It was hurricane season. Upstairs a 24-hour news channel blared from a television set. Excitement glued a household to endless breaking news reports. The day's waning half was far advanced on the morrow of a Leviathan storm, still pummeling certain cities inhabiting the gulf coast of Dixie, though it had already passed on to higher states. It doesn't really matter which cities, because any city is large enough, that its cognates are certain to awaken to a macabre toll: the body count following any night of delayed wrath such as that then visiting one lower region of America. As the day wore on, it became apparent that the cup of fury was yet bearing dregs to empty upon happenstance inhabitants trapped within the confines of one city reputed of no small infamy.
But what city—or pious small town—has no vein of infamy meandering in its sapiens soil, here and there inextricably entwined with veins of greater worth? What city might presume to cast a first stone; or of which metropolis might it not be fitly said, “except ye repent, ye shall all likewise perish”? And who can judge, but that greater visitations, might not be still held at bay—out of a profoundest reticence—visitations corresponding to far greater evils, in the eyes of One, whose ways are not our ways; whose justice is unbiased by any veneer of respectability? Who is to say, that One does not even now hold out, with an immeasurable sufferance, to the extremest moment of time—shuddering at the specter of the many times multiplied retribution requisite to more fundamental evils. Might it not be One's desire to avert greater catastrophe—if possible—through parables inherent in lesser tragic events that prompt us, invariably, to question One's goodness? What object lessons might lurk within the murky waters of catastrophe, involving, in addition to spikes of sudden mortality, the also tragic loss of property, health, wealth and livelihood, of feeling multitudes?
Such a terrific catastrophe affords its own brand of entertainment for idol mass-es, and it is not without redeem-ing qualities, of the redemption kind that takes place in a well-oiled financial institution. For days, an obsessive attention had been paid to the unfolding disaster, in this three-member household, as in other houses across the spared land, and around the spared globe. The unsustainable intensity reached its first fever pitch at the time that Behemoth neared landfall, which was the presumed moment of greatest loss—and gain. After all-important commercials, the next greatest allotment of airtime had been filled to the brim, in what were thought to be the critical hours, with live satellite feeds of melodramatic reporters, leaning precariously into abusive mother lode winds to the point of losing their ever-tenuous foothold. From anchor desks anxious reports of widespread, but still relatively minor flooding, from early storm surges, were trumpeted. Detailed Doppler radar images superimposed over street maps, recorded in vivid oranges, velvet reds, brilliant yellows, greedy greens and bursting blues, rashes of near record strength straight-line wind gusts, in dozens of highly-populated neighborhoods, before breathless eaters of popcorn and peanuts—maybe even Cracker Jacks! Anticipation was high in the couch-stands, as before the spectator masses, grave studied screen faces analyzed, and scrutinized, and theorized, on all of the worst-case scenarios for carnage that these sea monsters have an outside capacity to leave in their wakes—depending on the intensity of their sadist moods. A time or two, the talking heads had even touched upon a remotest wild possibility, that whole cities residing in flood-plains, or in ancient lake beds, could have their real-estate returned to a previous state of nature. The degree of urgency on the ground, however, clearly demonstrated the excessive nature of these predictions, in minds of power brokers overseeing evacuation efforts. Experts had taken every contingency into account—so it seemed. Control connoting computer models of a likely storm track updated endlessly.
One stimulating panel discussion arose during the feverish days that led up to catastrophe, over the relative ability of structures to withstand forces that the beast might bring to bear. Newer buildings, with wealth and technology poured into their construction, were expected—in most cases—to weather most scenarios, sustaining minimal structural compromise. It was suggested by at least one expert, however, that older buildings in chronically neglected inner city hoods, might collapse under the strain if weakened by prolonged intense winds and flooding, even in the predicted scenario of a storm downgrade prior to landfall. One ironic commentator, responding to these assertions, suggested that maybe it would not be such a bad thing, after all, if some of those buildings were demolished by natural causes. It would enable developers to enter condemned areas, and replace the low-income crumbling infrastructure with new revenue-generating construction. Redevelopment would attract a better class of residents, he cheerily chirped, with deeper pockets—urban renewal! Be the discussion threads what they may—filling up the endless hype—all of the broadcasts proved as good as gold to brokers on a now greener street (as in the color of the dollar) of another city. They were bringing in a fresh round of record-breaking ratings, with corresponding revenues, to flood already bursting coffers—broadcasts certainly celebrated in corporate boardrooms of news outlets world-wide.
Upstairs, one of the many human-interest dramas, which draw the highest ratings numbers, was unfolding on the television screen. One of a hundred or so breaking news alerts of the ensuing hours, flashed onto the screen. Then a live but patchy cellular phone conversation, was patched in to the news desk, and out to millions of listeners. A frantic woman could be heard sobbing hysterically on her end, pleading for help from anyone who could hear her voice. She—a single mother—and her little boy, were trapped together inside of a car, at that very moment being swept away in a powerful current. The crying child could occasionally be heard in the background, behind the greater volume of his mother's frequent frantic shrieks for help. As the phone conversation progressed, the car stopped abruptly, getting hung up on the debris piling onto a stoplight post. The municipal safety device proved no salvation in this case, as the anchor-ing effect it produced on the old gas-guzzling boat, dramatically increased the force beating it down with its priceless cargo, into waters of death. The irresistible momentum of onrushing water was sinking the car. As a world paused to listen between commercial breaks and bites of TV dinners, water was pouring into all of the car's rusty crevasses. Within minutes, a torrent was surging above the poor woman's head, and over every part of her car, except for a small sliver of the passenger-side windows held aloft by the car's listing—her last glint of daylight—and one small corner section of red-brown roof still visible (to any eyes that may have noticed) directly atop her drowning child. It was not long before contact was lost forever with the weeping woman, but not before she had sobbed out a bare-bones story—in skeletal detail—which had led to the fatal river ride.
This ill fated woman had been living with her small boy in one of those crime-riddled, poverty-infested neighborhoods; the same that one commentator was earlier so eager to see destroyed, so as to rid the area of vermin—the poor people. When asked during her frantic live interview why she had waited to evacuate, the bill-fated woman explained that her car’s fuel gage was sitting on empty, along with her child's stomach and her bank account. The bank account had, ironically, been emptied in no small part by predatory gas prices—for purchase of the very substance that might have saved the woman and her terrorized boy! But lest we blame the hurricane for draining her meager resources, it should be pointed out that the out-of-the-blue price hikes, and the woman's empty condition, had been imposed high above local levels, a long time before any hurricane became one more too-convenient imagined excuse, for greed! This tax-ing toll—to some, a pleasant-sounding toll of the closing bell—was seized from poorer classes who feel its burden, while talking heads spouted speculator propaganda, asserting that continued consumer demand (for such luxuries as transportation, air-conditioning and heat!), proves an economy able to absorb radical energy inflation (though energy isn't even factored into official data, nor is food!). But paycheck-to-paycheck people cannot afford to “conserve”—they must drive, and drive old cars, or else lose their dead-end poverty-wage jobs; jobs that represent the only lifelines for real families, even if barely covering the low-income rents they chance to find (as camouflaged blessings), in decrepit neighborhoods. Such persons cannot hope to subsist—much less purchase the every-day-more-impossible luxury of advanced education—under the paralyzing cost to live, in one of the wealthiest nations on earth!
The reason the poor woman was being swept away, was that she had made one last frantic attempt to escape to higher ground, when a sudden burst of flood waters—which no one seemed to be expecting—started pouring into her neighborhood from some place, in great pulsing engulfing waves. In spite of the empty tank, she and her terrorized boy had thrown a few belongings, a phone book, and the trace of food they had remaining in their nearly bare cupboards (until the next payday), into the car. They tried to drive to safety, but the gas fumes failed them. Once their suffocated engine had sputtered to a halt, the pitiful pair was already trapped in a rushing river, with no one left to notice. Not long after the engine quit trying, the waters began to rise so rapidly, that the woman described it as seeming to have sprung upward from an underground reservoir—not unlike an oil gusher. The heartless liquid began pouring into the car's interior, so rapidly by that time, that the pair found themselves sitting with legs submerged and the car floating away, before they even had time to consider an escape. The car was twisting in half circles, and being jolted repeatedly by fragments of other people’s houses and belongings, as it was swept down the street in the saturated surge. The car doors and windows by that time would not open, no matter how hard the woman strained. She strained so hard on the driver-side crank, that it broke off. In that moment she realized her only hope was a prepaid cell phone that she had taken with her. It was her only source of phone service at the time—ever since her phone company had cut off land-line service due to “delinquency”. Now the phone, which the responsible mother had purchased for emergencies only, was put to its ultimate test: to get a plea finally heard—maybe too late, however, for her and the condemned male child—if she could only get someone to notice them in time! But all of the emergency numbers she dialed were busy or jammed. Finally, she thought to call the local corporate news affiliates—the eyes and ears of “we, the people”: her last hope! A futile hope, it turned out.
This woman is iconic of so many, who dwell invisible amidst the costliest buildings, housing the wealthiest banks and businesses on earth! But just like so many thirsty people who became trapped in flooded houses during the same storm—with water all around them, only tainted with deadly contamination—she had drunk—desperately thirsty for mean-s! Like so many innocent victims, she had drunk from the flood of corporate riches surrounding her, out of desperation, at her own great financial peril. At the time of the call for help, her financial life was also drowning in a flood, resulting from extreme high interest rates—the only kind available to people who really need credit—and snow-balling compounding fees, on her maxed-out credit card. The card had been issued—in place of a living wage—for just such an unabashed purpose: to siphon high interest and inevitable exorbitant fees, from people who can ill afford even a precious small interest! The trap had been set, by one of numerous predatory, though matter-of-fact, respectable corporations—behemoths in their own right, who by legal definition exist as non-human persons. Being non-human, these legal-persons, therefore, feel no remorse, shame, grief, pity or even responsibility, except to their demanding share-holders: share-preventers. Many of these superman faux-persons pay leverage dues of a sort—the forgoing of natural presumed competitive instincts, in exchange for a perverted desire for unchecked pricing power—into a massive modern co-op monopoly. It is a monopoly on a much more universal scale, yet no longer recognized as, the old-time Robber Barons, from whom its mammoth angelic body of bodies—unified by one spirit—is descended. I digress in a big way.
Although ample time had existed for this doomed pair to flee in days prior, access to provision had not. Ample provision existed in other pockets, in other neighborhoods, and in municipal resources—it was later uncovered—if any of the corporeal power brokers had bothered to consider her! It was now too late for these fated souls to be rescued—the betrayed woman's car was swept away over dinner—along with an innocent lamb clinging help-lessly to her side—in the swift corporal flood waters.
But a very few moments after this piped-in call had ended in explosive silence, another breathless news alert paraded itself before the gawking spectators, announcing that a rising swell had begun to take its toll in poorer regions of a metropolitan area, and that emergency services were overwhelmed and could be of little help. Reports were coming in to the news desk fast and furious. One of the worst rumors, from a trusted source 'on the ground' as they say, was suggesting that only moments earlier—perhaps at the precise moment of the broadcast drowning—more than three hundred newly or longtime homeless persons (real and actual persons), were presumed killed while taking refuge in an unsound school building. This story, despite its greater tragedy—or rather because of it's greater abstract numbers—made less of an impact, than the begging pathetic cries of a single mother and child! Nothing hits home like the number one, and nothing is more distant than the number one hundred, except for an even larger and mind-numbing number, such as one million.
The dilapidated school building had reportedly collapsed onto its residents, owing to weakening strains from a prolonged wind of violent tendency coming out of the northeast, combined with new pressures of rising flood-waters. Even if some of the inhabitants were thought to have initially survived the school collapse, new helicopter footage dashed all remaining hopes. Protruding out of the flood waters, the only portion of the structure still standing, was now seen to be engulfed in an inferno, no doubt fed by ruptured gas lines! Rescue, again, was futile. All of this carnage was taking place in a worst possible context—the contingency that no one on the ground expected, though it had long been predicted by those who specialize in hedging bets. Not a few later asked the question, why hadn't contingent plans been devised, and excess provision put in place? A widespread flooding of a major city was underway—in a metro area dubiously expected to be wholly spared of this worst-case scenario, because first light had given false hope—a false security. In the beginning of the breaking forth belated disaster, none could tell where the deadly waters were rushing in from. It would be days, until the cold indifferent waters would stop their rise, it would be weeks before the poorest survivors could be rescued, months before displaced people would find temporary living arrangements, years before lives could achieve any lasting restoration—many bodies would never be identified! But it was a very short span, until desperate people could be witnessed by gawking million-dollar eyes-in-the-sky, bust-ing, or attempting to bust, doorways in their roofs, and then bursting forth, if successful, to rooftops, in desperate attempts to keep their heads above water!
At this point, I am shifting our narrative to a different tense, so that we may more impressibly intrude to eavesdrop on a bizarre conversation about to take place in this lower-middle class, two-level house, located somewhere in the drier grounded heart-land—the American middle-section.
As the stimulating news bulletins continue to multiply up-stairs, we find the housewife, Rachel M. Dick, now bounding down stairs, into the half-submerged basement of her split-level home to get her husband, so that he too may experience the tragedy playing upon a screen up-stairs.
Rachel barges in on her husband, whom she presumes has been hard at work in his basement office for the better part of an hour. He has actually been sitting at his computer desk listening to his mp3 collection.
“Pasco! You’ve got to see what’s happening upstairs!”
Rachel is startled, however, to find her 'Pascky's' face (Rachel only uses this 'pet' name when she's in a 'touchy-feely' mood) all scrunched up in an unaccustomed agony. Choking bitter cries come gushing out of him at the site of his wife, from somewhere within his deepest insides, while blood-red eyes give evidence of scorching tears already shed in the preceding moments.
Pasco is ordinarily the type of guy who pokes fun, and jokes nervously, during mushy, sentimental, tearjerker scenes in movies. He is the same type who becomes visibly annoyed, if goodbyes become overly prolonged, or if they evoke one of his wife's unreasonable sentimental sobbing spells. A very matter-of-fact kind of guy, is this Pasco, even at times of tragedy—with one glaring exception.
The one exception to Pasco's usual reserve, is the unlevied affection he is cabaple of, only when he dotes upon the greatest joy he has found in his earthly life, up to this point. This joy, is one certain precious little red-headed daddy's girl, who can well be said--even before today--to have been effecting, simply by her existence, a kind of awakening within her Daddy—her Daddy, who loves her one tiny soul beyond all earthly compare, and who has—even to his surprise—taken to fatherhood like a parched Bedouin to an oasis spring in the desert.
Outside of this one profoundly expressive relationship, however, it would be unusual in the extreme, to see Pasco given over to what he certainly would, under normal circumstances, consider an emotional fit!
Knowing this background—this context—you can possibly understand better, an anxious internal shriek of alarm, at this very moment blaring away inside Pasco's wife, as she witnesses the phantasmal omen of Pasco's suffering. To find her husband in such extreme state, sears Rachel with an electrifying jolt to her lower gut; one that—even considering the circumstance—goes beyond words to explain the profundity of its shock! The small hairs on her neck stand bolt straight, as if to brace for fatal contact. Her internal re-coil at the look on Pasco's face, is not of the same character as her usual shallow brand of emotionalism, and Pasco isn’t just crying; he's weeping!
“Oh dear! What’s wrong, dear!?” she blurts, “Why are you weeping!?”
After stifling the crying fit as quickly as possible, though more slowly than now half-paralyzed Rachel's peace of mind can tolerate—and with obvious embarrassment at being walked in on—Pasco wipes his face on an already wet sleeve, and finally gains composure enough, to try to answer Rachel’s question, and the growing desperation in her questioning look.
“Please don't worry, I'm OK! I don’t know what came over me, dear! I was tinkering around on my computer while listening to my music collection—to songs I've heard a hundred times. This one song called 'An American Trinity' ... no ... I mean, 'An American Trilogy’ came on, and it grabbed me—or something did—when the song reached the part about a Civil War soldier. I felt compelled to restart the song from the beginning. The track started out with an almost happy, but hauntingly slow, rendition: 'Oh, I wish I was in the land of cotton ... old times there are not forgotten ... look away, look away, look away, Dixieland.' I don't know if you've heard it, Rachel. It's a song that Elvis was famous for singing—sent crowds wild at Madison Square Gardens when he sang it—I have a track of that live recording. The track I was listening to just now, was not that version recorded by Elvis, but I tell you, dear, the one who sang it to my spirit, was All-wise, a true 'Elvis'!”
Rachel, still wearing a look of flabbergasted concern, but somewhat visibly relieved from the first paralyzing sting of anxiety, now unfolds a card table chair—her hands trembling. She sits down opposite Pasco, growing visibly enraptured second by second, by her husband’s unusually profound aspect. It is as if there is a spell emanating from the entranced, entrancing the other in his proximity.
“As the song played on, Rach, it seemed this time to grow sadder and sadder and sadder, with a more tragic aspect than I had ever before been touched by, though I've listened to the same song numerous times. 'Oh, I wish I was in Dixie! Away! Away!' And my mind was flooding with deep emotion! 'In Dixieland I’ll take my stand, to live and die in Dixie.' Then there was this stanza about being born there! 'Cause Dixieland, that's where I was born...early, Lord, one frosty mornin' ... Look away, look away, look away Dixieland!' But the funny thing about it is, that as I listened, something made me feel like I was born in Dixie!”
“But, Pasky, you were born in Michigan!”
“I know that, but a feeling came over me—I can't explain it—that said I was born in Dixie!—a strong feeling. 'Dixieland, that's where I was born, early, Lord, one frosty mornin'. And then I wanted desperately to look away from something—something dreadful—what, I couldn't tell! But some invisible hand seemed to compel my spirit to look! And it...” He pauses. “It broke me!” Pasco pauses once more, struggling severely to suppress an emotional gusher. “And just as I broke open—just as I was weeping my head off—someone was singing! Singing, 'Glory! Glory!' with a whole choir of angels! 'Glory, glory, hallelujah! Glory, glory, hallelujah! Glory, glory, hallelujah! His truth is marching on!'”
“And just as I was reaching a point beyond all consolation in my blasted breakdown, the one part of the song that had grabbed me at first, burst upon me in concert with a dark shift in the music. All kinds of things went ripping through my mind that I never knew I had inside of me! It was that very matter-of-fact, but mournful, ballad that the song ends up with, Rach, about a daddy during the Civil War! He's going off to war—an almost certain death—in process of setting certain grievous wrongs right! He pensively sings to his small child that he's leaving behind, 'Hush, little baby, don’t you cry ... you know your daddy’s bound to die ... but all my trials, Lord, will soon be over!'” Pasco begins weeping again, intermixed with a chortling effect and occasional gaspings for breath, pausing in his broken utterance here and there to wipe dangling teardrops from his nose and chin, as he continues the halting blubbery description.
“Rachel! When I took in that part...” his voice breaks too much to speak, “...about 'you know your daddy’s bound to die'” another pause and a gulp, “...I willingly became overwhelmed with the spirit possessing me—a spirit that felt something like long pent-up emotion!—more emotion than one lifetime could repress. I had an experience that I just can't put into words very well! I vividly witnessed in that daddy and that child, a vision of my own self speaking those awe-ful words to my own sweet priceless little red-headed girl, who loves her daddy so dearly! ... and who needs me so badly! And ... and I saw myself telling her that she couldn’t have me any more!” Pasco briefly loses it entirely, but this time for but a brief second or two, as he chokingly gulps away a fresh outburst. “That I was about to be ... destroyed! ... killed! By the utterance of these two words, an intensely intelligent, analytically sad aspect, has all but erased the peeping broken expression we witnessed only seconds ago, and has replaced it with a derivative that is calmer, yet at the same time more penetratingly profound.
Pasco turns spent eyes pensively toward the carpet, pausing long, as if his thoughts have entered a kind of slow-motion playback. Then we faintly hear, as he mutters lingeringly under his breath, “But all my trials, Lord, will soon be over.”
Pasco remains in that pose for the better part of a minute, in a seeming blank stare at the gray carpet while his wife stares quizzically at him. Pasco finally looks up again, cocking and turning his head a little, while squinting his eyes slightly at Rachel, who seems at a loss for words in response to her husband's now pensive melancholy.
“I wasn’t crying for my-self. I say again, I don't know what came over me, but I know what I was crying for. I do know that. It wasn't for myself, but for the tragic blow to a single little girl a billion times repeated—red-headed, black-headed—not for incorporated statistics, either. In the imagining of my own self and my own little girl, I saw the individual faces of other little girls and of their daddies! I saw their faces in wars no more civil than the 'Civil' War; in earthquakes, mudslides, tsunamis, hurricanes, typhoons, car wrecks, plane crashes, ship-wrecks, train derailments, 'collateral damage', suicide bombings, diseases, dismemberments, disfigurements, murder called by any name! I saw them in beatings, tortures, incarcerations, poisonings, electrocutions, abandonments, invasions, betrayals! I saw the faces—her face—in modern respectable shades of slavery, abuses of every stripe, blue, white and Baron-collar crimes concealed behind every imaginable mask, all committed by people (not a legal alias) who were also—or meant to be—little girls, little boys, their daddies, their mommies! And I saw too, the fatherless, the motherless, the divorced, the widows and widowers, the single-parents, the mommies and daddies bereaved who would not be consoled, unaware they have other children every bit as precious, still to pull from the Waters of death! Then I began to weep for my own abandoned self!” Pasco's voice again begins breaking up, before he, with a newly increasing difficulty, gets hold of himself once more.
“But it isn’t what you might be thinking. I wasn’t weeping for my own pain alone! I was weeping for my pain and for my imagined pain, for those who couldn’t weep or be wept over! I was crying for the connection that my own bursting understanding of pain gave me, to the precious priceless equal millions! I was crying out for them on the basis of my pain—and we all know some pain—because their own pain cannot be deserving of any less attention than my own pain! I was crying for the numberless and the face-less, whom no one can really mourn for, because it is too big an undertaking to even begin—one that could never be brought in a lifetime to completion, if grieved in true proportion! How do you mourn nearly three hundred thousand destroyed in a moment by a freak wave of water?! We don’t have time for it! We can’t put our lives on hold to scan the watery graves in inconsolable denial! What would we find anyway? I cannot be bothered too much, even if I want to, because I have urgent things to do. It’s just a number that I cannot bear—but tonight I sensed a need to!” Pasco sits up straightly in his office chair, as if he is finally gaining victory over the oft-renewed urges to blubber.
“But today, for a brief instant while I was listening to that song, it was as if some invisible hand had cut my heart wide open with a dagger, in order to let me taste the upwelling gurgle of an overwhelming crimson flood that is at this very moment staining the pallet and lips of our world! As this enormous flood of feeling choked me up, I sensed in an instant, how horror struck I would be, if I were a bigger...” pauses, “an omnicient Being! Because those numbers are people!—children of Some-one! The senselessness of calamity is somehow a festering pussy sore of immeasurable—of infinite—injustice upon the universe! Only in proportion to the individual value put into each number one, can anyone measure what the millions mean!” Pasco's face begins contorting into new expressions, producing a mixed impression, half of shame and half of disgust—his tone turns to irritation or something akin to it.
“They can’t just die! They can’t just pine away with Aids! They can't just starve to death! They can’t just grieve and waste away! They can’t just be victims! They can’t just be collateral damage of the Invisible War! They mean something to Some-One, and even many someones need crying for! Someone has got to cry!” His face twitches and quivers as his irritation turns to anger, to sadness, to another desperate attempt to keep from losing control—hot tears pulse in a profusion of breaching rivulets down Pasco's vibrating flushed face.
“While I was listening to that haunting song for the second and third times, I thought of all the children—grown, small, un-born—put into the world, only to have their value denied by random or chosen tragedy, by temptation, by every kind of wicked deed committed by others of them, and by horrific acts of a cursed nature, usually blamed on the only One, big enough to feel the full measure of shame and tragedy the children are responsible for! And for a moment I became nearly overwhelmed with nameless shame!” Again, Pasco pauses, as if to think.
“Then I thought ... of my own secret enjoyment found in many past times of tragedy! I became deeply ashamed, that my inner person often took a twisted naive pleasure in the excitement of heightened moments, brought on by the public stir that a good disaster creates! How I secretly relish, the breathless news stories, the new obsession with an objectified horror ... to take my mind off of many littler problems, pressures, deadlines, inadequacies, boredoms or a vague general sense of diminished sensation in life—an inability to feel, as God intended! I saw how callused my own heart had become, but I can’t really blame myself, or the millions like me, either. I saw what it is that clams us up inside—it is a necessary defense! I would love to be more feeling about these almost abstract events racing across the TV screen, one after the other, day after diabolical day, if it was possible on my own! My callous attitude about other people’s little girls, other daddies, isn’t an intended evil—and you know how much I love my own little girl! It is rather the consequence, of the necessary denial I’ve accustomed myself to in the presence of sorrows too big for me! It’s the easy way to deal with injustice, inequity! And in a world too big and too small at the same time, and too tragic to really feel, I often sense a vague need for the stimulus which a little excitement can bring, even at the expense of those who are daddies and daddies' girls! Like an ancient Roman spectator, the real tragedies of other lives became my Gladiators, my Christians and criminals mauled by lions—my coping mechanism for a world gone mad! But for one heart-flooding moment, when I witnessed my own self, and my own little girl, in the flood of tragedy, a hurricane on the television wasn’t exciting any more! It wasn't just many other nameless little girls—red-headed, black-headed—it was the vision of my own little girl’s beloved, priceless, grimaced, bursting face, in every one of the nameless others, while her daddy announces that his trials are nearing their end—and hers just beginning! They are One! 'Hush, little baby, don't you cry!'” Pasco's lips purse, and his face tightens pathetically.
“I was crying for the World! Every time I thought more about my own little girl, and imagined being that Civil War soldier-daddy having to tell her that her daddy was bound to die, I then saw in my own, the many billions, in a billion tragedies of a thousand kinds! I could imagine for a rare moment the enormity of the in-justice! It did not spare me—it touches me! I felt that somehow my crying for my-self, was bringing to bear a tiny piece of justice for all! I embraced the weeping with my entire soul as a gift—and Rachel, I just can't stop it!” His face curls again—as he slams a fist onto the office chair arm—into the indescribable grimacing. Gurgling sobs pulse once more victoriously up from the basement of his being, until his mind is flooded over in repeat with holy emotion. Pasco cries out to his wife between gasping chortling sobs, “It's cleaning my soul, dear, it's cleaning my soul! There's a healing in justice-truth, and also in my bursting cleansing sobs for forgiveness, for mercy!” A long string of uncontrollable sobbing convulsions follows, then finally Pasco's sobbing mellows again to a mere blubber, enough at least, to speak more reasonably.
“All I had to do to touch it off again, and again, and again, was to keep on imagining all those little faces!—not so very different from my little girl—grown, small, un-born, 'Hush, little children, don't you cry!'—and with nagging bitter questions and ironic answers, my face would wrench again into the agony, bursting with bitter pleading sobs for the tragedies happening to One! I was crying for the World, dear! I was praying, like one billion publicans brought to their knees, “Lord, have mercy on us! Lord, have mercy on us! When will all our trials, Lord, be over!?”
© Copyright 2005, 2007 Dennis Berlin (www.dennisberlin.com)
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