Tuesday, April 15, 2014

Truthenasia - Part 1 of 4

With the nutcases still trying desperately to have their rapture and predict their doomsdays, I thought it’d be fun to have one of our own here at Bible Studies from an Asshole. And so here’s is part one of four of the new short story called . . .

Title

0009d7c6Part One: Apocalypse from a Laundromat
Click here to begin the story

 

I’m staring at a sea of what used to be people. Now they’re bodies lay prostrate not by reverence, but by the consequence of their reverence.
--------I wonder which sign of the apocalypse this was supposed to fall under before it occurs to me… none of them.
--------It’s the end of the world, and I have nothing to show for it except bruises and a new contempt on the newly departed human race. I tried to save them. But I’d be lying if I said there wasn’t a small part of me glad they’re gone. Glad, especially, that they got their wish to leave this world. It’s sick that this is what it’s come to. That this is actually the most humane thing that could’ve happened. What a strange judgment this was. And what a stupid test for humanity to have failed.
--------If I hadn’t accidentally seen what I’d seen, I would be one of the reverently dead. I would have been stupid enough to wear the mark too. This wasn’t the apocalypse. This was worse. This was just stupidity. And I would have been killed for being stupid too.

 

Weeks earlier

I’m not exactly what you’d call a believer anymore. I’m not totally disbelieving either, but after giving belief a try, all I can say is that I don’t think anybody has it figured out. So the second someone tells you what they believe in, you can be damned sure that’s not it. It’s just another human guess at what a human can’t possibly guess at. You’d probably win a million lotteries before someone even came close. And that’s even if there’s a deity at all.
--------It’s like we’re all trying to believe something so that we can narrow it down to what it’s not. After millennia of narrowing, we’ve become pretty narrow. Pretty shallow too. And yet, still haven’t figured it out. But that doesn’t stop us from insisting we have. And that’s when things get dangerous.
--------Lindon rests in that category as well. I’ve never known anybody who could preach so convincingly. Like virtually every believer on earth, he has the uncanny knack of opening his mouth so widely that no sound can possibly penetrate through to his ears. It’s as though he creates a logic shield with his voice.
--------“You are alone in a big nasty world,” he said to me. It was true. I was. I don’t know anybody who isn’t. “You keep looking for something to take the loneliness away. But you keep steering away from the one thing that will.”
--------“Let me guess. Jesus?”
--------“Is that so hard to believe?”
--------No. It’s incredibly easy to believe. After all, as I said, I once did. I don’t know many people who haven’t believed it at one point or another. Apparently it’s a lot like weight loss programs. Ever notice how the ones you see on television advertisements for the program are always the ones exceptionally affected by the program? If you look closely you’ll see a tiny footnote at the bottom of your screen saying that results may vary. Almost nobody you know ever really loses anything anywhere near like they do, and that’s because it doesn’t work. Well, no more miraculously than anything else you try. That, and the fact that they scam you with fake air-brushings and before/after photos, but the point is made.
--------In belief, those who make it just fine in the world already are the ones who make it just fine anyway in the religion, and nobody even has to put that footnote anywhere by law. And those of us who don’t ? We don’t. So religion makes no difference at all. Same shit, different set of goggles.
--------“You’re so bogged down by troubles,” Lindon told me that day on the bus, “but if you seek God all of them will become meaningless and small.”
--------They don’t present it truthfully, as though it’ll just be something else you do that makes no difference. Like stairmasters and St. John’s Wort pills and healing crystals. They present it as though it’s the answer to all your problems. And when it isn’t, it’s not the religion that failed. It’s you.
--------I know this because I actually once went to Lindon’s church. I did all the shit he told me to do. My life still sucked. His life still shined just like his hair and his teeth and that damn Jaguar he drives. And now he’s on television, saying all the same things to a reporter who made the mistake of trying to interview him about the scandal in his church. She can’t even get a word in.
--------“Reverend Moss,” she begs, “I’m not here to talk about my troubles. I’m here to ask you about—”
--------“We’re never open to talk about our own faults, because we don’t want to accept the Lord in to our hearts. It would mean we’d have to admit all of our efforts have been wrong. But you do need—”
--------“Reverend Moss! Is this why you’ve had three of your own church brothers commit suicide in the last week? Do you always shut out everything except what you believe?”
--------He acted as though he hadn’t heard her. A question about one’s own friends and their self-inflicted deaths is personal enough to receive at least some reaction. He just blabs and blabs away as though she were nothing but a mindless puppet that has yet to submit to the commands of his hand up her ass, but eventually will if he shouted loud enough.
--------I used to think he was some kind of robot. In person he was all smiles and Jesus Jesus Jesus. It was impenetrable. But if you caught him off guard some day before he was ready for the fa├žade, he simply wasn’t that person at all. A glimpse and you could tell he was the probably the most vicious, raping, sodomizing, brutally abusive person on the planet who hides behind the dogma mask.
--------“I don’t think about anything that could trouble me except where my feet can step for Jesus today. You shouldn’t use that microphone and camera except to tell the truth to the world about Jesus. He is the only thing I am ready to discuss with you.”
--------“So you tune out all except for what you want to see in the world,” she said without letting him make her miss a beat. “That’s obvious. Is that clearly how you’re able to tune out the misery of every one of your gay parishioners who are dying to be heard?”
--------“Satan is making you ask these questions—”
--------“Yeah, Satan. That’s enough,” she said, with her finger slicing her own neck so as to tell the camera person to cut the interview short. I remember Moss well. That really is the only way to survive him: leaving.
--------“In a time where Christianity and sexuality hold such a heated debate—”,
--------“What debate?” someone at a folding table shouted over the reporter. “You can’t have a debate with a side that never hears you. La la la la, I can’t hear you, the bible tells me so, la la la…” the woman drew laughs as she spoke with her fingers next to her ears. I scooted two seats closer to the Laundromat television so I could hear it better.
--------“…it’s already well known that the suicide rate for homosexuals trying to reform themselves is at an excessively high level. Over 23 and a half percent of the so-called patients treated in Reverend Moss’s radical program, called Exile, here at the Saint Francis of Assisi Temple, have died from self-inflicted gunshot wounds in the past year. Moss obviously fails to comment, leaving this terrible trend a mystery. The common method of suicide, some have said, could indicate a secretly spoken emphasis to either repent of the sexual orientation or to end your life for God’s forgiveness. With a congregation not speaking, we may not know any time soon. I’m Kily Swanson for KSOG News. Back to you, Jenna.”
--------“Thank you, Alexis,” says the anchor. I fume over how rushed this story seemed. In fact, it felt as though it had barely been allowed to air. Nowhere near as much length was given to it than the latest scandal involving a blond, scantily clad pop star who had a breast augmentation. Somehow that was the lead story. The biggest story of the day, or so the promos all insinuated. Biggest to whom? Certainly not to me or the parents of those dead children. Or any gay child who lives now in fear that they’ll be next to be placed in some torture chamber so horrible, they may take their own lives as well.
--------It must be my lucky day, though. The television news goes from one person I’ve had the misfortune of knowing, to a story about another.
--------“In other news, Simon Kramer has been the CEO of a multi-billion dollar conglomerate of manufacturing companies for the past twelve years before giving it up to run for the opened Senate seat of his state.”
--------Simon. Yet another person who moved on from the dregs of society to have forgotten those who helped lift him there. While Moss had taken the Jesus route, Simon only said In God I Trust insofar as God was the almighty dollar. Then he said he wasn’t about the money. Then he proved it by giving up the money to run for office.
--------“This controversial Senator has already shaken many when he came out, with a bang, by admitting on live television that he was not only an atheist, but held venomous contempt for believers of any god.”
--------They flash to the moment when he’d confessed as much, and showed it for probably the billionth time. The entire planet had already seen this. They made sure of it. Like the World Trade Towers falling to the ground, they played it in loop on the network news stations until the image of his evil twinkling eyes were burned forever onto every sclera, and the words echoed in our minds like the animal sounds in a See-and-Say toy.
--------But I didn’t need them to show me this over and over again, and I didn’t need them to tell me what he said. I was there. After all, he did this on my television show.
--------Well okay, it’s not my television show. It’s Ken’s show. But Ken and I have been best friends for so long we practically think of each other’s belongings as belonging to each other. I take his car without asking when I need to use it. He wears my watch. It’s a bizarre chemistry we have. The sort married people have.
--------But of course we’re not married. Because the government won’t let us marry. We have to stay simple lovers. No thanks to Simon Kramer’s vote on the matter, of course.
--------Still, they play the sound bite again, without mercy.
--------“I’ve tried to believe in God, but I just don’t. And you know, sometimes I just wish the people who did could just have their apocalypse and be done with it. It’s ridiculous that we’ve walked on the moon,” he has to give the audience a moment to react amidst cheers and boos. In a magical act of editing, the camera cuts straight to what was said nearly two minutes later. “It’s ridiculous we have walked on the moon and harnessed the power of the atom, and yet we’re still a planet of people arguing over whether a virgin’s baby is coming back from the dead to judge us all for having natural urges that his supposed father gave to us in the first place.”
--------The camera freezes in that moment, just as it has always done. His eyes narrow. His face pauses to take in breath. It’s a harmless biological still life but it’s chosen to look menacing, which it does. And it’s been plastered on every newspaper, magazine, and politically-driven biblical tract.
--------The antichrist, they label him. Is Simon Kramer the antichrist? If they need an antichrist so bad, why did they have to have one that’s so hot? When he doesn’t shave I could completely lick every square inch of him and scream for seconds. Of course most of the time when they show the devil I think he’s hot too. Hell, half the time I lust after depictions of Jesus. I’m not proud.
--------But even that freeze makes me stop dead and feel a chill. Of course I get that same chill when I see the photo my sister took of me at my ninth birthday party. I was in mid-sneeze, but it looked as though I was trying to shoot pea-soup projectiles at everyone in the Chuck E. Cheese after my head had spun around and declared my love for Satan. So freeze frames aren’t exactly the best representation for a person, though news reporters used them selectively all the time.
--------The combination of this one, with the constant repetition of his quote, however, would be lethal to his political career. Were he up for election. Which he was not.
--------“What the voters of Kramer’s district are finding outrageous is that he had run on the platform of family values. In hindsight they are realizing he’d always cleverly dodged questions about his belief. And now he admits to a view that falls contrary to the usual view of pro-family—”
--------“Does anybody ever run on an anti-family platform?” I suddenly hear from behind me. I look back with an amused sneer and a nod as if to say Tell me about it. We all know that would be political suicide.
--------Hell this was political suicide. Or it would be. Were he up for election, as I said.
--------“Rather than facing the constituents’ rage from the voting booths in two years, Kramer is escaping the wrath by accepting the position of Secretary of Defense as offered by the president. As was just reported, Secretary Warburton is expected to resign due to troubles with his health. What is most surprising is why the president—”
--------Suddenly the news had my undivided attention. And as Murphy’s Law would have it, when my attention was won, a giant explosion of a wide variety of noises would make it difficult to hear the rest of the news story.
--------I was in a Laundromat located completely without convenience to my home when I caught this story on their horribly misused and outdated television set. The sound from its pathetic speakers simply could not compete with the fact someone had started a dryer containing what sounded like five pairs of steel-toed boots, thumping more obnoxiously than the club music my Ken always cranks up when he’s in the shower.
--------I barely make out the words “the president faces an angry public” and pretty much gleaned the rest of the reporter’s intentions from context. The president was next on the screen. I don’t even need to hear her words to know that her best excuse is that she likes to fill her cabinet with a variety of opposing viewpoints, which is political-ese for He’ll do what I like because I have dirt on him. Or something of the sort. You could bet whatever reason she gave would not be the real reason. It’d be as likely as guessing the intentions of a deity.
--------I knew it was going to be a long day at work. A very long day.

 

*------*------*

Not long after we’d met, Ken had the bright idea of doing a show about religion. Standup comedy simply didn’t make him feel fulfilled enough. Which is bizarre considering he usually shied from the subject as much as possible. Ask him what he believed in and he’d tell you the name of whomever happened to be his favorite gay porn star at the time (although not publicly). And then he would say, “or at least that’s who I’d get on my knees for anyway.”
--------It was on this show that he’d had this very interview.
--------“So you’re not really a Christian, Senator?” he asked Kramer. Ken was as surprised by what came next as anybody would have been.
--------“No, I can’t say that I am, Ken.”
--------“But you ran on a Christian image,” another panel member spoke. “Doesn’t that mean you ran on a dishonest campaign?”
--------Ken’s show was one of those Crossfire style shows, only far less serious. Butting Heads had the same panel-driven appeal that many other news and issue discussion shows had, but with the same irreverence as Politically Incorrect with Bill Maher, except Butting Heads frequently cut away to satellite images of talking heads, or news stories and internet polling information. It was a bit more cutting edge. Or at least it appeared to be cutting edge. If you melted it down to its actual components you’d discover it provided about as much original material as your average Bazooka Joe comic. Ken never denied that to me. It’s what the station demanded because it gets results.
--------“No, I did not run on a Christian image or a Christian campaign. I simply ran on a series of economically conservative issues, as well as many socially liberal ones.”
--------The panel member who had challenged him had been one of the most viciously liberal opponents of nearly all religious right issues. He simply could not let this one go:
--------“But you did not openly admit this fact at any point in my memory. I mean unlike when many of your fellow Republicans have been caught trying to solicit gay sex in airport bathrooms and online with minors, you do realize what you just said will probably put you on their chopping block.”
--------“But this is how polarized we’ve become that now even a liberal is attacking a conservative for not being Christian enough,” Ken interrupted. “Isn’t that what you’d want him to be?”
--------“No, I’d want him to be honest with himself enough to ask why he opposes all gay rights bills yet just claimed to be socially liberal. Honestly, what do you believe in?”
--------A round of applause rendered him silent. After a breath, he finally gave that answer.
--------“I believe in the people, though I frequently don’t understand their beliefs. I’ve tried to believe in God, but I just don’t. And you know, sometimes I just wish the people who did could just have their apocalypse and be done with it. It’s ridiculous that we’ve walked on the moon,” he then had to wait for the crowd’s reaction to die down.
--------What the camera did not catch was Ken’s look of absolute shock as he stared at the senator. This sounded like a joke he’d tell on stage during his monolog! Senator Kramer could feel the opposition all around him, from the crowd’s sounds and from the panel’s stares. He shrugged, and continued, in a very put-offish manner, as though he were a rich white man trying desperately to show his ability to relate to the plight of poor blacks in rural areas. It wasn’t working, of course.
--------This was the beginning of what was never shown in those endless loops.
--------“It seems we finally found something we agree on,” the liberal panel member said. “I mean, I can understand having a religious experience, and I can even respect it. But I can’t respect where it goes next. It’s ridiculous some of the things your constituents try to force onto others through legislation. They have this religious experience that makes them open their minds to a deity, like they’re goosed by an invisible man. But then pow! They then conclude that this obviously means God gives them the right to tell me what to do and that it all comes from that one book. They’d come to different conclusions if they were geographically where others believed in other books. How does that obviously men gays are evil and women inferior to men?”
--------Another moment of applause has to die down. Ken, completely uncharacteristically, stares silently for the answer.
--------“Well I don’t think their values are ridiculous. I mean, I do have to admit that beliefs are often ridiculous, yes. It’s ridiculous we have walked on the moon and harnessed the power of the atom, and yet we’re still a planet of people arguing over whether a virgin’s baby is coming back from the dead to judge us all for having natural urges that his supposed father gave to us in the first place.”
--------And what happened after is also never shown on those loops.
--------The audience’s reaction, again, were fierce, interrupting Kramer from any further speech, though he clearly had more he wanted to say. It was in that surrender that the face was made.
--------“So why do you pander to their prejudices, senator?” my lover chimes in. “I know I can’t get a decent answer from any of these believers about why gays can’t get married to their same-sex partners, often of several years or even decades. It’s always all about how God calls what they do in bed unnatural or some goofy thing about Adam and Steve. But what about you?”
--------“Look, Ken, I don’t have to be a Christian to know that marriage is an event for starting a family, which two members of the same sex simply cannot do.” Groans came from the audience at this reply. And from me.
--------“Not with you repealing their rights to adopt!” Ken was now his usual excited self again. “Senator Kramer, your people are either telling gays that they’re abominations for loving someone. Or there’s always someone like you. One of those love the sinner hate the sin kind of people, moderately trying to act like it’s not really that big a deal to claim the word marriage. Saying they should just accept a separate but equal term. And saying those denied their right to marry shouldn’t make it such a big deal. But you’re not on the receiving end of that. Of course it’s not big to you.”
--------“Marriage is never that big to conservatives or they wouldn’t have so many,” the liberal jabbed, but the reaction from it was cut short.
--------“I just mean they can’t have one biologically. And if you checked, I never stood in the way of gays and lesbians adopting children. In fact I’ve signed into effect bills to provide just that right.”
--------“Biological, so what. I can’t see what difference that makes, Senator.”
--------“I guess really, I’m not sure that I do either. You know, I just knew it was a hot-button issue that seemed more important to my Judeo-Christian constituents than it did to me. Maybe if it were put through again I’d pass it rather than oppose it. It actually isn’t something that I’ve given much thought to, since I was always so busy with housing for the homeless and other social programs for the community.”
--------“Okay,” Ken said, unimpressed. The crowd’s reaction was unreadable. It wasn’t a gasp, nor was it laughter or booing. It was just this audible hum of unrest. “So you’ve not considered it important, and even approved gay couple adoption. Why wasn’t gay marriage not just the logical next step?”
--------“To be honest, Ken, I don’t have an answer for that.” His answer was obviously not satisfactory, as the crowd’s tone revealed. “No, just wait a second. You know, I do think there are a lot of people right now waking up to issues of this nature. I mean, many of us just go along with things like this without giving them thought, and only when we do finally think on them do we actually start realizing some strange fallacies of our old ways of thinking. And that’s going to be true of everyone. Not just believers, but us nonbelievers too. Eventually you’ll see who’s really your friend or foe. And I guess I’m really setting myself into my place now.”
--------“As what, a friend of the gay community?”
--------“And more. I have to admit, Ken, that I’m not only disappointed by some of what I’ve seen in religious circles, but downright outraged. Outraged even at myself, for having passively assisted so much of it. Economic decisions I’ve made that aid in churches retaining their tax exempt status even though they remain politically active. The pro-life terrorism. The war in Iraq. I look back at a lot of this and regret that I never really analyzed how my lack of belief in the same god as them might actually affect me on those issues too. The country was on a conservative high but it’s fading now. I was just riding it. It’s not surprising to me that I’ve not really given the gay marriage issue an honest analysis too.”
--------“What woke you up?”
--------“It’s not something I feel ready to divulge to the public.” This, too, was not satisfactory for the public. “No, because I’d be giving information about someone, and it’s not my place to do that. I just was outraged at how someone I love very deeply was received by people of the religious persuasion. Or not received, let’s just say.”
--------That all felt like horseshit. He was never against gay people. I knew this from firsthand experience, but not the kind you’re thinking. Ken did not know this. It had never come up before, and I didn’t know Simon was going to be on the show. That hadn’t come up. Neither of us hiding these facts. Just things that didn’t come up.
--------Before I had met Ken, I had attended college with Simon. In fact Simon Kramer and I shared many of the same classes with Lindon Moss as well. And this is why I’m in this strange trio with these two notable people.
--------
It was the most unexpected trio too. I would passively drool over guys and Simon would chase after girls. And Lindon would actually go after guys rather than just drool like I did. I would stay at home and the two of them would go out and get laid and come back and compare notes.
--------I would watch them lie to their conquests and come home each night to brag about the sex and the lies they told and the fact the poor wretches believed them. The biggest difference, of course, is that Simon lied to the girls about loving them to get them to give it up, while Lindon lied to his boys about having never done this before. I’m sure many of their dates had their share of lies as well.
--------I, however, was too chubby and hairy. I had one of those faces that spoke of computer programming rather than hot acts of unspeakable sex. It wouldn’t be for years until I became self confident enough to see myself as the moderately fuckable person I am now, but I still struggle with that body image. It probably was the physical work that came with my job.
--------As the show toned down, I had to adjust the lighting quickly for the final segment. Ken spoke eloquently in soliloquy about a Christ of love, versus the doctrine of exclusion and bigotry that is pushed in his name. Nothing you haven’t heard before, with mildly new punchlines.
--------That’s what I do. I’m the lighting guy. It’s a nowhere job, unless you count that I’m now sleeping beside the really famous guy I light. And I don’t. I was with him before I landed this gig.
--------Backstage I sent Ken on his way to reserve a table for lunch for us. I used my powers of stealth to sneak up on Kramer backstage and say hi.
--------“Oh my god!” he said, as he was standing in his underwear, which barely contained him. “I didn’t recognize you without your . . . ugly on.”
--------I sneered. This was a compliment to how I look now, but I was always sensitive about how I looked before. Alluding back to that brought back hard feelings. Well, that, and the memory of what they always called me.
--------“So . . . the Ugly Buttfuckling has grown into a presentable young man after all.”
--------That was the name. It took Kramer and Moss two days in the dorm to come up with that over a brainstorm induced by pot, badly mixed hurricanes, and the horrible screeching of a band called Merciful Fate. A misnomer if ever there were one; there was nothing merciful about the fate of having to be exposed to such music.
--------“Yeah, I’m a hottie now,” I told him. “And you’re still a dick.” I had to deliver that last with a smirk so he’d know I was kidding, but not so kidding.
--------“Yeah but you always wanted my dick.”
--------“I did not. Stop flattering yourself.” I did. It was massive. Apparently it still was. He hadn’t had it bitten off by a rabid vampire lesbian like I always told him would happen.
--------“Well you won’t want it now.” He actually pulled it out of his briefs to show me why. “This would rip you in ways that can’t feel good up there.”
--------The sonofabitch installed a Prince Albert. Why would a straight man possibly want one of those things? And how would a senator get one without the media getting wind of it? And what makes him think I haven’t had a few of them in me anyway? They’re not half bad.
--------“Don’t flatter yourself, they don’t hurt inside like you think they would.”
--------“You wanna touch it?” he asked me, in the most tauntingly effeminate way he could.
--------I did. But I lied. Well, by changing the subject.
--------“So what’s with this atheism shtick? You’ve always been one.”
--------“I don’t know. I guess people are so on this insane religious kick lately that I thought I’d be the voice for everyone who’s sick of it.”
--------“Even if it means putting your career at risk?”
--------“Especially if.” He began pulling his jeans on, which was instantly making me feel more comfortable, but failed to hide that bulge. “Someone’s got to take that gamble and pave that way. I’m sick of representing these holier-than-thou fuckballs. They wanted me to vote on intelligent design in the curriculum. I knew what I was supposed to do. I stopped and finally asked myself what I wanted to do, and it hit me.”
--------I laughed. “Like scales falling from your eyes?”
--------“Something like that.” He smiled. “It’s good to see you again, fuckling. Maybe you can tell me just what the fuck got into Lindon anyway? He just lost his mind or something.”
--------I just shrugged. Clearly this was not enough. After a moment his gaze was clearly an expectation that he wanted comment and would settle for no less.
--------“I have no idea what drives the whole finding Jesus thing, senator. I even had a bout of it myself. Sort of.”
--------“Oh Jesus Crispies, you’re kidding. You?”
--------I don’t know why this made him surprised, or me slightly defensive of the fact. Me? What about me? Why is it absurd that Jesus might have touched me with his noodly appendage, or however the fuck it works? I said something of this nature to him, though I can’t remember for the life of me what it was.
--------He just laughed.
--------I can remember the laugh. Just like I can remember the way most of what he said made me feel as though my place in the world is always going to be as an inferior life form, to his and Lindon’s superiority in the getting laid department. They even beat me in the academic department. One is a senator, the other a movie star turned evangelist and self-loathing gay reformer.
--------I told him I’d have dinner with him some time to catch up. Then we didn’t do it. Too much happened in his life to make him too important for me. And too little happened in my life to properly distract me from the fact that he didn’t call, so that I felt all the worse for the fact it didn’t.
--------

RaptureDog*------*------*

“What the hell is going on?” I shouted for what felt the fifteenth time, as unanswered questions in chaos always do. I could not find Ken at the restaurant, and figured he must have gone home without me. All of the customers there were huddled around a television set. I wasn’t sure why, but was rudely being told to shut up.
--------But on my cell Ken simply said he was at work, the studio was in complete chaos, and to get there quick but he couldn’t talk now to tell me why. I have no idea how he fit that much in under 160 characters for a single text. He’s good at that shit. I’m not.
--------Whatever it was, it was huge. I knew this even as I drove back. A call to all personnel at the station had gone out, demanding that they come to the studio immediately. It had somehow missed me, which made me feel all the more lacking in importance.
--------I finally asked one more time to an executive, who after giving me the universal sign for Shhhh! laid the strangest statement I’ve ever heard on me:
--------“They’re marking people. Like in the Bible.”
--------And that was all I got until the broadcast began. Apparently in my absence, one of the janitors was asked to take over the lighting for the set. If I remembered the lyrics to it, I might’ve sung that song, Mister Cellophane, from the play Chicago. But I didn’t have time to dwell on it. I relieved him from my duties.
--------That was when we aired the newsflash heard around the world.
--------

*------*------*

Now it’s merely two weeks later. Trying to get the scoop on the Laundromat’s television was a bust. There was no way I could hear what was on the television over somebody drying an entire chorus line’s army boots. And since the announcement about the marks, nobody else there considered what was on the news even remotely interesting.
--------How does one senator’s advancement compare to that?
--------I rushed home since my thirst for answers got the best of me. I had abandoned my laundry, but hoped it would be alright. When I first set out for laundry duties it never occurred to me that I’d even need my laptop on me. I’d also need the USB cord that let me plug my cell into it so that I could tether for internet signal through my cell phone. For slow, unreliable service on the internet, no less. It took nearly ten minutes to find this.
--------Ken was not home, of course. Even as a comical pundit he was kept busy in these times. Even in the times of the apocalypse, I was not. Other than to do laundry.
--------Back at the laundry watch, my laptop lay open, showing that in the time I had gone, over fifty new e-mail messages had come through to my inbox. Great. I can read and answer them while I’m busy waiting for a single CNN page to load, and still have time to spare. Tethering for signal is a far cry from what I get from my own wireless router.
--------When I’d returned, someone had so graciously removed all my clothes from the washer and dumped them onto a table. At least they didn’t dump them into the garbage. I separated them into two available dryers and sat back down to the laptop.
--------I may have exaggerated about how long it takes to load a single CNN page a moment ago, but in this instant it wasn’t an exaggeration at all. All fifty messages, save three, were from family members who were begging me to repent from my evil cocksucking ways while there was still time. Just a quick skin showed bible passages and LOTS of lengthy diatribes where entire WORDS that were apparently supposed to REALLY be IMPORTANT were in ALL CAPS so as to SCARE ME MORE.
--------Especially words like TRUTH. In fact, I noticed the word TRUTH was never not in all caps. I’m wondering if typing it simply in lower caps makes the baby Jesus cry.
--------I quickly deleted all of them, leaving me with only three messages more. They were replies to one of my blog posts, only two of which required me to actually answer back. I had that done in the time it took the front page of CNN to load completely, and that’s when I saw the link to the complete story.
--------No wonder the news story was hugely important:

President selects Kramer for his Atheist views
It has only been two weeks after the United Nations announced its plan to implement what has become called the BITES, or the Biologically Implanted Technological Economy System. It has similarly been two weeks since Senator Kramer made his controversial admission of being an atheist on live television’s Butting Heads.
------Today President Winfrey has announced that this alone was the sole reason for choosing Kramer to replace Warburton, considering what the office’s next role would be.

--------Yes, the same world that found it clever to call affordable healthcare Obamacare, and President Windfrey’s fair trade food program McWinfrey’s, had come up with this crazy name for the project: BITES. In truth it was called the World Exchange Chip, or W.E.C., but nobody ever called it by that once the joke was made. The story went on to explain that, since BITES was eerily similar to the prophecy in Revelation, no other senator or cabinet member would dare touch the program. This made Kramer the most obvious choice to represent the US in this plan, since he was such a godless demon and all.
--------Even I had to admit it resembled that prophecy. Other than it did not look anything like three sixes, was voluntary, didn’t require worship, and had nothing to do with anything else involving that prophecy. It was not even replacing all other economic systems. The similarities were tremendously outweighed by not just the differences, but also the conveniences and advantages of such a program.
--------This did not stop every Christian on planet earth from going insane. Has anything ever? Already they were amassing in the streets. It was like a giant toga party, with sandwich boards replacing the togas. Now nearly everyone you met looked like the nut on the corner, and the normal person became the new nut. Whoever wasn’t handing out tracts and shouting something about the return of Jesus was bombarded by the people shouting frantically at them. Some have even been sent to the hospital.
--------If this was the insanity that was running rampant (and my inbox proved it was) then it’s no wonder Kramer’s remarks would have opened this door for him. Although if the remarks of just one right-wing senator had made him such a public target, I could only imagine what was being said now of President Winfrey for appointing him.
--------In a sense, this announcement was also, finally, Winfrey’s announcement of whether the United States would support the BITES project. This is the other reason why the announcement had my attention. The press had been dying to report the decision like a crack addict waits for their next hit.
--------A car drove by the Laundromat just then. What made it stand out was not that it was unusual in any way, but that it was not. Nearly all vehicles had something written in warning of the coming antichrist in giant letters, spray paint, attached boards . . . eventually this plain vehicle would be no doubt assailed as the rest of us have been. It’s weird how that caught my attention.
--------A man on a megaphone startled the shit out of me just then.
--------HOW CAN YOU BE DOING LAUNDRY? SEEK JESUS FIRST! YOUR LAUNDRY IS NOT AS IMPORTANT AS YOUR SOULS!
--------I suddenly needed to hear my lover’s voice. I missed him. I knew he was busy, but I decided to take a chance anyway. I detached the cellular from the tether, which sent my crappy Windows operating system into a nice tizzy of pop-up complaints, and I called his number. And when it went to voice mail, I did it again. And again. And again.
--------“Are you okay?” he asked, obviously upset.
--------“Yes, I’m fine. I just needed to hear you. What the hell is going on?”
--------“Dennis, baby, I—” he said. He was interrupted and saying something to somebody in the distance. This is probably a good time for me to mention that, yes, my name is Dennis. It’s funny that I did not realize I haven’t actually introduced myself to you until just now. I guess the world is so often looking over me that I’ve begun to look over myself as well.
--------How do you do? I’m Dennis Garriott. Nice to meet you.
--------The rest of that conversation is none of your business.

To be continued...------