Feb 20, 2009
Sometimes Not as Much
The Lord moves in mysterious ways; but sometimes…not as much. I suspect that He turned his glance last night on the South and took a long look at us with a rather jaundiced eye and decided that it was time for some Serious Retribution.
No trials of Job or any kind of heavy-ass Noah type deluge; but we seemed to be catching the Heavy End of the Hammer last night when a Battle Royale between a couple of high and low pressure systems developed in the friendly skies above us and…well, the Bill Came Due, so to speak. But the whole thing lacked the normal…well, panache that you come to expect from the Lord and I wondered if He was starting to Slip in His old age.
Tornadoes were unleashed against us with all the attendant and standard fanfare; softball sized hail, winds almost at a hundred miles an hour and all the dark, brooding clouds that could be mustered to cover The Land and hide all the Real Sins in deep shadow until the Danger had passed and all the incumbent Evil had been, presumably, washed away.
So…today, the slate is Clean and we’re all walking around blinking like owls in the sudden sunshine and wondering if the howling banshees of the night before have been sated in their quest for vengeance. We all have our fingers crossed.
But the Doomsday-Sayers are out in force and warning anyone who will listen that this is only The Beginning…of The End. The worst, it seems, is yet to come. (And who would have guessed any differently?)
I caught one of them on the street this afternoon. All he was missing was a sandwich board that read: “The End is Nigh!” He was right out on the corner and yelling at all the passersby and anyone who came within ear-shot all about his curious and clearly unhealthy obsessions.
I crossed the street to avoid him but I could hear him railing.
“You think it’s over? You think this the end of it? No! Weather is the Lord’s weapon and He will use it to smite all of the unjust among us! The sinners, the fornicators, the Sodomites, the Peruvians!”
I kept my head down and moved as quickly by him as I could. And then…it happened.
“Hey!” he called. “Hey you there! I know you!” Then, he called me by name. I felt my heart skip and I dropped my head even lower. It was too late; he was crossing the street to where I was and I did, indeed, recognize him. Before I could do anything about it, he was right in my face; grabbing my hand and pumping it vigorously.
“How you been man?” he asked.
“Hey (NAME DELETED)” I said. “I’m good. How about you?”
“Great man,” he said. “Just out spreading the Good Word,” he told me and he reached for his back pack and handed me a bright yellow flyer that had a banner at the top that said: “Saucers over the Vatican! Return to God NOW! Eat more meat and reject International Trade!” I glanced over it and flipped it around to see that the reverse side was an ad for a local carwash. I wondered if he was just short on funds for paper or if the carwash was supporting his Mission and splitting the advertising costs with him.
“Good word, eh?” I said, already moving away from him. He followed.
“Yeah man,” he went on. “Somebody’s gotta do it, right?”
“You bet,” I said, still trying to move away. And I recalled how I had met him so long ago and all of those crazy nights when I always ended up in places where I didn’t belong to find myself swaying over a bottle with him. It seemed that he and I had a lot more to say to one another back then as we both sank into our respective Spells and cursed the Fates that had brought us there. I knew he had his troubles the same way I had had mine. But I had managed to get out before…what?
I looked at him then and noticed the wild gleam in his eyes, the yellow spittle that had crusted at the corners of his mouth, his shabby clothes and tattered appearance; I wondered how close I had come to crossing the same Line he had obviously found waiting out there in the private darkness of his Own Night.
“Listen,” he said as he leaned close to me. “I’ve been thinking of changing my name to Solid Silver to get the feds off my back and maybe getting down to South America where I can get into some real stuff and maybe get my hands on some real money too. You know, like we used to talk about? Weird adventures man, and they know all about the End down there. Yeah. They’ve been preparing for years and they take it a lot more seriously than we do. Them tornadoes last night? Yeah man. That’s just the start. Worse is coming. We should get out now man, while we got the chance. No tornadoes down there man.”
I just looked at him.
“You should come with me, man. We’d make a great team and we could really make a difference. We could finally put a stop to all this weather control and mind beams and thought manipulation satellites they been using on us all this time. Somebody’s got to do something!” He stomped his foot in the tornado-remnant puddle on the sidewalk for emphasis and sent a spray across my pant leg.
“You alright?” I asked him.
“Oh yeah man,” he said scratching his ear rapidly and profusely. “All these storms and electrical outbursts got my head all charged up wrong and I can’t seem to shake it, you know?”
I stepped back from him. He was just staring at me. I couldn’t help it.
“Listen (NAME DELETED),” I asked him, “what is it that you want? I mean, what do you really want?” I needed to know.
He cocked his head and looked at me for a long minute. I could see his wheels turning and a light came on behind his eyes that was almost sane for an instant and I caught the quick symptoms of genuine pain and loss there and I knew he was hurting. He blinked then and I saw that he was Lost.
He drew himself up and took a deep breath and shouted: “I want True Love Baby! I want the world to know it! I want a love that’s self-adhesive and re-sealable for easy storage and that will stay fresh longer! I want to touch it with my hands!” he shouted and he held his hands up and looked to the sky. “I want my damn fingers to grow longer now! so I can touch it and taste it through my pores and climb up in the wind and swim through the rain until I can find it! Until I can see it!”
He spun around and danced a little jig and started waving to the other people on the street and lurching at them. “I want to ride the wind man!” he shouted out at them, ignoring me now as if I had never existed. “I want more tornadoes to come to teach all you nonbelievers about what’s really happening!! About what’s really going down all around you! You just can’t see it, Baby! I want God to smite my enemies and wipe Peru off the map! I want to see the end of all this oppression and I want TV to go back to the way it used to be! I want…”
I moved off quickly, hoping he wouldn’t notice that I was getting away.
I moved steadily and finally rounded the corner and took off for home. I’m a little ashamed to admit that I hoped to never see him again.
I hurried on my way with a cautious eye on the sky…waiting for the next deluge and I was reminded of a line from a film in my childhood: “It would take only a nudge to make you like me…to push you out of the The Light.” I shuddered and wondered when it might be my turn. Or when the next storm would find us and how I’d handle it.
I passed a couple who could already hear him screaming behind me.
“There but for the grace of God…” I heard the man say while the women nodded sadly.
Yes. I thought; Grace indeed. Or maybe it was something else. And I tried to imagine the Lord stretched out in front of His own Doppler Radar screen…planning His next move.
But, after all, the Lord moves in mysterious ways.