Tuesday, January 21, 2014

There Came A Man Who Did Not Know

Nobody knew where the Stranger came from and nobody dared ask. Maybe we were afraid of the answer. Rumors naturally filled the gap. The most accepted explanation was he fell from the sky. Not that we really thought that's what happened. It's just that it so overwhelmingly felt that way.

The most curious aspect was that he lacked something we all had but had something we all lacked. That's about as close as we ever got to a definition. To know any more we'd have to take a harder look at ourselves. No one was up for that - at least not publicly anyway. The savage must vilify that which is not to his understanding to keep his world alive. The more well dressed the savage the greater the vilification.

Why he picked a farmer's market to announce his presence is anyone's guess. Perhaps because it sold the most basic tenet of life: food. The Stranger just walks right up, grabs the juiciest apple he can find and bites right into it. He smiles at the merchant as he starts to walk away.

"Hey there! You! Come back here."

"Why certainly, how may I help you?"

"You can help me by paying for that apple!"

"Have I not already? It is delicious."

"Are you nuts or something? Either you fork over the cash or I'm calling the cops."

"OK! See you around then."

A sharp eyed officer responded to the merchant's complaint. "You with the apple. Get over here. What is this nonsense?"

"Is eating nonsensical? What am I missing?"

"Stealing is what's wrong. If you can't pay the man I'll have to arrest you."

"How can I pay what I do not understand?"

"You saying you didn't swipe that apple?"

"Is not eating what they are for?"

The merchant went red in the face. "Them apples is for sale only!"

The officer had heard enough. "Ok, buddy, I'm gonna charge you with shoplifting. No more games."

"I'm afraid I don't see the problem. Is this man not happy to provide apples to share? Why do it if it does not make you happy?"

The sharing of the apples actually did make the seller happy. It was, in fact, a point of pride for him to have the best apples for sale in the market. He tried harder, he always said. The Stranger piqued him into a guilt he did not understand.

"It's a business, pal. I got expenses to pay for. People start freeloading and I got no more apples to sell no matter how much I like it!"

"The apples will cease to grow without pay?"

"I ain't talkin' to you no more. You got something wrong with your brain."

The officer was also highly agitated at this point, even with the farmer. "You pressing charges or what?"

"Nah, he's a retard or something. Just get him out of here."

"Ok, buddy. Move along. You've caused enough trouble."

"But doesn't everyone eat?"

"Just go!"

The Stranger's story ignited the market. Who was he? What was wrong with him? Why didn't he understand even the most simplest of concepts? And, secretly, they wondered why he caused such an enraging internal consternation. They damned him but knew not why, protecting their wares as he passed by.

As the Stranger left he passed by a street worker packing asphalt who cursed his life's misery and drudgery; a prisoner of fate.

"Excuse me, sir, I just overheard your pleas of despair. Why not simply do something more to your liking?"

"Fuck you!"

"Why does the idea of doing what you like cause such anger?"

Every system the same

"Are you some sort of half-wit? I'm feeding my family here."

"But despair is injurious to health and therefore is self-defeating to your stated goal."

"What planet do you live on? For your information I was a store manager for the past thirty years. Now I'm fifty-five years old and no one will touch me except the rip-off contractor I work for now. You got any bright ideas, asshole, I'm all fucking ears."

"I already gave you my bright idea."

"Just fuck off, wise guy, before I punch your face. Frickin' moron."

"What is moronic about promoting your welfare? Had I said, "Be miserable!" now that would be moronic!"

The ex-manager's co-workers held him back as he lunged for the Stranger's neck. The Stranger was perplexed by the man's red-faced fury and murderous eyes.

Walking on, the Stranger heard even mores stories of woe. Of "required ulcers", "mandated heart attacks" and "futile flat-lining." But he found that as curious as they found him. What's to be gained by all this, he wondered. Do they not want to live?

The Stranger was startled by that very question being posed to him. "Don't you want to live, man?"

That question was posed to him by someone commonly referred to as homeless.

"But of course. Is that not the universal desire of every human on this planet?"

"It's the desire of this human! But if you keep telling folks ta does what they want then you ain't gonna live, man. They'll put you down, shut you up and lock you away sure as shit."

"But for a man to do that he must first imprison himself."

"Don't count on that stoppin' anybody!"

"I'm at a loss how anyone can see that as in his best interest. Everyone must do as he pleases for life to work out."

"Dude, that just ain't gonna happen. You're wanting a miracle!"

"It is those who ask for life while imprisoning themselves who ask for the miracle! Nay, they ask the impossible."

"I can rap with that. Everyone gotta breathe, man. But way things is now if everyone starts breathing the whole system comes tumbling down."

"Is not breath inevitable?"

"Right there with you!"

"But does no one not see the absurdity of maintaining this course?"

"Hey, man , it's the people with all the stuff who make the decisions. Only decision they're going to make is keepin' everything the same so they can keep their stuff. What sucks is most everyone else still thinks the same even if they got nothin'."

"But this planet belongs to no one! Who made the sea, land and air?"

"I dunno that but somebody made the Porsche over there and I don't reckon that guy getting in is going to give it up."

"Even so, the materials of a planet are not of his making."

"You could make that argument to him! Can I watch?"

The Stranger sauntered over to the driver. "Sir, I have good news! No man has possessions so no man may be possessed."

"What are you? Some commie freak? Get a job."

"Would you not submit that the fruits of the world should be made available to all?"

"Uh, no?" The engine was also gunned twice in response.

"But a society under delusion of possession will then also seek to possess you."

"Right, that's why I got a car alarm, three guns, two bandito belts, pepper spray and real loud whistle. I know how to live, motherfucka!"

"A free man does not live under duress and a man not free does not live."

"No free man lives like that scraggly fucker over there and you can have that too, you freeloading jerk!" Porsche possessed man screeched away.

The homeless man was amusingly impressed. "Man, that was great! I'd give you something just for watching that if I had somethin'."

"No need for that when I do as I wish already."

"So you ready to give up asking peeps to do what they want?"

"Why wouldn't I have interest in every soul breathing?"

"Hey, I'm cool, man. Do your thang! I'm doing mine too." Taking a well wrapped joint from his pocket the homeless man took a pleasureful toke and held it out to the Stranger. This, however, was spotted by the farmer's market policeman who'd been following the Stranger in bitter resentment.

"You there, stop that!" whined the officer.

"Sure, man. But you gotta wait your turn." The homeless being winked at the Stranger and giggled.

"I'm taking you to jail. This is outrageous behavior! Children could see you. Now turn around while I frisk you."

The Stranger was appalled. "Uniformed man, I'd like to know by what sense you might imprison this fellow. I can't see how this is any of your business."

"You're a real smart ass, aren't you? Now shut your trap or I'll run you in for obstructing justice."

"How could mere words ever obstruct a man truly in the right? I can tell you, though, that I seek to obstruct no justice but I surely must stand in the way of injustice."

"Good. Now stay out of my way as I make the world safe."

"You make the world safe for endangerment? I say your actions are at odd with your words."

Just seeing this makes some people cry - to violence

"You really do got something wrong with you, don't you? This man is breaking the law!" The homeless man, inspired by the Stranger, stuck out his tongue. "See? See the anarchy! My job is to enforce the law. If I don't then I don't eat, my wife don't eat and my kids don't eat. If I gotta choose between endangering a law breaker and my family guess which way I'm going to choose!"

"But that's no choice at all! You are contributing to social disorder and chaos, undermining the necessary trust every society needs to exist. You cannot tell me you think endangerment wise."

"Ain't my job to think. That's what the law's for. When the law changes I'll change too."

"It's every person's job to think. You are violating the social contract and committing dereliction of duty."

"Dereliction of duty is what I'd get if I don't take this man in. Another word out of you and I'll take you in too!"

"But you don't want to take either of us in. Can you not see that is the source of your anger?"

"That's it! I'm taking you in! Let's see if some jail time straightens you out."

"Is freedom a crime on this planet?"

"Damn straight it is if you got it and I don't. So in you go! No more freedom for you!"

The next morning before the judge the Stranger had a question. "Excuse me, sire, are you so cold as to have to wear a robe?"

"The robe represents justice."

"Can not justice represent itself? It is a curious religion to believe one needs certain clothing to rule fairly."

"I can certainly see why you're here for obstructing justice. I'm ordering 30 days suspended sentence. Interfere with another officer and you'll find yourself serving out your time."'

"I fail to see what exactly that solves."

"It solves a complete lack of respect for the law."

"But is not the law to enable social order? This officer was endangering a fellow citizen. I merely stated thusly and the officer took offense."

"You cannot take the law into your own hands!"

"Why not? You are."

"I'm qualified to! Bailiff, get this man out of here!"

Reporters were waiting outside, curious about the Stranger who seemed ready made for curious quotes.

"Stranger! Why did you eat the farmer's apple?"

"He kindly brought it so I kindly ate it. You know as well as I it's the natural desire of every soul to contribute."

"Yeah, but you didn't contribute anything to him!"

"Verily, I did. You should have seen the satisfaction on his face when observing my delight with the bite."

"But the money? What about not paying the money?"

"I see no relevance outside of what took place. If you wish to fantasize otherwise then you waste your life."

"But everyone fantasizes about money! Don't you know you'll die if you don't too??"

"I'll die if I do not waste my life? Dear sir, listen to the illogic of what you're saying!"

And so it began: The Great Debate. It was as if the Stranger were a giant magnet helplessly pulling in the world around him. Most everyone had to argue with him! Only exceptions were those like the homeless man who laughed and giggled as the happy Stranger engaged with an increasingly bitter populace.

National microphones were jammed in his face as around the world voices felt compelled beyond reason to chime in on the Stranger's sentiments. The remarks were variations on the same theme: "He just doesn't understand responsibility! Not everyone deserves a Porsche! He's out of control and blind to reality! Someone needs to shut him up!"

Even more infuriating were the donations that flowed into the Stanger that many said kept him insulated from the demise of his philosophy. "He'd sing a different tune without money coming in! Tell those people to stop doing what they want or it will ruin everything!"

Finally, the inevitable happened as a shot rang out to stifle with a rifle the Stranger's voice. The world resumed its death march but never with the ease it had before. Now and forever the Stranger's voice echoed in their ears as they cursed themselves for having given him global coverage. They could not unhear what they heard nor unknow what they knew. Some say the Stranger must have been an angel for in the eyes of angels we are a planet possessed of mad fools who deny what they want for no reason.

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