Serial Installment #10 of “On Rainy Days The Monk Ryokan Feels Sorry For Himself”, Pages 186-201

02.10.01sophie_daddy

This installment is rated R. Please buy the book to save yourself cyber-embarrassment for me. Thank you.

To hibernate then. Oh the many Springs we’d celebrate! I know that I would make my urges heard! On the first warm morning of sunshine the music would play ear-splitting loud. I’d throw open the windows, unscrew the door from its jamb, break the door over my knee, and leap out in the road to shake off the dust and entropy.
After a full, revitalizing exercise, I’d breathe a deep sigh of relief, walk back to my house and burn it. Time to start all over. Let us burn these dusty wooden boxes in spring and look forward to a hot summer of renewal. A sympathetic mayor would allocate some tax money to the cause of local joy, and fully endorse the meaning behind the slogan of “one man, one hand grenade”. Time to destroy these wooden boxes that have kept us caged up all winter. Set up tents this April and build beside them your house of lake stone and mud. Or like Thoreau, build a wood box with a window and be ready to settle down this autumn with nothing to do. House cleaning should involve dragging your furniture out into the yard and mopping up the mess you left of winter. No one will want to accumulate furniture because it’s too much heavy waste to maneuver on such a beautiful May day.
Just look at our boxes. Is it me? Am I the only one who is ashamed? Is this simple and wise living? If sheetrock is an inevitability, can we limit each person to four sheets and a pamphlet to persuade him to do without? What is the meaning of common sense? Where do its new boundaries lie if in the eighteenth century it meant building a wood box before the first flake of snow and making friends with the Indians? I go on my walks about town looking for even the memory of sense that was once shared in common. One could search a lifetime yet never find a shred of common sense in his community. Unless common sense is common stupidity. That would make more common sense.
I have over sixty sheets of sheetrock screwed throughout my house. It took me four years to cut, shape, screw, tape, and cement their various shapes into barely decent looking walls. For what? Just more flat painted places to lean up against and wonder if life can really be such a drastic waste of time. Four years of breathing gypsum and joint compound dust into my already damaged and tender lungs for the right to be just as sick and blind as my neighbor. A common absurdity. Common to look common. Every house on my block is the same. Every block in every city. Today any structure built for sleep has it’s walls made of sheetrock—plaster and lathe, if the inhabitants are still poor and lazy. Never a noble poor or lazy wisdom to have them avoid renovation altogether.
It is common not to know what our time is for. It’s common to envy. It is common to buy cheap and look rich. It’s very common now to want to be rich, and to have no idea what rich is, so long as you can count as many rich things as your neighbor. I have always measured my richness on what little I have. The less, the more. I like to sit out in my yard in May and watch while the fools run orange extension cords across their lawns. Oh I have made the same mistake before. Like I said, it took me four years to put up sheetrock, always making the promise to myself that once finished, I will ease myself backwards, like I used to, and listen to birds, watch my daughters play, play with my daughters, or in my mind’s perfectly relaxed state, plan the best menu for the evening’s feast shared with my daughters.
No. Finally, after four years of old house renewal, I have been inducted into the Oswego Common Sense Society. That means now they believe me when I say that I am in it for the long haul. Even so, because I am a rookie, I have not yet gained my elder’s respect. That will come over time, after I have detailed every facet of my existence down to an exact science of silliness.
I want to build a bathroom for you. On paper. Any member can stop over to the society and pick up a handout for any known home project that he would like to take on. Say, a new bookshelf, but he wants it to look just like a nineteenth century law library displayed proudly by a U.S. Supreme Court Justice. There will be a copy with the plans laid out in detail. Of course if he is a member, he knows that it’s common sense never to while away the day reading. It is more common to build something unnecessary, like a book shelf, as long as it looks rich and the wife can get a mess of used hardcover books for cheap during the summer garage sale season. There are handouts on any common how-to imaginable. Plumbing for instance. Pamphlets for underground, over ground, in a room, through the roof, metal fixtures, copper, galvanized, couplings, tees, streets, 90 degrees, 45 degrees, putty, teflon, male, female, screw-on, glue-on, ABS, CVC, black, white, cream-colored plastic, 1/8 inch up to three feet wide, (if it happens you have a whole lot of ca-ca to hide). There’s even a sheet describing how to arrange several thousand different types of screws in your shop, using a computer data base, twenty old shoe boxes, a thousand pill boxes, and a pail of glue…
Anyway, here is my current contribution to the Common Sense Society of Oswego, NY. Just a simple square bathroom design—It’s no longer common sense to leave our waste outdoors, nor build our homes beside the bathtub of a lake. Now that it’s an easy world we live in, time to prove why I have often thought it no less than a miracle we have common sense enough to inhale and expel air from our lungs.
I am going to build my bathroom in a crooked old house. The floor is not level. Common people would choose not to walk downhill to take a pee. It will take me an afternoon to figure out the best way to level it. I am not bright in these matters and will need the assistance of an elder member. He says I should buy a longer level, but for now, a thin strip of sheetrock and a tape measure will do. The floor is off level in so many places—one inch, then two, then level, then two inches… The elder says that tomorrow we’ll have to jack. I suggest building a subfloor to save time, but he gives me such a sour look that says, “Watch what you say rookie!”
On this day, I peed twice behind a tree and held my bowel full until I got to a house with a bathroom installed.
The next morning I met my elder and we went down into the basement to jack the floor. There wasn’t enough room to stand up straight. With hunched backs we jacked the beams, often agitating the asbestos wrapped around the hot water pipes beside our heads. After a day of abusing the only backs we had left, my elder came to the conclusion that we failed to level the floor. “Tomorrow,” he said, “I’ll show you how to build a subfloor. These are the materials you will need. Have them delivered tonight. I’ll see you in the morning.”
That day I peed once in the corner of the basement, and once in my pants. In the latter instance I was needed to steady the jack while my elder finished his cigarette. I began to smell my own smell. I finished my toilet in the evening at a house with a bathroom installed.
The next day I was up at dawn to arrange the delivered materials. Four sheets of plywood, forty-six feet of 3/4 inch furring strips, two 10 ft. lengths of 11/2 inch ABS plastic pipe, (with its large array of black tee’s and elbows to fit), one length 1/2 inch, and two lengths 3/4 inch supply plastic pipe with their necessary accompaniments of elbows, tees and couplings. Two 10 ft. 4-inch pipes used for dumping our waste down to meet the sewer river underground. Acid and glue, six-hundred 2-inch screws, joint cement, floor leveler, a seven inch circular saw blade, ten-inch hacksaw blade, and finally a file… I was all ready to go when my elder arrived. We spent four days setting the floor over the plumbing.
On the fifth day my elder called for the help of another elder in the society who specialized in leveling floors. He showed up after lunch with a three foot trowel and smoothed joint compound (known to cause cancer in California) with the grace of a dancer dressed up in the old, torn jeans and stained t-shirt of a plumber’s crack ballet.
During those five days I peed too many times to count, and constipated myself for fear of not finding an installed bathroom on time. Nevertheless, I was forced to go in the myrtle twice after dark with the neighbor’s cat watching. Now I smelled really bad, and on the morning of the sixth day, took a bath in the lake.
Finally I installed the floor and it was fun. I felt excited being so close to a working bathroom. Screw down not ten, not twenty, but exactly 756 screws into the plywood, making sure the screws sink so they won’t crack the tile when the latter is laid. That took a day. The spring was in full song and beautiful. I peed three times behind the grapevine. It would have been twice, but my elder and I shared a beer to finish my day’s work. So close we were to finished that I could taste the toothpaste on my tongue.
Then to the tiles stacked in a box. Each box weighing 50 pounds. Six boxes set up against a wall. “You’ll want to stagger the tile,” my elder said. “I’m going to play golf. See you in the morning.”
One should start from the center, but I always take the quicker path, which is to guess. It is tile. It will be stood upon. That’s rookie talk, I know. Impatient to use the thing before it is complete. Sacrificing craftsmanship and detail, for the cause of hurry cramps and diarrhea. Tile is cheap. A tenth of what the bathroom cost. Oh hell! Let’s get this done. Then I can go read instead of pee under a tree.
Geez, a little off center. I wonder why? Even after three days of glue and dry. This time I evacuated in the yard in broad daylight like my dog. On the last night of construction I took my wife to the lake, for I needed a bath now, real bad—the spring had turned hot, even the nights were muggy, and my smell preceded me by several feet. No love snuggling on the rocks, like we used to before I joined the Common Sense Society. She said the lake water smelled of dead fish and that wouldn’t do to wash away my sweaty stink.
On the final day of construction the elder came by to inspect my work. “The tile’s not centered. The glue didn’t dry. You go too fast, and you haven’t learned a thing.” Then he helped me carry the tub, toilet and sink up the back steps into the new room. We hooked up the cvpc, with shut offs at the floor, and two where the clothes washer would go. That took all day and into the night. My first flush was at nine. I had to fight my wife for a shower. She won. So for the last time I swear, I took my bath in the lake of the dead fish.
The next morning I rose early, eager to use the first room built by a rookie of the Common Sense Society. I don’t want to scare anyone. But I haven’t included all that there is to know. It is the golden rule of common sense never to spell things out for another. Common sense is a secret the elders are very careful not to tell. I think because the elders know they are wrong and are too scared to admit it. Anyway, that would be cheating. They tell me that once I know, I will understand its fairness. Still, at present I think The Common Sense Society has every single screw they ever set, loose, and presently cracking the tile in their brains. Why the indoor bathroom? It would be better to have an outhouse built in a day. It is our own stupid, reliable common sense that taught us how to survive in this climate. But to be fair, even the common senser in Florida doesn’t possess the wisdom to set up an open shower in the backyard. Thoreau wrote, “Our lives are frittered away by detail”. Plumbing this way is wrong. Period. I don’t feel the need to give my digestive system so much privilege. Maybe without bathrooms, we would poop less. Who wants to run outside to get rid of his stool in sub zero temperatures? I do. Because it’s cheap and revealing, and queerly, even a bit alluring. Maybe without the ease of indoor showers and cozy steamy bathtubs, we’d finally kick ourselves below these miserable latitudes. That story I wrote about Santa Barbara man? It’s true but definitely not the whole truth. He has his screws loose too. How many shampoos can he count? He got the toilet in, the sink and bathtub too. Now where will he put the shelves to house his battalion of toiletries? He might live in a better opportunity, but he’s grown steadily cuckoo like the rest of us.
We should keep our soap dish by the back door. Take the soap and go. It should be hot with nothing to do today. Why not a public bath? The Romans did it. They lived most of their lives outdoors. Why can’t we? Not enough common sense? No, too much common nonsense!
We have a common council and a mayor of Oswego to oversee the operations of the city. Each member of the council is elected by the Common Sense Society to represent his ward, or district. Non-Common Sensers are allowed to vote, but their vote is never counted. Oswego is a small, crooked city of small crooks, and their many tiny crimes and misdemeanors. Usually what happens is this: Common Council representatives are elected who also happen to be leading elders in the Common Sense Society. They make important decisions affecting the manner in which human beings must live, if they choose to live in common.
Their grandfathers passed the initial bill for the indoor bathroom. That same day they voted to clear out all remaining horses and chickens, and ever since, code-making day has become the most popular event for our elected common-sensers. The day after the bathroom was written into law, over four hundred codes of construction and conduct were passed in council. Not only was the resident forced indoors to flush a toilet, but now he had to worry about making his toilet clean and quiet. Today there are codes for flower growing, driveway maintenance, furniture placement, lawn height, snow removal, plumbing, electrical, and building codes, and enough permits, certifications, and licenses to stunt the growth of any man who believes that he isn’t finished growing. There are even codes passed on how to design and print the how-to handouts. This week for instance, the Common Council voted to rescind an old ordinance prohibiting girls the right to dance naked in clubs downtown. Now just yesterday I saw a sign on Bridge Street which broke the code that limits sign size. It read: “Nude Girls Coming Soon”.
I was stopped at the light thinking about The Winter of Our Discontent, and how the title didn’t fit the prose at all. My eleven year old daughter was doing her schoolwork in the back seat. The distinguished members of the Common Council are very lucky that she kept her head down and her mind absorbed with a book. If she saw that sign, and asked me “Why Daddy?”, I would not be able to hold back my most precious, correct sense. I might very carefully construct a personal code for murder, and make a midnight visit to each member and his dirty dick of a brain.
Oh you sneaking little cowards… I know what you’re trying to prove. That modern, functional bathrooms means more clean girls. You Common Sensers find it perfectly sensible to meet up with each other after Monday’s meeting for a beer and circle jerk. As long as the girls wash themselves in code approved facilities. I know you. I know your wives. I know how slow it is on a Friday night for a couple over forty. You need to speed things up a bit, to pretend it’s some exciting place you live in. Cocaine in Oswego? Yes, why not? Mr. Common Senser gets his from Crazy Marty. And when his wife sniffs it, he strips her naked with the baby-sitter  and then does it to himself while they lick each other goofy. Life is wonderful. At least on Friday, when he’s a big shit in Oswego. At full length, on his tip toes, he’s five foot two. He can make his penis grow a whopping five inches erect—but damn it feels like a ten foot length of ABS plastic pipe when he’s fully railed and lucky to have a wife who goes down on young girls. Yes, little Oswego needs the capital gains from a nudey bar. Money will pour into the economy, like cold beer into a frosted glass. The revenue from lap dances alone will pay the mayor’s salary. And now the lucky grown men of Oswego have exclusive right to legally come in their beer.
We of the Common Council, made up of the most distinguished Common Sensers, run the show now. Next year it’s a whorehouse across the street from the elementary school and a choice of XXX movies at the theater. What’s new from Disney and the underground world of Los Angeles porn? Just crawl up our butts to find out. Friday nights in Oswego will be like they used to be, when the power plant was pumping millions of dollars up our noses. Only now we have the advantage of getting wired and naked. We don’t look silly. We are important. Let’s see… Who do we get for opening night? We got a whole college of juicy girls to choose from. The ones we get will be ugly, of course, but that’s okay— our wives are ugly. At least the coeds are young. Yes, young and juicy. I’m starting to get a rise just thinking about it. But we need a prop. A headliner. A top dancer to showcase. Some babe with big jugs. She won’t need to flash her box. She’ll be that special. That’s it! Great suggestion Mr. Alderman. All right boys, Jack says he’s got a daughter nursing her newborn. She’ll dance for a hundred bucks a night. She’s pretty enough and lucky for us she’s got huge tits aching full of milk. She can make ‘em spray too, right out into the audience. We’ll call her “Milky, Hot Mama of the Third Ward”. We’ll get her to tickle her nipples. For five extra bucks the fellas can line up and take a drink. Those Kanucks will break down the border just dying to get a taste of her!
Listen, I am not trying to be moralistic in a moral-less existence. Why bother venting our plumbing? The fumes of town shit have been choking us blind since birth. We should wipe our ass with the codes the Common Sensers pass in council. They are meaningless as long as we demand that our digestive systems remain personal property. It took over ten days to build a bathroom, the cost of which was more than a shack set up in paradise. No kidding. Yet it’s not a financial consideration I’d have you make. There are better reasons than money to abstain from indoor plumbing.
The power of law enslaves mankind. Law has turned us into domesticated pets and beasts. One can be a dog, a cow, or even a fish in a bowl. But choose one, please, because he cannot be a man anymore. It’s over. He might think he is free, but free like a horse in pasture. He could try to eat the man, but knows damn well he would starve to death without man’s hand to feed him. He’s so very free to leap the fence and run wild forevermore. But he built the fence, and knows exactly why he built it. He has that fear, no matter how deeply concealed. “No one is above the law.” That is man’s motto. Law’s power is the law. After breaking in the cow, the horse, the sheep, and finally the cat and dog, man turned on himself, and made a domesticated man’s life of his own freedom.
That is why I cannot believe in man or man made things. I do not trust man. I do not respect him. I don’t even like him. I live in a town of men, but to me they are just fearful, upright mammals conditioned to obey. This town is the quintessence of fear, and fear passes laws. Hundreds and thousands of laws! When the invention of plumbing came to Oswego, it should have brought joy. No, it brought more law. Electricities’ advance meant new paths to waste and destroy, and another book of laws. Interesting how much money and energy is devoted to harnessing electricity, compared to that of processing plumbing fixtures. We have a massive billion dollar power plant corporation groaning up the road, yet no plumbing factories to choke smoke into our skies. There’s a lake and a couple small unobtrusive buildings to filter our water and empty the sewers. Simply put: shit doesn’t pay. Water is cheap. So are wax candles. We need light for our night reading. We need a little heat for the luxury of cooking. Don’t eat meat and we wouldn’t need heat. We would freeze to death, or get the hell out of Oswego. That choice should have been made the moment a law was passed telling a man how to channel his feces. No. It’s much easier, and potentially safer to suffer the consequences of his own made-up laws.
We talk so lovingly of democracy. We buy a flag at the store to thank our forefathers. The owner of the store is a fat pervert. I saw him the other night trying to have sex with a wall outside the strip joint downtown. We say America is the experiment of the world. No. The Iroquois were the experiment for the world, and America drained them of their blood. At its best America was once a land of farmers needing food to survive. If a thief had time to steal an ear of corn from the farmer’s field, the elders voted in council to cut off his fingers and cook them to replace the farmer’s corn.
In my historical America, I would hope that men represented “the higher aspirations of man”. The Iroquois were men, not from long ago, not in a past world. Their world is right here and now with new eyes and ears. For instance, reading this book will open your mind to the Iroquois, or close it forever to a new book of laws. I can say what I want. In real time I will be dead soon. I shall not feel wrong anymore in a world I did not create. I am doing what I can in continuation of the great American experiment. I am trying to overthrow men’s minds. A bloody revolution is not worth my time. It would be like invading a pasture of sleeping cows bearing down on them a fully equipped modern army. It’s true, that a handful of desperate men could easily decimate the entire country. I don’t want that. I want to live peacefully among men—but on my condition. Because I know that it is a freer, more glorious America I dream of. Maybe I hate men so much because I love what they could be. It only takes one gesture of the hand to change direction. One final “No” to break the chains. Is there another man in America who prefers to shit in his own backyard? Is that so bad? Is that all I have to bitch about at a time when I should be jumping for joy? Men of Oswego, listen to me, there are clean and easy ways to defecate now that we have domesticated ourselves. We have time and safety, which are luxuries we haven’t had since the pact of the Six Nations. How can we feel in common the freedom our forefathers felt while walking down the public road on an orange autumn day? Freedom the Mohawk felt in summer while running his string of fish back to the village? Freedom that the freed slave breathed in as he stepped off the train in Chicago? I’d like to meet the bug in you that wants to build what it does not need. Bacterium or virus? I should like to squash it, and have your own blood wash up the mess it left. For that to happen, you will need to come to me to learn a thing or two. Ha! But such a proud stupid animal man!

A yellow tint shows through the morning rain. The drops are heavy. In a day they can make an earth green. I should like to get on a train and travel for a month. I need a dose of reality, a ride through the deep south where animals and men still work and play like animals and men.
America has its wild preserves. I suggest a man preserve. In Montana perhaps? Or does everyone there still think cattle and wheat? What is the difference anywhere? Iowa grain or New York textile? Both think they are wiser than the other. Both will get rich the way they want to and write their invisible epic legacies about shallow beginnings, dry gulch aloneness, smokestack prejudice, high rise nervousness, deep canyon hatreds, wide open illusions…
Finally, the first signs of spring. I don’t think the rain has any intention of becoming snow. Still, one can think worms and robins during a white-out if he so desires. There are two early springs. The yellow rain falling now. This is the cleansing wet side of March. Earth cleansing, part of the eternal wheel, a drenching reminder that life is worth living… I walk a dog and  the outdoors are everywhere. Rain pouring down on meadow and forest and man is just a small thing not in the way.
Then comes the sun of March—Pre-Easter and downright sad and hopeless. People poke out of their homes to pick up plastic toys or furniture in the yard. Black and brown smudgings of winter stain every crevice. The roads are brown cake of winter’s salt and car exhaust. The sun shines. The car is dirty. The windows are dirty. October’s newspapers collected upon layers of snow, suddenly revealed to expose their old, sad tidings. Every home’s front yard is ugly. No color. And the trees are like cold stone statues. The air is carbon. Even the sun is choked by man’s careless waste of what is truly life and real. This spring America, north of the 35th parallel, has the look of an apocalyptic wasteland.
But at least we have indoor plumbing.
Here in my town it’s even worse. That wonderful cleansing rain has turned back to snow. And I know it’s a lie to believe a man fortunate to be alone in the wide open spaces this morning. Here is a small city of men without access to a path in the woods. That’s okay—there is a beautiful lake to view. Stand at the water’s edge. There. Now forward is the break wall. After that a sea of fish, a great lake of good and plenty—an endless supply of carcinogens to catch and eat. To the left, the tallest man-made structure in the city. Twin smokestacks stuck out of the oil burning plant rising into the gray sky. You can see their poisonous presence from twenty miles away. The lighthouse of the damned. Burning oil to make electricity?
Shh… That’s not the woods. Keep on the path.
To the right, close enough to dominate the shore, but four or five miles from the city, stands the final reason why men despair. The Nuclear Power Plant. And it’s not the potential danger, nor its incredible size that contributes to the gnaw busily eating away our internal organs. No, our pain owes its beginnings
Shh…Quiet down. That’s not the path.
There is no freedom of land. You want to walk but you must walk on a paved road. You want to walk to the country without taking a road. No, it’s illegal. Get on the road so they can sneer at you from their cars. You look suspicious. You might be dangerous. If it’s night, the worse for you. They have dogs to bark and snap at any shady looking character passing by. Their children speed by in cars. Sometimes they throw a can of soda at you, or a stone, or a brick. Some young ones are so ambitious that they want to club you with a bat. You were walking a deserted road in the dark. What town justice would be sympathetic to that? Of course you were up to no good. Who were you going to rob? What were you hiding from? The boys are sentenced to a heavy fine and a year of weekends in the county jail. This for dragging your bleeding body off to the side of the road, kicking your head, pissing in your mouth, laughing, spitting, and getting back into the car.
Now is the time to arm ourselves. I won’t stand for pain and humiliation. I want to walk on these roads with a gun. And no one can know I have it. I will do what you cannot. I will kill for my body’s trespass.
Whack! What did I tell you? One more digression and I’ll chew off your toes! Now get on the path!
I feel wild. Spring for me is something larger than loin arousal. I want to sing out, but I leave the house just moving my lips to song. Lip-syncing joy. “He’s talking to himself.” “Look, that guy’s crazy.” I must quiet down. The Christians want to keep all joy quiet. “Please keep your joy noises down. Withhold your applause please, until everyone has finished.” Man, they’re all looking at me. I better take my song to the woods, like Pan, and wait there happily until I shout all of this Easter out of my system. I’ll walk west down the busy road, and take a left at the first welcoming forest I spy.
I’m warning you…
Oh fiddlesticks, what’s this? Signposts read “Get out! This land is mine, not yours. I have the deed. I own the land. It’s my property. Get out. Get out. Get out!”
Surely this good man will not mind my walking into the woods. That sign is meant for the people of the smokestack whom I left behind. He’s wise enough to love the land. I know because it’s still here. Those trees are standing tall, and I can hear the roar of the flooded creek calling me. I’ll just take a short walk. I’m searching for freshet and wood fairies to take my mind away from human cares.
Yes, but be careful. And you know what I mean…
Unfortunately, no matter how many of us would heave a huge sigh of relief denying such, these are the days of Christ. Although our land has always been more suited for Buddha, Dionysus or Rama of the highlands, Christ owns the property and he alone decides who may trespass. This is the northern forest of conifer and fresh water lake. Deities to run and dance wild around the life of man. America, once a ripe playground for adventurous gods. Now all of it is under Christ’s domain, and every other god condemned to the sandbox. Mountains to the east, valleys to the south, fertile land out west with more forest for salvation. I was born here. Christ was not. Christ lived in a walled city. Born in a desert. He wore a robe. He ate falafel. The desert dreams which haunted him were the seeds of future chemical imbalances grown thick and hemorrhaging in our modern brains. Christ walked below homes of desert brick stained white to reflect the rays of the sun. He dreamed his dreams, and now those same dreams make us hot and sick inside. He never saw the leaves of a maple tree turn scarlet in October. What would he think of the raccoon, the woodchuck, the turkey or the deer? Had he ever seen a chipmunk? No, his dreams were about Romans, Judaism, money, the funny monkey at the temple, no money, food and his father who was in heaven. After two thousand years of incredible luck and war-mongering, every man-made structure in America is a demented Christ devotional littering the once wild and majestic landscape.
The American Christ, Mohammed, and Zoroaster. Such mean-spirited Middle Eastern gods. Out of spite alone, the Texas Christ would beat Buddha to death with a sand rake. Even out west in the soggy forests of Washington State, where  Buddha had some influence once, during a wave of Japanese immigration, Christ moved quickly and dealt a low blow to conquer his weaker foe. He’s not the Christ we learned about in Bible school. The timid turn-the-other-cheek Son of God. Not even the Pope’s demented, circus Christ. The true Christ is the warrior Christ. The American Christ. That was the old Christ’s promise to the New World. “Folks, you just plain soiled Europe. Now I plan to show you how real crazy your Christ can be!”
Anyway, after the death of St. Francis the world was made ready for Manhattan, plastics, and the Vietnam War. Christ got aboard all ships heading west, introducing himself to each immigrant personally. He let them know that America was cruel and tough and extremely dangerous. Every man for himself and for Christ, King of America. “I am no longer the Christ your father and mother loved,” he explained. “I am the new Christ you must fear. I will see to it that you get what you deserve in America. And you will owe me.”
He devoted all ship voyages to tossing overboard a thousand years of their initial Christ hopes and dreams.
The immigrants arrived to settle with Christ and the smallpox. Then Christ had them open up their prayer books to the Lord’s fever rush of hell fire and damnation scare tactic chapter: Hymns to Sing While in the Throes of Destruction. And by Jesus did those settlers sing loud and strong! “Level the Trees O Lord, O Lord!” “Build Us Sturdy Christian Folk A Powerful Empire”, “Please God, Let Us Find Killing in Our Hearts.” “Save our Corn, Eat an Indian,” “Convert or Die.” “The Governor is Christ’s Best Friend.” And then later when some American men became more like their own image of Christ… “Conform or be cast out.”
Wait, I was sleeping. Repeat what you just said.
Easter is coming and the forest is getting ready for the death and resurrection. Birds are singing the coming of Christ. All is—Fine. Look, I must step out for a few minutes. Keep it clean. Remember your toes!
All life is stirring. The earth has awakened from it’s winter slumber. The snow has melted. Wild leeks are the first green born into the forest. I’m gathering some now to make soup for my supper. Ho! Here comes a man with a gun and a dog.
“What the hell do you think you’re doing?”
“Looking for Pan good sir, and wood fairies, and a spring freshet to lift my hopes and bring joy to my heart.”
“You’re trespassing on my property Jack. Didn’t you read the signs?”
“Yes, kind sir. But surely all this beautiful land can stand the walk of a lonely man with a heavy heart?”
“No. Go back to from where you came, Mr. Freakshow. Or I’ll make it so you never leave my forest.”
“But you, kind sir, you’re not cruel and hard like other men. You bought the land to save it from the dirty horror growth of factories and smokestacks. You saved the deer run and gave us back the cool blackness of the night.”
“I did like hell.”
“You mean sir—”
“Yea, I work at the oil plant, and my wife is the lingerie manager at JC Penny. We saved every penny we ever made to afford this land and a new truck, and a new house, and a fat savings account, and securities, and a garage full of tools and a snowblower, and a riding mower, and a trip to the Bahamas, and, oh hell— Anyway, it was my idea. I saved the deer run so I could shoot the deer. Great hide. Good meat too. After the butcher’s through hacking it up.”
“Oh, I see.”
“Say, I’ll let you off this time, seeing it’s almost Easter and all. But if I ever catch you on my land again, I’ll sick my dog on ya.”
“Okay. Say sir?”
“Yea, what is it?”
—Don’t you dare.
Ah damn! You’re back already?
Yes. I told you I was only stepping out. I know what you were going to say.
You do?
“Hey, who the hell are you talking to?”
You were going to say, ‘Now I’m going to eat you and your dog’.
I was, wasn’t I?
Yup.
“Hey, I said, who the hell are you talking to? Listen Freakshow, I’m talking to you!”
You can.
Can what?
Eat that filthy slob.
Thank you Pan.
You’re welcome son of god.

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