Sunday, March 26, 2017
Oh boy oh boy! It was “New Shape Saturday.” I had a fresh rum and tonic and a new cigar ready. C.W. and I were alone in the back yard of the farm and he was in high spirits. One head wore a construction hat, another a police officer’s hat, and the third a Sioux chieftain’s headdress. He, they, looked strangely familiar, but I couldn’t quite place them.
He had chairs sat up under a tree and would disappear behind a storage building, wait a few minutes, and emerge as his new shape. I would try to guess who he represented. This is always fun, or it is sometimes. It makes my wife nauseated, so she was off visiting a friend. Hot dog! I lit my cigar and yelled, “Ready.”
A middle-aged man, well dressed in a business suit emerged and took a seat. “One hint,” he said, “TV pundit.”
“Expert?” I said.
“Very much so.”
“Education and background?”
“Bachelor’s degree in business administration and 30 years of military service.”
“Went in as a second lieutenant. Came out as a major.”
“Come on,” he said, “you’ve watched the news. Make a guess. I can’t provide any more information than that.”
“I give up.”
“Expert on military affairs,” he said. "On that so-called news channel named after a wild animal."
“But you retired as only a … ,” I began, but he had already departed. “A 30-year major hardly qualifies …,” I said, mostly to myself. Then he yelled over his shoulder.
“It’s television, dummy. That’s today’s theme. Truth in television.”
A few seconds later, and a great new shape appeared. A disheveled character with a shaved head and long beard came in and sat in front of me. He had divided the beard into two prongs, each held by a rubber band. “Expert,” he said.
“Community college in Charleston, West Virginia. Associate’s degree in restaurant management.”
“Consultant, on the cable network that you call the History Channel.”
“Fast food trainee programs … several.”
“You are a janitorial consultant?”
“Get serious. I’m a featured star.”
“I can’t imagine. I give up.”
He took in a breath, expelled it and said, “Scientific consultant. They identify me as a UFO expert.”
That stunned me. “So, you use your real expertise as a visiting alien to educate the viewers?”
He frowned. “Get serious. I can’t divulge that information. Educate our viewers? Jeez. I just say whatever I feel like saying. The show’s motto is ‘We make it up and you lap it up.’ Can you imagine getting paid for blowing stuff out of your …?”
I interrupted. “Now cut it out.”
“Accumulated superfluous storage,” he finished. Then he disappeared again.
A few moments later, a buxom blond with hair teased to a height of a foot above her head, and billowing across her shoulders, sashayed in and perched in front of me. She teased the front of her blouse to allow more of her ample cleavage to show, and then tried to cover her nether regions with a skirt made from no more than a yard of material. No luck. Glimpses abounded.
“I know what you’re thinking,” she said.
“I doubt it.”
“That’s right, you’re wondering what I do for a living.”
“No,” I said, “I’m wondering if my wife knows about this.”
“Exactly,” she said. “You are man of the world. You’re from the big city and you married your childhood sweetheart.”
“Born and reared in the country, and I didn’t meet her until we were both grown.”
“Precisely,” she said. “And something tells me she was from the city too.”
“A farmer’s daughter,” I said.
“That’s right,” she said. “And don’t you forget: something tells me she still dreams about getting that education she always wanted.”
“She has two college degrees.”
“Like I told you. Now,” she said, leaning back in her chair as I tried not to look. “You’re thinking that you wish I would tell you what I do. Don’t ask me how I know that. I just see things. That's all.”
“No,” I said, “I’m just hoping my wife doesn’t come home before you change shapes.”
“I knew it,” she said, “I just know things, see? That’s what they pay me for. Speaking of shapes, you are going to love this next one. It’s going to be the best shape you ever saw. It’s going to be wonderful. I have this plan, and it is a great plan, the best plan ever, to astound and amaze you with this next shape because it is going to be wonderful. And you will love it.”
Sunday, March 19, 2017
It was as close to walking into the living room and seeing the famous comedian Jack Benny as could be. How C.W. found out about that icon of comedy remains a mystery, but there he was.
He turned with that famous deadpan look, “Just what is this?” He turned toward the television screen.
“It’s called basketball.”
“And, the purpose? Oh wait … .” On the screen a player stopped dribbling and held the basketball squeezed above his middle, moving it back and forth. “It must be an exercise to strengthen stomach muscles.”
“No, when the player quits bouncing the ball, or dribbling as they call it, he must throw it to someone else.”
“That doesn’t make sense. Doesn’t your species worship private property possession above all?”
“It isn’t exactly his property.”
“Oh, maybe the school’s. This is a college game.”
“Oh, so it is an academic exercise to teach decision making skills?”
“Maybe. Sort of.”
“What do you call these students?”
“They come to college to study game theory?”
“They actually come to college to win these games for the school.”
“Uh, prestige, honor, fame, the sort of things that encourage rich men to make donations to the school.”
He turned and did the deadpan again. “You’re telling me that rich men turn loose of their money for things like this? That’s going to come as a surprise to all those hopeful models in New York City.”
“You heard me.”
“And how many years of college study does it take for these young players, as you call them, to learn the necessary gaming skills to enhance their life choices?”
“How good they are.”
“So, the better they get, the longer they stay?”
“Not exactly. The best ones stay less than two full semesters.”
“They learn pretty fast?”
“Something like that.”
“How long do the others stay?”
“Some as long as a little less than eight full semesters.”
The deadpan again. “And I thought it took Hope and Crosby a long time to learn the business.”
After watching for another three hours, he turned asked, “How long is this going to last?”
“There’s only five minutes left.”
“Good, I haven’t been so bored since the first time I heard a Milton Berle routine," he said before turning back to the screen.
An hour later, he began to fidget. “Is this nearly over?”
“Only three minutes left.”
A player threw the ball in and, immediately, another player slapped him. They exchanged words, and a referee stepped between them. This elicited a response. “I see now,” he said. “They’re learning the skills involved in conflict resolution.”
“Something like that.”
An hour later, his patience was exhausted. “Will this go on forever?”
“Just one more minute left.”
As another player, after having been slapped, walked to attempt a free-throw, he turned once again with the most solemn look you can imagine.
“This is worse than watching Fred Allen trying to solve a math problem,” he said. “Good thing nobody else was forced to live through it.”
“At least the female of your species has better things to do.”
Sunday, March 12, 2017
I walked into the living room of the farm and stopped in shock. There, believe it or not, was Frank Lloyd Wright sitting on the couch. He was sitting cross-legged with a pad on his lap sketching with a furious intensity and muttering to himself. I caught the words, “nincompoops,” and “assholes,” but not much more.
Could it be? Of course not. “C. W.,” I said. He ignored me. “Want to tell me what’s up?” He continued sketching. I sat in a chair in front of him and stared until he finished with a flourish and looked up. I said nothing.
“What?” he said.
“You tell me.”
“I’m preparing plans for some improvements to this place,” he said. “I’m going to make it a great place to live in again.”
“Oh,” I said. “so you think it is worth saving?”
“With my talent and your money, yes. It has many nice features.”
“The simple roof design is very functional,” he said. “Simple and functional. And,” here he winked, “you know that, with both women and buildings, form follows … ,”
“Function,” I said. “What else?”
“The great front porch,” he said. “Perfect for sitting and entertaining guests. Imparts a cordial personality to the place.” He made a note. “Make north entry great again,” he said as he wrote. Then he looked at me.
“Anything else?” I asked.
“The security windows. It is most wonderful to feel safe in a home.”
“That’s nice. Anything else?”
“One must mention the spacious feeling afforded by the high ceilings. Evokes the comfort and ease of an era of light and air.”
“So. What’s next?”
“Next,’ he said, “we make the home great again with some wonderful improvements I have planned. You’ll love them.” He dug into the pile of papers and produced a writing pad. After flipping a few pages, he asked if I’d like to know the changes.
“Of course,” I said.
“First,” he said, “I plan to flatten the roof. As it stands now, it is too high-peaked to allow the chimney required for the massive fireplace I’ve planned for the west façade.”
“But,” I said, “I thought you said … ,”
“Quiet,” he said. “Never interrupt a genius while he is talking.” He consulted his notes. “Next, the front porch has to go. It’s a complete waste of space.”
I started to speak but he silenced me with glare that would have penetrated a steel wall.
“Next we’ll remove those security windows. They mar the historic character of the building. They didn’t have security window back in the 1800s when they built this place.”
I was too shocked by now to speak.
“And,” he said with no small amount of pride, “I plan to lower all these ceilings in order to save on heating costs.”
I struggled to find my voice.
“I’m going to make this home great again,” he said, lowering his pad.
The returned my voice to me. “By destroying the very things that made it great in the beginning?”
“You’re going to love it,” he said.
“Have you talked to my wife about it?”
“He pulled a pipe from his coat pocket and thrust it into his mouth. “You seem to forget that I’m the genius here. I’m brilliant.” He produced a match and lit the pipe. Taking a puff and exhaling, he said firmly, “And you mustn’t forget that you are the supreme leader of this house. If Mrs. Big Dope says one word in disagreement, you should just … ,”
A female voice erupted from the back of the house. “All right. Who took out this window?”
I had turned toward the voice. When I turned back, the architect of my troubles was gone, leaving only a pile of papers and a faint wisp of smoke.
Friday, March 10, 2017
C.W. and I were talking …
He was reading the newspaper with one head, watching the network news with another, and staring at me accusingly with the third. It was unnerving to say the least.
“I see,” he said, “where your state is adopting the Holy Bible as your state book.”
I couldn’t form an answer, so he continued.
“Given what is happening in America now, it seems understandable that your state would choose as its “official book,” one with such delicious passages as Himself’s orders to the Jewish soldiers as to how to treat the conquered Midianites: "Now therefore, kill every male among the little ones, and kill every woman who has known man intimately. But all the girls who have not known man intimately, spare for yourselves." - (Numbers 31:17-18) It’s only the Bronze Age equivalent of “Grab them by the … what did he call them?”
“Don’t you, … y’all … have something better to do?”
“Oh no,” he said. “This is top notch. The whole galaxy is watching this.”
|This guy is stern. - C.W.|
Thursday, March 9, 2017
C. W. and I were talking …
He had been missing for a few days and I asked him where he had been. Turns out he was working on his Atomitizing Neutron Universal Scudcraft, the devise that transported him here. He keeps it hidden in an abandoned school building near here. He says it's perfectly safe from prying eyes there. Anyway …
“I’ve been modifying my ANUS to do specialized tasks,” he said.
“I think we’ve talked before about using that term,” I said, “but go ahead and tell me about what new things your, uh, spacecraft will go.”
“Skywriting,” he said.
“Yes, the Falloonian Elders ordered a two-part experiment.”
“One,” said, “is how fast your so-called “alternate facts’ can travel, and two, the breadth of their belief-base.”
“My colleagues in Texas have found out that musicians Willie Nelson and Keith Richardson plan to collaborate on a new musical album. The title will be The Good Dope and they expect it to sell millions of copies. Only a handful of trusted associates, and my people, know about it.”
“They plan secretly to disappear for several months in order to produce it in peace and solitude.”
“Can’t you see what kind of news coverage such a disappearance will cause?”
“That’s my part.”
“A couple of months after they disappear, I’ll quietly write a message in the sky to be visible over all major population centers.”
He fumbled for a sheet, handed it to me, and I read:
“Dudes! Like, The Rapture has occurred.”
|Perhaps it's time for an intervention.|
Sunday, March 5, 2017
“Debits on the left and credits on the right … or is it the other way … credits on the left …, oh bother!”
What? I rounded the door and came into the living room to find a wizened man wearing a pair of green eye shades studying over a pile of papers and muttering to himself. He was making notes on a yellow pad with a Number Two pencil.
“Hey C.W.,” I said. “What’s up?”
He looked at me and frowned beneath his eyeshades. He looked down, wrote something on the tab, and looked back. “Quiet,” he said, “I’m working on a project.”
“What kind of project?”
“A financial one. For Mrs. Big Dope. Real important. Be quiet.”
“You’re working on a financial project for my wife?”
“Yes. Top drawer stuff. She’s excited.”
“Stop, stop, stop,” I said. “Look at me.” He straightened up, laid his pencil aside, and glared.
“You tell me.”
“I’m preparing a budget for your family.”
“A budget. Your wife hired me to do it and you will love it. She says you’ve lost control of the finances and we’re going to make your family solvent again.”
“Quite. But you’ll love it. Want to hear some of the neat expenditures she’s budgeting for?”
“Okay. Here goes.” He read from his yellow pad. “A new home with a five-acre dog pen and ten heated dog houses; a twelve-hundred foot workshop for you; a complete set of Powermatic tools and equipment for the shop; a ‘round the world cruise; a caretaker’s cottage and full-time caretaker; a fully equipped gazebo for ‘Happy Hour’ with total temperature control; a full-time maid and a full-time cook; a guest house for her dog friends; a library and writing studio for you; and a separate cottage and new car for me.”
“Will you get serious?”
“Oh, I am. We're going to make your family happy again.”
“And who is going to pay for all this?”
“No problem,” he said. “We’ve got it all worked out. First, we’ll cancel your guitar lessons and double your time between haircuts. We’ll make your family balanced again.”
“You think that will balance the budget?”
“Of course not, silly. That’s just phase one.”
“What’s phase two?”
“The genius of our plan is phase two,” he announced with pride in his eyes. “We cut the family income by directing twenty percent of your monthly revenue from all sources to donations for the Sheriff’s Department to help in protecting all our treasures. We’ll make your family safe again.”
“That is the most illogical thing I’ve ever heard. Can’t you see the insanity in saying you’ll pay for more with less money?”
“Well,” he said in a huff. “Nobody says so when the President of the United States says it.”
Saturday, March 4, 2017
C.W. and I were talking … I finally persuaded him to read It Can’t Happen Here by Sinclair Lewis. Written in 1935, some described it at the time as a semi-satirical political novel. Dormant for years, it is now on the "best seller" list again. It describes a mythical takeover of America by a former senator, then president, named Berzelius “Buzz” Windrip, who turns our country into a fascist state. The takeover is viewed by the reactions of small-town newspaper Doremus Jessup, who is ultimately imprisoned when truthful journalists become enemies of the state.
He seemed shaken after he finished the reading. One head shook in a solemn fashion, one stared into space, and the third asked, “Did he really write this in 1935?”
“Oh yes,” I said.
“And there’s not been one documentary produced calling him a prophet or foreseer?”
“Some editorials but no documentaries. I understand the book did translate into a play.”
I asked, “What were your favorite passages?”
He thought and quoted from memory describing the campaign of Senator Windrip for president:
Sound familiar?” I asked. An eye of the left head winked at me. “Any others?” The heads thought for a moment and the one on the right quoted a passage in which Editor Doremus listens to a harangue from a friend who has gone over to Windrip’s camp:
“The Senator was vulgar, almost illiterate, a public liar easily detected, and in his "ideas" almost idiotic, while his celebrated piety was that of a traveling salesman for church furniture, and his yet more celebrated humor the sly cynicism of a country store. Certainly there was nothing exhilarating in the actual words of his speeches, nor anything convincing in his philosophy. His political platforms were only wings of a windmill.”
“Why are you so afraid of the word ‘Fascism,’ Doremus? Just a word—just a word! And might not be so bad, with all the lazy bums we got panhandling relief nowadays, and living on my income tax and yours—not so worse to have a real Strong Man, like Hitler or Mussolini—like Napoleon or Bismarck in the good old days—and have ‘em really run the country and make it efficient and prosperous again. ‘Nother words, have a doctor who won’t take any back-chat, but really boss the patient and make him get well whether he likes it or not!”
“Another good one,” I said.
The center head shook once and asked, “Did he really say of the country, ‘make it efficient and prosperous again’ or was my Galactic Universal Translator off.”
“Your GUT had it right.”
“I’ve got to get back in touch with the home planet,” the head said. “We’ve got to re-study what your species calls the space-time continuum.”
|Must read. - C.W.|