Saturday, October 31, 12:18 PM
Although yesterday unexpectedly became a busy day, the restful Saturday I once hoped for was anything but. Part of it was my fault, I guess, but there are times I get in a mood to do things. From my perspective, you can do things and, then again, you can do things. Much of the difference concerns money.
The last four years I'd been in possession of very little money, as well as very little of anything else. Not so any longer. My busy morning meant diddy bopping around, first to my bank, where I collected walking around money. Ten grand in cash.
I'd never carried that much money before, for a number of obvious reasons. Although at one time in my solvent life I had a balance of more than $100,000 in my business account for a few days, I'd never really had that much money available. When it wasn't earmarked to go other places. To people and companies, to make purchases, pay off debt, et cetera. There are other picayune reasons not to carry large amounts of cash, such as giving an a-hole a reason to collide a steel bar against your head and run off with all your cash.
Those reasons didn't apply at the moment. When I was homeless, I was also judgement proof. A court order against me wouldn't generated squat. My income from SSI, money paid by the government to a disabled person, was untouchable. It was also pretty much all I had, meaning I had nothing anyone could take beyond the cash in my pocket. That was never more than a few hundred bucks, right around the start of the month. It was never that large very long.
As far as having it stolen, what the hell would it matter now? Let's be real. If someone said they were gonna rob me, take the ten grand, I'd hand it over and avoid the grief. What? Like I'd miss it, maybe? Maybe I'd have to do without something ‘cause it was gone? I don't think so. If anyone wanted it bad enough to even raise his voice to me, I'd give it to him and go get more. Big whoop.
Things were different now. I loved the feeling. Consequently, I got ten grand in hundreds and stuck it in my pants pocket. Wearing off-brand denims and a dark blue sport shirt, similar to Polo but much cheaper, I left the bank whistling. For convenience, I left Father, the dog, at the house. I took Father, The Shimmering Image, with me as a, well, as a Shimmering Image. If anyone looked, I guess they'd notice an air disturbance around me, but I wasn't concerned. For all I knew, He didn't let anyone else see even that much. If He did, it was no skin off my posterior, so I ignored the idea.
Using the "poof express", which I'm forced to admit gets tremendous mileage, I made it to a few auto dealerships. With all the troubles facing the automakers, I was a godsend to them. It was a fantastic experience for me. I didn't need to use the knowledge I acquired late last century when I sold cars a few years in the seventies. I simply relied on the fact all the sales reps wanted to make at least minimum wage. Managers and dealers were paying floor-plan interest on units they really wanted to see go away.
Even better yet, I said the same thing each time we agreed on a sales price. "Do you take MasterCard?" If they looked freaked when I asked the question, the facial expressions when they got approvals was even more timeless.
I got incredible deals on the first of two cars I'd be buying for myself. One was a Dodge Viper, a sleek black beauty with a six-speed and enough horses to mount a cavalry unit. Then I bought an "attitude car". A Cadillac Escalade in a creamy white I liked better than black.
I'm a couple months short of sixty. I'll probably be in my early seventies when I finish reading this thing's list of extras. I know it'll make coffee, even pour me a cup, but I can't find the button and I'm too busy to screw around looking for it.
I also stopped at the Pontiac store and bought a snazzy G6, a four-door that gets around well, rides nice, and doesn't use much gas. I even had the sales rep deliver it to my house … damn, I love saying that! … and leave the keys in the mailbox.
Considering the people I plan to start helping, pretty much all homeless, it makes more sense than using a rental place to get ‘em something to drive. While they have cars or trucks or vans to drive now, in each case their vehicles will need to be in the shop a few days to set everything right. With this little gem, each one can avoid being a pedestrian while the repairs are made.
Next stop, the park. My first contact wasn't easy to reach, but I was damned well intent she'd be the first one I helped. Her name is Pat Something-or-other. Not a Slavic name, it just sounds like it. "Something-or-other" is my variation of "Doe", as in John or Jane Doe.
Pat's seventy years old. For the past five years she's been camping at the park. Remember the rules? She can rent a site only 21 out of 28 days. She has a site Sunday afternoon – Friday morning, then has to go somewhere else until the following Sunday. I have no idea where she hides out.
We homeless people are rather tight-lipped about things like that. If not, other homeless people show up for the same reason. With a growing population comes being noticed. With being noticed comes being told to leave, since no one wants sleazy, tawdry homeless people around. Pat has a motor home that may, I'm not sure, have carried some of the original settlers to California from back east. She also has a Ford van, a few years old, that runs only one way: occasionally.
I had to convince a park ranger to call her, so we could get together. They have all that data in their computer for campers. Once I explained to Pat what I had in mind, after I finally got her to agree I wasn't insane, we arranged to get her van to a place where it would be fixed properly. I turned the Pontiac over to her, along with a cashier's cheque for $25,000 to help her get back on her feet.
There were a few other people I knew needed my help. I made up a list, along with the amounts I anticipated giving. List in hand, I called my bank and told that same manager how much money I wanted her to get together for me.
Believe it or not, banks don't usually have half a million bucks in cash lying around. They might have that much in the vault, of course, but most of it's needed for operations. To let that amount out all at once, to just one person, brings about the dreaded words "special order", which is what she said she'd have to do. I asked her to get it ready for Tuesday and hung up my cell phone. I rubbed my hands together and said to no one in particular, "My work here is done."
Occasionally, during the time I was homeless, I'd treat myself to a decent meal, instead of the seven days per week when I ate at Mickey D's. Usually I'd head over to The Sizzler and get a rib-eye steak. Lately, with approximately 50% of my teeth gone, and 80% of my former income nonexistent, I only made my way to the restaurant every six months or so.
Today, I splurged. Drove there and got a meal, going so far as to order a dessert. Oddly enough, being homeless ends up shrinking your stomach, based on all the food you don't eat. It was difficult. I had to eat very slowly, but I finished.
On the plus side, with all that dental loss, eating slowly worked out for the best.
When I finished eating, I went to pat Father, tied in the back of the Escalade with the tailgate open. When I tied him up at the restaurant I used the safeguard I created with my other two wolfhounds. I still had it in the trunk of my car, a plastic coated length of cable, around fourteen inches for his neck with a small padlock for both stapled loops and a six foot piece with another padlock to hook to a base. I made the original to keep anyone from stealing my dog. I looped it so he only had three feet of free cable, meaning he couldn't get out the open door and hang himself. Now, with an ear to ear smile, I made my way to our new home.
I highly doubted anyone would even try to get in the car while I was eating. They'd have to get past him to do so. Funny thing, an Irish Wolfhound is a lousy guard dog. Flat lousy. If you broke into my house and I wasn't there, assuming you didn't soil your underwear when you saw him, he'd quietly follow you all around the house, watching. Not to protect anything. No, he'd follow you for the amusement, curious about why you were there and wondering what you might do.
Oh, you wanna take the TV, the music equipment, the computers, maybe some cash you found in a drawer? You decided to take all the handguns you found? Maybe you even want the furniture?
You might ask, "What about the dog? What's he gonna do if I take this stuff?"
Surprise! He doesn't watch TV, or listen to music. His big paws make it difficult to use a keyboard. Money? What's that, he wonders indifferently. Guns? Why would I want guns? I can't shoot; no fingers. Hell, if I wanted to kill you, I'd crush your neck, or tear out your damned throat. What the heck do I want with a gun?
As far as the furniture, he'd tell you, I get my ass chewed if I get on the couch, and the chairs are all too small for me. You want ‘em? Take ‘em. See if I care. And, no, I won't help you carry the stuff outside. Do I look like a porter, or something? I'll have you know, I'm an Irish Wolfhound! You want some wolves killed, maybe an elk, I'm your boy. You want any other work, call a temp agency.
Alternate scenario: you come in the house and I am home. I'm there in the bedroom, asleep. As long as you stay away from that room, everything's probably going to go as listed above. You can take whatever you want. The dog won't care. However, if you approach the room where I'm located, he'll get between you and the door. He won't move. There'll be an implied Uh-uh! to deal with.
If you persist and try to enter that room, since I've never even heard of anyone that stupid, I can only imagine what would happen. You surviving the ordeal wouldn't be in my top ten guesses. Not even the top twenty. Of course, if I woke up while you were robbing me, and I can use the .357 magnum the dog wouldn't care about, you'd have a different set of problems.
But that's for another story.
A wolfhound is possibly the world's lousiest attack dog. They don't make for such great stuff when it comes to dog fighting, either. You'll notice Michael Vick didn't have any wolfhounds, right? Not that he can't probably kill most dogs in combat, if forced to fight. He can, but he doesn't want to do it. He'd never attack another dog unless it was attacking Alpha. Me, in this case.
Too much like hard work. Basically, they're peaceful animals, known far and wide as the "gentle giants". You can't say "Sic ‘em!" and expect any results. Not to make him attack a person, or fight another dog.
A wolfhound, in that respect, is more like Muhammad Ali when told he was shipping out to Vietnam. He said, "I ain't got nothing against no Viet Cong. No Vietnamese ever called me a nigger." For the dog, he'd never care what you did or didn't call him. If I said "Sic ‘em!" and pointed at someone, he'd look at me as if I was nuts, a big, Why? What's he done to me? expression. As far as fighting, he'd have much the same question, and he wouldn't do it.
Only for protection, or offsetting a threat, made or implied, will a wolfhound get to the point of hurting anyone. Yet, as a word of warning, no wolfhound will hurt someone "just a little". He either won't hurt you at all, or he'll hurt you a lot. None of this middle of the road stuff. Wolfhounds don't lean left, like Democrats. Probably the only dogs who lean Democratic are poodles, Pekinese, and Irish setters. All the intelligence was bred out of them in the 60s and 70s.
You might guess, dogs were on my mind when I cruised into the hacienda. Gee, it sounds just as great in Spanish! When I went in, after grabbing a Gatorade and my spot on the sofa, I decided to make use of my Reference Source. Might as well use It while you've got It was my take. "Father, do animals, primarily dogs, I guess, have souls?"
"You'd really like Me to say yes, wouldn't you, Matt?"
"Jeez, You sure found me out in a hurry. Yeah, I guess I would."
"The short answer is no, but I don't believe you want the short answer."
"You got that right. Not if that's the short answer. Can You do any better?"
"As a matter of fact, I can. It's similar to rationalizing, a weakness of most people. I can tell you your animals are put here on earth to serve you and be used by you, since mankind is the superior species. They're here to work for you, feed you, hunt for you, and provide material for the things you need."
"Um, ‘scuse me for sounding like a wiseass, Father, but that's not quite the ‘touchy-feely' answer I hoped for." I sipped Gatorade, lit a cigarette, and waited to hear something more enjoyable.
"Matt, if the ‘you' referenced is your human body, and can they be with you after death, the answer is ‘yes'. Your pets go to the same place you'll go. If the ‘you' is the soul I put into that human body, the answer is ‘no'."
I thought about it a moment. "Okay, I'm gettin' the picture. When I die, to be more specific, when this body dies, it goes in the ground. In most cases, that is. After that, it rots away and/or is consumed by bugs and whatever else invades a casket. Maybe Democrats or werewolves. In any event, my physical body doesn't go to heaven, as You described it, just returns to dust. So does my dog's body, I guess, because a dog has no soul."
"It's a good thing I'm apolitical," He chuckled merrily. "You're correct, but I don't think you understand what I meant when I explained the soul to you."
"Very cute, Father. Look, we've been hangin' out together a short time now, but I've learned You don't ever ‘think' anything. You only ‘know', so let's not beat around the bush. You're telling me my perception is … what … wrong?"
"Incomplete. Let me give you an example. This will help you understand."
"The floor's all Yours. Remember, I believe in You." My turn to snicker.
"I told you the soul is a part of Me, something I put into every human being when it is born and takes on life outside the womb."
"Oooh, You just opened another can of worms, Father. If the fetus has no soul before birth, are you saying it's not a living being?" I stubbed out my cigarette, then lit another right away. The tension was rising in a manner I never expected.
"No, in the last sixty days or so of pregnancy, the fetus is a viable being, a member of a species. It is not a human being, however, until the soul enters the body."
"So, is abortion murder?"
"Abortion, in the final sixty days, sometimes in the final seventy, even eighty days, is premature stoppage of a viable life form. Not murder, since no being without a soul can be a human being. Murder requires a dead human being."
"So abortion is …what? … no more serious than rabbit hunting?"
"Not true, Matt, and you're bordering on flippancy."
There are times my motorboat mouth unintentionally overloads my rowboat ass. I suspected this might just be one of ‘em. I sensed something I really didn't like pervade the air around me. I also confirmed something I once doubted. God does have emotions! It seemed I was about to piss Him off! Shit! Mom! Get your butt back here and help me!
"She can't come back to you, Matt, and she wouldn't help you if she could. Not against Me, she wouldn't."
Oh, yeah, I forgot. I was right on the verge of pissing off the Most Powerful Being anywhere, a Being Who can read my moron mind! Shit! "I'm sorry, Father. I have opinions on things like that, and You know it."
"Of course. I know what those opinions consist of."
"Then you know I don't like the idea of abortion, but I also don't believe abortion is any of my business, since my body can only cause a baby to begin, but can't carry it from gestation to birth. The only time my opinion on abortion is important is when the pregnant female is a minor who calls me ‘Dad'."
"I am well aware of your opinion, My Son."
"I also feel those matters are outside the area of governmental authority. If a government can tell a citizen he or she can't do something, in a change of regimes it may then be able to order that same citizen to do something. It goes from ‘can't' to ‘must', based on who's in power. Smells of the ‘brown shirts'. That's wrong. It's a matter between the woman and her doctor, period. No one else has any right to intrude."
I screwed up all the courage I had in me to ask the next question. "Do You approve of abortion, father?"
"I neither approve or disapprove. Any time before a child is born, until a soul is made part of the fetus as it takes on life outside the mother's womb, it's only a viable being, not a human being."
"That's pretty deep stuff, Father. I'm not sure I'd have the guts to say it that way."
"If you did say it, Matt, your remark would only be an opinion. It wouldn't be anything more, but it would inflame people on both sides of such an incendiary issue."
"I was worried a minute ago I was pissing You off." Evidence of my worry came about immediately as I chain-smoked, lighting one off another. I noticed my hands were shaking a little.
"I know. Thank you for the courtesy of considering my feelings."
"You're welcome. I have a great deal of self-interest in not pissing you off, Father. I don't want to make You angry, but I'm asking: do You have a position on abortion?"
"I have a position on everything and anything in the entire universe. I told you, I neither approve nor disapprove of the matter, in general. As far as specific instances, I do not approve of it as a method of birth control. I instilled in mankind, as I did in every other living being, a powerful need to reproduce. It's second only to the need to survive, a need necessary to exist in the world as it once was, based on predators."
"Only now the predators aren't dinosaurs or wild animals, they're people."
"Yes, in most cases. I don't approve forced abortion, such as in the Asian countries where a son is prized and a daughter is shameful. I don't approve it for women who act the whore, then use medical science to compensate for their lack of morality. I don't approve waste in any manner. At the same time, I don't approve uselessness. Children born into poverty and no home, with no family or anyone to help them become all they can be, are destined for a life of uselessness. That is not pleasing to me. I do not want someone to be born human and be made into an animal because of environment."
"Jeez, and I was feeling bad thinking my dog can't join me in heaven." I meant what I said. I guess He knew I wasn't being a wiseass again.
"In the matter of the soul, I told you a part of Me goes into every human being at birth. You questioned then, and still do, how a part of God can be in someone and that person will still not have the powers of God, as much as you think you know Me."
Fully into learning mode, I said nothing. I'm well aware the number one reason I open my mouth far too often is to change feet.
"Picture this, Matt. You plan to have elective surgery in the future, so you donate your blood and have it saved. Stored in a facility."
"I'm with You."
"Someone you know has a terrible accident and is in danger of death. Let's assume that person has the same rather rare blood type as you, A-, and the local Red Cross is low on that type. Being a good person and a good friend, you allow that blood, a part of you, to be injected into your friend."
"I'm that good a friend, no question," I offered, "although I'll admit, I get a bit queasy when they take blood."
"I know," He answered with a quiet laugh. "You can see your own blood in a fight with someone and it doesn't bother you. However, once in a vial, it causes nausea."
"Yeah, why don't we let the whole world in on my secret while we're at it."
"I already knew it, Matt. Are you planning to tell someone else?"
"If I was, You'd know that, too. I'm on to You, Father. So, I was just made the hero of this short tale. Next?" I took a drag to give my hands something to do.
"In this hypothesis your friend fully recovers. At a later date, before you can replenish the blood for your planned surgery, you have an accident and are badly injured. Now you need blood, but your supply is gone."
"Shit, so I'm the one left hangin' in the wind?" I stared at the dog, who must've begun to wonder if I was going to have another episode of some kind. He cocked his head to one side, eyeballing me in case he had to jump out of the way. "Just how good a friend is this person I let use my blood, I wonder?"
"Since this is a hypothetical example, I'll say it was a very close friend. Someone you value highly."
"Right." I shook my head. "After the last four years, that is one short list, let me tell You."
"But this one truly is a good friend, Matt. He or she —"
"We're not even being gender specific? Remember, it's a short list."
"At the risk of sounding as if I have a hermaphroditic bias, Matt, I wasn't going to specify."
" Huh? ‘Hermaph—' … wait, a hermaphrodite is something that has both sexes, isn't it?"
"Yes. As I said, Matt, gender isn't relevant."
"Oh, I see. Well, since women have been a big part of all the trouble I've caused myself, can we make this imaginary friend a guy?"
"Of course," He told me, showing far more patience than Job, which is what got Job all the notoriety. "It's a man friend I'll call … your pick, Matt. What would you prefer to call this hypothetical friend?"
I tried to scramble, to come up with a male name of someone I trusted totally. Someone I knew would never do me dirt. Then I had my answer. "Tate."
"Interesting. You only have one friend named Tate. A dog."
"Yep. Alex's Samoyed. But, it's a good name, and he's honest with me. He loves me ‘cause I give him those Beggin' Strips® he enjoys so much."
"Very well. Your friend Tate, a hypothetical human being in this example, donates blood back to you. After your reverse transfusion, you fully recover. The blood your friend gives, since you both have the same rare blood type and some of the blood coming back was once part of you, is like a part of you put into someone else, then returned. Correct?"
"Aw, come on. You're God. Of course it's correct! Jeez! What kinda dummy do You think I am?" I had to laugh at the inanity.
"Yet, while your blood, a part of you, was in Tate, did it give him any of your abilities? Your talents? Your powers, if you will?"
"No." I scratched my head as the concept began to dawn on me. "It merely helped him while he had it. Became a part of him, in a sense."
"Yes, and when he was done needing it, he was able to give it back to you, and you were made better by having back a part of you that once was gone. While that story is an approximation, Matt, the similarities to a part of Me becoming a part of you, then being returned to Me, are as close as you'll get to an example. That part of you was only a part, not an entity with your unique talents and abilities."
Stubbing out my smoke in an ashtray, I questioned, "As close as I'll get because I'm a stupid human being and things like this are beyond my ability to understand, right?"
"The word ‘stupid' is your addition, Matt, but close enough for government work."