||Of Angles & Saxons
The Russians will be here any minute, and I know I’m about to die. In the next room is the Führer, a shadow of his former self. The once spellbinding charm which moved millions? Gone, incinerated just like our cities. Yet worse still is the fact that the Führer must now meet his fate, not deep in the snows of Russia, fighting the good fight, rather; but stabbed in the back, through the banal machinations of cowards and traitors. The things the Führer's been made to suffer! Mein Gott; they've broken him on the wheel.
Slowly do we suffocate under this soulless mass of concrete filled with despair. Daily does one struggle to maintain any sanity; for this is the last battle that we must face. Siren-like calls elude the defenses, coruscating the walls of this vestibule howling their paean to loneliness. The mad onrush it comes promenading into my mind, and I like the rest fear all to be lost. Life it recedes, and the memories come rushing through, paralyzing their prey.
I bite my tongue, that the pain thereof might snap me from this vision, and call the men to arms. “The Fatherland it calls,” I say, bidding them do their final duty in this the last battle of the Reich. Yet they've abandoned all hope; as have I. But what is one to do? Well, first, the carrot. “We must hold on, so the Führer can find a way out—just like he always has.” Then, as ever, the stick. “Else the Russians will exterminate us.”
||Oliver and Jumpy
This is the text of the first story called 'Molly the Mole'. This is a picture book and the text on its own is not having the same impact.
Do you like cats? Yes? I am glad because I am a black cat with a white top hat. My name is Oliver. I am very elegant and have the shiniest coat in the world. I brush my fur every morning and always keep my nails trimmed! Of course, my hat is really refined, too, which is another word for elegant.
Whenever you put on your new clothes, you can announce to everybody, "I am refined!" They will think you are an elegant person. Well, enough of all that talk about me, although I can never talk too much about myself. I really do think I am a cool cat. Do you think this is wrong? You are probably right, but I can't help it.
My best friend’s name is Jumpy. You guessed it! She likes to jump a lot because she is a kangaroo! She is a great girl and lets me ride in her pouch! I get in, and Jumpy jumps away and away!! That’s a lot of fun. I bet you would like to ride in her pouch, too, wouldn't you? You are probably a bit too big though. I am quite small, so it is OK. I love it, but after a while I need to rest. All that up and down makes me dizzy. It's like being on a roller coaster.
One day I was in Jumpy's pouch, happily hopping through the fields. It was a very sunny day, and I wore my white hat and funky sunglasses. The sun is beautiful, but too much of it burns your skin! My fur coat protects me though.
We were hopping across the fields, when Jumpy stopped suddenly. It was so unexpected that I fell out of her pouch, and bounced down on the ground.
Amazingly, I fell very softly, but that softness screamed loudly! I had fallen on a mole.
Moles are creatures that live in the ground and love to dig tunnels. They are much smaller than cats. Sometimes, they come out of their holes. Moles are blind because they do not need eyes below ground. That’s why she didn’t notice Jumpy coming. Jumpy only saw her at the last second and had to make an emergency stop. I was saved, but the mole appeared quite unhappy about the disturbance.
After I stopped turning around and around, because I was still dizzy from the jumping, I apologized to Molly the mole. She recovered quickly and was not really hurt. Then she even became friendly with us. "I have just made lunch," she said. "Why don't you join me? I have the tastiest worms and bugs. Would you like some?"
You see, that’s what moles eat. A kangaroo prefers grass. I find the occasional bug quite tasty, but I don't fancy slimy rainworms. Jumpy made an excuse not to accept the offer. "Thank you very much, but we are watching our diet!"
Molly was not unhappy, though, since she could now eat everything herself. "Come and visit me again but without any accidents next time! I think you are a very elegant cat and a very jumpy kangaroo. I like you guys. Of course, I am a lady myself and eat only the best bugs!"
||On the Edge of the Loch
At the next corner, pedalling toward him came an aged postman moving barely fast enough to remain upright.
‘Station Road beach, I do,’ the postman said as though preparing for conversation.
Tony was soon consuming the man’s life tale, and listening lifted him. He felt his spirit lighten, like this stranger was re-igniting what he believed was lost. Maybe these were his people after all, he thought, maybe he was closer to home than he believed: how they danced all over you, sang to you, felt you worthy of their stories, of their trust and time, and seemed not to doubt you’d feel the same for them; how they made light of the hard outer world at every opportunity, and when there was no opportunity how they invented one; they played with what others called suffering until it wasn’t suffering but something essentially good for you, a redeeming purgatory ordained by God. They seemed at one with the mill of living. And as for those he’d called liars the day before, they now seemed in some way saintly; maybe equally saints and liars. As a race, there was no denying it, these people inhabited a realm beyond him, a holy place that he might rise to, this Irishness.
‘Remember now what I told you: go past Macker’s field, bear left into Eamon’s Lane, and at the end take a sharp left and Station Road beach will be staring at you, and may God go with you because I can’t.’
||Once Again to Zelda
Mary Shelley dedicated Frankenstein to her father, her greatest champion. Charlotte Brönte dedicated Jane Eyre to William Makepeace Thackeray for his enthusiastic review of the book’s first edition. Dostoyevsky dedicated The Brothers Karamazov to his typist-turned-lover Anna Grigoyevna. And, as this collection’s title indicates, F. Scott Fitzgerald dedicated his masterpiece The Great Gatsby to his wife Zelda.
Often overlooked, a novel’s dedication can say much about an author and his or her relationship to the person for whom the book was consecrated. Once Again to Zelda explores the dedications in fifty iconic books that are an intrinsic part of both literary and pop culture, shedding light on the author’s psyche, as well as the social and historic context in which the book was first published.
||One Moment in Life
Throughout most of human history we’ve been divided—stuck in structured behavior patterns and belief systems and confined to the stark cultural boundaries of a manmade world. It’s a way of life that has led to feelings of confusion and loneliness, a constant sense of lacking as we search for something more.
But as intelligence and creativity continue to expand, a change in thinking is on the horizon, and an increase in awareness has begun to pave the way toward unity. While leaving the old perspectives of traditional religion and science behind, more individuals are learning to tune into a universal force, discovering new and exciting ways of looking at human existence.
One Moment in Life is an exploration of these groundbreaking insights about self-awareness, the concept of the universe, and human life as a whole. Awaken to humankind’s true potential with refreshing new content that challenges the outdated belief systems of yore, and offers alternative ways of thinking that will allow anyone to tap into a larger and more universal consciousness.
||One of a Kind
Paula Copeland is a high-maintenance, women's boutique owners, and part-time real estate who is tired of always being the bridesmaid but never the bride. As she and three of her friends come together for the wedding that will leave her as the only single one among them, she really starts to put the pressure on her lawyer boyfriend Jaleel for them to tie the knot. Having all that money can buy, the man she marries must have no less. Jaleel fills the bill better than any man she's ever dated, and she's not about to give him up--not even if it means going against her gut instinct. When she meets Bradford Livingston, she instantly forms a negative opinion of him. Viewing him as a handyman with a menial business, he doesn't hold a candle next to Jaleel. His good looks, kind personality, and well-meaning intentions don't impress her one bit. And even though he says he's just trying to be a friend, she knows better. Besides, why does she need another friend when she has everything she needs to keep her happy? As the days, weeks, and months go by, life goes on as Paula and Jaleel plan their future together. But when her seemingly perfect world is suddenly turned upside down, Bradford will teach her a lesson in friendship and humility that she will never forget.
SIMPLE SECRETS TO SUCCESS AND BETTER RELATIONSHIPS.
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Follow the One Rule and you will have confidence in yourself, and everything you are doing in your life.”
Not everybody believes in rules. “One Rule” will help you to establish the basic foundation and guidelines upon which you can build and maintain better personal and business relationships and reach the goals you establish for yourself. It will help you to better understand your spouse or partner, your friends and associates, and most importantly, yourself.
The secrets to success are based on the author’s extensive business career and international life experience. It is a book for all ages because we are never too young or too old to redirect ourselves. Learn how to take yourself out of the equation, in order to more clearly see the best direction to take. “One Rule” will open your eyes to answers you never dreamed were so simple.
There are important chapters on relationships, why they are so important, and how to structure them properly. An informative question/answer section is included from many who participated. You will find a helpful relationship quiz that lets you measure yourself, and how your partner views you. It will help you live a full life, while keeping life simple, and teach how to correct mistakes instead of living with them.
One segment is titled “Rules and Relationship Resolutions,” and there is a compatibility quiz and an extensive “Question and Answer” section that touches on everything from dating, marriage, sex and intimacy to aging, faith and religion.
One Rule will improve your self-esteem, your self-worth, and open the doors to the opportunities in the world. It may be the best personal investment that you have ever made. Isn’t it time you got started?
||Operation Cosmic Teapot
On the Nature of Re: Genesis
God entered Freud’s consulting room. He wasn’t sure why he was there but he knew that his job depended on it. The memo was clear:
Our records indicate that you are due for a psychiatric examination with the company's chief psychoanalytical clinician. Please report to his office in room 3 beginning on Tuesday, October 11th, as per section G in your contract. Failure to comply will result in your immediate dismissal from the call center and you will no longer be granted access to the facilities of Heaven Inc.
God expected the room to look different. He was prepared to enter a neat and organized space. Instead it was a cluttered mess. There were chotchkies everywhere, seeming to represent some kind of unfocused history. Aborted fertility goddesses from various cultures and lopsided Paleolithic bowls lay strewn about the study while arrowheads took their rest in a display case overhead. Tablets with hieroglyphics and cuneiform scrawlings sat in holders on a desk. The dead languages were showcased, as if to suggest something about psychoanalysis itself.
The walls were covered with pictures of people, places, and certificates. One picture looked like a photograph of the statues at Abu Simbel. On closer examination; however, it wasn’t Abu Simbel at all. Perhaps it wasn’t even Egyptian but rather Nubian, those wannabes from the south that during Egypt’s worst period of decline saved the great dynasty from her own self destruction. After the Great Ramses died. God searched around, wondering if the mummy of the mightiest pharaoh might be hidden in the room. No soiled linens were found.
“Gutten tag,” said a voice slathered in a thick German accent. Freud appeared. He sat in a chair next to the daybed where God was soon to lay back. In the corner was a bust of Caesar or some other emperor from the Julio-Claudian dynasty of Rome. Or it could have been Alexander the Great. Who the fuck knew. This ode to history was terribly garbled. Everything that was once truth seemed to get mixed up here, in this room.
“Would you like to try some cocaine?” Freud offered. “I think you will find it picks you up quite nicely.”
“No thanks,” God declined, holding his soft hands up to show his resistance.
“Okay then, please have a seat,” Freud pointed at the daybed covered with an old patterned rug that extended onto the floor. A matching piece covered a piano stool in front of a shelf. Books written by Freud lined the shelf with titles like, Beyond the Pleasure Principle, Studies on Hysteria, The Interpretation of Dreams, Psychopathology and Everyday Life, and Totem and Tabu, which served as the doctor’s ode to egocentricity.
God sat on the couch and noticed that it felt softer than it looked. But a cloud of dust wafted up from the carpet when he sat. A sneeze escaped God. He had hoped for leather. The smell of cured cow hide pleased Him.
“Hello God. My name is Doctor Sigmund Freud.” Freud cleaned white powder off of his glasses with a cloth that he kept on the small table which held the floating Roman head. “Do you know why you are here?”
“I received a memo from the CEO that I was due for a psych exam today. So, I assume that is why I am here. I didn’t realize that these exams were mandatory.”
“Well, I assure you that this is normal,” Freud lied. This was certainly not a normal practice for employees of Heaven Inc. and Freud knew this. In fact, only the CEO knew that this was taking place. Something big was coming down the pipe at Heaven Inc. Freud desperately wanted to be a part of it.
“Sure. I am just hoping that this won’t take too long. I’m very busy.”
“This discussion will happen over several days but no more than an hour at a time. I know that you are busy at the call center. Don’t worry though, you have been signed out for these sessions.” Freud looked at the cocaine. He rubbed his nose, thinking about taking another hit. He declined, though, wondering if his heart, which was about to drum its way out of his chest, could take it.
God sighed. “Can we please get on with this?”
“Sure. Let’s start with the present. Tell me about your job.” Freud slipped a notepad and pen out of his inside jacket pocket. The booklet was empty except for a single name: God. He flipped to page one, pen in hand, prepared to jot notes down.
“There’s isn’t much to tell. I’m a B2C, or Business to Consumer representative at Heaven Inc, as you probably already know. Essentially, I handle in-bound Judeo-Christian calls to heaven.”
“Excellent. Take me through the beginning of your day. What does a typical morning look like for you?”
“Most days start out pretty normal. I get to work around eight, setup at my station and then take calls. But, as I’m sure that the cameras and swipe cards indicate, lately I find myself checking around to see if anyone is watching me sneak in a little late. I get this feeling that I’m being watched. I know it sounds paranoid. I have to say though, I do generally like the gods I work with.”
Freud feverishly scribbled notes. He was looking for anything that could be incriminating. While this wasn’t nearly enough to provide the CEO with the ammunition he needed to dispose of God, it was certainly going in the desired direction already.
“My seat is close to the entrance so I try to move quickly and throw my backpack and jacket under the desk in one quick sweep. I’m not even sure how my headphones go on, it just happens so naturally now. I lean back in my chair, and adjust my mic. I casually look at the time, like I’ve been sitting there for two hours. I yawn, even if I don’t need to. Then it’s time to get a coffee.”
Freud stopped scribbling. He tapped the pen against his nose, “Why is it that you are late so often?”
God sighed, “Bacchus,” he admitted.
“Bacchus?” Freud leaned forward. “I probably shouldn’t tell you this, but Bacchus was a patient of mine quite some time ago. Don’t tell me that he’s on another drinking frenzy,”
“Yes. He’s been on a real tear lately. He calls me religiously at nine PM and insists that we should go out. I try to tell him that I have to work in the morning but he retorts, telling me that he knows a place where the drinks will be stronger, the dancing better, the girls prettier than the night before. I can’t believe that he is always right! Somehow each night is a little better than the last. The beer and liquor and wine flow like milk and honey and… wine. It’s really hard to say no!”
“Bacchanalia, indeed! But let us shelf that discussion for later. For now, why don’t you tell me about the people with whom you work?”
“Sure. Where to start? Well, in the first row going from left to right, after me, there is Jehovah, Pan Gu, and Buddha. In the Back row from left to right is Janus, Osiris, Ishtar, and Shiva. As you may know, Jehovah is my brother.”
“Good. Good. Tell me more about your brother.”
“Jehovah is the only outbound caller at the center, even though he does manage some call blending. If you were to look at us side by each, our facial features are similar. We dress considerably different though. Jehovah wears a formal eighteenth century red overcoat with a white vest and this white puffy shirt. He dawns a blue scarf around his neck but pulled through like a tie. I have never seen him without his red, white, and blue jester’s hat but the monocle that he sports is new. As you can see, I prefer jeans and a white t-shirt. The most notable difference between us is that Jehovah has a small scar under his left ear which looks oddly like a castle’s watchtower.
“Jehovah always sits with perfect posture, industriously calling away. He is the best salesman I have ever heard. I’ve spent some time listening to him and I remember one of his pitches. If he is on the defensive, he’ll start asking, ‘How could you not want to be a witness?’ And he’ll tell them that, ‘This year we are offering an additional 20 seats into heaven. After this there are only 65 seats available throughout the rest of Earth’s days. Imagine how foolish you will feel if you are left out of heaven. And the best part is, regardless of your personal baggage, you will not go to hell. Being my witness is a guaranteed ticket against going to hell.’ And then he’ll be reaching for a pen because that’s when Jehovah has made a new follower.
“It’s clever to include a get out of hell free card. It seems to convince those on the fence. But then he takes down their banking information – I have no idea why that is required.”
“I see what you mean, he sounds quite talented.” Freud petted his well-manicured beard like he was hoping for it to purr. “How do you feel about his success at Heaven Inc.?”
God hadn’t thought about his brother as successful before. He even looked down his nose at him for making the outbound calls. God decided to answer honestly, “I think he’s a joke. If he was successful, he wouldn’t have to make the calls. The calls would come to him. He works night and day; it isn’t a life.”
“I see. Do you think he feels that way about you?”
“I don’t know. I don’t really talk to him, even at work.”
“Okay. Let’s move on to some of your other colleagues. Who else do you work with?”
“There’s Buddha. If ever I met a hippy-slacker-God, it’s Buddha. Just yesterday I had this strange run in with him. ‘Buddha bless you,’ he says to me. Out of the blue. So I ask him, ‘Why do you refer to yourself in the third person?’ He smiled at me, his eyes bloodshot and half closed. ‘I have some new literature for you today, brother.’ He hands me a half sheet of paper with what appears to be a coffee stain all along the bottom. I take it from his hands and look closely at his face. He’s covered with acne and scars. Still, his smile covers most of his face, as if completely satisfied with himself. ‘Are you happy with your life, brother?’ I can’t make out his accent. I tell him that I am happy with my life. ‘Peace is found within,’ he clichés. I tell him that topical cream is found in the third aisle of the drug store. He looks horrible. ‘You may mock Buddha all you like. You are short sighted.’ Curious, I ask him why he thinks that. ‘This life is but a small fragment of the infinity that is life. Please read the literature and get back to me.’ I joke with him, and tell him sure. And then I ask him kindly to tuck his boobies back in because there are other people working here. His zhen always hangs low and never covers his nipples. I think I still have his literature on my desk if you ever want to look at it.”
“Have you ever looked at it?”
“Okay. Enough said.” He scribbled feverishly in his notebook. “Please tell me more about your colleagues. They sound like fascinating gods.”
“Next to Buddha sits Pan Gu. He’s usually parked on his ass, groaning to himself while bouncing a ying-yang ball off of his belly. His balding head glistens with sweat which he wipes away with his hand and then uses the moisture to shape his goatee into a point. I can’t remember the last time someone called him. Did you know that long, long ago Pan Gu was hatched out of a cosmic egg. It is said that half the shell pushed up to form the sky while the other half was pushed below to form the Earth. He grew taller each day for 18,000 years until the Earth and heavens reached their appointed places. It was then that the lice fell off of his body which became mankind. Some believe that Pan Gu fell apart, but that’s not true. He was hired here, at Heaven Inc.
“In the back left corner paces Shiva. You would think that she is the birth product of the Chernobyl nuclear meltdown with her four hands raised high in the air. Her eyes light as if a fire is burning. I am sure that there is fire because out of her ears steam whistles while yelling at a caller, “I told you not to touch that shrine! Now look at what you have done!” Her intense gaze is set to destroy the world once again.
“Sounds intense! Who is she, exactly?”
“She’s the Hindu goddess of destruction. Part of The Trinity.”
“Okay. Who else is there?” Freud’s foot thumped against the ground while his heart raced in his chest. His arms felt eight feet long as he scribbled notes. Cocaine is a hell of drug, he thought over and over.
“Beside Shiva is Ishtar, the original party girl. Now her story is a little confusing. You might know her as Absusu, Abtaigigi, Dilbah, Gumshea, Har, Kilili, or even Ninkasi, to name a few of her former names. She has absorbed so many deities that it’s difficult to say what she is the goddess of. But, given the way she looks and acts, I would have to say that wine and promiscuity are two of her favorites. Kind of like Janis Joplin, but rougher around the edges.
“Don’t piss her off, though. She will lash out and tear you apart like an angry lion attacking the unsuspecting gazelle. Most of the time, however, she’s just seated slurring to herself while rubbing her Pandora’s Box of venereal disease.”
“Do you believe that this rubbing of the genitalia is a desire for her to have a penis?” Freud took a detour. He always felt the urge to ask this question about women.
“Her? No. That’s Osiris.”
“Who is Osiris?”
“If ever a god could be called a pussy, it would be Osiris. You can see him hunched over his desk occasionally taking a hit off of his salbutamol inhaler for his awful wheezing. We watch him at our desks and wait for him to notice that his penis gone. Then it’s a game of hotter / colder to find it.
Freud squinted his beady eyes, “I don’t understand. How could his penis go missing?”
“Osiris had a rough upbringing on account of his brother, Seth, who I have to say is quite the asshole. Seth didn’t like Osiris, so he killed his brother. Seth packed up the remains in a coffin then shipped it half way across the world. Osiris’ sister-wife, Isis, managed to find Osiris’ dead body which sent Seth into a psychotic rage. Seth chopped Osiris into tiny pieces and scattered each morsel around the world, to ensure that Osiris would never enjoy the afterlife.
“Well, Isis being so obsessively in love with Osiris, went searching for all of the pieces but she never found his penis because it was eaten by some fish in a river. Instead of letting bygones be gone by, Isis fashioned a stiffy for him out of wood. Apropos, right?”
Freud loved this story, “Apropos indeed. How big is it?”
“What, the wood penis?”
“Yes, yes.” He was entirely too excited.
“We have never measured it.”
“Oh. Okay, go on then,” Freud’s excitement quickly vanished.
“I’ve been working at Heaven Inc. for about 2,000 years and it was an old tradition back then to hide Osiris’ penis and make him go looking for it. It’s fun to watch a geek like that get angry and ‘…demand that the location of [his] penis be established immediately or else…’ Once we hid it in Ishtar’s ass but that was just frightening.” Goosebumps were visible on God’s skin as he shuddered.
“Why? Because he couldn’t find it?”
“No, because Ishtar didn’t know it was there!”
“I can see how that might be somewhat disconcerting.”
“So anyway, the only other god that works in the call center is Janus, who seems really two faced. One minute he’ll be looking at you, all smiles and chuckles but he seems to have eyes in the back of his head. And then if you look closer, you might see that he also has a nose back there. And a mouth. He actually has two faces on his head. It’s so creepy.”
“Do you like working with them?”
God looked down at his feet while he thought. “What can I say? These gods are interesting and they keep me amused. The job pays the bills, you know.”
“Do you feel like you’re in a slump at Heaven Inc.?”
God stared at his feet a little longer. He sighed. “Do you mean when it comes to the job itself? I don’t know. It isn’t what it used to be.”