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Re: Messiah Remix


I sat there. Alone. Confused. And, yes, angry. Suddenly very frigging angry.

Why God? Why do you keep testing me, leading me one way, then abandoning me? I am sick of it. You hear me, Dad? I’m sick of it. You tell me all these things, what you want me to do, what you won’t allow me to do. Then you go silent, like crickets that were chirping on a summer night until you happened upon them. You know they are there. But silence.

I KNOW YOU ARE HERE, GOD. I screamed this inside my head. He could hear it. I knew he could.

But would he answer? Of course not. Big, mysterious, all-loving God, once again taking a crap on his Beloved Son. Thanks, Dad. I am doing my best. But you won’t tell me what to do. And you won’t give me my miracle powers. Why? I could bring everyone in this place to you if I could turn water into wine. Or nickels into $100 bills.

Throw me a freaking bone here!!!

And then the chaos started. Again. I knew because I smelled smoke. I closed my eyes, tried to meditate, to calm down.

And when I opened them? Well, I was right. Cackles was on fire. Flames licked the curtains. I could see a glow backstage and knew that the fire was intense there. I hoped Zay Zay was ok. Who would help him?

Five.

The smoke was getting thicker. I looked around and saw people starting to panic. A waitress dropped her tray as all the drinks and napkins on it burst into flame. She screamed. She looked down at the floor, and the flames started burning more intensely on the napkins that she had dropped. And she ran toward the bar.

Four.

Smoke. Everywhere there was smoke. Patrons were coughing, the flames had move up the wall to my right, causing the stage lights in the ceiling to short out, and shower the area with sparks. The crowd clamored. People began to rise from their tables, overturning chairs as they headed toward the exits. Someone was going to get hurt in the crush.

Three.

The immense heat had built up. It was hard to breathe. Fire was everywhere. A man ran past me, his coat on fire. He flailed about trying to get his coat off. Another man tried to help him but burned his hands and gave up. The fire was completely out of control. This place was going down. I knew I should leave, or at least help someone. But I could not move. God help me.

Two.

The fire alarm only now went off. But there were no sprinklers in the room, or if there were they were not functioning. Women were screaming. Men were groaning. Several bodies lay near me, on fire. Parts of the burnt ceiling were beginning to fall. Flaming tiles, crashing to the tables, spreading their flames wherever they landed. I looked to the bar. A waitress stood there in complete shock. Her hand over her mouth, her hair smoking, the glass in the bottles behind her starting to shatter. It was all coming undone.

One.


This must be it. The fire raged out of control. In the distance, I could hear sirens as emergency responders were finally on their way. A few feeble coughs, but mostly I could only hear the raging fire, the crackling wood. The smell of fire, soot, ash, and burnt flesh filled the air. Still I could not move. I knew I was not supposed to move. Huge cracks formed in the walls and the ceiling. God, help me. HELP ME!!! I waited for an answer, but heard none. Of course. The heat was burning my skin, scorching my face. The smoke filled my lungs and I could not breathe. It filled my eyes and I cried. I closed my eyes and waited for the end. And waited some more. Finally I opened my eyes, and there, calmly striding through the hellish inferno, unburnt, unfazed, seemingly unaware of the mayhem around her, was Lucy Ferrell. She had an ironic smile on her face, given all the fire and death and misery that surrounded her.

“Hi Larry,” she said. I closed my eyes, and opened my mouth to scream.

Zero.

Silence. Then music. Then laughter.

I opened my eyes to see Cackles, just as it was before. Waitresses hurried back and forth, tending to their customers; people chatted idly at their tables. Music played over the loud speaker system. An old Billy Joel song:

You may be right, I may be crazy,
But it just may be a lunatic you’re looking for.
Turn out the lights. Don’t try to save me.
You may be wrong, for all I know, but you may be right.


Speak of the devil. “Hi Lucy. Care to join me?”

“Don’t mind if I do, Larry. How are you? You ok?”

“Sure,” I said. “I feel ... divine.”

Last edited by bigbarry2u, 4/26/2018, 11:31 am


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4/25/2018, 11:08 pm Link to this post PM bigbarry2u
 
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Re: Messiah Remix


"Fire!" yelled a strong male voice behind me. I jumped, startled, as did the rest of the crowd now waiting for the bus to arrive. I looked around but saw nothing.

"Fire and brimstone!" came the voice again. We all settled down. Just another crackpot. And, as seasoned New Yorkers, we all knew not to look in the direction of the nutcase.

"Sinners and fornicators!" he continued. "Hellfire awaits you! Your evil thoughts and your wicked deeds are known to God, who will make you walk over the pit of hell on a rotten covering!"

We all, seemingly as one, looked down the street to our left to see if we could spot the bus's headlights. Not yet.

"God's wrath is as a bow, with an arrow ready to pierce your heart if you do not repent, and repent fully of all your ever-increasing guilt. Judgement day is upon us!"

A bit of a sigh, a slight murmur, gave light punctuation to the bellowing behind us. The bus had been spotted.

"Fire!" the man shouted again. "Fire and brimstone!"

The bus pulled up to the stop and we began to board. The only prayer I sent up to God was that this man not be allowed to join us. That prayer, I was relieved to note, was answered. The man had wandered off to assail another group.

I took a window seat and pulled a book out of my large purse. It was a slight thing, a light paperback, but it was hilarious. It was called Fart Proudly, and it was writings of Benjamin Franklin that were, well, bawdy. He wrote satires in essays, letters, and songs. He lauded farting. I smiled as I read his wordsmithing.

Finally, though, my mind wandered through the events of the evening. What was my attraction to Larry, for crying out loud? I'm a graduate of Columbia. He's a plumber. Yeah, OK, so he has a well-paying job and I don't. I'm working as a substitute paraprofessional, a teacher's aide, in elementary schools to which I'm sent by the school administration. Now that I've finished my first year as a substitute parapro, and taken the inservice classes that are required before I can be considered for a regular position, I might be able to get a job that pays... oh, I don't know... half?... half of what a plumber makes. Where do I get off being such a snob?

And here we were in early August. I had applied for a regular position for the coming school year but had heard nothing, yet, from Human Resources. They told me it might take until the start of the school year before they would know how many parapros they would need, but geeze! How long do I need to spend on pins and needles, continuing to live in my parents' house with little to no income?

Everything was embarrassing. My occupational outlook was embarrassing. Throwing myself at Larry was embarrassing. Having to take a bus home, alone, at one o'clock in the morning was embarrassing. Benjamin Franklin's approval of farting wasn't helping.

Maybe fire and brimstone would be an improvement.

---
Robbie
4/26/2018, 11:49 am Link to this post PM Miz Robbie
 
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Re: Messiah Remix


I would be damned if I would take orders from Lucy. But when I saw Larry smile and stand to pull out a chair for her, I needed some air.

Outside, I spotted Robbie in a crowd of people at the bus stop. I had no intention of following her. I wanted nothing to do with any of these people after tonight. But it wouldn’t hurt to hang around and see which bus she took. I stood back, hoping she wouldn’t see me.

“Fire and brimstone!” some nut was ranting at the crowd. He screamed at them to repent, immediately, or else, but he was almost incoherent. I was trying to work out whether they would be made to walk across a rotten plank over the fires of hell BEFORE or AFTER they were pierced in the heart by God's arrow, when a voice at my shoulder said, “Zay-Zay was funnier.”

It was Saul Tarsus, and he was not altogether sober.

“I didn’t see you inside,” I said.

“I saw you,” he said. “Sitting with that Jezebel, that bombshell.” He laughed.

This was certainly a different side of Saul. “That’s a mixed metaphor,” I said. Who knew Saul could laugh?

“I’ve had a few mixed drinks,” he said.

“Gee, I couldn’t tell.”

“My first time,” he said. “Never had a drink before. Not even a little wine, for the stomach’s sake. I was a tee-totaler.” He hiccupped. “'Scuse me. But tonight, I thought, ‘What the hell?’ I mean, tonight I saw a resurrection. 'How do you celebrate a resurrection?’ I asked myself.”

I wondered if he had ever celebrated an erection, and thought probably not.

“You told me at the time the resurrection was an act,” I said.

“Well, it wasn’t,” he said. “So I followed Larry Almighty here to ask him how he did it. That’s what she called him, Jezebel did, ‘Larry Almighty.’”

A bus was coming. It was the Ozone Park bus. It pulled up, and Robbie got on with the others.

“Did you ask him?” I said.

“I was going to ask him. But this old man was up on the stage putting on a show, so I sat down to get my breath, and the waiter said I had to order a drink, and I said OK, and I drank it.”

“Oops!” I said.

“I drank it, and I saw this brilliant flash of light. It put my eyes out. It literally put my eyes out. I groped around on the table” (he groped, at table height, to show me), “and felt another glass, and drank that.”

I started to speak, but he held up his hand to stop me.

“This old man,” he said. "This old, blind man was talking about how we were all going to hell because we all suck. He went on and on about how we all suck, and for some reason I thought that was really funny.” He laughed again. “Everybody else seemed to think it was funny too.”

Lucy, where are you? I thought. Come and save me from this maniac. She didn’t materialize, so I turned to walk away and save myself.

Saul grabbed my arm and pulled me back. “Mary,” he said. “Mary, listen! Then the scales fell from my eyes. The scales literally fell from my eyes, and I knew why it was funny.”

I was shocked to hear him call me Mary, after the last few hours with Lucy, who knows I’m not Mary. What the hell? Would it it kill me to hear the rest of this? I relaxed, and he let go of me.

“So why was it funny?” I said.

“Because of the resurrection,” he said. “Haven’t you been listening? I ordered another drink to celebrate, a real drink. Then I seemed to hear Larry’s voice telling me that I couldn’t keep it to myself. I had to tell everybody.”

“So you came outside to tell everybody, and you saw that the fire-and-brimstone guy was beating you to it,” I said.

“What? No! I had to tell them the GOOD news. But first I needed to talk to Larry. He could tell me what to tell them. What words to use.”

“So what did Larry say?”

“I haven’t had a chance to talk to him yet. You saw what happened. As soon as Robbie left, Jezebel bombshell moved in. I always liked you, Mary, because you always acted the way a girl ought to act, meek and quiet. What are you doing in a place like this with a woman like that?”

He obviously had not seen the kiss. I wanted to punch him in the face. But I had a better idea.

“Why don’t we go back in?” I said. “I can tell Lucy we have to go, and you can talk to Larry.”

I thought he might hesitate to take a suggestion from a woman, but drink must have weakened his resistance to his better judgment. He turned without answering, as if it were his own idea, and I followed him in.

The stage was empty, and music I didn’t recognize was coming from the speakers. At Larry’s table, Lucy and Larry had their heads together in spirited conversation. I couldn’t tell at first whether Larry was caught in her web or escaping from it.


Last edited by Bellelettres, 4/27/2018, 2:31 pm
4/27/2018, 2:18 pm Link to this post PM Bellelettres
 
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Re: Messiah Remix


Lucy sat down. Red hair like fire. Blue eyes like ice.

“Seems like Cackles is the place for the reunion after-party,” I said. “You just missed Robbie.”

“I saw her. You two seemed to be getting along really well,” she said. “You know, nothing makes a man more attractive to a woman, than to see another woman that wants him.”

“Robbie? She’s sweet.” Well, she is now anyway. People change, or so Oprah tells me.

Lucy fumed. “She’s a snake, dear. And if you want my advice, you’ll stay away from her. She’s bad news.”

“She did not seem like a snake to me. Besides, nothing makes a woman more attractive to a man than to have another woman say to keep your distance from her.”

“Human nature, I suppose,” Lucy said.

“Yeah, I wonder who ever came up with these guidelines.” I laughed inside, because I knew who came up with them. What I did not know was why.

“Maybe you should come back to my place, and we can talk all about it. I have some good wine, some better vodka, and some really kick-ass rum.”

“Thanks, but I’m trying to cut down.”

She smiled. “On alcohol?”

“No,” I replied, “on drinking with beautiful women.”

She smiled bigger. “So, you think I am beautiful again?” she asked. “That’s new.”

“No, Lucy, you have always been beautiful. But I am also cutting down on hooking up with old flames. And your flames still burn pretty hot, so I’m inclined to steer clear.”

She didn’t like where this was going, and frankly neither did I. “Well, if you ever change your mind—“ she started.

“You will be the first to know, I promise.” Her eyes cut through me, and I could tell she was frustrated.

“Ya know, not many men turn down my invitations. Maybe I am not your type.”

“And,” I asked, “what type are you.”

Without hesitation, she said “The perfect type,” and reached out with her hand, placing it lightly on mine. For a woman that was so hot, her hand was ice cold. But an electric sensation shot through my whole body. And I was tempted.

About that time Mary walked up, with an old classmate of ours, Saul. He looked a little tipsy. And a little wide-eyed.

I keep thinking someone will recognize me as Jesus, but so far I was only Larry to them all. Mary was asking Lucy if she was ready to go home yet, something Lucy was not happy about, but also figured she might as well go because she was certainly not getting anywhere with me tonight.

“Hi Saul,” Lucy said. “Wanna go get stoned? I know a guy.”

Saul blushed. That was definitely not his scene, and of course, Lucy knew this. She had a way of getting inside everyone’s head. Anyway, I took this as my opportunity to get out while I could. It was getting late, and I needed to get home. Unless of course my superpowers came in, I had a big day of work ahead of me using my plumber powers.

So we said our goodbyes. Saul looked a little disappointed, but then Lucy seemed to cheer him right up, which was fine with me. I left Cackles, and stepped into the Quick-Mart that was in the next block over. I grabbed a loaf of bread for a sandwich to make when I got home. As I checked out, the store clerk asked me if I wanted to buy a lottery ticket. On a whim, I decided I would.

“What do you recommend,” I asked.

“Well, the big Powerball is coming up next week. Or, of course, we have lots of scratch-off games if you want to get rich a little quicker.” 

We both laughed. “OK, sure,” I said. I looked in my wallet, and all I had left was a twenty dollar bill. “Give me a $20 scratch off card.”

“Which one? We’ve got the Zodiac series, or the Lucky Lady set. The Slot O’ Fun cards?”

“Surprise me, but pick me out a winner,” I said. Hey, maybe my superpowers will involve being able to win lotteries. That would be a miracle indeed. That said, I have never won a dime in the lottery.

I walked toward the door, with the loaf of bread in one hand, while studying the scratch-off lottery card which I held in my other hand. It was from the Zodiac series: Pisces. It had a series of stars connected like the Big Dipper, and in the middle were two fish that went along with the Zodiac theme of Pisces.

I should have asked for a Leo. I am a Leo. Of course, thinking about astrology and horoscopes is not exactly what the Son of God should be doing. Nor is buying lottery tickets. A pang of doubt gently tapped my mind.

As I left the Quick-Mart, I accidentally opened the door right into the face of an elderly lady. She stumbled back a few steps and landed on her backside on the sidewalk. Worse yet, as I got a better look at her I could tell she was a nun. Perfect. I just killed a nun. Ugh. “I am so sorry, sister. Are you okay?” I asked.

“Oh dear, yes. Just a little surprised is all.” She made a little laugh. “I think I am fine. Can you help me up?”

“Of course, of course, sure,” I stammered. She extended her hand. Surprisingly, It was warm. She made a little groan as I helped her back up to her feet. “I feel terrible, sister. I was not watching where I was going. Are you sure you’re ok?”

“I think so, I do. No worries, my child.”

“If you don’t mind me asking, why are you out so late at night?”

The nun sighed. “Well, we have a shelter for the poor and downtrodden just down the street. We are low on funds and food, and high on poor and hungry people. So we are out looking for donations in order to buy food for them all. They are great people. Just down on their luck, and, I fear, the hungrier they become, the less patient and faithful they will be.”

She had regained her composure. She looked at me and smiled. “Could you spare a few dollars to help feed the needy?”

I was tapped out. Stupid lottery ticket. Why did I do that? So I gave her the loaf of bread and the Pisces lottery ticket. “It’s not much, sister, but, heh heh,” I laughed nervously, “maybe that lottery ticket will pay off for you.”

She smiled weakly. I could tell she was disappointed and not too impressed. But she thanked me anyway and kept on about her business.

I made it home, and fixed myself a breadless sandwich with the deli meat that seemed the least objectionable in my fridge. Then I was off to bed, where I would lay for hours, not sleeping, my brain swimming with thoughts alternating between Robbie, Mary, and even the fiery Lucy. And Zay Zay. And an old nun.



---
I thought growing old would take longer.
4/29/2018, 10:52 am Link to this post PM bigbarry2u
 
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Re: Messiah Remix


I was bemoaning my realities. Crappy employment prospects. No love life. A huge embarrassment with Larry tonight. Parents less than thrilled to have me continuing to mooch off them. And who could blame any of them? I certainly wasn't contributing anything worthwhile to the world. I stared, unfocused, out the window into the darkness. Jackson Heights is not quite ten miles from Ozone Park, yet it takes the bus nearly an hour to make the trip. I had lots of time to be gloomy.

A few stops later the bus was filling up. An older Hispanic woman gestured to the empty seat next to me. "OK?" she asked. I nodded. I smiled as she sat and took a look at her. She was probably sixty-ish and a bit plump, like a soft, comforting grandmother. She wore a tired house dress and flat shoes that had seen better days. I wondered what she was doing out at this time of night. She looked at me, too.

"Triste?" she asked, sympathy in her voice.

My first instinct was to deny being sad. Whose business was my emotional state? But she looked so warm and kind I let myself go. "Si," I said.

Her face took on an expression of understanding and concern. She gave me a sympathetic smile.

"Tu hablas español?" she asked, as if we could talk more completely if I could speak Spanish.

"Un poco," I said. A little. "Un pococito," I clarified. A very little. She looked disappointed as, I discovered, was I. I'd spent four years at Columbia studying my own native tongue. Why hadn't I spent any time learning the language I heard most around me in Ozone Park? We fell silent.

She gave me her sympathetic smile again, then patted my knee before she rose to get off at the stop we were now approaching. "Buenas noches," she said softly. "Vaya con Dios."

My guess was I was going to go with this bus load of night-lifers and God probably wasn't going to go with us, but I smiled and said "Buenas noches," in return, and echoed her "vaya con Dios." She stepped off the bus and into the night.

I returned to contemplating my life, but now it didn't seem quite so heavy. I consoled myself that I hadn't missed much by failing to attract Larry. After all, I had a diploma from Columbia. What did he have, an honorary degree from Trump University? That thought made me chuckle to myself. I had a good chance of getting hired into a regular teacher's aide position for the coming school year, which would enable me to pay board and room to my parents. Things looked hopeful.

I fell asleep as soon as I got home and hit the bed.

When I woke up the next morning I found my mother in the kitchen drinking a can of V-8. She was on the South Beach Diet and that called for vegetable juice, rather than fruit juice, first thing in the morning. She was looking at the little TV set in the dining nook while she drank it. "Come quickly," she urged. "I saw this story earlier. It's unbelievable!" I sat next to her just as the talking head threw it to the reporter in the field.

"I'm here with Sister Mary Clara," said the breathless, perfectly-coiffed pretty young woman. Sister Mary Clara, conversely, was very old. "Last night she had an amazing experience. Tell our viewers about it," the reporter encouraged.

"Well," said Sister Mary Clara, who appeared a bit flustered, "I don't know where to begin, exactly. I'm part of an order that tends to the poor and homeless. We have a shelter for them, and we survive solely on donations. Our donations have been quite reduced lately, and we're having trouble buying enough food."

The pretty young reporter nodded encouragingly.

"Tonight I was knocked down by a young man coming out of the Quick-Mart as I was going in."

"Oh, no!" exclaimed the pretty young reporter.

"No, no, it was an accident. Anyway, he helped me up and made sure I wasn't hurt. He asked why I was out so late and I told him I was trying to see if I could get a little more food. He said he had no more money, but he did have a loaf of bread and a lottery ticket."

The pretty young reporter nodded again.

"And he gave them to me," Sister Mary Clara continued. "Well, I was grateful, of course, but feared it wouldn't be enough. I went inside and told the clerk what had happened. He gave me a penny to scratch the lottery ticket."

The pretty young reporter clearly wanted her to get on with the story. "And then...?"

Sister Mary Clara exhaled and shook her head in wonder. "It was a winner. It paid a thousand dollars!" Her wide smile was electrifying. She looked skyward. "Thank you God! Thank you Jesus!" She was glowing in her happiness and gratitude.

"And there you have it," said the pretty young reporter, throwing it back to the studio.

Mom was smiling nearly as beatifically as Sister Mary Clara had.

"Anything to eat?" I asked.

Last edited by Miz Robbie, 4/29/2018, 4:48 pm


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4/29/2018, 2:02 pm Link to this post PM Miz Robbie
 
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Re: Messiah Remix


“Looks like it’s just you and me, Jude,” Lucy said. “Wanna go get stoned and wash each other’s hair?”

As soon as Larry disappeared through the door, Saul had sat down in his chair, put his head on the table, and begun to snore.

“Not me,” I said. “Pot makes me giggle. I never giggle.”

She looked me over. “I suppose not,” she said. “Well, we could share a taxi and catch up on the last five years. Are you going my way?”

For the first time tonight, Lucy and I got lucky. A taxi was letting people out at the door as we came through it. She gave the driver our addresses, and we settled in.

“So, how are your folks?” Lucy said.

“No idea. I never see them. Still screaming at each other, I suppose. After graduation, I shook the dust of Ozone Park off my feet, and never went back. Until tonight.”

“And Mary?”

“Still with me,” I said.

“Ever let her out?”

“When the occasion demands, and that’s damn seldom. But…you know.”

“She’s quieter?” Lucy said.

“Much quieter, away from them. How are your folks?”

“Dad died, and Mother spends most of her time at the cemetery. I swear she used most of his insurance money to decorate his grave. It’s given her a reason to live. There’s a spring in her step and a rose in her cheek. It’s been good for me, actually. It’s got her off my case. In fact, I hadn’t heard from her in a while before she called to tell me about the invitation to the reunion. It came to her house, and of course she opened it.”

“Of course.” We both laughed.

“The reunion committee had my address,” I said. “I mean, Mary’s address. She subscribed to the newsletter. She wouldn’t give me any peace until I agreed to go. Finally, I thought, why not? It could be a hoot. And sure enough, I got to see Saul Tarsus drunk, and...” I cut myself off.

“AND you got to see both Robbie and me snubbed by that nerd Larry Kettleman,” she said. She smiled ironically. “I don’t blame you. I felt exactly the same way when I saw him snub Robbie.”

“So why did you decide to come?” I said.

“Revenge,” she said. “I wanted Larry to see what he turned down in high school, and I wanted him to BURN.” That ironic smile again.

“Well, I’m glad it’s over,” I said. “I’ll get back to my exciting job counting other people’s money.”

“You count other people’s money?”

“I work at an accounting firm,” I said. “I’m a CPA. You wouldn’t believe the things people spend their money on.”

“Oh, I’d believe more than you think,” she said. “I know all about the irresistible power of temptation. Speaking of which, it’s far from being over between Larry Kettleman and me.”

“What are you going to do to him? He doesn’t like you meek and giving, and he doesn’t like you racy and aggressive, and he doesn’t like you subtly seductive.”

“He has not yet begun to see my myriad manifestations,” she purred.

“Your myriad manifestations, huh? And if they all, finally, fail?”

“Have you ever seen a crucifixion?” she said.


Last edited by Bellelettres, 4/30/2018, 11:39 am
4/30/2018, 10:54 am Link to this post PM Bellelettres
 
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Re: Messiah Remix


I awoke to a voice, his voice. His voice. Whatever.

I laid in bed, looking up only at the ceiling. It had been a while since I heard from Him. I used to be excited about this, but I was about over it. I saw motion out of my peripheral vision. He was in my room, in the flesh. Damn.

“What do you want, Dad?” I did not want to look at him, so I did not.

“Son, you are doing well. I am well pleased.”

“So pleased you have once again come to me in my room, taking the shape of what, now? A beekeeper? A prison guard? Maybe an airline pilot?”

Silence. I did not want to look. I was not going to look. Dammit, I was not going to look.

So. I waited.

Silence.

So I looked.

“What do you think?” God asked.

I rolled over on an elbow, and took it all in. There, standing in the corner of my room, stood a fisherman. Not just a fisherman, but an old man who looked like a tourist that just took up fishing. Reminded me of Colonel Blake on that old TV show called “M*A*S*H”. A floppy hat with flies hooked in various places. He was wearing khaki hip waders and brown boots. A red and black flannel shirt, and a vest that I’m pretty sure doubled as a life jacket. He was holding an old fishing pole.

“You look ridiculous, Dad,” I said. “No self-respecting fish would ever be caught by someone in an outfit like that.”

God laughed. “Well, that’s ok, because you are the one that is going fishing, son.”

“Not today. I have a plumbing project that requires my attention. And unless the basement of the Queens Towers apartments has flooded, I don’t expect to be anywhere near any fish.”

“I will provide the fish, son. You just need to cast the net.”

Ugh. I rolled on to my back and looked up at the ceiling. “Why do you always talk to me in riddles? Just tell me what you want me to do.”

“You are doing great, my son. And your time is rapidly approaching. Besides, you have already caught a couple of fish. I think they will serve you well.”

I sighed. It is so frustrating to be the Son of God. I mean, you would think that I would only be able to fall on my knees and cry “Holy! Holy! Holy!” But no. I have to go through life, thinking I am crazy, knowing that I am Jesus 2.0. The new and improved Savior of the World. The Messiah Remix. And for what? Just so that—

My alarm clock turned on, blaring music into my room.

“I need a hero
I'm holding out for a hero 'til the morning light
He's gotta be sure
And it's gotta be soon
And he's gotta be larger than life!
I need a—“


Bonnie somebody, I think. Turner? Tyler?

I turned off the alarm, and looked over to see my room, not surprisingly, empty of all things divine.

“Kiss my ass, Dad!” I called out.

And so began a most eventful day.

Last edited by bigbarry2u, 5/4/2018, 12:15 am


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5/3/2018, 10:16 pm Link to this post PM bigbarry2u
 
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Re: Messiah Remix


The week before the reunion, Mom had taken me aside to have a quiet conversation. She chose her favorite place, the breakfast nook just off the kitchen. It had a built-in table with a bench going around three sides, a comfortable place for a cup of coffee or a quick sandwich. There was a small TV on the kitchen counter, facing the breakfast nook. Mom stole a few minutes every morning in that spot. That day, she didn't turn on the TV and asked me to join her. This looked serious.

"Your dad and I have tried to make ends meet," she said. "We were beyond proud of you for winning your scholarship to Columbia, and for sticking with it and graduating." She smiled. "But we really did think you'd put your degree to some kind of employment use. This substitute teacher's aide thing isn't doing much."

I started to say something, but I didn't know what it would be. Something defensive, probably. I tried the first thing that came to mind. "You know I've gotten good reviews," I said. "And you know I've taken all the in-service classes they require before they'll consider me for a regular position."

Mom nodded. "And will you get a regular position this fall?"

"Well, I hope so," I said.

"I hope so, too," said Mom. "Meanwhile, you're not bringing in a dime, and none of us knows when that might change."

I looked down. That was all too true.

"So," Mom continued, "I went looking for various temporary positions that might get you through the next couple of weeks, until school starts."

"Who wants somebody for a couple of weeks?" I said, trying not to sound scornful.

"A few places," Mom said. "Not many. But here are two."

One she'd found in the paper. One she'd found online. I was astonished. I looked closely. One of them was Right-Way Plumbing, located in Jamaica, only a 20-minute bus ride away.

When I met with the owner I learned what the job was. The company was moving from paper records to computer records and needed someone to help in the transition. Basically, they wanted somebody to take the work orders from the last few months and type the information into the computer. Could I type fast? How's 72 words per minute, I had asked. Perfect, he had responded, although they made me take a test just to be sure. I hit 74 words per minute with only one error. They offered me the job at $[sign in to see URL] per hour, the minimum wage. I took it.

And now the clock radio went off, announcing my first morning to go to work.

I could swear there is someone
somewhere
watching me.
Through the wind
 and the chill
 and the rain

And the storm
 and the flood
 I can feel his approach like a fire in my blood.

I need a hero. I'm holding out for a hero 'til the end of the night


Yeah, thanks, Bonnie. It's the end of the night and, once again, no hero. I struggled out of bed, into the shower, and into some clothes. Luckily casual dress was appropriate because that was about all I had. When I got downstairs I was happy to see Mom had packed me a lunch and made me some coffee, carefully put into an insulated coffee cup with a lid. She knew just how much sugar and cream to add. I arrived at Right-Way Plumbing with ten minutes to spare. The owner greeted me and expressed his pleasure that I was early to the job.

I was shown to a desk and a computer. In an in-basket was a stack of hand written work orders that were to be entered into the computer. He showed me the computer program he wanted me to use. As I was getting settled three other women came into the room and took the other desks. I was introduced to them as Jessica, Emily, and Sarah. "Sarah with an 'h'," she pointed out. We all smiled and nodded at each other, and they offered to help if I was confused by anything.

I took the first work order off the stack. The customer's name was shown as "The Olson's." I looked up. "What's the apostrophe for?" I asked. Emily looked at the paper. "Oh," she said, "it's the whole family, you know?"

"Is there some Olson who is the Olson, and that Olson owns the house?" I was still confused.

Emily looked impatient. "No. It's that lots of Olsons live there, so we showed that."

"We don't use an apostrophe to make something plural," I said, frowning. Emily didn't respond.

I read a little farther. "Their is no hot water," the work order continued.

I looked at Jessica. "Does this mean There?" I asked.

"Yeah, sure," she said. I typed it in with the correct spelling.

I read more. "Your going to see on earlier work orders that they had this problem before."

I looked at Sarah with an "h." "Should this be You're?" I asked.

"Look," Sarah with an "h" replied. "This isn't English class. Everybody knows what this stuff says. What are you, some kind of English snot?"

"What are you," I responded, "some kind of illiterate?"

Jessica got up and left the room. Almost immediately the owner came in and asked me to come to his office.

"I think we're done, here," he said, and gave me a day's pay.

What the...?

I walked out of the building trying not to cry, and crashed right into some guy I couldn't see through my tears.

Last edited by Miz Robbie, 5/4/2018, 11:59 am


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5/4/2018, 1:24 am Link to this post PM Miz Robbie
 
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Re: Messiah Remix


Saul Tarsus was deep in a dream.

He saw a woman sit upon a scarlet colored beast, full of names of blasphemy, having seven heads and ten horns.

And the woman was arrayed in purple and scarlet color, and decked with gold and precious stones and pearls, having a golden cup in her hand full of abominations and filthiness of her fornication:

And he saw the woman drunken with the blood of the saints, and with the blood of the martyrs of Jesus: and when she looked at him, he saw that she had the face of Lucy Ferrell.

The beast and the woman disappeared into the mist, and the mist became a whirl of gossamer veils of many colors

And one by one, the veils were thrown off, to float like clouds away into the mist.

And from behind the veils, a form began to emerge, the form of a woman, as naked and glorious as God made her

And Saul did marvel at her beauty, and as he marveled, the spectre of a man rose up behind her.

The man was arrayed in a scarlet cape, and carried a long black staff with the tines of a pitchfork

His face was twisted in an evil smile. His eyes were burning lumps of coal, under eyebrows like thunderclouds.

Seeing Saul’s state, he broke into horrible laughter; and the woman turned her face to Saul, and he saw that it was the face of Lucy Ferrell.

The woman looked back at the man, and his smile turned gentle. “What can I give you, my love, my treasure?” he said.

And she said, “Bring me the head of Saul Tarsus.” And he said, “It will be done.”

Saul struggled in his bed, suffocated with terror. The drum rolled, and the executioner raised his ax…


“Saul! Saul, are you in there?” The knocking on the door became louder.

Saul fought free of the covers and tumbled out of bed onto the floor. “Just a minute!” he croaked. “Hold on. I’m coming!”

He got to his feet but stumbled over the clothes that were strewn along the floor all the way to the door of the studio apartment. Looking down, he was relieved to see that he was still wearing his undershorts. He opened the door an inch.

Pete, the assistant manager, peered in at him and grinned. “Hung-over?” he said. “I didn’t think you had it in you.”

Saul opened the door wide, and turned away. Pete came in, and Saul went to the kitchenette and turned on the heat under the pot of yesterday’s coffee.

“She must have been some chick,” Pete chattered. “It’s about time.” He couldn’t stop grinning. “She’s not still here, is she?” He looked toward the bathroom door, which was closed.
 
“What do you want?” Saul said. “I’m off today.”

“Not anymore, you’re not,” Pete said. “Jenkins has the flu, if it’s really the flu; but he looks worse than you do, so it probably is. The plumber is coming at 10 to fix 306B’s hot water. They’re not getting any.”

“My water is hot,” Saul said. He was running it to wash a cup. “Don’t we all get hot water from the same unit?”

“That’s all I was told a few minutes ago,” Pete said. “I got my orders, and you got yours. Yours are to go to 306B and see what the problem is in there, and then talk to the plumber when he gets here. For all I know, the tenants did something to the plumbing that they will have to pay for.” He wrinkled his nose. “But shave first, and grab a shower. Your face looks like a field after a grass fire, and you smell like…”

“Out!” Saul yelled.

“I’m going. I’m going. It’s 306B. I wrote it down.” Pete put a piece of paper on the counter. “He’ll be here at 10 o’clock. You don’t have much time to…”

Saul glared at him and raised the coffee pot like a club.

“I’m going. I’m going.” Pete went.

Shaved, bathed, and deodorized, Saul took the back elevator to the third floor. The carpet was thick and the walls were bright as ivory in the indirect lighting from the ceiling. He felt lucky to have landed a maintenance job in such a nice apartment building, after his degree in theology failed to open better employment opportunities.

306B would be at the other end of the corridor. The doors were thick and well-fitted, so that no sounds came from behind them. The numbers were in beige above a peephole and a mail drop. 306B would be this one.

He knocked, and waited, and knocked again.

Lucy Ferrell, wearing a scarlet dressing gown, opened the door, and Saul fainted.


Last edited by Bellelettres, 5/6/2018, 5:21 pm
5/6/2018, 2:38 pm Link to this post PM Bellelettres
 
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Re: Messiah Remix


I walked from my apartment to the bus station. And I did so angrily. I muttered to myself.

Don’t talk to me about fishing. No one cares about fishing in New York. Any fish you might pull out of the Hudson River is likely to be ugly, smelly, disgusting and probably toxic. The whole fishing thing just worked the first time around. People depended on fishing. Help a guy catch a boatload of fish and he’d follow you to the ends of the earth. Do that now and you’d be fined for not having the right permit, and you’d give the guy mercury poisoning. Then get sued.

Fishing? Don’t freaking talk to me about fishing.


I walked past the Quik-Mart and came across Zay Zay, sitting outside of Cackles.

Once again, the blind man somehow saw me coming.

“Behold, the hero, the warrior, the saint.”

“That’s me,” I laughed. “How do you always know when I am coming? I took a shower. It’s not by smell.”

“Oh, it’s you, Larry. I thought it was someone important. You suck, by the way.”

“Apparently, everyone does, right?”

He laughed. “It’s true. Wouldn’t be comedy if there wasn’t some truth in it,” Zay Zay said. “But I’ll tell you who sucks the most. I mean, the very, very most.”

I stopped. And waited. I didn’t have to say anything. I knew he would tell me. And I knew what he would say.

“You’re damn right!” he said, “Jacob, that’s who.”

“What has your son done this time?”

“Not a Gawd-damned thing, that’s what,” Zay Zay complained. “Too busy to call his dad, too busy to check in on his poor, ol’ blind, helpless pop”.

“Helpless? You? Please. Anyway, I met Jacob once. Seemed, like a good kid,” I said.

“That’s because you suck almost as bad as he does. You kids are taking over the world, crushing everyone with your Starbucks lattes and your global warmin’, tree huggin’, big corporate servin’, fancy suit wearin’, Mercedes-Benz drivin’ asshole mentality.”

“Yeah, that’s me. Gotta go, I’m late for unclogging crap out of some slob’s toilet. And I haven’t had my latte yet. And,” I laughed, “I misplaced the keys to my Mercedes. And my high rise office. And my expensive Armani suit is at the cleaners. Take care, Zay Zay.”

He scoffed and threw up his hands. “The day is coming, I promise ya. You punks are going to hell. And God’s gonna get ya good.”

I paused. “Hey, Zay Zay. You wanna go fishing some time?” It was worth a shot.

“Fishing? Get the hell outta here, man.”

We both laughed. “All right, all right.”

“Fishing,” he scoffed.

“Take it easy, Zay Zay. See ya in hell.”

“I’ll save you a seat.”

I took the bus into Jamaica to check in at the office and get my work orders for the day. There I would change into my uniform, and get the service truck.

Anyway, the bus ride was uneventful, and I finally stopped talking to myself about fishing, much to the relief of the bus driver who probably watched me more in the mirror than he did the street before him. I stopped in for a cup of coffee at Cafe O’Ray’s. My first appointment was not until 10am, so it would be impolite to show up before 11. I had plenty of time.

“Look, Dad,” I said. “What do you want from me? What fish have I caught? How can they serve me well?”

I said it out loud. No one looked at me. No one cared. Hey, it’s New York.

I paid for the coffee, and headed out on the sidewalk. People hustled everywhere, to wherever they were going. It always amazed me that so many people had a place to be, and they always seemed to be in a hurry to get there.

“Give me a hint, Dad,” I said out loud. “Just a sign. Anything.”

As if on cue, a woman hurrying on her way down the street plowed right into the man who was walking in front of me. They both went to the sidewalk with a thud. I jumped out of the way of the man as he fell backward. My first thought was that this would have been a good opportunity for a “trust fall”. If so, I failed. Sucks for him.

I sidestepped the man, and was walking past the lady when she rolled over on to her side, her arms flailing, accidentally catching her hand in the hem of my pants, near my ankle. And down I went.

The three of us lay sputtering and stunned.

“Watch where you’re going, lady,” complained the first man as he got up and hobbled off.

I rolled over to look at her. Our eyes both widened at the same time.

“Well, hi, Robbie.”

“Larry?”

I’ll be damned.

“And how are you doing, little fish?” I laughed. I was suddenly very happy.

“Wh-…What?” she said, understandably confused, still stunned.

I helped her to her feet. “Are you okay?” I asked.

“Uhm, yes. I mean… I--I think so.”

“Well,” I said. “I think that’s a good sign.”

Thanks, Dad.

Last edited by bigbarry2u, 5/8/2018, 10:49 pm


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5/8/2018, 10:17 pm Link to this post PM bigbarry2u
 
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Re: Messiah Remix


Larry. Now that was beyond embarrassing.

"Jesus," I said in dismay as he helped me to my feet. I brushed myself off. "I'm so sorry!"

"A rather light cross to bear," he replied, smiling. "But I did lose my cup of coffee in the deal."

"I'll buy you another," I said. "It's all my fault."

"I'll let you do that only if you'll join me," he said. "I have a few minutes, if you have."

We went into Cafe O’Ray’s and ordered coffees. Neither of us asked for foo-foo stuff, just brewed coffee, regular. The counter man pronounced it "rag-you-luh," so we knew he was a local. He put in the two sugars and two shots of milk as if he were on automatic pilot. We took a table.

At first I didn't want to tell him why I'd been crying, although he asked in a very sympathetic tone. But finally, when he seemed so warm and caring, I broke down and explained. He continued to be comforting, only laughing when it turned out my story had occurred at the place he worked.

Then he told me a plumbing story. It revolved around bad tenants in an apartment building his company serviced. The renters hadn't paid for months, and when the landlord came around to collect the tenants punched him hard in the jaw. The landlord came back with an eviction notice and some muscle to enforce it. The tenants trashed the place, even pulling out most of the fixtures in the bathroom. Larry shook his head in amazement, as he recalled the mess. "Fortunately," he concluded, "we were able to fix it all and the landlord could still rent it out to someone else. But can you believe some people?"

As he finished we became aware of two guys approaching our table. Larry snapped to, greeting them warmly. "Robbie," he said, smiling, "these are two of my homies, Bart and Matt." Larry gestured at the two vacant chairs. "Join us," he invited. The guys sat.

"Do you all work together?" I asked.

"No," said Bart, "we play baseball together." Larry and Matt nodded.

"Really?" I hadn't heard anything about baseball before this. "What team?"

Matt chuckled. "Well, it's kind of an odd team. Do you know of the Interfaith Council in Flatbush?"

I shook my head.

"They do interesting things to encourage community involvement," he said, "as well as doing other good works in Queens."

"Collecting and donating clothes for the homeless," said Bart. "Running food drives. You know."

I nodded.

"So," continued Matt, "one of the things they do is sponsor baseball teams and games. They invite everyone and anyone in Queens to come play. We form teams. The teams can't have more than thirteen members, and if someone is the manager or coach that person still counts as one of the thirteen. Most of us have a player/coach who ends up being the manager as well." He paused and looked at Larry. "Larry's ours, as well as being a pitcher. That gives him some games off as we use a couple of the other three guys as rotating pitchers."

"What fun!" I said. "Does your team have a name?"

Larry looked a little sheepish. "Um, yeah, these guys came up with it."

"What is it?" I asked.

Bart grinned. "The Apostles," he said. "We thought that name was so obvious that some other team would have already taken it. But no one had, so we did." He chuckled. "I mean, seriously, one leader plus twelve more guys? Right?"

All three of them laughed, but Larry looked a little chagrined.

"You should come cheer us on sometime," Matt said. "The whole team is a bunch of great guys that love playing together."

"Who," I said. "Guys who love playing together."

Bart and Matt looked at each other with puzzled expressions.

"I think I'm starting to understand this morning's problem," Larry said, looking at me.

Last edited by Miz Robbie, 5/9/2018, 12:41 pm


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5/9/2018, 12:40 pm Link to this post PM Miz Robbie
 
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Re: Messiah Remix


Dark. It was dark, and there were voices. Saul felt around. He was lying on something hard. It felt like the floor.

“Saul? Wake up, buddy. Did you hurt yourself?” Was that Pete?

“He just folded over,” a female voice said. “I opened the door and saw him, and he saw me, and he got this stricken look on his face.” She giggled. “He just toppled over.”

“Lights,” Saul tried to say. “Turn on the lights.” But he couldn’t make his voice work.

Hands took hold of his arm. “Can you walk, buddy? Can you get up? Larry, you get the other arm. That’s right. Get your feet under you. Can you get the door, Lucy? Let’s get him inside.”

Saul was on his feet, and they were walking him sideways through a door – he felt the doorway slide along his back -- but they still hadn’t turned on the lights. Why didn’t they turn on the lights?

“Sit him down here,” Lucy said. His legs were backed up against the front of a chair and he sat down carefully. The seat was soft. He stretched out his arms, feeling for the arms of the chair, but they weren’t there. He slid his hands along the seat. It was a sofa. He was sitting on a sofa.

“Turn on the lights,” he said.

“What do you mean?” Pete said.

“I think he’s blind,” Lucy said. “That must be SOME hangover.” She giggled again.

“It’s daylight, buddy,” Pete said. “Sun is coming through the window.”

“Do you have some hair of the dog?” another voice said. Was that Larry?

“Is the Pope Catholic?” Lucy said. Then Saul felt a sudden vacuum in front of him, and a slight cool breeze. It was as if an evil presence had left the room.

“You must have hit your head when you fell,” Pete said. “It’ll be OK.”

“Will this do?” The evil presence was back. “It’s a little brandy.”

“He must have hit his head,” Pete said. “You give it to him, Larry.”

Saul felt someone take his arm and put a glass in his hand. “Here’s mud in your eye,” Larry said.

Saul sipped. It burned. He sipped again and blinked. Larry was smiling at him.

“Oh, Lord!” Saul cried. “Oh, Lord! I was blind, but now I can see. I can see!”


Last edited by Bellelettres, 5/14/2018, 10:30 am
5/14/2018, 10:28 am Link to this post PM Bellelettres
 
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Re: Messiah Remix


And there it was: My first miracle. I healed him. I did it! What a relief.

I sat there in astonishment.

Now.

How did I do it? Was it automatic? Or was it the sequence of movements?

He was on the floor, lying there, moaning. Groaning. He complained of snakes and demons. And darkness. Was he drunk? Hungover? Injured?

I said to him, “Saul! Saul!” I shook him, trying to wake him up. “Why are you doing this to me, bro? Why are you punishing me? Snap out of it, man, or I’ll make ya blind for real!”

He moaned incoherently.

All of this was sounding familiar, a distant memory from my first time around as the Messiah. But forget the obvious road to Damascus bit. I had the opportunity to heal the blind. I asked Lucy to bring me some booze, but mostly so I could think about what to do. It was all so creepy to find her waiting for me on my plumbing assignment. She said coincidence. I said “My holy ass.”

Anyway, seemed like the old remedy involved dirt and spit. I reached into a potted plant next to the chair where Saul sat. When Pete looked away, I spit on the dirt in my hand. It wasn’t much. As I rubbed it on his eyelids, Lucy came in with some brandy. I thought she noticed what I was doing, but I guess not.

I said, “Here’s mud in your eye,” laughing to myself about the inside joke, and gave him a sip of the brandy. Then I rubbed the dirt out of his eyes, and voila!. He could see!

I mean, he really was blind, wasn’t he? Saul was emotional, excited, and I think, converted. Fish number 2. Or was it 3? Who knows?

“Pete, you’ll see that he gets home?” I asked.

“Sure thing, Larry.”

Pete’s a good guy, well, for the most part. Last time I saw him he was drunk. And he was repeatedly crowing about something, but I don’t think I’ll mention it now. He’d deny it anyway.

So after all the excitement, I determined that Lucy did, in fact, have hot water. She swore that it had been cold for days. Maybe she was right. Maybe it was another miracle. It could happen. Maybe I was on a roll now. Things could only get better from here.

On the way out of the building, I saw a man sitting in a wheelchair. He was uncomfortable in it, I could tell. It was like he was trying it out for someone. "Rise, and walk my child," I said. "Go and sin no more."

It pissed him off, and he leapt up and started cursing me. "Sin? You call me a sinner, !@#$? Yeah you better walk away, you weak-ass mutha--".

Some people don't know how to deal with miracles. I hurried on. Three miracles in a matter of minutes. Finally I was getting somewhere.

I had a few more assignments in the afternoon. Then, as promised, I left to meet Robbie for an early dinner. It was a neat little pub on Rodgers Avenue. It was called, “The Well.”

Last edited by bigbarry2u, 5/15/2018, 12:06 am


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5/15/2018, 12:03 am Link to this post PM bigbarry2u
 
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I walked around Jamaica, window shopping and generally loafing, until it would be time to go home if I had worked at Right-Way Plumbing all day. I took the bus home. Mom greeted me at the door, all smiles. "How'd your first day go, honey?" she asked, full of happy anticipation.

"Fine," I said, "but I got done. There won't be a second day."

"Huh?" said Mom, not understanding. "I thought this was a two-week job."

"I thought so, too," I responded, "but I'm done in one." I handed her the pay envelope. "He paid me $104 out of petty cash. I used a little of it, but here's $100."

She took the envelope, still looking puzzled. "Well, I know you type fast, but..."

"Yep," I said, as if that explained everything. I didn't want to explain anything.

"Oh!" she said, as a thought struck. "You have mail from the school district." She pointed to an envelope sitting on the coffee table. I grabbed it and opened it and read it aloud to Mom.

"The New York City Department of Education is pleased to inform you that you have been selected as a Title I Reading Specialist at P.S. 65, The Raymond York Elementary School, in Jamaica, Queens, New York. As part of the paraprofessional staff, you will report for your first day of work on Tuesday, September 4, 2018. Your starting salary is $29,954 per year and you will have the option of selecting from several health care plans.

The paraprofessional staff is represented by the Paraprofessionals Chapter of the United Federation of Teachers. A representative of that union will contact you regarding your dues obligations.

Congratulations on your new assignment!"


My knees went weak and I sank into the sofa. "Thank the Lord!" I sighed. Mom's knees must have given out at the same time, as she sank into the overstuffed chair.

"That takes a load off my mind," sighed Mom. I nodded in agreement.

"I have a dinner date tonight," I said, suddenly remembering. "Well, maybe it's not so much a date as it is a meeting."

Mom looked puzzled. "I'm meeting Larry Kettleman for dinner. I saw him at the reunion, and then ran into him again today. It turns out he works at Right-Way Plumbing. Anyway, he invited me to join him tonight for dinner at The Well." I looked at my watch. "Holy cats, I need to get a move on!"

When I got to the restaurant I found Larry waiting just inside the door. He smiled at me when I arrived, and his grin was so infectious I found myself smiling back as if I were responding to a command. As soon as we were shown to our table a young woman appeared with a water pitcher in hand. "We're practicing water conservation," she informed us. "We'd be happy to fill your water glasses if you'd like, but won't do so if you don't care to have water."

Larry looked up at her. "We should all conserve our bounty," he said, prompting a quizzical look from the young woman. "What if I told you there is a spring that will provide living water through all eternity?"

She looked him over. "I'd guess you were about to hand me some sort of pamphlet," she responded, taking a step back. "But," she continued, "it might be nice to have that if it meant I didn't need to keep going back to the well..." ...she nodded toward the bar... "...to refill this pitcher over and over."

"The time is coming," Larry said.

"Right," said the young woman. "So is Christmas. Meanwhile, I'm busing eight tables, so you want some water or don't you?" Without waiting for an answer, she filled both our glasses.

We scanned the menus and made our selections. I ordered chicken; Larry ordered roast beef. I had white wine; Larry had red wine. We ate companionably.

"What got you interested in plumbing?" I finally asked.

"Well, I wasn't, really," he responded. "I had a full-ride scholarship to MIT and did two years there. I was studying physics and was pretty decent at it."

I hoped my jaw hadn't dropped for real. "I had no idea," I said, trying not to stammer. "Why did you leave?"

"I dropped out to honor my father's wish that I become a plumber," he explained, as if that were a logical preference on his father's part.

I didn't want to criticize his father, but didn't quite know what to say. "You must love your father very much," I finally got out.

"Very much, indeed," he confirmed. "Although sometimes he asks me to do things I don't fully understand. I am confident, however, that he didn't build a staircase that would lead me nowhere."

Again, I was surprised by his words. "Very... um... philosophical," I managed.

He had finished his entree and sat back in his chair, sipping his wine. "Philosophical," he murmured, echoing me. "Did you study any philosophy at Columbia?"

"A little," I said. "Some kind of introductory course."

"MIT has General Institute Requirements," he explained. "You can't just sit on your major, you have to take humanities and that sort of thing."

I nodded. "Same at Columbia."

"So," he continued, "I took philosophy. You're familiar with Rene Descartes, no doubt."

"Some," I said, trying to remember.

"Do you recall his Evil Genius argument?" I didn't, and shook my head. "Well, in a nutshell, it goes like this: Imagine there is a genius who is so evil and so intent on deceiving us that what we think is reality, isn't. The Evil Genius has some other sense that we don't have, and he knows what is real, but we don't."

I nodded.

"I think Descartes was on to something," Larry continued, nodding a bit. "But the genius isn't evil. He's benevolent. He knows realities that we don't, but his intent isn't to deceive us. It's to give us many blessings. The evil comes in when we thwart what he is trying to lovingly provide. Maybe we're the evil, although we're not quite geniuses."

We were both quiet, musing separately.

The bus came back and refilled our water glasses.

---
Robbie
5/15/2018, 1:10 pm Link to this post PM Miz Robbie
 
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Re: Messiah Remix


“Jude, it felt like another reunion,” Lucy said to me on the phone. “But Pete Pope was there. Did you see him at the reunion?”

“I don’t think so,” I said. “Is he still a scrawny little guy?”

“No, he’s filled out some too. Didn’t his little brother used to follow Mary around? Sandy, was it?”

“Andy,” I reminded her. “I felt really sorry for his big, sad eyes. But Mary only had eyes for Larry. Tell me about Saul.”

“Like I said: he took one look at me and toppled right over. I don’t think a guy has ever fallen for me in exactly that way before.”

“And Larry restored his sight?”

“You would have thought so from the way Saul carried on when he drank the brandy and the first thing he saw was Larry. He seemed to think he had been healed by Jesus. I thought he was going to start singing ‘Amazing Grace.’”

“That must have been a hoot.”

“Larry had the hardest time getting away from him afterward. I’m afraid Larry has a disciple -- a male one this time. How IS Mary?”

“Larry didn’t have such a hard time getting away from you, as I recall.” I didn’t want to talk about Mary.

“!@#$!” Lucy was laughing. “The Cackle Club was only Round 1.”

“As I recall, that would have been Round –“

“Never mind! If you don’t shut up, I won’t tell you the really good dirt.”

“Zip!”

“That’s better. Guess who Larry had dinner with last night.”

“You finagled a dinner out of him? How did you do that?”

“Not me, donkey. Ro-BERT-a.”

“NO!”

“YES!”

“You’re putting me on. She walked out on him.”

“Nevertheless.”

“Did you see them together?”

“Not with my own personal eyes. But I have eyes everywhere.”

“I bet. So where was it?”

“The Well, that place over on Rodgers. Guess what they talked about.”

“Sex?”

“That goes without saying. But guess what sex was cloaked in.”

“Music? ‘Come on, baby, light my fire’?”

“Guess again.”

“Mathematics?”

“Mathematics? How do you figure that?”

“One plus one equals three? Let’s get together and multiply?”

“Philosophy. They talked about philosophy.”

“Oh. What philosophy? Alan Watts? ‘Nature, Man & Woman’?”

“Stop showing off. They talked about Descartes.”

“Ohhh. I get it. ‘I !@#$, therefore I am.’”

“No, Ms. Dirty Mouth! They talked about the Evil Genius theory.”

“The Evil Genius theory. That’s a new one on me. Who is this Evil Genius?”

“I thought you knew,” Lucy purred. “The Evil Genius, c’est moi.”
5/15/2018, 4:27 pm Link to this post PM Bellelettres
 
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Re: Messiah Remix


I continued.

“See, Descartes had a couple of problems. First, was how do you know anything? I mean, KNOW ANYTHING? Even things you see with your own eyes, may not be real. Even simple things like ‘2+2=4’. Makes sense, right?”

I demonstrated with sugar packets. “See, here are two sugar packets. And I put two more sugar packets, so how many do I have now?”

“Four. Of course,” said Robbie.

“Are you sure?” I said, with a questioning glance.

She looked down at the packets and clearly only saw three. She laughed, “What did you do? Is it in your hand?”

“Doesn’t matter. What you thought was the case was not.”

“Maybe I am dealing with an evil genius,” she said coyly, and I felt the temperature of the room go up for a moment.

“But your math skills aside,” I said with a wink, “even what you thought your knew for sure is not correct. Look again.”

She looked down again, and laughed aloud as now there were 4 McDonald’s ketchup packets on the table. “How did you do that? Do you keep ketchup in your pocket just so that you do a cheap magic trick when some girl talks to you about French philosophy?”

“Now that would be the work of an evil moron. Imagine what a true evil genius could do.”

She laughed, and sipped her wine. “You said he had two problems. What was his other problem?”

“He was a sinner. He assumed the genius was evil because he could not believe some of the things he would say, would think, would do. It had to be tricks played on his otherwise sane, rational, logical mind. That was the only explanation for the things he did that he hated.”

“What did he do? How do you know all this?”

“Well, I know because he is a man. And all men sin. And most wonder why they do. It’s easier to blame the Devil, or God, or the Government, or other people than to accept that they may be their own evil genius.”

“But you think there is a benevolent genius. You mean God, right?”

The temperature in the room cooled quickly. Dramatically. Robbie’s face started to turn pale and blue.

Five.

The precious water in our glasses froze solid, a cold breeze blasted our faces.

Four.

I could see Robbie had her own thoughts about God, and I was not sure now was the time to broach the subject. The lights in the restaurant turned blue, and dimmed.

Three.

Everything was slowing down, like thickening syrup. Robbie was unaware of the change in climate, and continued, “Are you a Jesus freak? Please don’t tell me you are a Jesus freak.”

Two.

The glasses on our table cracked violently as the ice expanded. Everything stopped, suspended in time. Somehow even the flames on the candle were frozen. A chill ran through me, and I shuddered. I closed my eyes. It was almost over.

One.

“Larry, are you ok?” Robbie asked. “Larry?”

Zero.

Silence. Then abrupt noise as everything in the restaurant popped back to its cozy, warm self. I looked up at Robbie who now had a concerned look on her face. “Larry?” she asked again.

“Jesus Freak?” I laughed. “No, I’m afraid only half of that phrase applies to me.”

Robbie laughed. “You’re not a freak, Larry.”

“I know, Robbie. I know.” And we changed the subject.

It was an enjoyable meal, to say the least. There may have been an opportunity to extend the game into extra innings, but I sensed we both felt that this would be better to leave things here for now.

We stepped outside the restaurant. The night was pleasant, but we were taken aback to see a dead pigeon laying on the sidewalk near the door. Robbie was sympathetic, and said, “Aww, poor thing. Probably flew into the window.”

We walk a few steps away and I hailed her a cab. “Want to share the ride?” she asked.

“No, it’s a nice night and I could use some exercise. I enjoyed our dinner. Maybe we can do it again some time?”

She smiled. “I usually don’t date freaks, but we’ll see. Give me a call,” she said with a smile. I closed the cab door and they sped away.

I smiled as I watched her go. Then, I calmly turned around and returned to the pigeon. I knelt down beside it.

“Hello, little friend,” I said to it calmly. “Wake up.” I gently blew my breath onto its small body.

The lifeless bird lay in my hands, then I felt a tremor, a little twitch, and then the bird raised its head. It looked at me. In as much as you can see such things in the eyes of a pigeon, I saw gratitude. The bird righted itself in my hands, and stood calmly looking at me.

Passerbys on the street had started to gather. “What’s he doing?” I heard one say. “He picked up a dead bird,” another added.

The bird stood on my hand, stretching its wings. It was ready. I did it. I brought it back to life. My time had come. Thank you, Father.

I cupped the bird with both hands, “Now, FLY!” I exclaimed and threw the bird into the air. The crowd gasped as it flew off through the air, with the sort of new life that only God can give.

The small crowd that had gathered around me was amazed. Stunned. But I did not think it was time engage them all, so I left. “Have a blessed evening everyone.” And off I went.

I could hear them as I walked away. “Oh, that’s gross,” said one. “I can’t believe he picked it up and threw it like that,” said another.” “It could have hit me, that bastard!”

Not sure what they meant, but I suspect most people were just overwhelmed by the experience of seeing a miracle.

Last edited by bigbarry2u, 5/16/2018, 12:51 pm


---
I thought growing old would take longer.
5/16/2018, 12:11 pm Link to this post PM bigbarry2u
 
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Re: Messiah Remix


Excerpted from Illusions by Richard Bach, Dell Publishing, 1977.

1. There was a Master come unto the earth, born in the holy land of Indiana, raised in the mystical hills east of Fort Wayne.

2. The Master learned of this world in the public schools of Indiana, and as he grew, in his trade as a mechanic of automobiles.

3. But the Master had learnings from other lands and other schools, from other lives that he had lived. He remembered these, and remembering became wise and strong, so that others saw his strength and came to him for counsel.

4. The Master believed that he had power to help himself and all mankind, and as he believed so it was for him, so that others saw his power and came to him to be healed of their troubles and their many diseases.

5. The Master believed that it is well for any man to think upon himself as a son of God, and as he believed, so it was, and the shops and garages where he worked became crowded and jammed with those who sought his learning and his touch, and the streets outside with those who longed only that the shadow of his passing might fall upon them, and change their lives.

6. It came to pass, because of the crowds, that the several foremen and shop managers bid the Master leave his tools and go his way, for so tightly was he thronged that neither he nor other mechanics had room to work upon the automobiles.

7. So it was that he went into the countryside, and people following began to call him Messiah, and worker of miracles; and as they believed, it was so.

8. If a storm passed as he spoke, not a raindrop touched a listener's head; the last of the multitude heard his words as clearly a the first, no matter lightning nor thunder in the sky about. And always he spoke to them in parables.

9. And he said unto them, "Within each of us lies the power of our consent to health and to sickness, to riches and to poverty, to freedom and to slavery. It is we who control these, and not another."

10. A mill man spoke and said, "Easy words for you, Master, for you are guided as we are not, and need not toil as we toil. A man has to work for his living in this world."

11. The Master answered and said, "Once there live a village of creatures along the bottom of a great crystal river.

12. "The current of the river swept silently over them all -- young and old, rich and poor, good and evil, the current going its own way, knowing only its own crystal self.

13. "Each creature in its own manner clung tightly to the twigs and rocks of the river bottom, for clinging was their way of life, and resisting the current what each had learned from birth.

14. "But one creature said at last, 'I am tired of clinging. Though I cannot see it with my eyes, I trust that the current knows where it is going. I shall let go, and let it take me where it will. Clinging, I shall die of boredom.'

15. "The other creatures laughed and said, 'Fool! Let go, and that current you worship will throw you tumbled and smashed across the rocks, and you will die quicker than boredom!'

16. "But the one heeded them not, and taking a breath did let go, and at once was tumbled and smashed by the current across the rocks.
5/16/2018, 1:33 pm Link to this post PM Dime Novelist
 
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Re: Messiah Remix


Excerpted from Illusions by Richard Bach, Dell Publishing, 1977. (Con't)

17. "Yet in time, as the creature refused to cling again, the current lifted him free from the bottom, and he was bruised and hurt no more.

18. "And the creatures downstream, to whom he was a stranger, cried, 'See a miracle! A creature like ourselves, yet he flies! See the Messiah, come to save us all!'

19. "And the one carried in the current said, 'I am no more Messiah than you. The river delights to lift us free, if only we dare let go. Our true work is this voyage, this adventure.'

20. "But they cried the more, 'Saviour!' all the while clinging to the rocks, and when they looked again he was gone, and they were left alone making legends of a Saviour."

21. And it came to pass when he saw that the multitude thronged him the more day on day, tighter and closer and fiercer than ever they had, when he saw that they pressed him to heal them without rest, and feed them always with his miracles, to learn for them and to live their lives, he went alone that day undo a hilltop apart, and there he prayed.

22. And he said in his heart, Infinite Radiant Is, if it be thy will, let this cup pass from me, let me lay aside this impossible task. I cannot live the life of one other soul, yet ten thousand cry to me for life. I'm sorry I allowed it all to happen. If it be thy will, let me go back to my engines and my tools and let me live as other men.

23. And a voice spoke to him on the hilltop, a voice neither male nor female, loud nor soft, a voice infinitely kind. And the voice said unto him, "Not my will, but thine be done, for what is thy will is mine for thee. Go thy way as other men, and be thou happy on the earth."

24. And hearing, the Master was glad, and gave thanks and came down from the hilltop humming a little mechanic's song. And when the throng pressed him with its woes, beseeching him to heal for it and learn for it and feed it nonstop from his understanding and to entertain it with his wonders, he smiled upon the multitudes and said pleasantly unto them, "I quit."

25. For a moment the multitude was stricken dumb with astonishment.

26. And he said unto them, "If a man told God that he wanted most of all to help the suffering world, no matter the price to himself, and God answered and told him what he must do, should the man do as he is told?"

27. "Of course, Master!" cried the many. "It should be pleasure for him to suffer the tortures of hell itself, should God ask it!"

28. "No matter what those tortures, nor how difficult the task?"

29. "Honor to be hanged, glory to be nailed to a tree and burned, if so be that God has asked," said they.

30. "And what would you do," the Master said unto the multitude, "if God spoke directly to your face and said, 'I COMMAND THAT YOU BE HAPPY IN THE WORLD, AS LONG AS YOU LIVE.' What would you do then?"

31. And the multitude was silent, not a voice, not a sound was heard upon the hillsides, across the valleys where they stood.

32. And the Master said unto the silence, "In the path of our happiness shall we find the learning for which we have chosen this lifetime. So it is that I have learned this day, and choose to leave you now to walk your own path as you please."

33. And he went his way through the crowds and left them, and he returned to the everyday world of men and machines.
5/16/2018, 1:34 pm Link to this post PM Dime Novelist
 
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Re: Messiah Remix


I had enjoyed dinner with Larry. I was pleased he had read some philosophy and could carry on an interesting discussion about Descartes's writings. A trick or two with condiments packages was fun, but certainly not as deep as he was trying to suggest, though.

My mind went through the "Jesus freak" remark. He'd said only one of those terms applied to him. I had laughingly assumed he meant the "freak" part, and I had instantly brushed away the idea he was a freak. He hadn't commented further. And now I wondered: did he think the half that applied to him was the "Jesus" half? I chuckled to myself. Surely not.

Somehow, though, my mental review of the evening reminded me of the book Illusions by Richard Bach. I had read it during a semester break in college because everyone was reading it. I remember thinking at the time that it was either the most profound thing I had ever read or it was total bullshit.

And then the answer came to me: it was whichever one I thought it was.

The taxi pulled up at my place and I got out.

---
Robbie
5/16/2018, 1:44 pm Link to this post PM Miz Robbie
 
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Re: Messiah Remix


When I got off work, Lucy was waiting for me in the employees’ parking lot, in a red convertible. “Get in,” she said. “I want to see where you live. If you have a date, you can cancel it.”

I didn’t have a date, and my curiosity was so titillated that it was greater than my resistance to coercion, so I got in.

“How can you afford an apartment in Park House on a CPA salary?” Lucy asked me, sinking into the sofa in front of the windows.

“A.S. Arora has been good to me,” I said, “and I get plenty of free-lance work at tax time.”

“Does A.S. Arora know about your moonlighting?” she said.

“I don’t bother them with that,” I said.

She picked up a Steuben nautilus shell from the side table and examined it.
 
“Mary does the moonlighting while you sleep?”

“Mary wouldn’t know a credit from a debit,” I said, taking the nautilus out of her hand before she could slip it into her purse.

“How can that be?”

“I thought you knew everything.”

“Well, but…”

“We have separate lives,” I said, amused. Lucy taken aback was a sight to see. Then her face changed, and she smirked.

“You don’t believe me,” I said. “Would you like to see her room?”

Lucy’s face changed again when I opened the door at the end of the hall. For a moment, we were blinded by white – white walls, white curtains, white canopy bed with white pillows and duvet. White dressing table with no mirror, and a white bookcase, with four or five English translations of the Bible, and books about the life of Jesus and the lives of the saints.

The only color in the room, besides that of the book covers, was an enormous brown, weather-beaten Cross on the wall facing the foot of the bed. On that Cross was the twisted figure of a man with nails in his hands and feet, and a crown of thorns. There were small sprays of red around the nails.

“God!” Lucy said. “You don’t sleep in here.”

“Good guess,” I said. “Do you want to see my room?”

“Please!” Lucy said. “Is there a pentagon on the ceiling? Please let there be a pentagon on the ceiling.”

“Sorry to disappoint you,” I said, and opened the door to my room. “No pentagon. No swastika. Nothing to relieve your anxiety. Sit here on the loveseat. I’ll bring you some brandy.”

“Shut up and explain things,” she said. “Do you have so much money you can waste it on a joke?”

“You never have understood,” I said. I sat on the end of the bed, facing her. My bedspread was a plain forest green heavy cotton, neither black nor blood red. My books were about accounting, textbooks mostly. My desk, with a computer and calculator and coffee mug, faced the window, which had draperies of the same material as the bedspread. I hadn’t put up any pictures on the walls, and there were no family pictures anywhere. Who would want to be reminded of their twisted faces?

“So tell me,” Lucy said. “Is there more to Mary than her room? Does she sleep in there?”

“Sometimes, very late at night.”

“Does she read those books?”

“I think so. But I don’t remember what she read, the next day. Sometimes I find a book out when I go in to clean. And I find hairs in her bathroom sink and a soap ring around the tub.”

Lucy sat very still, letting that sink in. Then she said, “Do you have anything in the refrigerator? I’m starved.”

Was it was dinnertime already?

“Would madame like escargot or pheasant under glass?” I said, in my best French accent.

She got up from the loveseat and stretched. “Do you have anything with truffles in it?”

“But of course.”

We sat at my dining table and ate cold chicken and potato salad. She told me about the last five years of her life, moving lightly over the sordid parts, from which she somehow emerged empowered. She didn’t say how, or who was paying for it.

When I served the mango sherbet and coffee. She said, “Your turn.”

I said, “I’ve already told you. Left home. College. Job at A.S. Arora.”

“Do you let Mary out, or does she come out whenever she wants to?” she said.

My hand was shaking so much that I spilled coffee on her lap. She stood up and walked away from the table. I didn’t apologize.

“I’ll stay here all night if I have to,” she said. She stalked into the living room and planted herself on the sofa.

I followed her in. The sun had gone down, and the soft glow of the street lights came through the windows.

“Why do you want to know?” I said.

“I think we can use her. I think we can use Mary to get to Larry. Lord knows he doesn’t go for my type, or yours.”

“Why would I want to get to Larry?” I said. “I have no interest in Larry.”

“Don’t tell me you wouldn’t like to take a man away from Ro-ber-ta,” the snake said to Eve.

“You don’t understand,” I said. “I can let Mary out, but I can’t control her once she is out. She may have lost interest in Larry.”

Lucy just looked at me, and I shivered. I was not about to tell her what frightened me.

“How could Mary even run into Larry?” I said. “Believe me, there’s no way to get her to go to Cackle, or any place he might hang out.”

“But,” Lucy said, “I could mess up her plumbing. And I know just the plumber to recommend to her.”


Last edited by Bellelettres, 5/17/2018, 1:25 pm
5/17/2018, 1:21 pm Link to this post PM Bellelettres
 


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