Sunday, June 17, 2012

Old Flames XIX: Truly, The Majestic

I once told a friend that I would rather spend an afternoon with the Devil than a night with God. When he asked why, I told him, "Because I can talk to a criminal. I don't know what to do with a nun."

He told that he wished Popsicles could be so realistic and so rotten and so unfathomably untrue.

"Come on, what good are churches?" I asked like a sadist.

"We all need a home away from home," he told me coolly.

"Isn't that what Hawaii's for?"

"Well, that's somebody's home too."

"Aren't churches a home too?"

"God doesn't live there. God's a nomad."

This ended the conversation.

And all parties went home.

I told this story in a bar once. The bartender had heard it before.

"It's a morality play, isn't it?"

"It's life," I answered with a sip, hold the grin.

"Yeah," he nodded. "Isn't life a morality play?"

This shut me up for two more drinks.

Then I wasted a cough on another tale.

"I was never in the army," I explained. "But I had my character assassinated. It was suicide."

"That a riddle?"

"No," I rolled. "It's a joke."

"It ain't good."

"Suicides never are."

"So you pulled the trigger?"

"Didn't have to be a gun. Could've been a tool, an instrument of death, a fork for the grim," I rattled with treachery. "You can assassinate somebody's character, but it's always a guaranteed way to kill yourself off slowly. What kind of a man wastes another man like that without the shrapnel kicking back?"

"A good marksman."

"The most accurate marksmen are those who commit suicide."

I laid this story out when I realized that suburbia wasn't a cage or a prison. It's a lair for all the monsters. The seven deadly sins aren't wishes. They're gods. Or they're devils. Either way, it's organized crime.

Why do husbands always fear telling their wives that they fear a demon showing up across the room, not even bothering to hide?

What's the greatest tragedy? I asked one dinner party.

"The greatest tragedy is that we're out of wine," someone joked. They all laughed. Except me. I said no and my eyes never left.

"The greatest tragedy is never being able to tell a good joke when you need it."

The awkward silence bounded, and everyone broke into hysterics.

I told that story at a card game when I won something more than money. I won pride. I won a god in a card game. But I couldn't fit him in my glovebox, so I left him at the party. He's probably way ahead by now.

I got so mad once that I told a story to kill time.

You either get it or you don't.

Is it a riddle? Is it a joke?

Well, isn't the better question always, hey, who cares?


But the problem is that God and the Devil both care. One's just a better businessman, and the other's running a charity.

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