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Short Story: Delicious Avenue


Genesis 11:6-9  And the LORD said, Behold, the people is one, and they have all one language; and this they begin to do: and now nothing will be restrained from them, which they have imagined to do.  Go to, let us go down, and there confound their language, that they may not understand one another’s speech.  So the LORD scattered them abroad from thence upon the face of all the earth: and they left off to build the city.  Therefore is the name of it called Babel; because the LORD did there confound the language of all the earth: and from thence did the LORD scatter them abroad upon the face of all the earth.

Delicious Avenue

Living in one and renting the other was just a way to eat, a gift of gear to get by with. Central air and heat, vinyl siding with a clay tile roof, the house was a little duplex one dune back from the waters edge. Built like all the rest in the neighborhood to be permanent low maintenance, both he and the house blended in with everything around them.

The neighbors watched him take his evening walks in bare feet, jeans rolled up to the knees. He stopped for moments at a time to stare out to sea over the clouds and speak.

“There’s something wrong with that man.” Clara said, letting go of the curtain. “It ain’t normal–ain’t right not to speak to your neighbors. Just ’cause we rent don’t mean we’re not people.”

Franklin pulled the top off his homemade greenhouse and inspected the plants. “He just seems to want his privacy. Why not?” He pushed the glasses further back onto his nose. “It worked.”

“What worked?”

He pulled out a pot with a tiny plant. “See? Our new tomato.”

Clara came over and squeezed his arm. “Didn’t I always say my Frank could do anything?”

“What’ll we name it?”

She went into the kitchen without saying anything.

“Well?”

“I’m thinkin’. Give me a minute.” He heard the cabinet open and close. You got any ideas?”

“Well I had thought about…”

“Now it’s got to be something that screams ‘tomato’. Names have power. A good name will help out in the competition at the fair.”

“The Tasty One.”

She laughed. “Baby, you can be so simple sometimes. That won’t work.”

“Why not? It’s got to be something about eating.”

“Well of course it does. But more.”

He sat slowly by the table. “Tasty Treat Number Two. I know it really ain’t our second. But the name sounds like more, you know? People trust experience.”

“Oh, honey. You mean well. But that’s more like a pepper name.”

“Why?”

“That’s just the way it is.”

“Hmm.”

“See, people know pepper names from tomato names–they just don’t know that they know it. So we take advantage of that by the name we use. The most tomatoee of tomato names is the one that’s gonna win at the competition. Think of the Red Delicious apple. I mean, who thought of that one? A fairt tale name full of temptation. “Here, have a red delicious apple my pretty!’ That kind of name is cheatin’.”

“It’s the taste…”

“Well that counts too. But the name sets the tone of the taste. Now it’s got to be a name that isn’t anything else but a tomato.”

“Why can’t we just..”

“Now tomatoes are round–and red.”

“Most of them. Everybody knows that.”

“Yeah,” she dropped her voice, “But everybody isn’t aware they know that to eat a tomato is a deeply spiritual experience.”

“No it isn’t.”

“Of course it is. And our tomato will grant them their most secret, intimate desire.”

“I just want to win. Not all this.”

“Hold on. I’m good at this. I know the rules other people have to live by– but don’t know themselves. I snagged you didn’t I? Give me somethin’ round and red.”

He took the tomato magnet off the refrigerator door and handed it to her.

She closed her eyes and nodded, holding her breath for a minute.

“Is this right?” He looked at her uncomfortably. “I mean, for a tomato? It’s like we’re puttin’ the whammy on ’em before they know what’s comin’.”

“But it’s a good whammy.” She said without opening her eyes.

“Maybe we should tell ’em the rules they don’t know. It’ll be good PR for the tomato. Like a public service thing. You buy our product, we’ll tell you how it is.”

“No way! That’s our edge. Besides, they wouldn’t believe us.” A few seconds later, she smiled, opened her eyes and looked at him. “Delicious Avenue.”

“A racehorse tomato?”

“Of course not. Delicious Avenue is where they’ll be when they take a bite into one our tomatoes. It’s great!”

He slowly smiled. “It does have a little somethin’ to it, don’t it?”

“Told you I was good. Besides, if you had a head for these things you wouldn’t be still workin’ for somebody else and we wouldn’t be rentin’.”

“It wasn’t my fault. ”

“It never is.”

*******

Franklin sat at the table looking over the bills. He pushed his glasses back and frowned.

“What’s wrong?”

“We’ve got too much money in our account.”

“That’s nothing wrong, honey. I didn’t pay the rent yet. Last month either.”

He took his glasses off. “Why not? We’ve got the money. If there’s something you want…”

“I want him to say somethin’ to me. Do you realize I have never spoken to him and neither have you? He’s gonna have to come over here and get it and speak like a normal person.”

“Why? If the man wants to be private what’s wrong with that? Besides, we really pay the real estate agency.”

She parted the curtains and looked out over the front yard. “I sure wish we had grass instead of gravel. And some plants and flowers. A little bird bath maybe and a feeder, like back home.”

“We can ask him. He probably won’t mind. Might even pay for some of it.”

“I’ll do just that when he comes.”

There was a knock at the door.

She went into the kitchen.

Franklin frowned and went for the door.

Opening the door, the man was smaller than he had imagined at a distance. He was wearing a sweat suit and sandals. Franklin knew immediately the man hated being a landlord.

“Come on in. Uh, I’m sorry about the rent. Hang on and I’ll write you a check.”

The man came in and closed the door.

Clara came from the back and leaned against the counter, watching.

He said nothing but waited quietly by the door, looking at the interior of the apartment.

Franklin handed him the check.

The man smiled and walked outside on the deck. “Agapanthus and Aspidistra in a garden of shade. Gladiolas and periwinkles in a daisy neighborhood.” He smiled. “And Centipede grass.”

A look of horror, so sudden was the shock, spread over Clara’s face. Franklin was dumbfounded.

In front of them, instead of gravel and asphalt was a garden in full bloom, shaded and cheerful.

The man walked through the shade, inspecting the life around him.

Clara closed the door quickly. “Did you see that?”

He nodded.

She went to the window and looked out. “It’s still there.”

******

Franklin looked for a time to know, to say; a place to say it in and watch it be. He thought about the man and how impossible it would be to hold a conversation in that speak, that language that sounded so identical to everything he had heard before. He wondered what else might have been created on the saying of the words. Though he had grown tired of checking and rechecking to make sure the plants and grass were real, the shock wouldn’t go away in the middle of all that needed to be done.

The tomato was larger now, with its first set of blooms. Taking a larger pot he had saved for the occasion, he filled it with potting soil to one third full. Gently shaking out the tomato by the roots from the old pot, he placed it in the larger pot. It occurred to him he was being overly carefully with a robust piece of life. After he finished filling the pot with the special mix, he pushed it roughly over for balance, smiling, as it lay there unbroken.

She watched him from the chair. “I love you.” she said quietly and turned on the TV.

He knew in that moment as at a distance: she didn’t love him at all. It wasn’t that she loved someone else. She didn’t know love, yes or no. She

“ “-ed him. He “ “-ed her in return, with kisses and all the rest; maybe even in children one day.

She hit the volume.

Suddenly erupting into the room, it was a sound that jumped all over him. Human voice in a continuous affirmation with a music of emergency reacting to an event already past in surprise in clear, acoustic notes was in his ears before he could blink. It was a thing made of experience played by fingers and picks on strings held in place by metal, wood and ivory. With a little reverb and electric in it, it made him think of dollars, big spaces, real “ “ and her. It made its own space in which to be heard. But when it was over, it was gone for good and the only thing changed was time.

She smiled and held her knees. “I always wanted to play. Or sing, you know? Just to do it once and have somebody understand.”

“Honey..”

“Shh. They’re playin’ again.”

The pronunciation was easy and seemed to rhyme with almost everything he had ever thought or said. They seemed to hold the notes exactly on all his hopes.

It was too perfect. But nothing was created and the music itself was an alarm against a supposed absolute scarcity.

He walked outside to smell the flowers and hear the insects. And remember again the fear of that speech.

******

Franklin came in and sat in front of the air vent, unbuttoning his collar and blowing the cold air on his shiny neck. After a few minutes he sat back and breathed a sigh. “It’s so hot the air conditioner went out on the delivery truck. They had me out of the office and in this heat all day trackin’ down a mechanic.”

“I’ll bet those plants aren’t salt tolerant. And we can’t afford to water them. They’ll be ugly if they turn brown in this heat.” Clara said from a nearby chair. “But it’s too hot to even worry about that.”

“I can’t get it out of my head. I mean he just spoke–and there it was.”

Franklin heard a commode flush. The guest bathroom door opened. A young man came out and headed for the fridge.

Franklin looked at Clara.

She got up and began cleaning the kitchen.

The younger man sat down in the chair next to Franklin and extended his hand. “Billy Thomas.”

“Franklin.”

They shook.

“Yeah, your wife told me. We met down at the community center.”

“Me and Billy were talking about what happened. He says he did it with mirrors.” Clara called from the kitchen.

Billy picked up the newspaper and scanned the front page.

Franklin shook his head. “Wouldn’t that be nice to know? But not likely.”

“It could happen. When’s the last time you looked out at the front yard?”

“Not long before he did it.”

“But honey, what that man really did, no matter how he did it, was just make us feel something. I mean, think about it. We were amazed. That’s really all that happened. And I can feel that washin’ dishes.”

“But you were there! You saw it!”

“Watch this.” she grinned from the kitchen. “Say something Billy.”

“Under the cypress and the pine we wait with sun in yellowed shafts of silence. Like a honey flow or an even dollar amount you go on in never enough, an evangelism of later manufacturing distance from event, from now for the time of laughter, a stolen child saved from the hell of pride for free. But a calm excitation of life, forced into the open past the tears, saying like they do in Ireland, wearing hats as in Marrakech, finding voice in laughter up out of the throat and through the lips into the world as us.” He cleared his throat. “They find against us in our place with thoughts alien to our life. But we’re still here, outfitted for the place where we stand with the words that came and stayed, music that goes on leaving a song behind of our austerity in the light of a different understanding. You speak your past in a present toward my golden clarity…”

“Okay that’s enough.”

Billy folded the paper and looked over the back page.

“He’s an artist.”

“Where’d you learn to talk like that?”

“That doesn’t matter. It’s that he can–and did.”

Billy smiled apologetically at Franklin. “It’s a knack I got. My sister says I’m special that way.”

“Oh.”

“But,” she came back in; smiling at Billy, “without being vulgar, see the effect? That’s really all that man did. He amazed us. Maybe even confused us for a little while.”

“But its still there. It’s real flowers and ….”

“Well of course honey. He has to leave it there now to keep pushing the feeling on us. Every time we see it, we feel again. That’s all that really happens. He probably means well. I’m sure he’s a nice man. But we’re nice people to understand.”

“Do you mind?” Billy asked as he pointed the remote at the TV.

Franklin shook his head slowly.

“I told Billy it would be alright to stay with us for a while. He’s new in town. It’s okay isn’t it?”

Franklin was lost in thought.

“I said it’s okay isn’t it?”

“Huh?”

“If Billy stays? We’ve got the extra bedroom.”

“Yeah. Sure. Why not?” Franklin gave Billy a quick smile before going outside into the garden.

Billy followed him a few minutes later. He sat on the grass and looked over the flowers. “Nice–if you like the vegetative look. Kinda’ retro, you know. Thick, no space between the plants.”

Franklin stared at the banana trees.

“You just thought he did it by speakin’. But that can’t be. That ain’t even what words are for.”

A breeze came in from over the water, blowing in a silence.

******

Franklin took the registration card from Clara and filled out the form. “Delicious Avenue. I like that. It’s a good start. We’re tomato artists!”

She frowned. “Uh huh. Well be sure and get it in the mail today if you can make it past the jungle. Friday’s the deadline for the entry forms.”

Franklin took the form and walked out to the mailbox, smiling as he dropped it in. Children at play laughed from the street. Their voice was a rest, an in-between of all the other speaks that wouldn’t stop.

A ball struck him in the back before bouncing into the birdbath. He threw it back to the nearest little girl, catching sight of the man next door turning the corner a block away as he stood up.

The man was walking to the beach.

Franklin followed.

He had stooped over to roll up his jeans and take his shoes off.

Franklin walked cautiously several yards behind him, planning to catch up before they got to the place Clara could see the water from the kitchen window. They continued down the beach.

The man gestulated softly as if in conversation and shrugged.

Franklin walked faster and drew closer without hearing anything. Finally he gave up and walked up beside the man.

So intense was the silence Franklin began to be afraid the man would actually speak and what would happen would be horrific.

The man stopped and turned toward him. A panic he had never felt before, a response he only vaguely sensed was fight or flight in the face of mortal danger came over him and he knew to run as fast as possible. He tripped over his own legs and fell.

The man smiled but didn’t laugh. He extended a hand to help Franklin up. There was nothing to do but take it.

Standing looking at him while brushing the sand off his pants, Franklin said, “I just wanted you to know. I mean..the rent. I’m sorry about that.”

The man nodded and turned to go.

It was a violation of all he had ever known that was himself and only after he had done it could he believe he ever actually would: He tackled the man as hard as he could.

A sound escaped the man’s lips in surprise. Franklin drank it in as proof the man was as himself. But he was surprisingly agile and strong. Franklin found himself on his back with the man looking at him as if he were crazy.

Franklin grabbed the man’s leg. “I won’t let go until you say something. But not to me. Over there. Say something at that spot over there. Just one more time.”

The man looked directly in his eyes and shook his head. “Be satisfied with the speech you already have.”

“I can’t tell you why but I’m not. It seems worthless to me.”

“He said ‘Let there be light’. There was light. He says through me to you, believe in Jesus Christ.” He gave a little smile. “And there you are.”

Franklin waited for a second or two. “Nothing happened.” He felt of his chest and arms. “I’m still the same.”

“No, you are not.”

“Sure I am. They were right; you just made us feel something. That really is all that happened!” He backed away from the man and laughed nervously. Suddenly stopping and standing there he whispered, “It didn’t work! I’m still here.”

The man turned down the beach and walked away.

******

“We’re goin’ down to the Bookshop Pub over on Thirty First Street. Go with us. Billy’s gonna do a monologue on the open mike. Some of those career ladies almost passed out last time when Billy took off his shirt!” Clara laughed. She went in search of her purse.

Franklin looked at Billy with skepticism.

“They lack the emotional ignorance of true zealots. They smile. Sometimes their words abrupt the silence in tiny acts of skinny praise. Sometimes not.” Billy chugged a beer.

“Wow.”

Billy shrugged good-naturedly. “It comes and goes. Got to have a complete repertoire, you know? Give the people what they want. Can’t just do long sayings. Sometimes the short piece gives a better effect.”

“Must be hard.”

“Not really. It’s always been easy for me.” Billy grinned. “And people pay for it! Who’d a thought it, huh?” He sat the can carefully on the table. “Check this out: I saw validation in girlfriend salutation, a slender human beautiful girlfinger tender and caressing the air just where a soul meets its border in subtle intimation of a knock, smoothing back a hair.”

Franklin could only stare.

“I said that the other night–just came over me. Had my shirt off–I take it off ’cause it gets hot under the lights. I’m no stripper for gods sakes!” He popped the top on another beer. “One o’ them ladies stuffed a fifty–a fifty dollar bill in my jean pocket.” He laughed. “Didn’t want to let go!”

There was a silence.

“Sometimes its scary. I wonder about it all. You know, where it comes from and where it goes? Why? What is it?”

Franklin sat staring at the greenhouse.

Billy took a long swig of the beer. “I mean, what’s the real connection between words and sex?”

“There’s a connection?”

“Yeah! Got to be. I mean I get up on stage, an unknown. I’m not THAT good lookin’, everybody’s talkin’ to each other–not lookin’ my way. Then it comes over me again. I speak.” He looked at the beer and swirled the can absently. “In a few minutes all the women are lookin’. A few minutes later they’re handin’ me money. I see their eyes. The want me–and more than me. They want what’s in me, the spirit of the words.” He lapsed into silence.

Clara came through. “Have you seen my purse? You didn’t hide it did you?”

“Check the car, honey. Maybe you left it there.”

“My God I hope not! It’s raining!”

` The door slammed.

The rain pelted softly on the banana trees outside the window. Images moved in silence of a helicopter rocketing a machine gun position on the TV.

“I took a big mama the other night just for a change.”

“Hmm?”

Billy grinned. “Made love. Had sex with. Got my rocks off.”

“Oh.”

“I wish I was a simple as you.”

Franklin shook his head absently. “Any kids?”

“Lord no! I wouldn’t bring any rug rats into this world.”

Franklin appeared perplexed. “But how do you do it?”

“I don’t know. That’s the truth.” He lowered his voice. “Sometimes I think it isn’t me. Like I’m bein’…used.”

Franklin nodded slowly to show he was listening.

“But that don’t really make sense. I mean we’re the source of what we say, right? There ain’t no gettin’ outta’ that. We’re responsible. We have to be..we’ve got free will.”

Franklin shook his head again. “A fat lady, huh? Damn.”

“One trick I learned is to read. If you say some of the stuff that olden people used to say to the gods in their prayers, you know, like in the bible? If you say some of that stuff to women? Man, it makes ’em go crazy.”

“I don’t know what to say most of the time.”

“You got Clara.” Billy drank the last of the beer. He opened the door and looked out before taking a step toward the car.

******

Clara looked up from the television at Franklin. He had made a terrarium out of an old whiskey bottle and was tying a fork around a piece of bamboo to use as a spade. She watched him work the string around the handle and tie the end off.

“That an official knot?”

“Half-hitch.”

“Hmm.”

“Seen Billy around?” He adjusted his glasses.

“Not today. He was out early I guess.”

The television spoke softly. “…author Jimmy Wright on his new book, Poetic Catharsis: A View from the Street. We can take your calls at nine nine nine, fifty..”

“He has this brooding ambivalence about his own emotional intelligence. It’s charming. A kind of paradox…of strength. You know?”

“Hmm?”

She turned toward him in the chair. “You don’t like him do you?”

Franklin sat back, twirling the bamboo in his fingers. “Well I…I don’t understand him. He’s an okay kid. Maybe he can make a living at it.”

“There’s more to life than just money.” She clicked the TV off. “Like the other night. Do you know what he said? I mean, down at The Pub?”

“No.”

“Somethin’ like “a joking fashion, a frenzied forgiveness to kiss again in the guerilla warfare of hearts.” It was very real.”

“We fight sometimes. But warfare?”

“Of course you wouldn’t get it. Not much poetry in a tomato.”

There was a silence.

She smiled. “a joking fashion, a frenzied forgiveness.” He said it just like that. I think its his verbs,” she reached out to the air around her, from the elbows, a slight effort made more in her attempt to hide it. “…the action of saying it combined with the substance it brings.” She nodded. “It was …beautiful.”

“It was all that?” He went back to the terrarium.

“You could do better?”

“I don’t remember anything he says after he says it.”

She clicked the TV back on.

******

He was never early, always working a little extra past five. But today, driving up to the curb, Franklin parked and waited.

It was 4:15.

A knock on the window brought him out of a short nap.

It was Billy. “What’s up?”

Franklin rubbed his eyes. “What time is it?”

“I don’t know. Fivish.”

Franklin didn’t know what to say.

“What are you doin’ here out in the truck? You okay?”

The man next door came out. Franklin hurriedly rolled the window back up and got out.

Billy followed his eyes.

“That him?”

Franklin nodded. “I might be late.” He didn’t wait for a reply but followed the man down the street and out toward the water. Several yards into the sand the man turned and watched him approach until they were face to face.

They stood staring at each other. The wind came in from off the water, blowing in the scent of water. Gulls behind them in a small flock spread their wings and lifted off the beach, circling leisurely just off the surf.

Franklin searched for something to say.

The man was silent.

Franklin opened his mouth to speak. But nothing came out.

The gulls circled around again before settling one by one back down on their spot and staring out over the water again.

The man turned to go.

“She’s all I got!”

The man turned back.

Franklin reached out. “I just need some words. They don’t have to make nothin’–or, or maybe they do. But I need…somethin’.”

The man shrugged. “You’ve got all you need in you. Even now Jesus Christ is alive in you. He’ll speak through you the same as he speaks through me.”

“I don’t have time for that. See…they, that kid. He’s got all the words. I just need a few. Even one. Just one good…”

“No. The boy is dead. What is said through him is sorcery. You will not speak the same.” The man turned down the beach. The gulls parted but didn’t fly as he walked away.

“She’s all I got.” Franklin said quietly. The wind blew away the sound.

That night he got out his Bible.

“You’re not gonna get religious on me are you?” Clara joked from the kitchen. “That’s the last thing I need!”

He turned the pages in silence, looking for an entrance into whatever he would find.

“I’m the one taught you how to name things, remember? You was gonna be dishonest and pretend we had more experience than we really did. Remember that?”

“That was before.”

“Before what?”

He kept turning the pages.

“What’d you do?” She came around from the kitchen.

He stopped and looked for a place to start on the page.

“You let that man speak to you didn’t you? Didn’t you?”

“What difference does it make? You don’t believe…”

“And now you think you been born again or somethin’, huh? Like you’re more than Billy and m…”

He looked up quickly. “No! I mean, maybe…but.. I mean yes. But its not what you…”

“Billy was right. That man’s a con. And now he’s conned you. Don’t be such a damn simple simon forever. For once have some smarts, some depth.”

“I want to!” he cried. “I’m lookin’ for it! Leave me alone! I’m tryin’ to get it–for you!”

She was dumbfounded, backing away from him toward the bedroom. “You’ve never yelled in your whole life. This guy’s really got you goin’.”

He turned the page again. “Just let me think. It’s here somewhere. Right here. I just have to find it.” He picked up the bible and held it up to her. “It’s right here!”

“I deserve more than this.”

He sighed. “What is it you want?”

“What do you think? I want what all them other women want. I want to feel amazed a little more often. Not all the time.” She went back into the kitchen. “Just a little more than now.”

He sat looking in desperation at his Bible hoping to find something. He would interpret it into Billy’s speech. She would like it and see it as an understanding, an ultimate saying of power that both destroyed the “ “ and made true love appear in a place or space in them without mentioning Christ. There had to be some way around the necessity of saying his name.

******

It was late when he heard the car drive in. Franklin leaned over and looked at the clock, then turned the TV up as they came in the door laughing.

Clara was a little tipsy and threw her purse onto the couch.

Billy came in a few minutes later. “Watering the jungle.” They both broke up into laughter.

Clara sat down in Franklins lap. “Say something Billy.”

He nodded and began, slurring some of the words. “You forgive against me in a jungle of words…no wait.” He stopped and pointed at Franklin. “It’s like a rule. You never, ever, say the word word.” Nodding to himself, he began again. “And the horses are walking and walking and walking with their heads hung low searching for grass. But the, uh, technical facade of beauty eludes their hungry eyes from their youth. A few days, just a few like theirs, a few days of our eternity waiting on the truth in our exile from location of the event. In simple lineations of accidental remnant, topiaried words, er..oops!” He laughed.

Clara squeezed Franklin’s neck and kissed his ear.

“My casuality comprised of not finding you surprised. Should I give a faster smile? In a little while? Maybe? Maybe yes!” Billy grinned.

Franklin squirmed under the weight.

“The offings of the outside, the brutality of honesty in villages or on plains, fragile chips, roughly barked, a safety zone with the softy grip—and how could I forget? The place between us where I don’t understand your face. A direct stare but something in the air in front of us like…silence. And then I said NO and then YOU sort of mumbled something and walked away…”

“Okay, that’s enough.” Clara kissed Franklin again. “Say something baby.”

Franklin took a breath. But nothing beautiful fell out. He gave up and whispered, “Jesus Christ has come in the flesh.”

Billy laughed. “No point in cussin’, Frank.” He stumbled off to bed.

Clara found her way to the couch and dropped off to sleep immediately.

Franklin watched TV.

******

There wasn’t a note.

Some of her things were gone. A used condom had been left on the bed. Excepting those, everything appeared the same.

The tomatoes had turned a deeper shade of red.

Several days after the county fair he filed a missing persons report.

“I was sorry to hear about Clara, Frank. That boy coulda’ been her son.” The deputy handed Franklin the pen. “Nothin’ official–I heard they were seen down in Broward County—got in some trouble down there. We’ll file this. She may come back. But I tell you the truth. I’d let it go.”

Franklin said nothing as he wrote out his signature.

“These things happen. Sorry it had to happen to you.”

A tug sounded from out in the bay.

“Say, how’d your tomato come out? Win? Place?”

“Disqualified.”

“What happened?”

“They did a test. DNA You know, so you know if you really got something unique? Turns out our Delicious Avenue was really somebody else’s Sun Glow.”

“Wow.” The deputy shook his head. “That’s too bad. All that work and patience. The waiting. Good name and all” The deputy sat back in the cruiser and closed the door. “Sun Glow, huh? Not very flashy. Definitely a tomato name.”

“Tastes good. They crossed a Big Todd with a Carolina Pink Stripe and got a Sun Glow. Our plants from the nursery were mislabeled.”

“Big Todd, huh? My dad plants those. Big, meaty tomato. Not much juice. Makes a good tomato sandwich.”

Franklin watched the gulls out on the beach, staring out to sea. “Who’d a seen that comin’? You can’t…” he struggled for the words. “You just can’t.”

The deputy drove away slowly; glad to put some distance between him and the moment. He always hated these situations: never knowing what to say to fix it. Another call came in. He hit the lights and siren…

The End

 1Peter 1:23-25  Being born again, not of corruptible seed, but of incorruptible, by the word of God, which liveth and abideth for ever.  For all flesh is as grass, and all the glory of man as the flower of grass. The grass withereth, and the flower thereof falleth away:  But the word of the Lord endureth for ever. And this is the word which by the gospel is preached unto you.

In the Name of Jesus Christ, Amen

Flash Fiction/Parables: Taking Poisonous Candy from Babies

September 23, 2011 2 comments

I have a desire. Quick! What should I do with my free will?

Joann wants to marry a Muslim man. After all, he gets welfare from the US government and oil corporations in the form of university scholarships, cash and jobs. He gets tractors and gasoline to grow heroine with and infrastructure contracts in Pakistan to lie to the CIA. He gets free schools in his village; free medical and dental all around. But she is not an Arab or a Hindi. He lives such a cushy life. Everybody wants to give him something. Even democracy. Her family has created jobs in the past for other people. She has never received welfare. Heck, her family paid it to others. What of Nikah and Kufu?

Ah, my daughter, not to fear. Remember and live by the golden saying of Ahmadi Bawadi. “Any person, particularly any Muslim who gets what they want is undeserving of heaven. Desires corrupt the heart; particularly desires accomplished. Man is wicked and needs only the guidance of Allah. Any other is a distraction. So it should be with holy women. Think of the happiness of your family.”

Mark 3:24-26  And if a kingdom be divided against itself, that kingdom cannot stand.  And if a house be divided against itself, that house cannot stand.  And if Satan rise up against himself, and be divided, he cannot stand, but hath an end.

In the Name of Jesus Christ, Amen

The New economy versus False Determinism, Uniformitarianism and the Old Definition of Money

September 23, 2011 1 comment

Key notes:

Denial of new creation is the key to making a false determinism and supposed uniformitarian character to spiritual history seem a legitimate and necessary foundation for a stable definition of money within the lie of free will.

The Lie of Free Will seems to provide the supposed necessity for an economy at all: trade of scarce items between individuals (perpetually limited resources because of the idealized environment in which non-creating speech is the only speech) ..trade /transactions are the supposed evidence of acts of free will performed and the act supposedly performed that proves free will supposedly proves freedom.

Determinism in non-creating speech is the implied situation of perpetuity of non-creation, limitation and scarcity .. by decree of gods.

Uniformitarianism within the lie, provides more stability to the lie by an implied backwards compatibility with all of history and supposed golden age of trade and riches: “it has worked in the past, is working in the present and will work in the future.”

A new economy will only arise after those lies are defeated ( the lie of free will, as well as all the other lies needed to make the lie of free will seem to make sense ) even as they will hang around on the fringes of society. God creates His Own opposition and the gospel of Jesus Christ, the truth that brings new creation and an economy of new creation, was never meant to be spoken in the midst of no opposition. We are to destroy lies wherever we find them as giving no place to Satan. But a total destruction of lies and evil will not take place until the return of Christ and a thousand years after that, exactly as Jesus Christ, the Incarnate Word of God as Creating Speech has said.

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A truly new economy is being built on a truly new understanding of money. That new understanding of money is built on the understanding and expectation of new creation in and of Jesus Christ. The new economy is expanding as a quality of Jesus Christ himself. There is no thought of money as a supposed measure or proof of personal free will or freedom in that economy. Need as opposed to emotion is the driving force of expenditure.

The old economy and the lies sent to destroy it is easily seen to have ended because of a non-creating mindset based on human speech/non-creating speech, human emotion and their limitations. In particular, the old economy was built on the lie of buying what you do not need simply for the sake of experiencing the supposed proof that you had free will by an act of trade. It forced production for the sake of filling orders that were based on such deceptions. It has made harsh use of the land in agriculture, resulting in particular in the land not resting but simply being used every year, season after season with no respite and not being allowed to be fallow one year in seven.

What has happened to the land has also happened to the human heart of those in that old economy. They are forced to feel as if any situation that arises that does not feed a frenzied consumption and production of emotion is necessarily one which, perhaps not being evil, sets them behind the emotional experience and understanding of others who are advertised to them to be smarter and wealthier because of that exact lack of rest. While they cry “BORiiiing!” to a lack of emotional stimulus, what they really mean is fear of their neighbor gaining more education in the lie while they are out of School. The lie that brought down the old economy was not one of ignorance to produce real goods or even a lack of necessary new inventions. It was the lie that the work itself and the product, the manufacturing and farming of the economy, was purely emotional and one of comparison with one’s neighbor in a non-creating mindset that fatalistically said that was the only possible life because “People have free will. They want to prove and express that will. That’s just how it is.”

Abortion was supposed to have been a solution to how one goes about increasing speed to catch up to others who had more emotional experience and as poverty insurance: any perceived impediment to having the money to trade with in order to prove one’s will was free was attacked, even the womb. The simple reality that more people means a larger and more prosperous economy was thrown aside in a rush to worship limitation and scarcity, as the Unique Thing became the In Thing to have emotional experience about and hopefully be the only one in one’s group of friends and family to have such experience. There were no exceptions. Even death was welcome as abortion, suicide attempts, and the offer to help others kill themselves. Shaming oneself through tattoos and body mutilations, patterns of speech that identified one as an outcast or wannabe outcast were welcomed by youth in attempts to gain emotional experience in the economy that implicitly claimed emotion was its real, national product and only wealth. “How to gain as much sympathy as black people, Afghan farmers,  Islamic militant warlords, Pakistani Intelligence, and illegal immigrants and get the same results in cash and jobs” was the unstated rule of such education when the children saw their parents had no notion of inheritance at all, and were giving away what they had themselves inherited to their own and their children’s enemies in order to stop mere accusations from the same non-creating speech that they themselves had. Sexual relationships were and are used to substitute for marriage and then are broken off simply to gain the emotional experience of having done so as arming oneself in the notion of one’s own personal school of self-defense and longed for sympathy. Such efforts are to train oneself to recognize the common emotional intelligence from the truly remarkable and specialize in the remarkable as a means of manipulating sympathy for welfare. All of that went under the title ‘The Economy’. In that economy, Jobs were simply the means to play as both a ticket to the stadium and being picked to play on a team: the whole purpose of making money was to spend it for emotional practice. Those asking for jobs see such things as jobs as mysterious items magically created by strange wizards than off shoots of a way of life in the creating mindset of Jesus Christ. The sought for jobs are lifetime appointments on the team without the possibility of any interruption in emotional consumption rather than the expectation of new creation within themselves.

The lie of free will was the foundation of all the rest. No end of work was put in and is to this hour maintained to make the lie of free will seem real and as such a forgone conclusion as to not be worth investigating. Some in non-creating speech go so far as to say that if we do not have free will we shouldn’t know about it because of what it would do to us emotionally or even that we should knowingly lie and simply keep saying we do if we know we do not.

Free will was set up as a false opposite to what was called Determinism on the presumption that if one were true the other could not by definition be true. No end of arguments were and are to this day publicly aired as the standard paradigm for advertising products and taught at universities in such a way as to portray the fear that if free will for creatures as a concept is not true and has never been true, but instead the dreaded Determinism is true, then an emotional crash would ensue immediately both in the personal life of the one who understood such things and in the overall economy if lots of people understood such things.

Those taught that lie as a very particular evil knowledge that destroys them and all those they seek to help through those means were also handed other lies to make the first lies make sense when they were questioned. A spiritual uniformitarianism was taught to imply that the same spiritual environment exists as has existed all through history in order to make it appear that everyone in all of history has believed the same thing today’s youth are taught and specifically as supposed Christianity. “Lots of other people have already successfully believed what we are telling you” was the implication as the Old Religions were implied to have been rediscovered in publicly aired archeology events that supposedly validated the modern version of what the Old Religions were.

Christianity itself has not been usurped nor has the Word of God failed in these days or any day. But the term Christianity has been promulgated among the ignorant who do not know the difference between the Word of God and non-creating speech and has implied that indeed, Christianity itself has undergone changes that have resulted in the idealized old, pagan religions being correct while validating that non-creating, lying version of Christianity simultaneously for the specific purpose of drawing the attention away from the weaknesses of the lie of free will and instead supposedly being able to rejoice with the rejoicing of the fathers in ancient times who supposedly believed modern lies about reality. Then the false, dreaded Determinism is thrown in, despite that throw obviously invalidating the initial premise of free will being distinct from determinism to make it seem God Himself forced one into such a comfort as to be able to rejoice with the ancients in the exact same emotional experience. In false Christianity, the word God has become synonymous with the claims of non-creating determinism, while the word Jesus has become synonymous with the hope of getting out of what was determined so a free will could be enjoyed and the word Christ has simply been thrown in as a theological widget to be historically accurate among a Christians audience to more easily be a look-a-like gospel of the real Christ and Christianity.

The old economy was built on layers of lies that invalidated each other, but were delivered in such a way as to to imply the timing of each speaking and thinking of their supposed various aspects would prove them to have been working together as a harmonious whole all along and that poof would manifest itself in truth in the future. What it in fact it produced was devastation and ruin, because lies always have the effect of lies and the fruit of lies is always death. At each new attempt to ‘fix’ the mythical ailing economy, as attempts to spur those in the lie of free will ever onward with more speed and more enthusiasm, the same lies were relied on and even the same recipe of mixing together the lies was used on the newer audience who had come to expect such things as the only philosophical basis for a sound economy, being taught such from their youth.

Over the course of time, we have now inherited a lie as a national economy that is supposedly in need of repair, again, and which, in order to fix, every aspect of its former spiritual and philosophical aspects

must supposed remain sacrosanct, to include the notion that Jobs are a silver bullet to cure the ills of overproduction and over consumption; that the non-creating mindset of scarcity mixed with pride over having and experiencing the Unique Thing can produce a safe, stable environment for anyone and above all else, we are to supposed remain deceived that non-creating determinism is the only determinism, that free will and that non-creating determinism are supposed opposites and have supposed different results if one goes toward one or the other philosophically, and that the purpose and usefulness of Christianity is that it supposedly provides a hope of unrestrained free will to play in the old definitions of reality that were implied to have always been the beliefs of Man since Adam ( the old definition of money as a unit of freedom; freedom supposedly proved through trade via money, emotional intelligence being the sole product one must strive to obtain as the sole purpose of the Economy, etc..)

Lies are always complicated. The truth is always simple.

You have grown up in Satan’s version of The Economy over which was placed those who have a hard-core worship of the lie of human free will. Not one of them actually believes anything you have or will read here. In fact, they vehemently oppose it. Not one presidential candidate believes anything you will read here. They just want to fix the old economy, keep the old definitions and to worship scarcity as a guide to value minus any understanding of your value as an individual before God.

The new economy starts with your personal new creation in Jesus Christ. After that, you are your own proof that such a thing as a economy based on lack of new creation is anti-christ and death.

Mark 3:23-26  And he called them unto him, and said unto them in parables, How can Satan cast out Satan?  And if a kingdom be divided against itself, that kingdom cannot stand.  And if a house be divided against itself, that house cannot stand.  And if Satan rise up against himself, and be divided, he cannot stand, but hath an end.

In the Name of Jesus Christ, Amen

Micro-fiction: Arminian Grandpa and the Old, Old Stories


“Gather round! Chil’en, I’m here to tell you a story today, that took place back in the time of that low life John Calvin. It’s ’bout a young preacher that wouldn’t believe the Calvinists of his day, but believed instead what he saw in Scripture! And he prevailed!” Gramps sits in his favorite chair and rocks slowly as the grand kids settle in around him.

“What was his name Grandpa?” asks generic young character, portrayed to be a grandchild.

“Hiram Bingham!” says Grandpa, in his older, Grandpa voice.

“Tell us more!” said young generic female character, introduced to demonstrate respect for older family members recollections and believe in them as goodness.

‘Well, he had heard about people in far off lands that didn’t speak English. and having read the Bible, he wanted to go and preach to those people so they would be saved too. Because he felt they were all equal in the eyes of God! Unlike the Calvinist!”

“So what happened?” asked a real young person with a bit of skepticism in his voice.

“Well, he asked for money and permission from his local Calvinistic church. But they said “Let the heathen rot! If God wanted to save them he would have to pour out another blessing like Pentecost so we could speak their language or transport us miraculously to far off places!” Of course, they didn’t want the miracle, because miracles aren’t good for capitalism! They’re free!”

“Those mean ol’ Calvinists! I’ll bet they wanted to keep the good news of the cross all to themselves! Just like Calvinists today.” says young generic female character that always sides with Grandpa no matter what he says.

“That’s exactly right!” smiles Grandpa, slapping his knee. “But he willed himself to have courage. And after that! He willed himself to petition for funds from that same church to teach him language skills. He had a strong will, you see! Just like you!”

“I’ll bet they turned him down.” says young generic female character who is there to spoon feed Grandpa questions and encouragements in his line of thought.

“That’s right! You know why?” says Grandpa.

“Because Calvinists hate missions! They hate everybody!” say the grand kids in unison ..except for the one skeptical young person.

“Grandpa, do you know what year that took place?” asks the skeptical grandson.

“Back in Calvin’s own day!” says Grandpa, incredulous that he is being asked a detail. The kids usually get ice cream after these events and therefore no one asks for evidence that might delay the ice cream.

‘That’s more like an era. A year is one part of an era. It’s more specific. And where did you see this story. Was it written down? They actually wrote all that down? Because.. I don’t believe it.”

Grandpa stares, open mouthed. “You don’t believe it?!”

“I’m not an expert on theology or anything. But it just doesn’t pass the smell test for actual facts. Calvinists are famous for sending missionaries all over the world. Why would they turn a guy down who wanted to go? And why did he think they could give him permission to do anything? Didn’t he have God inside him? It sounds more like he wanted social recognition for being a good Arminian than he was interested in just getting up and going to do God’s will.”

Grandpa taps the edge of one eye and then points to the skeptical grandson. “I got my eye on you. You ..you’re questioning the authority of the Board of Deacons! Besides, the whole point of the story wasn’t to be factual, it was to show that Calvinists do our theology all wrong. You have to ask and get our permission to do missions. Calvinist do too.”

“But Grandpa, isn’t that like saying the Spanish word for vegetables ought to be the English word for vegetables but pronounced vege-tah-blays and going around trying to correct people who speak Spanish as if they were speaking Spanish incorrectly every time they said verduras? Don’t you see? It’s, you know ..completely different. You can’t just say they do you incorrectly and make up a story to prove it as if that means they were wrong according to Scripture. You lied. When you do that and lie, then they look honest simply because you lied.”

‘What’s happened to you? What have you been reading? These things are regularly done and its okay. You do what you have to do to win.” Grandpa puts a kind arm around the wayward thinker.

“The Bible, Gramps. Win what? A theoretical argument about doing the gospel at some unspecified future time? Calvinists theoretically get in the way of that theoretical future time actually arriving?”

“Calvinism is making gains in our churches. Think what that means to the heathen who haven’t heard the gospel?!” Grandpa squeezes his grandson’s shoulder urgently.

The rest of the grand kids head for the kitchen and the refrigerator. They’ve agreed with Grandpa exactly enough.

“But Gramps, Calvinists are famous for sending missionaries all over the world, whether or not they know the local language. They don’t rely on their own control of the situation. See, no free will means you don’t have to know every detail of something before God works in you for His glory and the betterment of the body of Christ.” continues the skeptical grandson, wondering at the vocabulary he has just been given for the occasion.

“Then they are at odds with our version of their doctrine!” Gramps adjusts his hair and looks skeptically in a mirror by the kitchen,  placed there in the story for him to look at during this exact moment. “How do you say that? Vege ..tah-blays?”

“Verduras. It means vegetables. And isn’t Hiram Bingham the freemason guy of lore?

“Are they retarded? Why can’t they just say vegetables?”

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Matthew 11:16-19  But to whom shall I liken this generation? It is like children sitting in the markets, which, calling to their companions,  say, We have piped to you, and ye have not danced: we have mourned to you, and ye have not wailed.  For John has come neither eating nor drinking, and they say, He has a demon.  The Son of man has come eating and drinking, and they say, Behold, a man that is eating and wine-drinking, a friend of tax-gatherers, and of sinners: –and wisdom has been justified by her children.

In the Name of Jesus Christ, Amen

Short fiction: Steak and Eggs


“Where did you get the recipe for this? I never thought of putting an egg on a slice of venison. But its really good!”

I’m still cooking at the stove; lift one end of an egg to see if it is cooked enough to turn over. “Bobby Walker taught me that.”

Jim stops eating and puts down his fork. His nephew Tommy looks up at his reaction.

“Where’s he at these days?” Jim asks after a small silence.

“Off somewhere recuperating. You know how that is.”

Jim cuts another piece of venison and sops it in the yolk, then holds it up on his fork. “Bobby Walker? You wouldn’t think it.”

“Oh, c’mon. Don’t be that way.”

Tommy looks over at me with his best innocent face. Its meant to portray he would never repeat what he is asking to hear ..unless. A little bit like his uncle. “Who is Mr. Walker?”

I motion for his plate and he hands it over. “Sunny side up?”

“Yessir. ” The thin sliced venison is already on the plate so I pile the eggs on top and throw some salt on it; hand it back. What do you say to a question like that? I drop two more eggs in the pan for me.

“He’s a brother in Christ that had to be born again and live that way for many years and remember what it was really like to not be born again.”

Tommy: “I thought we all had to be born again.”

Me: “We do. We did. But Bobby had some baggage we didn’t have when he got there. Before that, he was ..victimized and taught he wasn’t a victim but was real smart to be living that way.”

Tommy: He was a homosexual?

Jim: “No. Though I know why you’d think that just hearin’ about him. He..” Jim looks at me. “How do you even tell such a thing?”

Me: I put some salt on my eggs. “You’re a young man, so you probably don’t remember the Free Will Baptist-Methodist Church downtown some years back. Had that affiliation with the PCUSA and the Episcopalians?”

“The one that got closed up? Hey, this is really good.” Tommy chews on the venison and eggs.

Me: “Yeah. Well, Bobby grew up in that church. His momma was a deacon, kind of a over-bearing woman, and Bobby was a bit hen-pecked. But he wasn’t effeminate. He just went along with whatever they were preachin’ and tried to be a zealot for his mother. And that happened at that time when a wave of female sterilizations went over that congregation.”

Tommy: “They had women deacons?!”

Jim: “That and a lot more than that.”

Tommy: “What’s a sterilization?”

Jim: “It’s where they take out the female parts of a woman so she can’t have any children.”

Tommy stops eating and stares at me. “Did they drug them and take them somewhere?”

Jim: “No. That’s what they were preaching to them from the pulpit. They believed that everybody has freedom to do whatever they want and that in order to keep yourself free to do whatever you run into next that you might want to do you have to do some strange things. To stay free, see? So the women sterilized themselves with the help of some doctors who were set up in town for the purpose and the pills to kill the seed miraculously showed up at the same time.”

Me: “They thought that serving the idea of freedom to do anything was actually worshiping God. I mean, they had hymns that sang that and prayers that prayed that, books that portrayed that and everything. Even had movies that made the women who didn’t get sterilized out to be victims of abuse and those that did as heroes.”

Jim: “Every time a girl got pregnant, especially one that wasn’t married, they hold her up as a tragedy. The children were portrayed to be like a disease. They had some Pakistani doctors in here and some from the University over in Gainesville; medical grants all set up. I mean if you looked at it from a military point of view, it was a smooth operation: the resources to get it done were all in place and the preacher made out it was God’s grace.”

Tommy: “And Bobby?”

Me: “Bobby’s mother was one of those women. He was an only child after she did the deed. His father left them after that and so his momma did all she could to teach him she was right. Had a dead womb, a hungry pussy, a guilty conscience and big mouth fully deceived his dick was gonna fix all that. ‘Cause she thought she already had Christ and bein’ her was bein’ Christian.”

Tommy: I don’t get that.

Jim: “You’re a young man. They teach the young men these days that the ideal is free sex. What’s being portrayed to you is that you ought to want sex and yet want to maintain your freedom to do anything at the same time. So a sterile women might seem the ideal in that scenario. But in truth, you want children. That’s just how that is. And Bobby’s father got tired of knocking on the door of an empty box. Sex is for a purpose, not just pleasure. All the sexy underwear and weird pictures in the world ain’t gonna make up for any loss of children.”

Me: I lift on one egg to see if it is sticking to the pan. “So he left and she tried to make Bobby think it was his fault. And all the girls at that church were of the same mind; they were wanting sex to keep the boys interested in them and taking pills to kill the seed that was being sowed and finally just cutting their wombs out because they thought that was how they could control the boys. And that’s all Bobby ever knew  -everybody around him was saying the same thing except our parents and his mother was calling us the low-class church. Along with all the grants to sterilize the women they had everything at her Church; a nice gym, a swimming pool, four or five big church buses, international exchange programs, political meetings..”

Jim: “They owned that youth camp down on Blue Lake Road. Had lots of fun. I think one year they went to England and sang their hymns for the queen.”

Tommy: “We ain’t got nothing like that!”

Jim smiles: “We got children instead. You for instance.”

Tommy chews on a piece of venison: “And he was born again anyway.”

Me: “That’s a fact. Heard John Norwood one night on the radio. But the thing was, he didn’t see how he could serve Christ after all that in his past. I mean, there are a lot of pagan people that know better than to sterilize themselves. And when they find out about his past, then they’d say “We already know more than you do” –as if he weren’t born again and he was just making up a new religion and telling them they ought to change ideas.”

Jim: “So he didn’t know what to do. Didn’t want to be reminded of it every time he passed the building. So he left.”

Me: “And that’s usually how it is. You’re born again and see what was happening all along and you’re ashamed of all that. But you can’t go back and undo it. And he had gotten married and his wife had done the same to him –and he just expected it by then.”

Jim “That’s particularly hard on a free willer, ’cause everything they do is about how to fool somebody into giving you what you want; everything in life when you believe that stuff is a contest of wills. Their love making is figuring how to get past each other to some emotional goal they can talk about later; they get sly like that.Whenever they make love they’re just gettin’ over on each other. And Bobby never really understood what ‘sterilized’ means until after he was born again. You can’t get past that at all. But free willers think they can think themselves out of anything and figure out a way to a desire.”

Me: “So he was basically intellectualizin’ about how to pick her lock when they were having sex and he didn’t see that even if he succeeded there wasn’t nothin’ in that box. They had him too busy havin’ fun at out-thinking her.”

Me: “Then she left him for some other man when it started to dawn on him. ‘The sex died’ as they say.”

Tommy: “How come they closed down the church?”

Me: “The preacher and his staff just up and left one day. They had already gotten most of the women to sterilize themselves and the women were finding out that all the promises made from the pulpit were lies. And the whole time they thought they were true and were blaming the men and the boys for not doing their part of the lie. That made the men and boys furious because nobody can deliver what a lie promises.  So the men and boys were just being falsely accused twenty four seven and made to feel guilty for nothing. That was showing up when you had to work with them in the public. The women and girls were becoming more plain witches in an effort to learn how not to be ashamed and using the church buildings to have Wiccan meetings and the like. Some of the young men were becoming homosexuals because they didn’t want anything to do with the girls. The whole thing was becoming obvious to everybody that it wasn’t Christian; they had gotten  the money and the kids, made sure they sowed dissension among all they could and they left. Nobody has seen them since. They’re probably just went somewhere else and started over.”

Tommy: “and he’s the one that gave you this recipe?

Me: I remember it like it was yesterday: We were cleaning  a deer over at Jacob’s place and he looked side to side before he looked at me, like he was being watched all the time and had to whisper any truth he knew and said: “I ain’t sayin’ nothin’, but if you was to cut that ham off the bone, freeze it, put it in the oven while it was frozen at about three fifty or four hundred degrees and put a piece of aluminum foil over it for about three or fours hours, then cut it diagonal, so you get the long slices and put two fried eggs on a slice, that might be good eatin’.” Before then, I had never thought of it.. even though, of course, everybody has heard of steak and eggs. The minute I heard it I thought two things: it would be a good recipe and he needed prayer beyond what he knew to ask for. And God sent a prayer for him through me.

Tommy: “Think you’ll ever see him again?”

Me:  “I hope so. He’s my brother.”

Jim nods: “And we all got stories. They may not be like his. But we still got them.”

———————-

1John 4:20,21  If any one say, I love God, and hate his brother, he is a liar: for he that loves not his brother whom he has seen, how can he love God whom he has not seen?   And this commandment have we from him, That he that loves God love also his brother.

In the Name of Jesus Christ, Amen

Micro-fiction: The Language of Baloney and Kebab


Tom and I were discussing language. We do that sometimes.

This particular time, we were looking for ways to make people who don’t speak English more comfortable with what they learn as they learn; to let them know they were keeping up. A general observation of learning is that you always feel like you are learning yesterday’s language and of things that don’t matter much to native speakers no matter what language you are learning.

Me: It’s nice to be fluent and say “hello! here is my passport, sir” with distinction and such, but most people live off the new things that get said, not the standard things that get said. That’s not right. It’s just the way of a fallen world.

Tom: I know what you are saying. Who would understand Lisa’s baloney story if they didn’t speak English for quite a while?

Tom’s nephew was over. As natural as breathing he says: What baloney story?

Everybody knows Lisa; but not everybody is familiar with all her stories. I don’t think anyone is; they can’t be numbered. She can be fun that way sometimes when she’s got enough money for her bills and you happen to have a lot of time at the post office.

Tom looks at me and I nod back at him, so he goes: The hardware store? Uptown?

We only have one. The nephew nods and shrugs.

Tom: It used to be both a hardware store and a IGA.

The nephew draws a blank.

Tom. It’s a chain of grocery stores. One half was the hardware and the other was the store. Where they got the paint section now? Used to be where all the eggs, milk, butter, all that kind of stuff was in one of those open refrigerated things. Anyway, up by the register was the scales and they had the cuts of meat behind glass. The scales were them old fashioned kind, the ones that stood up about two feet high, had the big arrow that went over the numbers when you pushed, I mean when you put something on ’em?

The nephew draws a blank on his face.

Tom: The ones they got today are a lot smaller and you need to know the type of equipment to get the story. The scales would be up to my stomach if I was standing on the floor and it was standing on a normal counter ..and about just under where a woman’s breast would be?

The nephew gets a weird look on his face.

Tom; That look you got is part of the story. I know you ain’t supposed to think about thing’s like that at your age, but for the purposes of understanding the story, take a time out. Anyway, you could get baloney by the pound.

Nephew: You still can. Up there at..

Tom: Okay. That ain’t the point. You’d go in and they’d cut it up and put it on the scales, like they do today, except with the old scales. The owner of the store at that time had a wife with big titties and she’d wear a low cut dress. And what she’d do is get the customer to look at the numbers and she’d lean over and her titties would press down on the scale and the customer would have to pay more and get less baloney.

I smiled at the layers of puns wrapped up in that one while the nephew shrugged: She was a cheat.

Tom; well ..yeah. But it was how. See back then, and even today, if you were a man you weren’t supposed to be lookin’ at them titties. She was a married wo-man. You were supposed to be lookin’ at what else was on sale, at whoever was comin’ in the door, thinkin’ about God or whatever else other than them titties. See? So the only way to catch her was to be immoral.

Me: Well, you didn’t have to actually BE immoral. You just had to keep a sharp eye without bein’ immoral.

Tom. You know what I mean. Anyway, when Lisa tells that story, she always laughs in her way and almost shouts : Them titties sold a lot of baloney! Some stories only old women can tell the best about other women.

Me: And when she says it, you get the impression she thinks it was smart and she wishes she had been that smart back then. Sometimes she would fake a laugh to see what the preacher would look like as she told it and laughed.

Nephew: you mean she was taking advantage of the fact I wasn’t supposed to be looking? To …to .. now that’s low down dirty pool.

Tom: True. True indeed. Now here’s the thing: how do you portray that to non-native English speakers. You tell that story to somebody that doesn’t know that baloney is an actual meat product, but you really never know what’s in it and so the word baloney has become a synonym for a mysterious mingling of words or outright lies for a host of reasons and they’ll just look at you with a blank stare.

Me: what’s worse: if you had to explain the details to them they almost couldn’t laugh.

Nephew: why?

Me: language classes are taught as if no immorality ever existed on planet earth: all the phrases and vocabulary are the most polite speech and the assumption of the good intentions –not to mention the supposed free will — of everybody. So if you told that story –and stories are the way people get to know each other and feel like they are participating in the new speech and aren’t getting behind –and if they finally did understand it, they would have to demonstrate something about themselves to laugh. And what they would have to demonstrate would be outside the bounds of the normal etiquette you encounter in language classes. So at best you’d get a polite ‘ha ha’ and a quick movement away from the moment ..which could be its own funny moment of a sort. The point is to tell a story that they understand, that has some complication, a pun here and there and they will recognize that they know English, and English speaking people, more than they thought they did and be encouraged. But most people who don’t speak English wouldn’t get the puns on ‘baloney’.

Nephew: you could say ‘kebab’ for the Arabic speakers. I hear you never know what that stuff really is.

Tom: But do they say ‘kebab’ the same way? They may say it is a mystery meat but might not use the word the same way.

Me, smiling: For all we know, that story started out in Arabia and just turned into baloney.

Nephew: you think people do that with language? I mean, you ain’t supposed to be lookin’ and your supposed to assume they are all in a language class and so they..

Tom: You’ll be the President one day, son.

Nephew: You know Lisa means smooth in Spanish.

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Proverbs 1:22  How long, simple ones, will ye love simpleness, and scorners take pleasure in their scorning, and the foolish hate knowledge?

In the Name of Jesus Christ, amen

Short Fiction: Winning


The hall is close and narrow, near the top floor of the tenant building. The young man stumbles up the stairs near the end of his goal. He is calm now. Steady. He trips over the old man’s legs and falls into him.

“What do you call yourself doin’?” The old man protests as he reaches for his bottle.

“I’m comin’ up to the roof to jump off.” The young man disengages himself from the older man and wipes his face.

“Why would you want to do something like that?” The old man tries to smile and be encouraging. Instead he looks ridiculous.

“I could tell you a lot of stories, old man. But it comes down to simply this: I got free will and I can’t never use it rightly. No matter what. I been a Catholic, a Hindu, I ate mushrooms, been a meth cooker, been to prison, I got clean and worked hard in a charity. I been a Buddhist, I been a Muslim and went to Mecca, I loved a girl, been with whores and all that. I learned a foreign language; heard, seen and said strange religious things. I’ve taken oaths ‘t make your hair curl. But in the end, ..I can’t make it work in none of ’em. And they’re all huntin’ me now.”

The old man laughs and slaps his thigh. “I hearby sentence you to another fifty years for gettin’ that one right.”

The young man tries to go by him, but the old man shoves him back. “Whatever you do during those fifty years, don’t be a Calvinist. They’ll turn you into a fatalist! But tell me. When did it hit you that you could never do it right.”

“Just after I won a debate with a Calvinist by shouting him down and proved free will existed. I proved myself into the grave to the roar of applause. And I wanted to lose that debate all along. I couldn’t even get that one right. All the things they did and said to make me want to believe weren’t good enough. Nothing works. I got free will and it don’t work. And I can’t stop believing it.”

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1John 4:20  If any one say, I love God, and hate his brother, he is a liar: for he that loves not his brother whom he has seen, how can he love God whom he has not seen?

In the Name of Jesus Christ, Amen