NO ONE SPECIAL

Just ordinary people came, the kind you see all the time. Not especially smart or good looking, they came in droves and stood waiting for something to happen. Only nothing happened. No one told them what to do and eventually they drifted away, going back where they came from.

There was nothing you could say about them that would paint a clear picture. Some were fat, some thin, some young, some old. I got the impression they didn’t think they were “special” in any way. They just wanted to show up in case somebody was giving away something for free, or there was a party of some kind going on. Some fun to be had.

Garden-variety people, the kind who don’t make enormous waves as they wade through the waters of life, are still good for something. They form an audience, if not actors. They’re the customer base for business, voters for politicians, what the Germans called the “lumpenproletariat.” Despise them at your own risk.

I am one of them. In fact, I have hopes of being elected their leader, not because of any special qualities I might posses, but rather because I am so hopelessly ordinary. My subjects are made of the same stuff as is their King.

And as a King, I will not have to wait long for a Queen to appear. Ambitious women abound. One will soon sit at my right hand and if, for some reason, I should falter, fail or sicken, she will be the power behind the throne. This is the way it has always been done, and this method has stood the test of time.

But please, don’t tell anyone. Don’t spill the beans. For my plan to be effective, it must remain a secret.

I promise to rule wisely, and fairness will be by motto. Fairness and enlightened self-interest. You will always know why I do what I do, because my motives will be transparent. I’m in it for me. Simple. Obvious. No deception needed.

I was correct, it didn’t take long for my Queen to appear. Her name was Tiffany, and she was enrolled in pre-dental hygiene at our local community college. Her sister Brandi was already a practicing hygienist and encourage her younger sister to take the leap. Their family was as common as families around here get to be. Mom was a licensed practical nurse, and Dad sold used cars. They lived in a new-ish double wide trailer and kept two dogs that barked a lot.

Tiffany latched onto me and wouldn’t let go. When I told her my plans for us, she got “super excited” and started planning our elaborate coronation ceremony. I cautioned her that we had to pretend to be a bit like England, where the royalty part was merely window dressing to a typical democracy, but she didn’t let that slow her down.

Every time I came up with a manifesto or proclamation, she would protest that it was too complicated. We needed to appeal to a third-grade level and this was strictly junior high. We couldn’t expect to garner popular support by going highbrow. I decided to trust her instincts. She and her family had their finger on the pulse of the nation more than I.

The royalty part would make it easier for our subjects to think of us as the mother and father of the nation. From now on Father’s Day would be my birthday, and Mother’s Day, hers. In an ostentatious display of compassion, we would hand out Christmas presents to be poor, presents that were paid for by taxpayers of our nation. In this way, we were inspired by many of the actions of Juan and Eva Peron, of Argentina.

Eventually, a few academic consultants persuaded us to drop the royalty aspect. Prime Minister or President would have to suffice. Titles like “Father and Mother of the Nation” were acceptable, but nothing more royal than that. We were free, of course, to devise our own ceremonies, rituals, ranks and honors. These would ensure loyalty and give the common man and woman something to admire.

Sure enough, we began to feel the first pangs of royal intrigue when her family members wanted to be venerated by royal rank. So we bailed on the royal thing just in time. Instead, we appointed them cabinet members, advisers, ambassadors. Dad became the Minister of Transportation. Brandy, the Minister of Health. The list increased daily.

The nation had not yet confirmed their desire for us to rule, but we could feel it all around us. Oh, it was hard for us to wait for that wave of popular will that would soon propel us into the “Beige Bunker” as we called the cement fortress that had always housed our executive family. We were not impatient, just eager to be of service. We were overwhelmed with patriotic fervor.

There was, however, a dark side to all this. Even though they kept their sentiments secret, there were those who were not on our side. We had enemies. They manipulated the minds of the elite. Even though their writings could not be understood by the common man, they were surprisingly effective in painting a picture of us as ambitious dimwits. The rumors found their way into print and onto social media. They mocked us!

The arrests came like lightning. Suddenly, we were hauled before a court of people we had never seen before and found guilty of sedition. All I remember is the “may God have mercy on your souls” part.

Our country still used the guillotine, and one was assembled in the main square. As the patriarch of our movement, I was to be beheaded last. From my cell I heard the vast crowd roar several times before I was escorted, blinking from the gloom of the Beige Bunker and into the sunlight.

As I stood on the platform where I was read the official charges against me by a hooded man, I glanced down to see the box that would momentarily receive my severed head. There were the heads of my family members staring up at me in wide-eyed disbelief. Brandi’s mouth was open, as if she were trying to say something. Too late, I’m afraid.

I knelt, and accepted my fate with as much dignity as I could muster. For I was a common man surrounded by my peers who had already decided my fate for me. My garden-variety head would soon join the others in that box. I heard crows calling to one another, and in the distance, a lawn mower. Someone was enjoying this autumn morning. I held my breath.

Worse Than You Imagine, Closer Than You Think

Nobody said it would be easy. The world around us is hardly foolproof. Scoundrels and knaves abound. To pretend otherwise is to invite disaster.

The ones who desire power above all else are the ones you should not trust, but it takes effort and diligence to root them out. They are, above all else, as sneaky and they are persistent. They’re not playing games here. For them, staying in power is serious business. Their only business.

We can pretend not to care, to float above the fray, but the fray will find a way to drag us down. We will be devoured, and the part they find inedible they will spit out. After all, we were simply in their way. What else could we expect them to do?

Squaresville

Those who are already in power like to pretend to be revolutionaries. They say things like “A Storm is Coming,” but they’re pretty sure that nothing is poised to disturb the status quo, and if there were any storm on the way, they would do everything in their power to minimize damage to their status.

Real revolutionaries keep a low profile, hoping that the element of surprise will work in their favor. Having little to lose, they are ready to risk everything when the time to strike arrives.

Squares like to dabble in the arts. It makes them seem less square. When I lived in San Francisco, there were faux bohemian “art galleries” on Fisherman’s wharf, where a vacationing investment banker from Missouri could buy an oil painting of a San Francisco street scene, complete with globs of paint to show that the painting was modern and hip. What they didn’t tell the investment banker was that the painting was produced in a factory in Dafen, China, on an assembly line. Want a rainy Belle Epoque Parisian street scene? They’re cranking them out over there even as we speak.

My Secret

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By the time you read this, I will have already ascended into heaven. It was planned this way from the beginning. Even before the solar system was formed, my course was set. How do I know this? I have always known this. The angels have known this, as well.

Oh, I know what you’re thinking. You think I’m delusional. Just another kook who entertains delusions of grandeur. My goal is to get you to think you’re just like me. I know that we’re all part of an all-consuming plan to bring about the fruits of creation, and I want you to know that, too.

This is my religion. It’s nothing I want to force on others. I’m not a voice crying in the wilderness, hoping to be heard. I don’t care if no one listens to or believes me. I certainly don’t want you to believe in me. Believe in yourself.

Let me tell you a story. When I was yet a boy, I was visited by an angel. I had a fever, maybe the mumps. I was about three. My parents took these childhood diseases seriously, for I had had an older brother whom I never met who died about the time I was born. He had contracted measles which then turned into encephalitis. He died in agony. I simply ran a high fever and saw an angel standing at the foot of my bed. We talked for a long time, he and I. I got the impression he was as tall as the empire state building, but somehow fit into my bedroom.

The angel assured me that great things were in store for me, and that death was nothing to fear. That being the presence of God was the most enjoyable thing imaginable, and it would never prove to be less than that. I did, however, have a job to do before I got to enjoy being the presence of God, and that I shouldn’t worry, because inspiration and coincidence would be mine for the asking.

I have found that to be true. There is nothing to worry about. Simply enjoy the situation you find yourself in, no matter what it is, because it is wholly sufficient for your happiness.

I’ll never forget the first time God Himself appeared to me as a ball of fire. I was driving down the highway in my Ford pickup truck and a ball of fire entered through the windshield and hovered just above my knees. He told me not to be afraid, that he didn’t intend to burn me, but he wanted me to light a fire that would cause others to come to Him. He wanted revival, and wanted me to take whatever actions would make that come about. He suggested that maybe once I got it going I could upgrade to a Lincoln Town car and allow the pickup to be used on the farm. I didn’t yet have a farm, but maybe that was in the works, as well.

God suggested I found a school, the Institute of Bible Theology, and train students to be ministers. Three weeks would be enough for the coursework, and they could take the exams online to prove that their proficiency.

When I stopped for gas, the ball of fire vanished, but a beautiful young woman named Emma appeared. At first I thought she worked at the service station, but then I remembered that all the gas stations in this state had been self-service for years already, and Emma told me that she was an angel, sent by God Himself, to give me courage. She handed me a big bag of gold dust and winked, saying “there’s more where that came from. Plenty more!”

“But guess what, the news gets better yet! You don’t need to wait for Jesus to return, because you’re already Jesus. We’re all Jesus!”

I thought that sounded a little fishy and vowed to run it by some experts in the field as soon as I had the time to do so. But it was nice to see a pretty girl be so upbeat and excited.

I don’t like to blow my own horn, but this was all fitting in perfectly with my preconceived ideas about religion. Yes, I was special. Yes, up until this moment I had been selling myself short, but no more. Now I was ready to spread my gossamer wings and fly.

I know what my detractors will say. “Where are the miracles?” I must admit, I can’t explain why I have not yet manifested any crowd-pleasing spectacles. That’s where faith comes to the fore. If I truly believe that I have been chosen, then all my faith reverts to and focuses on He who chose me. If anyone asks what I have done lately to prove my holy status, I will smile and bravely say “my time has not yet come.”

Some of us take a while to grow into our full powers, while others are on a mission right out of the starting gate. A dreamy child, I was unaware of my gifts until early adolescence. Then at the age of thirteen, it all started to come clear to me. Yes, I could read minds. Yes, I had x-ray vision. Yes, I could astral project myself at light speed across the universe with nothing more than a wink and a nod.

Of course I entertained myself with these powers for a while after discovering them, but then the novelty wore off. The thoughts of others were no more profound or entertaining than my own. Seeing women’s bodies beneath their clothes became commonplace. One part of the universe looks pretty much the same as any other after a while. Most of it is thinly spread hydrogen gas, punctuated by an occasional star. Ho-hum.

Clowns in Peru are suffering from the Pandemic, but nobody knows or cares. If you want to understand Britney Spears, you must first understand her hair. We are all on fire with delusional thinking, but there is no simple cure for any of it. First, we must simply stop thinking altogether. Then, we can start over again, from the beginning.

I entertain myself with these kinds of thoughts. Which observations are helpful, or even real? There’s no easy way to discern nonsense from profundity. It’s up to the audience to determine the value of any communication. So far, the audience seems to be asleep.

This isn’t show business, it’s religion. It measures its gains not in tickets sold but in saved souls. Broad is the highway that leads down to perdition, but narrow and steep is the path to everlasting life. We can never forget our mission. The rejoicing in heaven is audible when we do our job well. The groans of the damned blend in with the cacophony of human misery that surrounds us.

We know we’ve done a good job when the groaning, weeping and wailing diminish and blend in with ambient noise. Then we can relax. Interactions with friends and family come to the fore. We start to have fun again.

Fun is a sign of holiness. Only the righteous can really enjoy themselves. Sinners are a miserable lot. I know, I meet them every day and sometimes it’s all I can do to resist their sneaky plans and insidious desire to drag me down to their level. They hope that by bringing me from my sanctified state they can lessen the envy that torments them.

Old Habits Die Hard

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It was supposed to be a fun birthday party, but Uncle Ed let it get out of hand. He was always horsing around with lighter fluid, and one thing led to another.

 

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His secretary at work had made off with a plutonium cylinder that could end all life as we know it. That had him upset. That and the fact that they had been having an affair, and his wife was about to find out.

 

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We were going to go to a wild animal park after the merry go-round, but the animals all became extremely shy when they heard we were coming. Apparently, our reputation preceded us.

 

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Instead we got lost in nearby corn field, and it took thirty six hours to find the last of the children. The parents were furious with Uncle Ed, but he just laughed it off, like he did everything.

 

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Ed eventually opened a vacuum cleaner repair shop outside of Huron, South Dakota. When that failed, he tried a cafe. A lot of people told him the building lacked character.  He just laughed and took out his lighter fluid.

You and What Army?

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Yes, it’s a nightmare, but it’s my nightmare. It’s my childhood. The paucity of imagination that went into my surroundings. The braindead were in charge.

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Television was no comfort.

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No hanky panky could change the essential blandness

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Only contact with nature might provide the needed spark

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Certainly nothing man-made could provide any real inspiration

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And this man would show up in your room asking you how you felt. “I Want to Die!” would not be something he wanted to hear.