Living on a Prayer (Part 5) Final Episode

11 Jan

5 1

Rick came creeping up on the scene in desert camo. The townsfolk were still gathered around the burrow both curious about the interaction of the two groups of dogs under their feet and yet worried about the sick ones. Some were on their knees praying.

“They ain’t talking to the real God. The real God wants ‘em dead” Rick said as he spat on the ground.

*          *          *           *         *          *

“Hey Timmy, I´m going to nose around outside and see if I can find anything out” Clapper said.

“Those people are still out there, they might hurt you” he answered.

“No, they brought us here. From what I gather, they’re on your side, but I am still not 100% sure”

*          *           *           *           *          *

5 2

Clapper snuck out a rear hole. He immediately smelled traces of the poison in the air. He couldn´t pinpoint the source of the smell but it was surely not coming from the mass of the townsfolk gathered around the burrow. He picked up a strong scent and followed it to some shrubs around 30 yards from where they were. He found a scraggly man hiding out in the bushes in a prone position. The smell was surely coming from him.

Clapper snuck up from behind the man and with ferocious speed, bit off a chunk of the subject’s calf. “OUCH!” Rick cried from the bushes.

“Rick? What the hell you doing over there?” Judge yelled. “You ain’t got nuttin to do with these sick critters now, do you?”

Rick was wild eyed, “It ain’t right! Prairie dogs gots to pray! You shouldn’t have to teach ‘em. These here ain’t of God.”

Clapper was confused but he started putting the pieces together.

“These here Texas dogs are Godly. They pray. Ours don’t. Ours are of the devil”

Clapper finally figured out why he and his cohorts were brought to this dog town.

“Sheriff, put him in cuffs, for animal cruelty” Judge ordered and the sheriff obliged.

“Man law can’t get my soul!” Rick yelled as he was put in the Sheriff’s SUV and taken away.

“What a night, Judge!” Mary Ann said as her hand brushed his. She was surprised when he gently took hold of it.

“Yeah, sure was a little crazy. How about we make it a little crazier? I would like to ask you out to dinner with me some time, if you´d like…” he asked.

“My word, I’ve been waiting a long time to hear those words! YES!” she answered. “Look! There are some prairie dogs coming out of the borrow, they look fine!”

*          *          *           *            *          *

“You were brought here to teach us to pray, yet you guys don´t even do it?” Sammy asked, laughing to himself.  

“It’s what I gathered; and that crazy guy in the bushes tried to kill you guys for not doing so” Clapper answered, “I recommend you give them what they want. We can teach you how to meditate, we all do it. It’s wonderful. Life changing even. You could assume the prayer position and appease the townsfolk and yet benefit from this time spent”

“Ah-hem” Timmy said.

“Just keep praying Timmy” Sammy said, “You aren’t hurting or annoying anyone and you like it” he finished, giving Timmy a high five.

“Clapper, are you guys gonna stay with us?” Julie asked.

“I guess that’s up to the townsfolk. We are quite a ways  away from Texas” he answered, “But, wherever we end up, I believe it’s how it’s supposed to be”

 

The end.

5 3

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Living on a Prayer (Part 4)

10 Jan

4 1

Living on a Prayer (Part 1)        Living on a Prayer (Part 2)      Living on a Prayer (Part 3)

The night arrived for the grand reintroduction. The townsfolk were excited. Saul put on his only suit for the occasion. They arrived with candles poking through paper plates in their hands. They were horrified by what they found.

There were prairie dogs everywhere writhing on the ground. The Townsfolk didn’t know what to think. Mary Ann piped up “Maybe we are too late. Satan has already taken hold here”

“I don’t know but the Texas dogs are going nuts in these crates. They are clawing to get out!” Judge said.

“Release them” Saul said, “Trust me”

“Ok” Judge said, flipping open the latches.

*          *          *          *          *          *

The native dogs rushed into the burrow out of pure fear. Once inside the leader, Clapper, called out “Anybody down here? These are clearly prairie dog burrows and there are plenty of signs they are currently occupied”

After taking a look around, the native dogs discovered why they were not properly greeted. There were numerous prairie dogs strewn about in various states of consciousness.

Clapper took in the scene and knew exactly what to do. “Find me some desert grass, red clay from a dried creek bed and as much cactus meat and milk as you can find! Stat!”

“Poisoned?” Jumper asked.

“Poisoned” Clapper answered, “Everything is going to be fine” he shouted to the suffering prairie dogs as he then put his front paws together and closed his eyes.

4 2

*          *          *            *          *          *

As the night wore on, native dogs came and went with the ingredients requested by Clapper. It was working. Not a single prairie dog’s life was lost. Even the most far gone dogs were only experiencing mild to strong discomfort, but were completely out of the danger zone.

“This was an intentional poisoning” Clapper said.

“How could you tell?” Timmy asked.

“Let´s just say, native dogs have been in struggle with humans for centuries. We have seen it all. We pass down the knowledge. I can see how this got you by surprise. You’ve never faced anything like this before”

“I bet your prayer helped” Timmy side wide eyed and with a big smile.

“Prayer?” he paused to think “What?”

“I saw you praying, after you gave the orders to gather ingredients to make the medicine. You know, hands together, eyes closed….talking to the Lord”

“Oh…Hahaha, you thought I was praying? That’s just how I think. We all do that! No prairie dog has actually prayed in earnest for generations. One or another gets the idea in their head to pray, but it usually passes, like a fad”

“Oh” Timmy said. He sat in silent thought for a little before asking, “Why are you guys here?”

“Maybe we were brought to save you. Beyond that, I have no idea”

“Well, I´m glad you came regardless”

“You know what? Considering we were able to help the way we did, I am glad too”

(To be continued…..)

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Living on a Prayer (Part 3)

9 Jan

Living on a Prayer (Part 1)

Living on a Prayer (Part 2)

3 1

Judge sent Saul to procure native prairie dogs from Texas. He was given the instructions to come back with at least twenty and to make sure he saw them praying before picking them. A week later he came back with 50 Texas prairies dogs. In the meantime, the community was following Mary Ann´s recommendation, holding nightly prayer vigils around the prairie dog town.

*           *          *          *          *          *

Sammy turned to Julie “What is this all about?”

“I have no idea but I kind of like the songs” she answered.

“I love it!” Timmy said “Who knows, maybe you two will change your minds after all” he trailed off and started singing along to one of the hymns. He had memorized all of them after the third day.

“I have an uneasy feeling about this. The humans up to now have pretty much left us alone. The last time they paid a lot of attention to us, they killed us off, you know” Sammy said.

*           *          *          *          *          *

The townsfolk decided to introduce the native prairie dogs during one of the nightly vigils. They were going to release them on two separate nights, 25 each night. Rick hadn´t been seen for days and the whole town was a little worried about that.

*          *          *          *         *           *

“I don´t feel well” Sammy said.

“Me neither” Julie said.

3 2

“I told you guys not to eat that stuff we found! How many others ate it?” Timmy asked.

“Almost everybody” Julie answered.

Moans were echoing through the burrows. The sounds of vomiting and lamenting were deafening. Timmy immediately started praying.

*         *          *          *          *          *

 

3 3

Rick was in his basement in front of a monitor. He had hidden game cameras all around the burrows. He was rejoicing in the prairie dogs’ agony.

“Serves them damn heathen prairie dogs right!” he said to himself. “God wanted em dead and I shall be the hand of the Lord” he paused, “That sounds perty good” he added, cracking another beer and cackling over his own wit.

  (To be continued…)

Living on a Prayer (Part 4)

Living on a Prayer (Part 2)

8 Jan

Living on a Prayer (Part 1)

2 2

While Timmy was still deep in prayer, more prairie dogs started to come out of the burrow.

“Hey guys!” Julie said to Sammy and Timmy.

“Shhhhh…” Sammy said mockingly, “Father Dear is having a sacred moment over here”

“I can still hear you” Timmy said, opening his eyes “Ah, now I can start my day”

“You still doing that Timmy? You must be like, literally the only one left” Julie said, “I sometimes get the urge, but then I´m like ‘Why bother’” Julie said.

“You should go with that urge, Julie. It´ll make you feel good” Timmy said.

Julie and Sammy just looked at each other. They then turned to Timmy and in unison said “Nah!”

“Let´s go to work, guys?” Sammy said.

“Let´s” Timmy and Julie answered.

*           *          *          *          *          *

Back at the town hall, people were slowly filling the rows of foldable chairs. The back row was already occupied by sleeping seniors.

When everyone was seated, Judge banged the table with his hammer. “I hope everybody had a good lunch and your bellies are full. We got business to attend to. Let´s spitball some ideas”

Mary Ann stood and said “We could hold a prayer vigil at night around their holes and sing hymns. Maybe we can reinstill the Lord in them beautiful critters.

“All right, I like that” Judge said with a smile while simultaneously making and avoiding eye contact with her.

“I know the solution” Rick said as he stood up. He made his way to the front of the congregation as to address it head on, “We killed em off once and we can kill em again. It ain´t natural they ain´t praying. They´s prairie dogs. Pray is in they name. Maybe God didn´t want them back. Maybe it was a mistake and this is a sign it ain´t Godly”

The crowd was murmuring. Mary Ann stood up, “Surely you don´t mean that” she paused, “besides we spent a lot of money already to bring them back”

“We done spent a lot of money in Vietnam and that don´t mean we should have gone on being there and it sure don´t mean it was right” Rick answered.

“Rick, not everything is about Vietnam and killing” Mary Ann said.

“Well, that´s my idea” Rick said as he started for his seat again.

“Thank you Rick, anybody else?” Judge asked. Nobody stirred. “So we got prayin and killin. I ain´t one for killin, so…

“Suit yourself” Rick said with a sneer, “Ya´ll do what ya´ll gotta do, I´m gonna do what I´s gotta do”

A hand rose meekly from the middle of the room.

“Please stand up, Saul” Judge asked.

Saul obliged and nervously started, “This phenomenon has only been observed in reintroduced Cynomys, or prairie dogs if you will, correct?”

“Quit using them big words” Rick interjected.

Judge shot Rick a reprimanding look and turned to Saul, “Please Saul, go on”

“Yes, you see, native Cynomys across the region still pray in majority numbers. Only the reintroduced ones do not. I believe, if we could introduce some native Cynomys to our Cynomys’ town, they might get them to pray”

Some scattered applause erupted from the crowd. “That´s smart!” someone yelled. Rick just sat there with his arms crossed and a scowl on his face. 

Living on a Prayer (Part 3)

Living on a Prayer (Part 1)

7 Jan

1 1

 

Prairie dogs were once one of the most abundant mammals in the Great Plains region of the United States of America. They were thought of as a nuisance by the settlers and therefore brutally massacred, almost to extinction. In fact, at one point, Arizona did completely eradicate the critters inside its border.

Efforts have been to reintroduce the rodents to their natural habitat in the state of Arizona. It has paid off. Although their numbers are nowhere near their peak, there are many healthy, thriving communities that known as “towns”. There seems to be on anomaly with this second generation of prairie dogs that has the locals in an uproar.

*          *          *          *          *          *

1 2

Timmy and Sammy popped their heads out of their burrow at the same time as every other day, just at the break of sunrise. Timmy surveyed their vast dessert domain and said to Sammy, “Good morning! How about we pray a little?”

“No, I´m not feeling it today” Sammy answered.

“You´re not feeling it almost every day as of late”

“Yeah, I don´t know. I just don´t think it does anything” Sammy said, looking down at the warming, red clay desert floor.

“What do you mean? We are back from extinction! That´s a miracle, that´s God!” Timmy said with enthusiasm.

Sammy felt peeved by Timmy´s fervor “We were extinct. Millions of us were murdered. We wouldn´t have had to come back from extinction if we hadn´t been extinct in the first place!”

“Fair enough, but suit yourself” Timmy said, closing his eyes. “but I choose to stay positive, besides, believing gives me powers to not do some things that I would otherwise do” he said before falling into silent prayer.

“I prefer to be a realist. Face life and reality on their terms and I got discipline. I don´t need no ghost in the sky to get me to not do stuff”

Without opening his eyes Timmy put his index finger to his lips and said “Shhhhhh…”

1 3

*           *          *          *          *          *

Right before lunchtime, back in the town, the people were having a community meeting.

“Order!” Judge Barns said as he smacked the table with a hammer, an actual framing hammer, not a gavel.

“But we´re hungry Judge” Andy said.

“We need to get to the order of business, the damn heathen prairie dogs” he answered.

“Language” Mary Ann piped up.

“Sorry” Judge said, blushing, “These gosh darn prairie dogs”

“They ain´t prayin’! Why they ain´t prayin’?” shouted a concerned citizen.

“I have no idea” Judge said. “But Andy´s right. Let´s adjourn for lunch and meet back here in an hour and a half”

“Here, here!” the crowd shouted.

Living on a Prayer (Part 2)

1 4

 

The Teacher

21 Dec

teacher

Melinda dedicated her adult life to the education of children. Even as a teenager she volunteered to work with kids every moment she got the chance. It was a dream come true to open the doors of her very own pre-school. It was a conquest three years in the making from the time she wrote her business plan.

Her philosophy was to learn through play. She didn´t believe in disciplining behavior at all. She didn´t even believe in verbal reprimands. A child was to express themselves, no matter what. That was her creed.

Her first prospect came through the door during her open house event. Joann entered, dragging her son Chad by the arm. Melinda gave them the well-rehearsed tour followed by her even more well-polished sales pitch. Joann wasn´t even listening. She was going to sign on the dotted line, even if the tuition was her entire substantial life savings.

Chad had been kicked out of every child care facility in the 30 mile radius. Joann couldn´t take one more day with him at home. Every appliance was now broken, windows were shattered and the cat was dead; all by the hands of Chad. She thought about trying to lock him up in some kind of troubled youth facility, but her mother in law would in turn, cut off the checks. The checks were too big to waive off. She had to attempt to throw one more Hail Mary.

Melinda smiled at Chad and he snarled back “See you next week, Chad” she said, never breaking eye contact and ignoring the animalistic sounds coming from the boy.

The first day of classes came. Chad had been the only student matriculated. Melinda saw this as an opportunity. She realized he was going to need some special attention.

“Good morning Chad! Welcome to the first day of school” Melinda said.

“Where´s the TV?” Chad snapped.

His mother was gesturing as if to say “No!” She leaned towards Melinda and whispered into her ear “Don´t let him have any screen time, it agitates him”

Melinda answered with pride “This school is a screen free zone. Even my cell phone is in my car”

Chad moaned and sprinted towards the door that was still somewhat ajar from when he and his mother had entered. He went right for Melinda´s car. There were only two cars in the parking lot and the other was his mom´s. He picked up a fairly large rock for his size and launched it at the driver´s side window. “Phone!” Chad shrieked. Luckily, the rock bounced off without leaving a scratch.

“Chad!” his mom screamed.

“It´s ok” Melinda said, “You can go. I´ll handle this”

“Are you sure?” she asked with her keys already in her hand as she was inching towards her car.

“Yes” Melinda answered.

Melinda took Chad by the hand and led him inside. Once the door was secured shut, Melinda kneeled down to Chad´s eye level. She gave him a big hug. Chad wept. She explained at length why what he did was wrong and how he was still a good kid who just needs to make better decisions. She also discussed why there were no screens in the school. Surprisingly, Chad understood.

Chad acted out, to a lesser extent, three more times that day. Each time, Melinda used the same tactic. Chad started warming to her, a lot. When Joanna came to pick Chad up, he didn´t want to go. He screamed, he scratched the walls. He even peed in his pants.

“I don´t know what you did or how you survived today, but…” Joanna said, perplexed “but you did something right”

As the school year went on Chad´s behavior, in class, was impeccable. Like a yellow Labrador, he wouldn´t leave Melinda´s side. At home, on the other hand, he was spiraling out of control. He went as far as to try to burn the deck to the ground. He was even fairly successful. The school was flourishing. Melinda had to double staff and even had to put potential students on a waiting list.

One day, a fancy dressed lawyer showed up to the show. He sat in Melinda´s office and produced a photo of a child. “Do you know this student?”

“Yes, of course, that´s my Chad!” she answered.

The lawyer made an inquisitive face at her response. “Indeed. Your Chad. This is the meaning of my visit Miss…”

“Doce, Melinda Doce”

“Yes, Miss Doce. I represent Chad´s grandparents. His mother has past…”

“What?!”

“His mother has passed away. She overdosed on a mix of pills and alcohol. His father does not want to continue with custody. His grandparents feel they are too old to properly care for him and besides, they could not control him to save their lives. He speaks of you fondly. Quite often. They´ve noticed a lot of positive change in him since he has been studying here”

“Oh my God. What´s going to happen to him?” tears were flowing down Melinda´s face.

“That depends on you Miss Doce. His grandparents have a proposal”

“What kind of proposal?”

“You get full custody of Chad. They want to see him quarterly and perhaps a little more in the quarters that have a major holiday. You´ll receive $15,000 per month for the rest of your life from a trust they will set up. Besides this, all of Chad´s expenses will be taken care of, clothing, medical care, athletics, eventually college…”

“I´d take him for FREE!” Melinda cried.

“His grandparents said that if you were to imply such a sentiment that the monthly stipend shall increase to $20,000 per month”

The lawyer went over more details and Melinda signed some paperwork. Chad became not only her student, but became her son. Her school grew and eventually opened franchises all over the region. After completing university, Chad shared the reins of Melinda´s educational empire. They were a happy family.

 

 

 

Greener Grass

19 Dec

Beach city

Rodrigo lived in a poor neighborhood in the small city of Sorocaba in Brazil. His father was a street vendor, he sold popcorn and his mother was a housekeeper. Rodrigo was never satisfied with his lot in life. He wanted more. He dreamed of one day moving to the United States.

Stan lived in an upper middle class neighborhood in New Jersey. He worked as a lawyer in Manhattan. His life consisted of a commute, work, sleep, a minuscule amount of time reserved for eating and little else. He had no family. He wanted to live more but he never turned down the firm when it needed him. He dreamed of one day moving to a tropical location and having daily adventures.

A step in Rodrigo´s dream came true at the U.S consulate in São Paulo. He was awarded his B-2 visitor visa. He could only stay six months and was not eligible to work, but as his grandmother used to say, “those are man´s laws and not God´s laws.” It was this convenient reasoning that he and his family used to skirt a lot of rules.  

Stan was called to H.R. one Friday afternoon and was given news that he wanted to hear for a long time. “Due to the negative financial climate in our great nation, we are going to have to lay you off.” With that news came a fat severance package. He immediately booked a trip to Rio de Janeiro. He was going to test the waters for a longer term move with this prolonged vacation.

After three months, Rodrigo found that the US wasn´t all he thought it would be. First of all, he arrived in the Boston metro area in December and it was already colder than his freezer back home. Secondly, he had to work. Work hard. Hard work was an even more foreign concept to him than the awful microwave dinners he was subsiding on. Lastly, he missed his friends and family.

In the same period of time, Stan was having a similar experience in Brazil. First, it was HOT. He sweated through three shirts a day. He also wasn´t learning Portuguese as fast as he thought he would. This isolated him. Lastly, he couldn´t get over how nothing worked properly. There were always lines to nowhere. Everywhere he went the system was always down and he found the workers to be unhelpful or incompetent. There was unavoidable corruption at every level of daily life.

Rodrigo decided he needed to pray. Nothing else was working and he figured it wouldn´t hurt. He walked to the nearest Catholic Church and to his surprise, they were having a mass in Portuguese. He took off his down coat and took a seat.

After repeating some sentences in a lifeless droning fashion and transitioning between kneeling, standing and sitting for what felt like fifty times minimum, Rodrigo felt better. That feeling went away quickly when he heard screams and shots. Rodrigo took five bullets from a self-proclaimed patriot who was tired of people praying to his God, in his country and in another language.

Stan realized that he was spending so much time dealing with bureaucracy of trying to get his affairs in order that he had taken very little time to go to the beach and live life. This was specifically why he chose to move to Brazil in the first place. He got his things together and went off to Copacabana Beach.

Stan sat in a chair in the sand under the sun with a delicious cold beer in his hand. He felt that he could get used to this. He watched beautiful women in bikinis walk by while he slowly rounded the corner from buzzed to drunk.

One lovely lady stopped to make small talk. It was a ruse to distract him. Her boyfriend came from the side with a knife and demanded all of Stan´s belongings. Stan refused. The thief plunged the knife into Stan´s heart with such precision he barely felt a thing. The murderous thief laughed with his girlfriend about how stupid the gringo was as they surveyed their booty while walking away from the scene.