PART 2, CRADLE TO GRAVE

 

PART 2, CRADLE TO GRAVE, BABY

DON’T YOU DARE ROLL THE DICE, YOU SON OF A BITCH

MAY 26, 2011. Peer pressure, which is to say, family and friends, is a major force in the medical world.

It’s really a piece of the model.

It can work this way. Patient A is diagnosed with disease B. Actually, B isn’t a disease at all. It’s a nutritional deficiency. But the medical cartel is always looking to expand its dominion, like any ambitious church, so it labels whatever moves, wiggles, or vibrates a disease or a disorder.

Hey, we throw a lot of stuff against the wall and see what sticks.”

It’s the infomercial pattern. “So you get the 12 knives at $39.95. That’s a $300 value. But hold on. If you order in the next five minutes, we’ll give you two sets for the same price, can you believe it? And the pork-intestine slicer. And the sharpener, plus the 50 napkins, and season tickets to the Opera is My Life lecture series at the Biloxi 7-Eleven…”

Patient A has been diagnosed with disease B, and therefore receives treatment C, which is a powerful drug that causes a little thing called DNA chain termination. Normal cell reproduction is disrupted.

The patient, on drug C, finds he can’t get out of bed in the morning without an overhead crane. His sister pours him into the car and takes him to the doctor, who says, “The disease is disrupting your cells.”

What?” the patient says.

His sister pats him on the arm. “Listen to what the doctor is telling you.” she says.

The patient shakes his head.

Doctor, I’ve read that the drug disrupts cells.”

The doctor smiles and nods.

Yes, in rare cases, but this is different. It’s the disease doing it. We’re going to have to escalate the treatment. Increase the dose and add another drug.”

The sister nods sagely. She has a degree in house-sitting from a junior college.

The patient closes his eyes. A few tears leak and dribble down his cheeks. Which, of course, prompts the sister to say, “Do you think my brother should see a counselor, Doctor?”

Might not be a bad idea,” he says. “I can set up an appointment with social services. I think they’ve straightened out the billing scandal down there.”

Flash forward a week. Patient A, who is now on a higher dose of drug C and a new drug, D, which favors disrupting immune-systemcells, is laid up with three infections. A phone call to the doctor, and another appointment, introduces patient A to drug E, an anti-viral, for which, in clinical trials, no efficacy has been established.

Two days later, the patient is vomiting and has diarrhea.

The social services counselor welcomes the pale sweating patient into her office. He is accompanied by his sister and her husband, for moral support. The husband does payroll for a local medical testing lab. He’s now on the case, assuring the patient the doctor has been handling his drug treatment properly.

The conversation with the counselor lasts 20 minutes. The counselor establishes that serious disease can trigger depression. The brother-in-law concurs. This astonishing insight about depression has, of course, consequences. A psychiatrist will probably prescribe one of the SSRIs. Prozac, Paxil.

I started on Paxil four years ago,” the sister says. “It’s changed my life.”

She smiles and nods at the counselor.

The sister’s husband concurs.

We had a little problem with the social stigma attached to these…disorders,” he says. “But we got past that. And never looked back.”

Well,” the patient says, “I was on Paxil after the boating accident. Remember? A week later, I tried to burn down the flag pole in the back yard.”

I’m glad you mentioned that,” the counselor says. “The psychiatrist will probably try Prozac instead.”

Flash forward again. The patient has been having hallucinations. His sister and brother-in-law tell him Prozac could not be the cause.

The patient says, “But I don’t usually think our dead mother is Big Foot dancing upside down on the ceiling.”

His brother-in-law gives him a hard stare.

Listen, Bob, tough love isn’t usually my thing, but I’m going there now. You have to keep up the protocol. You can gut it through. We’re with you all the way, but you have to do your part…”

To which the patient replies: “Appreciate the pep talk, bro, but this isn’t friggin’ Afghanistan, and you aren’t my lieutenant.”

The patient’s sister frowns and shakes her head. She calls the psychiatrist later and says she thinks her brother is going over the edge into psychosis.

…Three months into this multi-drug treatment, the patient has another appointment with his doctor. The doctor tells him that despite these heroic pharmaceutical measures, what he suspected all along has come to pass. There is nothing more he can do. The disease has spread. He gives the patient two months to live.

After breaking down and weeping, the sister says to the doctor, “But he should continue taking the drugs, correct?”

The doctor offers a noncommittal shrug. “Research just hasn’t caught up yet to where we are.”

Two days later, the patient, through a herculean effort, staggers from his bed to the computer on his desk and begins to read about disease B.

It turns out there is a clinic in the Bahamas where doctors are using nutrients to treat even advanced cases—there are claims of success in some cases.

The patient makes a call and speaks with one of these doctors. The conversation lasts half an hour. Afterwards, the patient feels better. He feels hope.

Back in bed, he plans how he’ll get himself to the clinic.

Unfortunately, his sister, her husband, and a cousin, who’s flown in from Detroit, recognize patient A is smiling and seems a little better. This sends up red flags. He finally confesses he’s booking a flight to Freeport.

All hell breaks loose.

This is war.

The brother-in-law (who does payroll) handles the money-rip-off scenario aspect. “They’ll bleed you dry. Then they’ll leave you on the side of the road like a dog without a license.”

The cousin, who is a retired prosecutor with chronic shingles, adds the American-alone-in-a-foreign-land-without-a-support-system-they-can-do-anything-they-want-to-to you-and-there-is-no-recourse mantra.

The brother-in-law comes back for an encore with the they’re-just-a-bunch-of-quacks-they’re-not-real-doctors-if-they-had-anything-don’t-you-think-it-would-have-been-approved-and-everybody-would-be-using-it rumba.

Then the sister drops the you’re-crazy-what-will-people-think-you’re-thumbing-your-nose-at-the-only-family-you-have-left-I-always-knew-something-like-this-would-happen-from-the-time-you-were-a-kid you-thought-you-were-different-from-the-rest-of-us tonnage on her brother’s head.

A call comes in from the patient’s uncle in Fresno. The uncle is 92 and has good days and bad days in the nursing home. He tells the patient, “If they’re big men, stand near a doorway. They might give you a badge with a different name on it, if you ask them. Lace up your shoes after surgery.”

When the hubbub finally subsides in the patient’s bedroom, he closes his eyes and lies there in a rancid puddle of shame, resentment, and fear. His relatives go into the living room for a pow-wow.

The phone rings. It’s his friend Allan, a retired loan hustler.

Listen,” Allan says, “I know what you’re going through. We have a group. I want you to come to a meeting. Every session starts with a member saying, “What’s the last stop on the train track?”

The patient mumbles, “Do they all go choo-choo then?”

Just trying to help you, pal,” Allan says.

The patient dangles the receiver in his hand, holds it for a minute, then lets it drop on the rug.

Something is taking shape in his mind. Something that’s never occurred to him before.

The thought is interrupted as his sister raises her voice in the living room. She’s saying, “The shame he’s bringing on us. How can I tell my friends about this? We have to stop him from going. Look, here’s his plane ticket on he table.”

Now, it all comes clear.

He realizes that, even though he’s been diagnosed as terminal, he’s supposed to follow the advice of his doctor—who has nothing for him. It’s protocol. Social protocol.

Take the drugs, or stop them, but don’t do anything else. Don’t roll the dice. Rolling dice would be abhorrent.

The real message of his family is, just close your mouth, do what the doctor says, even if it’s nothing, and DIE.

He nods.

That’s it.

Don’t rock the boat.

Don’t switch tracks.

Don’t leave the bus.

The Bahamas. Sunny days. Lying on the beach with a cold vodka- soda, a little paper umbrella.

Maybe that’s just a pipe dream.

The chemo, the Prozac, the other drugs, or nothing—that’s the consensus.

He bangs his fist on the wall behind him.

His family comes rushing in.

What’s wrong!” his sister says.

He holds up his hand.

Nothing,” he says. “It’s all right. I want to talk to you.”

The sister, the brother-in-law, and the cousin quickly gather in a little semicircle by his side.

What is it?” his cousin says.

I’ve made a decision,” the patient says. He pauses. “I just want you to listen. Don’t interrupt me.” He starts to choke up, but brings himself under control. His face slowly settles into stone. “I’m…not going to Freeport. I…want to you to make sure my plot is ready in the cemetery. It’s supposed to be. Just check on it. I don’t want a big funeral. Family and close friends.”

His sister wails and drops to her knees. She grabs the carpet with her nails and tries to tug it off the floor. Her husband restrains her, pulls her back to her feet.

The cousin frowns and nods slowly.

Everything’s been paid for,” the brother-in-law says.

The sister screams once. Then she covers her mouth with her hand and bends down and takes her brother’s limp hand. She kisses it over and over.

I’m sorry,” she whispers. “I’m sorry. We didn’t mean to be cruel, darling. We’re just so…concerned about you.”

The patient nods.

I understand,” he says.

His face is composed.

You want me to die so I’m not going to try to do anything else.”

Silence.

JON RAPPOPORT

www.nomorefakenews.com

qjrconsulting@gmail.com

EVE AND THE SNAKE RETOLD

 

EVE AND THE SNAKE RETOLD

MAY 26, 2011. One fine day (every day was fine), in the floating place called Astral Island Y-96a4, or The Garden, Eve was sitting naked under a large tree working on her tan, when a long serpent approached, slithering through the tall grass.

Eve sat up and watched him. She and Adam were on their Multi-Dimensional Universe Tour II.

He was the color of old oil. The sun picked up rainbow highlights on his scales. The main thing about him was his smile. She’d seen it on the faces of used-car salesmen, New Age talisman peddlers, and agents.

Hello, Eve,” he said, coming to rest at her feet. His voice was low and rich, like spoiled caviar.

Where’s Adam?” he said.

Oh, he went to Bold Foods to pick up some food,” she said.

Really?” he said. “There’s a Bold Foods here?”

Eve pointed to three low hills in the distance.

That way,” she said. “This is a hybrid island. Primitive and pristine on this side, overdeveloped out there in the flats. Tire recappers, gas stations, bars, thrift shops, a couple of drug stores, and a Dome Depot.”

The snake paused at this news.

Well,” he said, “so you’re eating well?”

Sure,” she said. “Lots of chips, the chicken noodle soup, salad bar, burgers. Chocolate cake.”

The snake sniffed the air.

I was wondering if you know what tree you’re sitting under,” he said.

This?” she said, patting the trunk with her hand. “There’s a plaque on the other side. Tree of the Knowledge of Good and Evil. I can smell the apples. Tart.”

Yes, well,” the snake said, “there’s a rule. You can’t eat any apples .”

I didn’t know that,” she said.

I’m surprised,” the snake said.

How would I know it? Adam and I just arrived last Tuesday.”

I see,” the snake said. “So you haven’t been briefed.”

She frowned.

What are you talking about?”

When people land, they’re instructed on how to proceed. Usually, the clouds part, and the King comes down half-way and issues a few edicts.”

Haven’t seen a king,” she said.

Maybe he’s away,” the snake said. “I stand in for him then.”

That’s good,” she said. “I guess.”

The snake stuck out his tongue, then withdrew it.

But you see,” he said, “I can issue special dispensations. And for you, I think it’s the right thing to do.”

Why would that be?” she said.

Because the apples are quite delicious, and when you eat them, you automatically acquire wisdom. Essentially, you become more like the King.”

Wisdom?” she said. “In general?”

She seemed a little puzzled.

No,” he said, “you learn about the distinction between good and evil. It’s a tricky subject. The King knows all about it. It’s a source of his strength.”

Good and evil,” she said. “For example, when someone is trying to sell you a used pickup with a cracked engine block?”

The snake gave her his big smile.

Yes,” he said, “that would be one instance.”

Over a few islands from here,” she said, “Adam and I were at this country club playing golf. On the sixteenth hole, I hooked my tee shot into the rough. I was in there, in the woods, trying to find my ball when a golf cart came whizzing by on the road. It stopped, a porky guy got out, and offered to help me. So we’re searching in all the bushes and tangles, and he says he can give me a good deal on a club membership. But I figured this was baloney, because what’s he doing way out on the sixteenth hustling memberships? Know what I mean? Besides, he doesn’t even have any clubs in his cart. He’s wearing a rug, his pants are checkered, his white shoes have little gold buckles on them. But you know, I didn’t want to call him out. Adam and I had been invited to play the course, so we needed to be polite. We keep looking for the Titleist, and he keeps up the hustle–”

Okay! Okay!” the snake says. “I get it. But what about the tree and the apple?”

What about it?” Eve says.

It’s a very good apple.”

And then Eve turns on a kilowatt smile. She’s really quite lovely.

Listen,” she says. “Adam and I have been around a block a few times. Right? We’ve visited thousands of these astral islands, and you’d be surprised how many times snakes have tried to run this same number on me. It’s a staple. There’s a book on it somewhere. The temptation, eat the apple, gain knowledge of good and evil, whatever that means, and then the Fall. Wow. I mean, come on. Who cares about good and evil? I know the difference. I’m not stupid. I don’t need to go to school on that. It’s simple. You’re free unless you lean on somebody else’s freedom. Case closed. Why you guys want to keep re-enacting it is beyond me. What’s the point? We should all bow down and support something that’s a scam to begin with? I’m just sunning myself here, Adam will be back from the store soon with goodies, and we’ll have an early supper. Then we might take in a movie.”

The snake coiled and uncoiled a few times.

Suppose,” he said, “I decide to sink my fangs in your thigh?”

Eve reached behind her and brought out a thin flat L-slab of gray metal. She pointed it at the snake.

Then,” she said, “I’d have to fill you full of energy that would rip most of your cells apart in under five seconds.”

Hmm,” he said.

Yeah. Hmm. Why don’t you find a nice little critter for dinner and leave us alone.”

The snake shook his neck and instantly reappeared as the king. He was large and thunderous in his blue robe, and his white beard swung back and forth under his chin. His eyes bulged, then relaxed back into his sockets. He stared at Eve.

Haven’t I seen you before?” he said.

Eve nodded.

Last summer. We stopped off here on the way to the circus at HT4ux. Just for the day.”

Yes,” he said. “And you and I played out this little scene then.”

Right,” she said.

So what are doing back again?”

We came for the apples. I really like the apples. Very tart. They’re hard to find. Most of the fruit these days is fibrous. It’s dead.”

He nodded.

Well,” he said, “I have a few discount coupons for the mall. They get fresh fruit in every day from locals.”

We’d appreciate that,” Eve said.

The king pondered for a few moments.

No problem. You know, the plaque on the tree. I’m thinking of changing it. Good and evil was a mistake from the beginning. It just didn’t add up. Why should knowledge of good and evil be a bad thing? Redundant, yes. Bad, no? The writer was looking for a hook. I don’t think he found it.”

No,” she said. “It’s a misdirection no one really cares about. But in all fairness, what really works? Adam and I have discussed it, and we couldn’t come up with anything, either. Eat the apple and lose your power? Won’t be able to sleep at night? See, that would be going the other way, and still it doesn’t compute, because then there’s no temptation to eat the apple. The story just got off on the wrong premise, and there was no way to fix it after that.”

The king sighed.

Tell me about it,” he said. “I’m still amazed so many people bought in.”

Well, the guilt thing, I guess, delivers a lot of mileage…although Adam and I have never been prone to falling for it.”

The king reached into the pocket of his robe and pulled out three wrinkled coupons. He bent down and handed them to Eve.

Good until Christmas,” he said.

Eve laughed.

Let’s not get started on that one,” she said.

The king pointed at her.

No guilt, no redemption,” he said.

Yeah,” she said. “You know, Adam has this script he’s been trying to peddle for a while. You might take a look at it.”

He have an agent?” he king said.

I’m his agent,” Eve said.

Well, then…”

Take you an hour to go through it,” she said. “Lots of action. The dialogue’s pretty straightforward.”

Give me the bottom line.”

Adam and I create the world and trap the king.”

The old switcheroo. Might have legs in an art house.”

We’re not looking for boffo. Starting small.”

What’s the budget?”

Four-five mill. Chicken feed.”

When you get home, check with the Pope. Tell him to call me.”

Why would he bankroll it?” Eve said.

The Church feeds off criticism. They get an outrage and sympathy bump. Figures show it. Collection plates. Church attendance.”

Maybe they could issue a statement when we’re ready for release. Condemning it.”

Oh, they will…”

For the extras on the DVD, we could do a sit-down with you.”

The king thought about this.

If things don’t pick up soon,” he said, “I might even take a small part.”

Who’s your agent?” Eve said.

On most deals,” the king said, “the Vatican.”

Like they need the money.”

He shook his head.

You don’t understand,” he said. “They run me. My cut of their action just about keeps me in in Kleenex.”

JON RAPPOPORT

www.nomorefakenews.com

qjrconsulting@gmail.com

WHEN THE WORM TOOK OVER

 

WHEN THE WORM TOOK OVER

MAY 25, 2011. Everybody on astral island W-53A2K was free, young, happy, and wild.

Except one worm that moved slowly through the soil.

In his younger days, he’d wanted to write The Great W-53A2K Novel, but his dream had now taken on a new shape.

On a long flat stone near the river, across from the palace where people ran and played in the small grove of purple trees, the worm inscribed a series of indelible smears in the local language.

Five years later, a young shepherd found the stone, took it to the palace, where it was examined by a bevy of drunken scholars. Its message, in essence, was: THE WORM IS GOD.

A general meeting was called, and after much hilarity, a verdict was agreed upon:

Let’s make the worm God. It might be fun.”

So a search was mounted, and they eventually discovered the creature under a rusty plow by a hay barn near the river. He was taken on a white satin cloth to the palace and installed on a throne.

A scribe was appointed to note and convey his commands.

The first worm edict was: YOU’RE ALL CRAZY AND I’M SANE. THEREFORE, STOP MAKING MAGIC. NO MORE TELEPATHIC TRANSMISSIONS, SPONTANEOUS MATERIALIZATIONS, OR SUNDAY BREAKFASTS. SUNDAY IS FOR CHURCH. I’M THE GOD. SO I CONDUCT THE SERVICES. GATHER HERE, LISTEN TO MY WORDS, AND HEED THEM. WE’RE GOING TO WAR, WHEN I SELECT A SUITABLE ENEMY. DIVERT THE RIVER AND DRY OUT THE BED. WEAR CLOTHES. NO MORE NAKEDNESS. PRAY TO ME AT BREAKFAST, LUNCH, AND DINNER. FORGET YOUR NAMES. YOU HAVE NO NAMES. BURN THE FIELDS. IF YOU DREAM AT NIGHT, REPORT YOUR DREAMS TO THE SCRIBE AND I WILL INTERPRET THEM. LEVITATING IS A FELONY. ON TUESDAYS, EVERYONE WEARS A BLINDFOLD. ALL DAY. NO DRINKING WATER ON WEEKENDS. ALCOHOL IS BANNED. ILLNESS IS A SIN PUNISHABLE BY DEATH. NO WRITTEN OR SPOKEN SENTENCE MAY BE LONGER THAN SIX WORDS. ADVERBS ARE OUTLAWED. STOP WEEDING GARDENS. TRAVEL IS ILLEGAL. ADDRESS ME AS HE WHO CREATED THIS PLACE. DO NOT SHOW YOUR TEETH FOR ANY REASON. FISHING IS PUNISHABLE BY DEATH. WALK SLOWLY. WEAR ONE SHOE. EXTINGUISH ALL LIGHTS AFTER SUNSET. EAT STALE BREAD. BY A SYSTEM YET TO BE DETERMINED, HAPPINESS WILL BE QUANTIFIED IN UNITS. EACH PERSON MAY EXPERIENCE THREE UNITS A YEAR. MEMORY IS OUTLAWED. SPECULATIONS ABOUT THE FUTURE MUST BE CLEARED THROUGH ME.

The scribe read the edict to a throng gathered outside the palace.

Afterwards, the laughter went on for several hours.

One by one, the people disappeared. Winked out where they were standing. The last to go was the scribe.

So now, on astral island W-53A2K, the worm, alone on his white cloth on the throne, in the palace, ruled no one.

It’s a shame,” he said. “I was going to create a whole new civilization. Gift cards, cell phones, subways, Oprah, news headlines, law schools…”

Suddenly, a thin man in a suit appeared in the throne room and stepped forward.

Your Majesty of Majesties,” he said. “I’m here from TY437UIS49Qv-32-ITYD. It’s quite an advanced operation, and we just lost our God in a tsunami. Terrible thing. We’re interviewing candidates for the job. The superstructure of our society has 2Q-/%yuv7* layers. Very complex. Maintaining order is a top priority. I have a feeling you might be right for the job.”

Silence.

The worm gazed at the thin man for a long time. The man didn’t seem to mind waiting.

Finally, the worm spoke.

I assume there would be conditions. A contract of some kind.”

The man nodded.

Yes, sir. I have a copy with me. Basically, you would exert unlimited power. Quarterly reviews of your actions would be compared to a Standards Board Outlook long form, which was drafted for the purpose of assuring our population would remain in a servile and malleable state of mind.”

So, for example,” the worm said, “total destruction is out of the question.”

Well, of course.”

And devastating storms, floods, magnetic shifts, earthquakes and the like would be adjudicated against a grid of ongoing operational control.”

There are clauses which cover that, yes.”

You have the landing platform of a myth structure on which I could credibly alight?”

I believe so, sir. Its cardinal premise is ‘the lowest shall be highest.’”

The worm considered this.

I’m the only one who can perform magic.”

Goes without saying. Over the course of twenty centuries, we’ve scrubbed the memory of it from the collective consciousness.”

Oh,” the worm said, “you have a collective consciousness?”

We do,” the man said. “Its propagation is Job One. Actually, it’s a fiction, but a widespread belief in it is as effective as the real thing—if there were a real thing.”

Yes,” the worm said, “I believe I understand. Now, if I wanted to change my identity, even my appearance…”

This could take place gradually, over a suitable period of time,” the thin man said. “For example, you could become a seventeen-year-old boy at the height of his sexual power. There are coteries of girls which could be made available. But that’s just one possible scenario. We’re flexible on the details.”

An old man holding a scroll sitting in a thundercloud, a radiant figure floating down from a cherry tree, a fierce hawk diving through still blue air to seize prey, a troll surfacing from a pond, a hybrid genetically engineered military leader holding an electronic paralyzing whip, a priestess adorned in gleaming metal astride a magnificent stallion…”

All those, and more,” the man said.

Again, silence.

And this would be a permanent job?” the worm said.

That is the whole point, sir,” the man said.

You are continuing to degrade the intelligence and energy of the population, over time?”

The thin man nodded.

We have a medical establishment dedicated to that goal. Drugs. They depress function.”

While mitigating symptoms.”

Yes.”

I’m interested,” the worm said.

I thought you might be,” the man said.

What about my rake-off from taxes?”

After your ascension, you start in at eleven percent. That figure increases each year by one percent, based on a positive report from the Standards Board Outlook Committee, until you max out at forty-nine percent.”

And who holds the other fifty-one percent?”

We do.”

Who is we?”

Well, sir, it’s a question you’re not permitted to ask.”

I see. Was that why your recently deceased God was wiped out in the tsunami? He asked the question?”

We had to send a message. After all, we watch God.”

And who watches you?” the worm said.

Even I’m not privy to that information,” the thin man said. “I’m told it’s an infinitely receding series of control centers. But that may be just a cover story.”

Can you be promoted?”

Yes.”

What about me?”

No. You’re God.”

Can I write a book?”

Of course. We would consider that a plus.”

Where would I live?”

As far as the people are concerned, your home is in the sky. Actually, you and your staff would occupy a villa overlooking the sea in temperate zone 4A04dtL.”

Why have a God at all?” the worm asked. “Why not make one up?”

The thin man pursed his lips.

It’s a position. It exists. Someone has to issue commands, edicts, and arbitrary decisions.”

There would be churches in my name?”

Churches, temples, cathedrals, small far-flung franchises.”

After the unfortunate tsunami, you could have introduced a double of the old God.”

We thought of that, but we have the opportunity to stimulate the population with a Great Change. It will be said you are the inheritor of the mantle, by His decree.”

Which means you’ll have to announce that he died.”

No. We’ll say he has important business elsewhere, where things need to be cleaned up.”

Then I’m simply his deputy,” the worm said.

The scepter will be passed. Permanently.”

Do you have television?”

A form of it. There are no screens. Electromagnetic waves of meaning distributed over the whole system.”

I can promise to give much and yet give little?”

The thin man paused. He moved a step closer to the throne.

Sir, let me make this very clear. Your job is to promise everything and give nothing.”

Why?” the worm asked.

Because we’ve found, through trial and error, that things work out best that way. The total hoax is the most effective hoax.”

In other words,” the worm said, “the people pretend I’m a giving God.”

The thin man snapped his fingers.

You’ve got it,” he said.

Where do I sign?” the worm said.

JON RAPPOPORT

www.nomorefakenews.com

qjrconsulting@gmail.com