Not Long Tales … August 13th, 2019

Jonathots Daily Blog

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We are overjoyed to announce the initiation of our weekly segment on Jonathots Daily Blog, entitled Not Long Tales. Each and every Tuesday, we’ll be offering you a short story for your enjoyment.

Mrs. Windermoot

Loneliness is a confinement requiring solitude, a commitment without companion.

It had been one year since Mrs. Windermoot had lost her beloved husband of forty-three years, Baris. Even though she had two grown sons who loved her, she found herself very lonely, like a bride left behind on the dock of the honeymoon cruise.

Her sons, Benett and Burgess, were responsive and certainly concerned for her health, but fell short of touching the tender spots of her well-being.

She was alone, which left her lonely. She’d never anticipated being quite so submerged in the sense of absence, but since she had moved into the much smaller two-bedroom townhouse just west of the city, she was constantly battling the pangs of self-pity and the ache of separation.

She did not know any of her neighbors. Several of them had made a visit—but they were all so much younger—and though they promised to return, none did.

Mrs. Windermoot tried to plan activities for herself—making a special dinner, watching a movie. She even scheduled a weekly tea, where she set out all the fixings, including a dozen of her famous chocolate chip cookies. Although it was somewhat entertaining, in no time at all, she was just an old woman sitting in a room nibbling treats.

She never reached the point of desperation—that being sharing her complaint with others. Most of the time she sat very still in her home, wondering whether it was too soon to have another nap.

One day she noticed that a city bus stopped right in front of her house. She had never paid any attention before, but on this particular morning, maybe the sun was shining just right, or she just happened to look out at the correct moment.

But there it was—big as life. 9:31 A. M. It was back again the next day, and faithfully returned the third morning.

So Mrs. Windermoot made a plan. On the fourth morning when the bus appeared, she would get on the bus, and ride as far as it went through the town, and at least have the ability to see other scenery—and maybe even converse with new people.

She dressed for the occasion—one of her best Sunday frocks, and made two dozen chocolate chip cookies, which she tucked away in her purse. She eased her way out the door at 9:15 so as not to miss the arrival and was standing there patiently when the bus pulled up. Not familiar with the route or process, she carefully climbed on as the driver impatiently waited for her to place her money in the slot, allowing her the privilege of being toted about.

She was smart enough to know to bring exact change, but her fingers were not very fast, and finally the bus driver, heaving a huge sigh, took the coins from her hand and completed the job.

Once legally paid for, she inched her way back four rows and sat down. There were only two other people on the bus, and she was nowhere near them, and felt foolish to be on a journey with no apparent purpose.

After a couple of stops, with additional people arriving, she felt better. When someone sat in the seat next to her, she finally worked up the courage to greet the stranger. Her words were met with a bit of kindness, so she offered the young man (obviously on his way to work, because of the uniform he was wearing) … well, she offered him a chocolate chip cookie. He was so grateful, explaining that he hadn’t eaten breakfast, and usually didn’t take the time for it.

At the next stop, while people were getting on, the bus driver walked back to Mrs. Windermoot. He seemed huge. His nametag read, “Mickey.” He leaned down to Mrs. Windermoot and whispered, “Listen, lady. I can’t have you giving out food on the bus. I don’t know where it came from. You may be a nice lady and all—you certainly seem alright—but I could get in a helluva lot of trouble if you were poisoning people.”

When Mrs. Windermoot heard the word “poison,” she flinched—a reflex. The whole idea of her being a sinister murderer seemed absolutely ludicrous, if not offensive. The young man who was still chomping on his cookie interrupted. “Listen, they taste great. You should try one.”

Before Mickey could consider the idea, Mrs. Windermoot was holding one to his nose. Beautiful chocolate chip cookie.

Maybe it was a desire to salve the old girl’s ego, or maybe it was Mickey taking responsibility—taste testing to ensure there was no danger. Or maybe Mickey had missed a breakfast, too. But he grabbed the cookie and chomped away. His expression changed from austere to delight.

Realizing that the bus driver was now eating chocolate chip cookies, which seemed to be coming from the frail lady sitting in the seat, three or four people made their way up the aisle to receive a treat of their own. Everybody was grateful, and the bus driver (still maintaining a bit of his authority) told Mrs. Windermoot that if she brought them again, to “make sure he could check them out before they got passed around.”

Thus began a ritual. Four times a week—Monday, Tuesday, Wednesday and Thursday—the lonely woman climbed on the bus with her chocolate chip cookies and rode around town, sharing treats and meeting new folks, turning Bus #572 into a friendly wagon of confection.

Once Mrs. Windermoot realized the chocolate chip cookies were a hit, she brought some little finger sandwiches, Rice Krispies treats—well, almost anything that came to her mind that she could make quickly for at least fifty people. Yes—it didn’t take long for the sweet old woman to gain a congregation of fifty admirers for all of her offerings.

A week passed. Two weeks. A month. Two months. Gradually, Mrs. Windermoot learned the story of Mickey, what the young man she originally met was hoping for his future, and the life stories of a dozen or more fellow travelers. It actually seemed that the bus was beginning to grow in attendance, if such a thing were possible. And everyone always seemed to be in a better mood once they boarded Bus #572 and headed off to pursue their responsibilities.

Then one morning, Mickey pulled the bus in front of her house and Mrs. Windermoot was not there. It was Wednesday. Mickey knew it was the right day. He was concerned, as were four or five other people, who stared out their windows, desperate to see the old lady emerge with her kindness and generosity.

But she was nowhere in sight.

Mickey was on a schedule, but his curiosity overwhelmed him. Where was she? Then his imagination went wild. Why wouldn’t she be out there? Was she alright? Did the old lady die?

It was right after this last question crossed his mind that Mickey decided to climb off the bus and go knock on her door. He did not notice that three or four other people joined him, apparently feeling a similar concern. Mickey knocked, and he knocked again. He peered in the window. There was no movement.

He reached over, tried the doorknob, and it opened. How foolish of the old lady not to lock her door, he thought.

But motioning to those who had trailed behind to “stay back!” he stepped into the house to investigate. Human nature being what it is, of course nobody listened to him, and they followed him through the door like a little train of detectives.

Inside there was an eerie silence. No sound.

There was one light on in the house, which appeared to be coming from the kitchen. Mickey inched toward the light, listening carefully for any movement. He was frightened—afraid of what he might find. He turned to those following, holding a finger to his lips, demanding that they remain quiet. He walked slowly to the opening of the kitchen, and as he rounded the corner he looked. There she was. It was Mrs. Windermoot.

She was sitting in a chair, peeling eggs.

She turned around, surprised to see Mickey in her home, and gasped. “What are you doing?” she demanded.

A good question. He didn’t know how to explain that he was expecting to find a body, not an egg peeler. “When you weren’t out there for the bus, I got scared, so I decided to check on you.”

Mrs. Windermoot glanced over at the clock that sat on the stove. “Well, you’re two hours early,” she explained.

Mickey looked at the same clock. It read 7:40. Leaning down and peering at it, he reported, “Ma’am, for some reason, the clock stopped. It’s 9:37,” he said, looking at his watch.

Mrs. Windermoot turned red with embarrassment. She looked behind Mickey and saw that there were six other people in the house, staring at her.

“I’m so sorry,” she said. “I thought I was ahead of my time! You see, I got up this morning deciding to boil eggs to make egg salad for our trip today. I wasn’t sure whether to hard boil them or soft boil them, so I decided to go in-between. But when I got to the in-between time, I thought how terrible it would be if they were runny, so I boiled them again.”

There was a pause, then everyone laughed.

Mrs. Windermoot was not certain why she was so hilarious, but she appreciated the affirmation. Mickey patted her on the shoulder and asked, “How long would it take you to finish your project?”

Mrs. Windermoot crinkled her brow, thinking intensely, as if pondering the national debt. “I should be ready in twenty minutes,” she said.

Mickey looked back at the passengers in the room, cleared his throat and said, “Well, I’ll tell you what. I shouldn’t do this, but there’s no reason why I can’t make four or five more stops, and then come back around on Johnson Street and pick you up—as long as NO ONE TELLS ON ME.” He raised his voice at the end.

Everybody nodded their heads in agreement. Mrs. Windermoot looked up at Mickey and said, “I’m sorry to have been so much trouble.”

Mickey patted her on the shoulder. “You’re no trouble at all. Matter of fact, a lot of trouble has left since you came along.”

Mickey corralled all the souls and they headed out the door. As they streamed back to the bus, Mickey realized he was taking a big chance by changing the schedule. What if someone noticed? What if there was a new customer who complained to the company about the delay? What if this was one of those weeks when there was a spy on the bus, evaluating his ability and performance?

As he reached the steps to climb into the bus, he scratched his head. He glanced back at the house, wondering if he should run and tell the old lady that he had changed his mind. Then…

Mickey shook his head and chuckled. “What the hell,” he said to himself. “No one’s gonna care. And I sure do love a good egg salad sandwich.”

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Catchy (Sitting 40) 101 Days… March 18th, 2018

Jonathots Daily Blog

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Wedding bells.

Landy Loren, one of the original members of Matthew’s marketing team, fell in love with McKendree Davis, who was the drummer in Jubal Carlos’ band.  Most folks knew him as “Michelob” because of his fondness for beer. He wasn’t a “bowling alley drinker”–more a connoisseur of fine beers from all over the world. He always talked about how he drank his beer like wine-sipping, never chugging.

Landy and McKendree were married on the jet plane en route to a rally in Washington, D.C., where Cassidy Templeton was scheduled to speak in front of a crowd predicted to be 500,000.

After his national exposure, his phrase, “check if you’re dead,” became a slogan all across the country, selling two million t-shirts with the saying in just eight days. The nation had suddenly gone from being engorged in its own self-involvement to being given a new set of eyes–and those peepers were all on Cassidy.

Cassidy was astounding on all fronts. He was strikingly handsome, muscular, devoted to his family, but drenched in good old-fashioned humility. His speeches were blessedly short, his sense of humor was keen and his energy seemed boundless.

Three days earlier he had appeared on international television with Merklin Shineer–probably the most well-known atheist walking the planet. Even though Shineer was in his early seventies and considered intolerably grouchy, young people from all over the world were drawn to him because of his plain-speaking manner and his no-nonsense approach to what he deemed “the monster of religion.”

Even though Jubal Carlos warned Cassidy to avoid this “cattle show,” as he called it, Cassidy just smiled and said, “It never hurts to tell the truth.”

So when they got together for the debate, a coin was tossed, and Merklin was given first crack at the audience. He talked for a solid forty minutes about the indignities of life, the unfairness to the poor, the wretched treatment of women and children and the absence of any divinity to curtail the efforts of what seemed to be rampant evil. Merklin occasionally glanced back at Cassidy, who sat thoughtfully, listening.

At the end of his time, Merklin turned to Cassidy and posed a challenge: “If you can give me one reason why I should believe in a God who doesn’t give a damn about people, then I’ll walk out of here today accepting your Jesus and repenting of my sins.”

The audience hooted and howled their approval. Merklin strolled over to his chair, sat down and smugly crossed his legs. He motioned to Cassidy to take the platform. The crowd continued to hiss and sneer as Cassidy got to his feet.

He walked over and shook Merklin’s hand, and then took the microphone and said to the crowd, “That was amazing. What was truly astounding to me was that as I sat there listening to Merklin speak, I realized how much I agree with him. I became fully aware that I share pretty much all of his doubts. I, too, am pained by the power that evil seems to carry in our world. I am deeply saddened that women and children are the targets of that sinister plot. I often sit in a corner by myself and say, ‘Cassidy, how could there be a God?'”

He paused, looking at the people with tears in his eyes. “I do, you know.”

There was a stillness in the room. Even the babies knew it was no time to cry for their mothers.

After a long moment, Cassidy continued. “But I found, Merklin, that you left out one doubt that I have. I thought you would cover it since you’re such a beautiful and intelligent man. But you didn’t. So let me state the one doubt I have more than you.”

All at once Cassidy slipped to his knees and reached out his right hand to the audience. “I doubt,” he began. Then he stopped. “I doubt,” he started again, his voice cracking, “I doubt if I can love you all as much as I need to without God’s help.”

He bowed his head and let the microphone drop to the stage, sending an echo of reverb throughout the building. And then he just wept. He cried like a widow who had just lost her long-loved husband. This went on for a solid two minutes.

Then there was a sniff or two from the audience, some gasping, and then sobbing. In no time at all, most of the people in attendance joined Cassidy in what seemed to be a needful moment of mourning.

Merklin himself bowed his head, squeezed his nose between his thumb and finger, stood up and strolled off the stage.

America seemed to be coming to a long overdue introspection:

The Catholic Church had decided to try a “test parish,” assigning a female priest in downtown Baltimore, Maryland. They asked Sister Rolinda if she would become “Mother Rolinda” to the congregation and lead them.

After much controversy and many debates, the Mormon Church offered an apology for allowing years of indoctrination against the black man to be included in their books.

The Baptists came out against Confederate flags.

The United Methodist church became more energized, with a sense of hope and revival.

Everywhere there was the essence of awakening, without the religious trappings.

Yet as the jet made its way to Washington, D.C., and the marriage ceremony was completed, Matthew found himself enjoying the night life of Las Vegas and the benefits of Nevada’s legal prostitution. He never jumped on the plane to join the “caravan of the concerned” anymore. He wrote checks, he took care of the books and made sure that all legal questions were fielded by the proper attorneys.

Jo-Jay was busy tracking down Prophet Morgan’s murderer, so every attempt he made to contact her was met with her familiar answering machine: “Hi, this is Jo-Jay. Like the Blue Jay but I’m not a bird. Leave a message.”

Matthew was a man who knew he was ill but preferred the pain to the cure.

Meanwhile, the rally in Washington exceeded expectations. Nearly 700.000 people showed up, many sporting the black t-shirts with hot pink lettering which read, Check if you’re dead. Cassidy spoke only ten minutes in front of the crowd, which had traveled from all over the world for the moment.

Jubal Carlos, who had been taking less and less of a role of late, filled in with music and a fifteen-minutes retrospective on where they had come from and where they prayed to go.

After the meeting, the 700,000 people dispersed with hugs, smiles and tears, as Cassidy was whisked away to the White House to meet the President. He was to be honored with a special Public Servant Award. When he arrived, it was not just the President but his whole family, plus the Vice President and many members of Congress, who had gathered in the East Room to see “the Lazman.”

Cassidy, when asked to say a few words, stood to his feet and quipped, “You know, I used to work with power. But looking around this room–this is ridiculous.”

A great burst of laughter. So he continued. “And as I learned, power can energize you, or it can…well, it can kill you. I hope all of us in this room realize that. I pray for each and every one of you every day. I wouldn’t want your jobs. My job is easy. I take the life God has given me–now in my 101st day of resurrection–and try to just love as many people as I can. It may sound silly, or even weak, but it’s what I got.”

He nodded to the dignitaries, who burst into applause and stood up to give him honor.

Cassidy went to sit on a lovely divan and lay his head back for moment, resting. The President and First Lady walked over to meet him. He took their hands and thanked them for their courtesy in inviting him.

All at once, he raised his eyebrows as if he was looking deeply into their souls. He gave a small chuckle, took a deep breath, and quietly said, “I guess that’s it.”

He laid his head back against the divan, and the President and First Lady, thinking he must be exhausted from the rally, left him to rest. Everybody gave him space. Actually, people thought it was cute that he had fallen asleep at the White House during a tribute to his life and success. Some people even started to leave.

Then one of the butlers noticed that Cassidy had not moved for some time, and it appeared that he wasn’t breathing. The butler slowly stepped over, lifted a hand and felt for a pulse. He lurched back in alarm, speaking to the surrounding guests, “He’s dead.”

A doctor who was present for the occasion ran forward and discovered the same. He placed Cassidy on the ground, trying to revive him. An ambulance was called, but by the time it arrived, it was much too late.

Cassidy Templeton was dead. He had passed away in the White House, on the 101st day after his miracle resurrection.

The nation was stunned.

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