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 35) Feel the Steel … February 11th, 2018

Jonathots Daily Blog

(3580)

Tremaine Wilkerson was black…to this day.

He and Matthew had become friends in high school, mainly because Tremaine was the only black student within three counties and also, Matthew wanted to place on his college entrance application that he had a black friend.

Their closeness was cemented when the two of them were elected to attend a conference in Atlanta, Georgia, and they were driving around at night, in a car which they had boosted from one of the sponsors to go joy-riding, when they were stopped by an Atlanta police officer.

It was two o’clock in the morning and neither Tremaine nor Matthew appeared a drizzle over sixteen years of age. Matthew was at the wheel so the officer asked for a license and registration. (Matthew was impressed that he was able to come up with half of the request.) The policeman was not appeased.

The cop was greatly interested in Tremaine. For you see, Tremaine was a very large boy–the kind you think should play football or basketball, although he had given no attention to either sport. He had also allowed his hair to go natural–so he had a huge Afro, which would only have seemed appropriate for a dancer on Soul Train. The Atlanta constable did not find it particularly appealing.

He had Tremaine get out, pushed him up against the car, had him spread his legs and searched him for anything that might seem the least little bit controversial.

Matthew realized he needed to do something, so he interrupted the cop and said, “Listen, I have to admit I’m a bratty kid–wealthy–and this young fellow is my butler. He didn’t want to go out on this drive, but it was his job to keep an eye on me. I foolishly borrowed this car, and now I see how ridiculous it was. So if you will just forgive me, I’ll drive us back and we’ll never do anything so stupid again.”

Matthew knew the speech was very flimsy, but the policeman seemed relieved that the black fellow was not an equivalent, but rather, a servant. He gave a stern warning to Matthew and sent them on their way.

Tremaine never forgot it.

So when Matthew was trying to draft a plan to get information about what was really going on with Jo-Jay, Carlos and the mysterious death of Prophet Morgan, he decided to contact Tremaine, who was now married, living in Kalamazoo, Michigan, working as a chemist, writing poetry on the weekends.

Matthew outlined the following plan:

He wanted to use Tremaine’s ethnic appearance to scare the shit out of Michael Hinston. So Matthew hired four good-natured buddies who were “goon-like” to assist Tremaine in kidnapping Michael Hinston following one of his handball game at the local Y, and take the distinguished Congressman to the back unit of a storage facility in Alexandria, Virginia.

Tremaine listened carefully, trying not to interrupt, but about three-quarters of the way through the unfolding of the plot, he felt compelled to interject.

“Matthew, you do know I’m a chemist?”

“I do,” said Matthew, “but can I say that I’m interested in some of the other aspects of your chemistry?”

Tremaine frowned. “You mean the fact that I’m black and have a ‘fro?”

“Yes,” said Matthew, “and pretty muscular.”

“I work out,” said Tremaine.

“It shows,” cited Matthew.

Now Matthew knew that Tremaine was an altruistic soul. Matter of fact, Tremaine had a soft spot in his heart for the black kids on the south side of Chicago, and volunteered every summer for two weeks to assist with the young folks, and gave money based upon his budget.

Matthew offered, “If you’ll do this for me, I will donate $25,000 to the dudes from South Chicago.”

Tremaine shook his head. “You do know kidnapping is against the law, right?”

Matthew feigned surprise. “No…I wish you hadn’t told me.”

Matthew laughed but Tremaine didn’t. Yet for some reason the passive black man from the Wolverine State agreed to participate.

It was not terribly complicated. Michael Hinston popped out of the YMCA whistling a happy tune and was immediately nabbed by the four hired goons, had a bag thrown over his head, and was tossed into a nearby beat-up Ford van.

Realizing that Tremaine was not going to be prepared for such an encounter, Matthew had written a script for him.

“Lay there quietly and don’t say a word or I’ll slit your throat,” warned Tremaine, with too many delays for the speech to sound natural.

Congressman Michael kept objecting while offering money, favors and possible other Congressmen who would be better to kidnap because of their more powerful positions.

Cued by the script, Tremaine continued. “Shut up! Shut up, honky bastard! Shut up, Congressman Whitewash!” and finally, “Shut up or I’ll kilt you!”

There was one other line, which was, “Stop axing too many questions!”

Arriving at the storage unit, Matthew met the van with a finger on his lips, warning Tremaine and the goons to remain silent so the Congressman wouldn’t know he was present.

The script continued with stage direction: “Tremaine, you do the lines, and I, Matthew, will do all the motions.”

They carried Hinston into the storage unit, pulling down the door for privacy, sat him in a wooden chair, tying him to the slats and legs. Michael was obviously distressed. Matthew motioned for Tremaine to read his next line.

Tremaine looked down, reading ahead, and then back up at Matthew, perplexed. Matthew nodded, encouraging him to go ahead, so Tremaine uttered, “I be knowing that yous be a killer. You kilts the Prophet and took the young woman and spit her out in the jungle.”

Tremaine turned to Matthew, looking like he had just bitten into a lemon. Matthew again encouraged him to continue.

“I be’s tellin’ you this one time. You talk or I’m gonna cuts your tongue out and stick it in your hand.”

Tremaine stepped back and admired himself for this particular performance. When Tremaine mentioned “cut your tongue out,” Matthew lifted the bag, stuck a knife underneath and rubbed the cold steel against Michael’s cheek. Matthew then pointed at Tremaine.

Tremaine glanced at the script, and using his best inner-city voice, growled, “Feel the steel.”

Michael peed his pants.

It was unpleasant to experience, but made the goons standing in the background giggle uncontrollably. Matthew tried to silence them but he, himself was quite amused.

There was no need for further intimidation. Michael began to expound on the story of his life. He shared everything he knew–which ended up being very little.

He explained that he had been coerced by the CLO to have Jubal Carlos arrested in Vegas, and to suggest that there should be an investigation into Jubal and the movement over the mysterious murder of Morgan.

He knew nothing about Jo-Jay.

He knew nothing about further plans.

And he closed off with a whimpering sigh, whining, “I’m nobody. Just ask anybody.”

Matthew believed him. He walked over and quietly loosened the ropes on Michael’s wrists and legs. Tremaine had one final line:

“You stay here for an hour, you white bastard, and then you can loosen yourself and leave. But don’t you be makin’ trouble for my people. Life began in Africa, and your life could end there.”

When Tremaine finished the line he gave a huge grin and a thumbs-up to Matthew, approving the script.

Matthew, Tremaine and the four goons departed.

Matthew made good on his $25,000 donation and gave a thousand to each goon.

So for under thirty thousand dollars he found out nothing, except as always, the easy explanation was never the correct one.

 

 

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Jesonian: Reverend Meningsbee (Part 33) Another Tank of Gas… December 11th, 2016

 Jonathots Daily Blog

(3152)

Reverend Meningsbee

Nebraska suddenly seemed cold–frigid.

The meeting with Hector put a chill down Meningsbee’s spine, causing him to yearn for some warmth. He thought about sharing his dilemma with some folks he trusted in the congregation, but realized that there’s an assumption made in the human family–that even when a soul confesses, somehow or another he or she is withholding a portion of the story.

He felt trapped–squeezed into an ice box.

So he went to his house, grabbed a bunch of blankets, quickly packed a suitcase, stuck a variety of canned meats and beef jerky in his glove compartment, got into his car and headed out.

His choice for this particular retreat was south. He just wanted to drive until he could feel warm.

He journeyed for three days.

One night he stayed at a cheap motel in a town in Texas called Bullywok. Another night he used the blankets and slept in the back seat of his car at a rest area. And on a third evening, trying to pursue some personal discovery in his life, he checked into a YMCA to interact with other human beings and see what the experience might be like. (He found the Y rather pleasant except for being greatly unnerved by sharing a shower with other men.)

He drove and he drove until he landed somewhere in South Texas. The sun rose, and by ten o’clock in the morning, the air was warm enough for him to emerge from his car and walk around a local park in short sleeves.

He was so damn far away from Garsonville. But maybe he always had been. Maybe the idea of inserting himself into that small community was not only intrusive, but implausible.

Disheartened.

It’s when your heart stands on the outside of your body and makes fun of you for believing you could make a difference.

During his journey, the fifth episode of “Gar-SIN-ville” aired. He watched it in a diner outside of El Paso.

He was surprised at how those enjoying their “blue plate specials” basically ignored the program as he listened carefully for the revelation of his hidden sin.

It was never mentioned.

He felt deeply foolish to have run away from his home town and his congregation simply because a scary man said “boo.”

He called back to the church and asked one of the deacons to handle Sunday service as he settled into Truth or Consequences, New Mexico, at a small motel that offered everything in miniature. Tiny towels, tiny bed, tiny service.

He didn’t care.

He just laid down on the small, uncomfortable single bed and stared at the ceiling.

Who in the hell was he…and why was he running?

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