Thursday, April 17, 2014

Sobering Talk On Obamacare


If people ask me if I have an agenda I say I do: we should not be fucking people. And if someone asks me why I am appalled by Obamacare that is the reason why. In its totality it is the greatest economic betrayal in American history. The right wingers "hate" Obamacare politically but absolutely love its economics of the largest shifting of cash into private corporations ever. Left wingers also love it for political reasons while remaining willfully ignorant on a religious scale of the consequences of these new outrageously destructive corporate chains.

The window dressing of this large scale burglary is that of giving a nickel to the victim after seizing all possessions. So we hear "Hey, I got a nickel" stories while ignoring the bigger picture. The cognitive dissonance is breathtaking and so massive as to be generally considered impossible by your average person. No one wants to admit when lying to themselves but that's exactly how you end up in a no-win situation.

Joel Zinberg is associate clinical professor of surgery at the Mount Sinai Hospital in New York City and is a trustee and past president of the New York County Medical Society. Reprinted with permission of the Manhattan Institute.org.

Proponents of the Affordable Care Act insist the law will extend health insurance to millions, expand access to healthcare, and improve Americans' overall health. But, as The New York Times recently reported, at least 20 percent of the new enrollees have not paid their premiums. They therefore do not really have insurance.

But even for those enrollees paying premiums, having health insurance is not the same thing as getting good healthcare, or any healthcare. In fact, it doesn't matter how many Americans obtain insurance under the ACA. Most will have difficulty finding a physician.

Many Americans could lose their employer-provided insurance if firms decide that paying the ACA penalty — and maybe giving small raises to their employees — is cheaper than offering health insurance as a benefit of employment or reduce workers' hours (the ACA does not mandate coverage for part-time employees). These newly uninsured workers will either have to enroll in Medicaid, if their income is low enough, or purchase a plan on one of the state and federal insurance exchanges. Those eligible for exchange subsidies may end up better off economically as their premiums will be so low, but both the exchange and Medicaid options are fraught with problems.

States already are struggling under huge budget deficits from their existing Medicaid programs. Since states lose federal funding if they adjust their Medicaid eligibility guidelines, their only option for reducing deficits is to cut already-low Medicaid reimbursement rates.


It's considered "pragmatic" by some to let corporations write our laws because that way the laws will get passed. In other words, if we can't stop theft pass a law making it legal. A win-win! But the outcome of that is perfectly foreseeable. As long as you say you're doing something for the greater good, people will allow almost anything. Everyone wants to be seen as an angel - and that's what we are: angels. The world is in the shape it's in because it's full of angels.

Physicians already are reluctant to treat Medicaid patients under current rates that are a fraction of private and Medicare rates. Cutting reimbursements will exacerbate the physician-access problem and could lead to closures of so-called "safety-net" hospitals that care for many of the poor and uninsured. These hospitals have long depended on federal Disproportionate Share (DSH) payments to offset the cost of caring for the uninsured. But the ACA severely cuts DSH payments on the assumption that the uninsured will gain either Medicaid or private insurance. If large numbers of patients remain uninsured, the financial difficulties of safety-net hospitals will be compounded by their obligation to provide uncompensated care.

Those who do get coverage through the exchanges and pay their premiums will also struggle to get medical care. The ACA requires insurers to accept every patient regardless of risk, provide expansive benefits packages, and eliminate caps on lifetime benefits. Looking to control costs, most insurers are offering exchange plans that severely limit the number of doctors and hospitals patients can visit. Some state exchanges — including New York's — don't offer a single plan that covers visits to out-of-network doctors or hospitals.

Many people will not be able to see the physicians who have treated them for years, use facilities providing the most appropriate treatment, or access care within a reasonable time and distance from their homes. Some specialty hospitals have been excluded from all exchange plans.


Everything about this law caters to the short term. The-powers-that-be know that once you get the chains on - by hook or crook - there's no way of taking them off again. They know the outrage that is coming when this finally collapses. But since we are a provable oligarchy the bidding of the people is of no consequence - especially when the morons self-enslave themselves to be powerless.

If this scenario sounds familiar, it's because we've seen it before, during the failed managed-care experiment of the 1990s. Patients and physicians quickly became disenchanted with the restrictions and bureaucratic complexity of Health Maintenance Organizations. At least patients had options then. They could avoid HMO restrictions by buying broader, more expensive insurance plans. Many plans available now on the state exchanges are highly restrictive, HMO-like networks.

Patient choice has been further compromised by the haphazard implementation of the exchanges. Patients have reported trouble determining which physicians will participate in which plans. Doctors, too, are often unaware whether they're listed in particular insurance networks and what the reimbursement rates are. Many find themselves arbitrarily excluded from plans in which they had previously participated; others are getting listed on plans without their knowledge.

Worst of all, insurance coverage under the ACA is unlikely to improve health outcomes. The much-noted Oregon Medicaid-expansion study found that new Medicaid enrollees showed no improvement in health outcomes compared with the uninsured. Other studies have shown that Medicaid patients have worse outcomes compared with privately insured patients (though why this happens is not well understood). The health outcomes of many exchange patients will suffer as a result of not being able to see their regular physicians or access the most appropriate specialists and hospitals.

The drafters of the ACA presumably had noble intentions, but the law is failing in all of its intended goals. Unless the ACA is redrafted to provide insurance coverage that most physicians and hospitals will accept, many patients will find that when they need medical care, the doctor is not in.

"You can see if what I'm saying is true." 
One day, millions will claim otherwise!


The most obvious hole in Obamacare is that it is health insurance not health care. The amount of wishful thinking around this mandate is higher than Mount Everest. The inherent greed built into the structure of this catastrophe will will create a tsunami of economic woes. Between government funneling guaranteed tax dollars to insurance companies for any losses sustained to the fact we already have too much of our economy spent on health care now, much less as time goes by with the continuing flood of cash into the system can only leave us one result.

Some people want to be conned. I get that. They feel as long as they can claim later, "I meant well" they have a license to do just about anything. That's how we sell ourselves on the bad things we do. We meant well murdering Iraqis. We mean well with our drone strikes. And some day we'll be scrambling to proclaim of our "noble intentions" on one of the greatest fuckings of our lifetime. "If only I had known!"

But we do know. We exactly know. For our health system to work, greed must be removed from the equation. There is no way around that, you cannot compromise on that, removal is the only pragmatic way to proceed. All greed based answers are doomed to fail. We have these continuing mock discussions on how many holes we should put in this boat of ours that carries us. The only answer to that is zero. But that answer is considered "radical, shrill, traitorous, immature" and whatever else sin someone wants to self-identify. Lennon was right. When America falls, she'll fall from within.


Wednesday, April 16, 2014

I Don't Believe You


He came through the front door of the house with packages under each arm nudging open the door with his knee. "Honey, I'm home. I got you the things you wanted just like you said, even if it did take my whole paycheck."

"You motherfucker! What have you done now?"

"What do you mean? I'm just trying you make you happy..."

"I don't believe you. You must have done something wrong for you to be doing all this."

"I can't just care?"

"Hell fucking no."

"I don't know what to say to that."

"Of course not. You're a fucking liar like all men are. Goddam dog."

"You bitch at me when I don't do what you want and you bitch at me when I do. I can't win!"

"Damn straight, you can't."

"I don't believe this! I don't know what else to do! Nothing gets through to you."

"None of your shit gets through, asshole. I already know everything."

"Oh, you do, do you? You know everything I feel?"

"I know even without knowing. So quit your whining."

"There's nothing I can do to prove I care?"

"Nope."

"What if I -"

"Don't want to hear it. Mind's made up. Fucking loser."

"But why won't you believe me?"

"You have to ask?"

"Uh...yes?"

"You're just a man. Men are dogs. They don't care about anyone or anything but what's between your legs. You're not fooling me. I ain't falling for your shit."

"So what am I supposed to do?"

"Eat shit and die. I'm finding me a real man. One who doesn't care like you do, you lying sack of shit."

"My feelings just don't mean anything to you, is that it?"

"You can take your phony feelings and hit the road. Take those damn packages with you too. Frickin' jerk. I don't frickin' believe your damn ass."

*****************


"Live on set, it's the Opal Humphries Show! Today's topic: Men suck!"

"I'm telling you, Opal. Men are dogs. You do everything to please them, spend your last cent on them and they still aren't happy."

"You go, girl!"

"It's a no-win situation. Do what they want and they aren't happy and don't do what they want and they be pitching a fit like you've never seen!"

"You said it! They're just impossible."

"Life is what you make it so I'm making mine good. Get that dog out of your life, girls. Don't take none of his shit!"

Wild applause for not taking shit.

"I think we've learned a valuable lesson here about not falling for the lies men tell. We've got to wise up, girls! The next time a man tells you he cares about you, don't believe him! I'm Opal Humphries and that's the word!"

*****************


"This is Dick Peters reporting from the United Nations. Negotiations have broken down in the peace talks once again. Everyone knows why but it's important we pretend not to. Hardliners insist accepting peace will result in the destruction of mankind. Who's to say who's right or wrong? The following clip is from today's talks."

"Believe me, I truly want peace. I'll give you all that you're asking. I just want to end this conflict."

"Bullshit! I don't believe you! You can't fool me with peace, love and understanding."

"Who's trying to fool anyone? Don't you know when something's real?"

"Of course I do! But I'm taking no chances on believing anything good. Drone everyone and ask questions later. History will speak well of me."

"History will remove the gauze from your eyes and force you to see that you are ensuring your doom by furthering this conflict."

"I don't care. I'm doing it anyway."

"Here, let me show you this footage of soldiers digging their bullets out of bodies to hide their criminal actions. Just how do you think this can end up well?"

"I'm literally closing my eyes and if you keep talking I'm pulling my ears off."

"They are doing these things in your name and the name of your people. You must know in order to survive!"

"Nanny-nanny-boo-boo, I can't hear you!"


"With his hands clasped over his ears and humming loudly to drown out any further conversation, the President expressed disappointment today in the negotiations afterwards, lamenting the quote 'absurdly intransigent positions and refusal to keep an open mind' unquote by the opposing country."

*****************


Back at the house, two girls were talking excitedly in the kitchen.

"I got me a real man now."

"That's great! And you were totally awesome on Opal Humphries."

"She's a bitch in person. It's all a put-on for the camera. Her problem is she needs to get herself a man."

"Oh, I believe it! All she wants to do is dog men because she can't get one of her own."

"Yes, some women are like that. They can't be objective at all. Just crazy."

The front door slammed open. "Hey, bitch, where the fuck are you? Can't you greet me when I get home?" boomed a voice from the other room.

"There's my sweetie! Gotta go!"

"You're such an angel to put up with him."

"Oh, don't you know it! The bastard!"

She ran breathlessly into the living room. "What can I do to please you, sir?"

"Suck my dick and fix me dinner."

"Yes, sir. Right way, sir. I love you soooo much!"

"Stop talking and put your mouth to better use while I watch TV."

The nightly news began blaring courtesy of the remote control idol. The newscaster was lamenting the breakdown of the ever continuing peace talks.

"Dammit, what's wrong with people? Don't they know you gotta have war? Them other people's trying to kill us! We gotta kill them all first. That pussy President of ours will never figure that out."

"I'm through swallowing, sir. May I start dinner now?"

"Hell, yes, you dumb bitch! Do I have to figure out everything for you?"

"Thank you, sir, you're the best. I know you can fix the world! I'm so happy now I'm not living a lie."


Sunday, April 13, 2014

I Know Why The Caged Bird Sings


I had a viral video once. I was king for a day! Praise poured in from around the world. Both left and right lauded me. "SEE WHAT YOU CAN LEARN FROM A BIRD," screamed the headlines. I was everyone's wet dream: a moral monster for the world.

The first video of my bird, however, received many angry comments. I was bragging on how I'd trapped it and caged it. It fluttered madly to get out of the cage and resume its previous freedom. "Welcome to the real world, little bird! You're only as free as I say you are. Being able to imprison you means I have that right!" I mocked its futile efforts to escape. "Keep trying, birdy. The more you try the more it hurts!"

I got to play God, rewarding and punishing the bird as I saw fit by denying it food and water if it did not behave as I wished. (And of course however I wished it to behave was the correct way to behave.) I made all the rules and judged myself holy and knowing. Combining those two things was awfully convenient! But others got all pissy.

"You have no business being trusted with a helpless animal. Set it free! It obviously wants out of that cage, you prick!" "Yeah, whatever. Rapists want out of prison. You going to free them too? Get a life and leave mine alone." "Why don't YOU get a life and leave that bird's alone? There's no living with the likes of you!" "Bird looks perfectly alive to me. You're just imagining ills so you can spout your propaganda."


Around and around we went. I hated those "Set it free" people with all their phony moralizing and dictatorial mandates. This was how I got my jollies and if these people want to go to war that's fine with me! I'd love to shut you suckers up once and for all. Bring it on, bitch! This is how all wars get started, one person interfering in another man's jollies. A man's gotta get his rocks off come even the end of the world.

Truth was, though, I really wasn't enjoying much this private war. True, on one hand I relished it but it was also very oppressive as if I felt a large metal plate lowering itself on me, crushing me. Luckily, I had the most useful too of willful ignorance to ignore that. But the suppressed worry invaded my sleep no matter how many stories I read of righteous, lusty warriors. I was beginning to feel there was no way out - just like that damn bird.

Came a point where I lost all hope. I loved enraging all the online liberals and lying about how I was truly feeling, getting their goats. I'd just make up any old thing I wanted to get back at them. (While those idiots were trying to have an "honest" discussion. Morons!) But no matter how brave a face I put on, I had reached the end of my rope. That's when the miracle happened.

The bird no longer tried to escape. Rather, it sang happily, no more ramming itself against the bars. I had won. All my secret insecurities eating at me disappeared. I was reborn a new man, relieved of my burdens. Tentative to this new condition, I watched the bird to see if its behavior would continue. It did! Then, on the third day, I rose to life.


"Look at this bird!" I marveled in my soon to be famous flick. "It sings regardless of circumstance! It needs no 'freedom'. The cage is all it needs. Are you feeling trapped in your life? Then sing! Sing like the caged bird does. Forget about what you can't do. Look at what you can do! That's the secret to life. That's the secret to success. I am humbled by this creature of God."

And thusly I invoked godliness upon myself. The leftists loved it because it proved "the power of spirit" and "the ultimate goodness of life". "Life can only get you down if you let it," they crowed. I got an invite to appear on Oprah and to blog on Huffington Post. The right wing loved it because it proved you can capture, cage and control someone and have it turn out alright. "Life can only get you down if you let it," they crowed. Radio shows and churches came begging me to speak. My peace passeth all understanding.

The next day the bird died.

Seems ever since that morning it started singing it had refused to eat. Knowing it was to die, its voice returned at the thought of the coming freedom, the end of the nightmare at last. I'd assumed the vigor in its voice to be my vindication. I so dearly loved that bird at that moment. I thought I'd passed muster on judgement day. Now it sings in heaven watching me struggle in my cage of lies, pointless in every thing I do.


Tuesday, April 08, 2014

Weapons Of Mass Instruction


It began in the Crimea, a place of ancient wars. One of Putin's Pussies (Hint: If you want to be a real man don't let someone else do your thinking for you) raised his rifle in smirking superiority. However, when he tried to fire, the bullet went backwards, killing the soldier instantly. Soon it spread to every Russian weapon. If a tank tried to fire it blew itself up. Bombs detonated on airplanes. Artillery backtracked to the spot from where it was fired.

Back in Moscow, panicking Putin pissed his pretty pants. "We are completely vulnerable! Everyone will make fun of me! How can I be a strong man without weapons? I am nothing without guns!" Around the globe every man, woman and child laughed at the helpless loser exposed as the coward of the country. His many billions in assets were seized by a now undeceived populace. "Why did we think he ever deserved it?"

The condition spread with soon every middle east weapon backfiring. Stubborn American troops sustained heavy losses. "Our guns won't misfire. Things like that don't happen to us. We are America, we are the exception!" Eighty percent of American fighters died a self-destructed death, refusing to believe "God would ever betray us." The fanatical Taliban lost one hundred percent. Militaries around the world found themselves as useless as yesterday's newspaper. Cry as they might, they had no say in the new world order.


All the latest in insecurity

North Korea saw the chance of a lifetime, launching her nuclear missiles in full confidence of world domination. But she only succeeded in wiping the ruling family off the face of the earth. Still, back in America, despite the growing evidence the White House was taking no chances. "We must maintain security! What if we stopped our drone strikes and an attack happened? History would mock us until the end of time!" But of course the drone strikes only took out the White House - leaving the dead to be mocked by history until the end of time.

The Great Weapons Debate ensued. "This cannot be permanent! One day our weapons will fire as they did before. We must keep our armies and defense, never letting go! Do not dare to believe!" In some countries, they did dare, liberal voices ascending to power. With the military drain removed from their economies, they surged as world trade leaders. Those countries mired in the past warned, "You'll be sorry. Just wait an see!"

Soldiers wailed in agony. "How can my life have meaning if I can't kill anyone? Someone please call me a maggot." Many hardcore conservatives continued to self-destruct in attempts to prove their point of view still valid. "I've made five hundred million dollars and have tens of millions of followers. Who dare say I am wrong? I will fire any weapon anywhere anytime. My life has not been useless energy spent." In this way they continued to be picked off until nary a conservative voice was left alive.


"Who will be the last man to die of a self-inflicted wound?" This became the question of the day. Every hour came reports of those literally dying to be the hero to prove weapons were still the way. Very slowly, the worldwide rate started to drop. Children were the first to catch on, throwing away toy guns and army men. Many horrified parents created military academies to ensure the continued "responsible" torture of their offspring. But this generation too died off.

The "Obedient Ones" refused to accept the new ways of the world, mocking who they called the "Naive Ones." They continued in their failed goosestepping for glory. "Better to die preparing for war than irresponsibly living life." But as time passed, those who prepared for life won the day while the stubbornly proud and defiant ones languished worshiping altars made of munitions, praying to eye-less ear-less empty metal. And then there were none.

It was a new kind of freedom - a kind of freedom many thought impossible to be. A new kind of energy was unleashed sweeping the world to fresh realizations of what life could be. The meek who'd refused to war became the exalted "Trusted Ones" of the earth. With eyes opened, no man sought to "further his inner war" but rather to heal it. How futile those old weapons of mass destruction! Despite being proclaimed "the only way to be safe" the exact opposite proved true. Ultimate life comes without firing a shot.


Sunday, April 06, 2014

My Job Eating Dog Food

Ever see a moneylender crucified? Enough said.

People are monsters. They think they aren't, but they are. They all think they're Jesus on a stick ready to lick. Even the people who say they hate Jesus believe that. I knew Jesus. Jesus was a close personal friend of mine. You're no Jesus.

Eating dog food for a "living" is like living in a house made of shit. You have to live inside it but you never get used to the smell. People tell me I can get jobs eating different dog food - as if that's some sort of solution! Really? I hope you die.

Everyone's against me. Everyone's against themselves. I know what God will do if I stop hurting myself. Death. Death in the worst, most horrific way possible. Jesus refused to hurt himself so he had to pay the price. It wasn't the Jews who killed Jesus. It was you dog food fuckers, you "people of faith". Faith in what, asshole?

You can't say you don't like eating dog food or the hysterics come fast and furious, wailing to the heavens I'm destroying your precious lies. The weeping and gnashing of teeth is instantaneous and uncontrollable: the true face of the dog food lovers. Who can live with you? Nobody. I can't even say I hate eating dog food. You know why? Because you know it's true. This is you.

You pretend to like it so you can force
others to do it. Die soon, please.

Want a "challenging" career? Then eat two bowls instead of one! That's mighty white of you. Double down on the lies. Keep pretending you're making things "work". Assassins. That's how assassins think: "I can't be wrong. Do more killing!" Your unexamined life is not worth living with.

I get it. It's all about the rape. Rapists only want to hear their victims in private. In public, you say there must be something wrong with me. In private, you gut people like a pig. People are the worst kept secret ever. Everybody is already known. The time not admitting that is running out and will soon be gone forever. What you gonna do then, Alpo breath?

People vote themselves to be Jesus but Jesus would never vote: too much faith in the natural order of things. Why should I need tend to an honest man's business? But the dishonest man must answer to himself too. I cannot answer for anyone but me. Everyone needs to get down off their hind legs and reflect. Good things will happen - just not for the way of forced dog food eating.


Yes, I am a heretic. "Love is all you bleed" is the assassins' creed. Death is holy and wanting to live a sin. "Give me an essay on how we can make death work. Good boy, Billy! We're going to give you a new TV! Not bad for your useless old soul, huh?" Everyone's a winner, baby. Whoever cashes in the most for their soul wins. Arf, arf!



Monday, March 10, 2014

Way Of The Gun (Your Time Is Gonna Come)


He'd read about such men as a child. Outlaws on the run, living on the outskirts of society, their lives steadily withering away. Drip by drip their options dissipating until finally, they have no place left to go. In that moment they'd simply turn to the wall and die, the will to live passing away with their breath, the last flickering of light vanishing from solid black eyes.

And now, he was one of them - though having taken a completely opposite path. Ben had always done his best to follow the mores of society. He went to college, studied by the sheer force of his will to gain an MBA and strained his way into management, making himself as useful as possible. His rewards were purely external: a nice paycheck, social standing, and most of all a way to shut out the world. But he had followed the rules for being responsible and took succor in that above all else.

But over the course of the two plus decades of his tenure, the world had moved on. A new standard of evil had evolved while Blind Ben labored to maximize company profits. His stalwart motto was to put the company before himself, to be an asset. In that he reasoned he would have safety. But that was not the world in which he lived. In the new breed of evil, reason was for fools.

Dread Scott moved in on this new wave of discourse, a purely political animal calculating his every move, currying favor and surmising his co-workers' weaknesses. Upon spying Ben he found a particularly juicy target, one whose rape he greatly anticipated. He knew he could shatter Ben's world and leave him destitute - all the while remaining untouched himself. What fools these men are who try to be honest! They know not the way of the world.


It irked Ben at first to see credit taken for his labors by his new overlord. No mention was ever made of Ben's contributions. In fact, Dread Scott trumpeted his Grand New Ways of doing business, regaling his easily duped superiors who were made of the same political mold. The industrious, the trusting, the dutifully loyal, were wholly despised by the likes of Dread Scott. For the moment the company was prosperous and bountiful and he knew his destructive moves would not be brought to the light of day until far too late.

In the meantime, plans must be made to rid the workplace of any souls of integrity. He cherished and relished his role as betrayer and assassin. His worm tongue whispered sweet lies pretending concern for his intended target and an anxious demeanor for the well being of the company - despite his efforts resulting in exactly the opposite. Dread Scott loved the lying game, of managing deception rather than people. He even managed his family with the same sickening method.

The day of Ben's assassination was arriving with great anticipation. Dread Scott rehearsed what would be one of his prized performances. He'd spent the last year minimizing and ridiculing Ben's practices, foreplay to the climax of the kill. There would be a big meeting and a conference call where he'd stare down anyone who dare defy his new world order. How delicious!

"Are there any questions?" he asked after the firing. The attendants answered in a thunderous silence of hate and contempt. When no word came: "I didn't think there would be," he smirked. Later he brazenly sent an email declaring Ben had decided to depart on his own and in future meetings lambasted Ben for leaving on such short notice as they tried to pick up the pieces of his projects. Next month, Dread Scott's bonus check was bigger than ever and the devil wept with joy.


It was true Ben had not followed his heartfelt desires in life (whatever those were). But he never saw himself as one who would end up like an outlaw on the run to one day be cornered in dire and hopeless circumstance. At 55 as a mid-level manager, he was the most unwanted creature on the planet. His replies from seeking employment bordered on the vicious. Ben was a leper by whom no one wanted to be infected. Gradually, Ben's eyes opened too late, having never wanted to see the evil. Now, he only saw the blank wall in front of him.

Few would guess driving down the wealthy, manicured streets of Plano, Texas that such a forlorn situation could even exist behind the plush exteriors and clean, new cars. Ben had read of the mayor of a fellow wealthy suburb who had shot her daughter and then herself rather than face her secret ruin. Addiction to appearances ran high in these neighborhoods but Ben vowed not to be a victim of such thinking. He sold everything, moving into a cheap condo in a lower middle class berg. He'd use the cash to finance the time he needed to find a way out.

It was at the end of this time Ben decided to needed to buy a gun while he still had the cash. His nights were sweat filled torments of unreal walls closing in on him, burying him alive. Next step was life on the streets, to die in a slow agonizing death as the pirate Dread Scott counted his ever higher pile of cash. What was the point of going through all that hell? Ben had prayed himself silly but could find no god with ears that listened, he was as helpless as Jesus on the cross.

The way of the gun had now become The Way. This would be his salvation, his way of cheating an unholy world and an uncaring God. "If You think I am wrong, God, then feel free to stop me. But I know You won't! We've been left to die! Life has no point or meaning. Doing the right thing means nothing. It's Your evil children who see reward. Hope is the ultimate illusion."


And yet, he was repulsed by the sinister black revolver. In his worst moments he found comfort in its presence, that he had a way to stop the pain and torture. But he crawled forward, clinging to what little life afforded him, even as the world collapsed around him. Ben wondered if he could shoot the pirate Dread Scott, to "make the world a better place." But that was not within him, feeling Nature would rectify the ills of Man in due time. Then a more immediate issue came up.

A small black man in a ski mask began his own campaign of terror in the condos and apartment complexes where Ben now found himself. Notices were posted to be on the look out for this serial criminal operating at night, waiting for victims to leave their cars in the exposed parking lots. But Ben had had enough. Time would come when he'd eat his final bullet but no more pirates could he suffer. Long contained anger finally boiled over.

Ben purposely came back alone to his condo deep in the night, daring the robber. His solitary pattern would surely be noticed - but not his carefully concealed gun. Time to rid the world of a predator. That's the only thing these animals understand. What infuriated Ben even more was the knowledge the suited predators would always escape conviction, free to wreak wholesale devastation while the small fry did time in the struggle for survival. Still, he'd not be raped ever again.

"Fuck you, asshole!" cried Ben as the shot rang out. He had no idea how he'd truly react if the time came. He might have even handed over his wallet and cell phone as the robber commanded despite being armed himself. Instead, the outrage of the past eighteen months of his life exploded with an angry trigger as the black figure dropped to the ground. If anything, Ben wanted to shoot him again - and again and again and again.


When the police arrived it was determined the armed robber had been armed with a BB pistol. In his guilt, Ben reverted to his previous ways of revering authority and trusting society's institutions. He informed the officers he'd kept the gun concealed but no, he had did not have a permit to do so. Ben was arrested for the gun violation and also charged with involuntary manslaughter. He was thrown into a room of nothing but walls but this time without the comfort of a permanent escape.

The D.A. licked his chops at the prospect of an easy conviction to pad his numbers and further his career - another pirate in the waters. He ordered three more charges to be trumped up, leaving Ben facing a possible twenty years and a ten thousand dollar fine. Overcharging is a common tactic in order to reach plea deals to show a high percentage of convictions. All but the most serious charge is then dropped (because they wouldn't stand up in court anyway) and the cowed defendant - guilty or innocent - agrees under legal duress.

Ben got ten years probation. His appointed lawyer knew the ropes and processed his client without a fight. The county would receive a nice stipend from the monthly probation fees. But for Ben who was unemployed and now a convicted felon, his prison was permanent. When it was discovered he'd taken his fatal escape, authorities scoffed at his dead body, seeing it as proof of a guilty corpse. "We are the survivors. We are the good ones."

*****

Then I heard a loud voice from the temple saying to the seven angels,
“Go, pour out the seven bowls of God’s wrath on the earth.”

The first angel went and poured out his bowl on the land, and ugly, festering sores broke out
 on the people who had the mark of the beast and worshiped its image.

The second angel poured out his bowl on the sea, and it turned into blood
like that of a dead person, and every living thing in the sea died.

The third angel poured out his bowl on the rivers and springs of water,
and they became blood. Then I heard the angel in charge of the waters say:
“You are just in these judgments, O Holy One,
you who are and who were;
for they have shed the blood of your holy people and your prophets,
and you have given them blood to drink as they deserve.”
And I heard the altar respond:

“Yes, Lord God Almighty,
true and just are your judgments.”

Friday, March 07, 2014

Kenji, Tokyo Orphan (What Does It Mean To Write?)


Mariko was known as one of the most stunningly beautiful women in Tokyo. Her smoldering eyes and winning smile charmed smitten hearts and inflamed hopeless desires. Many a soul panged how one night with her would change a life forever. Sharks and vultures, sycophants and adolescents, pinged her on a daily basis in a circling swarm. Marriage was never more than a whispered "Yes" away. Yet with these blessings comes a curse.

While so many wanted her for what she was, Mariko must find the one who wanted her for who she was. She must not sell out her smile. She didn't need "a" marriage like many of her friends ("I'm just happy to be married!"), she had to have "the" marriage in order to make her life work. With very few understanding this she felt quite alone and isolated. But how does the most beautiful woman in Tokyo explain feeling lonely and isolated?

*****

Kenji also felt alone and isolated in the shimmering city of lights. But no one would harbor ill will for his feeling that way. Blinded at a young age, he had grown into a dark world. He felt very sorry for himself, never trusting anyone to have an interest in him. Having never seen his own face, he assumed it to be one of ugliness - cursed like the rest of him. Life was an endurance test until the blessed relief of being six feet under.

Feeding into his cursed outlook, Kenji took a job as a masseur, a job in which he had no interest but was the traditional role for a blind person in Japan, the lack of sight allowing for modesty by the client. Though while not enjoying it he still ruthlessly forced himself into performing well - but it was the same as forcing his head under water; he could only stand it for so long. Others had a reason to try to live, Kenji believed he did not.


A drunk driver brought these two souls together, the superstar and the loser. Her back misaligned by the wreck, part of Mariko's therapy was massaging by Kenji in the clinic where he worked. He'd already heard word of her, listening to the low, envious voices of the men who spied her. Kenji had never seen such a commotion and when he found out he was to be her masseur was wildly bitter at the gods above. Freaks do not wish to be exposed to the beautiful people.

"Your touch is superb. You know exactly where to go."

In Kenji's world, compliments are insults. If only she knew what he had to go through to provide that touch! It was not sustainable and to be liked for what brought him torment was no prize indeed. Six feet under cannot come soon enough. He should have done a poor job so he could be rid of this "wonder woman" as the guys called her. Kenji did not need to be reminded of the divide between him and the likes of Mariko.

Not wanting to encourage further "compliments" and having missed his chance to drive her away with feigned incompetence, Kenji decided to use his secret weapon: he'd be himself. That will run her off! Take your false compliments and mockery elsewhere. The light does not belong on me.

"Even without hearts and minds,
"Plants wither in the passing days.
"In seeing this,
"Are we not ashamed?"

"Excuse me?"

It was as close as Kenji could come to what he thought was insulting her without directly taking a shot. She with her fine beauty and countless suitors could never know the shame or the lowliness of a life like his, he assumed. He would feed her the ugly truth and she would duly flee to the hills to continue her life of the undoomed.


"A poem I once heard." In truth, it was Kenji's own, poetry his one most valued refuge from a wearying world.

"I very much like it. No life should wither. But how often do we face that?"

Kenji's stunned reply was with his hands, caressing her as a work of art. She must be preserved at all costs, a woman like this. She speaks of truth and not of the drowning lies Kenji hears day after day. She had fed him water in the dry desert. Could this be real?

Mariko insisted Kenji be her only masseur. If Kenji could have seen himself he'd have realized he was beaming like the sun. That night, in bed, he thought of nothing but her. He'd put his toe in the water but surely he could go no further. If he kept being himself at some point she would reject him like everyone else. "To good to be true" was the phrase to remember.

The next day, Mariko very excitedly dreamed to him.

"Even if I
"repeated a love's name
"forever,
"could outward life match
"the intensity of our hearts?"

She explained she'd been inspired by his poem. Inspired?? By me?? Is heaven for everyone, after all? Again, Kenji could only reply with his hands, his delighted heart wallowing in this kindred spirit. She touched his inner life, of the world needing no eyes. What could he do for her? He'd give his life if he could.

When passing to his predetermined path home, Kenji heard the men at the clinic talking once more, fantasizing about Mariko. His heart burned in murderous jealousy. These were men who could offer a life beyond him. They could lay with her in the night, sharing her most intimate moments. Kenji too desired that beyond all else - only he had never seen her face.


He knew he must come up with a reply for her poem. In his private times of poetry, Kenji did not feel blind. He wished to live in those times forever. But a cursed man's poetry would surely be as rejected as he was. Still, she was giving him a chance to live - a chance he could not humanly resist.

"I had a vision last night. May I share it?"

"Yes, please do!" answered a truly delighted Mariko. Her enthusiastic response had him floating on air.

"By a flowering bloom,
"and by the lamp of the moon
"she reads her letter."

She gave no immediate reply but Kenji felt a shudder through her body. Had his arrow hit home?

"That's very beautiful. So simple, so clear. I can see it perfectly."

Yes! He, Kenji the cursed, had given her physical pleasure by his words. Let the clinic hounds match that! At first, he was disbelieving he could ever have anything in common with such a lovely creature and his pride knew no bounds in her relating to him. Now he wished her ugly to the world so he could keep her all to himself. These therapy times - these appointed, outwardly arranged times - consumed Kenji to the point where he desired them only more and more.

Mariko, for her part, felt herself too walking out on frozen ice, not knowing if it would break at any moment. She feared a man to whom her physical charms meant nothing. She'd never before realized how much she relied on that. Poetry had long been a secret passion of hers but she dared not face her need for it. She was being awakened - awakened by a blind masseur with a mystical face. What does it mean?


Kenji was asking himself the same question: what does this mean? It was like a long lost dream come true. In fact, he found a new part of himself gone since childhood. He must hear her poem tomorrow. He must know of her and continue to explore. Was life really life?

"Things That Make One's Heart Beat Faster," she proudly announced. "Do you wish to hear my list?"

Kenji wanted to scream an orgasmic "YES!" but fear halted him. It was the first time he'd held back from her (which scared him). "I want to hear them all," he meekly replied.

"Chirping sparrows feeding their young. [Originally she had written "watching sparrows" but changed it to "chirping" for Kenji's sake]. To sleep in a room where fine incense has been burned. To wash one's hair, make one's toilet, and put on scented robes; even if not a soul sees one."

"Those are wonderful, truly. Small moments that live forever."

"I have one more!" Kenji smiled unabashedly at her uncontainable joy. Even he could see she held him in high esteem. "It is night and one is expecting a visitor. [Kenji's heart sank thinking that visitor could never be him] Suddenly one is startled by the sound of raindrops, which the wind blows against the shutters."

"Oh, my," gasped Kenji reflexively.

Never had Mariko's smile shined so brightly. She had feared her need to write but this joining of souls inspired her to new heights, creating as never before. To be known as a poet, not simply a holder of beauty that fades. How far down this line can she go? Where does it end? Could she write poetry that actually sells? All she knew was she didn't want this ride to end.


But the end weighed heavily on Kenji's mind. He'd flashed in deep anger when he heard the news, wanting to choke the life out of that voice. Mariko's sessions were coming to an end. This exciting, glorious peek into her life had lifted and exhilarated him like an explosive tornado. What happens when her assigned time with him goes away? Would she see him in real life?

Kenji's poetry output had exploded with Mariko's arrival, he could barely eat a meal without a new inspiration interrupting him. He couldn't write like she could of life and visitors and scented robes - though his love of hearing of her living world knew no bounds. Yet she envied his insights into the universe - a trait which cannot be bought nor learned. Each was a greater person together than apart - where each felt a fraud in comparison.

So what does it mean to write? Kenji and Mariko filled holes in the life of the other that even a spouse might never fill. Could he live with a need he could never marry? Could she live with a need outside of a marriage? They had tasted heaven as some never do. But the train was pulling into the station, the surreal trip coming to an end. Would they get off the train together?