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Episode Nineteen -
WHAT WOULD JESUS
Copyright © 2002 - 2005 Arthur Jarvinen
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Contents (all episodes to date)
Felt Marker would prefer to be known simply as "Tip" which, given his actual name and the fact that he is an informer, strikes him as making good sense and also being kind of cute. But even though investigative reporters, secret agents, and others who find it useful to avail themselves of the services of confidential informers are bound by codes of honor and sworn to never reveal their sources, they still get to "name" them, as it were, and as it has become common practice to name sources after the titles of famous porn flicks, and most of the good ones having been taken, The Invisible Guy insists on referring to Felt "Tip" Marker as "The Story of O", which doesn't particularly amuse "Tip", but being as he is supposed to be anonymous and is also a "snitch", he is hardly in a position to protest.
Their meeting place of choice is of course a particular underground parking structure that since its successful employment for similar purposes in the early 1970s has become, like a good restaurant, so popular that one now has to schedule clandestine meeting time well in advance, and the rates have skyrocketed. On such short notice they were fortunate indeed to snag a couple of minutes in between Misty Beethoven and Emanuelle (The Joys Of A Woman), but they'll have to make this a quickie.
After being greeted by the Maitre D' and escorted to a reserved space out of the scope of the security cameras, they get down to the nitty-gritty. In hushed tones, The Story of O reveals to The Invisible Guy that information of the utmost importance, with possible implications for national security, is soon to be imparted to the highest bidder, and that the negotiations are to take place during what will appear to be a routine religious observance at the temporary meeting place of an independent, just-starting-up protestant denomination under the leadership of one Reverend Stang, somewhere near Pennsylvania.
"Or is that Pennsylvania Avenue? Hmmm…not sure now. You'll just have to work that part out for yourself."
"Is that it?"
"That's all I got. Don't forget to sign out."
his flat, after ruminating, sitting in meditation,
praying on bended knee, consulting the I Ching by means of the yarrow
oracle, reading his daily horoscope, and holding his moistened finger
wind, The Invisible Guy decides he'd rather not follow this particular
line of investigation
personally, and so once again employs Smith, Just Smith, to go in his
strictly as an observer, with no authorization to bid, donate, pledge
on The Invisible Guy's behalf – and report back on the who's who and
what, and then only if it really seems to matter, his best guess being
Just Smith has recovered surprisingly well from his
misadventure on the Bulgarian coast, although his ribs still hurt like
when he laughs; fortunately, Smith is not easily amused.
Using what little information he has been given, Smith, Just Smith finds his way to what he can only hope is the right church, and cautiously tries to enter without being spotted. Of course, being a stranger, he is immediately swarmed by a host of men, women and children all wanting to introduce themselves, welcome him warmly and over-enthusiastically, make sure he signs the guest book, and encourage him to stay for coffee and crullers afterwards.
After brief announcements followed by some of the most god-awful music Smith has ever been subjected to, including a special performance by the Glorious Folk Youth Ministry Ensemble of Love and Rejoicing, Reverand Stang takes the pulpit – well, technically in this case a lectern – and begins his inspirational and instructive spiritual message for the day on the theme "What would Jesus do?"
"Now, if Jesus were in a restaurant ordering a meal of loaves and fishes, what sort of wine would he have with that? Chardonnay? Merlot?"
"Burgundy!" a voice calls out from the back of the room.
"Amen!" a voice up front responds.
"Ah, but red or white? Well, my sheep. According to scripture, He would choose neither. He would just ask for water – then change it into whatever he likes! Ba-da-bing!"
"Now, if Jesus were buying a house, would he choose a fixed or variable rate mortgage?"
"Depends on whether he's buying a short turnaround investment or plans to live there himself."
"Good insight, brother. But assuming he's looking for a home – scripture says "In my father's house are many mansions", so obviously he has no reason to buy or even rent. He'd just live at home for free. Ba-da-Bing!"
"Now, If Jesus were going from L.A. to San Francisco, would he…."
After about three hours of this nonsense, some more insufferable music from the Cherub Choir, and an overdose of the worst coffee he's ever tasted Smith, thoroughly demoralized and crippled in his very soul - perhaps even psychologically damaged for life - finally manages to escape the Church of Stang, make his way home, and report back to The Invisible Guy.
"So, what gives?"
"Dead end, I'm afraid. Just a bunch of pathetic holy rollers and some amateur standup working on his tight five – hours, I mean. If that guy's a real pastor, I'm Milton Berle."
Meanwhile, back at the parking structure –
"Hey Tip. Good meeting tonight?"
"Not bad. But it's not like the old days, when we could destroy presidents."
"I know what you mean. But still, a phony preacher here, a devious food maven there – or any Disney executive. We can still do some good."
"Yeah, I suppose. Well, see ya later."
parking attendant's kiosk, Claude puts down his copy
of Secrets: A Memoir of the Viet Nam War and the Pentagon Papers,
Daniel Ellsberg, trying to decide in advance between Pepsi and R.C.
having already been alerted to the fact that the vending machine
doesn't have "the real thing".