by Randy Ford
A man and woman alone in Eden. All is fair in Eden. Sunday morning and, ah, life is beautiful for they have the whole world to themselves. And they kiss. With kisses. Kiss Miguel. Kiss Miquel. Kiss him back Maria. They are living in God’s midst and realize God’s glory. Come my, pretty pretty cat.
Hippopotame! Hippopotame! Yes’m, a rabbit. That’s a rat, Miquel, not a rabbit. A civet! A juju! A juju for us, and juju for you! Those are mice. Those are grasshoppers. Those are snakes, and those are lizards. A toad. Two of them. Three, four…. Crocodile! A giant water shrew. It’s ours, all ours. We get to name it.
Claim it. We can build it. We can create it.
Nobody loves me but you. That’s not true. Irreverence. Goody girl offers her man a smile. Blushing, the man responds with his best ploy. She is just as funny as he is serious. She offers him a trinket for his affection. From goodness to sinful at age 21.
My name is Betty. Betty but call me Marilyn. Here man! (Affectionately.) I rose up one morning and saw you. Smell the perfume of my love. Smell the bacon and eggs and jam on burnt toast. Her reverence. They giggle. Betty, you’re my darling. Come indoors.
Who’s staring? Betty paints her lips red and dons a red wig. Gawley-gee! She has suddenly become a cheap girl baby. Home sweetness. Happiness in abeyance. Good people can attract exceedingly bad times.
(Seductively.) Chocolate cake? No, something tart like lemon pie. A la perigourdine?
Truffles? Si! Strawberries with whip cream? (In ectasy.) Cookie dough! A tollhouse cookie. Break another wineglass and fling it as far as you can.
(Desperately.) Ja! Ja! Ja! Bolje rob nego grob! Better a slave than a grave.
Here or there, it’s all the same. Get the dogs! Khoyzek gemacht! Mocked and kicked! Shpil! A game!
Crown the pretenders. Curses make a family. Till they go round if they go round again before they break apart and all’s dismissed. Shame! Pain! Paradise after sin. How she knots in her pain. The worst isn’t over. He’s guessing at hers for her the worst isn’t over. They’ve eaten the fruit. The thing is they must be put straight on the spot. Evidently, my man has failed.
There is a friendly tug of war between the boys. God Send Us Men. Before the day is out, he’ll stab him with a Bowie knife. Miquel is sitting on all the free benches reading about it.
I have gotten a man from the Lord. The word is my wife is pregnant again. Two boys, one a keeper of sheep, the other a tiller of the ground, and one was accepted and other one wasn’t… Grey hairs turned white! CAIN! (or is it Abel?) You should be arrested for taking all of the fat. Abel!(or is Cain?) Enough! Gun shots! The unmentionable has been reduced to a sound bite. War! Call it murder. Call it something else. Call it what you like… Cain banished!
Knock knock. War’s where? Knock knock. Which war? The latest one! Knock knock.
Who’s without? Without what? Without God. Knock knock.
This wonderful world’s full of killing people kneeling before God. Ne’er forget God’s daily care. I beg you pardon. Having lost a son, I want to hang onto my grandkids.
And one of these fine days, we’ll have more children. Hatch children well. The boy she now adores. His bests. And her bests. Behold God’s glory. Here lie down. Make love. Hatch well. Make love till there is stable weather. Are you enjoying yourself yet? Have you hatched yourself yet? Give her a medal before we call it a day. Give him a cigar! A pat on the back! A cigar! Sure! Doesn’t he deserve it? You said that it was highly unlikely and I shall hope to hear that you will not be wrong again. With God’s help! Do, sweet, give credit where credit is due.
The earth’s atrot! The sun is warm. The air is pure. The water is great. Is that an airplane or a train?
We’re all going. We know we are. On the spur of the moment, we are. We’ll travel the whole world over. Here goes! We’re going to have a great time. Buckle up. Flaps down. We’re off. Away we go looking for the perfect oasis. And bad luck because of the flooding.
Talk about lowness. Any dog’s quantity of it oozes out thickly. One son came out all red and the other son…the hairy one grabbed his brother’s heel. Mother sobbed to herself. The lowness of him was beneath all up to that sunk to. For a little bread and a pot of lentils. It was the snot’s own fault. He despised his birthright. No likebelike his birthright or first-born last place or because he didn’t stick with venison or wild buckwheat honey either…does it make sense to you?
There was not so much life left in his eyes. Touch him. It touched us all. We also have to bury our father. Touched us all. He was a very old man, stuck on his family. In other words, a family man. With milk and crackers as a favorite treat, he would be finished with his tea by now. Well, he was full of life, you bet, whatever you might have thought of him, so full of fun and vigor, give him his due, for I am sorry to have to tell you, he died last night.
Signifying nothing. No, no, no… Faith, then. Yes, faith.
I never thought that. It is great to think about something I never thought about before. Something inspired. Something that makes sense. The whole of the sum. He was a good man, says she, taken in his prime, says he, in his sleep, says she. Hopefully, he’s in a good place. Surely, he is. We know he’s in a good place. So sorry you lost him. Things are not as they were. May he rest in peace. We don’t have to be brave. I know that. Feeling jitters?
Come, clean my slate, and dry my tears. With all the thrills and ills of so many years and for so many of those years to remain a widow in my father’s house that I was thinking so much of the time of putting an end to myself. My moods, when I remembered how the Lord slew both of my husbands. You shouldn’t weep you can’t if you want to live. Shake the dust off yourself and dream. Look to the Lord for guidance. That’s the proper way to get through it. If it chews you up, swallow it. Pray and move on! Ha! And in the process of time, as sure as there is a God, tomorrow will well be thine. Quick he needs comforting. He just lost his wife. And when I took my widow’s garment off, and covered myself with a veil, and sat in an open place, he thought I was a harlot, because I had covered my face. With love yes love I have made myself look attractive. You’re my man? Then come. My intended, who won’t runaway as I step out of my petticoat. Here he hesitates, my hero and my father-in-law. What am I worth? I get my pledge of a goat from his flock, and he gives me his signet, and his bracelets, and his staff, as I flaunt my stuff. Wait ‘til spring has sprung to see if I’ve conceived. Nature will tell everybody about what we have done. A most adventurous woman am I and well rewarded, as you see. And how I would have twins. See how quickly I forgot the boys’ father. Gone are the tears.
And for those who choose to break the law, there’s prison. Prison. We’ve discussed these things in the past, fact and fiction, crime without shame, at home and for profit. And what will my tomorrow bring? Tell me—tell me, can you interpret dreams? Dreams? What did you say about dreams? We dream our dreams, while we sit in prison. Who interprets dreams? Dr. Martin Luther King, JR had a dream. Then why am I sitting here? As for Dr. King…I take my hat off to him.
You’re right. As long as Joe continues to shape his changeable timetable, there’s no time to rest. He coordinates a massive effort and because of it wears fine linen, flashy rings and a gold chain about his neck.
Table napkins? Why not! Look at the stuff! But where’s the steak? Porterhouse, if you want to know. You fool! Breakfast comes first. Spadefulls of mounded food, fill those sacks! Bacon, gobs of grease. A cold forsaken steak re-cooked in onions. With Chutney, mmm, oh, so good. Pig! Pig? Get her! She called me a pig! Without prejudice, I prefer round steak, very rare, with rice and peas on the side. What about a saddlebag steak, with gravy and pumpernickel to whoop it up and as well with a second course? Baked beans and a big steak, no gristle, not a paddy, maybe a T-bone, with lots of pepper following a cold loin of veal and more cabbage. Strawberry jam, all free of charge. And the best wine ever! Jugs of wine. Some ham, peas, and mash potatoes. I don’t mean to make a spectacle of myself as I dig into mounds of mash potatoes and as you dig into those meatballs.
Play ball! The kids have been playing games all day. Roger and Bailey kicking someone’s ass and Mary and Jane doing the same.
He had eaten all of my steak, swallowed even the gristle, devoured a whole side of beef, chewed up all the bagels and bacon, approached a record, made mush out of my quiche and ate it all most glutinously, and I’m suppose to forgive him. Swallow that! Forgive someone who’s stabbed you in the back. He was a friend, a true-blue friend.
We all requested his mercy, much as we hated to ask for it, but since we came forward with money have we not, without suggesting it for an instant, a right to a little respect. Excuse me. The iniquity that ought to have been ours, the sackcloth we ought to have been wearing, he had no room for that. ‘Till he forgot to act like he should. Wrongly bound. Loved not. Sinned. Shipped off. Taken for dead. Now placed in his hands. Why the weeping? Why the kisses?
Tommy, as I was shortly before that made aware of, next stopped to fetch a breath, the first steps he took in my direction (let God’s son now be looking down on me). Both of his callused hand that were plainly made a good deal more rough by the work he did, as he got close to me (as large as he was, I never had a chance). Was he noted for his inhumane treatment of women, a matter maybe you should put to a half a dozen of us? He was there, and you could plainly see what he intended. Perspiring. All feeling left me, when he said, “this ain’t going to hurt you much.” And he said he thought the world of my life and me, as his sweetheart could be just swell. Poor, poor Tommy. Now that he’s doing time I’m saying to myself maybe I can forgive him. Am I still supposed to forgive him?
Reuben, my first born. ‘Tis a pity! He had so much potential. If only he had not taken shares in the bride.
Simeon and Levi are brothers. Just a little Judas tonic and bring their scooters along.
And Judah? A young lion, he shall always rule. Imagine washing your clothes in wine and brushing your teeth with milk?
Zebulun! A safe harbor.
Issachar! He is a strong ass couching down between two burdens. A slave! I refuse to believe it.
And the good brother….….shall bow his shoulder to bear. All that has to be done has yet to be done and done again, when days are long and hard.
And Dan shall judge his people. The snake!
Gad, a troop shall overcome him: but he’ll finally win.
And Asher? A royal pastry does marvels for your soul.
Naphtali is a deer let loose, while Joseph is a fruitful bough.
And Benjamin? My baby. Do you hear, Benjamin is my baby. And on all fours like a wolf he will devour his prey, and at night he will divide the spoil.
Are there any more?
When he found himself at pointblank range looking down the barrel of a revolver, his whole life flashed before him. More than a billion bites of data. Gosh, what with all his troubles, the murky business, the blotched opportunities, the tattered relationships, the inconsistencies, the fox-trotting to keep a head of the pack, the lice, the scum he knew, the tears, the drinking….
Slave-makers relentlessly pursue those who run through the bush. Run, else you’re caught! One yesterday he collapsed under the weight of a heavy stone. His fate dictated nothing else from him. And men like to ants bore more, and with sore backs working stacks of bricks; and their taskmasters afflicted them with all manner of service in the field. Who carries the whip? Not I said the slave driver.
And the king was an ugly person. Throughout the land he set in motion a plan of death. Let the midwives carryout his dirty work. The jurors are out; and here are the witnesses. The gravest embezzlement is the theft of human beings. Playing down how much slavery hurts. If he pulls you over, say you lost your green card.
Run for your life! Run! I want Bud! We want Bud’s brother! You can have Bud’s sister. There he is a perfect specimen. The best of the lot. There he is the man, stronger than an ox. Fifty dollars, a hundred, two hundred, three hundred! And tough! Four hundred, five hundred, six! Master, master, stay in your chair! He’s worth a thousand times more than that. What about Bud’s boy? Tearing, ruptured, outrage, humiliated, humbled, and whipped! First he’s stripped! Then he’s examined! Look! Check his teeth! A half-pricer is his wife! Their kids are an investment.
Buyer exhibits his might. For now he has dominion over everyone. A huge mirror serves the king’s vanity, his public gushes with admiration. Buyer wears royal purple.
And since we’re talking aimlessly about death and dying, who would deny me this opportunity to share a tear or two? Jenny. Holy God, may she rest in peace. Oh, how I weep! Of what age are we talking about? She was to reach her maturity soon after she was born. To be around a few months and then gone like some old person, the Lord don’t ever give an explanation we can easily accept. I think I’m doing pretty well, don’t you think? I do! Four-year-old baby Johnson was run over by a car. I didn’t see her. Don’t you waken her!
And there went a man of the house of Levi, and took another man’s daughter. And the woman conceived and bore a son. Slap, slap, his bonny bottom pap pap pappa. And when she saw him that he was a goodly child, she kept him to herself for three months.
Still there’s tomorrow. Follow tomorrow down the lucky road.
And the world is divided unequally between Masters and Slaves. Toiling and reciting with bent backs and heavy labor. On the backs of men and women, we’ll build our empire. Rare men! Royal wench! Sing sweet harp.
And around the courtyard he ran he ran and this was when I could only watch him run. He had chewing gum, the mumps, and odd sort of things that other kids didn’t. A pony, a sword, grand aspirations. Flew his wild geese and soldiered a bit. And I’m not supposed to have a canary? Sports was a common thing. Shine. Hear him, and I’m proud of him. But I’m not his sole admirer. Our beneficiaries are in a different league, as he plays in their house as if he were a king. Here was when I was supposed to leave. And they expected me to quietly pass away so that no one would know that he had a humbler beginning.
His feet are those of a huge man. And there they were too. It was dark. As most of the town slept the clan met, filled with nameless rage. By courtesy of an informer, listening in, as hard as we could, in a southern town, white avengers and their troubled follows, all twenty-five of them, all talking and angry and plotting. Nearby two children play hopscotch. To the honorable memory of disgrace. There’s never been a Moses without a flaw. It’s the pith of the matter. Somebody perhaps has a hint that God is nearby.
Well, how is Mr. Fry? Mr. Fry, permit me to tell you, felt perfectly satisfied with himself. With pay and perks and a new bride, who bore him a son, he couldn’t have been happier. But there was no Sabbath for nomads, and he was happily able to walk to the top of mountain. It is hopeless of course to explain how a bush burned of fire without being consumed. Or a staff turned into a snake. From then on, Mr. Fry would say he had seen and spoken to God and received his orders. But he wasn’t due a vacation yet! On the backside of the desert. And I truthfully declare that he didn’t want to hear what the Lord wanted out of him. He was now becoming fed up over the prospect of becoming someone he wasn’t, for after all he liked who he was.
Say something elliptical. I’m through.
Do you not must want to go somewhere in the present? Yes, it’s too bad! God says, at the earliest moment. Never mind the prickly heat. It doesn’t matter that it is a long walk. “I want you to go” is all that’s said. Yes, indeed, you have a wife and two fine sons you made between you and a superfine home. You can pretend you didn’t hear. You do not have to hear. You can go join Jonah in the whale.
Hot and cold, what are we to do? Commit no fouls.
Then lash me to my husband’s star! But who says I have to like it? To barter or be a partner? Him my first love, me his first pal. Take thee your man and for this reason you leave your mother and father, and the two of you become like glue. He says we have to go. Go? To throw sheets to the wind or tie our trunks onto the roof of the car. At no time did I agree to be dragged across the country. He says he’s called to do something. Make sure the car is sure footed, and let’s hope we see something as grand as the Grand Canyon.
I had no choice but to fall in line. I had nowhere to hide. I didn’t have an excuse. You say your car won’t make it. Okay, the car won’t make it. And I know what happens when we run out of water and gas, and it’s a hundred and ten in the shade. Don’t you understand that we’re out of water and gas, and it’s a hundred and ten in the shade, and I forgot my bathing suit. Sleep, that’s the best way to get through this…a loaded car, out of gas…water and gas…sing…
Should I dare open my mouth? Perhaps I’ll stutter. I’ll mangle my words. Perhaps I’ll say something dumb, or my words won’t match my thoughts. Take my worth from it. Lord, I can’t. Now there’s my brother. Look at him. Abracadabra. Listen to how smooth the words come out. He’ll make a great preacher. A Sunday king.
This is as human a story as has ever appeared in any newspaper. Not on the front page. It wouldn’t make headlines, unless it can be turned into something very tragic. We also know it from what we have read in Newsweek. Esra, the cat, overheard the foremen get the order from management that the workers from now on wouldn’t be given straw to make brick, as before, but will have to go and gather straw for themselves. We’re told we’re lazy. We’ve fought for this country. Now this! We can’t smile, because there is no more straw. Yet they say production has to continue at the same pace. The same as before without let up. More bricks, no straw, more bricks, no breaks!
I am a worker, a mason, and anxious to please. I have to please, or else they’d give me the boot. You can bet on it. So I eat sand, but who am I to complain? Can’t afford to complain ‘cause I’ve got a living to make. I am also an immigrant, to some, an alien, who ran, walked, stumbled, scratched to get where I am. I brought my wife with two children a boy a girl and me. But it’s gotten so that I can’t breathe without the foreman writing me up. There is getting to be too many leaks in the thatch. And it need not be lost sight of that we have certain God-given rights, concerning life, liberty, and pursuit of laziness. While the bosses pick their teeth.
Dear Lord, do you expect us to simply say so be it? O the petty rogue! We have mouths to feed. Don’t give us a fork to eat gravy. Give us the tools to be productive.
To some hasty-waste komandos from Police Regiment 11, operating under the aegis of the HSSPF Russia-South, part of the regiment that marched through Belorussia with great destructiveness, the rude words “Ju-da verr-rrecke! Juda verr-rrecke” seemed very funny. I’ve heard the gnashing of teeth. I’ve seen the millstones they have around their necks. So what are we going to do about it?
And, you, take that back to where you got it and go away. We’re in a church. Church people don’t talk that way or even think it. Oh, please! You’re something. Why don’t you get off your high horse, and stop acting like God. We’re all going to get out of here. We shall never forget. Great things were expected. It’s like the time the Pope came to town.
Bob throws his staff down. The old snake trick. We never expected him to repeat it.
With all of the science of today, you’d expect him to come up with something better. Like hot and cold water and electricity. And a bolt in a grinder. After bottled drinking water, we expected something grander. Well, he’s rounding up his family. Credit progress. Credit tomorrow.
Are you still expecting a miracle? No, something lean for lunch. And all of the fish that was in the river died; and the water stank. The magician only can conjure up are modern-day plagues. What’s happening to the frogs may happen to humans next year. Our scientific sense should tell use something, when frogs multiply and come into our houses and into our bedrooms and into our beds, and into the houses of our servants and our relatives, and when they come into our ovens and pollute our food, what will mean?
The people try to contemplate what God will do next. The people like to think that they are in charge, until lightening strikes.
We can recall how we toured the coast to the sound of music. We had the top down and were driving about hoping to steal a little fresh air. A perfect day, but, on the face of it, we shouldn’t have expected so much. The perfect spot. We pulled over. Anyhow, somehow and somewhere, we found the perfect spot for a picnic. Me and my girl. And let us bring out the fresh bread and a hunk of cheese and eventually start thinking that life couldn’t be better when out of nowhere came a swarm of flies.
Duly fatigued they weep laughing, they smile hating, they wait impatiently. I bet they used their best cosmetics off their vanity table, but can’t cover it up. What’s that! A zit! No, no, it’s a boil. That’s what? Boils! Smiling hating, crying. Boils! To adore oneself in the mirror and find one’s face covered with boils. Find the shades and weep.
Draw the shades! We’re sorry. Ever so sorry. We really are.
Chimed N-B-C. 1960. The theme songs for the “Bugs Bunny Show/Bugs Bunny,” “Road Runner Hour,” “Bugs Bunny and Tweety Show,” “Search for Tomorrow,” and “Scooby-Doo.” How awful! Such misfortune. Hoof and mouth disease. All the horses and asses and camels and oxen and sheep. Recoil. Television brought it home. Our eyes demanded that we pay attention. And carcass bonfires blazed everywhere. When they set fire then so many hopes gone. Gone. All gone. Disaster was a common thing. Then hail, such as has not been seen before, and we requested an explanation. A time to weep because hail destroyed everything. It looked like a battlefield. Only in Goshen was there no hail. Pity the cattle. Would you care to know the cost of the loss of barley, rye, and wheat? And the grasshoppers. How much more? Like a great mower, they devoured everything. Then suddenly we didn’t have any electricity and we were caught in the dark. Tap, tap! Pardonner!
This time, it was the firstborn. Around the midnight, post haste. No time to waste. Hum Captain of Israel’s Host. And how are you? Look at all the flinching. Dig deep or forget it! Up the ante. A very different approach. For very different results. http://www.bb.com Let the party begin. Hold on tight. And since we are talking aimlessly about death and dying, who would deny me this opportunity to share a tear or two? Jenny. Holy God, may she rest in peace. Delays are dangerous. Borrow money from your neighbor. None of that paper stuff. Ask for jewels, silver, and gold. In control! Control freak!
Moreover the man Bob was very great in the land and had his sights on becoming president. And they began to salute him. A big to-do. THE MAN OF THE YEAR. The man, in white shirt, perfect tie, is how he is. Give him an inch and he’ll take it all. Retrace his rise back to when he first came to town. This is perfect. There’s faux-this and faux that.
Suggested routes to success. What to wear. How to beat the heat. He drives a Jeep—that is, unless he’s driving his McLaren, Acura NSX or Bentley turbo convertible. Silicon Heaven! His public thinks they know him. The amusing part is that that couldn’t be further from the truth. Those who have the best knowledge of what is happening are also those who are furthest away. He has been working his magic. We are all awed.
O, dear me! O, dear me now! Jenny. Holy God, may she rest in peace.
Now, then, take this in! Allow me to guide you. It wasn’t as if they weren’t warned. Oh, my. I need a hug. Stale words won’t do any good. As often as you come, you’re welcome at our table. Come, have dinner with us. Let’s eat. This lamb is tender, roasted perfectly over a fire. Pass the bread. Flat and unleavened, like a tortilla. And chase it down with water and bitter herbs. Eat! And if you can’t eat it all, burn what is left over. And make sure you’re dressed, with your shoes on and car running. Eat! Hurry! Midnight. Cry not yet.
At the beginning of October, in the year of the incarnation of the Son of God 1347, twelve Genoese galleys were fleeing from the vengeance which our Lord was taking on account of their nefarious deeds and entered the harbour of Messina. In their bones they bore so virulent a disease that anyone who only spoke to them was seized by a mortal illness. Well, after we got the bad news, my son was terribly frightened of being alone.
The infection spread to everyone who had intercourse with the diseased. Those infected felt themselves penetrated by a pain throughout their whole bodies and, so to say, undermined. Morphine didn’t help. Then there developed in their thighs or on their upper arms a boil. This infected the whole body and penetrated it so far that the patient violently vomited blood. This vomiting of blood continued without intermission for three days, there being no means of healing it, and then the patient expired. Where were his friends? And he’d alienated the medical staff, but underneath he was a wonderfully sensitive person with deep integrity, a person who wanted to find inner peace. Soon men hated each other so much that, if the disease attacked a son, his father would not tend him. All he wanted was to die with dignity and without fear. I couldn’t tell him how. O but you must, you must really! It’s midnight. Hustle along, we’re out of time.
Dear Mr. President. It is my Desire to be free and to go to see my people. My mistress won’t let me. Please let me know if we are free and what I can do. I had a little truble in giting away, But as the lord led the Children of Isrel to the land of Canon, so he led me to a land whare freedom will rain in spite of earth and hell. Sir: I got your letter and be reassured we haven’t forgotten you.
Give my love to Miss Mary and Miss Martha and Allen, Esther, Green, and Lee. Tell them I hope we will meet in the better world, if not in this.
And where in thunder did they go? You’ll have to draw me a map. My sense of direction isn’t very good.
One politician looking for votes courts the crowd. An orator sees him and yells, “Good for you, Mr. Nixon!” People dressed in their very best head for Bean Dinner Park. And it’s going be all of us old timers against the youngster facing off at the plate. Sack racing, as advertise. Hog calling, for something different and a greased pole for those who dare. Baseball, sack racing, hog calling and greasy pole climbing, all fun activities conducted in a religious atmosphere. Be moving along. So much to do. Can’t wait for the beauty contest. Marx once said, “no one in Germany is politically emancipated. We ourselves are not free. How are we to free you? You Jews are egoists if you demand a special emancipation for yourselves as Jews.” Isn’t it great! We’re having such a wonderful time. Fly your balloons. Where is the cotton candy? All we wants is freedom as a possession. Third strike, and she’s out! Sure we haven’t got much. And sure anything we have is beside the point. To see the old buzzard whooping it up along side his old lady. You’re the prettiest woman I ever did see. And that’s how that man is going to make his mark. He’ll go far with his compliments.