Flash Fiction #56

Tunnel

PHOTO PROMPT © Stephen Baum

OUT

Cindy lived in the Bible Belt.  Usually she was very careful what she did and said.  A couple of years ago, a handsome young man had tried to pick her up at the entrance to a club.

She replied, “I’m not straight.”  In a lobby full of smoked-up pill-droppers, that was not unusual, and he persisted.  “No!  I’m not straight.” and Marilyn had come out, and they’d gone home.

Now, the Federal Supreme Court had ruled that her State government could no longer withhold rights and privileges enjoyed by all other citizens.  She and Marilyn were going to get married.

Go to Rochelle’s Addicted to Purple site and use her Wednesday photo as a prompt to write a complete 100 word story.

#478

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Jesus Loves You

I have a brother, almost three years younger than me. When I was seven and eight, he was only four and five, and almost a full-time job for my mother. In the summertime, in my little town, even full of tourists, I was free to get out from under foot, and go wherever I wanted, as long as I didn’t get into trouble, and was home for supper.

Roll out of bed in the morning, pull on a bathing suit instead of underwear, shorts, tee-shirt, runners, a towel around my neck, and I spent large portions of my days at the beach. With almost two miles of warm, white sand, I attended different sections on different days. One day, about two blocks off the main street, I saw something intriguing. Six or seven twenty-somethings marched out onto the sand. Two of them were toting a pump-organ. The rest had shovels, bamboo poles, a rolled-up banner, and a bunch of books.

Watcha doin’? They were a Christian outreach group for youngsters, labelled C.S.S.M. – Children’s Special Service Mission. We’re having a meeting. Go gather up all the kids. Me like a damned fool, I did it. They put up the banner on the poles, dug trenches and piled the sand behind – instant pews. Got a kid to pump the organ. Evangelism lite – handed out songbooks – a few hymns, a bit of sermon, believe in God, obey Jesus, a little homily. 40/45 minutes, we were done, same time, same place tomorrow.

The seeds of individualism already growing strongly, along with cynicism, I didn’t see this as missionary Christianity. I was just fascinated with the social aspects. The next day, and the next – two weeks on the beach, I put up poles, strung the banner, dug the pews, pumped the organ, and helped them carry stuff to and from the beach.

Soon there were afternoon get-togethers – hikes, scavenger hunts, badminton games. Although we had a net, and acres of sand, apparently volleyball had not been invented. I learned discriminatory thinking. An item for ten grains of sand in the scavenger hunt didn’t mean only ten, very carefully counted, grains. Lean down and pick up a handful – there must be ten grains there!

Then, before the town got all pissy about them, we cleaned the driftwood off the beach, and had evening campfires and sing-alongs. Silly camp songs, a few hymns, an uplifting story, roast some marshmallows, a quick benediction prayer, and off home you go kids, it’s getting late. I was part of a group!

Next year, they came back. Same hymn, different verse. I was ten, and it wasn’t a bad way to spend two supervised weeks. The following year, they returned again. I was eleven, they were nice, and I was learning interpersonal relation stuff.

On the day they left, I had my Dad drive me to the cottage they used, to say goodbye. At a time when two dollars would gas the car for most of a week, my Dad dug out and donated $5.00, to help repay for all the things they’d done for me and given to me. By the time they returned the next year, my Dad said that he should have put his hand in his pocket, and just left it there. They had spent $10 on paper, envelopes and postage, beseeching him to donate more, and more, and even more.

The next summer, I was 12, going on almost mature. I hadn’t even thought about them coming back. I headed downtown one July Saturday. I was just in front of the Baptist Church we infrequently attended, a block off the commercial district, when a sedan and a station wagon rolled in and parked in front. Out piled most of my old faces, along with a couple of new ones.

Hi! How are you? How was your winter? You’re looking good! Hail-fellow-well-met! These people remember me. They missed me. They love me! We’re so proud of you! Oh, what for? Well, we heard that, over the winter, you were baptised here at the church.

There were three Smith families in town, no two related. One had an only-child son, with the same first name as mine. They religiously (every pun intended) attended the same church we occasionally hit. It musta been the other “John Smith” – and the shades came down, and the lights went off. They couldn’t dump me on the sidewalk fast enough.

If you’re donating money, they can’t get enough of you. If you jump through all their strangely-shaped hoops, recite their magical words, and make their particular mystical gestures, you will be adored and supported. If you have the temerity to tell them that you have opinions about other ways of living your life, these Good Christians will treat you like a fur-ball the cat hacked up, and Jesus will be the only one who loves you.

I’ve met some very Spiritual Christians, loving, forgiving, inclusive, acceptant. These weren’t them! Sadly, I’ve met many of their compatriots over the years. Christ drove the money lenders from the temple, but the “business” of religion marches on.

Ego And Insecurity – Episode 1

Brigham Young is quoted as saying, “He who takes offence when none is offered, is a fool!”  He then added that, “He who takes offence when offence is offered, is also a fool.”  Too many fools wed ego and insecurity to teleology, and not only get upset when it’s not their ox that’s being gored, but blame the wrong thing, or a non-existent thing for the goring.

Negros can refer to each other as niggers, and it’s all in good fun.  Women can refer to each other as bitches, and they’re just joking.  Let a white man refer to a black man as a nigger, even in the same joking manner, and there’s Hell to pay.  If a mere man calls a woman a bitch, a Government Agency will quickly be involved.  Should a white man call a black woman a nigger bitch, he’d better not do it in Utah.  They still have firing squads.

A nephew used to refer to his Negro, high school, best friend as “Nigger.”  I cautioned him against it one day.  “That’s okay.  He knows I’m joking.”  Maybe, but others may not.  My son’s Grade 2 teacher had a bad habit of smacking students in the back of the head with a pen if they didn’t measure up.  It’s not the kind of action that should have been acceptable against anyone.

She’d smacked almost every kid in the room, with no retribution, till the day she smacked the only black kid in class.  The next day, she and the principal were visited by six high-level Black Panthers, including a high-voltage lawyer.  Cease and desist was the least of the threats.

A politician in New York, with a broad vocabulary, bemoaned a low grant for his pet project by calling it a niggardly amount.  It’s not even spelled the same, and it has no connection to Negros, but he was forced to issue an apology.  “I’m sorry you black folks are so busy learning Ebonics, that you don’t speak English.”

An Ontario bureaucrat, referring to some of the Aboriginal problems I mentioned in my Attawapiskat post, said that many of them were caused by do-gooder Whites, and was called a racist by both Indians and other whites.  The comment is not racist.  It’s an acknowledgement of a social/cultural situation.

Oprah Winfrey went into a boutique store in Switzerland and wanted to buy a $38,000 purse.  The clerk shooed her out, saying she couldn’t afford it, not knowing that Oprah could buy the entire country.  Immediately the accusations of racism rang out.  Bullshit!  Classism maybe.

Used to the more sophisticated, urbane European upper-crust, to the clerk, Oprah must have seemed like the typical sweatshirt-and-flip-flops-wearing, ugly-American, “looker.”  She could have been white, black or green.

In Montreal, a young couple who were culturally, but not religiously, Jewish, did not wish to sign a religious document and be married by a rabbi.  Instead, they went to City Hall for a secular ceremony.  The clerk who served them was a headscarf-wearing female.  Not only had they been married by a “religious” person, but one from a religion which debases females, and discriminates against Jews.

The Quebec Premier tried to have an act passed which would prevent anyone serving the public from overtly displaying any religious symbol – and the camel-shit hit the fan.  The loudest howls are from Muslims, claiming that this is racism, ignoring the fact that Muslims come from around the world, and from many different races.  It might be claimed that it is religious discrimination, except that it applies uniformly, to Sikhs, Jews and Christians, as well.

One apparent Muslim, (Abdullah Ahmad – you decide) sent a letter to the Toronto Sun, bitching about, “the ban on religious clothing or gear.”  Again, no such animal!  There is no ban on what you wear, only on what you may or may not do, while being paid by the Province, serving the secular public, when you wear it.

On a discussion page I recently read, a 25-year-old female said that she gets moody and short-tempered from time to time, and takes it out on her live-in boyfriend.  She got in a bad mood, and he sat and tried to talk it out with her for a half an hour, but she snapped at him again.  He rose, pointed a finger at her, told her she was a high-maintenance, drama queen, said he’d had enough, and slammed the door on the way out.  What should she do about it??!

I was amazed that, not only did every commenter, female and male, take her side, but nine out of ten females urged her to dump him for being abusive.  This is not abusive!  There is a legal axiom which states that the truth is the perfect defense.

She may be upset to hear that she is a high-maintenance drama-queen.  If you don’t want to hear it, don’t be it.  The problem may solve itself if he finds somewhere else to live, and only comes back for his stuff.  She wanted, “The right to her own feelings.”  She may get it – alone.

One of the young fellows at the auto plant had a succession of short-term girlfriends.  After five or six months, they each, “Just went crazy.”  I told him one day, after the seventh or eighth time I’d heard this sad song, that the common factor wasn’t the gals going crazy, it was him, but he was too busy bumping into trees, to see the forest.

I’d try handing out some of those Free Thinkers cards, but it wouldn’t work.  People like these always “believe” that it’s somebody else’s fault.