Creationist Meringue Pie

 by

James L. Secor and Minna vander Pfaltz

Creationism and its off-spring, the dystopiously named Intelligent Design, have rightly been criticized for their recalcitrant stand on the infallibility of a foreign document of high metaphor being interpreted as literal truth flying in the face of science. The Tyrants of Science, lead by Richard Dawkins, have ceaselessly barraged these narrow-minded, escapist individuals adhering to a belief system that is not even European about their lack of sense, their lack of facing up to the findings of science which, to the Tyrants of Science, is the be-all and end-all of everything, a slice of knowledge that has the answer to everything.

There is, in this analysis by the New Enlightenment, no history, no mention of the fact that the last time this particular religion called Christianity ruled the world there was a dearth of science, a great case of ignorance. Indeed, this period of Church rule was known as The Dark Ages–and the Irish think they saved civilization by not destroying texts considered heretical, though, of course, none of these were scientific works. No. As Christianity dictated every action and thought of the Western world into the Middle Ages, the backwards, infidelist Middle East was taking science to great heights. Physiology and anatomy, biology, chemistry, medicine, astronomy–all grew and had to be “discovered” by the West. Even then, the persecution continued: Copernicus, Galileo; Michelangelo and Leonardo da Vinci were lucky they were not discovered dissecting bodies–a desecration of God’s human form. Heavens! Indeed, that the Earth was not the centre of the universe was known from the time of the Sumerians and then the Babylonians and Egyptians. The idea of a flat Earth was utterly ridiculous as sailors had been sailing over the edge, over the horizon, for millennia–the Greeks even reaching the southern coast of what is now China, calling the people there radish eaters.

No one is thus mentioning the historical precedent to the present idiocy and theodicy of the Creationists and their delusional brood. If they are allowed to spread, the US is due to enter a ripe dark ages. . .again.

Charles Darwin never attempted an explanation for the beginning of life– the origin of life on this planet–only what had been happening to it since then. And Darwinism has changed considerably since then, if nothing else from an outward-looking science to an inward-looking science. Even Lamarck has been discovered to have been not so totally wrong. But he was an evolutionist anyway. The Creationists don’t bother with him. Just as they don’t bother with the Enlightenment philosophers or the ancient Greeks: evolutionists all. Evolution meaning “change.” Evolution also includes environmental effects upon the organism. There is, in truth, a subtle intertwining of outer and inner worlds. But the Creationists don’t bother with this. They prefer their own misinterpretation. As the Bible is the most read book, Darwin’s Origin of Species is the most quoted but least read book. (It is, in fact, very boring.)

And, then, when Islam grew to intolerant levels like Christianity, all scientific exploration ceased. It seems to be the way with theocratic dictatorships and societies that close themselves off from the outside world. The Commonwealth of the Roundheads. The Puritans of Salem, Massachusetts. The Japanese threw the Christians out and had a cultural renaissance.

But in all this there is another angle that has not been looked at, probably by either side: that is the modern astrophysical and physical sciences since July 1969 when men landed on the moon–and took a picture of the Earth “rising” over the Lunar horizon, a beautiful blue ball floating in space, in an infinite blackness (God–where was the light?). Some have called those astronauts Men in the Moon. Does that make them, as in the eyes of Washington Irving, Lunatics?

What do the Creationists make of this event and the following wonders of landings and findings on Mars and Saturn’s moon Titan, the changes to Jupiter? How do these frightened people adhering to a belief system that no longer holds water interpret these findings? For, as Joseph Campbell noted in his 1970 lecture, “The Moonwalk–The Outward Journey,” this is the one great bound into going beyond our limits since the discovery of fire, not originally used, it is believed, for cooking at all. Are these people, the Creationist spawn, believers in the idea that the moon landings were all staged events in the Arizona desert? If so, where in that desert? Area 51 is not in Arizona.

Closer to home, what about the satellites going round and round the Earth? Not only the Skylab but the communications satellites that make possible the use of the Creationists’ personal computers and cell phones, themselves made possible by the space program. Do they use Velcro, developed for the space program? Are any of their number wearing heart pacemakers? Do they build with plastics, a modern scientific development? Drive cars with rubber wheels (rubber being a variant of plastic)? What about airplanes and jets: if God had wanted us to fly He’d have given us wings, right? Flying gigs that break the speed of sound? That is, they are visible before they can be heard. That surely goes against all God’s laws, no? Physicists have even demonstrated faster-than-light travel, that is, something that is here before it is here. God damn!–even He could not manage this!

No science, though, has proven the existence of ghosts, which the Creationist horde firmly believe in. Or witches. . .which didn’t exist in the Bible until the time of James I of England VI of Scotland who was obsessed by them, believing they had inhabited the bodies and souls of his nobles and wrought them sorely to bring down his kingdom. Thank you Shakespeare.

Do they forget the OT was written in Hebrew? The NT in Greek? Is their education such that they can read the real books? Which language did God speak and write in? Are they even aware that Middle Eastern Semitic culture is different from white Western culture? So that there is no such thing, in reality, as a blond white Savior?

So. . .this modern science, modern astrophysical universe question, needs to be presented to the Creationists, for if they accept it, then they are accepting all of the scientific breakthroughs that have occurred in other disciplines before then. Which they don’t. Though they utilize all of the discoveries that astrophysical science has generated: these are called spin-offs. And that’s a religious conundrum to stump even God. How can you only believe in half of something, the second half?

They are like the boy who, with his friend, ordered a milkshake and won the drinking of the top half. So. . .he drank up the entire milkshake, maintaining it was only logical, for he had to drink the bottom half to get to the top half that was his. That is, he had to make half of the milkshake cease to exist.

In denying the discoveries of science, these people-in-crisis are denying, as the Church did, the teachings of the 11th and 12th and, again, the 15th and 16th century humanists, the great flowering of the human, God-given mind. For if we are created by God, then all of us, our minds as well as our souls, were created by God and to withhold the greatest achievements of science–achievements of the mind–in the name of this same God’s creating is to fly in the face of that same God. Isn’t it?

This ship of fools is denying the wonder of Life in toto, for human life is not the only life here, God created it all. And who are they to say just how it is or what it was that God created and what his purpose was? Isn’t God’s wisdom beyond the ken of man? (Women, of course, don’t count in this view of things.) The wonder of life and of humankind has been tossed out into the garbage bin in cavalier fashion, without a thought. Hey-ho!

And how do they know the form of God? What did the writers of the various Genesises mean by “form”? Form is not simply–and only–physical being. Where does “formative” come from? What about the form of mind? the form of thought? How about the metaphysical form of things? Philosophical forms? Platonic forms?

I should think that if these weird-scientists want to return to the Dark Ages when science was damned and denied, they should be allowed to–in every respect, giving up all advances that have come into existence since, say, 1000 CE when the world was supposed to end and didn’t (I think). Let them live without electricity, running water, indoor toilets, garbage disposals, washing/drying machines, cars, trains, planes, phones of all sort, TV, plastic, Velcro, computers, medicine, steak, toothpaste, anti-perspirant, inner spring mattresses, pens and pencils, paper (even for writing), a change of clothes, drugs, condoms. . . . About the only thing we can’t give them to make the picture complete is clean water, though if they move to the edge of the Gobi Desert, in Jiayuguan, Gansu, China, they can come upon clean water, run-off from Qilianshan.

We can let them figure out who are the peasants and who are the aristocrats. They, after all, must be allowed something of their own to create. Which will be against God’s plan as He didn’t make social classes. When He was working, everyone was equal in status.

Well, actually, maybe we’d just better let them go back to the Garden of Eden, if they can find it; though I imagine going naked would be a heart-stopping experience: my God! Cunts and pricks and tits and asses! God’s creation just hanging out for all to see–Heavens! Then, of course, we’d have to color them black. Yes, that’s right, they’d have to become niggers, the most hated, lowest animal on the planet, according to Creationists and Intelligent Designers. Anyone ever notice the whiteness of the Creationist bend sinister? Or did God, in his wisdom, create, along the equator so lush, white people? If so, what color was their hair, their eyes?

Hmm. . .seems we got a problem here. . .

Even worse, when the OT posited the beginnings of the Hebrew race, the Hebrews only went back to the beginning of civilization, about 3000 years or so, to the Sumerians; Moses knew better than to believe the entire world according to God came into being with the beginning of civilization, having lived a long time in the Egyptian universe, a culture ripe with an interest in history, origins and beyond death. Are the Creationists aware, too, that the NT as it exists today was a politically chosen document that discounted everything that was deemed threatening to the ruling hegemony (The Church)? Manichianism. Zoroastrianism. Polytheism. Gnostic gospels. Early writings of the Christian community prior to Paul. Love. All now part of the Christian doctrine.

Oh. . .do the Creationists know they must become Catholics?

A Buddhist might note that these Laurel & Hardys are mindless. But let’s not bring religion into this, okay?

But, back to my question: what about July 1969 and after? What about that science? Is it of the same sort as dinosaurs and Troglodytes and fossils and hens’ teeth?

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The Demons Among Us

by James L. Secor

The writing was difficult to decipher and I leaned over the old, yellowing, brown- edged paper, refocusing the lamp so that I could see better the smudgy handwriting. I turned off the room light so I’d not be distracted. I pulled the curtains so I’d not be noticed, disturbed in my studies. My eyes ached. I felt the blood pulsing through my temples. And I tried hard not to breathe for fear of destroying the amazing find before me–an ancient letter. A testament. Hurriedly scrawled and in a faltering hand: was the writer old? By the writing, the tale told was not of a primordial time, despite the condition of the paper, but of the recent past. Why, I asked myself, was it so important for this person to write down this story? Who would read it, for that matter, stuffed as it had been in a hole in the chimney of an old, historic house my friend had bought.

I leaned back and exhaled to one side. I did not even want to disturb the dust, believing that it, too, held the secret–some secret as to the writer and the writing. . . and the events. And why was this letter so important it should be hidden?

I looked at my hooded windows. Yes. What was out there? Out there that I could not see? I should be used to this hovering anxiety but I was not. Not after all these years. Too sensitive, I’m told–and laughed at for this utterly disgusting human failing. Perhaps. Perhaps so. I’d long since given up mixing with people, co-mingling, commiserating at one or the other approved public house. I could never escape looking for the surround-sound cameras and listening devices. . .and staring at them. No one else bothered with them. Just part of the scenery. I imagine I’m very well-known indeed to the people on the other side, especially as I’ve taken to not frequenting these places any more. To them, this will mean I have something to hide. But, in fact, don’t we all? Don’t we have a private life?

I rose hastily and began walking around the room, upset at myself for getting upset at. . .myself. And at letting the outside world infringe on the wonder of a past life that lay upon my table. Letting off steam was good. And the passing of my shadow behind the curtained window was good as well.

I took a deep breath and sat down at the table again.

They only come at night, believing that is when demons can be best appreciated without the finders being themselves found. They appear out of the blackness like ghost riders, glowing in their circle of pale light, a torch-like flame held high above them. Another, out front, holds some kind of cross, a divining rod, similar to what we used to use to find water. Whether it worked or not no one really knew but it was fun for us kids. And it was a long-lasting belief, for I remember my grandmother telling me of its use and how our distant relatives managed to live because they’d found water with such a thing. A divining rod.

I leaned back. There was a clue as to the time this was written: divining rods. They supposedly found water. What did they look like? I carefully made a note to look this up at the library. I am sometimes a little forgetful.

Slowly, silently they make their way down the street, the torch of light moving from side to side, hesitating occasionally, but always moving, moving. And suddenly the rod jerks wildly, out of control and draws it’s user off to one side and toward a particular house. He stands there as the rod vibrates and plunges up and down. The torch-bearer then steps up before the trembling rod, between it and the house–for, more often than not, it is a house– and raises his light on high and intones in a strange, secret language. . . something. And then he barks over his shoulder and the followers, clothed in robes, grey robes, all kneel and begin praying. They pray a long time. They pray silently. They occasionally respond to some outcry or other from their torch-bearer. Eventually, they erupt in wild hysteria, weaving and bobbing and throwing themselves on the ground. And then they clamber back to their feet and proceed further down the street. But the house is marked. Tomorrow, a different group will descend upon the house and take away its inhabitants who scream and plead. But to no avail. they are never seen again–unless the news of another nest of witches and warlocks, demon- worshipers, is an indication of their being. And then not being.

I had heard of these people before and laughed them off as fringe lunatics. They were then full of bluster and found only in isolated clusters in out-of-the-way little towns. Even when they began to make themselves known in larger towns, they remained localized. No one paid them much mind. We should have. It was so unfortunate for us that we did not notice their growth, like kudzu. And now we’re all caught. And afraid. So afraid no one will even talk about it. We’d be heard if we did. There is no place where there is privacy any more. The streets are indeed public! The light poles house cameras and listening devices. The picture-takers downtown–a tourist destination, though lord knows why, there’s nothing there but an old, crumbling wall with markings eons ago scratched on it and an old bronze statue of the last great hero of a past age, Titus Aguevivre– These picture-takers are but watchers in disguise. A Suspended sense of the real engages travelers and they flock to these people wanting their photographs taken opposite this or that part of the wall, in front of Aguevivre. To prove they were there. And then the police know who they are, where they live–everything. For they mail the photos to the naïfs. Selective blindness. People so obsessed with finding joy and

–there! I heard it just now. That horrid ringing in my ear. A thin high pitch that hurts. I don’t know where it comes from and I can’t ascertain when, if there’s a particular time or occurrence that brings it to me. But I know it is not natural. This time it is in the left ear and I clutch at it, squinching my eyes shut against the intrusion. When the intensity lessens, it seems to migrate into my right ear, so that both are beaming, you might say. But the intensity is not so great.

I must rest now. Turn out the light and go to bed. It is the usual time. It will not be seen as unnatural or suspicious.

So, I fold up the old document and slip it inbetween the city maps I am allowed to keep in my house due to my work at the City Offices. I turn down my covers and turn off the light.

The next evening I am at it again.

They have been coming down this particular street, my street, for the past several nights, apparently as they have been cruising down other streets in the city. Neighborhood by neighborhood they trek through the night uncovering the demons that cause us to go astray, it is said. They say. On their broadcasts on the news. It is news after all that there are demon- infested people in our town, leading us astray. But is it true that through our sinning we open up a portal for the demons to come in to us? What sin is it that’s been committed? No one is ever told. Someone surely must know what the sin–the sins are!

These are the Prayer Warriors. And this is spiritual warfare. These people believe they can pray–I so want to write “prey”!–out the evil that inhabits our society, the evil sent by this devil they say that is evil incarnate, rollicking round his fire deep, deep in the bowels of the earth– down there–tearing us away from the goodness that should be ours by entering us through these sinful portals. All of the ills that affect society are attributed to this Devil and the slaves he enlists, slaves that look like everyone else, behave like everyone else but nonetheless wreak havoc and cracks in the cosmic egg in the dark of night. How? Waves of ill influence. Emanations of evil. These people, the night prowling Spiritual warriors, know how to find them, Smell them out, if you will. With their divining rods, praying and panting before the house to weaken the evil spirit-carriers inside.

Only by way of praying can the wrongs of the world be righted. Only

The deep rumble of cars disturbed me, making the floor and windows shake in their passing. I got up from the table and walked to the window, looking out onto the now not-so-well lit street. Once it had been but as the lamps burnt out–or simply refused to light up at dusk–they were left untended. No one bothered to fix them. There was not total darkness out there, it is true, but it was dark enough that it was disturbing. But, of course, no one would go walking around in the dark of night. How unnatural! So, the grazing lights that blared through the darkness and the thrumming and rumbling of these joy-riding vehicles was disturbing. People complained about this kind of disturbance but. . .what was there to do about it?

I looked down the street to where they’d disappeared, their red tail lights still shadowing into the night. I looked back the way they’d come. No shafts of oncoming rowdies. I breathed deeply and shut the curtains.

Only by the furtive warring and furious praying of the Spiritual Warriors can this, this insidious iniquity poisoning our lives, be gotten rid of. For too long this malevolence had been infecting the world and, now the Prayer Warriors were strong enough, it could be fought. This was the story, the life story of these spiritual soldiers, the legion from heaven come to rid the garden of Satan and snakes. Long since, the police had been done away with, at least they did not appear at night, looking for the trouble they’d been saving us from for–how long?– interfering in the cleansing activities of these onward soldiers. But they were there during the day. The evil then was of a different sort that humanity’s earthly do-gooders could deal with.  And they cleaned up the remains of the prior evening’s finding, hauling off the offenders. Doing their duty.

I must smile at myself–I want to write “And of course” but it is not “of course.” Not at all an expectation of their helping the Spiritualists on their sweeping up of the marked warped souls. Nevertheless, they are there, though not so many and not so obtrusive and obdurate as before. They hold wands of a sort that emit fire of heaven, it is called, to control the corralled people. It is a device that emits a ray, a beam of crackling energy that–how can I say?– enlivens the devil’s minions. By fire the enemies of The People shall be destroyed.

Fire from heaven is what it is called. A euphemism for electrical shock, I’m sure. It is hard to watch it being applied. A pointing of the wand and a spitting of the crackling wave and down the infected one goes, groveling on the ground, groaning with the writhing within of the perverted spirit that has infected its soul being touched, fingered. Sometimes, their wickedness is so deep-seated that they must be burned numerous times til they cannot rise again. They are left where they lay, twisted and deformed, for the rescue squad to dispose of. There are forever sirens in the cities.

Later in the week, there will be a prayer gathering and the announcement of the finding and prayerful disposal of yet another coven of devil-spawn is made to great peals of singing and pounding of feet. I never go near these gatherings but you can hear them nonetheless, as they bound around the city from one spiritual Prayer Cleansing Meeting to another. A powerful and frightening message that one would think would dissuade the devil from further deviltry but this is not the case, for the evil one keeps investing other citizens with his waywardness. His call is apparently unresistable. Thus, more and more searchings at night. More and more Prayer Cleansing Meetings are held–even televised portions of such meetings are broadcast so that day and night the spiritual warriors’ shrill and intoxicated voices are heard, reminding us that we are not free, not yet. More work is necessary halleluiah.

I sat back in my chair, pressing my cool fingers to my eyelids. This was hard going, the handwriting so scratchy and the paper so discolored and friable–and the words so. . .mad, possessed and–there are the rumbling street machines again. As if on cue. Frightening the hell out of me.

Sometimes I was afraid I’d tear the pages as I turned them. I got up and went into the kitchen to fetch a drink of tonic water. The tart fizz would revive me, though perhaps I should pack it in for the evening–a few had commented at work of the dark circles under my eyes.

I had better cover my tracks.

So, I stashed the pages, switched off the light and went in to bed, still bothered by the images this person had drawn. But the next evening I was drawn again to reading this man’s story:

I do believe that their work will never be done, for humans will be human and it is only humans who sin. At least so it seem to me–I never see these Praying mantises

Oh! Now that’s a good pun. Praying mantises. This writer, whoever he is has a sense of humor. There is some character here, aside from a man who watches and writes, writes secretly and hurriedly.

stopping at a dog house or running after cats. Or catching birds. Only humans. Where will it end? When will there be a human who is not accessible to the demon king?

Lately there has been a rush to join the prayer groups in the belief that this will save their souls. Converts are hyperbolic about their new-found answer and ever find themselves in the front lines of the night-roving prayer warriors. In the dimness of the semi-lit streets, they are frightening of themselves. I guess the more to frighten the dEvil? Yet he laughs at them as he continues to fly through sin-opening portals to establish his hell on earth, to pervert the heaven we supposedly inhabit.

Heaven! What a laugh! Where is the heaven when people are afraid to go out at night? Where is the heaven that needs cameras and microphones to monitor its angels, its human manifestation of itself?

My heart aches and I burn inside to talk to someone about this. But who can I trust? It is blasphemy to question. If the reality does not fit the teaching, as I see it, the reality is altered or disinfected, gotten rid of. For whatever it is–it is not called “reality”–it is an imposed wave of distorting evil sent to

Damn! Those rumbling motor cars are at it again. Gunning it up and down the street, their metal plates slapping, slapping, slapping at the pavement like great webbed feet. The grating when they turn and retrace their course. Is there then something wrong on my street? Will someone here be fingered? There are so few of us left on this street any more. The others have all left for parts unknown. As no one else here works in the City Offices, I never see these people again. Only a smattering of dark houses with empty eyes. A more and more common sight, not only here but throughout the city, throughout the land if the TV eye is to be believed.

I shudder and turn my attention back to the manuscript on the table.

The holy war has finally come home, as it was sure to do, for the corruption of the soul is not something that exists only over there. It is something that exists wherever there are humans. Even amongst themselves there are those who fall. Their fate is truly horrible and their abuse and cleansing is televised, not only on the home sets but on the huge screens that abound throughout the town. They are inescapable. And. . .people actually stand there and watch without showing any emotion! Just as the sirens and helicopters roaming the skies above us are not given a second thought. No one–no one but me–looks up to see what they’re about, where they are training their glowing white-gold eye. They hover and they circle and no one bothers with them. Do they know what they’ve given up?

Ha-ha. I sometimes wonder what it is that is wrong with me–I am the only one to see this, the only one to pay attention. And what is one against the horde? Soon, soon I will be found out. The tell-tale signs of my. . .disease are visible in my face, for I cannot hide my reaction to the horrors thrown at us by the big screens. And, of course, I look up How long can I get away with pretending that I am looking at the birds, birds no one else also sees? I shudder in my skin. When will the hammer fall on my nailness? What new crime will I be charged with as they come crashing through my door, heaven’s fire whiplashing me. I am sure I am so infected that I will be left for the rescue squad to clean up in the morning. And I have done nothing but retain my. . .my humanity. I feel therefore I–

I jumped up. The rumbling road warriors raged by and then stopped. Right outside my house, their headlights illuminating my window. Quickly, I stash the manuscript and run to the window–and stop myself. I turn aside and go to the kitchen to look out. They cannot see me from there. And, yes, they are there. Headlights and great long proboscises pointing at my house. And on their bulging spider bodies. . .a white divining rod. . .

Their black minions, single opaque eye gleaming, are running up my walk, smashing in my door and filling up my room and

© James L. Secor, 2015

 

The Woman Who Lost Her Face

by Minna vander Pfaltz

On the other side of the river there was a mud flats. The road passed over it on a low boardwalk. Occasionally there were bulges where passers-by could let others pass by. About halfway across was a large area with a table and a few benches. A woman sat at the table, a large flattish bowl before her. Several dishes of colored clay or mud were scattered around this. She was feverishly applying mud to her face. She would pick up a piece of broken glass, look into it, exclaim loudly and wash the mud off her face. Then she’d mix some color into what was left in the pan and begin applying it again.

I watched her for some time, leaning on the handrail. My legs needed the rest. I listened closely. . .

“A powder room. A dressing room. A place to change one’s appearance. To maintain the mask, the cover-up for the night. Or the day. Day or night. Night and day. It doesn’t matter. On and off the stage. Adoration. Affirmation. Accolades. All because I successfully sit before my mirror and make myself over. Put on a face with an exquisite touch. I’m good at it. Was good at it. Very good at it. Perhaps because I liked it, keeping face.” Then she screamed at her image. “What has gone wrong?!” Holding the syllable until she ran out of breath.

I moved a little closer.

She cleaned her face once again and looked into the mirror.

“What have I done to myself? I’ve lost my face!”

And, indeed, there wasn’t much of a face there to see, as far as I could see.

“‘Play hard to get,’ mom had said. ‘No man wants an easy piece.’ Something I wanted, though. Sometimes. Easy. With ease. ‘It’s like fly fishing,’ my mother said. ‘Keep a loose wrist. The rod’s just an extension of your hand. Your body rhythm keeps that line arcing, coming back in better and better ellipses til the moment of casting. Then it’s just a matter of reeling it in.’ Mm-hmm. Just a touch of reality was bait enough. Just enough to keep him coming. Then I had the last say. Yeah. I had to have the last say. Even sometimes when I was wrong. Sometimes I erred and what I got wasn’t worth the effort. But usually I came away with something. All because of a touch of reality. But that’s all changed.” She paused, took a breath. “Look at me” she shouted to the skies, beating her fists on the table. “No more shadow flying out across the water tempting morsel.” She laughed crazily. “The boudoir led to the sleazy motel. And now to nowhere at all.”

She threw her hands up, smiled wryly.

Once more, in she dipped to get the mud spirit colored and out she came with just dyed mud. Over and over. A practicing disciple following her long historical precedent.

“There is no need for me to advertise,” she mewled. “No need to shout from the top of the mountain, ‘I’m a cunt!’ Not any more.” She did not stop slapping on the dyed mud. “No one’s interested in my cunt. Men love a cunt. But it’s got to have a face to go with it.”

She perused herself in the remains of her looking glass, threw the broken glass into the mud flats and pounded her fists on the table. The pots of unguent jumped.

“I used to have an odalisque. A Romanesque-Art deco divan draped decorously with a woven silk-fringed shawl I never wore. The bed was in the next room. Five or six thick hand-made futons piled high and soft so I sank into their plush interior. The pile of bedding sat in the middle of the room so it could be seen through the half open door. A plush middle-Eastern flying carpet of desire.” She giggled, shutting her eyes against the memory. “The windows to the street were only half-blinded. I liked showing off my well-kept body. It was my face, though, that created the magic. Like every good artist, I had a plethora of masks to choose from.” She smiled at the little pots. She smiled at herself, running her hands down her midriff to her waist so slim and over her gently rounded heart-shaped hips to her finely rounded ass. She squeezed. “Men like a good ass as much as a good face. And I gave it to them every morning with gluteal exercises–and stomach crunches to flatten my belly, emphasize my mound of Venus. My exhibition pieces. I was a choosy bitch. Once.” She jumped up and down on her seat. “Now there is nothing to be choosy about!” She looked at herself in the water bowl. “I am so much less than a whole person.” She leaned forward for a better look. “Men are not blind!” She leaned on her elbows.

Silence.

“You had something by Divine Right. Woman first and foremost. Only you give life.”

“And then we give and give and give. And then we have the life taken away from us and made into a damned mystery. A curse. Trivialize it. Isolate it. Give it back so it’s yours again. But with something missing. Instead of life we’ve been turned into a painful repository. A thrusting place to be used, even worshipped. But the key,” she raised a finger and shook it, “is our face. Faces. Fucking two-faced bastards! ”

She sighed. Her body sank in on itself.

“You are nothing without your crutch?” She raised herself up again. “I used to have high cheek bones with just a hint of youthful blush. Slightly almond-shaped eyes. Long lashes. The full-lipped mouth barely rouged a light coral tint. That wet look. Like I’ve just done one man and now I’m ready for the next. It’s so successful, why do I feel I should change it? I must be losing it. I must be! Look at the way I’m sitting! Come on. Straighten up, old girl. It’s not long now til the need for a veneer won’t be so obvious. Cranky old ladies get to say whatever they want. Look however they want.”

She leaned forward some more, her forearms stretched along the high gloss surfaced table, almost another mirror with the high sheen of the wood beneath. Japanese red cedar to roseate the lifted chin and smooth cheeks. To make her look healthy.

“So, why do I worry? I’m not nearly so old. But I feel like shit tonight. Well, then,” she clapped her hands, “let’s make a change. Just enough for people to wonder at. What’s different about you, honey? They’ll be surprised it’s just me. The one-eighth Algonquin Indian girl with the. . .with the. . .what? Just the right look. Je ne sais quoi. With the white lovers. What a pollution. What’s being Indian have to do with anything? A cunt’s a cunt. But I’m on the rolls. An authentic Indian fuck. So, I can pay and pay and pay. I’m a pay sausage-making machine!”

She bowed her head. “No diluted offspring for me. I’m the last of the line. Yeah.” She leaned back on the bench, arms outstretched, hands on the edge of the table. “Is it any wonder we look for financial stablemates? Love be damned, we need to get something for the time we spend on our backs. Just once. . .once. . .” she blew air noisily past her lips. “Love isn’t all, honey. Don’t moon. It’s what he’s got in the seat of his pants that counts. It’s the bankroll that sells. Sex is just the way to getting it. If it isn’t that good, well, that’s the price you have to pay. A lover on the side can liven things up a bit. A gigolo with no standards and no ethics. Who cares? A cock’s a cock. It just takes up space. Money, on the other hand. . .now, there’s something you can get a grip on. Do something with. Make something of. Yeah. Something that doesn’t use itself up. Money changes a girl. Yessir, it sholy do!” Her voice changed to a sugary drawl. “It sho do. There’s nothing like money to make a woman’s heart go pitta-pat. Atrial fib. A little extra warmth in the chest, a tightness in the throat.” She pressed her hands together and looked up. “That’s why the fashioning is so important. They have to feel I’m worth it–have to see I’m worth it. Men are so easy! Suckers for a good fly fisher of men. A female Christ. A virgin mother. And I am certainly that! I move with grace and fortitude. Not even number two could fathom my depths. Boy did I come out the winner on that one! A house and a $17,000 debt that became his responsibility. What a fool! He still loves me. After all I did to him. Raped him. Flayed him. Hung him up to dry and beat him with a switch. All of that love and joining of souls hogwash he believed in. Well. . .if he wishes to believe it, okay. Let him have his fantasy.”

She leaned back, to get a better look, to see her pride somewhere out there before her.

“His letters are wonderful epistles of love. Maybe I’ll publish them one day. A little love-letter package. Proof that men are easy. Ruled by the flesh between their legs. Long or short, what does it matter? It’s all the same thing. All the same.”

In a frustrated movement, she kicked her piano bench away from the table, slamming it against the opposite railing. She stared at the assortment of visages, of shrouds that crowded her world. All around her. Staring back at her with cold, black, blank eyes. Feral animals. So many to choose from!

She closed her eyes. She did not want to look at herself any more, not as she was at any rate. Not now. She was dissatisfied now. She couldn’t let that get in the way. She had to concentrate on the evening’s goal. Even out here in the mud flats, there was an evening’s goal. I remained very still, like a fence post.

“Maybe my red lace crotchless panties. My thigh-high silk stockings, shimmering white. No garter belt. No bra. Yes. I’ll be ready then. But what face should I be tonight?”

A new one was in order. She’d been wearing this one successfully for a long time or she’d not be out here at the end of a wooden walkway overlooking slowly lolling muddy water. She must have worn it for so long she’d gotten she had it on. . . and then. . .then it had become so very comfortable she had to  get rid of it.

I had friends because of it,” she whispered. She smiled crookedly. “A support group, you might say. People who believed in me. Best of all, I was quite successful in business: who could resist such a face? Such a fuck?”

She thought a moment. “Then there was diamond teardrop variation. I’m looking, really looking for something different.” She fingered the air. “Which one? There were quite a number to choose from, once. It took me a lifetime to build up my. . .gallery. My wallflowers.” She smiled up into the darkening sky, a firmament of well-placed stars on a rich azure background. Evenly spaced stars.

She sat in her niche for hours looking at these different facets of herself, facets of her stardom. She liked their brooding lives. She could make things happen with them. She could put together a world with just one accoutrement. Once.

But she was just a little tired. She slouched. The deftness and swiftness of choice and characterization was no longer with her. Her impetuosity slowed. Over time. A slight slowing, like a lingering disease. Or maybe the beginning of one. Early onset.

“It just isn’t easy any more. The thrill is gone.” That wagging disappointed mother finger shook itself again. “No,” she whispered. “Not gone. Just. . .delayed.” She sighed, squinched up her face. “More effort involved now. After these many years. One would think, with my experience and repertoire–fuck!” She wiped at her face, smearing it. “But the times. . .the times. . .the old days. The past. The fucking past! My, my, my. . .moments of heady success. Once. . .”

She stopped mid motion, lost in the moment. What was she seeing? The masks around the mirrors of her boudoir? Each new façade the thrill of putting on a show that would never end? Or, perhaps, the high of making each new guise work, moving in the world. The adrenaline rush. Each conceit manipulated to perfection so that life came out of its half-shell. Life, like a disease, took over the wooden body–her wooden body. The mask and the body always went together. Trout and lure.

She heaved a great sigh. Morbidly vaudevillian and romantic. Stilted realism.

“It’s so hard any more.”

She sat still, arms loosely on the table top. She sat still an inordinately long time, masks of the past floating in and out of focus, dancing silhouettes out over the water, now seen, now enshrouded. As her attention slowly took shape, she held her head in her hands. She murmured, somewhat displaced and a little dizzy. The cowls the dark edifices of dead Greek heroes were now tarnishing livery.

The air became a little oppressive.

She put her hand to her throat and drew in a deep breath. Coughed. Tried to fight some feeling, letting it sweep over her. She blinked. She winked. “I see you out there, out in the blackness around the edges but I can’t switch on the lights. Look. . . my regalia is just eerie shadows in the night. Pieces of rhinestone jewelry.” She looked up to the sky and howled like a dog, “I-eeeee know exactly what I look like, what I want to be looking like.” A little laugh. “It’s the actor’s choice. Self-conscious awareness.” She mumbled to herself as her arms slowly descended, “I so jaded?”

She looked out over the darkly winking water. “Maybe I should brush up a bit.”

She stood and pulled at her thin mantlet folding it about her thin shoulders. Right over left.

She moved into the glaring circle of light and reached out to touch the face only she could see.

“So smooth and smiling quietly back at me. Eyes demurely lowered, of course. I could be regal and I could be innocent.” She shook her hands, waggling them side to side. “This particular shell was my bread and butter. Everyone liked me as Columbine. So sweet and pure and wanton. The absorbing caress of acceptance. My ravishment.” She smiled into the night. “Number two had particularly found it enthralling. The allurement brought out a duality in him. The gentle, thoughtful dominator. Many’s the time we had spent the weekends ensconced in the house–my house–playing Columbine games. Once had. . .once. . .once. . .”

She let go the illusion. A net was closing around her. She shivered. Her hand moved with her eyes and came to rest on another unseen face. “Diamantina? Diamantina could get what she wanted. Because, like a Noh mask, there was no conjunction and, so, she could be the bicameral mind navigating through time and space with two different maps. I liked being the double persona.” She laughed loudly as she let loose the unseen. “And to think they called multiple personalities psychotic!”

She threw her wrist to her forehead and staggered back, slightly disoriented. She sat with a clunk. Still like a statue. A murmur broke from this edifice.

“Ahh, number three suffered the consequences of this mask’s soft and polite and lilting voice. It danced jigs and subtle minuets around his man’s head. Diamantina, the flashing beauty.” The threw her arms up. “He was no more than a laundry list. Alimony, a house and a restraining order. That’s all it took. El Capitano brought to his knees.” She flipped her hands. “Men appreciate being ravished as much as women, innocence turned into an insatiable little tart.”

She sat down and squeezed her thighs together.

“Oh, yes, I remember. I remember. It was with that virile body-builder. Number three. He did my morning exercises with me. In the buff. Ha-hah! An exercise in futility. Begun in the nude and finished with his masturbating directly into my vagina. Right on target from–how far away? It doesn’t matter. In or out, it was masturbation for him. Masturbation for me. I got off, then, watching his river of come spew over my lips.” She pulled her chemise closer about her. “It’s true what they say about athletes. They peak early. Dammit! A girl has a right, too. Doesn’t she?”

Or perhaps, as her eyes roved over more airy deception, she’d choose something else that would do the trick? “Of course, any would do the trick. All of them would! Could. Did. I did. Very well, thank you. That’s the whole point: to take one’s due. To take one’s dew. Nothing personal in my treatment of a man. Why should there be? Two separate bodies. Two separate souls. Spirited encounters but definitely not spiritual. There was no way I would let a man rag on me. You give me trash, I give you trash back. Margaret Atwood, hymning a pig.”

She sighed and looked way into the darkness around her, the chaos out of which life was born.

“In the beginning was the word. And what was the word? It was me. Me. My. Mine. It never touched another soul except as succubus.” She hissed. “I’m tired of the game. I’m so. . .no. . .so. . .unidentifiable. Untouchable. Unsatisfied. You see, without a mask, without a shield, a castle keep, I am nothing. I needed my enameled skin, my horned dermis. Every animal had its skin. Skin was necessary to keep the outside from imposing on the inside. Overwhelming it. The casque. Feral me. Never once touched. No. Not truly. Once. . . There! Once I could reach out and touch what I didn’t have myself. It’s all about definition. Definition and altruity. A living up to and giving up to.” She stopped and looked about, looked into the shining table top. “I have nothing but emptiness to give anyway. ”

She faced the mirrored table top, the floating mirror of the water front-on. She looked tired and haggard. She began to strip off the mask she had worn for so long. She’d worn it for so long the fiction had entered into the reality because the mask was not there. As she tore frantically at her face, she pulled off great patches of skin. Her fingernails, dermis- and DNA-encrusted, ripped red valleys into her face. I watched the destruction of Aphrodite in Repose. I watched her create the desecration of herself. Her face ran with blood and glared out at her from reflected worn and bloodshot eyes.

In the end, then, she’d lost the reality. Her pain became a surreal sketch with nothing to offer but a desert, a desert after its first and only rainfall. She was a Dadaist persona, a destructed personality to be fulfilled only once.

She stared emptily at the carnage, the assassination of herself.

“Here it is. Come and get it. The carcass is on the block. The fingerprint of life is here for all to see.”

She could not now walk out into the sun. The sunshine. The mud, the dyed clay would not stay in place. There was nothing to cling to.

She remained still into the night. There was nothing to say. There was nothing to cry for.

 

Dedicated to Fran A.

 

for Si Tang

2016

 

 

© Minna vander Pfaltz, 2016

A Comfortable Doctrine

 by Minna vander Pfaltz

I have a friend who fancies herself a Buddhist. She knows I am a Buddhist well-founded on history and writings, which modern American Buddhists shun, believing that reading is not practice. This, despite the writing of the sutras, which they hold in such awe that they see them, Mahayana, as a school of Buddhism. It is not. It is a mass, most untranslated, of esoteric and exegetical writings that all schools of Buddhism read and utilize in their practice. Another way of putting it is that Mahayana “is neither a Vinaya tradition or a doctrinal school. It is rather a vision or aspiration, and an understanding of what the final concern should be for all Buddhists (Paul Williams, Buddhist Thought, pp. 112-113) [There are only five schools of Buddhism: Sarvastivada or Vaibhasika; Sautrantika; Theraveda; and Pudgalavada. I am a Pudgalavadan.]

Anyway, this woman invited me to a meeting of her group of Buddhists to chant. That is what they do, chant. Or so they call it. I found it to be shouting out a memorized bit from the Lotus Sutra–and in none too cohesive, unanimous or rhythmic a manner. They do this three times for very short periods, perhaps 2-3 minutes. This, to me, is not chanting. Chanting is a means to an end, the end being meditation, the proper mind for meditation. They, in fact, do not meditate.

This group, a tight knit, small group, calls itself Nichiren Buddhist. It is, in fact, something else.

Nichiren Buddhism is not given much shrift by other Buddhists. To begin with, Nichiren and his followers were violently aggressive. This is not part of the canon of Buddhism. Worse, perhaps, is that Nichiren Buddhism is the only sect of Buddhism that is named after an individual. How egotistical. How egomanic. How egocentric. And how very un-Buddhist. One of the major tenets of Buddhism, as translated in the 19th century, is no-self. Well, no self, no life. No self means death. A better, more accurate translation would be no-ego, for it is the ego that brings on suffering via its illusion of what you are, the illusion of your self, often enough of a Dunning-Kruger sort: an unrealistic vision of your self. It is this illusion that creates suffering and must be bypassed. Ergo, Nichiren had not attained any clear understanding of Buddhism nor had he managed to rid himself of his ego. How can he lead a sect of Buddhism when he has not managed to gain mastery over his ego, his illusion of reality, his illusion of his self?

A second problem is that Nichiren Buddhism teaches only one sutra, the Lotus Sutra. As if there is no other sutra or interpretation of the teachings of Shakyamuni Buddha. There are hundreds translated and thousands untranslated. To only see one exegetical teaching is not only philosophically vacuous, it is as limiting as people who burn books.

So, one is able to maintain that Nichiren Buddhism is not, in fact, Buddhism. It is illusion. This is beyond comprehension to Nichiren’s followers, for their practice makes them feel happy. This, happiness, is taught as the major effect of proper practice. This is not the happiness that any other Buddhist school teaches; this is the happiness of ego, as in “I feel happy and good when I do something for someone else.” (One of these people actually said this to me as if this were the end all and be all of Buddhist goodness and virtue.) Oh puke! That’s not giving or doing for anyone but yourself.

Buddhist happiness begins in mind and it surpasses the sensual. Nichiren’s followers like to feel good, feel good about themselves; this makes them happy. So, I ask you, what have they gained or learned? Happiness for Buddhists is the arising of the Awakened Ones; it is the gaining of wisdom; it is not doing evil. You can only attain happiness by following The Eightfold Path and being mindful of The Four Noble Truths.

When I sat in with this group, I asked about The Noble Eightfold Path. No one knew–and, indeed, blew it off. Far too difficult a thing to deal with. This is the fourth of the Four Noble Truths, which no one knew of. In fact, they told me that since Nichiren had studied for 20 years there is no need for them to study as he and his followers were teaching them his learning. There will never be enlightenment of any kind, here because imitation is not knowledge. Certainly not self-knowledge, which is one of the things that meditation gets you. But they don’t meditate.

However, there is a cultural element to “20 years” that Westerners completely miss. Amazingly, every Buddhist teacher in Japan studied in China for 20 years. I know of only one for whom this is historically accurate and documented (Kūkai). For everyone else, “20 years” means “for a long time” or “for the appropriate length of time” and can imply gaining insight and understanding. From this, there is nothing “20 years” about Nichiren. The fact that his followers are not interested in learning anything other than his egomanic dogma is a sign of. . .I’m not sure of the word—delusion?

Things get worse in the history these people are fed. In its partial truth, it is no more than propaganda. Somewhere around the beginning of WWII hostilities in Japan (1937 with the invasion of China), Nichiren Buddhism split and a new wing was established, Sōka Gakkai. Sōka Gakkai is not Buddhism. But Sōka Gakkai utilizes Buddhism, Nichiren Buddhism, to gain its ends–or, rather, to hide ever so transparently its true path. Sōka Gakkai is political. Sōka Gakkai is not well-liked by the people because of its political aspirations; they remember the State religion that led to the atrocities of WWII. As well they should. Any state religion is tyrannical and intolerant and prone to atrocities. It is the natural outcome of fascist organizations and thinking, given that any organization that maintains “my way is the only way” is fascist. This is, indeed, what Fascism teaches: my way is the only way, my way is the right way, my way is the best way. That means, everything else is wrong and what is wrong and heretical must be gotten rid of.

Even more telling is that the leader of Sōka Gakkai is called its President. He is, in fact, a businessman, as his predecessors were. A very rich businessman who flies around the world in his private jet. He knows nothing of Buddhism. He has had no training in Buddhism. Ergo, Sōka Gakkai is fake Buddhism.

When this is pointed out to followers, they deny it. They say it isn’t true. They say it doesn’t matter. They say they are happy. What could be more better? Well, even in the degradation of the West, even in the decadence of the West, it is known that happiness is fleeting; that happiness is not an end to be sought for it begets only unhappiness (suffering). As in, what if you don’t gain happiness no matter what you do? As in, once you’ve got it what’s left for you? This happiness is illusion. It is ego blowing its own horn. How long can you blow? You can never stop or you are no longer happy.

And, so, I remain appalled by these people and wish I could get my friend away from this crowd. She—and they—have no idea of the propaganda because they have bought it lock, stock and barrel. They have study sessions and inspirational speakers (not; they’re actually pretty boring, simply repeating, repeating, repeating the happiness mantra) just like cells or cults so that they know what is right and that what is right is feeling good about themselves, feeling happy. As if to say, no matter what happens as long as I am happy everything’s cool. This makes me shiver.

The proverbial garden path.

Social Studies 3

“Good morning, class.”

“Good morning, teacher,” appropriately answered the class in unison.

“My name is Mr. Kruztashun.” He fiddled with some papers on the little lectern on the table. He did not sit. “Mr. Drumpfelstilzchin is away on business.”

A hand went up in the back. Mr. Kruztashun nodded in its direction and pointed.

“Where’s our usual substitute teacher?”

“Mr. Braunesel has better things to do.” Mr. Kruztashun set his hands firmly on the papers on the lectern. “Today we are–”

“We hate this class,” said a little boy in the far corner. The rest of the class snickered.

“That’s exactly what we’re going to talk about! Hate.” Suddenly the class was quiet, so quiet the windows rattled with the breathing of the students. “This is Social Studies 3, is it not?”

“Yes!” answered the class in unison.

“Well, then! There’s nothing better to talk about in relation to social studies than hate.” Mr. Kruztashun put a hand on his left hip, bent forward from the waist and pointed out over the heads of the students, a good teacherly thing to do, for it kind of included everyone. “What do you hate?”

A great intake of breath in the classroom. They’d never been asked about this before. They’d been told that hate was bad and not to be disseminated out in public–and surely not toward parents, the greatest thing in the world to hate.

“I hate niggers.”

“I hate spicks.”

“I hate camel jockeys.”

“I hate girls.”

“I hate rich people.”

“I hate poor people.”

“I hate smarty pants.”

“I hate chinks.”

“And gooks.”

“And nips.”

“Injuns!”

“I. . .hate. . .parents!”

The class erupted into tremors of chaos. Girls and boys were shouting and laughing and generally whooping it up. Mr. Kruztashun did nothing to quell the uprising. After all, getting people, even little people, enthusiastic and involved was part of teaching. Only when you’ve got them on your side, as it were, interested in what you are teaching, can you succeed in teaching them the right stuff.

When the class settled down somewhat, Mr. Kruztashun put up his hand. “Wow! We’re doing so good! You hate a lot.”

The same hand that shot up at the beginning of class shot up again. Mr. Kruztashun nodded in its direction again.

“Hate is good?”

“You betcha. Before you can do anything about it, you have to get it out in the open. Then you can do something with it.”

“Like what?” asked a tow-headed little girl in the front row.

“Well. . .what happens when you hate?”

“You get left alone?”

“Right. And what’s the big word for being left alone?”

“We don’t know any big words, Mr. Kruztashun.”

“Well! Would you like to learn one?”

“Yes!” from the now enthusiastic class.

“Okay. Here it is. . .isolation.”

“Isolation,” the good students parroted.

“Right. Isolation. You hate it when people don’t leave you alone, don’t you?”

“Yes!”

These kids were good, Mr. Kruztashun thought. “So, that hate makes them leave you alone, right?”

“Yeah. We get sent to our rooms.” Lots of murmuring agreement.

“And you hate that, right?”

“But,” Mr. Kruztashun held up a knotty knuckled index finger, “when that happens and you are isolated, there are no more hateful people with you. They are all outside. Right?”

Yes! You are isolated.” Mr. Kruztashun leaned over the lectern. “And inside.”

“Yes!”

“What do you do when you’re left alone?”

“Masturbate,” said a little boy at the far end of the front row.

Everyone else snickered and giggled and held their breaths. To say such a thing in public! To say it in the classroom! What was Johnny thinking?

“Exactly!’ Shouted Mr. Kruztashun. “You win the prize.”

“What prize is that?” A smiley face? A star? A gold sunburst?

“You get to feel good!” Quiet reigned. “You do feel good when you masturbate, don’t you?”

Half-hearted assent.

“Sir?” a little blonde girl put her hand up. “You mean it’s okay to feel good when you. . .masturbate?”

“Of course it’s okay.” Mr. Kruztashun leaned over the lectern. “You do feel good when you masturbate, don’t you?”

“Yes.”

“Well, then. How can that be bad?”

Lots of mumbling and rumbling and giggling.

“So!” Mr. Kruztashun brought the class round to him. “When you hate, you are isolated, right?”

“Yes.”

“And that’s a good thing, right?”

“Yes!”

“And it makes you feel good that all that you hate is outside, right?”

“Yes!”

“So, now you can hate all you want in your isolation, right?”

“Yes!”

“What better kind of place could you live in?”

“None!”

Yes!” Mr. Kruztashun wiped the wetness from his lips. “Now. You’re left alone.”

“Yes.”

“And you can hate to your heart’s content.”

“Yes.”

“That’s like masturbating til your hand hurts.”

“And you’re all sticky!”

“Ee-yew, Johnny! You’re dizgusting!” shouted a group of girls in the middle of things.

“What do you care?”

“Yeah!” shouted another antagonistic boy. “What happens when you tickle your moose?”

The class erupted in joyous laughter and taunting.

“I bet you wet your pants,” said a shy little boy.

“I want to watch.”

“Well!” said Mr. Kruztashun, clearing his throat. “When you’re isolated, you can watch because everyone’s masturbating.”

“Cool beans, Mr. Kruztashun,” said Johnny. “You’re the best teacher ever.”

“Oh, thank you, Johnny!” Mr. Kruztashun tried hard to blush but only got his eye lashes to flash up and down. He had short eye lashes, too. “Well! So. You’re isolated. What else can you say about it?”

“Nobody bothers you.”

“Right.”

“You don’t have to pay attention to what anybody else says.”

“Right. You don’t have to share.”

“Yeah. And you don’t have to do things like other people do.”

“Right.”

“You don’t have to share!”

“Exactly! You’re your own boss. You don’t have to trade with those others.”

“Trade?”

“Yup. Like, I’ll give you this and you give me that.”

“Does that mean, Mr. Kruztashun, that, like, I can, uhhm, wear things that are mine?”

“You mean, like things that are only made by you?”

“Yeah.”

“Yes. Only things made by you, for you.”

“Like. . .no Chinese stuff?”

“Right.”

“No Japanese stuff.”

“No German stuff.”

“No Mexican stuff.”

“And no African stuff.”

“That’s right. Only American stuff.”

“Then we’ll know it’s good, right?”

“Right.” Mr. Kruztashun rubbed his hands together. “Boy! You guys are great.”

“Yeah!” shouted one girl. “We can do what we want! We can do for ourselves. And we can keep it all for ourselves.”

“Masturba-aaation!” shouted little Johnny. “Uhn! Uhn! Uhn!”

“Yes. And. . .what happens when you’re isolated and everything is for you and by you and you don’t want or need anyone else and your masturbating to your heart’s content?”

The bell rang just as the kids raised their hands, clamoring to be the one with the answer.

“Oops! Looks like we’ll have to wait for next time to talk about stagnation.”

“What’s stagnation?”

“Time’s up. We’ll talk about that next time.” Mr. Kruztashun opened the door and held it for everyone. “See you next time, guys,” he said as all the students filed out. “You’re the greatest.”

“Hate!” said one boy, giving Mr. Kruztashun a high five.

“Isolation!” said another.

“Masturbation!”

“We’re the best!”

“It’s my land.”

“Right. Hey! See you next time.”

 

© James L. Secor, 2016