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Father Tom's field trip


It was Blind Father Tom got us into this. Me, Doctor Wren-who-says-dude-a-lot, and Blind Father Tom. Under the seminary, which is someplace only Blind Father Tom could get us, under the Cardinal’s house, he said there’s something we should see and Blind Father Tom rarely lies to me. He’s taken vows.

And the elevators were, well, they were like intestines, I guess you could say, and we kind of pushed down ch-ch-ch, only maybe not always down, in what felt like peristalsis. It got harder for me to read my book.

“I TOLD you you had to see this!” Blind Father Tom said and then the elevator doors came open and then we saw holy people all around. I suppose they were holy people. Some holy people you can pick out by their garments and their very specific hats. Others are richer with impressive pinstriped suits and you know them from the t.v. All of them were there and they’d all gathered around a cage.

At first, I mistook the man in the cage for my friend, Gerber, but it was not Gerber. He had the same eyes as my friend and the same hair, and the same charisma and the robe but no.

The man who wasn’t Gerber was saying this: “My message does not change in a cage.” He said, “I am the same in a cage or on a mountaintop or in a board room or on a seashore.” I believe I’m saying that right. I’d hate to get him wrong. “Keep me in this cage and beat me and still I’ll respond with love. Love is all there is. When I succeed in showing you that, well, there will be no cage and there will be no beatings.”

And I was trying to read but Doctor Wren-who-says-dude-a-lot, right beside me, said, and loud too, “Dude, are you being held against your will?” to this man in this cage. I’d maybe hoped for a bit lower profile since we weren’t even supposed to be there.

The man in the cage responded. He said, “I want to be wherever you all want me to be. You are all my brothers and sisters. We learn together and in our wake go ever-growing peace, love, and wisdom.”

Whatever that meant.

Then it was questions a-go-go all around. They asked him about the war, all of them did, and about abortion and whether he could manifest cash and about masturbation and road rage and fish-free Fridays. And to all that, he said only “Life is love” and not a lot more than that. His message was focused, you see, you had to give him that, I thought.

And when they’d run out of questions or else gotten the general gist of the answers, at least, the Cardinal stepped forward and he said, “We must go now, oh Lord, but we thank you for revealing to us today, as you did so long ago, our true natures and our place in our Universe, and”-

“Bullshit!” said a voice that was not my voice and for this I was grateful, as you can probably imagine, for I do not like to draw attention to myself but would rather, always, go home and think about a thing that has happened and then maybe blog about it, much later on, and quietly.

It was not my voice. It was Wren’s voice.

“Bullshit!” She said it again.

Blind Father Tom shushed her and a lot of people gasped and the Cardinal, looking stern, said, “Excuse me?”

Wren said, “Has this little caged dude or any of y’all dudes ever actually met the Universe?” At least I think that’s what she said because just at that moment I got really, really into reading my novel, but I think she said, “Colliding stars and black holes and genocide, old folks’ homes, decay, and entropy? This dude and his love schtick’s gonna get creamed hugging a kitten in a crosswalk somewhere.”

“Young lady”- said the Cardinal but then he too got interrupted by the sound of a key clanking against the bars of a jail cell. It is worth noting here, since I haven’t already noted it, that by this point in the story everyone but me, Wren, the Cardinal, and the dude in the cage – I mean to say the man in the cage, of course! – were down on their knees.

And the man in the cage said, “No, I think she could be right. You guys don’t” – he looked around at the kneeling holy people surrounding him – “You weren’t all thinking I was, you know…”

He said, “Hey, I say pleasing things. I’m the ‘Do unto others’ guy, right? ‘Love your neighbor as yourself’?”

He said, “But now, if it was the Mad Conductor you were hoping to meet – though I honestly can’t imagine why you would want to meet Mr. Plagues and Volcanoes – I can make a call and…”  he held out his arms.

“Dudes, get out of here! Run!” Wren said and I had to follow her, mostly because she’d pulled the iPad from my hands and gone off running towards the elevators. Somehow, Blind Father Tom kept up with us.

From behind us there came a high-pitched noise and then some screams and a squelchy sound. After the sounds and just as we got onto the elevator, the smells of infection and rot hit us. It is not too much to say I was glad the three of us were leaving.

“Maybe we should go back to check if there’s anything left of the Cardinal,” said Blind Father Tom.

But we did not go back and check and there wasn’t anything left of the Cardinal anyway, and I had missed my afternoon nap with nothing to show for it, to boot. The elevator rose.

“This is why I never go out anymore,” I said.

Comments

  1. Good story! But if you don't mind a constructive comment, I would have left off your two concluding lines for a more decisive ending.

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    1. I love constructive criticism. Lack of it is part of the reason this blog has been suffering so badly lately. I took off the last two lines because yeah.

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    2. Katy!!! So nice to hear from you again! What's new?

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    3. I have no idea how she will respond, but it sounds as though she's taking credit for this post. That takes a lot of nerve.

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  2. Absolutely wonderful! Haven't enjoyed a surrealistic story so much since Patchen passed. My compliments and appreciation. You are remarkable!

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    1. I'm a little shaky on this post, but, oddly enough, I had a book of Patchen's poems sitting in my room when I typed this. Weird coincidence...

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  3. Oh yeah, faced with this I'd stay at home, too. Probably under a blanket, curled up. Maybe a flashlight and a book, too. And chocolate or wine, depending on how old I am.

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    1. Haha... The lengths I go to in order to try and justify being a recluse. The wine and blanket sound excellent...

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  4. The hospital I work used to creep me out when I started night shift. There are just too many locked doors and you'd be surprised at the number of people, fellow workers, who seem to appear out of nowhere only to disappear.

    I slowly realized most everyone does their work and then disappears into the personal hiding place. Still though, I was recently shown a room that was seriously off the beaten path but was being used by people to catch naps both during days and nights, although no one was in there when I inspected the place.

    Whomever was using it had several comfortable office chairs in the room and it was air conditioned.

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    1. I wish I had somewhere to hide at work.

      Or at least one of those pairs of glasses with the painted-on eyes to make it look like my eyes are open...

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    2. I just paint my eyelids so I don't screw up my glasses.

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    3. The other choice is to use toothpicks to prop your eyes open. You should keep in mind that most of my knowledge about the world comes from old Tom and Jerry cartoons...

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  5. I like Wren a whole lot. And Blind Father Tom. I feel like they would fit in nicely in the swirling madness that is my own story, at least on a good day. And I feel a certain familiarity in your reticence to participate even on the front lines of it all.
    Have you considered getting Pete Townshend to write the music for this? It seems like it would be right up his alley.

    -Doug in Oakland

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    1. Cult leader and a blind character?

      I left out the pinball machine and the child abuse, but yeah, Pete could manage a decent concept album with it...

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  6. Ah, cultists. The kinds of end they meet as variable as the kinds of beings they deal with. Religion and the occult have too significant an overlap for anyone to be able to escape this.

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    1. I generally stay away from religion and politics. When I don't, I make so ambiguous that it's tough for people to get too mad.

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  7. Apparently he 'made the call'...long time coming and probably well deserved. It's best to stay home with your nose in a book and not ask too many questions. Dude..what were you reading?

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    1. I am reading Dostoevsky's "The Brothers Karamazov" and I was going to work that into the story here - especially since something in it sparked the post - but I never managed to.

      I usually let these stories simmer for about 3 days before I wrote them. They end up much more focused than this one when I do. It wasn't ready for writing yet. But oh well. There's always next week.

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  8. Whatever that meant.
    You offered up some great images with your words. Hugging a kitten while being creamed in a crosswalk. Those words should get worked into a ballad.
    Also, being able to stay focused on message while being bombarded with the most unusual questions would be a talent needed in today's White House.

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    1. No kidding. I always assumed that every liar worth his/her salt knew "Pick a lie and stick with it."

      Maybe that's just because I'm in the minor leagues. Apparently, "Pick a lie, change it in the next sentence and then claim everyone who mentions the first lie is fake news" is the way to go.

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  9. Excellent Harry! You're a great writer!

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    1. Hi, Stacy, and thanks. Probably not my best this time out, but I do keep trying.

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  10. Thanks for sharing, Harry. You're a talented writer and always enjoy your work. A little envious too because you have some skills. Take care.

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    1. Thanks, Mr. Shife!

      Some weeks, I feel like I didn't prepare the story enough, and this was one of them. But it has a couple good lines.

      I'll try again soon.

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  11. I love this stream-of-consciousness flow. Kind of reminds me of Hitchhiker a bit too.

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    1. Thank you, I'll take that. I was afraid it came off as sort of South Park-y, so Hitchhiker is a big step up!

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  12. I think I was standing too close to the blast zone. That or one of my co-workers. I can feel the rot settling in my tonsils.

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    1. I've had co-workers like that. They probably say the same thing about me, of course.

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    2. At least over the internet sick people can't hug you unexpectedly.

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  13. This almost makes me want to explore religion again, but only if I get to be God.

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    1. I'm betting you can find one that says you are! Try one of those Sixties, quasi-Eastern New Age things that misinterprets the Hindu "Thou art that" thing...

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  14. Oh my gosh, this is delightful. :)

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    1. Thanks. A decent rewrite would have snapped it into better focus.

      But they can't all be winners and I always have that money-back guarantee on all my posts.

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  15. You've always been one of the high points of my day. Then somehow I lose track of you for months and months. I have no excuse cuz I can't remember when or how. It's kinda like what Yogi Berra once said.
    "When you come to a fork on the road, take it." Obviously I take the wrong tine. We go back a long time yet still lose you. If you've started a new blog please let me know. You can message me away 832 814 9517 or email me at fctrigg@outlook.com.
    I'm still jealous of your writing.
    Hope to hear from you.
    Frank

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    1. Hi, Frank. Yeah, at this point, we must go back what? 12 years? It's always good to hear from you. We have to catch up.

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