Tuesday, March 29, 2011

Meanwhile, back at the ranch….

I'm sitting in my usual booth with my usual Corona, trying to relax. Last night took something out of me… it's never easy to be a middleman between the living and the dead - and especially in a case like Laila's, where she didn't know her parents were dead.

Well, look who's here!

Rev. Fisher doesn't see me, concealed within the dark booth - but I see him. I grin and flip open my cell and send a pre-prepared text to three friends. Then I lean back, sip and wait….

It's maybe half an hour later that Rowan shows up. I watch Fisher as she enters. He sits up straighter, watching her intently. I wave Patti over and pass a note to her. She reads it and grins. Her hips twitch invitingly as she flounces back to the bar. She goes first to Ob, passes him the note and watches while he reads; then retrieves it and goes to Byte, who leads the shifter band - which still has no name.

It's intriguing to see how well-rehearsed our people are - especially given that they've never done this before. Without a hitch, the two bands join forces on the stage - and then Yours Truly struts boldly to the microphone and speaks.

"Good evening, ladies and gents, and welcome to the Twisted Tit Tavern! We've got a special show for you tonight, which I'm sure you noticed, since I'm not usually up here." (Laughter) "The fact is, we have a special guest tonight, a man we all know, a pillar of the community and an outspoken foe of all that is wicked and perverse - ladies and gentlemen, I give you the Reverend Matthew Fisher! Give the man a hand!"

A blue spot comes up and catches the startled minister, pins him like a butterfly on a corkboard.

"Welcome, Your Holiness, to the Twisted Tit Tavern. I hope you enjoy our show tonight as much as some of us have enjoyed yours.

We have other guests tonight, ladies and gentlemen. Allow me to introduce them as well. You all know our friend Rowan" - another spot comes up to find her; she smiles and waves - "well, she has a male counterpart. From the Silver Moon Coven of Exton, this is the high priest to Rowan's high priestess - Cathbad!" The spot moves from Rowan to focus on a guy in camo fatigues, sitting just to the right of the main door. He has a pleasant, friendly face, with brown eyes and brown shoulder-length hair. He waves briefly, smiling.

"Rev, Rowan and Cathbad have told me how you disrupted their Beltane service last May, showing up with a fleet of cars playing hymns full blast." I make a sorrowful face. "That wasn't nice… how'd you like it if they showed up in church some Sunday and started singing 'Play Dat Funky Music' during the collection?

For those who don't know, the Coven has just purchased its own Covenstead - some twenty acres of unspoiled woodland on the outskirts of Exton. It's private property - posted as such - which means that anyone who enters uninvited can be arrested for trespassing. That's assuming, of course, that the Coven doesn't choose to shoot first.

Speaking of shooting… Cathbad here is a veteran of Desert Storm, a Marine Corps sniper during that conflict. I had the privilege to be invited into his home recently, and let me tell you, folks, this man has some serious ordnance tucked away! We talked about the Burning Times while I was there, the bad old days when the Church murdered hundreds of Pagans for having the audacity to believe something different. Let me tell you, if those days come again, Cathbad is ready! I won't give away his secrets, but let's just say that if someone steps onto Coven land looking for trouble, they'd better have God on their side, because Cathbad has some mega-firepower on his!

Oh - let me tell you about just one thing. Is this okay, Cathbad?" He smiles and nods. "See? He knows what I'm talking about.

Cathbad here has an antique weapon… a Weatherby Mark V Magnum sniper rifle. They used 'em in Vietnam… and now they call it an antique. And he also has one of those super-duper sniperscopes, so if he ever gets bored some sunny summer afternoon, he can zoom in and castrate a few horseflies." (Laughter.) "Now that's assuming that he uses one of those little tiny bullets." I shake my head solemnly. "Uh-uh… he showed me the bullets for this thing, and they're huge - and to add insult to injury, he's cross-filed the damn things. Two words, ladies and gentlemen - mush room. These things will make a hole the size of a nickel going in and a hole the size of a basketball coming out.

Our other guest tonight is gothi - high priest, if you will - of the local Asatru kindred. Ladies and gentlemen, give it up for Harald Grettirson!" Now the spotlight picks up a big burly guy, sitting to the left of the door - red-headed, full beard, looks like a cross between a French-Canadian lumberjack and Guunnar. He smiles affably and waves.

"Seems Harald and his people have some history with you and yours, too, Rev. He tells me that you broke up their Midwinter Blot last holiday season. Yeah, 'peace on earth, goodwill to men'… way to go, Rev.

Harald tells me that the Kindred intend to take a page from the Coven and purchase a tract of - wait for it - private land. Same deal with trespassing.

Now, never having been to Harald's place, I wouldn't know if he has, say, an M-16 or a whole bunch of Claymores; but let's face it - these guys are honest-to-Odin Vikings! These guys are tough! A Viking, you sever his head and he just duct-tapes it back in place! 'Verdammter Kopf kam ab.'* You cut off his hand - go ahead, try it! He'll just blind you with the blood spurting out of his wrist, cut you long - and wide - and frequently… and reach for the duct tape." Guunnar bellows with laughter while Erik and Raina try unsuccessfully to hide their grins; but I'm on a roll, I keep going. "And a longsword or battle-axe, I'm told, kills you just as dead as a bazooka. Besides - I don't know for sure that they don't have a whole modern arsenal stashed away someplace

* "Damn head came off."

Well,  anyway, Rev… we were hoping you'd show, to be honest. We've prepared a special show for you tonight."

Now the music starts, something like old-fashioned gospel and I start to talk.

Talking blues, that is….

Welcome, friends! Welcome once again to the Atheist/Agnostic/Humanist/Realist Olde-Time Down-Home Gospel Hour!
My friends, I am here to bring to you the GOOD NEWS.
That this is a beautiful and dangerous and mysterious world we live in.
That there's a lot we don't know.
A lot we may NEVER know.
There may be a heaven --
There may be a hell --
There may be a devil --
There may be a GOD --
But there ain't no PROOF.

No hard-core science.
No Road Map of the Stars to the Pearly Gates.
No interview with Gabriel in Hot Archangels Monthly.
We've got to take it all on faith.
And that's a little difficult for some of us.
You hear about free will, you hear about making your own choice... and you'd like just a little bit o' proof.
And at some point, you realize there may not be no proof a-comin'.

And at that point, you realize...
There may NOT be a heaven.
There may NOT be a hell.
There may NOT be a Devil.
There may NOT BE A GOD!
And you say to yourself, "Well, what am I doin' here?
If there ain't a god, what am I doin' here?
What is my purpose in life?"
And I am here to tell you that your purpose in life Is EXACTLY THE SAME either way.
If there's a God, your purpose is to LIVE. To help people. To make the world a better place.
And if there's NOT a God... your purpose is to LIVE! To help people! To make the world a better place!

Now, I know that some of you out there want there to be a God for a very different reason.
Because you feel alone.
Because without God, it's a big, bad, scary, random universe out there.
Let me tell you right now --
it's a big, bad, scary, random universe out there WITH God!
Bad stuff happens.
Good stuff happens.
Stuff happens!
If it doesn't happen, you're DEAD!

But here's the important part:
You are not alone.
You've got a family of SIX BILLION right here with you.
You think they don't know your troubles?
You think they don't know your heart?
They know yours as well as they know their own.
You think the world ain't a scary place for them?
It's a scary place for everybody!
But it's also a fantastically beautiful place.
And it's the only place we know for sure we've got.
So it is our DUTY, our PURPOSE IN LIFE, our REASON TO BE,
Lemme tell ya....

God made the world, so they say,
And he did it in only seven days,
But they can't tell you if those days were short or long,
And they think their God is threatened if the dates are wrong.

God made Adam, God made Eve,
Kicked 'em out of Eden 'cause they were deceived,
They had children; one was good, one scum,
Cain killed Abel, then got married -- where'd his wife come from?

There's all those little problems where the story doesn't jibe,
If God created all of us, why single out one tribe?

Why weren't there any dinosaurs on Noah's floating zoo?
Why tell us all these fairy tales when we've got stuff to do?

We've got the world, the here and now,
Things happen, it's only natural to ask how

But there's no reason to trust mythology,
The world right here and now's enough for me.

God made Commandments, God made rules,
God said "to build a better life, these are the tools",
He said the first four are to worship me,
If you don't, you will be tortured for eternity.

But what if this world is all there is,
What if, when you die, there ain't no final quiz,
No hell or heaven? Well, that's all right with me
We'll make it heaven here on earth, just wait and see.

Why punish us forever for an arbitrary rule?
Why set us up for failure? Does God have to be so cruel?
Why give us all these instincts for committing mortal sins?
Why give us all these ways to lose before the game begins?

We've got the world, the here and now,
There may be nothing, al-Akhirah, or the Tao

But I've got present responsibility,
The world right here and now's enough for me.

We've got the world, the here and now,
And you know we're gonna make it somehow 

But I ain't countin' on eternity,
The world right here and now's enough for me.

There may be God, and there may not
The world we're livin' in might just be all we've got
That ain't no problem, 'cause whether spawned or made,
The only way to live is not to be afraid.

We've got our minds, we've got our hearts,
We've got our souls and they're the most important parts,
We don't need threatenin' to tell what's right from wrong
Just mind your business, clean things up, and get along.

The world is filled with wonderment and beauty near and far,
And trying to understand it is just being who we are,
If there's a God, he told us that the world he made was ours,
We're almost done exploring here, the next stop is the stars.

We've got the world, the here and now,
And we're gonna reach the heavens somehow

It's up to us to fulfill our destiny,
The world right here and now's enough for me.

We've got the world, the here and now,
And you know we're gonna make it somehow

Find God within you -- the rest comes naturally,
The world right here and now's enough for me.
I say, the world right here and now's enough for me.
That's right, the world right here and now's enough for me.
Ohhhhh... yeahhhh!

The Tavern explodes with applause, people standing and screaming and pumping their fists - and Fisher slinks out the front door, right between Cathbad and Harald, who just sit there smiling….

Thang yew. Thang yew very much….

No comments:

Post a Comment

Comments... we get comments....