Catchy (Sitting 66) Please Remain Seated Until the Airplane Comes to a Halt… September 16th, 2018

Jonathots Daily Blog

(3797)

Never had Matthew been so overjoyed to get to the company jet. He was exhausted.

Yet he was not plagued by the usual nagging doubts that accompanied such fatigue. Something had truly happened back at Milton’s house.

He refused to be one of those arrogant agnostics who, when confronted with the obvious power of faith, decide to turn to stone, bouncing testimonies off of hardened hearts.

What happened to him had nothing to do with Milton–or Jesus Christ, for that matter. It had erupted from inside his own being–a cry he had stifled for years and drenched in a baptism of alcohol.

Milton had succeeded in “undaming” Matthew’s own personal damnation. Once that was accomplished, the waters flowed. Matthew had no idea what any of it meant, but knew when the jet arrived in Las Vegas, he would need to do some soul cleaning, which would include his house.

But now all he wanted to do was sleep.

The jet had a lovely lounge area with four huge leather chairs which eased back to make wonderful surfaces for slumber. He asked the pilot if he had a small sleeping aid, to help him tone down of his jumpiness and hysteria. It was a bit unnerving that the pilot offered such a pill to Matthew.

Matthew inserted jokingly, as he popped the sleep aid into his mouth, “Now, it’s just me taking one of these, right?”

The pilot smiled politely, obviously having heard the joke many times before.

Taking a big gulp of tonic water–his new replacement for whiskey–he swallowed the pill, and before the plane taxied off the runway, he was gone. There were no dreams, just a blissful, cloudy darkness.

Matter of fact, Matthew didn’t move a single muscle until he slowly awoke, realizing that the plane had stopped. There was a presence in the lounge with him.

He opened his left eye by itself (which he was unaware he was able to do). In the blur of sleepiness, he saw the shadow of a person sitting across from him. He gradually teased the other eyeball to join the sight.

Without moving his head or flicking a muscle, he quietly intoned, “Is this heaven? Because I would swear that you look exactly like Michael Hinston.”

The “apparition” calmly replied, “Well, if it’s heaven that’ll be up to you, but I not only am stuck looking like Michael Hinston, I also am forced by birth to be him.”

Matthew jerked to attention, turned, and stared at his old friend. “I was pretty certain you were dead. Are you such a good politician that you found a way to cheat death?”

Michael laughed. “No, Matthew. There’s a lot to tell you. And they sent me aboard this plane so you wouldn’t be overwhelmed.”

This made Matthew burst into laughter. “Oh, I see,” he said. “Somebody coming back from the dead was supposed to be a calming influence.”

Michael stood to his feet, stepped over and gave his friend a hug. “Well,” he answered, “in the scheme of things that may be true.”

Matthew took a deep breath. “Well, I guess I should ask you how you survived not breathing.”

“The only way I know how to do that,” replied Michael, “is to escape not dying.”

Matthew just stared at him, perplexed.

“Let me give you the short version,” said Michael. “Maybe later on we can go into more detail. I was actually in the hospital, being prepared for surgery, when they discovered the pending indictments against me in Washington, D.C. A man walked into my room–you’ll meet him later–and explained my situation. He told me that I could give a piece of my liver to you, recuperate in the hospital and end up in a struggle over my Washington, D.C. indiscretions for the next five years until all of my credibility and the legacy of my life with my children was drug through the mud and hung up for everyone to see. Or…”

Michael paused.

Matthew jumped in. “You’re stopping the story now? Are you kidding me? Or what?”

“Or,” Michael continued, “I could come here. Fake my own death and continue my life, free of the obstruction and the criticism of those who were interested in bringing down the Jesonian movement.”

Matthew craned his neck and winced. “You can tell I’ve really been out of the cycle. I didn’t know we called it that.”

“It needed a name,” said Michael, “or it was going to become an orphan.”

Matthew, being an old advertising warhorse, nodded. After all, it was not nearly as important that gelatin taste good as it was for it to be forever referred to as Jello.

The two men sat for a moment, allowing the information to settle like dust in a storm.

Finally Matthew asked, “So how does one fake one’s death?”

“Well,” said Michael, “when they took the piece of liver from me for your recovery, they went ahead and removed my appendix, which gave them my DNA. They replicated that in a laboratory here on the grounds, and placed it in a cloned body, which ended up easily fooling the Las Vegas coroner.”

Matthew squinted. “So they made a clone of you, from your appendix, that was so good that they fooled the medical examiner?”

He sighed. “Is this going to get weirder?”

Michael thought for a moment. “No…but similar.”

Matthew reached over and downed the remaining tonic water. “Let’s start with where I am. Or is this Vegas?”

Michael shook his head. “No. This is not Vegas. This is… Well, there’s someone else here that wants to see you. I’m going to let her continue.”

Matthew turned his head to look behind him. It was Jo-Jay. He gasped.

He wasn’t just surprised to see her, but also to see her looking so well. The last time he had eyeballed her in Las Vegas, her countenance was ashen. But there she was–beautiful Jo-Jay–living and breathing.

She leaned down and hugged him, holding it for a long moment. Matthew began crying again, just like he had at Milton’s house. He was tired of holding it back. Hell, he was glad to see his friend.

But he was also growing impatient with being in the dark. Jo-Jay, as always, sensed his mood. She sat down in the leather chair across from him, took his hands and said, “You are sitting on the tarmac of a place called The Haven on the Mount. The description would be much too difficult, but let me just say that our benefactor bought four connecting mountains in the state of Montana, hollowed out the center and has constructed a small city. It’s on nobody’s radar. No GPS. No one knows it’s here. And I was allowed to come and be the beneficiary of research that is being conducted, which is in the final stages of finding a cure for cancer. I volunteered to be a guinea pig, and have been cancer free for thirty days. Not only cancer free, but rejuvenated–like I haven’t felt since I was nineteen years old.”

Jo-Jay burst into tears–not broken, but tears of gratitude for being given such an opportunity.

Then there was a third voice–another visitor.

“I guess that’s my cue.”

It was an older gentleman. He made his way into the compartment, holding out his hand. Matthew shook it, and the man sat down in another of the comfortable leather chairs. He was wearing a suit which had once been in style, and remained fashionable because it was so well-tailored. He carried a cane. He settled in and began.

“Mr. Ransley… May I call you Matthew?”

Matthew nodded.

“My name is Arthur Harts.”

Matthew laughed. “That’s odd. I once knew a billionaire who became my client after he died who had that very same name.”

The whole group joined in with a large chuckle.

Arthur continued. “You see, we had some experience with faking deaths because we had already done mine.”

“That’s right,” said Matthew. “I was there for your funeral. I thought it might help me get the money if I walked past your casket. You sure looked dead.”

Mr. Harts cleared his throat. “My scientists do wonders with cadavers.”

“Wow,” said Matthew. “I don’t even know what to say to that.”

“Let me explain it this way,” said the billionaire. “I was tired of being rich and not being able to make a difference. You see, as long as I was alive I was a business man–not taken seriously for anything else–and I was done with business. I was ready to try to make the world run more like Eden instead of doing its best impression of Hell.”

He took a breath. “So I decided to die. I found a place–this place–and I took my fortune, enjoyed some fruits for myself, but gave the abundance of the orchard into the hands of younger folks like you, who had a hunger and thirst to see the world become a more righteous place. Mr. Ransley–excuse me, Matthew–can I tell you? You have done an amazing job.”

Matthew was touched, befuddled and angry, all at the same time. Harts looked at him and continued.

“I built this complex–a city with about 20.000 people, and called it ‘Haven on the Mount.’ A place for researchers, scientists, musicians, artists, inventors and even prayer warriors, could come, free of harm, and work on one goal. It was the dream of Jesus–that God’s will be done on Earth as it is in heaven.”

Michael nodded his head. Jo-Jay welled up with tears. But Matthew cut to the chase.

“So why am I here today?” he asked.

“Well,” said Arthur, “you are here because you’ve done an outstanding job, as I said, and because you have found some peace in your own soul. At least, that’s what Brother Milton told me.”

Matthew leaned in. “You know Milton?”

“And he, me,” replied Arthur.

“So you know about our meeting yesterday?” Matthew inquired slowly.

Jo-Jay burst in joyfully. “We’re so happy for you, Matthew. You fought the good fight of faithlessness. Now, I guess the message for you is, you’re being given a chance to enter the joy of the Lord.”

Matthew leaned back in his chair, his eyes moving from one person to another, seeking sanity.

Harts laughed. “You are such a precious boy. I knew you would have doubts about this. We welcome those doubts here. Without doubts we would never have built this sanctuary for progress. It wasn’t constructed on faith–it was formed from our doubt.”

His eyes glinted. “We doubted the human race could survive much longer, wallowing in nothing but ignorance. We doubted our ability to change anything. We doubted that four mountains could be hollowed out to make living quarters for twenty thousand people to generate the electricity of renaissance. We’ve doubted every single thing, every step of the way.”

Matthew sat up in his chair. “But what about Jubal? Jasper? Sister Rolinda? And Soos?”

As he mentioned the last name, he glanced over at Jo-Jay.

Michael spoke up. “Matt–they are where they’re supposed to be. The world needs them right out there in the middle of the pot, making soup. Nothing could have happened without those four souls. If you remove them, perhaps nothing new will ever happen again.”

Matthew lightly smacked his head. “I almost forgot–Carlin. Where’s he?”

Jo-Jay giggled. “Oh, Carlin’s here. You see, Carlin is Mr. Harts’ grandson. He was…how shall I put it? He was this movement’s Paul of Tarsus…”

Michael interrupted. “I guess at that point, it would have been Saul of Tarsus…”

Matthew held up a hand. “You’re talkin’ Bible. I’m lost.”

Arthur patted Matthew’s knee. “Don’t worry about it, Matthew. God called Paul because the early church had begun to stagnate, and Paul came along to take the message outside the city of Jerusalem, venturing into the whole world. My grandson has a great ability to change the curtains in a room from blue to red without you ever seeing that he’s messed with the rods…”

Matthew nodded his head. “Damn. That’s a good description of Carlin. So he’s your grandson?”

“I have two grandchildren,” said Arthur. Matthew nodded, expecting to see pictures. But instead, stepping into the lounge was Leonora.

Matthew couldn’t breathe. His mind tried to gather fragments–thoughts that might provide some explanation. He stared, wide-eyed, as if struck by a bolt of lightning.

Leonora stepped up to him, bent down and tenderly kissed him on the lips. “I am Mr. Harts’ granddaughter. What I’m about to say will be confrusing at first, so listen all the way through.”

Matthew could only nod.

She continued. “I’m in charge of the Music Conservatory here. My grandpa asked me if I would go to Las Vegas to try to save your soul…”

“What the hell?” Matthew interrupted, in total disbelief. “You are the biggest, fat–well, not fattest–but largest atheist I’ve ever met.”

Jo-Jay stepped in and said, “They knew that if someone started attacking the work you had done in making Jesus popular again, you would defend it.”

Leonora continued. “That’s right. If I had tried to preach to you, you’d have run to the desert. You probably would have drunk yourself to death. But I was such an obnoxious disbeliever that it made you find the gold in your own movement.”

“Fuck,” said Matthew. “And I mean that as a prayer. You’re absolutely right–and I hate you for it. But you are right. So it was an act? Sleeping with me? Standing on our heads licking each other–that was all just a plan to get me to sign on the dotted line?”

Leonora moved forward and put her arms around his neck, kissing him. “No. Never. I never intended to fall in love with you. Just be an irritant to your spirit. But I did.”

“You did what?” asked Matthew, pulling away. “Are you saying you fell in love with me?”

He pushed Leonora away and looked her in the face. “You left me in agony–not knowing where you were–and that’s your way of expressing love?”

Harts interrupted. “What Leonora was trying to do…”

Matthew pointed a finger at the billionaire. “Shut the hell up, old man! This is between me and her.”

Matthew looked at her with hurt eyes. “If this whole damn setup here is just a plan to manipulate people’s lives, then God damn you all. Here’s what I tell you–I’d rather have a world filled with explosions, evil and demons than see goody-goody folks like you trying to control everybody by promoting a puppet empire of Jesus freaks.”

Arthur, not at all offended, clapped his hands slowly. “There you have it, Matthew. There’s the problem. When are we interfacing, interacting, and when are we interfering? It’s hard to know. That’s why we need you. You won’t let us become goody-goody puppet masters.”

Leonora couldn’t remain quiet any longer. “I don’t know where this is going to go. I’m not prepared to give up on us. If you stay, I will answer all your questions, and learn from your doubts. If you go, I will have to go with you.”

The billionaire sat up and said sharply, “I can’t let you do that, Leonora. I can only guarantee your safety here.”

She turned to her grandfather and said, “What part of ‘I love you, Matthew’ do you not understand? I already walked away from him once because you asked me to. I won’t do it again.”

Suddenly the room was still. No one moved. No one spoke. Everyone was waiting for Matthew to assimilate all the data. Arthur tried to speak, but stopped, realizing that it was ill-conceived.

Leonora held Matthew’s hands, looking into his eyes. Jo-Jay cuddled up next to Michael and closed her eyes in prayer.

At length Matthew spoke.

“Well, I never make a habit of landing somewhere without taking in a few tourist attractions. Is there a tour? And if there is, I demand a golf cart.”

 

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Catchy (Sitting 61) M, Leo and the First Meeting…August 11th, 2018

Jonathots Daily Blog

(3762)

Grateful he was.

Matthew sat quietly in his overstuffed and overpriced first-class seat on the midnight flight from Washington, D.C. to Las Vegas.

The plane was dark. It was quiet. Most of the passengers had taken their tiny element of a sleeping pill and disappeared into slumber.

That was also true of Leonora, who quickly explained that she was exhausted from the audition and needed to get some solid airplane z’s on the trip because she had a meeting the next morning with the symphony coalition, to discuss health benefits.

Her excuse, like every performance in her life, was well-rehearsed and inadequately presented.

As Matthew had gotten to know her, he liked her less and less, and so found himself burying his interest and passions into their sexual adventure.

She was opinionated. Matthew had always viewed himself as open-minded–easy to get along with–but in her presence felt defensive. He hated it when she insisted he start calling her “Leo,” because she viewed herself, in the realm of business, intellect and art, as a lioness.

“You are what you claim to be,” she mouthed.

Matthew nodded, quite certain that many claims were being made every day by mortals which made the heavens laugh.

What really troubled him was when she started calling him “M.”

Just the letter “M.”

When he asked her why she was doing that, she said, “I’m encouraging you to grow. You need to realize that you’re on a journey to fill out your name.”

Matthew didn’t know what the hell that meant, but was in no mood to have it explained further and end up with more dents in his body work. He was also afraid that if she started in trying to become his psychoanalyst, he would have to be more forthcoming and tell her that she was much less than she presumed.

Her oboe playing had never been great, but had become even less proficient as she started to complain about the fellow-members of her quintet and the unwillingness of the symphony conductor to listen to her suggestions on seating and tone.

She viewed Matthew as an ignoramus, even though he had spent many years enjoying classical music, and had a very good friend at the university who was an oboist. Matthew kept his mouth closed except when they were kissing.

It was especially difficult that day, when she met him at the airport, explaining that the audition was long, she had to wait, and then it turned out that she had some sort of microscopic, tiny split in her reed, which prohibited her from gaining the full height and depth of her range. She requested another time to audition but the committee refused. So she failed because they were inconsiderate.

Matthew listened to her rail for a solid hour–against the walls, the furniture, the paint and the chairs that surrounded her, blaming everything she possibly could for her setback–except for the fact that she was insufficient for the moment.

It was the strangest relationship of Matthew’s life. There was a deep-rooted part of him that loved her madly; an exotic jungle passion that nearly left him breathless. But as a human being, she had selected the portions of intelligence that she revered, while ignoring the virtues that make such knowledge applicable.

Matthew remained silent.

Sitting in the darkness of the airplane, glancing over at his sleeping lover, he began to cry. It actually turned into a tiny sob, which he hoped nobody else heard.

He was so embarrassed. He was ashamed–but also enraged, because here he was, with a defunct liver in his body, battling for his life, simultaneously apologizing for breathing.

How in the hell had it gotten so complicated? What was he going to do?

He reached into his pocket and pulled out his own remedy for insomnia–a tiny flask of a brandy which included a shot or two fo sherry. He downed the remainder of the contents and put his head back. Sleep still refused to come–so he cried.

Matthew finally dozed off, with tears streaming down his face.

*****

The following morning, in Washington, D.C., Soos decided to get started on her project.

She thought she had the easiest assignment of all. Michael Hinston, who had been a Congressman, wining and dining lobbyists who were salivating for his vote, now had a humble one-room efficiency at the YMCA. His marriage to the Lutheran minister had been annulled when she discovered all the trials and tribulations chasing him, threatening to destroy his life. She loved him, but she still wanted out.

So he was alone with his twin bed.

Soos called Michael and he agreed to meet with her at ten o’clock A.M., at a little diner he claimed had the best waffles and scrapple on the East Coast. Soos explained she had never eaten scrapple–avoiding it because the ingredients seemed to be the rear-end of every barnyard creature. But Michael said she would probably enjoy this batch.

Arriving at the diner, they found a booth in the back. They embraced–the kind of embrace that merged “old college friends” with some tenderness of man and woman, and a huge immersion in fellow-travelers of faith.

As Michael pulled away he had tears in his eyes.

“Why are you crying?” asked Soos.

Michael chuckled. “Because I can–and I am the luckiest man in the world to be able to cry this morning.”

Soos took the next ten minutes to explain to Michael what had transpired with the abduction and the request made to her–to contact him, the goal being some secret discovery about his involvement, which was beyond her comprehension.

“Well, since neither one of us know what it means, or have any idea of the significance, I think it’s good that we came to eat waffles,” said Michael.

And eat they did. Soos ended up actually enjoying the scrapple, though she thought it was a little salty.

They just talked. It was a conversation that would be difficult to explain to a stranger, so filled with tenderness that it would always be remembered as priceless.

“There was a time in my life,” Michael said, “when if you had told me that some organization or guy had chosen me for special attention, I would have assumed it was just great foresight on their part. I wasn’t just arrogant–I was religious about my arrogance. I actually believed that God wanted me to be the best father in the world. The best husband. The best extra-marital lover. The best Congressman. And of course, the best cheater in Washington, D.C. Sometimes when you’re going for the best you forget that it has to begin with good. You know–good, better, best?”

Soos smiled. She had always loved Michael because he was clever. Unfortunately, cleverness could have dangerous blow-back.

Michael continued. “I almost lost everything. Let me edit my own statement. I did lose everything–but I never actually had it. I just pretended. I pretended so hard that, honest to God, I could not imagine what was happening when my first wife left me for a Lesbian and my second wife left me because I was a criminal. Everybody leaves me.”

He grinned. “And I really can’t argue with them. They’ve got really good reasons.”

“So I don’t know why anybody would want me to do anything. I did fix the radiator in my room, so when winter comes I’ll be warm. That was pretty nifty.”

Michael paused.

“Will you talk to me about Matthew?” he asked. “I don’t think I ever loved a man as much as I love Matthew. I don’t think I ever told him that. I was afraid he would make fun of me.”

Soos giggled and spit out a little bit of her coffee. “He would have.”

Michael chuckled. They sat for a moment. Soos reached over and took his hand.

“He’s dying,” she said.

Michael lifted his head, shocked.

“Not quickly,” she explained. “But his liver is shot to hell, and gradually, he’s just poisoning himself. “And he has a new girlfriend that has the personality of a prickly pear.”

Michael laughed. “What you’re saying is that she is difficult to sit down on and talk to.”

For some reason, Soos found that statement hilarious. She laughed and snorted, gaining the attention of half the diner. A dirty look from the proprietor finally made her sober up.

“I don’t want to get you kicked out of your favorite diner,” she said.

Michael waved her off. “Forget about it. I waffle on my favorite diner.”

He smiled with the innocence of a ten-year-old boy. “What can I do for Matthew?”

Soos considered and then injected, “Got a black market liver in your pocket?”

Michael crinkled his brow. “No,” he said, “but I have a liver in my body.”

“Don’t you need that?” mocked Soos.

“Yeah, but not all of it. I could give him a piece of mine.”

Soos shook her head. “That’s ridiculous, Michael. Anyway, you probably wouldn’t be a match.”

“But what if I was?” queried Michael. “What if I held the key to Matthew’s life the way Jesus held the key for mine?”

Soos groaned, a little disgusted. “So now you think you’re a savior?”

“No,” said Michael. “That job is filled. It just seems like if you could save someone, why not go ahead and do it?”

A lightbulb went off in Soos’s head.

“Oh, my God,” she said. “Is it possible that your part in this, whatever…mission…is to help Matthew and bring him to Jesus?”

Michael teared up again. He took the final bite of waffle laying on his plate, seemingly deserted. He chewed, swallowed, and looked Soos in the eye.

“My dear sister,” he said slowly, “I can’t imagine a greater calling.”

 

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Catchy (Sitting 60) Debriefing…August 5th, 2018

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(3755)

Unable to get his head around Jo-Jay’s tales of abduction, Matthew made the decision to fly into Washington, D.C. and meet with five very confused but elated friends.

Each of them had purportedly encountered similar imprisonments, leaving them suffering from amnesia except for a very specific name, which each was intended to retain.

Matthew did not want to fly to Washington, D.C. by himself. Shortly before he received the phone call from Jo-Jay, the latest blood count numbers had come back from the doctor. They were not good. His liver was not repairing–actually getting worse.

This was probably due to the fact that Matthew was continuing to drink. When the doctor discovered that Matthew was not pursuing a tee-totaling lifestyle, he explained that it would soon be necessary to pursue a transplant–or Matthew would no longer be able to remain cynical, but rather, would be quite dead.

With that rattling around his brain, he did not want to be alone, so he asked Leonora to accompany him to Washington, D.C. She was completely unwilling–until he set up an audition for her as second oboist with the National Symphony. Even though Leonora hated not playing first–feeling that the classical masters chose the second oboe part to lose their inspiration, she still felt it was a good career move, and a good step for her in advancing her dreams. She agreed to travel along.

Yet she adamantly refused to attend the meeting with Matthew, Carlin, Jubal, Jasper, Soos and Jo-Jay, feeling she would be out of place, and that after the fiasco in the Las Vegas hotel suite, they might hold a grudge against her atheism.

Matthew assured her that they weren’t that type of people, and said she wouldn’t need to stay if she felt uncomfortable. To ensure she had autonomy, Leonora rented her own car upon arriving at the airport in Washington, D.C.

It was clear to Matthew that there were many roads of communication that needed to be opened in the days ahead if he was ever going to have this lovely woman as his partner.

The two Vegas souls arrived in time for brunch, which was beautifully set up at Jo-Jay’s house. It was light but delicious, tasty but small, and consumed in no time at all.

After a few moments of conversation, wherein all five Washingtonians exhausted all of their knowledge about oboes and double-reed instruments, Carlin spoke up.

“Matthew, we’ve asked you to come here because of a very strange set of events. Considering how this whole project has been tinged with the bizarre, isolating one thing as ‘strange’ might seem a little redundant…”

Soos broke in. “But honest to God, this one is strange. This is Twilight Zone freaky.”

Leonora furrowed her brow. Soos turned to her and said, “Do you know The Twilight Zone? You know–Rod Serling?”

Leonora neither acknowledged nor denied awareness. There was an uncomfortable moment while six people waited for one person to emote.

Jubal jumped in to fill the spot. “Well, it was. It was creepy. Let me summarize so I don’t bore anyone. All five of us…” He motioned his hand around the room.

“Yes, all five of us…Well, I guess I’ll use the word ‘abducted,’ though it wasn’t by aliens…'”

Jasper cut in, laughing. “Well, they were alien to me.”

Everybody nodded except Leonora, who was staring into her cup of tea.

Jo-Jay spoke up. “I’m not good at explaining things, but I have listened to everybody’s story, so let me summarize the details we have in common. Each of the five of us were taken against our will and flown by airplane to another location. We were given drugs which didn’t do any harm to us, but for some unusual reason, refreshed us. We were interrogated…”

Soos interrupted. “And this is where it gets different. For instance, I was interrogated by a woman in a clown suit.”

Carlin noted, “My guy was a fat Alfred Hitchcock-looking fellow wearing a ‘Casper the Friendly Ghost’ mask.”

“I was interviewed by a football player,” said Jubal, “with an unknown uniform–at least unknown to me–with a mask over his eyes.”

“Mine was a little kid,” injected Jasper.

“And that leaves me,” said Jo-Jay. “My interrogator was dressed as an angel. A very dark one, wearing a black hood. It was scary shit.”

A silence fell over the room which Leonora filled with a heavy sigh, shaking her head. Matthew realized he was losing the attention of the woman he loved–or at least lusted after. He thought about trying to include her, but decided it might be better to just hurry the meeting along so they could get out of there.

But before he could speed the conversation toward a conclusion, Leonora stood to her feet and said, “The food was delicious. I shall not stay for the stories. I have an audition in two hours, and I am going to go practice and prepare. I’m sure you understand.”

She turned on her heel, and without saying another word, walked out the door. Matthew wanted to follow her, afraid of the separation.

At that moment, Matthew hated all five people in the room, and counting the Father, Son and Holy Ghost–make it eight. He was extremely tired of the whole project. He was sick of being sick.

Carlin sensed his desperation. “We won’t hold you long, Matthew.”

He continued. “I was given a name. Terrence Eldridge. I have Googled him, studied and tried to get as much information as I could. Turns out he’s a fellow who has started a new movement in the black community, to escape what he considers to be the racist term, ‘African American.’ He wants to give his brothers and sisters their rightful place in this country. He wants to call them ‘Amerikin.’ From what I read, he is powerful, dynamic and completely unknown.”

Soos jumped in. “Believe it or not, the name given to me was Michael Hinston. You may not know it, but he was recently exonerated of all charges. He’s been given a clean bill of health by the Congressional investigating committee. His testimony before them was speckled with spirit and humility. He’s in a good place. For some reason, he is my mission.”

“Mine,” said Jubal, “is a guy named Milton Crenshaw, who lives in South Florida. That’s not the name I was given. I was given a word. ‘Jesonian.’ When I typed that word into Google, this fellow’s name came up–with a self-published book that seemed to have gone nowhere. So I assume I’m supposed to go talk to him and find out what he’s trying to communicate with his new word.”

Jasper laughed. “Well, of course, I was given the name of a comedian. Mickey Kohlberg. He’s a Jewish fellow who has taken it upon himself to take all the material of Jesus of Nazareth and rework it into a standup comedy routine, which he has entitled ‘Dying Laughing.’ So I’m off to see what he’s all about.”

Jo-Jay looked around the room. “Well, I guess that leaves me. I was given the word careless.’ Of course, dumb girl that I am, I thought it was the normal word, “careless,” but then I discovered there’s this consultant to the rich–a young man in his early thirties named Careless. His goal is to teach these very wealthy people how to redeem their sense of worth through giving–intelligently. I’m set up to meet with him next week.”

Matthew sat for a moment. Carlin started to speak, but Matthew interrupted.

“No, I don’t need to hear any more from you guys. You do understand, this just sounds like a crock of shit. The smartest thing I could do is run out the front door of Jo-Jay’s home and throw a hand grenade behind me and save the world a lot of trouble.”

“Now, I’m not much of a church boy, but I do remember that when the Apostle Paul was talking to a king one day, the monarch got done hearing him and said to the Apostle, ‘Too much learning has made you crazy.’ Do you see my point? You guys have gotten so involved–so convinced that you’re going to change the world–that you’ve just let your minds go nuts.”

Jo-Jay stood up indignantly. “You know me better than that, Matthew. You once called me the most level-headed person you had ever met. Not woman. Person. Sometimes, though, all the answers don’t fit into a bottle of booze.”

Carlin also stood to his feet and pulled Jo-Jay toward him. “That’s enough. We’re not here to hurt our friend…”

Matthew shook his head. “You’re not my friends. I could use some friends. Did you all even know that I have liver disease? Did you know that I need a transplant? That’s what they told me right before I came here. And if you did know, how much would you let that interrupt your lives as you try to save the world for Jesus?”

“Did you see that woman who left? I love that woman. At least I think so. If she weren’t so goddamn obnoxious, I’d tell her. But the way she is right now, she’d just use it against me. You guys don’t have an answer. She hates your guts.”

He shook his head. “I know what she’s going to do. She’s gonna ask me to make a choice. Am I going to be with her, or continue to be in this ridiculous adventure?”

“And what would you say?” Soos asked meekly.

Jubal countered. “Hush, Soos. That’s none of our business.”

Matthew stood and walked toward the door. He stopped short. “Jubal, you said a mouthful. It’s not your business. Not because I don’t care. Not because I don’t love you guys. But right now I need someone to love me more than they love Jesus. Do you fucking get that?”

Carlin nodded and said, “We do.”

“We do what?” asked Matthew.

Carlin smiled. “I’ll just leave it at that.”

Matthew craned his neck from side to side, relieving tension. “Listen,” he concluded. “I’m sorry. I’m not myself. It sounds like a great punch-line, but keep in mind–my liver is dying. And I’ve got a conversation waiting for me with a very angry, talented, intelligent, sexy woman. And I’m outgunned. I would ask you to pray for me if I believed those words would go any higher than the ceiling. So let me leave it like this–I’m gonna live through the next twenty-four hours. I’ll let you know how much damage was done.”

He turned, opened the door and was gone.

Five startled, loving, confused, bewildered, exasperated, terrified and worried people peered at one another, anxiously.

 

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

Jonathots Daily Blog

(3748)

Awake.

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

Being in an airplane.

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Days passed–at least Carlin thought so.

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

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

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

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

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

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

Days passed.

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Carlin decided to use his usual weapon–his wit.

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

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

Carlin did not respond.

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

“Master plan?” asked Carlin.

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

At least, it must have been some time.

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

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

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

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

Terrence Eldridge.

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

It seemed like a bad dream.

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

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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

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(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 44) A Very Slow Fast … April 15th, 2018

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It was meant to be a very quiet arrival at Ronald Reagan Airport in Washington, D. C. Over the weekend, Jubal had contacted Matthew, explaining that he planned on returning on Wednesday afternoon at 2:15, and would appreciate a pickup, so he could get right back into the hunt of things. He had briefly updated Matthew on his journey.

Jubal had only spent four days with the Dalai Lama before traveling on to Japan, China, India, and ending up at a conference of rabbis and mullahs in Jerusalem. He had many stories and much adventure but he wanted to come home.

Matthew agreed to meet him in Washington, and contacted Soos to put together the “on-the-ground-plan.” Perhaps that was his mistake–because Soos decided that the return of Brother Carlos was good reason to have a national festival.

First she put the word out on social media, so there were five thousand screaming fans at the airport when he taxied down the runway. She also got hold of Mother Rolinda, who was still pastoring up in Baltimore, even though her burned-out church was being repaired and the local congregation was meeting in the park. Rolinda suggested they hire “The Angels”–fifty motor-cycle-riding dudes and lasses for God, who used to be part of the Hell’s Angels. Soos loved the idea and also thought a local high school marching band would be wonderful once they arrived in the middle of Washington, D. C.

As Matthew arrived at the airport, he became aware that he was once again part of an event. The past few weeks had changed him from a mere curmudgeon to a full-blown people-hater. He had “jailed himself” in Las Vegas for nearly a month. He drank, he slept, he gambled a bit, and he discussed with several prostitute friends whether lemon was necessary to add to the butter for a “good lobster-eatin’.”

So when Matthew drove up and saw all the people with banners and damnably sweet faces, he was tempted to turn around and pretend he had been waylaid in Nebraska due to a storm. (You could always count on Nebraska to provide you such a cover.) But he figured there was some member of the press who would identify him and foil his deception.

A beleaguered Matthew greeted a surprised Jubal Carlos, as they both headed to the parking lot and Jubal was offered a Harley Davidson to ride into Washington. (Matthew opted for the chauffeured Lincoln Town Car.)

Fifty motor-cycle disciples with shiny helmets were escorted into town by the police department as the fans roared and Jubal Carlos waved his fist in the air as if leading a charge at Gettysburg. The five miles into town were quickly covered, since there was such a smooth passage. As soon as the high school band saw Jubal, they burst into what sounded like a John Phillips Sousa march dipped in salsa. Jubal rolled up with his cohorts, jumped off his motorcycle and danced his way to a set of congas which were waiting for him and joined the band in sweet revelry.

Soos estimated there were probably ten thousand waiting for them in the Capitol Square. She had set up a microphone so Jubal could address the crowd and share about his journey.

After about ten minutes of music and everybody getting their fill of Nathan’s hot dogs, Jubal stepped onto the stage and walked up to the microphone. Matthew pushed closer–he wanted to both see and hear. He was curious. He had missed Jubal Carlos. Even though Matthew had no intention of bowing to a divinity, he still had deep admiration for Jubal’s convictions.

Jubal stood quietly for a minute, letting the crowd have its will. All at once, everyone fell silent. Jubal took the moment, added his own pause, and then spoke.

“I have been with the Dalai Lama, to Japan, China, the Ganges River in India, and Jerusalem, where Jesus was glorified.”

The crowd cheered. Jubal looked across the mass as if gazing upon a beautiful horizon. Then he started to laugh, pretended to wipe some sweat from his brow, leaned into the microphone and shouted: “But it sure is damn fine to be home!”

What followed was a scream that could have awakened all the stone monuments in the fair city. Matthew laughed. Jubal was very corny, somewhat predictable, fairly ordinary, and loved by all. Deep in his heart Matthew believed that he was much more clever than Mr. Carlos. Yet it was difficult for Matthew to get any affection, even from the bell-boy if he gave a particularly good tip. Jubal continued.

“I’m not gonna hold you here long, but I am going to tell you what’s next. I’m going to leave this stage, and I’m going to head to that building–”

He turned and pointed to the Capitol.

“Here’s what I’m going to do. Yesterday morning I began a fast. Actually, it’s rather simple. I’m drinking water, some electrolytes, and bottled fruit and vegetable juices. I just wanted you to know the truth before the press calls me a liar because they smell asparagus on my breath.”

More uproarious laughter, leaving Matthew shaking his head. Jubal waited for the giggles to die down, and went on.

“I’m going to sit in the rotunda of that Capitol and stay there, fasting, until this country passes a bill. I think we should call it ‘The National Action of Kindness.’ I know people will say it’s meaningless, but it is time for the United States to lead the world forward by using kindness–before we bury each other in a grave of nuclear ash.”

A chorus of “amens” and a few “hallelujahs” skirted across the gathered. Jubal spoke on.

“I do not know if I will be allowed to stay in the Capitol, and I certainly don’t plan on being any trouble. In other words, I will find my own corner and brighten it. But until we Americans realize that everything we do–every law we pass, every decision we make–has to be run through the concept of kindness, we will continue to hurt one another, destroy our young people and fail to be the shining light to the world. I’m not asking you to join me in the fast. I’m not doing it because I feel like I’m special. No one likes to eat like your Brother Carlos. So pray with me that those fat-cat-politicians will hurry up and do something, so I can get back to continuing my burrito addiction.”

And yes…more laughter.

Jubal stepped away. He didn’t even stop to talk to Soos, Rolinda or Matthew. He slow-jogged his way toward the Capitol, where in a very few minutes, he came to the door and was refused entrance.

By this time, many from the crowd had followed, including all the staffers. They stood on the steps and shouted at the Capitol above them. “Let him in! Let him in!”

Jubal did not say anything at all, but stepped back four paces, crossed his arms and stood his ground. All at once the doors opened, and the guards moved to the side.

Ninety-year-old Medero Fairchild, the oldest sitting Senator, slowly stepped out and embraced Jubal. He put his arm around him and walked toward the guards. They stepped forward to prevent Jubal from entering the Capitol Building. The old man lifted his hand and spoke to them.

“This is my friend. He’s here at my request. You young gentlemen do a fine job guarding us, but now Mr. Jubal and I need to get inside and catch up on things.”

The austere protectors looked at one another and realized that it was foolishness for them to argue with the “Old Eagle of Liberty” (one of Fairchild’s nicknames).

Jubal Carlos stepped inside the Congress with his arm around a ninety-year-old senator from the state of Tennessee. The crowd went wild, and the guards broke form and style and waved at them.

Matthew shook his head. He raced to the car, hurried to the airport, and flew back as quickly as he could to his cave of protection.

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