Sunday, July 6, 2008

Quasi Mojo

Earlier in the day Andy Whitman had been asked how it was that Andy knew what he knew. And Andy had been prepared to answer straightaway, because he enjoyed knowing what he knew, what he thought to be true. In these very unique times. He felt privileged; it felt perfectly natural and comfortable to Andy knowing what he knew, the fates of certain types of people, so he thought he could answer, he thought he could, but he couldn't. When he thought about the question later at length, he managed to come up with an answer -- a long, rambling one, and the truth had been in there somewhere, about how he had grown up and come to realize certain experiences had been unique to him, that he had been exposed to things and processed them in his own way, and reached conclusions. But the real truth was that Andy didn't know. Not succinctly. He life, his personal history had been revealed to him to be a story. A story, within a story, within a larger story still -- so that the early years, his early childhood, had suddenly rushed forward from the past, in a way that had nauseated him, and joined with his present.

He'd grown up a lot from the experience of having a nervous breakdown, which was not what it was at all; it was a convenient term, that's all. He hadn't been nervous and had broken down. It anything, he fought more than he believed had been possible, ultimately to no avail. He was still the scapegoat he had always been -- now he was unnecessarily smeared, but the principals knew the truth. What had happened was betrayal, by a group of people he thought were his friends and Andy assumed admired him. They hadn't. They'd suspected the worst, at a point when Andy had tired of living that way; but they had never let on. And never bothered to get to know Andy, before they had begun playing group psychologist, which by their admissions, they'd never known how to do, and had proceeded to plot, to intervene most recklessly in Andy's little life. Which was not marked by sin, not inordinate sin, but trauma. Physical, organic, emotional, psychological ... spiritual markings.

In effect, Andy had been punished by Christians ... for having been punished.

But he was sure the way it had all happened was intended, because now for the first time in his life, at the age of 54, he had purpose. But no family, because as a mentally ill disabled vet, he couldn't afford them, and they couldn't afford to be with him anymore, not now. He was another mouth to feed. A useless eater. And spoke unpredictably, which he acknowledged. Andy would rather see them go, than to drag them down to wherever he was headed, or where he thought he was headed, which would be an asylum, a cheap one ... or on a holy mountain, wielding a lightning bolt, which was fanciful, ridiculous thinking, though he could imagine it. His children called him and loved him, and wrote to him, especially his daughter Samantha. Ethan hadn't called as much; he was taking it harder, because they had a unique bond; when Ethan called, they talked sports, to keep the conversation going, and Andy could hear the love in his son's voice. As for Suzanne ... she was worn out. He lived for those brief, inadequate but meaningful contacts. And now he could correspond by email. It infuriated him to think that he died a little more every day, when he was certain that he had died already, several times emotionally, psychically, neurologically, being trapped in a body with a mind ... which had a mind of its own. And people hated someone who didn't have their act together, regardless of the excuse.

But much had changed. Andy had a few remaining classes, and then he could teach. And there could be reunion and reconciliation, and a way to afford to take care of himself and them, more so than now. It was all he could do until he got word from the state of Louisiana, or Washington, that he was entitled to some benefits, as an injured vet, who'd never sought treatment, and had never been debriefed or processed back into life from the Vietnam-war era. But he had been out so fast.

Andy reached out with his bad foot, performing an exercise he used to be encouraged to do for physical therapy. With his toes he attempted to open a small rectangular box. He'd already turned on the television set, using his big toe to hit the power button on the remote and press mute. A black and white film was playing on a black and white TV. Fog. England. Dark figures slinking from place to place in the night fog. Dr. Jekyll and Mr. Hyde? At any rate, it was a film he had never seen, and in black and white it looked like all of the old films he had meant to see, but had never seen.

There was no other explanation for the turning point events in his life, but providence, because of how it was that it had all seemed timed, to converge to a point of critical mass, in a way that was dizzying. But also exhilarating, with a year or two under his belt. He felt chosen, and there had been visible, tangible proof of this, seen, of course, only by Andy. He described to his new friend Brian the feelings of satisfaction at this point in his life, and that he was looking forward, he thought, to the future, to see how things were going to turn out, if he was lucky enough to live so long. But there was some trepidation. But nothing that his "other sides" couldn't handle. He could become angry, and he felt comfortable with that, and coping skills he didn't normally have surfaced. He'd owned his military past, milked it really, after the events of September 11. He possessed a dark side in contrast and in addition to his normal genial, good-natured, child-like, friendly nature, all due to uncharacteristic good moods, which were aided by prescription drugs and occasional non-prescription drugs. And a sense of relief that people were at least trying to empathize and agreed he had a problem, or several, which were clinical in nature. Organic. Andy knowing who he was and what was wrong with him ... meant most of all.

But beyond all this that he knew, beyond what just came naturally out of his mouth, that was it -- he couldn't say. He could say divine providence was why he knew what he knew and thought to be true, but such talk was never appreciated by those who didn't feel providentially guided or directed themselves, and that was virtually everyone in his sphere of people. He understood that. What he enjoyed talking about was what he did with his day, when he wasn't doing custodial chores, which was to avail himself of his church's library, the church where he cleans up, and the Internet access his work affords him. He even has his own computer, which was set up and running when he moved into an older secretarial office. Less staff now. Less parishioners. Less people altogether in New Orleans.

Because Andy was beginning to come out with all sorts of things, things which purely because of experience he knew were true, answers to long-standing questions, rational conclusions to the way things are, why they are the way they are, and what's next. He felt obligated to explain, because people ought to know these things, but he'd failed thus far, with those whom he loved most. He couldn't do it any better than he had, which had brought abyssmal results. At least Brian wanted to know how and why he had come to the conclusions he had -- why he saw the things that he did, now, in the same way he had seen things as a child. He was solving mysteries, he thought, but no one most close to him cared, because Andy was Andy; no one ever gave him much thought or seriously considered what he said, apart from that was just Andy being Andy, and that's no good, because Andy is crazy. But his seminar students didn't think that. They knew he struggled, but he wasn't crazy, not crazy crazy. But even Andy argued with himself on this point. If Andy was crazy, he had been born to be crazy, to be made to be crazy -- to face adversaries, to really face them. It was his nemesis, the master of time, aging and death, the one who made these things so. The master of time surely was trying to convince others that he was God, but God is timeless. Andy had only met him once. Recalling the childhood experience ... was like trying to see through gauze.

He is floating, as if ideas are passing clouds; he may seize one and play with it, or let it pass. What he sees in the dark at night, he sees because the images on the other side naturally borrows light from this side or dimension and applies it to this one. He tells himself this as he stands behind his home in a place which once was a pit for Andy, for one general reason. But it had been over this point, and over the end of the house where he once slept and worked, that the cloud had appeared, hovering about five feet off of the roof of the home he used to own. It had been there when he got there around 2 in the morning. It never changed shape, and it didn't move until Andy had.

Andy is still moving, because it's hard to hit a moving target. But at least he has a place to stay, until something divine happens. Time and light are on his mind. He realizes it is time which our enemies possess that we do not possess. They can manipulate time, space, matter and light, but they can't create it. And it's hard for Andy to know if they know this and are just going through the motions before their demise ... or if they actually believe this -- at least everyone but one. Because the one must know, the one must know who has been rebelled against. The one who knows the truth, who may simply be going about the task of committing a very elaborate suicide, which will take a lot of people with him. But this person is not a person, not a real person, but an angel. Sexless? Andy can't say, but there won't be sex in heaven, and if the enemy is an angel, he, she or it would be sexless, without a gender. But that is purely speculation. In time he will know. But he does not know now. Enough thoughts on the subject have not worked themselves through his mind, for which so many ideas are vying for attention.

Noah and the rainbow may read like a children's story, which is probably why it was left in, by those whom Andy believes have tampered with the Bible, both the Tanakh and the Christian New Testament, the Gospels, especially the gospels of John and Mark. But it is only a hunch. It is also a hunch that the rainbow is significant, because Andy believes the Bible is a divine and very powerful book, but like humanity, it has been corrupted, it's become like a sick friend, not by man, not solely, but by the freedom to love or hate, by the messages men have received to do what they must do. The source of the message, the messenger, is most at fault, but what of those who receive and act on the message, as if it is their own thoughts? We don't make these things up. They are accomplices, then, potentially, who own fully the consequences of their actions, having been given the freedom to decide yes or no.

So, of course they would know how to teach time, if they are the shapers of it -- somehow, with their sacred geometry, a subject Andy had detested in high school, and gladly flunked -- but what is time in comparison to timelessness? He who controls both time and timelessness is superior. Those who control time only have stuff made and provided by God to manipulate, to toy with. Time is nothing more than setting boundaries. Time is shaped like a corkscrew, Any has surmised, because it is going around and around, even as it is going forward. The merry-go-round is tiresome. But here's the funny part ... these creatures waiting in the wings, who may wish for us to think they have evolved to the point where they are, are efficiency freaks, obsessive compulsive, high achievers, and they intend to come back -- not that they ever left -- and when they do, they'll bring all their efficiency, their technology, their time clocks, so that people can start punching in, not to earn a wage, but to keep themselves alive and fed, to keep themselves from being killed. Because, if you don't work, you don't eat. They won't be wearing crew cuts and white shirts with skinny ties, but they ought to be. They could be, with an animal's head sticking up. With a tie on! Evolution or bad genetics? Inbreeding, with everything sleeping together. These creature haven't evolved, and neither have we, Andy has concluded, but they want us to think that. They want us to think they were born intelligent, and having evolved into all that they're going to be. But all they are is circus freaks, the product of mad science, humans mating with animals, and vice versa. And que sera, sera. If that's anything -volution ... it's devolution. Just begging to be discarded. Imagine the horror and the agony of being a little bit of everything, and not enough of one good thing.

What a wondrous thing it was that Katrina should have given a mean old woman the chance to be on television bemoaning the plight of those displaced, or, rather, those who See and the rest of Houston were having to put up. She mocked them, saying that they seemed to be doing okay now, now that they were sucking off someone else's teat. But madam speaker, Andy thinks to himself, these people have never known a warm teat full of milk. Andy has a milk memory which he does not like to think about, but which he does think about every time he withdraws a carton or a jug of milk from the refrigerator and drinks straight from the container. It had been a symbolic situation ... him in the belly of the beast, tasting different teats, to see if any had gone sour -- being given the job of tasting milk which no one had tasted for weeks, but paying for it, because sometimes the white tube Andy would suck from, after he cut it, carried milk which had gone bad.

That will tell you where they are, where all of them are. They think that those who don't work, shouldn't eat. And they believe that they have worked hard for everything they've gotten, and everyone else should do the same. Fine. But they've been rich, dishonest and rotten to the core. Even the playing field. Take away any of those three, any one, not even all three, and let's see how wise, correct and practical and successful they are or would be ... about who should eat and who should not. If a fascist had to live a day trying to live like Jesus said to live, with generosity and honesty, not hurting anyone, not wishing to, but as a person who gives but doesn't take as he makes his way or her way down the road, avoiding becoming roadkill, the bastard couldn't make it. He would fare worse. In fact, most of the super rich are so fucking dumb that they would be the first to go. That's why we're in the position we're in, at their hands. The lifestyles of the rich, dumb and powerful. The biggest tool the devil has in his drawers.

But money, privilege, clout is what they call hard work. Taking the silver spoon out of one's mouth long enough to load it up with cocaine is nothing they will admit to, even as they bemoan the drug problems and pregnancies among teens today. Andy knows from having raised his own two children that the days today at college, or anywhere else, are like summer camp, compared to what they were back in the Sixties. The Sixties had some debauchery goin', but it was also a beautiful time, a dress rehearsal, though not too many people would agree with that. But as the older generation dies off, we're what's left What went through the Sixties, a naturally occurring phenomenon, which the social engineers tried to take credit for. But God had done it; God made the Sixties. But, there you go, once again, Andy is thinking these thoughts, and just naturally does because that is how he has processed his life through his life and his own eyes and brain. And when he comes up with a solution to anything, a thoughtful piece of writing, it is because all the pieces just come together, in the fullness of time, and all of his experience and every part of his life up to that point is brought to bear on the work at hand.

And yet, by the definitions of the fascists, who the good guys apparently didn't kill off, not entirely, or the flood, because some weren't wearing uniforms and some weren't Germans, but living right next door ... by the definition of fascists, someone whose time has come, who has worked himself into retirement, early retirement from the marketplace, although he works still as a custodian, someone like this would be told to step it up and be more efficient, or don't eat or excuse yourself while we take you and throw you into a furnace. And most certainly wouldn't be able to eat without having a bar code stuck up his bum. But Andy isn't worried -- he has guarantees, and there are people who have guarantees, who don't know they have guarantees, but they do, Andy believes. But Andy may decide not to use his, so that he can remain and watch reality begin to kick the shit out of the bad guys. And when nothing goes right, who is going to catch hell?

Or who would have caught it? Not the people with guarantees, a redeeming coupon -- the observant Jews, big brother or big sister, one or the other, the stick of Judah in the hand of Jacob, or is it the other way around? Salvation is of the Jews. Jesus said so. The people who still bash Jews don't understand the simple truth, the inescapable truth in life, that every group, every people, every segment of society, has bad eggs, or a bad egg, that's what a Zionist is, one who is willing to cheat and kill if they have to ... to make Israel numero uno. But, you see, Andy thinks to himself, as he sits in the darkness, his bad foot playing with a deck of tarot cards stacked on a crate, it will be God, the God of Abraham, Isaac and Jacob, Esau, too, who will save anyone, those people with redemption coupons for either doing the word, the law, or from knowing it, from believing with no history of belief, man traditions, no history, like the Jews have. For a Christian, it was just man against book, which has been infected, and one man's word against another's, with no absolute position in the argument, no ultimate awareness if someone is dead-on correct.

If we act now, we won't have to find out, what wants to kill us, fool and deceive us. Evolution. Ha! If they have the bodies of people and the heads of a dinosaur, if that's what you call a god, when they already got the shit kicked out of them when the Exodus of the Jews began? Doesn't mean that they can't throw the switch to off on the sun. Ra, the bird-headed sun god. God doesn't make freaks. God made human to love human from the start. If sex and our nude bodies make us feel guilty or embarrassed, who is it who told us we were naked? Andy, of course, lives out in the middle of nowhere, hundreds and hundreds of miles from New York City, where he could find an agent and sit down and sign a contract for any number of ways to communicate this stuff ... if he didn't live in a haunted little city, working and sleeping at a church. With his constant companion, Mr. Tippytoes, which Andy immediately changed to Rocket. "Mr. Tippytoes? I wouldn't give a name like that to my worst enemy," Andy had told his daughter Sam, as she delivered Mr. Tippytoes a.k.a. Rocket to Andy, she no longer being able to keep him and her college roommates at the same time.

Now Andy was having roommate problems, because of Rocket and a whole lot more. The class he had taught for ten years was being threatened. His job, his livelihood, all which he had left, his living space, all he possessed, maybe even Rocket, if not himself, were in jeopardy. As was Andy's access as a church employee now to the library and the computer. They were essential. It was the information superhighway, upon which people would move to and fro, which Daniel had written about. Daniel was wise. Daniel knew history repeated itself. Daniel knew that there would be a miraculous reversal of fortune. Andy knew it, too ... in fact it had already begun. All he had to do, was keep his nose clean.

A door opened, and a piercing scream filled the cavernous sanctuary from the rector's office "complex," new additions and all. Television, which Andy kept on with the sound turned off. Old habits die hard, but Andy was a sound man anyway.

"Oh good," squealed the newish rector Rev. Jacques La Farge. "I'm glad she got it. She had it coming to her."

He and Chad were up early. Or they'd never gone to bed. Sometimes they slept at the church, too, because Chad was married, and Father La Farge was afraid of the dark, because of the things which had been happening, weird things, in the church, sounds, music coming from different places, weird haunting music, but Fathers La Farge and Chandler had not been able to find any sort of electronic speakers, wireless of otherwise. La Farge was on the verge of calling in an acoustics man, or a .. "I don't know, shit! Who would I call, Chad?"

"How about ghostbusters?" Chad said smiling.

"How about if I kick you in the groin?" came the serious reply.

"It wouldn't be the first time," Chad said.

"Oh, but you love it." La Farge sounded villainous, so much so that the newish rector at St. Mary's Catholic Church in New Orleans could sound and look like a cartoon villain, way over the top. When he was feeling his oats.

Now comes the music. What is it? Something ... by Stephen C. Foster. "Beautiful Dreamer."

"My mother loved that song," La Farge said, his voice shaking with fear. "Mother!" The word echoed and fell flat in the nave. Throughout the church, where sound travels so well it's scary sometimes.

As for Andy, also known as Mojo to his friends, back in his room, on the bed where he had been half lying, half sitting ... he is gone. And one tarot card has been turned and left on the top of the deck. The Fool. Had that been what had roused Andy to begin his chores earlier than usual. Was it an omen? The Fool? And who did it represent? Hell, no. Andy didn't believe in any of that shit.

"My God, Chad!" La Farge screamed as he re-entered the outer portion of his new office. "What the fuck is going on!"

Chad was silent, listening. Like a cat ... trapped in a dog's body. "It's weird. Tonight it sounds like it's coming from all directions."

"Great, dear God! Someone's trying to drive me mad! Harold, if this is you ... I will never speak to you again ... even though you're dead." La Farge was nervously twisting his mustache when Andy rolled up.

"Stephen Foster," Andy said nonchalantly, as he pushed his cloth covered broom, with no dirt on the cobbled floors which shone like glass. "I had a friend ... where was he? ... Over in the Horn of East Africa, it was, who thought Stephen C. Foster was murdered. Allowed to bleed to death. Because he wouldn't write the racist crap anymore that they wanted him to write."

La Farge wheeled on Andy, his face red to blue. "God damn it! Who's doing this?! Is it you, you ... is it?!"

"Is it me?" Andy said innocently. "Does it look like me? Why does everything bad ... always have to be me, Father La Farge? I think it's pretty, myself. And you shouldn't use the Lord's name in vain. Imagine if the bishop were making one of his surprise visits ... and caught you speaking like that, Father La Farge? He'd have your head."

"Fuck you, you little mite!" La Farge said with an abrupt wave of his hand, which almost hit Andy in the face. "Go scrub a toliet."

"I could begin with you."

"Me?" La Farge said, uneasily.

"Yours, I meant," said Andy correcting himself. "Everything spic and span in your neck of the palace?"

"Go to hell. Chad?!" La Farge was striding now toward his office. He had made a decision.

"I want ghostbusters, whorebusters, the lady from Poltergeist, whoever -- boy, was she spooky or what? -- to get their asses in here and find out where that God-forsaken music is coming from."

Chad was shaking his head, looking over a list on a clipboard, pretending to be calm in his superior's presence, when he wasn't at all. "What's got you so stirred up, Jacques? There's a reasonable explanation. We're picking up a radio signal from somewhere."

"Which has a format devoted to playing all of my dead mother's favorite music!"

Chad chewed his lip, while his insides churned. "No," Chad said, "I forgot about that. Coincidence, maybe, but ..."

"I'm leaving for the day." La Farge had grabbed his coat, keys and a book from Chad's desk before Chad could speak. "I'm leaving, and when I return tomorrow or whenever, maybe never. But if I return the ... next day and this fucking music is not out of my life. I swear to God I will put a curse on you ... and you, too, Mr. Mojo, or whatever the fuck your name is!" With that, La Farge was on his way out, not out the back way, but through the Nave, the sanctuary, down the long shining middle aisle, toward the open double doors of oak, with the morning sun obliterating some of his form.

La Farge turned back abruptly, before continuing on, nearly catching the corner of a door jamb. "And keep these doors closed, as I have asked umpteen thousand freaking times!"

"No, reason to keep them open, Mojo, you think?" Now it was Chad's turn to look unglued. "People have stopped coming in those doors in droves. You've been here a lot longer than I have, Mojo, do you have any thoughts ... about that?"

Andy hadn't moved since La Farge's last outburst. It was almost as if he was waiting for the music to stop before he began speaking. "Apostasy?"

Chad laughed explosively, insincerely. "You have to be a believer and going to church before you can become an apostate, Mojo." Chad's tone was somewhat condescending, but Andy cut Chad some slack, often. Though he, like La Farge, was walking on thin ice. Giving Andy disapproving looks, when he used to be Andy's friend, chess opponent, lunch partner ... were unsettling. Andy would lose what he had remaining in this world, at a point when he was trying to rebuild at 55, if La Farge ever got enough traction and if Chad finally went all the way over to the dark side, though he was married with beautiful children.

"You know best," Andy said testily. "But I imagine some people are just born apostates." With that, Andy was off. And Chad sniffed at him.

Andy stands before a classroom. "So, we've gone over this list of problems just in these two gospel accounts alone, that is, we've identified the problem areas. And based upon the types of problems we find, can we draw a conclusion as to the intent of the tamperers, if we agree that the New Testament has been tampered with?"

A young man raised his hand. "All the confusion really begins with the night of Jesus' arrest," the young man said. "From that point forward, everything is very convoluted. Up to this point in the gospel of John, especially, there have been no striking errors. But the night of the last supper is in question. And looking at the map, over there, which shows two locations for the upper room, that's in question, too."

Andy nodded his head and grinned. "The Gospel of John is the key, supplemented by the Gospel of Mark, but mostly we see the most problems in John. Why do you think that would be?"

The class was silent. Brian thought seriously about raising his hand, but heard barely, in the distance, but no too far away, the clacking sound of La Farge's shiny black shoes on the shiny cobbled floor, as he walked slowly, doing what Andy didn't know, and Brian wouldn't wager a guess, although he suspected it was to let everybody know, which involved all of five staff people, that he was present and watching. And occasionally he mumbled to himself, as if he was speaking to someone else. Click, clack, click, clack. But Brian didn't raise his hand, though he thought he knew the answer. Of course he did, recalling his earlier discussions with Andy. Did he dare ... speak over the footfalls of La Farge. He hadn't seen Brian yet, but Brian had seen him, and felt as if he already knew the priest just from Andy's hostile and exasperated description of the man of the cloth. So Brian kept quiet, and finally a young woman raised her hand.

"John is the most important gospel, right?" she said.

Andy nodded in agreement. "It is the most eloquently written of all of the gospels," Andy said. "It is very poignant, in comparison to say, Mark, which is abrupt, the Greek is not so good. But John even contains some Latin phrases. So we are dealing with a scholar here. Not a fisherman, but a scholar. Has anybody ever heard of the University of Galilee?" No one spoke up. "Neither have I.

"However, I don't wish to bash anybody, just yet, none of the candidates for the disciple whom Jesus loved, who is presumably the writer of the fourth gospel." Andy turned up his head in thought. "What does the descriptor 'the disciple whom Jesus loved' ... tell us about the individual who wrote the Gospel of John, the person who gave himself this title?"

"He was modest," said an elderly woman toward the back of the classroom. Brian smiled and nodded as he looked at her.

"Modest how ... and why?" Andy threw his right leg up and brought it down on the small raised platform, twice, like a 2-year-old horse telling his age. Some laughed. Andy was used to it. But a gimpy leg but better than missing one, or having none. And there were plenty of those, those who have gutted it out, and probably reached a point like Andy that they're looking back nearing the winter of their lives ... and wondering "How did I get sucked into something so outrageously blunderous and cruel as a war over in Southeast Asia, of all places, into which I was drafted, and from whence I have brought home no legs and not much of a mind. And now it is getting worse, the ordeal of living. Henry Kissinger is still alive. As is Robert McNamara. And maybe some others. But Nixon is gone, so is Johnson ... but where? Truman is gone. James Vincent Forrestal ... is gone. John Fitzgerald Kennedy is gone. And the other John.

A distinguished gentleman raised his hand and stood up, as Brian heard La Farge's footsteps closing in.

No comments: