Sunday, February 28, 2016

309. Business

“Hey, what are you doing?” C.W. was sprawled on the couch making notes on a yellow pad. He was in one of his favorite shapes: how he imagined Titus Flavius Josephus looked, complete with Roman curls and a long white robe.

“Oh nothing,” he said. “Actually, I’m trying to make sense of your political system. The Elders are questioning me about it.”

“Are you making progress?”

“I’m confused, actually.”


“Yes,” he said. “For example, your candidates running for office don’t seem logical.”

“Oh really? In what way?”

“In many ways. Foreign policy, for example.”
“What about foreign policy?”

He flipped pages on his tablet and consulted his notes. “Here’s a quote from one of them,” he said. “I’ll bomb the excrement expelled from the body out of them.”

“I think it is just an expression,” I said.

“Not a very learned one,” he said, flipping in his notes again. “I’ve consulted Sun Tzu, Carl von Clausewitz, Dwight Eisenhower, Julius Caesar, Võ Nguyên Giáp, and even George S. Patton.”


“No mention of such a tactic.” He paused, turned to look at me, and said, “But you want to know what really confuses the elders?”

“I’m all ears.”

“No,” he said, “you still have all your body parts … at least as far as I can see.” He giggled.

“What’s so funny?”

“Oh just thinking of how body parts might be switched around.”


“And how funny it could be the next time Mrs, Big Dope yelled at you, ‘Are you listening to me?’”

“Let’s get back to politics,” I said.

“So,” he said, “what on earth do they mean when they say that they will run government like a business?”

“I’m not sure what they mean.”

“That it must make a profit?”

“Well, not exactly.”

“That’s comforting,” he said. “I would hate to see your generals going door to door selling the military.” He giggled again. “Pardon me sir or ma’am, whichever the case may be, you wouldn’t like to buy a war today, would you/” He began giggling in earnest. “We have a special on invasions this month.” He was wiping tears from his eyes now.

“Back to the topic,” I said.

“So how would they run this business called the government?” he asked.

“They haven’t said.”

“Hey,” he said, “how about running it like a pornography business. You don’t have to provide fire or police protection. You just show films of it.” Then he was off laughing again.

“I’m leaving,” I said.

“No, wait,” he said. “I’m okay now. But really, what business would we use to create the model for your government?”

“They haven’t said.”

“Merrill Lynch?”

“Probably not.”

“Bank of America?”

“Not likely.”

“ How about JPMorgan or Goldman Sachs?”

“Are you serious?”

“Citigroup? World Com?”

“Get real.”

“I know—General Motors.”

“Are you through?”

“I’ve got it,” he said. Then with a fourish… “Enron!”

A future historian will have to be
eloquent to explain your species. - C.W.
“You are crazy.”

“I’m not the one saying it,” he said. “Your political candidates are. I have the model,” he said. “How about those defense contractors? Boy, are they models of efficiency.”

 “You’ve made your point.”

“I read here,” he said, “where over half of businesses fail in five years. Is that what they want for your government?”

“I hear my wife calling me.”

“No she’s not,” he said. “I haven’t heard the ‘A’ word all morning.” He became serious. “But the elders do think there is one element of the business model that could do wonders for your country.”

I stopped and turned. “And what,” I said, “would that be?”

“We could move your Congress to Mexico.”

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Sunday, February 21, 2016

308. Consequences

“Boy are we going to make some dough.”

Oh no, there was a fat chef going through my wife’s pantry, his chef’s hat waving in the morning light. Of course it wasn’t a chef, but my resident alien C.W. pretending to be one.

“You’re going to be paste if she catches you in her groceries.”

“Don’t worry,” he said. “We’ll cut Mrs. Big Dope in on the deal and she’ll have all the money she wants to keep more animals here.”

This made me shudder. “And how, exactly, are we … you … going to make all this money?”

“Soup,” he said.



My head began to spin. “How will you make money with soup?”

“Selling it,” he said, then stopped. “Well, not exactly selling it outright, but for what your species calls an intense feeling of deep affection offering.”

“A what?”

“You know, the thing TV preachers use to get rich.”

“You’re not talking about a ‘love offering’ are you?”

“Isn’t that exactly what I just said?”

“Let’s move on,” I said. “So how will you make money with soup? You know nothing about making soup.”

“That’s the beauty of it.”

“How so?

“You don’t have to. See, the big obstacle is overcoming the laws mandating that you have to know what you are doing to make food if you claim you’re doing it for your religion.”

“Oh my god.”

“Exactly,” he said. “Your species has a law that you don’t have to follow a law that offends your religion.”

“Well, not exactly …,” I began.

“In a recent case in your state, they stopped the health folks from acting. That opens the door for us to serve what I’m calling RFRA Soup, after the so-called ‘Religious Freedom Restoration Act.’ Here’s the recipe.” He handed me a page filled with typing. It read:

            RFRA SOUP
Fill a normal bathtub will water from the hot faucet.
Add four cans of Campbell’s Potato Soup
Dice and add one onion
Salt to taste
Package and serve for a three-dollar love offering per serving
After the family has bathed, fill the tub and repeat.

I gasped. “Surely you aren’t serious.”

“Please don’t offend my religion.”

“You don’t have a religion.”

“I do, the same as the others. Making money. Have you ever seen a poor preacher on TV?”

I ignored him. “Three dollars?”

“Yes, we’ll say it’s one for the Father, one for the Son, and one for the Holy …”

“Stop it,” I said. “You’ve gone completely mad.”

We don't need no stinkin' laws.
Now that's a money-making concept. - C.W.
“I didn’t write the law,” he said. “I simply intend to flourish by it. By the way, all profits are tax-free.”

“But,” I said, “the law wasn’t intended to make people rich.”

“What was it intended for, pray tell? And notice my use of the word ‘pray.’ I’m getting into the spirit of things.”

“The law was intended to, uh, well … satisfy the belief by some that there is a higher law than those made by humans.”

“But,” he said, and I sensed a shift in his demeanor from chef to theologian, “it came pass that man’s law itself fell victim to a higher mandate, a much higher law, and one recognized as all-powerful by all gods of the eternal universe.”

“And that law was?”

He smiled and took back his recipe. “The Law of Unintended Consequences. It’s going to make us rich.”

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Sunday, February 14, 2016

307. Rules

It’s been cold here and C.W. doesn’t care much for cold weather. He often annoys me by appearing as Jimmy Buffett and singing “Wasting Away in a Drink Made With Tequilaville.” Yes, his Galactic Universal Translator is on the blink again. He attributes it to sunspots. I just don’t know.

Anyway, he was full of questions today. He was in my favorite recliner going through notes he had collected during the week. He studied a page and looked up. “What do they mean by this?”

I stopped my computer mouse. “By what?”

De mortuis nihil nisi bonum.” he said.

“Fu … uh darned if I know.”

“Wait one,” he said. I could tell he was consulting his GUT. “Oh,” he said. “It be meaning ‘Don’t be dissin’ the stiff dudes or y’all be some sorry mother ….”

I interrupted. “Wait,” I said, “I think you need to adjust your GUT.”

“My GUT is fine,” he said. “I trust it as having all necessary parts or not lacking anything.”

“You may trust it completely,” I said, “but you may want to make a slight adjustment to its coordinates.”

“Wait one,” he said. I could almost hear him mentally punching in new numbers. Then he smiled—a crooked little smile that showed some missing teeth. “Hit means ‘Don’t chall go round pissin’ on the graves of the deceased.”

“I think a couple of clicks to the north,” I said.

“Oh,” he said. Another moment passed. “Here it is,” he said. “We should attempt, giving the constraints imposed upon us by a cruel and unsympathetic societal structure, to, if we are not otherwise genetically impaired in our self-control, to only speak, utter, communicate, or otherwise articulate good about the livingly impaired.”

I shook my head. “No,” I said, “I think you landed in the middle of a college campus.”

He shook his head. “Okay,” he said. “Respect the dead, unless, of course, they are women, spics, or n…”

“Stop it,” I yelled. He looked stunned. “You’re in the headquarters of some political candidate.”

“Well darn,” he said. His eyes crossed slightly when he adjusted this time. “I think I’ve got it,” he said. “Listen … anyone killed with a firearm of any sort, it’s their own damned fault. Otherwise, we are sorry for your loss.”

“Where in the galaxy did you find that?”

“Wait one,” he said, “Oops, sorry. I accidently opened something called the NRA manual.”

“I thought so,” I said. “Anyway, I think I get the picture now. I believe that is a Latin phrase translated as ‘Of the dead, nothing unless good,’ and goes back to writings by Diogenes Laërtius around AD 300.”

He was obviously impressed, but, then, he couldn’t see my computer screen. “And it means?”

“It means,” I said. “Don’t badmouth dead people.”

“Oh,” he said.

“Why? What’s wrong?”

He ignored me. After a moment, he said, “Is there a time limit on it?”

I answered mischievously, “It depends on what political party you belonged to.”

“Be serious,” he said, a highly uncharacteristic statement, coming from him. “I need to know about this.”

“Okay,” I said. “There isn’t a strict time limit.”

“What else should I know about this system of symbols (as letters or numbers) used to represent assigned and often secret meanings.”

Of all your species, I think this group would
want to be on the right side of history. -  C.W.
 I couldn’t help myself. “This code is more what you’d call “guidelines” than actual rules.” I tried to stifle my laughs, but they made my stomach bounce.

“You are an ass,” he said.

“Okay,” I said. “I’ll be serious. What’s the big deal about not unloading on a corpse?”

“I have to file my weekly report of current events to the Falloonian Elders,” he said.

“I don’t understand.”

“Then you try to say something nice about a recently deceased person who once ruled that a corporation is a person.”

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Sunday, February 7, 2016

306. Confusion

"So explain something to me," C.W. said, as we enjoyed ourselves at a local Little Rock beer joint. I it was pleasant, with his taking, for once, the sensible shape of a good friend. I was having a beer and he a soda, his usual since the incident with the female police officer. Don't ask.

"Explain what?"

"This concept your species has called a 'love-hate' relationship."

"What do you mean?"

"It doesn't make sense," he said."Is it what you call a combination of contradictory word such as a 'definite maybe,' like Mrs. Big Dope says all the time?"

"You mean an oxymoron?"

"That's what I said. Your repeating of everything I say is becoming a periodic constancy."

It took a moment for that to register. "She doesn't say that all the time," I said. It's just a falsehood she uses to express the truth."

"You are confusing me with elucidation," he said.

"So what was it you want to know? Forgetting what you say is, for me, a cruel kindness."

He scowled at me from across the table. “Would you rather play our beer-drinking game?”

Oh no. We have this game we play called “Songs and songwriters I enjoy disliking.” The image of Tony Orlando popped into my head. I quickly changed the subject.

“So what was your question again? I’m drearily attentive.”

“What does it mean to have a ‘love-hate’ relationship with something or someone?”

“Well,” I said, “it sort of means you love something— or maybe the concept of something— at one moment but then hate it at another. You know … possessing simultaneous or alternating emotions of love and hate.”

“Like in marriage,” he said, “when …”

I interrupted him. “It doesn’t have anything to do with sex,” I said.

“Hmm,” he said, and he took a small notebook and pen from his pocket and began to write.

“What are you doing?”

“Oh nothing,” he said, “just making a note to get a second opinion on something.”

“You leave her out of this,” I said. “Or I’ll catch you sleeping and play, ‘American Pie,’ as loud as I can.”

“You wouldn’t dare,” he said. “I have ten Tom Waits discs just waiting for you.”

“Okay,” I said. “Truce.”

“Truce,” he said. “Peace through war.”

“You got it,” I said. “But why are you off on this love-hate kick?”

“Your species seems to live by it,” he said.

“Confound me with clarity,” I said.

“Look at your religions,” he said. “Between those urging love, and those urging hate, which are the fastest growing?”

I took a drink of beer and signaled the waitress for another, not from desire, but from a need for a second or two to think. She came and I stalled some more, asking about her family.

“Oh my granddaddy said the nicest thing to me the other day,” she said.


“Yes, he told me that he was so proud that I had five kids and that I knew who the daddy of each one was.” She took the empty bottle and wandered away.

C.W. stared at her. “How old do you think she is?”

“Nearly 30, I imagine.”

“What her grandfather said, isn’t that what you would call ‘praise damnation’ or something like that?”

“No,” I said. “I think that’s what we call redneck sophistication in the South. But back to your question …”

Something tells me that his man
is not reciting the Beatitudes. - C.W.
“Yes,” he said. “Now take a look at your current crop of political candidates.”

“What about them?”

“The ones who get all the attention, what are they whispering most loudly?”

“Uh,” I said, once more stalling for time.”

Let me answer with a hint,” he said. “It isn’t love.”

I nodded. “Just what are you trying to say?”

“Just that,” he said, “you species never seems to feel more correct than when they are wrong.”

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