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The Savior Returns -
For mature readers
Sample - from Part Two: Life on Earth
Meanwhile, in the fourth quarter of the twentieth century, in the year of our Lord 19 and 78, on the planet known as Earth, in the country known as the United States of America, in the small seacoast city of Santa Cruz on the Monterey Bay, in the state of California, Franklin Bartell James III, the young-adult son of a pair of perfectly-matched, extra-fancy oncologists in another, larger city in the interior of the land, deteriorated past the point of no return by rebelliousness, poor diet, drugs, alcohol, tobacco and wrong thinking, was having a dream.
It was confused, something to do with an earlier time, when he was maybe thirteen. His friends were interested only it seemed in one thing: smoking cigarettes. They kept telling him, distortedly insistent: You have to smoke. Or you're not with it. Smoking is cool.
He was walking down a clean street all alone, breathing an air that was fresh and sweet and clear, thinking, I don't want to smoke. Why do I have to smoke?
He was feeling life throughout his body, drinking in the sunshine, and he was happy.
But something was wrong.
It was a party at his house. The parents were entertaining, and the air was thick with cigar and cigarette smoke, the fumes of liquor, and perfumes. Franklin hid in his room with the door closed, but it was no use. The stench crept up the stairs and slipped under the door, and found him and choked him out. There was no point in hiding, so he went downstairs.
His father the doctor was always after him to not smoke. It's a dirty, filthy, stinking habit. If I ever catch you doing it, I'll twist your dirty stinking little head off your dirty stinking little neck. And you better not let me catch you drinking either. Because I'll kick your stinking little butt six ways til Sunday.
The house was filled with all the role models of young Franklin's life, doing exactly those things you were never supposed to do.
Aunt Becky and grandpa Franklin. Mom. Fred Wilmont the neurosurgeon. These stood out from the rest. A servant in a red tuxedo circulated with a tray of cigars and cigarettes. Another servant appeared, a carbon copy of the other one, with a tray of liquor.
The cute little neighbor-girl Betsy Raisin was there, in a low-cut evening gown, thick lipstick and gobbed-on makeup, bracelets, earrings, and necklaces. If he was thirteen, she was twelve; she was a year behind him in school.
Betsy was sitting on a sofa, a long cigarette dangling from the corner of her brilliant mouth, and a cocktail between tiny, be-ringed fingers with nails painted to match the lips. She was talking animatedly with the group of men gathered around her, middle-aged, suave, over-weight, oozing-dignity-from-every-pore, well-respected doctors-about-town.
From time to time she would look past her circle of admirers to Franklin. It was a look designed to be provocative; it said he was the one she really loved. And whenever she looked at him, he felt a sensation in his stomach like the one that is brought about by the sudden drop of an elevator.
Then he was choking on the smoke, and then he was blind. Like he was in outer space, everything was black and empty and cold, and suddenly the Devil was there, disguised as his best friend, Sammy Davis Jr. No, it was Sammy dressed up as the Devil, because it was Halloween.
Sammy said, "Yuh gotta do it, Frankie. All a kids 'r' doin' it. You gotta do it too. Or you ain't cool. You wanna be cool, dontjah?"
And then walking in the fresh air again. Happy again. Birds singing again, insects again.
Back in his room. The party over. The residual stink of stale smoke, flat liquor, faded perfume. The sweetness of life was no more. There was only a giant cockroach husk, empty but for the stench of death.
Humphrey Bogart on a poster on the wall winked and blew a smoke ring into the room. Out through the ring in a grand vaudevillian entrance stepped the one and only Uncle Miltie.
Dressed in a red tuxedo, grinning idiotically evil as only Uncle Miltie could do it. (Not even Jerry Lewis could match that grin. Jerry had the idiotic part down, but his version was stupid more than evil.) Uncle extended a package of cigarettes with a white, silk-gloved hand, one cigarette end protruding invitingly a half-inch more than the others. The brand was Donkey Butts. Quick and easy on the draw, fresh, full-bodied, satisfying on the flavor.
Franklin took one and put into his mouth. Uncle Miltie flourished a light with a diamond-encrusted, solid gold, silver-plated, platinum lighter. The white gloves had disappeared. His fingernails were long and painted, and there was a ring on every finger, two on some. Uncle's teeth were lurid in his grin. He was wearing makeup and lipstick.
"There," said old Uncle, his grin broadening further as if that were possible, "now you're really with it, kid!"
Franklin was thrilled that uncle Miltie was talking to him, visiting him in his room, because Uncle was the famousest man in the world. But the bad thing was there too, that overheated, familiar, baseless, and disconnected anxiety -- as of the approaching burn of perdition.
And the heat made him drink, but it could not quench his thirst. He drank and drank and drank some more. He was born down the river of whisky and deposited into the sea of beer with foam and seaweed potato chips on the shore. But he must have eaten too close to swimming because he got a cramp. It doubled him up so he couldn't swim. Then he couldn't breathe, and his lungs filled up with beer....
He did not know who he was or where. One swollen eye opened partially, painfully. His brain was numb. He was in the back seat of a car apparently. That was weird. There was excruciating pressure on his bladder. The light was way too bright. It was like an oven in there. Everything was off kilter. Life was not possible under these conditions.
He searched for his penis in the folds of two pairs of filthy, too-large pants, both unbuttoned, and no underpants, and found and extricated it. He pushed his pelvis forward and peed onto the back of the front seat. It ran down onto the floor and puddled up on the carpet in the depression. What the hell? Well, as long as he missed himself....
As long as it wasn't his car. Well, he didn't own any car. That much he knew. Nobody he knew owned any car. Then, because it was too hot, too stuffy, too bright, too impossible, he closed his eye and went back to sleep, trying along the way, unsuccessfully, to reenter the dream, and wondering why he even wanted to, since it had not been pleasant at all.
Jolted awake a short time later by a violent banging that seemed to be happening inside his head, he sprang up to a sitting position, his heart almost bursting out of his chest. It was a cop's baton on the hood of the car.
"Outta the car, hippie!" commanded the officer of the law....
© Charles Martin Simon