Sunday, December 14, 2014

229. Imagining War

“What the …?”

Of all the getups and shapes C.W. has taken over the years, this was one of his strangest. Now get this. Imagine a young Don Knotts in the getup of a fearsome fighter pilot, complete with flight suit, helmet, sun visor, and a survival knife strapped to his leg. It was a ludicrous example of extreme opposites, as far as appearance goes.

“You know I told you I couldn’t go walking with you?” he began.

“Uh, yeah.” I was still pretty much speechless.

“I can now,” he said. “When do you want to go?”

Struggling to find words, I stared at him and his garb. “What the …?”

“I’m free to go now,” he said, flinging his helmet toward the couch.

“What happened?”

“I got fired.”

Now this was news. “Fired from what?”

“My job,” he said, crestfallen.

“What job?”

“Flying drones for your military. I was, like, really having fun and they, like, fired me.”

Impressions were assaulting my brain like an artillery bombardment at Verdun. “Give me a second,” I said as I tried to compose myself. After a moment, I managed to get something out. “You were flying drones for the Air Force?”

“It was easy,” he said, “with my computer skills. They recruited me from some high scores on that ‘Call of Duty’ video game. Then they, like, furnished the computers and everything. It was, like, extremely impressive or daunting; inspiring great admiration, apprehension, or fear.”


“That’s, like, what I said.”

“So how did it work?”

“They, like, gave me this neat uniform and I, like, sat in a great large chair and entered coordinates. I fed information into the computer, sat back, steered, and enjoyed the ride. Then when I had the target in view, I like …”

“I get the picture,” I said. “So what happened?”

“I, uh, entered the wrong coordinates and thought I, like, had the right target.”

“Which was?”

“A hostage situation …the terrorists were, like, torturing one of our female operatives.”


“I was sure I had, like, the secret location in Afghanistan. It was, like, going to be … uh …”




“I was off a little.”

“How little?”

He screwed his face into a questioning expression. “Wrong country?”

“What country?”

“I can’t tell you.”

“But you thought you had the right target?”

“Like, yeah,” he said as if I should have understood.

“A torture scene?”

“Like, really.”

“How could you confuse that?”

He looked at the floor. Then he looked around. Finally he looked at me. “It was a movie set.”

“A what?” I must have yelled.

“Chill,” he said, “a movie set. But it sure looked like a torture scene.”


“I, like, can’t tell you that.”

“What kind of movie?”

A neat job and I never got air sick. - C.W.
“It was one with lots of action.” Then he did the strangest thing. He took on a wistful look as if reliving a pleasant memory. “I really did them good,” he said.

“But it was a movie set with innocent people.”

“Yeah,” he said, “but it was still, like, awesome.” He shrugged.

“Did you learn the name of the movie?”

“Yeah,” it was some sort of travel adventure.”

“A travel show?”

“Yeah, something called ‘Bhaarati does Bombay.’”
Click an ad... I have to pay for the uniform - C.W.

Sunday, December 7, 2014

229. Doctrines

“Hey, you want to listen to some music?”

“Can’t,” C.W. said, looking up from the kitchen table. “Got some orders to fill.” Uh oh. I sensed another of his get-rich schemes, especially as he had assumed the shape of the little guy on TV that does the OxiClean commercials. He had a huge Bible to one side of my laptop and several stacks of papers on the other. He immediately returned to what he had been doing.

“Mind if I ask what you are up to this time?”

It obviously annoyed him, but he looked up to answer the question. “I’m helping those with troubled spiritual or immaterial parts of a human being or animal, regarded as immortal.”

Did I tell you that he has been having trouble with his Galactic Universal Translator?

“You need a GUT check,” I said, “and how, exactly are you helping those with troubled souls?”

He didn’t answer, just handed me the top three sheets from a stack of papers, all clipped to an envelope. I looked them over.

The first sheet was a letter, I suppose from one of his “clients.” It read: Dear Sirs: I have started a small church that I hope will become a large one with a world-wide following. I am having trouble making my members give me money. The men say that their wives insist on buying food and clothes for their children instead. Please design me a doctrine to address this.” It was signed “Unobeyed.”

I flipped to the second sheet. The first thing that caught my eye was the letterhead. It read, “Doctrine Designers, Incorporated,” and listed my name as president. “What the …” I began.

“Don’t worry,” he said. “It’s just a nominal office. I needed an ordained minister’s license and they wouldn’t accept an application from a Falloonian, so I got you one. Online. It was at or for a low price.”

“I don’t care how cheap it was. I didn’t say you could make me a preacher.”

“Not a preacher,” he said, “a follower of our ‘Fisher of Men and Women Doctrine.’ Don’t you read your Bible?”

It was useless. I continued reading. “Dear Unobeyed: You best introduce the Doctrine of ‘Peter’s Anger.’ Cite the Book of Acts, Chapter Five verses One through Eleven. When your flocks see what Peter did to Ananias and Sapphira, they will know how much you love them and will surely fall in line.” My signature followed, as “Minister of Doctrine.”

I fumed, but looked at the third sheet as he continued to type. It was a bill for a thousand dollars. “Uh,” I said. “How are we going to divide up the money?”

“I thought fifty-fifty,” he said.

Doctrines are like clothes. You just feel
better when they fit you  well. - C.W.
“Hmm. I continued reading. The next was from “Troubled.” It read, “Dear Minister of Doctrine: I enjoy travelling with my companion and visiting the major cities in the country. We make money by giving speeches that we call ‘Dealing With the Thorn.’ Since we have begun counseling attendees not to have heterosexual sex, we have been attacked and beaten several times. Could you please help us with a doctrine that will make them quit”

“C.W.,” I said. “This has got to stop now. Right now.”

“Can’t yet,” he said, “You’re about to solve a problem a client is having with his disrespectful children.” He picked up another sheet. “And here’s one from a man who doesn’t like to be kidded about being bald.” He fished another letter out. “Here’s a good one. It’s from a poor boat builder who starts thinking his daughters are cute when he gets to drinking.”

“Now, “I said. “It stops now.”

“Careful you don’t violate our ‘Apostate Doctrine’ and get in real trouble,” he said. “We do serve other religions, you know.”
Please click on an ad. Big Dope has left me unemployed again. - C.W.

Sunday, November 30, 2014

228. Viewpoints

“Hey, want to go for a walk?” C.W. came bounding in almost breathless looking like an ad for L.L. Bean, complete with red plaid shirt and classy hiking shoes. He resembled an outdoor George Clooney. We were spending a long holiday weekend at our farm and he was primed and ready for action, probably a little bored as well.

“Can’t,” I said.

“Why not? You aren’t doing anything.”

Actually I was writing but forget that. “Can’t walk around here,” I said. “Deer season.”


“Deer season. There are folks that would shoot an alien just to have their picture with your body in the county paper.”

He plopped onto a couch. “May I say,” he began, “that your species is a bit weird?”

“Pray do,” I said. “Just don’t include me.”

“Oh, you are as bad as the rest.”

I ignored him.

“For example,” he said. “When any issue comes up, you tend to pick a point of view and stick with it no matter what the facts say.”

“Do not.”

“Oh yes you do.”

“Do not.”

“Jimi Hendrix or Eric Clapton?”

He took me by surprise. I thought. “Eric Clapton, everybody knows that.”

“What if Clapton himself said ‘Hendrix?’”

“Eric Clapton.”

“What if ‘Rolling Stone Magazine’ said Hendrix?”

“Eric Clapton,” I said. “Now I have work to do.”

“Are you planning to produce a written or printed work consisting of pages glued or sewn together along one side and bound in covers?”

“If I decide to produce a book,” I said, “you won’t be in it.”

“Why not?”

“You aren’t interesting enough.”

“I’m more interesting than you.”

“Are not.”

“Am,” he said. “How many of your readers have suggested that you write a book about yourself?”

“Well,” I said, “none yet but that’s not to say they won’t be interested when it is finished.”

“Yeah,” he said, “and Rush Limbaugh might discover that it’s fun to talk about the goodness of humankind.”
“It could happen,” I said.

“And Bill O'Reilly might actually read one of those books he has ‘written’ as well and start acting like the subjects of them.”

“Well I do write all my stuff,” I said.

“And,” he  said, “how many of your readers have suggested that you include me in a book?”

I thought. “This month or all together?”

“Let’s just say in the last couple of months.”

“Oh,” I said, “quite a few.”


“I’d be the laughing stock of America,” I said.

“No,” he said, “Sarah Palin has that title all sewed up.”

“Don’t you have something to do?”

“I could read something,” he said. “Dickens or Austin?”

Will Big Dope ever accept the truth? - C.W.
My worn copy of “Great Expectations” was in view. I saw the trap and could see the joy on his face when he repeated my answer to my wife. “Actually either is acceptable,” I said. “I prefer modern American writers.”

“Gatsby or Grapes of Fierce Anger?”

“Are you trying to provoke me?”

“Maybe I’ll just watch a little television while you write.” Before I could protest, he grabbed the TV remote and punched a button. Immediately the contorted face of Nancy Grace appeared. We both watched in disbelief as she convicted a person of gross sins against humanity and vowed that it would all come out in the trial. C.W. leaned forward and took it in with a wry smile. He turned to me and cocked his head, or at least the shape of the head he had chosen for today.

“Guilty or not guilty?” he said.
and of course: click an ad. We always need new hiking attire. - C.W.

Sunday, November 23, 2014

227. Privilege

            “I’ve been thinking,” C.W. said.
            Oh hell. “About what?” We were taking advantage of a break in the cold weather to walk along the riverside park in Little Rock. The air was crisp, the leaves on the maple trees a flaming red, and the paths clear of his enemies, the bicyclists. He often takes on a shape much like that of Johnny Depp in times like this, a joke that causes many stares and an occasional stalking. He, of course, was smoking, blowing the smoke my way to irritate me.
            “I’ve been thinking I might stay here,” he said. “I mean after my assignment is finished.”
            Oh hell. “And what makes you think you might do that?”  I said.
            “I’ve grown accustomed to your face,” he said. I turned quickly to see if he was kidding. He was.
            “And aside from that?”
            “Your species needs help,” he said. “Maybe I could be a pundit, or columnist, or run for office.”
            Oh hell. “Why do you think we need help?”
            “Oh please,” he said. “You have people elected to your national congress who think the universe is 6,000 years old.” He took a puff and blew the smoke toward the distant skyscrapers. “And they are allowed to breed children, drive cars, and operate TV remotes. Scary.”
            “You’ve got a point,” I said.
            “And you’ve got some really ignorant ones at the state level,” he said.
            He was making me despondent. “So,” I said, “will they let you stay, the Falloonian Elders?”
            “I have to make application,” he said. “And I have to choose a permanent shape and personality. And, I have to have sponsors who will vouch for me. You and Mrs. Big Dope will, won’t you?”
            Oh hell. “Have you thought about your permanent shape?” I said.
            “Some,” he said. “I, of course would be male, earning power and all that.”
            “Anything else?”
            “Caucasian. That opens a lot of doors,” he said, “and removes any limitations.”
            “A degree from Harvard would help.”
            “You’ll have to ask them about that,” I said.
            “I have,” he said. “I just have to send the check.”
            “Good for you,” I said. “Is that all you need? Any physical specifications?”
            “Yes, I think it would help if I were tall.”
            “Hmm,” I said, “probably. Anything else?”
            “A big pe …”
            “Look,” I said. “A speedboat was pulling a water skier in a wetsuit down the river. “That’s something you don’t see often, this time of year. But what were you saying?”
            He thought. “A trust fund,” he said, “I will need a trust fund.”
            “Don’t look to me for that,” I said.
            “Oh the Elders would arrange that. They seemed anxious to grant me permanency here.”
            “I can imagine,” I said. “So that about does it then?”
            “If I plan to run for office, I need a stint in the military.”
            Oh hell. “And?”
            “That presents a bit of a problem,” he said.
            “How so?”
            “We don’t have violence in Falloonia. I’m not sure how I would respond.”
            “Well you won’t know until you try.” I was thinking of four years of freedom.
            “Maybe I could just become an avid hunter instead,” he said. “That seems to work as a proxy.”
Everyone is crazy about
a self-made man. - C.W.
            “That involves violence,” I said.
            “Yes, but it is unilateral violence. That is the best kind.”
            “Say,” I said. “You’ve thought this thing out pretty carefully.”
            “I’m prepared to pull myself up by my own bootstraps, as George W. Bush used to say. Only two decisions to go,” he said.
            “Only two?”
            “Yes, finding a wife and choosing a church home,” he said, “appearances, you know.”
            “That shouldn’t be hard,” I said.
            “I don’t know, he said. “Those Baptist women are awfully pretty, but you know how much I like to dance.”
            Oh hell.
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Sunday, November 16, 2014

226. Corporationhood

“Man, we’ve got to get into this religion racket.”

“Some of my friends wouldn’t call it a racket,” I said.

“What would you call it?” C.W. was all turned out in expensive clothes (Heaven knows where he got them), a fake platinum watch, and a haircut that looked like three plates of spaghetti piled on top of one another.

“Some call it a pursuit of spirituality,” I said, “a search for grace.”

“Oh, that’s them old-timey folks,” he said. “I’m talking about modern times. I tell, you, there’s gold in those pews.”

“How so?”

He closed his eyes as if praying for understanding. “Don’t you read the news?”

“I quit … too depressing.”

“Well,” he said, “the evangelism stars are aligning themselves.”

“Uh,” I said, “I think you are mixing metaphors or something like that.”

“Whatever,” he said. “The time is right.”

“The time is right for what?”

“My new religion.”

“I see. You are going to start a new religion.”

“Yes. And I need some rent money for a tabernacle.”

“I’m not sure there are many tabernacles for rent around here.”

“Oh, a simple coliseum will do for now.”

“And this new church will be called what?”

“The Church of the Corporate Covenant.”

“The what?”

“You heard me.” He said. “It’s a church for corporation people only we will allow other types of people as well.”

“And whose idea was this?”

“I got it from your Superior To All Others Court.”

“Our Supreme Court?”

“Why do you repeat me so often?”

“A habit, I suppose. But how is our Supreme Court going to help you start a church?”

“Not help, enable.”

“How so?”

“Haven’t you heard? Corporations have human feelings like everyone else, including religious feelings.”


“Laws must respect those and make allowances.”


“What corporation wants to pay taxes?”

“Uh …”

“What corporation wants to allow a woman to run it?”

“Well …”

“What corporation in American wants to pay higher wages than does a corporation in Sri Lanka?”

“Ah …”

“And black folks, give me a break. They steal more than they produce. Ask Bill O’Reilly If we didn’t have to hire them, corporate profits would soar.”

“Corporate profits are already soaring.”

“But just wait,” he said, “until we don’t have to hire cripples anymore.”

“C.W., I can’t believe I hear you saying these things.”

“I’m merely speaking for the Lord of Corporations. I’m a way-pointer on the path to salvation.”

I was beginning to understand. “So you will set up a church that objects to all these restrictions on religious grounds.”

Isn't it thrilling? your new
Civil Rights movement. - C.W.
“In exact terms, without vagueness.”

“And exactly why do you think it will work?”

“Because you are a Level Nineteen Species.”

“A level what?”

“A species that has been walking upright for less than half a million years. It’s a Galactic Council term. It indicates provisionality.”


“You may not have long so let’s get busy.”

Click on an ad. We need money for our adventures.
And check our
- C.W.