Sunday, March 25, 2012

88. Awakenings

C.W. had warned me he was working on a project, so I was not surprised when I got to the condo and found him hard at work. What did surprise me was the extent of his efforts. He is a little on the lazy side at times.

“Hey, Big Dope,” he said, with his usual respect. “Make yourself comfortable. I’ll be just a moment.”

This was gracious of him as it was my apartment. I ignored it and sat down to watch him work.

His appearance was reminiscent of a Hollywood director of the golden era, complete with beret and knee britches. He sat at one end of a folding table and watched a DVD player. He had evidently been reviewing films. As he concentrated on the monitor, I scanned the titles. They were from a single genre, monster films of the 1950s. Scattered in piles were familiar titles, including, Godzilla, Them!, Attack of the 50 Foot Woman, The Incredible Shrinking Man, the Beast from 20,000 fathoms, Wasp Woman, It came from Beneath the Sea, and others.

I declined to grant him the pleasure of an inquiry.

After a few moments, he glanced up from reviewing one of my personal favorites, Tarantula.

Want to know what I’m doing?

I’m all aquiver,” I said, striving to act disinterested.

“Providing a service for your species.”

“A service?”

“Yes, as in doing something nice for humankind.” He paused and reflected. “After all, most of your people believe, as Sam Harris pointed out, that I made the journey to your planet just to molest ranchers and their cattle.”

“I see,” I said, although I didn’t.

“Take all these films,” he said. “What are the common threads?”

“Uh,” I said, suspecting a trick question. “Scary?”

“Well first,” he said. “They represent physical characteristics that defy any scientific fact.”

I had long suspected that. Click here for further clarification.

“I figured as much,” I said.

“Second, they all seem to emerge from a hidden fear of nuclear, or other scientific experiments gone bad.”

“Yes,” I said. “Remember that they appeared shortly after a world war in which 40 million people were killed.”

”So we have monsters appearing that had been hidden for eons and then released by some new catalyst.” He paused. “Am I getting too technical for you?”

“I’m with you so far,” I said. “But where is this going?”

“Ah,” he said. “Fast forward to present time in your country.”

“Present time?” I said.

“Yes. Your country in particular seems to be confronting social monsters that most believed long dead.”

”Social monsters?”

“Yes, just consider the attacks on the rights of women, denial of science, not wanting to care for the sick and elderly, anti-veteran sentiment, and the spewing forth of racial hatred generated by the election of a president of color in the most powerful nation on earth.”

I was stunned.

“Weren’t these monsters slain decades ago?”

“We thought so.”

”So what is the current catalyst? Can’t be atomic bombs this time.”

“I don’t know.”

Rick Santorum's greatest nightmare - C.W.
 ”Ah,” he said. “So here is my gift to your species.”

“Your gift?”

“Yes,” he said. “I have the answer.”

I bit. “And?”

“Bottled water.”

“Bottled water?”

“Yes, the decision to begin paying for a free substance had to be a mental catastrophe of near Biblical proportions.”

That’s all folks.

Sunday, March 18, 2012

87. Predictions

C.W. has a problem.

It seems that some of his counterpoints in other parts of the globe are gaining notoriety (in disguise of course) and the Falloonian Elders docked our alien a point on his quarterly evaluation for not meeting this standard. Bad reviews are not a good thing in Falloonia, as on earth.

So he is determined.

“Determined to do what?” I asked him as he sat outdoors with me in a perfect image of the famous news pioneer Edward R. Murrow.

“Appear on the History Channel,” he said.

“The History Channel?”

“Yes,” he said, lighting his third cigarette since we started and blowing the smoke in my direction. “The Elders have this idiotic notion that it has something to do with history.”

“The History Channel?”

“I know,” he said. “I have tried to tell them that, in order to appear on that show one must be uneducated, uncouth, pathetic, and regretful.”

”You mean ‘sorry.’”

“I think that’s what you call those people.”

“Well,” I said. “The channel produces other type shows.”

“I know,” he said. “They offer shows about half-cooked-in-an-oven conspiracy theories.”

“In addition to ‘half-baked’ theories, they also present shows about …,” I began.

“Yes,” he said. “I know. UFOs.”

“Quite so.”

”Even you should be able to understand why the Falloonian Elders would not like me to broach that subject.”

“Ah, yes,” I said.

“But there is another option,” he said.

“And, it is?”



“Yes, they like shows about people who make predictions.”

“True,” I said.

“So, I have made some and you must publish them.”

“You made predictions?”

“Yes, and if it turns out that any of them happen to be accurate, I can have my own show on the History Channel.”

With that, he retrieved a file from a briefcase he had brought with him and handed me a sheet grimy with cigarette ashes and with numerous holes burned in it. I read:

And in the third year of the Great Digression, I saw, from the gardens of the river’s valley:

1. A great trial coming upon the Earth and all its children in fear.

2. A person arising whom some shall call holy and some shall call wicked and that person will be known among all nations.

3. The earth disgorging its displeasure and humankind wailing in sorrow.

4. Wars threatening even peaceful kingdoms and the mighty of the earth struggling.

Readers: Contact Big Dope as soon as you
think one of these predictions is coming true.
- The Prophet C.W.

5. The waters of the river raging in anguish.

As one might imagine, I was speechless.

“So,” he said. “Get them published and if any come to pass, I’ll be branded a prophet.”

“You want me to publish these,” I said.

“Immediately. I’ll be making some more in the interim.”

I thought it over for a moment and considered prophets of the past.

“Sure,” I said. “Why not?”

Sunday, March 11, 2012

86. Songs

What a mess. We were spending the weekend at the farm and, as usual, I awoke early and stumbled in to make coffee. As I switched on the kitchen light, I realized that there was already half a pot of coffee made. I heard sounds from the living room and made my way there. You won’t believe what I saw.

There, amidst a pile of papers, coffee stains, and cats, sat—get ready—what appeared to be Woody Guthrie with my secondbest guitar in hand and seated at my wife’s piano. He looked at me and smiled.

Of course, it was C.W., not Woody Guthrie, and before I could say anything, he waved me in. “Glad to see you, Big Dope. Come on in and sit.”

I tried to collect my thoughts.

“Come on. It’s all right.”

“C.W., what the …”

“I’m writing music,” he interrupted. “Watched one of them talent shows on TV the other night and figured anybody could do it, and guess what?”

I stared.

“I’m good at it,” he said, picking up my guitar and sounding a chord.

“When did you learn to play guitar?”

“I just know a few chords,” he said. “That’s all you need.” He leaned the guitar against the wall and made a run on the piano. “Did you know that Irving Berlin could only play piano in the key of F Sharp?”

“You’re going to die,” I said. “Nobody touches the wife’s piano but her.”

“We’re all gonna die,” he said. Then he struck a pose. “Excuse me,” he picked up the guitar.

“We’re all a’ gonna die,

It’ll happen by and by.”

He grabbed a sheet of paper, fished a pencil from the coffee table and started to scribble, ignoring me completely.


“Woody, please,” not looking up.

“What’s up?”

“Oh, nothing. The Falloonian Elders like a little showmanship with their reports, so I’m writing some songs for them.”

He stopped writing and looked up at me. He had a thought and then rustled around in the pile and came up with a crumpled sheet of paper. “I’m writing one about you. Wanna hear it?”


“It’s called ‘Eternally Confused.””

At that point, a cat jumped onto the piano seat beside him and began to nuzzle his arm.

“Oh, and the cats and I are writing the first musical ever about cats. Won’t that be somethin’?”

“I think that’s been done,” I said.

“Not the way we’re doing it.” He stroked the cat and she purred, looking at him with adoring eyes. “The cats are militant and take over the world.”

“Take over the world?”

“Yes, the theme song is “A New Moon Over Felinia.”

The cat purred again.

“I write topical songs, too,” he said. “Want to hear my latest?”


He fumbled through the stack. “Here it is. It is called ‘Your Womb Belongs to Daddy.’”

I was trying to absorb it all when he broke into song.

“You can speak of all your choices,

And the power of your voices.

But your womb,

Your womb,

We'd love us some Woody
- Sarah and Hillary
Your womb belongs to …”

“Enough,” I said. “I get the picture.”

“Well then, leave us alone,” he said. “We’ve got work to do.” Another cat joined him and they looked at me with true menace in their eyes.

I waddled back toward the bedroom

Sunday, March 4, 2012

85. Choices

We went for a walk the other day, C.W. and I. It was a balmy pre-Spring day and we felt the need for fresh air. It had rained for weeks, and we looked forward to a dry spell. We agreed to meet in the park across the street from the condominium and I, as usual, arrived first.

I waited thirty minutes, gave up, and started walking toward the river when a thin, dark, shabbily dressed boy of about ten years of age crossed the street and joined me.

“Mr.,” he said. “Can I axe you a question?”

“C.W.,” I said. “Is that you?”

“I don’t know no C.W.,” he said. “I just want to know.”

”Know what?” I played along.

“Would Harbard or Yale be the best place for me?”


“Harbard or Yale. When I go to college, I got to make the right choice.”

“You’re talking about the Ivy League schools, Harvard or Yale, I assume?”

“Yeah. Ain’t they the best?”

“Some say so, but tell me why do you think you could go to one of them?”

“Cause they the best, and the man on television say I have to make good choices if I’m gonna pull myself up like he done.”

“What man on television?”

“That man runnin’ for president.”

A fog was beginning to lift. “So you want to improve yourself?”

“That’s right. That’s why I come to Little Rock.”

“Where are you from?”

“Down in the farm country, outside a place called Turkey Scratch,” he paused. “You know that white man named Levon Helm?”

“I’ve heard of him.”

“That’s where he from.”

“What about your schooling?”

“We ain’t got no school there. They buses us about an hour to school and back ever day.”

“And you want to go to Harvard or Yale?”

“Got to,” he announced with finality. “That’s what that man on television done.”

“And if you don’t?”

He thought for a minute. “I might end up like you.”

I ignored that. “What do your parents say?”

“My daddy, he run off when I was born,” he said. He stopped and picked up a discarded beer can from the gutter. “My mama used to work, but the chicken plant closed. She don’t talk much now.”

“And you think you can go to college wherever you choose?”

“That’s what that man say.” He dropped the beer can into a trash receptacle on the street.

“Just by choosing to?”

“He called it ‘jerking myself off by the bootstraps’”.

I pretended to look at a tiny bud on a tree while I composed myself. “I think he said pull yourself up by your bootstraps.’”

“Whatever you say. Can you help me? It’s important.”

“What could I do?”

Young folks, remember choices are
important. Take parents for example.
I chose a father who was a governor.
It worked out great for me.
 “Help me get in Harbard or Yale, cause if you don’t …,” he paused.

“If I don’t, what?”

“I’ll have to play pro basketball.”