there was a more important job for him to do.

Arriving at the convention center, with the hills in the background, Barclay Faxwell was pointed out to him. Jubal followed him all day long. Since they had never met, Faxwell was unaware of his presence. It was a long day, but eventually Barclay made his way to his room. Jubal trailed.

Before Mr. Faxwell could enter his accommodations, Jubal grabbed him from behind. Barclay was a big man, but mostly in girth rather than muscle. Jubal put a knife to his throat–one he had procured off of a serving tray in the hallway.

Silencing him, he walked Barclay to his car, forced him into the trunk, slammed it and drove deep into the Poconos.

After about a half an hour of driving, he stopped his car and set aside the knife. To Jubal, this was personal. He wanted to hurt this monster. He didn’t want him to get off easy. Of course, Jubal had no evidence that Barclay had anything to do with his wife’s death, but he did know the man was a liar. Lydia would never have been unfaithful–not because Jubal was such a special husband, but because she was such a special person.

He removed Barclay from the trunk and walked him half a mile into the wilderness. All of a sudden, he stopped. When Barclay tried to turn around to find out what was going on, Jubal began to pummel him with all of his anger, hatred, remorse, pain and misery. Barclay fought back but he was no match for an enraged drummer.

All at once, the rotund man grabbed his heart and crumpled to his knees. He tumbled to the ground like a giant oak.

Jubal stood for a moment, panting, wondering what in the hell was going on. When Barclay didn’t move, Jubal slowly inched over and checked his pulse. The son-of-a-bitch was dead.

Jubal perched on Barclay’s back, wondering what to do next. He realized he couldn’t report the incident without risking prison, so he scouted the terrain and found a small cave in the side of the rocks. It was about fifty yards away. Using his remaining fury, he drug the fat man to the entrance and stuffed him as deep into the cave as possible so that there would be no visible sign of Barclay to anyone passing by.

Jubal stepped out of the cave and looked in every direction. Not a soul.

Barclay would either rot in peace–or be groceries for several weeks for a big black bear.

Jubal made his way back to his car. He realized there was no reason to return to Troy. Cheryl could bury the little girl.

Barclay’s wallet had fallen out during the struggle. It was full of cash–eight hundred dollars. So Jubal, with eight hundred dollars, climbed into his car and set out to run from the nightmare which was now his life.

He pointed his car west. At first, the thought of going to Los Angeles seemed divinely inspired. Yet Las Vegas seemed a better choice. Certainly the casinos would need some sort of musician who knew how to keep a beat.

He drove day and night, subsisting on pure fury. He wrestled with his own insanity.

He arrived in Vegas, immediately took on some work, and never told his story to anyone. Rather than losing his faith over losing all he had, he gained his faith and was given a new life.

So on this night, with the tragedy of Salisbury filling his mind with rage, his history beckoned a recalling. It still hurt.

Suite 1002 was filled with sobs and tears.

After an hour, Jubal picked up the decanter of cognac and poured a shot into a glass. He walked over to his bed and lightly sprinkled the covers with the cognac.

He had no intention of defiling the memories of his loved ones by becoming intoxicated. But maybe, while he slept, the fragrance of the cognac would allow him to dream that he was drunk–and the pain was gone.

 

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Catchy (Sitting 45) Preyor … April 22nd, 2018


Jonathots Daily Blog

(3650)

Matthew was pissed off, even more than his normal level of perpetual pissed.

He loved Las Vegas, but more the seedy side than the commercial side. So every once in a while, one of the large casinos would bring in some new pop star who was breaking records on the charts, out-doing the last new pop star who had outdone her predecessor.

The latest one was named “Loozeal.” She was all of seventeen years old, with more attitude than talent, but the young humans loved her–especially the girls.

Las Vegas was infested with females who had women’s bodies and child’s minds. It was annoying on so many fronts that Matthew tried to avoid the strip, hanging out in his room, drinking and experimenting with delicacies yet untried from the well-traveled room service menu.

But on Saturday night, he had a meeting at one of the casinos, so he was forced to drive into the middle of the melee known as the “Loozeal Appeal.”

Kids were everywhere.

Matthew hated children. Even though most grownups were childish, at least they occasionally made the effort to think about something other than their cell phone and own desires. He planned his meeting to get into town and out of town before the crazed hordes of little girls headed for the concert.

There was the smell of youth in the air. He despised it–a blending of cheap perfume, bubble-gum and just a hint of halitosis. Yuk. Gone was the true sniff of Las Vegas–fishy-smelling buffets with that whiff of urine and whiskey in the aroma.

He decided to take a short-cut. It was twilight, and he turned down an alley which was familiar to him–a way he escaped the strip without encountering so many tourists. He pressed on the gas pedal to zoom to safety.

About halfway down the narrow thoroughfare, he saw a huge garbage dumpster, and just as he was upon it–about to pass it–a young girl stepped out from behind it. He smacked her with his car, throwing her into the air. She landed on the hood, cracking his windshield.

Every kind of horror he’d ever experienced in his life descended on his soul as he realized what he had done. She lay bleeding, her face pressed onto his windshield.

For a brief second he thought about trying to escape. After all, that’s what he did best. When things became too difficult or uncomfortable, Matthew always became an emotional Houdini, disappearing at will.

His thoughts were brief, but long enough that he was ashamed of himself as he grabbed his phone and dialed 911. It took about four minutes for help to arrive, but it seemed like an hour. The girl was motionless. He was afraid to reach across the windshield to take her pulse, assist in any way, or even to move her. So he just stared at her face, which was gashed and bloody.

The EMT’s arrived and carefully removed her from the hood as the police began to take his statement. Matthew was so incoherent that they decided to take a breathalyzer, and even though he had taken one drink at his meeting, he was still well beneath the intoxicated number.

Matthew answered questions for what seemed like a solid hour as the girl was hurried away to the local hospital. His car was impounded as evidence, and Matthew was checked over by the EMT’s, to make sure he was sound.

The police reassured him that it seemed to be an accident, but told him to stay close in case they required additional input.

It was surreal.

All of a sudden he was standing alone in the alley, staring down at a tiny puddle of blood which had not yet congealed.

He walked back up to the strip, hailed a taxi and asked the driver what hospital was nearest to them. He asked him to take him there.

Arriving at the emergency parking lot, Matthew got out, paid the man and then stepped inside. He knew nothing at all about the girl, so he questioned the lady at the emergency room desk. She recalled the young lady coming through, but refused to give Matthew any information since he was not related to the patient.

Glancing down at her computer, Matthew saw that the young woman had been taken to surgery on the fourth floor. He made his way there–to the surgical waiting room, and charmed the nurse at the desk. He said he had witnessed the accident, and wanted to make sure the girl was going to be fine and would she keep him updated on the details?

Matthew sat for hours. Every once in a while he dozed off, then shook himself back to attention, ashamed that sleep would try to relieve his guilt.

What in the hell was she doing in that alley?

What in the hell was he doing in that alley?

Why was he driving so fast?

He realized he would never be able to say he was driving fast again, lest he be charged with reckless endangerment.

He looked at his watch and saw that three hours had elapsed. Simultaneously, a doctor came out of the operating room and whispered to the nurse. She motioned to Matthew to come over. The doctor apparently assumed that Matthew was a member of the family, and spoke to him.

“How are you related to Carrissa?”

Matthew paused for just a moment, then said, “I’m her uncle.”

The surgeon nodded his head. “So are you Mr. Jones?”

Matthew wasn’t sure if the surgeon was testing him or tricking him, but quickly responded, “Yes. Matthew Jones.”

The surgeon awkwardly shook his hand and said, “Well, Mr. Jones, here’s the situation. Carrissa has numerous broken bones, but that is secondary to the fact that being tossed in the air and landing on the windshield has given her severe brain trauma. We’ve drilled a hole in her skull to relieve the pressure, but she’s presently in a coma. And before you ask, I don’t know how long she’ll be in that state, or if she’ll ever recover. But I can tell you that the next 48 hours will speak volumes. If you have any other questions, my name is Dr. Zendquist.”

Matthew nodded his head and patted the surgeon on the shoulder. “Thank you for all you’ve done,” he said, his voice choking with tears.

Matthew got the room number for Carrissa, and headed down the hall, arriving at the door of 313. The room was still. Encircled by a curtain was a hospital bed. Matthew looked right and left, then pulled back the curtain. Lying on the bed was a damaged young girl, who looked even smaller than she had appeared sprawled on his windshield. She was covered in gauze and bandages, tubes coming out of her arms, legs and nose, and a ventilator nearby was noisily inhaling and exhaling her life. It was so ugly.

Realizing he was still alone, with no one anywhere in earshot, Matthew did something he had not done since he was a boy.

He prayed.

Not a polite prayer. Not a memorized one from a book of religious order. No.

One from his heart.

“God. The God of Jubal, Soos, Jo-Jay and Jesus. This is just screwed. I need your help. This girl needs your help. Please do something.”

Matthew left the room, stopping off at the nurses station to establish his “uncle” routine, and discovered that Carrissa Jones was from Iowa, and that her parents had been contacted, but wouldn’t be there until the next day.

Out of the clear blue sky, Matthew asked if he could stay in the room with Carrissa until they arrived.

“All night?” asked the nurse.

“If you wouldn’t mind,” Matthew replied.

She provided a small cot, blankets and a pillow. Matthew settled himself in for a vigil, waiting to see what his prayer would summon.

He stayed awake for a long time, taking the opportunity to examine life. What had brought him to this silent room, watching over a very damaged little girl?

He realized he wasn’t technically at fault. At the scene the police had surmised that Carrissa had come to the trash dumpster behind the casino where her pop idol had performed, hoping to find cups, discarded posters or anything that she could take as a souvenir of her time in Vegas, seeing Loozeal. It was a bizarre series of events ending in a tragedy.

About four o’clock in the morning, Matthew, having dozed off, was awakened by the arrival of nurses and a doctor. He was sent out of the room as these agents of mercy tried to revive Carrissa, who had gone into heart failure.

After ten or fifteen minutes, they came out of the room, a couple of them in tears. The doctor took Matthew’s hands and said, “She’s gone.”

He patted Matthew on the shoulder and said, “I know this is hard to understand, but maybe it’s better this way.”

As they walked away, he stared at the lifeless body of a little girl who just wanted a souvenir.

Maybe it’s better this way?

He turned and ran down the hallway, startling the staff, jumped into the open elevator, down to the main lobby and out the door, not stopping for a second to speak to anyone. He ran into the street and hailed a cab.

He took the cab back to his lodging, raced to his room, slammed the door, turned out the lights and whispered across the dark room, “Fucking shit. My prayer killed her.”

He turned on the light next to his bed, grabbed a bottle of Jack Daniels he kept nearby, and guzzled until he passed out.

The next morning, he awoke to a knock at his door. He thought he was dreaming, still under the influence of his old friend, Jack. The knocking persisted, so he struggled to his feet, stumbled to the door and opened it.

Standing before him was a well-dressed man in his early forties, his face exuding neither joy nor displeasure. He reached out to stabilize Matthew, who was wobbling.

“You must be Matthew Ransley,” he said matter-of-factly.

Matthew suddenly was engulfed by the memories of the previous day’s horror.

“I would give anything not to be,” he replied.

The gentleman helped Matthew walk back into the room and find a seat on the bed.

“My name is Carlin Canaby,” he said. “And you are in trouble.”

“What do you mean?” asked Matthew.

Carlin sat down on the bed next to him, put his arm around his shoulder and said, “You killed a girl with your car. And even though it wasn’t your fault, your life is so screwed up that it wouldn’t take an attorney much effort at all to prove that you’re responsible.”

“I am responsible,” said Matthew.

“Hush,” said Carlin. “Don’t be talking that way. You do your confessing to God. But you and I need to work on your story.”

Matthew leaned back and took another look at the stranger, disconcerted. “Who are you again?”

“I’m Carlin Canaby. I’m head of an organization called ‘Liary.’”

Liary?” questioned Matthew.

“Yes,” said Carlin. “Let’s take it one step at a time.”

“Are you an attorney?” inquired Matthew.

“Hell, no,” said Carlin. “I’m a consultant.”

Matthew struggled to his feet and walked to the other side of the room. “A consultant? I don’t think I need a consultant. I need an attorney.”

Carlin stood up and came over to Matthew’s side. “You will require an attorney, but you need to consult with someone before you ever go to one.”

“Do I know you?” asked Matthew.

“No,” answered Carlin. “I was sent here by a friend. And before you ask, I’ll tell you about the friend later. What I want to know is what you think about the accident.”

Matthew sank to his knees and said, “I killed a young girl. Twice. Once with my car, and the second time, with my prayer.”

 

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