Saturday, September 15, 2012

Trick or Treatin' Jesus Christ.

(oh yea and please comment and follow this blog, it's a social marketing/networking kind of thing:)

I was fortunate enough to grow up in the last decade of the truly old-fashion Halloweens. It was a time when cavities, stomachaches and Ouija boards were the only things that conjured up fear. Abductions, child obesity and candy tainted with poison or razor blades were scary ghosts of future generations. Back then, there were no bite-size candy bars. Each was as big as our fists and when gathered in an old pillowcase, weighed as much we did. It was a era when a kid could be, well...just a kid. And on Halloween night all the kids on my street rushed home from the school bus; crammed a hurried dinner down their throat and put on their costumes. One could see little eyes peeking through fogged windows excited and impatiently waiting for the streetlight at the corner to come on. Its shimmering mercury glow announced to the neighborhood that darkness had arrived; it was time for the bewitching hour to begin.

Like potions in a black cauldron, ghouls, ghosts, and goblins magically appeared on the streets and mixed and mingled with their counter parts: angels, princesses and on that particular year, the greatest of all evil eradicators, the Prince of Peace.

For as long as I’d been Trick or Treating, I had also been going to Sunday school. When I was nine years old, I took the greatest step a Christian boy could take and accepted Jesus Christ as my personal Savior. Shortly thereafter, I was baptized in front of the entire congregation of Bellefontaine Baptist Church. As a born-again Christian, it was my duty to put off the old sinful ways of a normal boy and start learning to be a good boy. This meant I had to stop doing the “bad” things my old self had already gotten used to; like riding my bike off the roof of Mr. Dotson’s shed, shooting my brother with the BB gun and sticking those soggy toilet paper wads on the ceiling of the boy’s bathroom.

I was a new creature in Christ; a born-again boy, one who went to bed on time and took out the trash when I was told only two or three times. I even said my nightly prayers. So when Halloween came around that year of my Christian conversion, I decided I wasn’t ever going to dress up like anything evil again. No bloody vampires. No fanged werewolves. Not even a crazed zombie, the easiest of all evil costumes to create. I was on the straight and narrow path of Goodness and my Halloween costume had to reflect my piety.

And so it came to be, one Sabbath morning as I was walking from Sunday School into what mom like to call Big Church, I strolled by a picture of Jesus hanging on the wall with a shower of lights shining upon it. He was standing at a door and had a peaceful and loving countenance about him as his right hand stretched out as if he were knocking on the door. I stopped and reverently observed the picture. Hmmm. Jesus. Door. Knocking. I got an idea. No, it was more then an idea. It was an inspiration from God!

I hustled home and rummaged through my closet and found an old raggedy pair of sandals. I then borrowed my old man’s terry-cloth robe; found a straggly pirate’s beard from a past costume and when I put them all together, I was the world’s first, and to the best of my knowledge, the only—Trick or Treatin’ Jesus Christ.

Can I hear an Amen?

I had the costume but there was something missing. Everyone knows that Jesus loved to hand out those little colorful pamphlets so several weeks before the big day, I asked Mr. Cain, my Sunday school teacher, if I could have a handful of those thingies the missionaries gave out. He explained to me they were called “tracks’ and told me they were brief stories on how a person could go to heaven and live with God for eternity. He then asked me why I wanted them. I smiled proudly, stuck out my chest and announced, “I’m going to be a Trick or Treatin’ Jesus Christ for Halloween.”

Now Mr. Cain had known me my entire life and he had known my un-saved character. When a goldfish showed up in the baptismal tank one Sunday, he knew the culprit behind the devilish deed. When the choir sat down one beautiful morning after singing, “Just As I Am” and the echo of a farting whoppie cushion resonated pass the pews and into the front foyer, Mr. Cain, along with the rest of the laughing congregation, turned a raise eyebrow in my direction. The thought of me acting saintly in any manner, made him chuckle out loud but he gave me a box of tracks anyway.
The final days of October dragged on like Reverend Elsworth’s closing prayers; torturing my soul and sweet tooth with anticipation. They say an idle mind is the Devil’s playground so to kill some time I drew up a map of all the un-saved people in my neighborhood. The Heathens. The Lost Sinners. The ones who needed to hear the Word of the Trick or Treatin’ Jesus Christ.

 I circled the Bergsteins and Kohens houses on my map with a big red marker. The Dodridges with their loud rock and roll music blasting away at all times of the day and night also got circled. But the one house who needed salvation more than any other; the one surely on a one way train to Hell was our next door neighbor, the Kennison’s. It wasn’t really “the Kennison’s” who needed to be saved; it was Mr. Kennison specifically. Mrs. Kennison was as nice as a playful kitten. She’d sometimes make us Kool-aid ice cubes and there wasn’t a summer when she wasn’t handing a bag full of delicious, juicy tomatoes over the fence to mom. However, Mr. Kennison, was a totally different character. He always had a mean and strained look on his face like he was eternally constipated. He couldn’t talk in a normal voice, he was constantly screaming as if he was talking to someone while pushing a lawnmower. At night when his dog wouldn’t come in right away, he’d curse so loud and long that stray dogs often showed up on his porch just to shut him up. But what made Mr. Kennison the meanest man on the block wasn’t any of that; it was the fact that he shot squirrels with his pellet gun. At least that’s what mom said made him the meanest man on the street.
While Mrs. Kennison spent most of her life planting flowers and vegetables in her garden that would make the caretakers of the Garden of Eden jealously green with envy, Mr. Kennison made a career of swooshing away birds and rabbits and shooting squirrels on the prowl for a ripe tomato or tulip bulb.
“And that’s just mean!” My mom would say and I’d shake my head in solemn agreement but secretly inside the thought of shooting a squirrel with a pellet gun was deliciously exciting and conjured up more delight in my mind then the aforementioned shooting my brother with a BB gun. It was the adolescent ecstasy and the envy of every boy on the block. But I was no longer like every boy on the block. I was a re-borned boy.

The big night arrived and I quickly transformed into the Trick or Treatin’ Jesus Christ and a second after the mercury streetlight shined, I hurried over to the Kennison’s house.
Knock, Knock. I pounded.
Mr. Kennison’s grimacing face opened the door.
“Tricketh or treateth, ye participant of this pagan holiday.” I commanded in my best Jesus voice.
Mr. Kennison starred down and inquired.
“What the hell are you, a hippy?”
“No. I’m Jesus Christ.” I announced.
That threw him off a bit but at the same time mildly amused him for a second then he said, “Well that’s nice but even Jesus doesn’t get any candy without a joke. Do you know one?”
I eagerly shook my head yes and said, “Pretend that I’m in heaven. OK?”
Mr. Kennison agreed.
“Knock, knock.” I chanted.
“Who’s there?” he replied.
“Not you, you sinner!” And with those words, I handed him a track that explained in full-color cartoons how he could live forever in heaven. Then I gave him a loving Jesus smile and turned to save the rest of the neighborhood.

The dark night was going heavenly. I was witnessing to ghosts and goblins and aspiring to lay healing hands on the prettiest witches that passed me by; sometimes they’d drop their pillowcases full of candy and run. I’d simply pick them up and tossed them into mine and preach as they scurried away.
“The riches of the wicked are stored up for the righteous!”
I’m not sure, but I think I may have even talked a Scooby Doo into becoming a Christian.

My mission had got me so wrapped up that I wasn’t paying attention to where I was going and suddenly I found myself standing on a street beyond the boundaries of my Trick or Treatin’ zone established by my mom and dad. Across the way was a group of kids standing in front of a house that I could have swore was used in that horror movie my parents refused to let me see. You know the one, where the woman gets stabbed in the shower? In the silent of the night I could plainly hear each kid double dog daring the other to race up the path and knock on the front door of this haunted mansion. No one was accepting one another’s challenge.
It was then when one of the boys noticed me standing curiously by myself on the other side of the street. Maybe it was the Bozo or maybe it was the Batman, but whoever made the comment thought he was being funny when he loudly shouted.
“Hey look its Jesus. Let’s see if he’ll do it!”

They all turned and looked at me and I knew in an instant what they were thinking.
Now I had been going to church my entire life and I knew one thing for a fact; Jesus wasn’t scared of ANYTHING. And since I was a Trick or Treatin’ Jesus Christ, it was up to me to be just as fearless. So I said a silent prayer to Him and proceeded to walk bravely up that dark path past the smoking tombstones, through the gigantic cobwebs and over the body parts sprawled out across the lawn.
In the back of my mind, I thought I could hear the theme song of the Twilight Zone playing as I approached the house but it wasn’t just my imagination it really was blaring on the television behind the window as I stepped onto the porch. On the door hung a sign that said, “Trick or Treaters will be eaten and below the words was a picture of a cauldron with what looked to be young arms and legs floating in a brew stirred by an evil witch. This door looked nothing like the door Jesus was knocking on in the picture at church. The thought weighed heavily on my mind as I knocked loud enough for my heathen spectators to hear. A moment later everything in the house went silent.

And then black.

“It’s time.” A low evil voice whispered from behind the door.
I have to admit, I shook. I didn’t want to shake, I was there on a mission from God and therefore I was supposed to be bold and brave in the face of my enemies, not to mention, the entire throng of kids watching me. But the voice that grumbled on the other side of the door sounded so eerie, so bone-chilling cold that my heart began beating twice its normal speed which sent electromagnetic shocks down my spine that caused every limb from my nose to my toes to pulsate and quiver.

I stood there shaking. I didn’t risk knocking again. I rationalized in my small, possibly soon-to-be-eaten brain that maybe they didn’t hear the knock or they’d ignore it and go back to watching the Twilight Zone. I would live and could walk proudly back and say in a smug and religiously demeaning voice, “No one was home.” But the darkness from inside the house broke and a glowing red light permeated from beneath the bottom of the door, coloring my trembling toes red.
I could feel the cowardly Trick or Treaters standing in the street take a deep gasp in unison that tugged at the back of my robe. In a sad sense, I was mildly happy and relieved that they were there to act as witnesses should I become a ten year old Trick or Treatin’ Jesus Christ martyr.

Clonk. Silence. Clonk. Silence. Clonk.
Footsteps came closer and closer.
The handle turned slowly and the door squeaked open.
With each parting inch, red light poured forth until an ocean of amber flowed from the doorway momentarily blinding me. When I gathered my eyesight, there standing in the horror of a little kid’s way was Satan.

Now in my nine years of treat or treating, I had seen many Satans. Heck, they were as common as witches and hobos. But this wasn’t your normal everyday Halloween Satan. This was the biggest, most horrific, evilest-looking Prince of Darkness I had ever seen in my life. His horns weren’t attached to his head with a black plastic headband like the kind they sold at Ben Franklin. They actually protruded from his forehead and his eyes were bloodshot and possessed. But what validated to my soul that this was the REAL Satan, was the glowing cigarette bobbing between his lips. Only the real Satan would be puffing on a Winston.
He gave an evil laugh and I watched in horror as the cherry on the end of the cigarette bounce up and down. It hypnotized me just long enough not to notice the chain saw he was holding in his hands.
He held it up over his head and pulled the handle.
A burst of grey smoke and a Ggggrrrrrrrrrrgggggggggggrrrrrrrr rang out around my ears.
My brain instantly shouted to my kidneys,
“Pee! Go ahead Harry, pee in your pants. It’s OK, just do it. NOW!!!”
And I would have too, had I not been wearing my dad’s robe and I didn’t have an audience of my peers standing behind me. Right there, I would have diddled in my drawers like a toddler in training pants.

They say in extreme tragic situations people often display signs of supernatural power. Old ladies have been known to lift cars off of loved ones and children have been known to jump out of four story burning buildings without a scratch. In that instant, something supernatural happen to me; I actually felt like I was Jesus Christ and did what any ten year old Jesus Christ would do; I hauled off and kicked him square in the groin and ran like hell.
I think I heard a faint groan and perhaps he may have cut himself in two with the chainsaw but I didn’t care. I didn’t even look. I just bolted down that sidewalk and into the street. The group of kids watching the whole nightmare parted like the Red Sea and I ran through them. And I ran. And ran. And I didn’t stop running until my holy feet hit the heaven of my front porch.

That was the last time I was ever a Trick or Treatin’ Jesus Christ. For many years I kept the whole story secret. Mostly because I was ashamed of my cowardliness and felt that I had let Jesus down. But I got older and as I look back at it all, it’s rather humorous and now I share my story to whoever wants to lend an eager ear. To this day, I can honestly say, I’ve never met anyone who could say they’ve had the nerve or the pleasure of kicking Satan in his privates.


by Harry "Speegg" Sneed

“No editor is ever going to publish a story that begins with fuck.”
“I don’t give a fuck. I’m not writing this to please an editor. That’s the difference between us. You’re always worried about what others think. That is why you’ll always remain a poor penniless editor and I will one day become a world famous author.”
“Fuck you!”
“And that is exactly why I started the story with fuck. People use the word fuck; you’ve just proved my case. Kids use it. Policemen use it. My grandmother let it slip once when I was a little kid. She dropped a whole pot of spaghetti on the floor. It was the only word that fit. Damn and shit just couldn’t describe her anger, so she said fuck. Fuck is real. Fuck is a valid normal word and not an ugly, retarded sibling that should be hidden in a literary closet. Besides, I’ve always wanted to start a story with the word fuck. Once I had an English teacher tell us if you shock the reader at the beginning of a story, you’ll captivate them into reading the rest of the story. I hated English, I hated the teacher. So I wrote a short story that started with fuck.”
“What was it about?”
“Two people arguing over a short story.”
“Just like we’re doing now?”
“Sort of, except that story was about an author and a disgruntled reader. The reader sent the author a nasty letter criticizing him about always using the “F” word. He couldn’t even write the word fuck.”
“So what happened?”
 “The author wrote a letter back with only the words FUCK YOU written really big across the paper.”
“How did the teacher react to your story?”
“She gave me an F and sent me to the principal’s office. They called my parents and my dad got on the phone and asked the secretary “What in the fuck did he do now?”
“I can picture your dad doing that.”
“Yea, the secretary told him it wasn’t necessary to use that kind of language.”
“Oh no, what did your dad say?”
“He told her he could use any kind of fucking language he wanted. He’s been out of school for over thirty years and he didn’t need any sniveling school secretary telling him how to talk.”
“Did she hang up on him?”
“Nope. She got the principal on the phone and him and my dad went at it for about ten minutes. My dad ended up telling the principal to fuck off and hung up on him.”
“The principal calmly hung up the phone. Stared at me for about a minute and then asked, “You have to deal with that every day?” I shook my head yes and then he said, “Well that’s fucked up.”
“He did not!!!”
“No, he just politely smiled and sent me back to class.”
“What did the English teacher say?”
“Nothing, but several years later I ran into her at a bar. She was celebrating her divorce and teetering on the edge of being shit-faced. She apologized for sending me to the principal’s office and bought me a drink. We sat there for a couple hours talking about old times. We got totally wasted and guess what?”
“You didn’t.”
”Yep, I fucked her. Through the whole process she kept yelling “Fuck me, Fuck me” And every time she said it, I couldn’t help but thinking, “Bitch, why did you give me a F for Fuck?”
“You got an F for Fuck that’s funny.”
“OK so you’re starting this story out with the word fuck. What comes next?”
“I don’t know. I’m still creating it. Maybe I’ll just write everything we just said.”
“I wouldn’t suggest that.”
“Why not?”
“Because you said fuck way too many times and people don’t want to read stories that have the word fuck in it that much. They feel guilty like they’re reading erotica or some cheap porn story. You have to trust me on this one, I’m an editor. I know what I’m talking about.”
“That’s bullshit.”
“There’s another word they don’t want to read too much either.”
“What if I add some humor to it, throw in some famous literary first lines embellished with fuck. For example, “It was the fucking best of times and the fucking worst of times.” Or “Call me fucking Ishmael” That sounds like something Melville would write.
“That’s hilarious, “Lolita, fuck of my life, fire of my loins.”
“Or how about this, “In the beginning God created the fucking heavens and earth.”
“Stop! That’s not funny. See, now you’re really crossing the literary taboo line putting God and fuck in the same sentence.”
“How many times do I have to tell you, I don’t give a fuck about any literary lines being crossed!!! I’m a writer, not a fucking alter-boy, English teacher. I’ll write from the heart and slice my literary wrist and bleed my ideas and thoughts on the white pages and if that means I have to cross lines, break rules and piss off editors and offend readers, so be it. I’ll do what I want. Hell, I’ll write the whole damn story in quotes. I won’t use any descriptive text it’ll be one long quote after another.”
“You mean like, I said this. You said that.”
“It’ll never work. People want to know more than just what’s being said, they want some action to be taking place; descriptions; body language; facial expressions. Readers want to know about the character’s surroundings, their attitude and their history. You can’t just put quote after quote.”
“Oh yes I can, watch me.”
“That’s what I hate about writers, you think you own the world and can do anything you want.”
“We can. Matter of fact, I’m going to rewrite what you just said and put; That’s what I love about you fucking writers, you think you own the fucking world and can do any fucking thing you want.”

Leaf. Her. Alone. For God's Sake

 For God’s Sake.

She sat alone admiring.
To the normal person it was just a leaf; a brown, crinkly piece of tree trash that littered their yard each autumn. Something of a nuisance, cursed by the tongs of the rake and the mouth of its operator. But she wasn’t normal and therefore it wasn’t “just” a leaf.  She would brazenly argue with anyone who called it “just” a leaf. In her world there was no “just” anything. Everything was part of something else; something grander. “Just” invoked singularity and there was no singularity in life. Life was plural. Everything was attached to something else. The leaf was attached to the tree, the tree was attached to the ground, the ground made up the earth, the earth was part of the universe and somewhere out there floating in the cosmic abyss was its Creator.
So it wasn’t “just” a leaf. It was part of the universe; part of God.
She lost herself in the transparency of the amber miracle she held in her hand.
“This is God’s paint.” she concluded.
Flowers were created to please humans. Their beauty makes us happy. She remembered standing in her grandmother’s rose garden and the ecstasy she felt surrounded by a palette of colors; rogue reds, yellows that exploded and mingled with the sunlight and girlish pinks that when stared at for any length of time, seem to her the most perfect color in the world.
But as she sat beneath the partially naked tree and looked over the valley of autumn and saw the foliage tapestry of golden oaks and salmon maples and birch trees whose white bark stood out staccato against the October background she decided; while flowers brought humans pleasure, trees (and especially leafs) were created to please God’s eye and bring beauty and happiness to Him.
We see His microscopic beauty in the small delicate petals of tulips; the blossoming petunias and the determination of a daisy reaching for the sunlit sky.
But He sees His majestic beauty on a grander scale in the woods and forest; the sprawling greens of summer; the mosaic oranges of autumn; the black and white blanket of winter and the budding rainbows of spring
And being an unselfish God, He shares this splendor by making hills and mountains for humans to view His leafs; His paint; His art. And He allows birds to live in it and caterpillars to eat it and kids to gather it up and jump in it and grandmas to use it as compost for their rose gardens. And to think its ”just” a leaf.

*I'm aware that the rest of the world spells the plural of leaf, leaves. But I refuse to follow that rule and I will spell the plural of leaf, leafs until the day I die and I encourage every other writer to do the same:)

Yugo Girl

by Harry "Speegg" Sneed

My daughter’s sixteenth birthday was coming up and my husband and I were having a massive disagreement. Should we buy her a new car like the little princess he was raising her to be? Or should we buy her a used one that I thought she should have to make her more grounded?
“When I was sixteen my father bought me a used Yugo and I was ecstatic!” I shouted over Scott’s buzzing razor.
The buzz stopped.
“A used Yugo? Why didn’t he just spend an extra $50 and buy you a Schwinn bike?” his laugh echoed down the hall.
“Very funny. I loved that car!”
“You hated that car!” He yelled back.
It was true. At first, I thought it was the coolest car in the world. It was a cute and little and compact. The perfect “chick” car. But like most things in life, as time went by the newness and excitement wore off. The window wipers began to stick in the up position, the paint faded in the summer sun and in the winter, the rear-defrost made for a good hand warmer while I pushed it out of traffic. By the time I turned seventeen, I was embarrassed to be seen in it.
“But it gave me humility and made me a better person.” I explained. “You might say it made me what I am today.”
I slid on my black Chanel dress I had bought specifically for the evening.
“Sarah doesn’t need a new car.” I continued. “She has been given more in her fifteen years than most people get their entire life.”
I clipped on my Cartier pear-shape diamond earrings and looked in the mirror. Scott walked in the bedroom.
“Darling” he began in his negotiating lawyer voice, “When I turned sixteen, I didn’t have anyone to buy me a car. I worked an entire summer sweating in the warehouse to buy an old pick up truck.” He stood there tying his tie.
“And I vowed whenever I had a child I was going to buy them a new car for their 16th birthday. We can afford it, so lets do it.”
He sat down on the bed and put on his shoes.
“Besides, Sarah works, we’ll make her pay for her own insurance.”
I picked up my Hermes Clutch and tossed in some necessities.
“Scott, Sarah is a lifeguard at our country club. That isn’t work. It’s getting paid to sit on a throne like a beautiful sun goddess and have young men worship you in the pool below.”
A little jealousy permeated my speech.
“Work is a four letter word. It’s what I did when I was sixteen-dumped fries in a basket of grease and yelled “Could you pull up to the next window!”
Realizing his negotiating tactics were failing, Scott switched to his seductive approach.
“Honey, don’t you want what’s best for our little girl, who’s turning into a beautiful young lady just like her mother?” He took me in his arms and gazed at me with those baby blues.
“Of course I do. That’s why I want her to have the used car. It’ll make her appreciate things. Give her a little humility and character.”
We were officially stalemated.
“We’ll talk about this later.” Scott said. “You have an award to accept.”
Tonight was the big night. After eight years of answering phones, open-houses and dealing with everything from pets to permits, I had finally sold more real estate than any other person in our office and was about to receive the highly coveted “Salesperson of the Year” award at our annual holiday banquet.
We both glanced up at the clock and headed out of the house into my Mercedes.
We arrived at the banquet and mingled with the masses until it was time to sit down for the awards ceremony. Then I happened to look down.
“Oh my God.”
“Oh my God!”
WHAT!” Scott whispered loudly.
“I broke a strap.”
“You broke a strap on your bra?”
 “No, I broke a strap on my shoe!”
He looked at me with that infamous blank stare-the kind I get when he’s watching football and I try to talk to him. “And...?”
The strap was now flopping around like a fish out of water. My adrenaline raced. My pulse soared. Then I asked the stupid question.
“And...what should I do?”
Then my husband, who’s the most intelligent man I know, gave me the stupidest, most stereotypical male response.
“I’ll go find some tape.”
I wanted to stand up, take off my shoe and beat him over the head with it right there.
Tape? TAPE? Men don’t know the importance of shoes to women. When a man sees a woman, he begins judging her from the breast to the eyes and then the thighs. That’s their warped, tri-lateral level of evaluation. She could have duck feet with house slippers on and if she’s showing a little cleavage, he’d never know.
Women, on the other hand, evaluate other women the correct way; from their feet up. What kind of shoe is she wearing? How big are her thighs? Hips? Breasts? And finally, what’s her make-up and hair look like? Men are clueless to the whole “shoe-cult” women engross themselves in. In a man’s world a shoe is…well…a shoe.
In our world they’re the Holy Grails of first impressions. The crown jewels of the wardrobe. The exclamation point at the end of our fashion statement! I was about to go on stage, before an audience of my peers (eighty percent of them women), with…God forbid...imperfect shoes and my husband was offering up “tape” advice.
“You do not put tape on Manolos!!!” I growled at him.
Then Scott, in all the love, wisdom and kindness that seduced me into becoming his wife eighteen years ago, leaned over and whispered through a defiant smile,
“Right now they look like Yugo shoes.”
Then he winked.
Sarah is enjoying her brand new Honda.