Thursday, December 31, 2009

Happy New Year

That's a wish, not an observation. The way I see it, there's only one of two ways to see this one in. The choice is yours, of course, but unfortunately there's no in between. You either get shitfaced hammered, or you don't drink a drop. I would prefer you did the latter, but that's up to you.

Personally, I'm going to step outside for a few minutes, out in the cold dark night air, and take a few deep breaths. I want to breathe in the new year, and hope like hell it's not like the last one.

Cold, harsh reality. It's not going to be easy, so why pretty it up and pretend it might turn out pretty good if you don't really believe it? There's a time to party and live it up. I can't see this as one of those times. Sure, I've got plenty to be thankful for as well, and I want to express thanks for that, and determine to hold on to it. All the more reason not to drink or get high. Stay in control, and look reality square in the eyes. Fantasy during hard times can be helpful to a point, but after so long it can become a false friend and a hollow dream.

See, we've all got plenty to be pissed off about too, and the right to express that. We might even have the duty to do so. Making merry just might be a little bit inappropriate.

Wednesday, December 30, 2009

Everybody's A Critic These Days

Akhmal Shaikh, British citizen of Pakistani descent, took a trip to China one day, armed with nothing but a song he hoped to use to land a recording contract, in the hopes his charming little tune would usher in world peace in the name of Allah.

He got off the plane in Beijing. He was stopped and interrogated and then jailed by the Chinese authorities. They heard his pleas, and I guess they got around to playing his song, featured in the YouTube video below.

Then they killed him.



Oh, okay, he was also carrying a suitcase stuffed chock full of heroin, enough to kill more than twenty-five thousand people. According to his supporters, he was tricked into carrying it into China by drug smugglers, while in Poland.

He was supposedly bi-polar, so the British objected to his pending execution, but the Chinese were unrelenting. Personally, I still think it was partly because of the song. It certainly didn't help his cause. Somebody wanting to put out a song in the name of Allah for the ostensible purpose of ushering in world peace might want to try a different venue than the People's Republic of China. They seem to have this thing about religious fanatics. Ask the Falon Gong.

In the meantime, go over to the YouTube page and join the fun in the comments section.

Monday, December 28, 2009

Max Baucus Expounds The Basic Points Of Democratic Party Philosophy

Listen to this drunken old fool on the floor of the Senate, and tell me why I'm not right in insisting the worse thing the Republican Party ever did was oppose the procedure of abortion that is guaranteed to end the life of at least three Democrats for every one Republican before they ever get started.



As if that is not enough, you have this imbecile denying Baucus is drunk for the simple fact he is, according to this apparatchik at least, right on the issue in question. He is just revved up and excited, you see. The fact that every single commenter to this incredibly stupid post has lambasted this guy in the strongest terms imaginable should serve to tell you which way the wind is blowing, especially since this is a San Francisco Chronicles blog.

And that really brings me to my main point. The fact that Baucus seems to be shit-faced drunk is really secondary in importance to the spectacle that has been unfolding in the US Senate now for the past few months, which only gets worse as time goes on.

The simple fact is, the Democrats don't give a shit about the will of the voters, and the fact that the Republicans so seem to care about the wishes of the people who did, after all, put all members of both parties into office, is viewed as an act of cowardice.

Think about that. I don't know how I could possibly stress that enough, or too much. Baucus lays it all out in no uncertain terms in the YouTube video above. Yes, you drunken old corrupt fucking fool, it takes courage to flaunt the will of the voters, if you consider arrogance, corruption, and power-madness courage.

So is he right? Are the Republicans cowards? Are they afraid of the people? I sure as hell hope so, because god damn you, you steaming, stinking pile of shit, they're supposed to be, and so are you. And if you are not, you had damned well better start learning to be.

Friday, December 25, 2009

Happy Christmas-War Is Over-And Over, And Over, And-

When Christianity took over the world of the Roman Empire, it did so practically without firing a shot. It was not a bloody military takeover, or a coup. A lot of people today seem to think it was a controversial event. In reality, Christianity was arguably the fastest, largest, most widespread movement in history up until that time. Years of official repression of the faith did next to nothing to slow the tide of disaffection from the officially sanctioned cults over to the new, foreign faith.

How this happened, and why, is not so hard to see. Christianity was open to anyone, of all races, of all classes, even to slaves. It was open to the common citizens of Rome. It was perhaps most importantly open to the Freedmen-those former slaves and sons of slaves who by the virtue of their merit and value to the Empire had won their freedom, and citizenship.

Yet, for many of these people, inclusion within the major cults of Rome was not an option. In order to be a member of most of the pagan cults of ancient Rome, you had to have a sponsor-a patron, if you will. You spent some time, possibly years, as a neophyte, before you finally were accepted as a full-fledged member. After that, you were expected to pay a regular fee, in addition to performing specific duties. It is not going too far to say that joining one of these cults was not so much like becoming a member of a religion as it was, at best, like joining a secret society like the Masons. At worse, it was more like joining a country club.

It was an arduous, time consuming process that, it bears repeating, was not open to slaves, or to common citizens, or even to the many valued and important Freedmen-who nevertheless made up the civil servants, public officials, and even the highly paid and skilled members of Roman society who, in point of fact, kept the Roman Empire not only running smoothly, but functional.

Like the slaves and commoners, they could not simply walk into the environs of a pagan temple, attend a worship service, and at the end walk up toward the front and express a wish to become a member of the sect. Such a thing would have been unheard of at the time.

Certainly, anybody could go to a temple during set times and during certain periods, and pray, and naturally they could offer some form of sacrifice, or offering. Actually, this would be expected-and required. But as far as being an actual member of the temple sect community, they were wholly excluded.

Even though most households had their households deities to whom they ostensibly prayed and worshiped, and even though the citizens of Rome partook in the various different religious fesitivities-such as the Saturnalia, for example-this is something they did as a family, in the first instance, or in the latter case as members of the wider community of Rome, during these limited festive occasions. There was outside of this, however, nothing to make them feel as though they were a part of a specific religious community, which meant they were lacking in spiritual guidance and religious education, something for which there was a natural hunger and yearning.

What they had that might have been available was limited to the many mythologies that were created to serve as explanations for natural phenomenon, or in some cases, they were actually created by the state as a way of augmenting and rationalizing the power of the state as a prerogative granted from on high by divine providence.

Virgil's The Aeneid was a pertinent example of the latter case. The Aeneid, to this day considered a classic, and even by many as a sequel to Homer's Illiad, was actually commissioned by the Emperor Augustus as a way of gaining acceptance of the belief in his divine right to rule as Imperator of the former Republic of Rome. At one point within the work, Augustus's birth is "prophesied". This in fact was a "prophecy" that was years later mistakenly taken as a prophecy of the birth of Christ.

Outside of these instances, there was no great religious or philosophical teachings available to the vast majority of Roman citizens-until that is Christianity came along. Once it outpaced its rival foreign sects amongst the general populace, and continued to grow, the Roman elites knew they had both a potential souce of many problems, and at the same time, a valuable opportunity.

In other words, the rulers of Rome did not force Christianity on the people of Rome. Instead, the Roman rulers actually jumped on the bandwagon, beginning with Constantine. Once Christianity became over time the officially sanctioned cult of the Roman Empire, it was not long before all others were officially discouraged, and then, unfortunately, all-together outlawed. This was more than likely a way to insure unity and cohesion within the Empire, but let's be clear on this-even at that, there was not a great deal of disruption, and certainly little in the way of bloodshed, or for that matter even protest.

The new Christian leaders were hardly the same as the old disciples and apostles who made their way uneasily out of the Judaean wilderness and the Galilee. For the most part, by the time Christianity became the official religion of Rome, most of these leaders were in fact native born and educated Romans themselves. As such, they were very savvy, both politically and socially. They very wisely expropriated the most popular of the ancient Roman cult festivals, and adapted them to the new Christian faith with remarkable ease. Christmas and Easter are the two most obvious examples of this process.

The peoples of Rome then were given the best of both worlds. They were given, with Christianity, a religion with a religious community to which they felt they could belong and contribute in a positive way, to a movement which taught them that they were equal in the eyes of a loving, all-powerful God who would forgive their sins and take them at the end of their life for an eternity in heaven. As a sop, they were allowed to keep the only thing from the old pagan traditions that they ever really cared about to begin with-the festive holidays that they all enjoyed and which brought some degree of pleasure and relief to what had been a meager, unfulfilling, perhaps in some cases even a miserable existence.

And all they had to give up in order to have all this was a bunch of cults made up of people that would not allow them to join anyway, who worshiped a bunch of deities that didn't really give a rat's ass about them or their families, from their perspective-assuming they even really existed at all.

For the vast majority of the citizens of Rome, it was not a hard bargain at all. Even most of the ones who truly cared about the old cults-that is to say, those who were allowed to belong to them-adapting to the change was probably far easier than we might imagine. After all, for most of them, belonging to these cults was not a matter of faith, so much as it was a factor of elite privilege and distinction, and for that matter, a means to influence. After all, if you were accepted, you could hob-nob with the great and the near great. The religious cult trappings, while doubtless endearing and attractive, possibly even charming and creative, were more minor considerations.

The fact that Christianity, and the Church, over time became more and more corrupt, is a simple fact of the dangers of power. The Roman cults, like ancient Rome itslef, likewise was corrupt. That goes with the territory. It was this corruption that did indeed lead to suppression, sometimes by brutal violence, of other religious beliefs. This is true of the treatment of the Church towards holdouts from among the old pagan cults, of course, what few might have remained, but it should be pointed out that this was mainly the case of rival movements within Christianity itself-the so-called Gnostics, who were as brutally persecuted by the Church as the early Christians had been by the leaders of pagan Rome.

The whole process was repeated throughout the Empire, including Europe, where Germanic chieftains would adopt Christianity, and then lead a movement to evangelize and baptize their people, all of whom typically acquiesced without protest.

Many of the new pagan philosophies of the modern day seem to have learned the lesson of the past, and forgotten others. They know that in order for them to grow, they have to be open and inclusive of the general population. That is the lesson they have learned.

What they have forgotten is that with great power and influence come not merely the potential, but the certainty of corruption. The fact that so many of them have so unfortunately become so enmeshed in Democratic and Green Party politics is perfectly illustrative of that point. We already have certain people just chomping at the bits to write the newer, modern version of the Aeneid, in which the gods and goddesses who reign over the natural gas and oil reserves of the earth are ready to lash out with a vengeance against the evil mortals who "plunder" their domains, and at the same time stand in the way of they and their friends and associates reaping the benefits and the rewards, inherent in the presumed promise and potential of green energy.

For the good of Mother Earth, of course.

A good clue to the intentions of people who complain about the influence of Christians on the American political climate is that they have chosen to throw their lot in with a political party to whom the power of the federal government is seen as a means to several self-serving ends, usually involving increasing bureaucracies and regulations, taxation, and suppression of individual liberties for the benefit of mostly a few groups inculcated with a culture of entitlement. Some people would seem to want to add the pagan movement to that ever growing list of grievance groups.

I'll put this as delicately as I know how. The Christians can keep their power and influence. They are more than welcome to the corruption it brings. I know that if they go too far, the people in general, including many from among their own ranks, will rebel and boost them from their lofty perch as surely as Martin Luther gave the Pope his walking papers centuries ago.

I don't want the drama. I didn't sign on to be a part of a political movement, it has been thrust upon me. I would just as soon be a member of an exclusive, elite, secret society that aims for the personal growth and spiritual development of it's own members, and yet might in some way make a positive contribution to society and humanity, while keeping most of them at arms length, thank you.

Failing all that, I'm fine with just being a member of an exclusive country club.

Instead, I spend my time preaching the virtues of Federalism and hoping somebody somewhere listens, and feeling all the while like I'm preaching to a bunch of kids about the value of eating their spinach while their cramming Milky Way bars in their mouths. And it's not even nothing against Milky Way bars, in my case, so much as it is perspective and moderation.

Merry Christmas to all and to all a good night? I guess so. Maybe one of these days we'll all have a good laugh over all this, if we don't end up killing each other first.

Monday, December 21, 2009

Yule Song Video-Help

Probably the most spirited, fun-loving, joyful cry for "Help" ever recorded, this song is the perfect opening song for this year's Yule Sabbat. This is equally true of the video, as will become apparent towards the end.

Yule Tarot



You just can't make this stuff up. On top of that, a second drawing netted me the King of Pentacles, which I did out of concern I might not have been focused enough the first time. Still, it does indeed fit, especially since I drew it reversed. Hard times and all. Well, make the most of that lump of coal, if you can.

Plus, we have Mars getting ready to go retrograde, which can be troublesome, seeing as how it is currently in Leo, thus in opposition to both Jupiter and Neptune in Aquarius, while Saturn is in Libra, this in an off-centered opposition to Uranus in Pisces. The Sun of course is conjunct Pluto in Capricorn, and sextile the Moon in Pisces. Mercury? He's in Capricorn (never far from the sun) but way up a bit, sextile to Uranus, while the lovely Venus is back a ways, back in Sagittarius in fact, in a sextile to Jupiter and Neptune, and squared Uranus. And oh yeah, trine Mars.

Cold weather we're having, huh?
If you are wondering what to buy in the way of a Christmas present, look no further than this Wall Street Journal article which details some really high quality wines at seemingly bargain basement prices. Naturally, some of these wines would make for a good Yule Sabbat celebration as well.

Or, you can go a much simpler route, with this tasty recipe. It is called, appropriately enough, A Cold Winter's Night.

Booze
1 part Peppermint schnapps

Mixers
4 parts Hot chocolate

Garnishes
Marshmallows
Directions
Warm up next the fire and add a blast of peppermint schnapps to your hot cocoa. Marshmellows? Sure. Or go real festive and stick a candy cane in there. Merry Holidays!

Coolest Animal In The Universe

My favorite animal, the cat. I think I'll just arbitrarily designate it as the power animal of the year. And since it's Yule, this video of a young cat seems fitting. If you have a cat, this might give you a good hint as to what it might appreciate in the way of a present.

Wolf Run

For those of you interested in animals, you might want to check out this website by Wolf Run Park. Wolf Run is located in Jessamine County Kentucky, and it is staffed by mostly volunteers and is dependent on donations of both food and money. They take in animals that are no capable of making it in the wild for whatever reason. Their most recent resident is a fawn that somebody found and decided to keep as a pet. As you might imagine, that didn't turn out so great after the fawn grew to be an adult deer.

And of course, the animals are separated by type. You have wolves and cougars there as well, and others varieties of wild animals. If you would like to contribute you can do so from their web page.

Frankie

Since Yule is the time for the celebration of the "rebirth" of the sun god and the cycle of life, it behooves us to contemplate what an awesome responsibility it is to bring new life into the world. Some of us are cut out for it, some of us are not.

Some of us grow into it. Some of us just walk away.

Pagans Against Child Abuse

blogger Rob Taylor of Red Alerts is a member of a group called Pagans Against Child Abuse, which works to prevent child exploitation and abuse, both on-line and out in "the real world". It should be noted here that, if you wish to join the group, which has an on-line chat function, forums, and a wide-ranging diversity of topics as well as members, you do not have to be a pagan to join. All are welcome.

They are currently involved in the circulation of a petition against the gay-activist group GLSEN, but it is incumbent on me to point out that this is in no way, shape, or fashion, an anti-gay agenda. I've known Rob long enough to know that he is a staunch supporter of gay rights, as is his wife, who blogs under the name Jenn Q. Public. He is actually much more pro-gay rights than I am, and in fact sometimes when I read his posts I think, when the fuck did he get bit by the PC mosquito? But that's just Rob, who is actually pretty conservative, maybe more so than me on some things. The point is, the reason for the petition is not anti-gay, it is basically aimed at a reading list GLSEN has endorsed that includes books that seem to encourage child-adult sex.

Check out the link I provided and, if you are in agreement, join the group and/or sign the petition.

Sunday, December 20, 2009

So Just Who Is The Grinch Here?

Like Baltimore doesn't have enough problems with the blizzard, and with exploding water lines turning streets into rivers, and a mayor who is so corrupt she makes your average Afghan warlord look like a man of integrity, an explosive crime rate, ACORN thugs, etc, etc., ad nauseum, they have now gone all out. Now they are suing Wells Fargo for, of all things, reverse redlining.

I shit you not. Because Wells Fargo foreclosed on a few hundred homes, in a city where thousands of properties lay vacant, they seem to feel like the bank has damaged the city in some way. Okay, now the only thing I can figure about this is, they are distressed about the lack of property taxes. But would not the bank be obliged to pay these taxes, since they technically own them now? Or were they expected to pay the property taxes the owners couldn't pay, obviously, since they couldn't pay their mortgages, or wouldn't.

They sued Fargo back a ways for the practice of red-lining. That is where banks target areas as bad investments due to poverty and the unlikelihood residents will pay their mortgages. Since it just so happened most of the people in these neighborhoods were black, it was decreed a racist policy, of course, and the feds eventually told them to cut that out.

Reverse red-lining then is where a bank obeys the law and sells an x amount of what it assumes are likely to be bad mortgages, but does so with sub-prime interest arrangements when the recipients actually qualify for the lowest fixed rates available.

The judge overseeing the case has decided the city has no real standing to collect damages and has said he will limit the scope of the lawsuit.

It just amazes me that a city that is so poorly run, mismanaged, and obviously corrupt would have the temerity to try something like this. But then again, thousands of Baltimore residents every year give themselves a Christmas present, albeit sometimes a late one, that should be reflected in the next census.

They leave.

You would think the people who run the city would learn something from that, but then again, if they did, they might have to sue themselves.

As Good As It Gets

Since Obama is going to probably get a chance to appoint at least one more justice to the Supreme Court between now and the time he leaves office, even if that is at the end of his first term, I am going to assume (and fucking hope) that the judge he replaces will be Ruth Bader Ginsburg.

Here is who I suggest he nominate in her place. Unlike most of his other prospects, she might actually grow into the job.

God Rest Ye Merry Gentlemen

Looks like the war on Christmas is with us once more, and the likely casualties are not going to be the churches or worshipers, or those who want to limit public displays of religion, but private and corporate business owners who stray into the no-man’s land of political correctness. In a nation where well over half of the citizens still consider themselves Christians, a good rule of thumb might be, if you want to keep their business, don’t piss them off, because they can always find somewhere else to go.

You can almost hear them shouting now, “HEY FUCK YOU-MERRY CHRISTMAS, CHRISTMAS TREE, THE FIRST NOEL, JOLLY OLD SAINT NICK, AVE MARIA, AND IF YOU DON’T LIKE IT, SUCK A JOLLY DICK. SUE THAT, ACLU!”

Because what it all boils down to is, they can’t do anything about a judge that orders a Nativity Scene taken away from a public park, nor can they do much when their kid’s public school bans caroling or Christmas pageants. But they can sure as hell make life miserable for any store that tells it’s clerks to not say Merry Christmas.

I don’t blame them. How is it any different from Al Sharpton leading a boycott of advertisers demanding Don Imus be fired for referring to the female Rutger’s basketball team as “nappy-headed hos”? How is it any different than when he, Jesse Jackson, and other civil rights activists lead a boycott of South Carolina over the Confederate flag?

More to the point, what can anybody do about it? I think it’s well played myself, and not a little hilarious. Look, it’s just this simple. If you want to keep their business, give them what they want. Otherwise, bow out gracefully. At least you’ll have your dignity, and maybe a tax write-off.

Where We Lead

The climate change summit in Copenhagen didn’t seem to accomplish much, but there are several lessons we can take from it. One, most global change activists and environmentalists are communists, radicals, or other leftists. That is not exactly a newsflash to most of us, but for those who might question that, a good rule of thumb is that when you are a visitor to a foreign country, you should respect that nation’s national sovereignty, and the property of it’s citizens. When you don’t, you should not be surprised when the police of said host country knock you up the side of the head and throw your silly ass in jail.

A few other observations-all of a sudden, all of the major nations involved at the summit are big fans of the concept of national sovereignty, except of course when it comes to the US. We are, of course, expected to “lead”, which brings me to yet another observation-

When another country calls on the US to “lead” by example, what they are really saying is “kindly do what the fuck we tell you to do”.

I grudgingly give Obama some degree of credit for having the balls to walk into a conference with the Chinese, Indians, and Brazilians uninvited with the intention of forging an “agreement” between those nations on carbon emissions reductions and ways to verify them. I just don’t expect much to come of it, and neither should you.

Of course, I take away with the other hand for Obama’s stubborn refusal to recognize that he doesn’t really have the authority to use the EPA as a tools for exercising the terms of the agreement, which is what he seems to be promising to do. On the face of it, it is unconstitutional, and there is currently a petition making the rounds, intended for the delegates of the summit, reminding them that the president cannot arbitrarily sign a treaty or enforce it without the consent of Congress.

I disagree with this petition in one regard. I actually don’t think Congress has the right to make any such international multi-lateral treaty (including trade agreements), but they are certainly right that Obama doesn’t have any such constitutional authority.

Finally, I should point out that the one solid agreement reached is actually the only one necessary to reduce and possibly even reverse global climate change. The answer-

TREES TREES TREES TREES TREES TREES TREES, ETC.

Oh yeah, and restoring land contours in heavily mined areas. You go all out to do those things and you solve the problem, to whatever extent man is capable of solving it, regardless of whether or not global climate change is caused by man, to whatever degree. Without a large influx of new trees and other vegetation, and restoring land contours, anything else you might do is useless at best.

That is not to say you can’t work to reduce carbon emissions, just do it for the right reasons. Do it to clean up your immediate environment. Who wants to live in Beijing? I don’t, nor anyplace remotely that nasty. Clean it up for that reason, just don’t expect it to solve anything having anything to do with global climate change. The ocean levels are rising and threatening to engulf entire populated islands? Tell the Indians and Indonesians to stop pissing in their rivers and you’ll come as close to reversing the rising ocean levels as you will by reducing carbon emissions.

Here in the US, the federal government doesn’t even have to be that involved, other than as maybe an arbitrator in any dispute between two bordering states, or in the case of a citizen lawsuit if state lawmakers refuse to clean it up regardless of the wishes of state citizens.

You want alternative energy sources? Fine, do that too, it will help keep the price of oil and gas lower by increasing supplies. The more alternative energy you have, the more gas and oil you will have to work with as a consequence. Work especially on hydroelectric, hydrogen fuel cells for cars, and geothermal energy. Most especially, work to develop safe nuclear energy, if you are really serious about developing clean, cheap, and efficient alternative energy. Don’t go on about solar and wind and expect to be taken seriously, and leave my fucking corn alone. I want to eat it for less than five fucking dollars an ear, thank you.

If you want that kind of fuel, there is always switch grass, and for that matter, all those extra new trees you’ll probably never plant might provide a large source of some kind of future fuel, to say nothing of tons of fresh lumber for housing. You might also create in the meantime new and expanded eco-systems for the wildlife many of you are so allegedly concerned about.

Of course, none of this really matters, because none of this is really about reversing global climate change or about alternative energy sources, it’s mainly about a handful of elitist schmucks transferring wealth and power from the pockets of business and private citizens to their own, and US wealth to the hands of a handful of mainly European, but also some other, power structures and alliances. Otherwise, this problem would be easily solved, and would have been long ago.

We Need Our Heroes

I think it’s high time we rethought our definition of the word hero, with an eye toward bringing it back in line towards what it originally meant to the ancient Greeks. One thing we should note is that a hero is not by definition necessarily a “good person”, or a “role model”. With that in mind, people such as Tiger Woods and Chris Henry are not, ironically enough, excluded from consideration. In fact, it’s not going too far to suggest that heroes are mostly bad people, or at the very least, good to average people who have made stupid decisions or committed evil acts, even if unknowingly, that demand expiation. Hercules murdered his wife and child in a fit of insane rage-said to be inspired by a capricious Hera, but resulting in a blood guilt all the same. Orestes murdered his own mother, obliged by divine law to do so to avenge the death of his father. Yet due to another ancient principle, this demanded expiation of a blood guilt as well.

Thus, a hero is somebody who has to follow a certain path to rectify some wrong, maybe some grave injustice or crime. He does so knowing the outcome will likely lead to nothing but misery for him, and quite possibly even his ultimate demise, but he does so anyway, just because it’s the “right” thing to do. He has no hope of reward. In fact, he understands all too well that he has moved far beyond any hope of such gratification.

He certainly doesn’t do so in the hopes that he might make-or retain-the capacity to make multi-millions of dollars in endorsement deals because he can swing a golf club better and with more accuracy than most, or because he can catch a football under adverse condition and make significant yardage against trained and talented competitors.

It’s too late for Chris Henry, who it has been said genuinely tried to turn his life around toward the end of it. There are those who will say that Henry, whom one judge some time ago referred to as a “one man crime spree”, did not really try to change. If he had, he would not have found himself embroiled in the domestic dispute with his fiancĂ© that resulted in his death from falling from the back of the moving pick-up truck he had jumped onto in order to continue the argument from which she seemingly was determined to extricate herself.

That of course flies in the face of the reality of human life. People don’t really change their true natures. They only change their outward actions, or try to change them. They try to adopt new lifestyles and new habits, in the hopes that this will help them mature as people. It doesn’t mean they never screw up again, or that they have become a “changed person”. It is disingenuous for some to complain that Henry should not be considered a hero. He was actually in his last months closer to the definition of the word than most other athletes, in the sense of a person who tries to rectify his past mistakes. I certainly take exception to the view of one columnist who proclaimed, with the self-righteous swagger of the politically correct know-it-all, that the recognition of Chris Henry by the Bengals and the NFL was somehow an “insult to women”. Chris Henry’s past crimes had little to do with women. Most of his crimes were actually trivial-DUI, marijuana possession, assault, a gun charge, etc. Yes, he was a thug. Possibly the worse thing he did was have underage girls in his hotel room, drinking, yet there was no charge of sexual misconduct. One woman did accuse Henry once of sexual assault, but under questioning this turned out to be a bogus charge, for which the woman was prosecuted.

Now he is dead, but the alleged domestic dispute that led to this tragedy is too nebulous in nature for us to draw much in the way of conclusions as to blame. More to the point, there is nothing in Henry’s past that would point to abuse of women as being a systemic part of his nature. Chris Henry was, in general terms, no more or no less than a talented athlete with a troubled personal life. Not a good person, but not necessarily a bad person either, just a flawed human being who wanted to turn his life around.

The only thing that disqualifies him from hero status is not the fact that he was not a good role model, it is the implication that he probably would not have cared to change his life was there no potential to save his football career. And even that is not for sure. It is something that we will just never know for certain.

Chris Henry was rightly criticized for his crimes, even though a white player with similar flaws or worse would not raise such issues, though at the same time, neither would he have been given the multiple chances Henry was granted.

And that brings us to the crux of the matter. That brings us to Tiger Woods. Tiger Woods was not a self-made man. He was a creation of a media and a society that yearns for heroes, and most especially for black heroes. I have seen this phenomenon time after time. A fairly good or basically average football player becomes a player with a lot of potential. A good player becomes a great player. A great player becomes practically a god. It is almost a kind of reverse bigotry. We hold these people up as examples of what we think black children should aspire to become. We still want them to become singers, dancers, actors, musicians, and athletes. The more of them we prop up in such a way, the more role models we can use to convince ourselves that black people have the potential to be great. The fact that we recognize this proves we are not racists, even though the reality is, we fear that without these role models, black children will grow up to be thugs, drug addicts, rapists, and murderers. We almost know they will never aspire to hold down a stable career and raise a family. We know they will all be lazy, shiftless, thieving, uneducated fools who we have to keep on welfare to keep them from really going off the rails and maybe killing and eating all of us.

There is also an even worse possibility than that. There is the disturbing and even horrifying prospect that they might be like Clarence Thomas-that is to say, as good as or better than we Caucasian folk after all, which would really make us all look like fuckwits. In order to head off that potential embarrassment, we make sure we apportion a handful of straw bosses like Jesse Jackson and Al Sharpton, and some others of that ilk, to “look out for the interests” of “people of color” (this by the way is how you should refer to them, instead of the racist term “colored people”) on the modern inner-city plantation where they are kept in line for the next election day. In the meantime, we teach them that they should be proud of their black heritage-which evidently means to make sure they father or give birth to at least two illegitimate kids before they are sent off to spend half their lives in some fucked up prison system, in retaliation for having the temerity to act in some way that might serve to illustrate that the liberal policies of the day just might not work as good as we like to insist they do.

In other words, the blacks we send to prison aren’t really being punished for being rapists, murderers, and thieves. We know they can’t really help that. They are being punished for being uppity blacks who a few too many times it seems left the reservation, where the race as a whole is being helped up the evolutionary ladder, courtesy of the kindness of white progressives and the expropriated funds of the white working and middle classes.

Of course, we understand that it might take a few generations before they get to the right level. And that is where people like Tiger Woods comes in. Although we deny it, a large percentage of blacks are naturally gifted at sports. This is partly due to genetic factors, but just as importantly, it is due to selective breeding going back through multiple generations as practiced by white slave owners. They were purposely bred to work long hard hours in adverse conditions. Over time, this translated into the capacity to excel in sports. It also gave them the capacity to be sexual titans in the bedroom. Of course, we don’t like to see that, and we will crucify anybody that points that out (and yes, I know, I’ve got it coming), but this is because we can’t face up to our own guilt. We can’t face up to our own crimes.

Instead of seeing things the way they are, we instead look for ways to modify our guilt. Blacks don’t have to be physical brutes who might well fuck our precious-and ready, willing, and eager-little girls and leave us with the embarrassment of mulatto grandchildren we have to pretend to love because they are “just as good as the others”.

They can be like Tiger. They can be civilized gentlemen who excel in sports and life and raise stable, caring, functional families. Black people should really be like Tiger, you see, so let us prop him up and make sure black kids see that, if you work hard and play by the rules, you too can be a successful sports hero and multi-billionaire.

And everybody will love, admire, and perhaps even worship you.

Well, as it turns out, he got more than his fair share of love. The last I checked, he was just one woman shy of having enough to station at every hole of a regulation golf course. Well, make that two, as his wife has seemingly had enough. Not that I feel the least bit of sympathy for her. Well, I do, but only if she was so fucking stupid as to actually believe she was in this marriage as anything but a trophy wife-yet another symbol of the success and promise of what a black man can attain. If they’re good little boys, that is.

The only thing that is amazing about all of this is how people are so willfully blind to this incredibly obvious process that we partake in. Our attempt to create and stage manage black heroes for public consumption, the edification of the black community, and mainly as a means of guilt expiation, is itself almost a heroic effort, if it wasn’t at once so laughable, yet so tragic. Yet, we do it because we feel we must. We derive no real benefit. We just hope we as a society derive some degree of justification for our past excesses.

In the meantime, we overlook the real heroes. A cop who dies in the line of duty while doing the right things, even though he knows he will derive no real benefit if he does survive. A soldier who throws himself on a grenade when he can just as easily jump the other way, to save an already wounded and dying soldier and give him just a few extra seconds chance to pull through in the unlikely event reinforcements might arrive. The working stiff who holds down a dead-end job, maybe two of them, just to feed a family who really doesn’t have enough sense to appreciate the sacrifice he has made and continues to make every day. The teenage unwed mother or father who chucks all hope for the future in order to provide for the new life he or she has brought into the world due to his or her own stupidity.

Maybe even the prostitute who continues to sell her body because that’s the only way she can provide for her child, even though she knows she is technically a criminal, a social pariah, and a danger to her customers and to herself-yet she continues to demean herself out of love for that child. What else can she do?

If she’s lucky, she might one day get to stand by that eighteenth hole. She doesn’t hold out any realistic hope of that, or of anything remotely better than what her prospects are in reality. That is what makes her a hero. She wants to do something else, and possibly could do something else, but in order to do so, she would have to absolve herself of her responsibilities. She will not do that. Rightly or wrongly, for good or bad, she will continue.

Like I said, heroes aren’t always good people. They are not always role models. We might not actually need them. But somebody somewhere does. Unfortunately, we too often forget, heroes are humans, just like the rest of us, only graced, or perhaps cursed, with an obsessive drive to fulfill a destiny that will give him nothing but misery in return, only because it’s the right thing to do.

Yes, a human being like Tiger Woods or Chris Henry can, if he is willing to make that sacrifice, be a true hero. Will Tiger turn his life around? If he does it despite losing his fortune and the respect for the image he has crafted, he would be a hero. If he only does it to retain his wealth and status, then he is not a hero, by definition. He will be just another self-serving public figure whom many people will continue to build up, and even worship, while many of us will just as wrongly continue to tear him down, as a punishment for having the temerity to actually be the real Tiger Woods, as opposed to the little god we created in our own self-serving image.

That is what we are.

Achmed The Dead Terrorist

What better Christmas present could we ask for than a prematurely exploding dead terrorist?

Only A Matter Of Time

Many people are assuming Barak Obama doesn’t really deserve the Nobel Peace Prize because he has agreed to send more troops to Afghanistan, a war he says he intends to see through to a successful conclusion, explaining to the Nobel Committee who awarded him the prize that he could not sit idly by while America is still in danger.

The left is outraged, of course. Since Obama won the election, why persist in this silly illusion he crafted whereby Afghanistan, unlike Iraq, was the true legitimate “war on terror”. You won, Barak, they seem to be saying. Stand up for peace, that’s far more important than keeping your word to the rubes.

Unfortunately, neither the left nor the right get it. I think though that the Nobel Committee, and all the truly elite of Europe and America, get it all too well. Barak Obama has not in reality contradicted the honor bestowed on him by the Nobel Prize Committee. In fact, he has in a very cleverly constructed manner managed to live up to the title in a way that is sheer genius.

Barak Obama has, with the announcement of his Surge policy in Afghanistan-surrendered to the Taliban.

I know that is a radical charge to make, but a simple explanation should suffice. In planning to bring the moderate forces of the Taliban into an eventual government coalition, Obama has made plain he does not take this war seriously. He sees it as something that needs to end. If that means making peace with the Taliban under the guise of a mythical moderate wing, so be it.

This is not to say that Barak Obama intends to do this because he “hates America”. Obama probably honestly believes, in all sincerity, in the existence of something called moderate Islam. In reality, as has been explained numerous times, there are only two types of Islam within the greater sects of the religion. There is religious Islam, and there is secular Islam. A secular Islamic ruler might in theory be moderate, but anywhere there is a large religious element within an Islamic society, said secular ruler will find himself having to move toward what we should call the mushy middle, this in Islamic terms being anything but moderate. A religious Muslim leader who adheres to the rule of the Quran, or to Sharia law, will likewise be anything but moderate.

This formula is certainly true as pertains to the extremist Islamic political cult known as the Taliban. It is as foolish to speak of a moderate wing of the Taliban as it is to think in terms of a humanitarian wing of Al-Queda. Such ideals involve every bit as much a contradiction in terms as that old joke about military intelligence.

So why does Obama insist on going down this road? It is partly for diplomatic purposes, but there is a basis to his thinking that is grounded in the reality of his early life in Indonesia, where he was raised in a neighborhood comprised to a large extent of moderate Muslims. Yes, they do exist in human terms, as part of the greater societies.

They are the shopkeepers, the vendors at street bazaars, the cab drivers and barbers, the same kind of people you see from all walks of life and within all cultures. They are family men, family women, children who want an education and some who just want to have fun and goof off. They are emergency personnel and policemen, doctors and lawyers, all of whom just want to work, have a decent lifestyle and raise their families.

These are your moderate Muslims whom Obama puts so much faith. Unfortunately, they have no power over political and legal decisions, and they never will. The minute they do get it, what times they do, they will almost always relegate it to either a religious entity who will exercise its religious functions, or they will give it to a secular entity who will always be struggling to accommodate the religious elements, or as in many cases, by ruling all segments of society with an iron hand in order to keep these elements contained.

And because the moderate elements of society have never had a culture of responsibility at the national level, there is no brake on the rampant corruption that exists within these societies at the top levels, as seen for example in the Karzai government of Afghanistan.

Obama probably does honestly believe he can come to an accord with so-called moderate members of the Taliban, or with those who pretend to be so. He is still giving away the store, whatever his intentions. It just might take a few years-or a few months-before the ramifications of what he is doing manifest.

In the meantime, if he can convince the world that he is making up for the alleged misdeeds of the Bush Admionistration and coming to accord and common cause with these allegedly moderate members of the Islamic ruling classes, he can make some headway towards extricating America from the messy situation we are in and doing so in such a way as to win public approval and maybe even acclaim, both at home and abroad. He will, to the vast majority, be seen as more than worthy of the Nobel Prize.

As a sop to paving the way for the eventual return to power of a restored Taliban, in addition to at least temporarily establishing a civil dialogue, along with what passes for peace (at the expense of the legitmate human rights of the vast majority of the actual moderate members of the society), they might even hand Bin Laden over to him. Why not? Osama has served his purpose, and will soon be gone anyway. Why not make him a martyr and at the same time hand a psychological victory over to the guy that is making their return to dominance not just possible, but almost inevitable? They would do this behind closed doors, of course.

But you can expect all hell to break loose, eventually, once the Taliban, by whatever name and controlled by whatever wing, are once again safely ensconced in power.

The Christmas Story

I never did get around to editing the novel I wrote and published on this blog, so alas it is stuck in first draft limbo. One of my resolutions for the new year is going to be finally, FINALLY, completing the damn thing.

In the meantime, as a blast from the past, and as a way of bringing to an end this series of Yule posts, I thought it might be appropriate to present this one particular chapter of RADU, which tells the "true story of Christmas" as told from the perspective of some members of a wildly radical underground heretical sect of the Romanian Orthodox Church, which traces it's origins back to the days of the ancient Roman province of Dacia (present day Romania).

Radu-Chapter XXXII (A Novel by Patrick Kelley)
19 pages approximate
Radu, of course, was not truly dead, as in fact he had not truly lived in the conventional sense of the word. He was, however, for the time being, indisposed. When Louise made her way to the basement of the funeral home, at this stage more than three quarters of the way to being completely renovated (the only thing now completely lacking being the roof and attic) it was with the intention of warning him that he had damn well better pull himself together. That, indeed, was what he was just in the process of doing.

“If it were not for Cynthia,” he explained, “I would be finished for good.”

As he said this, he picked up his eyeball and, gently and carefully, yet firmly, angled it back inside the socket, which he pinched together in a remarkably difficult effort to fuse the gash.

“It will be a few hours of course before I can see out of this one,” he explained as he then cautiously began stuffing his entrails back inside his abdomen.

“Is there anything I can do to help?” Louise asked.

“Wish me luck?” he replied.

“I hope to hell you have learned your lesson,” she said. “That creature you restored obviously wasn’t aware of the limits of your recuperative powers. If she had been, you obviously would not have gotten off so easily.”

“At least she drove Marlowe away for good, I hope,” he replied. “That was the whole point. Of course, I will admit it was a bit unnerving sitting here helplessly, just watching as she ripped me apart. Still, I suppose I will get over it.”

“Well, I have something else for you that might just be what you need,” Louise replied. “Oh, I almost forgot-the heroin. Do you still feel a need for it, I mean?”

“I wouldn’t be inclined to turn it down, but no, not to the extent I did,” he replied. “I guess it’s like they say, once you are an addict, its one day at a time. So, anyway, what have you got for me?”

With a smile, Louie reached into her purse and produced what appeared to be a fifth gallon bottle of some form of liquid. Radu, through the damaged eyes of Marlowe Krovell, focused on the proffered gift, as his nostrils automatically sniffed like the feral animal he now was. He had no doubt as to what the bottle contained.

“Blood from a baptized teenage boy, quite vital and chock full of vitamins, minerals, and proteins, and all the other good amino acids a growing boy needs whilst going through puberty-taken from him as he slept of course, to minimize the release of all those negative chemicals that would prove troublesome for you in your condition. As it is, they should hasten your healing process. By this time tomorrow, you should be as good as new.”

“However did you manage this?” Radu asked as he reached for the bottle. Louise’s eyes shone with a gleam of pride.

“I lured him to my hotel room, of course,” she replied. “I was surprised I still have it at my age. I only regret the poor dear had to die a virgin.”

When she said this, he looked at the bottle suspiciously.

“Are you sure”-

“Oh, for God’s sake, we didn’t do anything, so yes it’s all right,” she replied. “It is a natural urge, after all.”

“Yes, but you are aware of the peculiarities of my brother Vlad’s curse on me,” he reminded her.

“Radu, drink the fucking blood!” she demanded.

Cautiously at first, he put the bottle to his lips and sipped slowly. He stopped, considered whether to continue as he breathed a deep and rare breath, and then he put the bottle once more to his lips. He downed more than half the fifth in one gulp at this point, whereupon Louise stopped him.

“Not so quickly,” she advised him. “Wait a few minutes before you drink it all.”

“I feel better already,” he said. “I think I will be well now.”

“Just the same, be wary of that creature. She will doubtless return here at some point, so you must be strong. She has gone o a rampage throughout the city. She has murdered and mutilated seven people already. When I return, I will do all I can to find and destroy her, so”-

“No!” Radu shouted, whereupon now Louise regarded him with suspicion.

“So, I see there is a little bit of my worthless grandson yet within you,” she observed. “A form of that decadent attachment he supposed was love yet anchored somewhere stubbornly refusing to go away. This could be worse than any virus to you.”

“Nonsense, neither love nor physical desire has anything to do with it,” he said defensively. “I intended to use her in a very important and vital way. Once that is accomplished, you can do with her what you will.”

She regarded him with a hint of suspicion. Yet this was a creature more ancient than she, even at her advanced age, could hope to conceive.

“Very well, I’ll take your word,” she replied at length. “All the same, I have taken steps to protect you from her while you recuperate. She should not be able to return here. I must now take my leave. Martin waits for me. After all, it is Christmas you know.”

As she made ready to leave, he finished the bottle of blood, and made ready to return to his crypt, as the light of day now approached. She walked slowly up the steps, in a hurry to leave before the workmen returned. She only hoped that they held to her and Martin’s specific instructions not to be on the property before nine am, and to be completely gone by six pm. She feared the consequences if they saw Marlowe, or what was worse, if he saw them. Now, she had the further concerns about the hideous creature that Radu had so stubbornly insisted on restoring to life, and who now might prove detrimental to their long-term goals.

She walked up the steps, where Mercury Morris waited to take her on the long journey back to New Jersey.

“I do so appreciate you agreeing to drive me,” she told him as she entered the limousine. “It is hard to find someone this time of the year.”

‘No big whip,” he replied. “My old lady is in prison, and so are my folks. Well, my father is. My mom just wants to go back, and she is pretty determined to make it there. Me, I got nothing better to do.”

“So, when is the release date for your friends new video,” she asked. “I am so delighted he elected to follow my advice and do an entire CD of Frank Sinatra songs. What is the name of it again?”

“He calls it ‘Rappin’ With The Chairman’,” Morris answered. “Hey, that was your idea?”

“Mine and my husbands,” she replied.

“Well, it’s da bomb,” he said. “Wait till you hear the first single off the set. ‘That’s Life’ is the name of it.”

“Ah, one of my all-time favorites,” she said. “Though Martin prefers Strangers In The Night, of course-that’s just Martin for you. Sometimes I think he believes that song was written especially for him. Sometimes I think it might have been, to tell you the truth. He met ol’ Blue Eyes right before that song was released.”

Morris smiled. It was not the first time he had met an old rich woman, or man, who bragged about their position in society and their influence with the rich and the famous with whom they hobnobbed, to hear them tell it, on a regular basis. Yet, something about this old woman made her seem more believable than most, even if what she said was obvious bullshit.

For the most part, it was a quiet drive through Pennsylvania, the old woman seeming not to care, or for that matter even to notice, when Mercury drove considerably over the speed limit. Of course, she did make it clear she wanted to arrive at their destination within a set amount of time.

By the time they finally arrived at the Khoska mansion, Louise seemed almost giddy with anticipation.

“You are a very good driver, young man,” she said. “I want you to have this.”

Mercury turned to see what looked to be, of all things, a medicinal dispenser and a syringe. What in the hell kind of Christmas present is this, he wondered, as she explained concisely the proper manner in which to inject the syringe through the top of the bottle and extract what she called “the vaccine.”

“What’s it for?” he asked.

“It will protect you from a variety of illnesses. I would go so far as to say it would protect you from all known diseases, and a few others no one even knows about, as of now. There is enough here for two injections. Take them a week apart, beginning tonight when you arrive home. There are more in this box. Be sure you pass them out to your family and friends, especially that delightful Toby. The world is in need of artistic people. That will soon be truer than ever.”

Mercury thanked for, and then accompanied her to the house, carrying with him a variety of packages. She rang the doorbell, whereupon Martin answered the door.

“My dear sister, you have finally arrived,” he said. “You are an hour earlier than I expected. Do come in.”

Mercury deposited the gifts inside the door to the spacious family room as the ex-wife, sons, daughters-in-law, and grandchildren of Phillip Khoska gathered around to meet for the first time the woman whom Martin now introduced to them as his beloved older sister Louise.

“Here you go, young man,” Martin said to Mercury as he proffered two one hundred dollar bills. A very Merry Christmas and a Happy New Year to you.”

“Thank you, sir,” Mercury said as he then turned to leave. “Nice meeting you, ma’am,” he said to Louise.

Suddenly, the unexpected occurred as one of the grandchildren walked up to where the recent arrivals congregated, with his eyes peeled exclusively on the Seventeenth Pulse member known as Mercury Morris.

“Wow, you got gang tats,” the seven-year-old boy exclaimed, to his father’s obvious dismay.

“Ricky, that will be enough,” he said. “Sorry about that, mister.”

“No problem,” Mercury replied calmly, though obviously taken aback. “These ain’t gang tats. I got these in the Marines, over in Iraq. The seventeen stands for seventeen kills. That’s what the dagger dripping blood means. I got it right before I was discharged, after I got shot up real bad.”

The young boy looked at him wide-eyed, and then smiled broadly.

“Yeaaahhhhh, right!” he said.

Mercury ignored the obviously disbelieving expression on the boy’s part and, saying goodbye, he informed Louise he would return to pick her up at the scheduled time, at which she thanked him and said goodbye.

“It is so nice to meet you-Louise is it?” Louise turned to face the woman who was married to the man who was, unbeknownst to all of them, not her brother, but her husband.

“And it is nice to finally meet you,” she replied. “Donald has told me so much about you.”

“Are all these presents for us?” the boy asked to his parent’s consternation.

“Indeed they are, young man,” she replied. “They are not to be opened however until midnight tonight, especially this large one. That one is something I have brought as a gift for the entire family.”

She indicated the large box that was almost the height of the boy, who was engrossed in the process of finding his own gift. Louise smiled widely as he looked in greedy expectation, though no one but Martin could read the unadulterated disdain and disgust she had become so expert at concealing over fifty years of marriage. She was more than adept at concealing her true feelings. She had become an expert at hiding her true accent and the Romany heritage from which it sprung. It was something she insisted on even during those long periods when she and Martin were alone.

After the introductions were complete, Martin-known by the family as Donald Krump-joined the brothers in the basement den, as Louise joined Elaine and the two daughters-in-law in the kitchen, where the final preparations of the dinner were in place.

“You say Donald prepared some of the food?” Louise asked.

“Just the turkey and the dressing, and of course, the eggnog,” Elaine replied. “He claims that is an old family recipe. Is that true? Oh yes, and he also prepared the cranberry salad.”

Louise looked warily toward the giant bowl filled with the frothy mix of eggnog.

“Yes, and unfortunately, my constitution is such these days I can’t drink so much as a sip of it without breaking out in hives,” Louise replied. “I’m sure you will enjoy it however. I do hope he thought to prepare a non-alcoholic portion for the young ones.”

“Not only that, but he prepared a special formula for little Jack here,” one of the wives said as she indicated the now sleeping infant she cradled in her arms. “I think I’d better put him down while I’m ahead.”

“Donald is such a stickler for tradition,” Elaine stated. “He insists no one should touch a drop until midnight, and that the children should remain up to join us as well. Just between you and I, though, I think I’m going to sneak a little sip.”

“NO-DON’T!” Louise shouted, and then quickly recovered her composure, as the other three women looked at her in bemused shock.

“What I mean is, Donald is such a stickler for tradition,” she said. “If he found out, he would lecture us all for an hour. Believe me, you do not want to go through that any more than I do.”

Elaine relented, saying it would likely spoil her dinner, all to the relief of Louise, who joined in the female chitchat. She listened with politely disguised disdain as the older of the two daughters-in-law went into a monologue about how few people understood the true meaning of Christmas these days, and how the politically correct elements of society encouraged this to as great an extent as possible.

“They want us to spend money,” she complained, “but it just isn’t polite to mention Christ. You can buy a ‘holiday tree’ but not a Christmas tree. If you go to a mall, you will hear and see ‘Happy Holidays’ but not ‘Merry Christmas’. They know they are asking for a lawsuit if they do that. Well, I say people should take their shopping elsewhere.

“My kid’s school won’t even allow Christmas pageants, or Christmas displays, or even Christmas carols, because they’re afraid they’ll offend a few Jews or Muslims, or the handful of atheist’s kids. It’s just gotten ridiculous. The school calendar doesn’t list Christmas-it’s listed as ‘Winter Holiday’ or some such crap as that.”

Louise felt as though she were dying, and made up her mind Martin was definitely going to hear about this after she returned this bitch’s favor. It was actually unnecessary for her to be here at any rate, but Martin was, as always, nothing if not sentimental. He insisted she be here.

Luckily, Elaine and the other daughter-in-law soon changed the subject to a discussion about sales, and then diets, evidently becoming as quickly bored as she had been. Well, we all have our good sides, after all, she considered. The subject soon turned to a discussion of the husbands. The younger girl had a bit of a sense of humor, actually, especially when it came to her husband Willie’s manhood.

“He gets upset when I call him ‘Wee Willie Winkie’” she explained to Elaine’s obvious displeasure. The damn girl must be drunk, Louise said. The Christian fanatic got somewhat red in the face, but then quickly recovered, and shared her belief in God, yet again.

“The good Lord blessed me with everything that I could possibly want,” she said with a smile and a wink.

“Maybe I should try praying before instead of during sex,” the younger girl said.

Yes, she is definitely drunk, Louise thought, as Elaine now, to her amusement, began talking about her own marital bliss, and of how happy ‘Donald’ had made her over the past few months of their marriage.

“Of course, he is much older than I am,” she said, and Louise thought to herself, honey, if you only knew.

“I assure you, though,” she continued, “he is every bit the match for Philip, and then some, when it comes to the lovemaking department. I really should not be talking like this in front of Louise, though. I’m sure she has no desire to hear about her brother’s bedroom exploits.”

“Actually, Donald and I keep few secrets from each other,” Louise replied.

“Have you ever been married, Miss Krovelescu?” the older daughter-in-law asked.

“Yes, to a man named Martin,” she answered with a demure smile. “We are actually still married, though separated now for about eight months. We stay in touch however. I am pretty sure we will be getting back together again, very soon now.”

They put the finishing touches on the meal, and then called the men and children upstairs to dinner. As they filed into the dining room, the oldest son remarked he had not been aware Donald was such an avowed football fan, particularly of the old Baltimore Colts, many years since moved to Indianapolis.

“Oh, I actually met Johnny Unitas during his rookie year,” ‘Donald’ now bragged. “I knew the minute I met him he was going to be one of the all-time greats.”

It was momentarily difficult for Louise to conceal her concern at this revelation. Martin could never resist engaging in this type of self-revelatory monologue, which he explained as a method for releasing internal pressure during the build-up to the final moments of an important project.

“Yeah, but he wasn’t as great as old ‘Broadway Joe’”, opined the young grandson, showing off his knowledge of pigskin statistics.

“Well, you have to realize, Unitas was very ill during that season,” the old man explained. “That is actually the reason Namath was so extraordinarily confidant as to make his boastful guarantee. Had Johnny not been so indisposed, I promise you that Namath would never have felt so inclined to make what would have been a very foolhardy prediction.”

“Yeah, yeah, excuses, excuses,” the upstart little bastard replied as he looked now toward Louise, who regarded the spoiled young brat with barely disguised loathing.

“You must really rate to have the Seventeenth Pulse driving you around,” he said with precocious admiration, as the boy’s mother, the Christian whiner, looked at her suspiciously.

“Young man, I really have no idea what you are referring to,” Louise replied, finding the effort at joviality becoming increasingly tiresome, as Martin some days before warned her it would.

“You can’t begin to know what I have to put up with,” he had told her. Now, he made his way over toward his “sister”.

“See what I mean?” he said.

They soon sat to eat, whereupon Louise found herself soon even further outraged by Martin’s request that she “lead us in a bit of a prayer, if you please, dear sister.”

“You are joking, are you not?” she asked as she noted the malicious twinkle in his eye.

“But of course not,” he responded. The bastard will pay for this, she decided. Nevertheless, she obliged his request.

“Dear Lord God, we thank thee for the blessings you have bestowed on us this evening, in the company of family and new and good friends, to partake of the abundance of thy generous bounty. We pray that you grant us wisdom and good health, and that you watch over us each day and night, as we acknowledge this holy day of thy sons blessed birth among men. In the name of Jesus our Lord we pray, Amen.”

“Amen,” they all repeated, as Martin looked toward Louise, obviously impressed at her degree of preparedness.

As they ate, they engaged in small talk, and Louise decided this would be the perfect time to give Martin the latest news.

“You should be aware that our good friend Radu was in a bit of a fix,” she said. “He is very good now, but that creature he insisted on making amends with almost did him in.”

“I suppose it would not be an exaggeration to suppose she ‘tore him a new asshole’, as they say,” Martin observed as he sipped his iced tea.

“She actually tore him more like seven,” she replied, to which he grimaced. “As I said, though, he is thankfully on the road to a speedy recovery.”

As she said this, she reached over toward the cranberry salad, which Elaine just sat near her, whereupon Martin cleared his throat.

“Really, Louise, I should not have to remind you how cranberries tend to make you break out,” he said.

“Of course, you are right,” she replied, making no effort to hide her displeasure. “Thank you for reminding me, Donald. Of course, you know I will be unable as well to imbibe your world-class eggnog.”

“He made some that is non-alcoholic,” the Christian reminded her.

“Oh, but of course he would do that,” Louise said, growing increasingly annoyed. “Donald is thoughtful in that way. Unfortunately, it is not just the alcohol to which my system would rebel, I am also lactose intolerant. If that were not enough, I am allergic to nutmeg.”

Suddenly, the little brat shot up in his chair.

“I just remembered where I heard that name,” he said. “Radu is supposed to be some sort of monster. Mom it’s in your paper you got yesterday.”

Before anybody could react, the little fuckhead went bounding down the steps to the basement.

“Well, this is certainly an unexpected development,” Martin said with what he hoped was a convincing chuckle. “I think perhaps I had best go and explain to the youngster that the Radu in question is an old friend from Romania, and hardly a ‘monster’. I certainly would not want the lad to get the wrong idea. Besides, I am most curious as to just what little Ricky is referring to.”

“Oh, there’s some crazy story about some deformed looking guy that’s been going around Baltimore, killing people and supposedly drinking every drop of their blood,” the boy’s mother explained. “I never really read the story, but he was quite engrossed by it. You know how kids are.”

“Well, it’s a lot of crap,” her husband replied. “Baltimore has always been a high crime area. These papers would do anything to ratchet up crime statistics to sell copies. It’s probably just some junkie. There has been another series of murders, evidently by a different perpetrator, who mutilates the victims. You would have to be an idiot to live in that city, as Lynette found out the hard way. I ain’t buying anything about a monster, though. Just some sick psychopath. They’ll catch him eventually, then something else will happen. That place will never change.”

The mention of Lynette did not set well with the late girl’s mother, who now became despondent. It was an unwritten rule in the household that the topic of Lynette’s murder was off-limits during family gatherings especially at which the children were present, and even this older brother of Lynette should have known better than to even remotely bend that unwritten rule. The two children who remained upstairs looked uncomfortable, as did everyone else. Louise was not sure how to react. Such a statement would generally require a follow-up question, followed by a statement of sympathy. She was more inclined to change the subject, but was not quite sure how.

Martin excused himself, on the pretext that the young man was probably yet distraught over the unseemly demise of his aunt Lynette, and he feared it would not be wise for him to dwell on such things, especially if he had any ideas as to the involvement of his and Louise’s long time family friend.

“I think it is incumbent on me that I reassure the lad,” he said, seeming to Louise to be remarkably at ease.

Martin, however, was anything but at ease, as he strolled down the steps, hastening his pace as he got out of sight of the assembled family members. He was an old hand at dealing with unexpected contingencies, but this one was quite extraordinary. As he entered the basement den, there was yet another unexpected worry. The young lad sat there on the sofa, just staring out into space. The paper set by his side.

“Ricky is everything all right?” he asked. “You seem troubled over something. Surely you do not suppose that I am a friend of so-called ‘monsters’, do you?”

“No,” the young boy replied, but looked down at the ground, not meeting his expression.

Martin now gazed over toward the paper, and saw the artist’s rendition of the bizarrely deformed man seen by four different eyewitnesses during the night and time of the murder of April Sandusky, having been spotted hurriedly leaving the vicinity of the crime. There was one single headline above the photo of the police artist’s sketch.
The Killer Has A Name
RADU

Now how in the hell did they find that out, he wondered, as he noted the by-line of the story-

“Well, I certainly hope you would not think such a thing,” he continued. “Really, I think your grandmother is quite upset.”

The young boy looked up with a frantic look of concern on his face, whereupon Martin hurriedly hastened to reassure him.

“No, I don’t mean to imply that she is upset with you,” he said. “She is merely concerned as to your state of mind. You know how grandmothers are. They tend to take everything so much to heart. They worry far more than is wise. All this talk about monsters, I am afraid, has her quite distraught. Your father is even now reassuring her that you meant no harm, or disrespect, and I shall certainly do likewise.”

Something was wrong, he realized. The boy now looked at him curiously, intensely, as he spoke. He finally merely muttered “okay”, but Martin knew something was drastically wrong. As he said this, he inadvertently glanced once more toward the paper, and then quickly turned away.

“I think I’m going to lie down for a while,” the boy finally said. “I really don’t feel too good. Would you please tell Miss Krovelescu that I am sorry for what I said about that driver? I didn’t mean any harm.”

“Oh, of course,” he said, wondering hopefully whether he might soon be incapable of saying much, if anything, about whatever his current concerns may be. “By the way, do you mind if I take this upstairs and show the others. This is quite an interesting story.”

The boy looked stunned, and unsure of how to answer.

“Yeah,” he finally answered. “Tell mom I said she ought to read the whole paper. It’s really a good one.”

“I will certainly do that,” Martin said. “Why don’t you go lie down for a while? I’ll come get you when it’s time to open the presents.”

“Sure,” the boy said, and disappeared into an adjoining basement guest bedroom.

That does it, Martin said to himself. Something in the paper had him disturbed for reasons other than what he was saying. He quickly thumbed through a few pages, working his way back from the so-called ‘monster’ story, until he saw something that almost made his heart stop. It was a picture of him and Louise, with their true names listed under their respective photos. That was just the beginning. The title of the story was “Baltimore Sun Assistant Editor Murdered”.

How could such a thing happen? The police should not have released the photographs this quickly in their investigation. Yet, there they were, along with Grace, thankfully in disguise and so as yet unidentified, along with the other individuals surreptitiously brought in to camouflage the time and manner of death. Yet, how had the identities of he and Louise been so quickly determined? No one in Baltimore knew them well. Even during the brief period more than thirty years before when Martin ran the Krovell Funeral Home, before Richard became old enough to run it, he and Louise associated with few people in the area. Someone who knew them well was responsible for this. That meant, obviously, that someone in the club had betrayed them. He hurriedly scanned the article to try to glean some sense out of it, but closed it quickly when he heard footsteps approach from behind him.

He turned quickly to see Lisa, the younger of the two daughters-in-law. She was obviously drunk to the gills.

“I was hoping you were down here,” she said. “I get so bored at these family things. Where’s Ricky?”

“He was not feeling well so he went to lie down in the guest room,” Martin replied.

“Good. Will you fuck me?”

“Well now, that is certainly an odd request,” Martin replied uncomfortably. “You haven’t been nipping a bit at the old eggnog have you?”

She smiled and replied no, then produced from her purse a half pint of vodka.

“I was afraid I’d get caught if I tried to mix it, so I just had an Altoids cocktail,” she explained and then breathed her sharp mint breath in Martin’s face.

“Oh well, I see you have come more than prepared,” he replied. “Well, I think it would be best if we returned upstairs, before the others come looking-like your husband, for example.”

“You’re a fag, ain’t you?” she asked. “You have to be to turn me down. I can get any real man I want. I married down-way down. Oh, the money part of it is good, but I never realized how much I would miss-certain things.”

As she said this she put her hand firmly on Martin’s crotch, his cock responding immediately by hardening considerably.

“We should really wait until we can make it worth our time,” he told her. “After all, we have no time for more than a ‘quickie’, as I believe it is called. From what I understand, you have had more than your share of them.”

She looked at him with impatient skepticism, and wagged her finger as she smiled tauntingly.

“Little Ricky showed me that picture earlier,” she said. “If you don’t fuck me I’m going to show everybody. I already told him not to say anything, that you probably had nothing to do with it, and it was just somebody that looked a little like you. You know, the more I think about it though, the more I think-wait a minute, that woman up there, Louise.”

“All right, all right,” he said. “I admit that man in the picture is me. You can’t say anything though, because what we are doing involves potentially tens of billions of dollars.”

“So Louise is really your wife?”

“She is my ex-wife, yes,” he replied. “Mr. Desmond, the deceased newspaper editor, was in the process of tracking down some offshore accounts through use of his Cayman Island contacts. My ex-wife stands to inherit billions, and she promised me a cut if I would assist her. I went through Mr. Desmond.”

The woman’s eyes glazed over listening to this bullshit, which Martin was spitting out at dizzying speed from the top of his head to the point he was by now nauseous.

“So did he do it, or when he was killed did that end it?”

“No,” Martin assured her. “He succeeded, and soon Louise’s rightful money will be safely tucked away in her own accounts. It’s all a matter of legal maneuvering, and will take a few weeks yet. It is all for reasons of taxes. Otherwise, there is no problem, aside from this wait. Mr. Desmond’s murder was an incidental matter that had nothing to do with us, I assure you.”

“Fine,” she said. “Now, fuck me.”

She bent down and hiked up her skirt. What else could he do? He dropped his pants and, gripping the woman around the waist from behind, he quickly and violently pounded it to her. To his dismay, she screamed loudly, and he realized this could go on for some time. She got louder, it seemed, with each passing thrust, and he began to fear this little whore was going to ruin all his plans. He was not even sure she had sense enough to close the basement door when she came down the steps or even for that matter whether she even wanted to do so.

Fearing the worse, he suddenly grabbed her around the throat and, as he continued fucking her from behind, he began choking her, his grip growing tighter and stronger with each passing second. By the time that she realized what was happening, she was already too weak to fight him off from behind her. By the time he ejaculated up inside her, she was unconscious. She slumped to the ground. He lowered her gently to where she lay flat out on the ground, at which point he resumed strangling her until she was dead.

Quickly, he checked the bedroom, only to see young Ricky lying also dead, his eyes staring out into space.

“Two down-eight to go,” he said. He then pulled the woman into the bedroom and dragged her into the closet, into which he then placed Billy, right on top of her.

“Naughty-naughty,” he said, then shut the closet door. He then retrieved the paper, and quickly scanned it. Within less than two minutes, he realized who the culprit was.

“Morrison-that son-of-a-bitch!” he said.

He looked up at the clock and, seeing now the time, realized he would have to move the timetable up by more than three hours. There was no other way.

Regrettably, he made his way up the stairs to the upstairs family room.

“I’ve made a decision,” he announced. “It has generally been an old tradition to wait until the midnight hour to drink the eggnog. Well, the hell with tradition-I need a drink.”

“You are quite late, Martin,” Louise told him, as he just now noticed the cups in the hands of the assembled family members, while the infant brother of Ricky hungrily gobbled up his own special formula.

“Well, I see that I am,” he said.

“I’m sorry, old man,” the oldest stepson said. “I just figured it couldn’t hurt. We can still have the traditional midnight toast.”

“I see,” Martin replied. “So, it is just as well you seem to have read my mind. But, where is Elaine?”

When the others told him she was in the bedroom, he warily made his way down the hallway to the staircase. Everything was going to hell, he realized. The whole purpose of waiting until midnight was to insure that all partook of the special concoction. The fact that Elaine had refused to engage in this break with tradition did not bode well. He had to think of something, and fast. He entered the room to see his wife sitting upright on the edge of the bed, gazing morosely at a picture of her late daughter, Lynette.

“Is all well, darling?” he asked.

“I miss her so much, Donald,” she replied. “I feel like I failed when it counted most. I just could not bring myself to try to control her life, and now it’s too late. Now, here it is, the first Christmas since she’s gone, and I’m starting to realize how little it means. I don’t know if I can go through with any more tonight.”

Oh, don’t worry, you foolish, self-absorbed cunt, he thought. This will be the last Christmas you will have to concern yourself with your worthless, spoiled, and unappreciative daughter’s absence.

“I certainly understand how you feel, my dear,” he told her. “Would you like me to stay here with you, or would you prefer to be alone?”

“Just give me a few minutes,” she replied. “I’ll be down before long.”

“You know, I have a very good idea,” he said. “Come down as quickly as you can, and have a drink with us, for the sake of the others. Then, if you feel like coming back up here, I will accompany you on some pretext, at which point I will return downstairs and make some excuse on your behalf. The reason I suggest this is for no other reason, mind you, that you share this special occasion with those of your loved ones that are yet here with you.”

If only for a very few minutes, you stupid slut, he thought to himself, as she pondered his suggestion.

“Give me just a moment,” she replied, “and I’ll be down, I promise.”

He considered the possibility of killing her on the spot but decided he had pressed his luck enough as it is. The rushed murder of the unfaithful stepdaughter might be explainable. Yet another suspicious demise might well raise more suspicions. He decided to accede to his second wife’s request, and made his way back downstairs, wondering what ever could happen next, as Louise made her way to him frantically.

“You have to do something with those brats,” she complained.

He hurried down to where the boy and girl, who were cousins, seemed intent on opening the larger box.

“And what do you two think you are doing?” he asked.

To his dismay, they looked at him with suspicion. The girl looked to be in a near state of shock.

“What in the hell is that thing?” the boy asked. “Is that thing for real?”

“Oh, of course not,” he replied. “It’s a joke. Not one word out of you now, it must be our secret joke.”

“Cool,” the boy replied.

“I don’t think it’s a good idea,” the girl replied, whereupon Martin realized he might well end up having to murder the entire family one at a time.

“Trust me,” Martin told her. “Once you see what it’s about, you’ll see it’s a good thing. It will bring us all good luck.”

“That thing-will bring good luck?” she asked in disbelief.

“Just go along with it, Mary, why spoil the fun?”

“Oh, because it’s gross, maybe?” she said.

Suddenly, Louise reappeared.

“Donald, are you sure you used the right amount of ingredients in your eggnog? Please tell me you didn’t skimp, as you are habitually wont to do.”

“Oh, for heaven’s sake, Louise,” he replied, genuinely hurt at the accusation. “Not today, of all days. Louise-it’s Christmas.”

Lisa’s husband then entered and addressed the two kids, his daughter and nephew, telling them the family was getting ready to sing Christmas carols.

“Then we’re going to take some pictures, and then-time to open the presents.”

“Let’s open the presents first,” the boy suggested, eager to dig open the giant box. The girl Mary however was suddenly in no hurry to open gifts. She was obviously upset over what she saw, and Martin was growing more anxious by the minute. Louise was by now determined that if they made it out of this house intact, her husband of now fifty years would hear a lecture he would not soon forget. Now, as the two children filed into the family room, where the oldest stepson sat at the piano playing, of all things, “Silent Night”, the second oldest of the family brothers approached Martin.

“Have you seen any sign of Lisa?” he asked.

“As a matter of fact, I have been meaning to speak to you about that very subject,” he answered. “I think her and little Ricky went for a walk out in the garden. As it happens, I do hate to say this, but your wife seemed quite drunk. I didn’t want to say anything in front of the others, you understand.”

“Why would she go off with little Ricky?” the distraught and frequently cuckolded husband asked with growing dread evident in his tone of voice.

“Oh, I wouldn’t be too concerned,” Martin asked. “They seem quite fond of each other, and I suppose your wife, being somewhat hot and nauseous from drink, wanted company as she walked outside to refresh herself in the cool night air. They were laughing and joking the whole time I was there. In fact, little Ricky unfortunately seemed to have spilled his soft drink on his lap while I was in the bathroom. When I left there, she was bending down, apparently drying him off. They seemed to think it was quite funny. At some point, Lisa suggested they go outside for a walk, a prospect that little Ricky seemed more than eager to oblige. That has all been just a few minutes ago. I would imagine if you were to go down there, the chances are good they would have returned by now, or will shortly.”

“Yeah, I think maybe I’d better do that,” he replied, then wasted no time heading towards the stairs to the basement den.

“You really enjoyed that, didn’t you?” Louise asked him.

“I just hope he doesn’t think to look in the closet of the guest bedroom,” Martin replied. “With my luck, I have almost no doubt that he will.”

The family was now singing in unison, joining in “Deck The Halls”.

“Something is wrong, Martin,” Louise told him.

“Oh, you are a worry wart,” he replied. “Everything will work out for the best not in spite of these unexpected developments so much actually as because of them. We shall accomplish our task with almost three hours to spare, in fact. Really, Louise, you must stop being so negative. The situation is well under control. Come now and let us join them. Perhaps we can impress upon them to join us in a rousing chorus of “God Rest Ye Merry Gentlemen.”

As they entered the family den, Martin noticed the youngest of his stepsons was now on the phone, doubtless engaged in yet another long-winded conversation with his girlfriend, who unfortunately could not be present this night, to Martin’s consternation. He could not help but feel some sympathy for the young man, and wished he could offer him consolation. What must it be like for a young man to be apart from his sweetheart on what would undoubtedly be the most important night of his life-on Christmas, no less?

He tarried close to the phone until the young man noticed him, whereupon Martin whispered that when he got finished he would like to speak to him. As he hoped, David obliged by saying goodnight, though this seemed to take him forever to do as well.

“I was wondering if you would be so kind as to take your mother up some eggnog. She is feeling quite depressed, and I think it would make her feel much better. Have you had some, by the way?”

“Are you kidding?” the stepson replied. “I’ve had four cups of it. That stuff is fantastic. It sure made me feel great. Yeah, I’ll take her up some. I guess she’s upset over Lynette, huh?”

“Yes, which of course is understandable,” Martin replied. “It was really unfortunate that your brother mentioned that unpleasantness, but on the other hand, Elaine must come to terms with it at one point or another. Perhaps if you remained up there with her for a few minutes, let her get it out of her system. Perhaps it would do you well, for that matter. I know you and your sister were very close.”

“Yeah, you’re right,” David replied. “Damn, you know Donald, I didn’t think mom was thinking straight when she married you, the two of you being so many years apart. Man, was I ever wrong. You are the coolest stepfather a guy could ask for.”

David gave his stepfather a hug, and then made his way to the kitchen. As Martin joined the rest of the family in the singing of Joy To The World, he watched as David made his way up the steps carrying two cups of the eggnog. He only hoped the little glutton saved his mother at least one of them.

Ten minutes went by, and every time Martin looked over toward Louise, she would cast a sharp glance toward the clock. It was nine-thirty when she did this the last time, not quite five minutes before Missy, the Christian bitch, doubled over in agony. Her husband Richey jumped from the piano stool in horror.

“Missy, what the hell’s wrong?” he asked, whereupon their daughter Mary told him she did not feel so good either.

By the time that the other kid echoed these sentiments, Richey himself doubled over and began vomiting.

“Well, you see Louise, what happens when you are overly aggressive with your ingredients? Of course, a good lot of that might well be detrimental to the overall effect. It should stay in their systems as long as possible, you understand. What you call stinginess one might better describe as prudence. Sometimes, my dear, I really wonder who is the full blooded gypsy of the two of us, you or me.”

“Well, then, Mr. Know-It-All, I have a question. Just what happens when your wife sees how sick her son becomes in her presence, and comes running down here and sees the entire family now in the process of dying, while she herself will be feeling no effects for at least another hour-assuming she even drinks any of the stuff at all?”

“Contingencies, my dear, contingencies,” he answered. “Louise-it is Christmas, and look what it is you are standing under.”

She looked up to see the mistletoe, whereupon Martin grabbed her up in his arms and started kissing her lasciviously in front of the family, still conscious, though severely ill and only now starting to comprehend that things were not all peace and good cheer. Then, Elaine came almost stumbling down the stairs, holding to the banister as she cried out for ‘Donald’.

“David is sick, and now I’m getting sick,” she said. Martin looked over to Louise and winked.

“She just loves cranberries,” he said, as Elaine just now caught site of her older son and his wife, and two of the grandchildren, all of them on the floor on their hands and knees, groaning in agony, her son now throwing up what appeared to be bloody mucus.

“You’re just in time, Elaine, to hear the Christmas story,” Martin informed her. “Should you tell her, Louise, or should I?”

“You tell it, Martin,” Louise replied. “You tell it with such dramatic flair. I am hardly in your league when it comes to dramatics. Perhaps this is due to overcompensation on the part of your merely partial gypsy genetic heritage.”

“Why is she calling you Martin?” Louise asked, now confused and growing noticeably terrified at the sight of her family, deathly ill, while her husband stood calmly by, smiling and embracing his purported sister as though they were far more intimate than mere siblings ordinarily were.

“Oh, really, Elaine,” Martin replied. “Did you not think it a little suspicious when I told you my name was Donald Krump? Did that not seem odd? It did not strike you that I might have been engaged in a bit of a humorous parody of sorts? Suppose I told you my name were John F. Zennedy, or George W. Push? Would you still not have gotten the joke? Of course, I realized I was taking somewhat of a chance. I suppose that is just the gambler in me. Nevertheless, I was happy to discern from my little prank that you, fortunately, have no imagination whatsoever.”

Elaine now collapsed to her knees as the room spun around in a dizzying fashion, as Martin now stood over her.

“Oh my God,” she cried. “Why are you doing this? I loved you, and trusted you. I took you into my home, I married you.”

“Oh now really Elaine, before you go on any further, have I really been that bad a husband to you? Would you not say that, up until this point, I have treated you with more kindness and consideration than Phillip ever did, in all the time you were married to him? Be honest now, my dear.”

“Oh for God’s sake Martin, there you go again,” Louise said. “Pay him no mind, my dear Elaine. Martin has always had this maddening urge to seek the appreciation and approval of others, even at the most inappropriate times.”

“Mom?” came the sudden pained cry of David as he came slowly down the stairs, not quite making it down all the way before he too crumpled over in pain, as almost simultaneously the cuckold son Willie pulled himself up from the basement steps in obvious agony.

“Oh, good, now they are all here, just in time to hear the Christmas story,” Louise said with glee.

Willie, however, now looked with utter hatred toward Martin.

“You son-of-a-bitch, what have you done?” he demanded.

“Oh, dear, I guess you found Lisa and Ricky, did you not?” Martin inquired. “I really did want to spare you that-well, for the time being, any way.”

“Oh, never mind all that unpleasantness,” Louise said in a scolding tone. “You all really must hear Martin tell The Christmas Story. Nothing could possibly impart more meaning to the holiday.”

As the two sons collapsed on the floor, David groaning as Willie begun vomiting, Elaine herself sunk to the floor on her knees in despair, and began sobbing hysterically, while the Christian woman, Missy, gathered her children in her arms, praying loudly, yet somewhat incoherently. Her husband just sat and stared outward, his eyes glazed over in shock, as Louise made her way toward the infant, whom she noticed gasping for breath.

“Here, Martin, I’ll hold the child,” she said. “He could never understand the words of course, but perhaps as I hold him my feelings will be transferred to him, and in that way he as well will come to understand what few others are blessed to know-the true, real meaning of Christmas.”

“Before I begin, I think perhaps it is time to open the presents,” Martin replied. “Well, not all of them, of course, but certainly the one of greater value. What do you think, Louise? Would you not say that it would set the stage quite well? In fact, allow me to hold that precious infant whilst you undo the package. This stiffness in my joints is acting up again.”

“Oh, very well,” she replied. “But you must assist me in removing what I suppose I should just refer to for now as the item.”

Louise handed the child to Martin, who rocked it tenderly, noting how quiet and peaceful he seemed, as Louise began to open the huge package.

“As you all I sure am aware,” Martin began, “when out blessed Lord was born, his mother and step-father, Joseph and Mary, were obliged to flee the place of his birth in order to prevent his murder by Herod. Prior to this, however, the Wise Men, who in fact unfortunately announced the birth of the Holy Child to the despotic king, sought him out in order to give him all due honors. Imagine if you will, for just the moment, that you are a Jewish peasant of the town of Bethlehem, and suddenly you hear a loud voice announce”-

“LO, I BRING YOU GREAT TIDINGS OF JOY, FOR UNTO YOU THIS DAY IN THE CITY OF DAVID, A CHILD IS BORN, WHO IS CHRIST THE LORD!”

He waited some seconds, as the assembled family members, although groaning in pain and overwhelming illness, lurched in reaction to the booming voice of the man they now knew had lived among them as a fraud. He then continued.

“Imagine now if you will the shepherds watching their flock, staring at wonder at this messenger angel, this herald, if you will, then hastening to that most beloved scene so immortalized through the ages. A child, wrapped in swaddling clothes-in grave clothes, in other words-his mother and Joseph reduced to seeking out a barn for shelter, over which the most glorious star shone down from on high.

“Before long, those illustrious mages of whom I earlier spoke arrived, all bearing gifts. There was gold, symbolizing of course that this was a child of royal lineage to whom great treasure was due. Frankincense, also a royal gift, symbolized his remarkable spiritual heritage. Finally, there was myrrh, which symbolized the suffering that this child was due to undergo, and yet in the end, would overcome.

“What better time then to present you with perhaps the most important of all the gifts which I now bestow this night?”

Saying this, Martin joined Louise beside the large box, actually a wooden crate, from which the two of them removed what looked to be a mummy, which they cautiously, almost tenderly, lay beside Elaine on the floor. Elaine looked in horror upon the cadaver.

“I know you must be thinking, ‘now what sort of present is this?’” he continued. “As such, allow me to introduce my brother Raymond, dead now some fifty odd years or so. See, my dear, when the authorities investigate, they shall discover this body, whom they will likely assume to be myself. Being as he is my full brother, even a DNA analysis, under the circumstances, is unlikely to reveal any dissimilarity to speak of. Nor are they likely to perform any sort of tests that might reveal the age of my brother at his death, which was a mere twenty-four years, nor the amount of time he has truly been deceased. My grandson’s mortuary skills certainly are of the utmost artistic quality, to be sure. It is almost a pity such painstaking craftsmanship should be destroyed.

“At any rate, my dear, as I am sure you are aware, you need not worry about society judging you the fool for trusting and marrying a man who in truth brought about the deaths of you and your entire family. You see, I was ever so thoughtful enough as to save you that humiliation of spirit I am sure such worries would bring. Now, no one ever need know. As for the remainder of the gifts, yet unwrapped, they are of such inordinately expensive quality, the world at large will surely assume that I loved and honored our brief relationship, and had the utmost affection and respect for your children and grandchildren as well. Which, in a very real sense, you should know is actually true.

“Furthermore, here is another important piece of information that I would hope might fill your heart with some degree of solace, perhaps even a bit of satisfaction. Phillip will receive the blame for the foul deed that shall occur this night. Therefore, in a very real way, he will pay for his earlier betrayals of you and your children.”

Elaine was transfixed by the horrid sight of the now dried cadaver, its formerly crushed skull repaired with a steel plate, and noted how it seemed cut open, as its hollow, vacant eye sockets seemed to search out her features.

“It will certainly appear as though I died defending you, after which the soon to come inferno which this house shall become they will assume unfortunately immolated my exposed internal organs by way of the excessive heat and flames.

“You’re insane,” she said in a hoarse whisper, which felt to her like a shout. “You’ll never get away with this.”

“Get away with it?” he asked. “Oh, dear, is that what you think this is about, that I am trying to get away with something? My dear, you surely do not think I would engage in such crass underhandedness. It is not that I am trying to get away with something. No, my dear, I am trying to get to something.

“By the way, dear Louise, if you would be so kind, while I conclude the Christmas Story, would you kindly spread the gasoline and accelerants. The other two bodies you will find in a closet downstairs, as I am somewhat positive my dear stepson Willie knows by now. Make certain you douse them sufficiently with the gasoline, which you should be sure to spread about a few other strategic places. The accelerant you need spread generously throughout the house. After the fire has concluded its run, it will have sufficiently faded so as to leave no trace, not that such a thing matters, I suppose, under these particular circumstances.”

“Excellent idea, Martin,” Louise said as she gazed now toward the stepson in question. “There is always a possibility though that the police might think Wee Willie Winkie here, as I am informed his wife Missy called him, to be the perpetrator of the crime.”

“True enough,” he replied. “Nevertheless, the situation has been arranged to the effect that our dear Mr. Phillip Khoska shall remain the major suspect, possibly thinking to set up Wee Willie Winkie to take the blame. After all, Elaine, although I have this strange idea you have forgotten by now, it just so happens that you recently received confirmation of a private investigation into your husband’s background of the last few years, which I am certain you also have forgotten. At any rate, you learned that he was involved in the horrendous international sex-slave industry, and even worse, the abomination known as internet child pornography. In fact, he has been the ringleader of these nefarious enterprises for some time now. It would only make sense that Phillip, criminal mastermind and profound evildoer that he is, would seek to destroy you in desperation, even to the extent of murdering his entire family to cover up such a sordid crime.

“So you see, my dear, you may now go to your eternal reward also secure in the knowledge that your death will help to bring to an end this unholy wickedness which, truthfully, my dear, I regret to inform you that your entire family has been the beneficiary of, at the expense of thousands of innocent young lives at that.

“Therefore, you shall die not and leave behind a legacy of shame. No, the world shall see you as a heroine, one who sought to rectify her late-husbands evil deeds, and died because of his unspeakable wickedness, for which he will nevertheless face justice.

“People will even look at you as a kind of saintly figure, much like Christ himself, whose blessed birth we observe this very night of your demise. For you see, Christ saw the truth. He realized that all men are mixtures of goodness and evil. When he faced down Satan, in the wilderness, when he underwent the temptation, he was fighting not with a separate entity. Nay, indeed, the Satan he sought to resist was the Satan that was in his own heart-his own selfish ego. He knew the time would come when the universe would be his, but he knew there had to be a struggle. He was one of the few men, perhaps the only man, who understood the balance between the darkness and the light.

“Because he preached that men should acquire that spiritual balance, he was called a wine-bibber and a glutton, and a man who dined with sinners and with whores. Finally, they killed him, crucified him, not because his killers hated and feared the truth. No, it was because they did not wish for that great truth to become widespread among all men, whom the elites wished to keep as their ignorant servants.

“And the greatest truth of all was that one which he shared with his honored guests, his disciples, on that magnificent evening known as the Last Supper. It goes without saying of course that he spoke not symbolically, but literally, when he told them, “eat of this bread, for it is my body, broken for the sins of mankind. Drink of this wine, for it is the cup of my blood, shed for the remission of sins. Do all this in remembrance of me.”

“That, you see, is the true meaning of Christmas after all. That is the true gift of God, that promised-nay that prophesied, sacrifice. The original disciples of course knew this well. In time, unfortunately, most would forget this important great truth. Well, after all, the earlier Christians were a very beleaguered lot. The Roman authorities accused them of all manner of what they supposed were vices and perversions, not the least of which were cannibalism. Therefore, as all religions are wont to do, they adjusted to the times. They set aside their principles, and adapted to the current realities of the political climate of the day. In other words, they turned their back on Christ, while outwardly pretending to embrace him.

“Naturally, there were those who refused to go along with the crowd, to use a current expression. There were those who remained faithful, and for their faith, not only the pagans of Rome and the politicians persecuted them, but also the very Christians who in fact it would not be at all incorrect to say had actually usurped the very name. Finally, they who were the ancestors of those us who are true disciples of Jesus the Christ were obliged to leave Rome. In doing so, they ended up in a place known in those earlier days as Dacia. That of course was an obscure Roman province known to us now as Romania, though it also included parts of what we know as Moldava.

“While there, they intermarried and mingled with the more crude pagan stock of the countryside, whose people had not been seduced by the crass wealth and idle lifestyle enjoyed by the corrupt population of the ‘civilized’ city of Rome and its environs. In fact, they discovered there a culture in which they were welcome, worshippers of the ancient goddess Hecate, with whom they traded and established a friendship of long standing. Of course, the outside world considered them witches, and dangerous. The more modern, secularly seduced, so-called Christians considered their goddess, like all goddesses, a manifestation of that entity they called “The Great Whore of Babylon” which in reality, in their ignorance they were not aware was symbolic of the city of Rome itself.

“At any rate, the true Christians who are my ancestors were not merely accepted and tolerated by the Hecate worshippers-they were honored as prophets. In time, they worshipped together and they intermarried. Before long, they came to be as one.

“Of course, it would not be long before the curse of corrupt civilization and so-called progress made its way as well to Dacia, and our forefathers, those proud and brave pioneers who waited patiently for our Lords return, were once again forced underground.

“Yet, it was not without benefits. The Lord God heard their sufferings, and rewarded their faith with ever-greater knowledge and wisdom. That great wisdom, that divine knowledge, has now passed on intact to our own time-which naturally brings us to our present situation.”

Soon, Louise returned from upstairs, only to see that all were alive, and though they yet were conscious, they groaned in pain and terror, their eyes wide with a horrible frenzy, all of them foaming at the mouth. All save the infant, who now rested on a blanket on the floor.

“Louise my dear, before we proceed, would you be so kind as to prepare the sacrifice?” Martin now asked his true wife, as his illicit one groaned and tried to rise in desperation, and Missy tried desperately to beg for all their lives, but especially for the lives of her children, though her words came out garbled and unintelligible.

To her horror, Louise now reappeared, cradling the infant in her arms. While Martin and Louise surveyed the scene of their desperately helpless audience, the phone rang.

“Oh, now I wonder who that could be calling at this time of the night, on Christmas of all times?” Louise asked.

“Might it be our dear Mr. Morris?” Martin inquired as he made his way toward the phone. “Perhaps he wishes to confirm the time he is to drive us from here.”

“He would call my cell phone,” Louise replied. “No, I rather believe it is someone else.”

Martin answered the phone as Louise set about undressing the infant, who due to the jostling action now seemed to stir from his drug induced slumbers.

“Caitlyn, my dear, of course David is still here,” he said. “Unfortunately, he is presently engaged in a game of spades, I believe it is called, with his brothers. Might I suggest you call back later? Better yet, why do I not have him call you back?”

Louise noted how both Missy and David tried desperately to shout in an attempt to attract the attention of the girl who was evidently David’s girlfriend, yet was helpless to do much more than groan feebly.

“What is that? Why, that is a splendid idea. Certainly, you may come over for as long as you wish. We would be delighted to have you join us. So, we will see you then in an hour? Splendid! By the way, do tell your mother and father that my family and I wish them a very Merry Christmas, and a splendid New Year. Will you be sure and do that for me? Excellent!”

“So, Martin, I take it we have the opportunity to save yet one more soul,” an obviously delighted Louise observed. “Our Lord and Savior will certainly be most pleased!”

“Well, of course, my dear,” he explained. “As I always tell you, that is what the true spirit of Christmas is all about-deliverance of blessed souls to the heavenly realm of the King of Kings, and Lord of Lords. After all, the Lord expects us to share our faith to all those to whom we are led by the Holy Spirit. Speaking of which, I think it is incumbent on us now to partake of the feast of The Sacred Blood and Body-would you not agree?”

“By all means, Martin, let is proceed,” she answered and then, to the horror of the distraught oldest daughter-in-law, once more picked up the child. Missy begged for the life of her son.

“Now, Missy, you should be aware, we did not poison little Danny,” Louise reassured him. “Martin merely gave him a sedative, one that would allow him to sleep well and awaken refreshed. He is about to have the singular honor bestowed upon him of receiving the spirit of Christ. What you are about to witness, my dear, is an ancient ritual conducted for centuries by the underground true Church of Christ. On Christmas Day, the day on which we celebrate the birth of our blessed Lord and Savior, we choose by lot a newborn child. Fortunately, there is no need for that, since he is the only child of appropriate age. It is almost as though the good Lord insured a child of the proper age would be present.”

As she explained in this limited detail the nature of this singular honor, which they would bestow upon this child, Martin set about lighting candles, simultaneously extinguishing the electrical lights. He ended by lighting a fire in the fireplace. He then joined Louise, who held the child firmly as it now began to cry. Martin began an ancient prayer in a language none of the family understood, as the child’s father now rose on an elbow and, surveying the scene, attempted to lunge toward the old couple, only to fall flat on his face as he cried loudly. The two children also cried, as Missy watched the scene with now virulent hatred, and Elaine just held her head in her hands, choosing not to look any longer, while praying desperately for intervention from some source, whether divine or otherwise.

They all groaned in terrified excitement when, while Martin began singing a monotone chant in the same obscure tongue, Louise produced a long knife, with which she cut the jugular vein of the child’s throat. The blood poured into a silver goblet, from which each of the older couple sipped. They then forced fed the steaming hot blood, though a mere drop, to each of the unwilling congregants, who moaned in horror but were helpless to resist.

“In the name of the Father, the Son, and the Holy Spirit,” he said, “I present the Blood of Christ.”

Then Louise, with a hideous cry, produced a large hammer with which she pounded the helpless infant she had previously blessed. The two then circled the corpse of the mangled infant as they chanted and then, suddenly stopping, they tore into the body, biting into the freshly slain flesh, until nothing remained but the internal organs and skeleton. Martin took a small portion of flesh and, his mouth drenched with blood, he bent down with a smile and deposited a small portion inside each family member’s mouth.

“In the name of the Father, the Son, and The Holy Spirit, I present the body of Christ,” he said.

“It is done,” he then said to Louise with a satisfied smile. “Their souls have been ransomed, and soon will be with the Lord our God, in the presence of Christ our Lord. What a magnificent night this has been!”

“Indeed it has been,” she replied. “Now, what will we do about this young girl due to arrive?”

“I will let you deal with her, my beloved wife,” he replied. “In the meantime, I will drag all of them down to the basement. It simply would not do for her to see them. While I am doing this, would you be so kind as to increase the potency of the eggnog? Make sure she drinks at least one cup, preferably two, before she joins us.

“Oh, and here! Let us preserve a bit of the Eucharist for her as well. I do not mind in the least bit repeating the ritual on her behalf, especially on a holy night such as this one.”

Louise now became misty eyes as she gazed into the loving eyes of her husband as she licked the blood that gathered around her lips.

“Your magnanimity on behalf of our precious Lord is most inspiring, my dear, dear Martin,” she observed.

“Now, now, Louise,” he replied. “Don’t be trying to inflate my ego. You know that is one of my most sinful weaknesses, and you know how the Lord feels about human pride and vanity. I am a mere servant, my salvation dependent solely upon his divine grace, not on any good works-lest any man should boast, as the Apostle reminds us.”

They embraced each other then under the glow of the candlelight and the fireplace, to which they now proceeded with the remains of the infant. They deposited the entrails and other internal organs within the flames, into which Martin then quickly yet cautiously added some of the accelerant, as he prayed.

“I suppose we should wait until Caitlyn’s arrival before we proceed with the spreading of the gas and accelerant through the remainder of the house. After all, the dear girl has an extremely hypersensitive olfactory system, and I rather fear it would distress her if she encountered the noxious fumes of an inordinate amount of petroleum products. It might well even sicken the poor dear girl.”

As he said this, he looked upon the family. With the exception of Missy, who yet struggled to hold onto life, they were all otherwise dead, including Elaine. He looked with sadness upon the corpse of his second and illicit wife.

“You know, she was really quite a good woman after her own fashion,” he observed. “I think I shall somewhat miss certain aspects of our relationship-such as it was.”

“Martin, you are much too tender-hearted for your own good,” Louise replied as Martin, with a strength and skill that belied his advanced age, began the process of removing the corpses to the confines of the downstairs den. As he did so, she looked upon the form of the sole present remaining survivor.

“You see, my dear, you are perhaps the luckiest one of all,” she told the woman. “Unlike the others here, you seemed genuinely to believe in the apostasy of present day heretical Christianity. Well, now you know the truth. You shall soon see the heaven you have longed for I suspect for most of your life. I know you do not believe this now, but, as they say-one of these days we will laugh about this.”

She went on to prepare the eggnog, hopeful she would convince the coming guest to imbibe the sacred substance that would grant her life eternal. She then placed a call to Mercury Morris, to inform him they should be ready to leave within the hour, two at the most, and to stand ready to receive her next call, which would be to summons him.

By the time that she returned to the living room, Missy was dead, while Martin just now began to drag the second body downstairs.

“You are getting slow, Martin,” she chided him.

“Well, they should be positioned just right,” he replied. “Luckily, my encouragement of David’s girlfriend to hurry over should be even more of an inducement towards assumption of my innocence in this matter. Of course, the presence of George here should also see to that. For once in my brother’s worthless existence, he was actually useful. Come, if you will help me, perhaps we can hurry this matter along more expeditiously.”

She joined her husband then in moving and positioning the bodies in the basement. Then, they waited.

When Mercury Morris received the phone call, it was 1:30 in the morning. He arrived twenty minutes later, to the sight of an ecstatic and satisfied Martin and Louise Krovell waiting outside the front door of what was for now the Khoska mansion. They drove for some twenty minutes, until they finally found a bluff overlooking the scene of the upscale subdivision in which Martin Krovell had lived for more than eight months.

Martin requested that Mercury put on a CD of Christmas songs by Bing Crosby, as he handed their driver a present. With a look reminiscent more of confusion than surprise, the former Seventeenth Pulse member opened the package.

“Wow!” he exclaimed. “A Rolex? Man, I’ve always wanted one of these. Damn, I never got you guys nuthin’”

“Oh, I will hear none of that young man,” Martin replied. “You have done far more than enough to insure that this was in fact one of the best Christmases ever.”

“Merry Christmas, Mr. Morris,” Louise said. “And a very Happy New Year, to you and yours.

Mercury thanked them in sincere gratitude and profound humility as he put the watch on his wrist. He then stepped toward the back of the limousine as Martin took his wife in his arms. While they embraced by the side of the road, they looked out upon the scene of the distant flames, as the smoke ascended up into heaven.