To the Breezy Easy

From the grit-grime-greasy gallows,

the city life,

the Dirty East.

Out from under the apple's thumb,

Where there's burning conversations, concentration, and

anonymity.

Where there's breaks,

and break you's.

Bedbugs,

rent,

subways,

and waiting careers.

 

To the sandy platforms of God,

the Breezy Easy.

Down to where the tide is passing,

where the speech slows,

stopping to be noticed, and noticing 

as the beachhead breaks, and

breaks back again.

Blue Moons, 

shoelessness,

happy-poor, and chanting.

Life.

God.

Sandy peace.

On Fire (Part III, conclusion)

I’m in my savasana and David, one of the instructors asks me where I go when I’m "inside that head of mine." I tell him that “I generally go to hell my friend.”

            He laughs and tells me that “he had a feeling,” and then he takes a hippy-dippy-cross- legged seat and asks me to join him.  I sit next to him and think about how I don’t have an extra five minutes in my day for this garbage.  He begins, “A teacher once told me this story of the Buddha…”

            Oh Jesus here we go, I think.

            The Buddha, walking one day, felt thirsty and asked one of his disciples to go to the lake nearby and fetch him a drink of water.  The disciple did as he was told and made his way to the lake, but, as he was about to dip his cup into the lake, he noticed that a boat was crossing and churning up the lake, making the water undrinkable. The disciple returned to the Buddha and told him he could not get clean water.  The Buddha instructed him to check back in an hour.  The disciple, doing as he was told returned to the lake to find it still muddy and then returned again with the same news for the Buddha.  After a while the Buddha instructed him to go back again.  Doing as he was told the disciple found the lake to be perfectly clear and proudly filled his cup to bring back to the Buddha.  ‘See what you did?  You made the water clear.”  Confused the disciple said, ‘but Buddha I didn’t do anything.’  ‘Yes you did.  You left the water alone.’”  David waited for a reaction.

            “Ahh,” I faked.  “You just leave it alone then, eh?”  I was trying not to be sarcastic.

            He laughed and slinked up.  “Just try it sometime.”

            I left the hospital later that night, and in the morning the cat was out of the bag as they say.  Everyone knew.  I had no options.  It was out on my butt, a rehab, or A.A. again.  My father had flown out, and I could imagine the pilot saying “We are now flying at an altitude of twelve hundred feet, and our destination is just about an hour and a half away so sit back, relax, and you in the back - your son is an alcoholic.  Beverage service should be starting up momentarily, your son is a failure, and our inflight movie is Leaving Las Vegas.”

            We’re in my apartment sitting silently across from each other.  He asks “Well, what should we do pardner?  Wanna try one of these meetings?”   It’s silent.  I’m looking down.

            “Sure.” I say. I am my father’s disappointment, I thought.  Then I walked into my first basement.  It was damp.  It smelled of water-cheap-truck-stop-coffee (which I wouldn’t touch. who knows what these people may have done to it, I think).  The people looked about as rough and tumble as I thought I’d ever seen.  I walked closer.  They smiled.  Their eyes were smiling.  My knees went.  I slumped down in a metal folding chair, put my hands to my face, and cried.  My father put his arm around my shoulders and squeezed.  I cried.

            I’m lying in my “final savasana,” “corpse pose,” and I’m trying to think of nothing.  My mind goes white, like the world folding in on itself into one micro-dot of black and disappears.  Then the whiteness turns to pine trees, big towering pines, like the ones I’d imagine in the Black Forests of Bavaria.  I’m trying to clear my way through the trees, but I just find more darkness.  The pines are cold, damp, and prickling my forearms.  I see a light breaking through the tree line, and I come to my lake.  My lake.  It’s muddy and whirling, and my problems are stuck and churning in the thick brown muck.  I see my bank account slopping around, my broken bicycle spinning out spraying mud out onto my feet.  There are booze-bottles piling up, falling, breaking, and then piling up again.  There’s a whirring of mosquitoes so loud I have to hold my hands over my ears.  Then it all stops, and a large child (a giant) bends into my frame of vision.  It’s me!  It’s me, only abstracted and large.  He has watery-sweet forgiving eyes, a round cherubic face, and a smile that I can only describe as peaceful.  He’s so at peace that it fills me over with joy.  He’s looking at me.  He’s inviting me over.  I’m hesitant.  He gestures to my lake (our lake, I suppose).  I run over to it, preparing myself to jump in, grab the objects, and calm the situation.  I feel his big soft hand encompass my entire chest and hold me back.  He leads me to a campfire tranquilly burning by the side of my lake.  I see our reflections in the flames.  I watch as it slowly burns down to ash.  He takes my hand in his and leads me back to my lake.  It’s clear and calm.  I see my reflection, and I drip joyous tears that ripple and distort my image.  I feel that strong hand squeeze my shoulder again.  I’m safe.  I open my eyes, and I’m back in the room with the others, listening to the instructor.

            “Start to come back into yourself.  Slowly start to move your fingers and toes.  Remember your intention.  Remember what brought you to your mats today.  Namaste.” 

            “Namaste,” we all respond, and I wonder if I’m unique.  Am I the only one who has had this experience?  No, not possible I think to myself; there are two billion and one of us.  It’s not me alone.

            I related this experience to my father recently.  I told him the whole shebang.  The Buddha, the lake, the fire, giant baby me, everything.

            “I was so at peace, dad.  I don’t know how else to describe it.”  There was a pause between us.  It felt like forever.  I felt nervous.  Did that just sound crazy?  Was I going crazy?  I was about to interject when he spoke up.

            “Well that’s great kiddo.  A bit on the nose, though don’t cha think?”  He laughed, and then we laughed together. 

            We always had the same sense of humor, my father and I.

            I am the son of Prometheus.  I have a healthy fear of fire.  I try not to burn up.  Just for today.

           

 

On Fire (Part II)

     I’m plopped down on the kitchen floor in our old house.  “Our first dump,” my father would call it, but in my mind it’s magic.  I’m staring up at the fridge that’s towering over me; it’s pale, tan, and cool to the touch.  I run my hands over its bumpy, plasticy surface and notice its similarity to the linoleum floor beneath me.  I fight to free the door loose, straining every developing muscle I have under that chunky layer of baby pud protecting my delicate nature (I still have that nature by the way). I’m still as fragile as that soft spot we’re all so afraid of damaging when holding an infant.  We could drop the baby at any moment and change our world).  The cool air hits my face both exciting and scaring me as I begin to climb the metal racks in search of some excitement.  What did I want, I wonder?  Juice maybe?  Milk?  I did always enjoy drinking, I suppose (always searching for that “thing,” I suppose).  I grab for an egg sitting perfectly cupped in its little crate, and send it crashing to the floor beneath me.  I follow it, falling backward onto my rump.  The contents of the egg have begun leaking from its protective shell.  I reach out and touch the slippery stream of translucent matter before me.  It feels cold and wet and strangely like my own body as I break the gel between my palms.  I see my reflection in the yolk, it glistens and reflects my face, bright like fire, back at me.  I watch myself morph and melt as it oozes out and gets thin.  I begin to bat it across the floor.  I watch fascinated as it slithers across the linoleum picking up speed until it breaks.  I’ve destroyed something.  My reflection is distorting as the yolk spreads.  I’ve attempted something and failed.  I broke an egg.  I cry until my mother comes and picks me up.  We wait for my father together.

            It’s thirty years later and I’m breaking things again.  Like I did with the egg, I’m shattering my world.  I’m on the roof calling my father.  I’m slurring words over the phone

“I did it again, old man,” I was jumbling my thoughts with my words.

            “Yah well that’s OK buddy, just get inside and get some sleep.  Can you do that for me?” He asked.

            “I guess I just don’t know any more, old man.”  It was gibberish.  It was a drunken attempt to be tautological.  It was masking a cry for help.

            “What don’t you know H?”  He asked.  He was concerned.  He was hopelessly far away.

            “I just don’t.”  I hung up.  I left it at that.  I left all over again.

            I was looking over the edge now.  I was thinking about all of the ways the various elements would mangle my body before hitting the unkempt yard below.  I could bang into that rusty fire escape, which would hurl my body into a tailspin, circling head over teakettle coming to an end much less clean than I should hope.  I could fall right over that metal fence, breaking my back, bending me unnaturally backward, lips kissing toes.  What about those clotheslines?  They could slice me in three chunks sending me to the ground in three neat little packages, three little broken bits, oozing out like that fiery yolk.  I snapped to, leaned back from the edge and laid out on the warm black tar.

            My life is an immoral play.  A tragedy.

            My father has always been a caring man.  When anything happened in the community, he would always be in the forefront of the action.  When a young friend of my brother was hit and paralyzed by a drunken trucker, my father quickly organized a drive to pay for his mounting medical bills.  At times he would take me over to visit.  “You need to remember what’s important in this world son.  You should give to others in need.  You give yourself, you understand?” 

            “Sure, I got it dad,” I responded.  Oh, but I certainly did not.  I would sit and stare at the young man, maybe fourteen, fifteen years old.  He would just smile and laugh, unaware of the extreme nature of change that had occurred in his life.  My father would shake his hand, hug his broken body, ask him questions about baseball and girls; and I would just sit there and pity.  I could not see what my father saw.  I could not see the “blessed to be alive.”  I only saw the “what a shame,” and I would drift off into my own world, making this boy’s pain my own, shifting my pity into a selfish world in which I was the one injured, and how the world would break down into mourning and memorialize me.  Where my father is genuine, I genuinely didn’t care.

                        The next thing I remember after the roof is the paramedics.   My over it-had enough-no more chances-girlfriend had called them, because I was unconscious on my back and choking.  It must have been quite a sight to come home to, and unfortunately commonplace by this point.  She showed me the pictures, which I’ve saved as a daily reminder.  I’m a corpse, with my arms crossed over my chest.  My eyes are closed, puffy and crusted as though sewn shut for the last time.  I’m drenched in a bright violet, which has been streaming out of my mouth and onto my chest.  I was dead.  I’m awoken by a flashlight in my face.

            “Hey, Hans, can you hear me?”  Can you get up for us, bud?”  It’s a foreign voice, and I know what it means before I open my eyes.

            “Well, here we go again,” I say as I jut up and attempt to act casual.  The room laughs at the absurd nature of a ghoul crossing its legs and acting as though all is well with the world.

            “So how much have you had to drink today?  They ask.

            “Oh, not that much.  Maybe a little red wine.”  I look over as one of the paramedics inspects the drained liquor bottles.

“These were full this morning,” I hear, and I knew they would take me again.

            It had happened before.  Numerous times.  Hospital stays.  On many an occasion.  Fighting going to treatments.  Staying "dry."  Rebounds.  Relapses.  Promises made.  Promises burned.  One month.  Two months.  It was fun at first.  Yah, it got worse later.  But, fun at first…

  Day drinking, as I’ve now been told, is a classic sign of an alcoholic, at least it’s on one of the checklists on one of those pamphlets we’d all like to avoid.  For me day drinking started off like a wonderful holiday.  “It’s drinking Christmas,” Megg and I would joke.  “Let’s go out and ‘day-make!”  And we would.  We’d get liquored up with vodka and beers and head out to noon-day-bar-hop to our favorite haunts, stopping at any number of stores in between, but it was all-innocent.  We’d wake up with hangovers, and I’d go through my pockets to see where we’d gone.   We’d make discoveries and laugh our asses off.  “You bought a tuxedo!” she said as she pulled a suit from the closet. 

            “I made an eye appointment for next Wednesday?  Should I go?” I was crying-laughing.

            “Why not?  It’s the responsible thing to do.”  She’d say as she recycled the old liquor bottles. 

Then of course there’s the time I woke up to a rabbit peeing on my chest.  No memory of how.  We named her Frannie.  She’s sweet, and she’s for another time. 

                Then those day-drinks became more regular, not so jovial, more just me and not us.  The fun had shifted to the necessary, and I couldn’t see it.  Wouldn’t see it.  I could have used one of those damn pamphlets then.

            Yah, the fun at first…  quickly dissipates.

            I read recently that there are over two billion people in this world that have an admitted problem with alcohol (plus one more, if you please).  I suppose I knew something like that statistic already but didn’t grasp it.  I’ve heard it said that an alcoholic can affect roughly two hundred people around them with their drinking.  It’s like a whiskey-fueled butterfly effect.  I start my list with my father and usually end up somewhere around the mailman that had to help me up the stairs to my apartment once.  I’ve discovered that one can’t really pinpoint where the problem starts.  As much as we’d like, there’s no blame to be placed on anyone but ourselves--our two billion and one selves.  We go to dingy basement meetings and hypothesize about what may have been the root of our problems.  The match that lit our fuse.  Well, I come from a long line of alcoholics in my family and… But others don’t.  I drank to fit in in high school… Others didn’t.  It’s society… Come on.  I was abused… I wasn’t.  My parents were drunks… Mine weren’t.  I drank, because I loved the way it made me feel… Same here. I just couldn’t stop…  Me neither.  I’m scared… So am I.  Our two billion and one selves.

            I spurn the gift from Prometheus.

            My mother always says I look just like my father.  A shorter version, I suppose.  Same skinny frame, skinny neck, fat cheeks and jutting nose.  My uncle has told me stories of “what a crazy guy” he used to be.  Playing his acoustic guitar in his dorm at South Dakota State, under his poster of the band Bread hanging on his wall.  This of course was before he saw my mother walking to class out that same dorm room window and exclaimed to his roommate Dale, “I’m going to marry that girl!”  Which he did.  Times were more romantic then, I suppose.   My father’s older now, sixty-six; when I think on that I start to feel alone.  We catastrophize, us two-billion and one.  We don’t see the blessed years to come.  No, we see how our family and friends all leave us too young.  We see our mortality in others.  We’re selfish that way.  We see life’s death, and pity ourselves, like I did when I was with that paralyzed boy so many years ago.  Our fires are in constant danger of dwindling.

            I meditate now.  I pray.  Eat healthy.  Don’t smoke.  Yes, I struggle, I suppose.  And as “Peeta the Greeta” says in the dingy basement on Seventy-Ninth and First, “It doesn’t matter what we do, Hans.  We just don’t drink for today.”  His eyes bulge behind his thick, muddy lenses.  His voice couldn’t be more gravely than if it were a country road.  He reaches out to shake my hand every time he sees me and asks, “Do you think the Mets’ll pull it off kid?”

            “I don’t know Pete.  I think so,” I reply.

            “Well as long as we don’t drink, I suppose,” He’ll say.

            “I suppose so, Pete,” and I go take my seat in the back corner. 

           

On Fire (Part I)

 

On Fire

            I meditate now.  I pray.  Eat healthy.  Don’t smoke.  This is my way of life now, I suppose.  I’ve been taking yoga classes at a place around the corner from my apartment.  I like it.  It gets me outta my head.  I sweat.  I sleep better.  I’m dreaming again.  At the end of the session, we all lay down flat on our backs, usually exhausted with chests heaving up and down listening to the sweat suction between our skin and the bumpy plastic mats beneath us.  They call it the “final savasana” or “corpse pose.”  I lay on my back with my hands and feet apart and try to free my mind of everything.  Try it.  Right now.  Think nothing.  It’s not that easy is it?  Starting out, my mind will fill with everything horrible, my faults, my shame, my anxieties.  I would see my dead body with crusty eyes and arms crossed, and I would forget to breath and my eyes would open.  I would see my own shame projected on my father’s face.  I would try so hard to “think nothing,” but there was just too much.  My goal of a weightless mind was always dragged down by the gravity of thought.  So I sink deep.  I delve.

            While most of my life I’ve been afraid of fire, my father has yielded it like the Greek god Prometheus. 

            When I was five or six my father used to take me out on our concrete slab of a back-porch and present me with fire.  I would sit in a lawn chair as he produced his leather horn of “magic-powder.”  The pouch was shining and sturdy (not the kind of synthetic pouch one might see today, manufactured and dismal).  He would yield it like a lion-tamer, conveying an ever-conscious vigilance to the power bestowed within, lest it attack.  I would watch as he loosened the cork and handed it to me.  I remember picking away pieces of it, rolling it around in my hand, and watching it gracefully fall to the ground and bounce away. He would pour the grey dust into his hand, cupping it, making sure not to spill a drop, as that would have been a catastrophe clearly.  He’d then produce a wooden match from one of the red and white boxes that were always lying around the house.  He smoked a pipe back then.  In my memories of childhood now, I can only see him with one of those pipes.  He’d always have it sticking out of his face, gripping it with his teeth.  This bestowed on him an air of Douglas MacArthur, or one of those long dead presidents.  You don’t see many pipe-smokers nowadays do you?  I guess that’s what happens when something is finally linked to death so concretely; but every-time I see someone puffing on one and smell that sweet-cherry rich tobacco, I think of him.  He would strike the match, and I brace myself, the smell of eggy sulfur hitting my nostrils.  He would throw the powder up into the air and hoist the match up into its midst creating the greatest of fireballs.  I would “ooh and aww” and ask for him to do it again.  He would.  He always would.  I see now I was that dissipating fireball—big and gone.

            I delve.  I’m trying to control my burn.  I am a fizzling cinder.

            My father has always been a structured man.  I, on the other hand, am not.  He would get up in the dark early mornings, and run for what seemed like hours preparing for one of his many pending marathons.  I couldn’t run to safe my life, let alone get out of bed before the sun-rise.

            I am falling fast, embers peeling off in flakes.

            My father has always been close and connected, meeting with same group of guys for coffee, at the same greasy-spoon diner, the Wheel Inn, for almost thirty years or so now (the guys are starting to slowly disappear, and the diner has undergone new management – this sadly causes me to dwell on my own death).  I am an isolationist.  I have it down to an art-form.  I’ll make plans with friends, and filled with dread and obligation I’ll cancel at the last moment – “Sorry, one of my dogs might have cancer.”

            I am chained to my rock.  Doomed.  Daily eaten.

            My father has always been a moral man.  When he was “laid-off” from the insurance company that he worked at for most of my life, and subsequently sued when many of his clients went off with him; he didn’t have an unkind word to say about them.

 My mother always says, “You’re father is really a good man Hans.”

            “Yah I know that. Of course I know that,” I’d respond.  My morality slips in and out, much like my sobriety over the last ten years.  I’d steal, I’d be cheap, I’d be a spend-thrift, I’d forget to feed the dogs, I’d spend weekends in strange hotels, I’d lie, I’d terrorize my girlfriend, I’d terrorize my home, and I’d tell my father everything was all right.

            “How’s it going out there, son,” he’d inquire in his quick Midwestern-modest calls.

            “Hanging in there dad, but I just don’t know,” was one of my stock-answers.

            “Well you’re on an adventure kiddo.  You’re a braver man than I.”  He’s always been encouraging.  A champion of mine, I suppose.

            I must be around three years old as I sit on the kitchen floor in my earliest memory.  My mother has always said that my memory was incredible.  “I’m amazed you don’t remember your birth, kiddo.”  Thank the gods I didn’t, as if my life could get any more Oedipal, could handle another complex. One has to be careful when delving into one’s own complexes.  I’ve done so to my detriment on numerous occasions.  Dangerous self-diagnosis, which can lead to a doctor and a “real” diagnosis.  My neurosis would lead me to a therapist who would recommend a psychiatrist, whom would recommend a cocktail of anti-depressants and mood stabilizers. 

“What I think you’re suffering from is what we call ‘hypo-bipolar,” he says.

            “Christ!  I knew it!  I knew it! What is it?” I respond (the idiot I am).

            “Well, you go through periods of heightened elation, which seem to be accompanied by extended periods of mild depression.” He begins thumbing through a manual he’s plopped on his lap.

            “So I’m happy sometimes, and other times I’m sad?  Isn’t that normal?”  I ask.

            “Well that’s the ‘hypo’ aspect of your condition.  It’s a mild version.”  He’s thumbing.

            “So what comes next?” I inquire.

            “Lamotrigine™.”  He hands me the book and my “disease.”

                “Ah, yes, a pill,” I thought.  “Thank God, now I can finally feel fixed,” I thought.  Those pills would char me up for another year, another ingredient in the cocktail, another log on the fire.  Yes, one has to be careful when delving into one’s own neurosis.  It can burn a person up.

Gray's Papaya

I hope to go back to that papaya place

someday

Get dirty dogs and

that gritty elixir and

Laugh at all the silly extra

dips

And

Tip the Africans

a crisp five

Then walk back to our apartment

Say hello to Bullet

(the doorman with a dent in his head)

Take the stairs

Avoid the elevator and the drug addict

that often falls into our shared wall

Laughing like a goon

Close the door

and focus in on the DJ above us

Becoming his only audience

Han, Luke, and C-3PO - "Doomed" by Determinism

 

Han, Luke, and C-3PO, “Doomed” by Determinism

 

            In his visit to the Death Star, which we find out is now back under construction, Darth Vader tells a commander that “the Emperor does not share your optimistic appraisal of the situation,” to which the commander responds nervously “we shall double our efforts” (“Star Wars: episode 6, Return of the Jedi”).  But really what does it matter if they “double their efforts?”  With his ability to use “the force,” How does the Emperor already not know what the outcome and the timetable for the completion of the Death Star will be?  Or has his comments to Darth Vader, which Vader in turn relays to the commander, cause them to “double their efforts,” and thus fulfilling the timetable the Emperor wishes.  So, what could be seen as an omniscient ability to see events in the future, was actually a cause from one’s own doing (in this case saying the right thing at the right time).  This does not explain away “the force” in my mind, but it does show instances where “the force” can be explained in other terms.  In my previous papers “We’re Doomed: Star Wars and Determinism,” and “A ‘Knowledge’ of ‘the force,’” I have maintained my stance that Luke Skywalker and Han Solo’s fate has always been predetermined.  Now, after viewing “Return of the Jedi,” I must conclude (sadly) that the argument for determinism is still the strongest in explaining where Luke and Han end up at the end of the “Star Wars” trilogy.  This is, in my opinion, because there are just too many “internal” and “external” constraints that Han and Luke must contend with.  Finally, I will reinforce my determinism argument by following another character through the original trilogy, C-3PO.  I contend that from the moment C-3PO was created and programmed, he took on a predetermined fate just as Luke and Han did.

            First of all, referring to determinism, John Chaffee writes that “the keystone of d’Holbach’s view is that we are inextricably ‘connected to universal nature’ and so are subject to the ‘necessary and immutable laws that she imposes on all the beings she contains’” (The Philosopher’s Way 179 Ch. 4).  When referring to “Star Wars: episode 4, A New Hope,” I stated that “Luke’s actions of choosing to fly a dangerous mission towards a heavily armed Death Star, with a low probability of success,” was because “the ‘internal’ constraint he [was] suffering from [was] his idealistic view of the rebellion; and after this idealism was established, the choice to fly the mission no longer actually existed” (“We’re Doomed: Star Wars and Determinism” 2).  Then, in reference to “Star Wars: episode 5, The Empire Strikes Back” I reiterate “my determinist argument by saying that Luke is determined to believe in the force because his internal constraint that the force is necessary, force... him to believe” (“A ‘Knowledge’ of ‘the Force’” 5).  Finally, to continue my determinist argument with “Star Wars: episode 6 Return of the Jedi,” and as Chaffee states, that we are “inextricably ‘connected to universal nature,’” (179 Ch. 4) I will use an example of an external constraint that causes Luke’s predetermined fate.  When Luke is trapped in the pit with the Rancor, his fate is determined because it is “universal nature” that gravity exists, and it is because of that existence, that Luke knows that the gate will fall and eliminate the Rancor.  He also has the internal constraint of knowing how to survive in a life and death situation.  It is this internal constraint that allows Luke to live, and it is this lack of an internal constraint that causes the Gamorrean guard to parish.  Now, I will recap and continue my determinism argument for Han Solo.

            In “The System of Nature,” Baron d’Holbach writes:

             “the will, as we have elsewhere said, is a modification of the brain, by which it is disposed to action, or prepared to give play to the organs. This will is necessarily           determined by the qualities, good or bad, agreeable or painful, of the object or   the motive that acts upon his senses, or of which the idea remains with him, and is resuscitated by his memory” (The Philosopher’s Way 179 Ch. 4).

So, our responses are predetermined before we even produce them, because of our past experiences.  Referring to “Star Wars: episode 4, A New Hope,” I describe the first time we see Han Solo.  “When we first see Han he is making a deal to take both Obi Wan and Luke to take them to Alderaan.  Already Han is suffering from both ‘internal,’ and ‘external’ constraints as he makes the decision to take them to their destination.  Externally, he must make the decision because he is under threat of his own life, due to the money he owes the gangster Jabba the Hutt.  Internally, he is suffering from his own obsession with obtaining money” (“We’re Doomed: Star Wars and Determinism” 3).  In “A ‘Knowledge’ of ‘the Force’” I determined that “Finally, we can see Han Solo’s fate as determined in a much more literal way; he’s frozen in carbonite!  I would argue that there cannot be free will if that is the case” (4).  Now, with this, I was making the argument that the “external” constraint of being frozen in carbonite, would take away any ability to make any personal choices, and if you cannot make a choice then you cannot have free will.  However, the argument can (and will be made later in this essay) be made that Han ending up in the carbonite, in the first place, was not determined.  Finally, another instance of Han Solo’s determinism can be seen in “Star Wars: episode 6, Return of the Jedi,” when we see Han ask Leia “You love him don’t you?” when referring to her feelings for Luke.  He then goes on to say that he’ll stay out of their way in the future.  This may appear to some to be an instance of free will because I think it’s safe to say that as an audience we believe Han to be madly in love with Leia.  However, it is exactly this love that causes Han to react the way he did.  His love for Leia is his internal constraint, which causes Han to act only in Leia’s best interest.  By that, I mean, whatever will make Leia happiest (in this case Han thinks that her happiness will be best in a relationship with Luke) will determine the choices Han makes.  Why then does Han, for instance enter the asteroid field in “Star Wars: episode 5 The Empire Strikes Back,” knowing the odds, and in turn endanger Leia’s life?  That could be a question contained in an indeterminist argument.

            John Chaffe writes “while determinists both ‘hard’ and ‘soft,’ view all human actions as necessarily caused by preceding events, indeterminists are convinced that at least some human actions are independent and that freedom of choice is a genuine possibility, at least at circumstances” (The Philosopher’s Way 193 Ch. 4).  Chaffee goes on to state that “our beliefs in self-improvement, morality, religion, social improvement, crime and punishment, and countless other dimensions of our private and public lives” (The Philosopher’s Way 194 Ch. 4).  It’s these issues of “self-improvement,” “morality,” religion,” and “social improvement” that I believe that the indeterminist can use to make his or her argument.  First of all, if their lives are determined, why would Han and Luke seek out their own personal self-improvement?  We see it occurring with Luke as he attempts to become a Jedi, and Han as he eventually joins the rebellion.  We see both Han and Luke act morally (more Luke than Han, I would argue) throughout the trilogy; Han as he returns to aid Luke in the destruction of the Death Star, and Luke as he refuses to strike down his father as the Emperor commands.  Then, with the idea of religion, I feel it’s safe to say that at least with Luke, “the force” could be considered a religion, and Luke could be considered a follower of it.  Finally, social improvement is evident throughout all three of the films, with both Luke and Han.  I think attempting, and eventually succeeding in removing the Empire, is the ultimate attempt at social improvement.  So, the indeterminist would argue that if our fate is determined, what would the point be in taking any of these actions?  I would argue that because these concepts exist (self-improvement, morality, religion, and social improvement) we are just determined to abide by them.  These issues actually become “internal” constraints, and our decisions are based upon them.  Now, in reference to “internal” constraints, we’ll take a look at C-3PO, who I believe has nothing but “internal” constraints.

            In “We’re Doomed: Star Wars and Determinism” I contended that “in the beginning of ‘Star Wars: A New Hope,” we hear the droid, C-3PO exclaim to his partner Artoo-Deetoo ‘we seem to be made to suffer, it’s our lot in life,’ and this comes after the simple statement of ‘we’re doomed’” (1).  Now, I would argue that the only reason C-3PO feels he is “made to suffer,” is that he was programmed that way.  Can C-3PO be said to have free choice, being that he is a droid?  I would argue that he cannot.  In “The System of Nature,” Baron d’Holbach writes:

     “If when tormented with violent thirst, he figures to himself in idea, or really perceives a            fountain, whose limpid streams might cool his feverish want, is he sufficient master of              himself to desire or not to desire the object competent to satisfy so lively a want?  He will        no doubt be conceded, that it is impossible he should not be desirous to satisfy it;but it          will be said if at this moment it is announced to him that the water he so ardently desires is      poisoned, he will, not withstanding his vehement thirst, abstain from drinking it; and has,          therefore, been falsely concluded that he is a free agent” (The Philosopher’s Way 180 Ch.          4).

Now, of course C-3PO would never be desirous of water, but the point I believe d’Holbach is making is that our choices are determined by our greatest “desires,” and so there can be no free will.  In his example, the desire to live would cause one not to drink the poisoned water because at least on might live longer (though eventually dying of thirst) if they abstain from the poison.  Now, C-3PO does not even have that choice, all of his choices being predetermined when he was programmed.  Therefore, all of his actions are based on someone else's design.  So, for instance in “Star Wars: episode 6 Return of the Jedi,” when C-3PO causes a distraction and draws the storm troopers into the Ewok’s trap, that “choice” had to be predetermined.  He analyzed that Han and Leia were in trouble, so his programming “kicked in,” and he choose to make the distraction.  I believe it would be hard to argue against C-3PO’s determinism.  However, there may be an argument for libertarianism.

     In “Existentialism is a Humanism,” Jean-Paul Sartre states:

    “The doctrine I am presenting is the very opposite of quietism, since it declares, ‘there is no     reality except in action.’  Moreover, it goes further, since it adds, ‘Man is nothing else than       his plan; he exists only to the extent that he fulfills himself; he is therefore nothing else           than the ensemble of his acts, nothing else than his life” (The Philosopher’s Way 212 Ch. 4).

So, Sartre is stating that we exist, because of our actions.  So, we must have free will because we have the ability to make good or bad actions.  Chaffee states that “for these individuals who choose a life of trivial action, their lives and their selves are also trivialized” (The Philosopher’s Way 212 Ch. 4).  We see C-3PO making the decision to be idolized by the Ewoks, yet he also states that he cannot “impersonate a deity.”  Isn’t that exactly what he is doing be allowing himself to be idolized?  Finally, is that allowance of idolization a choice (probably more bad then good), and if you say that it is, then you may argue that C-3PO has free will.  I of course, using determinism, would argue that like Han and Luke, C-3PO has a predetermined fate, and I would say that his is even more so.

            The same argument can be made for C-3PO that I made with Han and Luke, that because of the issues of “self-improvement,” “morality,” “religion,” and “social improvement,” that C-3PO follows the beliefs of an indeterminist.  He does show moments of all of these things; self-improvement- he gladly looks forward to an oil bath in “Star Wars: episode 4, A New Hope,” morality- he shows some rather moral concern when Luke, Han, and Leia are in the garbage compacter, religion- he at least acknowledges that there is something referred to as “the force,” and with social improvement- does he not also contribute to the downfall of the Empire?  However, I must argue that this is still determined because he must be acting based upon how he was programmed, which again was designed by someone else.  This also must be said that C-3PO’s knowledge of the force cannot show that he has free will because again this knowledge was not obtained by himself.  He was either programmed to have knowledge of the force or his programming is such that new information is retrieved, analyzed and stored, but the obtaining of it still cannot be considered free will because C-3PO is not responsible for how the information is processed; that was determined by the programmer.  Finally, I would say that compared to Han and Luke, C-3PO’s determinism is far more tragic.  Whereas Han and Luke can believe that they have free will, and live to have what they consider a “fulfilled” life, C-3PO cannot.  Even if he is programmed to believe that he had free will, can it ever really be considered as such?  The rest of the “Star Wars” universe, I believe proves that it cannot.  In the “Star Wars” universe droids are essentially treated as slaves.  This is seen in “Star Wars: episode 4, A New Hope,” when C-3PO and Artoo Deetoo are sold to Luke’s Uncle Ben.  It is also seen when Luke offers the droids as a peace offering to Jabba the Hutt, in return for Han Solo’s life.  So, can one argue that a slave has free will?  I believe that one cannot, and if this is true, C-3PO’s determinism makes him less free than Han Solo and Luke Skywalker.  Finally, as I stated earlier, Han Solo being frozen in carbonite didn’t allow him to have free will.  I believe this also to be true with C-3PO, only it is his programming that is his carbonite.  Darth Vader chooses to test the freezing process on Han Solo because he had the “internal” constraint of indifference.  It didn’t matter, to Vader, what happened to Solo, so it made it the decision to test the process inevitable.  I believe that the same can be said about C-3PO’s creator, in that he was determined to program C-3PO a certain way, and therefore C-3PO is determined to act in that “certain way.”  So, I believe what I’m trying to iterate is that all determined actions come from a previous determined action and since we cannot ever find the original (the very first) action, all actions must be considered determined.

            After another viewing the three original “Star Wars” films I have not wavered in my belief that all of the characters in this universe have determined fates.  It may not be a popular or even enjoyable to think in this determinist perspective, but I believe that it is determinism that makes the “strongest” argument.  It can be seen in “Star Wars: episode 4, A New Hope,” when Luke decides to get in his X-wing fighter and take on the Death Star.  It can also be seen in “Star Wars: episode 5, The Empire Strikes Back,” when Han Solo lacks free will when Boba Fett delivers him, frozen in carbonite, to Jabba’s palace.  Finally, it can be seen in “Star Wars: episode 6, Return of the Jedi,” with C-3PO, in his programmed action to become a distraction, as Han and Leia have been captured, by storm troopers, on the forest moon of Endor.  Though it may be unpleasant to think like this, perhaps we can take some advice from David Hume’s writing.  He states “most fortunately it happens, that since reason is incapable of dispelling these clouds, nature herself suffices to that purpose, and cures me of this philosophical melancholy and delirium, either by relaxing this bent of mind, or by some avocation, and lively impression of my senses, which obliterate all these chimeras” (“An Enquiry Concerning Human Understanding” 314).  So, when philosophical thought gets you “down,” such in making the argument that all of life is determined, you can pop some popcorn, put in a “Star Wars” DVD and just enjoy the show, though you might ask yourself, "what 'determined' me to make this decision?

Works Cited

Chaffee, John. The Philosopher’s Way. 4th ed. Boston: Pearson, 2013. Print.

d’Holbach, Baron. “The System of Nature.” Chaffee, John. The Philosopher’s Way. 4th  ed. Boston: Pearson, 2013. 180. Print.

Freiwald, Hans. “A ‘Knowledge’ of ‘the Force.’” 2012. Print.

Freiwald, Hans. “We’re Doomed: Star Wars and Determinism.” 2012. Print.

Hume, David. “Enquiry Concerning Human Understanding.” Chaffee, John. The Philosopher’s Way. 4th ed. Boston: Pearson, 2013. 314. Print.

Kershner, Irvin, dir. Star Wars Episode V: The Empire Strikes Back. Twentieth Century Fox, 1980. Film.

Lucas, George, dir. Star Wars Episode IV: A New Hope. Twentieth Century Fox, 1977. Film.

Marquand, Richard, dir. Star Wars Episode VI: Return of the Jedi.  Twentieth Century Fox, 1983.  Film.

Sartre, Jean-Paul. “Existentialism is a Humanism.” Chaffee, John. The Philosopher’s      Way. 4th ed. Boston: Pearson, 2013. 212. Print.

            

Reenactments (a work of short fiction)

 

            The wind kissed his golden locks as they whipped up from the prairie over his Union-proud Kepi-cap.  The general began to suck in stinging sips from the now loosened tobacco that he'd packed under his lip earlier that morning.  He watched the 7th descend west out of the Black Hills.  Reaching a hand down to his side armed Remington Colt Revolver, he felt the need to hold and lift it just enough so it no longer relied on the support of his belt.  Feeling the weight, the way it caused his arm to tense and tighten up through his shoulder stretching his neck to his jaw, reminded him of the graves he's been responsible for filling.  His other hand stroked the silk neckerchief that hung loose under his army-proper-shorn chin, which strong jutting not just emanated man-ness, but God's grace upon his manifest destiny.  He signaled towards his second in command, 2nd Lieutenant John J. Crittenden.

            "If Colonel Reno's intel is on the level lieutenant, Sitting Bull should be just over that ridge there, nestled right upon the bank of the Cheyenne.  So as I see it, a quick right flank of our division would leave them with no option for retreat.  What d'ya think Crit?"

            "That sounds 'bout right t' me general.  Problem is Casey's running late.  He just text me that their stopped at the Gas n' Goodies.  ETA is fifteen, twenty.  He's asking if you need anything."

            The general was visibly perturbed.  "God Dammit!  I said noon, didn't I?  What time is it?  Ten past already?  It'll be One by the time they get set up.  Two by the time we engage.  The battle was already over by then!  Crazy Horse should have my scalp hoisted to the heavens in less than half an hour!"  With that, Don Knutson removed his blonde wig, unveiling the bald cap he'd so craftily fastened for what he envisioned as his grand finale'.  He went over his last lines in his head, This may be but my last stand on earth, but as my soul makes its way to God and my mortal horizon, my maker will meet me standing tall on my own two feet.  He watched his carefully crafted death-knell disappear into the distance of his mind's eye, thanks to the truancy of his "associates."  The general, his spirits dampened looked to his subordinate for reassurance.

            Crittenden, was more accurately 2nd Lieutenant John Jordan Crittenden the Third, a handsome soldier, with a long flowing mustache that rested gingerly beyond his chin, and a long quaff of grease-sheened hair, which he combed neatly back over his right ear.  Unfortunately, this long dead officer was being portrayed by Dustin "Dooby" Harris, a portly fellow, with Coke-bottle glasses, and a pony-tail.  Doobie, was one of Don's oldest friends, and though he wasn't particularly thrilled or even interested in battle reenactments he felt an obligation to his buddy (The truth of the matter is that in their last session of Dungeons and Dragons, Don [a level twenty-seven Dungeon Master] could have fairly and squarely obliterated his twelfth level Mage, Fidelis, whom he had been nurturing for the past nine years, unless he would agree to participate.  Fidelis lived, and Crittenden would not).

            "Well, I mean, I guess we'll just start up a bit later than expected.”

            Don interrupted him rudely by throwing his synthetic wig toward his face, the wind sadly catching it and forcing it to sail short landing upon the grass before his feet.  "No!  It's over.  Mission un-accomplished.  What a waste of research and costumery.  They are all dead to me.  They are Custers, all of them.”  Don wiped the vitriol and froth from his lips.  "Text them to pick me up a Mountain Dew Midnight, some Pemmican, and a Milky Way Dark.  We'll meet at my place for Magic the Gathering, in one hour.

            "Sweet."  Dooby was elated at the change of plans.  As he began typing his message Don Knutson walked away toward the car, stripping his uniform off as he went, leaving the articles of clothing to rest where they fell.

            Don Knutson was born an only child in the small dust-dirt town of Watertown, South Dakota, in the early Nineteen-Eighties.  His mother and father were childhood sweet-hearts, former high school basketball great, and prom-queen beauty.  They had love of their town, and in return the town recognized them.  They would congregate after church, discussing the town's affairs, father making connections and possible new clientele for his Lutheran based insurance company; and mother busking in women for their next appointment at her hair salon (the only hair salon in town - Watertown, Hair and Salon).  They had confidence in the family foundation they had built, and its ability to support their son in the community.  However, they were not prepared for their Don.

            The first inkling that something was a miss with their hope for a normal life occurred very early on, when Don was very young.  As a matter of fact it was right when he began to speak his first words.  Instead of the standard "Da Da," the couple was confused when Don uttered a "Ka Ka," and a "Ku Ku."  The confusion was short lived however, when they noticed Don speaking his "Ka and Ku's," to the television playing re-runs of the original 1966 Star Trek series, staring "Ka"ptain "Ku"rk.  As the father watched his son reach out for the fictional character on the television set he felt hurt and betrayed.  Some star man had stolen his rightful "Da Da's" right from underneath him.  He wasn't going to let his son be led astray again.

            It's Halloween six years later.  Mom and Dad are being called into Calvin Coolidge elementary school for an incident which occurred involving their son.  The call they received was very confusing indeed.

            "We just don't understand why you think this kind of outfit would be acceptable in the classroom, or anywhere for that matter."  The woman sounded frantic.  She was panting.  There was an audible shriek or squawking in the background.

            "I'm sure, I just don't know what you mean Miss Door.  My husband and I thought the idea was rather clever."

            "Clever?  Well maybe you two and I have a different concept of clever.  Yours being just downright tasteless and mine being, being, being," she didn't think she would come up with it.  The words weren't coming.  "The opposite."  Oh thank goodness.  She got it.  "Please come as soon as you are able.  Donny will be in the maintenance hall until you arrive.  We don't want him to harm the other children."

            "Harm the other children!"  Her confusion was at a boiling point.

            "Yes.  Harm.  Or should I say cleverly harm."  Miss Door hung up the phone hard on the receiver.  Her hope was that the harsh plastic on plastic contact would hammer home her intensity to the malcontent mother and father.  Their costume idea wasn't really clever, by the way.  I suppose one could say it was cute perhaps.

            About a week before Halloween that year, young Don was horrified to walk into his bedroom to find a green sports jersey, with the name Bird etched on its back lying across his bed.  Next to it sat a bright orange rubber ball.  The smell of the new rubber made him nauseous.  But not as nauseous as what he heard next.  His father had quietly walked in behind him in the hopes of catching his son's excitement early and uncontained.

            "Happy Halloween Sport!"  His father beamed.

            "What is it?"  Don was getting nervous that his father had attached him to some sort of sport-like extracurricular event or activity that may very well take away his after school sitcoms, such as Perfect Strangers or Who's the Boss.  Or even worse, his weekend creature-features.  God forbid.  This weekend they were showing Frankenstein meets Jesse James' Daughter, followed by The Creature from the Black Lagoon.

            "What is it, he says.  That's your new Halloween Costume pal.  I went right over to Scheel's Sporting Goods and picked it up myself.  Little Larry Bird.  He's the best ball player ever you know.  Three point king."

            Sadly Don didn't know.  He did know one thing however.  If his father wanted a bird he would oblige.  He thanked his father, and made his way outside, down St. Anne's hill to the Turkey plant that lay situated just on the edge of the Missouri River that trickled through town.  He walked into the plant, and right up to a sad looking woman behind a reception desk.  She was reading an issue of TV Guide with John Larroquette on the cover, and drinking a Tab.

            "I'd like to speak to the person in charge of feathers please."  Don had all the confidence of a man twice his age, and half his eccentric.

            "Feathers?" She asked back as she gingerly "sipped her river" (for those of you unaware, that's when you slurp the remaining soda left sitting between the opening and the rim of the can, "Sluuurp").

            "Yes my good lady.  I'm looking to get a good deal on some feathers.  By the specific nature of your operation here, I'm assuming that they'll be of the turkey variety, which will be just fine.  Also a quart or two of poultry blood and I'll be sitting pretty.  Also I couldn't help but notice that you were drinking my favorite soda-pop, made my favorite by the actor Mathew Broderick's character David Lightman's love of it in the film War Games.  I also see that you have some fine literature there.  Not only is Night Court one of the great television situational comedies of our generation, but if you wouldn't mind turning to look to see what the first act of last Saturday's Creature-Feature was it may just give you a better understanding of what I'm trying to accomplish here."

            There was a pause as the receptionist absorbed all of the information this strange little man had just laid on her.  She kept her eyes on him as she reached for her digest.  She kept one eye on him as she looked through last Saturday in the listings.  Then she found it.  12:30, Alfred Hitchcock's "The Birds":  A terrifying story of a young socialite and her urban lover trapped in a small Northern town as it is overtaken by vicious, ravenous birds.  Three out of a five star rating system.  She smiled as she put down the guide. 

            "I'll see what I can do." Just gimme a moment."  She got up from her desk and disappeared behind two large handle-less doors.  A healthy stink of turkey-slaughter wafted back to Don as the doors closed behind her.  She emerged a few moments later with a black garbage bag of feathers, and two plastic containers filled with a soupy crimson.  They warmed Don's hands as he held them.

            "Now if anybody asks you didn't get these from me." 

            "Oh certainly not.  You have done a great service for all of Halloween-kind." 

            "You know, I have a son about your age.  Dooby.  Do ya know him?"

            "Ah lemme see.  No I don't believe I know any Doobies."

            "Oh right.  Well his name’s Dustin.  We just call him Dooby cuz he kinda looks like Velma from Scooby Doo."  She knew she was being frank, but she didn't mind because this young man made her feel comfortable.  He felt comfortable too.

            "No I can't say I know any Dustins either, but I shall be on the look-out."

            "Well you should.  He's into the same stuff you are. I'll tell him to look out for birds tomorrow in school K?

            With that Don headed out the door, but before leaving he turned back.  "Live long and prosper."

            It was four years later and Don and Dooby were waiting for their parents in separate "holding rooms," at the Lutheran Church of Our Redeemer.  The pastor, Pastor Tom, had been back and forth from room to room trying to get one to incriminate the other.  To "turn" one, as he'd seen and heard on Perry Mason.  They were hard nuts to crack, but he had the Lord on his side, and a swagger.  I ride a Harley Davidson after all.  He thought to himself as he walked from room to room.  I'm not your dad's preacher man.  No way.  I wear blue-jeans to Friday service, and I watch Saturday Night Live in my den.  He was getting himself in the right frame of mind to do the Lords work, with a touch of child psychology.  I can relate, was his last thought before he reentered the room to speak with Don.

            Pastor Tom walked over to the desk next to where Don was sitting.  Don was sitting with his back to the door and his face to the wall.  The Pastor slammed a large paper bound book down on the desk.  The slap-sound of the book connecting with the table rung in Don's ears, and caused him great alarm.  He knows as well as anyone that once a binding “goes” on a paperback, there's no turning back (to mint condition at least).

            "Turn around young man."  Pastor Tom was trying to find a balance between authoritative and "cool."  Don turned slowly in his chair and hopped it forward inch by inch, as though he were bound to it, until he reached the desk.  The pastor edged the book toward him as though it had confidential stamped on its front and contained the answers to the Kennedy assassination. 

            "Now, all I'm asking is... What is it?  Whose is it?  Where'd ya get it?  And what's it doin in my church?"  Pastor Tom felt he nailed his opening.  He wondered momentarily if he'd gone into the wrong line of work.  Don cleared his throat, ran his hands gingerly over the book's glossy cover, and answered his inquisitor.

            "That is the Dungeons and Dragons Monster Manuel, Basic Set, Second Volume Third Edition.  It is a manual used for a table game of fantasy created by Gary Gygax, in 1974, while he was a freshman at the University of Michigan.  It is both mine and Dooby's in that we both paid equal portions to acquire it, also in a sense that both of our characters rely heavily on our proper use of the manual during game-play.  We purchased in the sci-fi slash fantasy section at the B. Dalton book retailer at our local mall, and it is in your church because we intend to continue our quest after our session of Sunday School.

            Pastor Tom remained silent, and pulled the manual back over to himself.  He hastily flipped through its pages.  His gasps weren't audible, but they were visible enough.  He stopped on a particular page, and folded the book over on itself.  This caused Don to grit his teeth (again it was a the binding malpractice at play), but he held his tongue.  Pastor Tom slid the book back over to Don.

            "Mind telling me what this is all about."  The Pastor was beginning to perspire at his hairline.

            Don inspected the selected page.  It was an image of a particularly peculiar sort.  It was a grey cat-like creature, with razor sharp fangs and claws, which appeared drawn and ready to strike and devour.  Jutting from its back were two wing-like tentacles, which ended in a series of thorn-covered leaves.  It was one of his favorite and most feared adversaries.

            "Ah yes the Displacer Beast.  A most dangerous foe.  But while most think this danger arises from its maw and swipe, it actually comes from its illusionary powers.  You see the Displacer Beast can actually project its image up to five feet ahead of himself, so while you believe he is right up upon you, you are just being distracted long enough to where you might be attacked by an Owlbear, page ninety-seven, a Lich, page seventy-eight, or God forbid a Gelatinous Cube, page one-o-six."  You have quite the eye for your unholy beasts Pastor Tom.

            Tom looked up from the Displacer Beast in the book and onto the one he saw before him. "Are you aware of Christ's forty days Don?"  He didn't wait for a reply.  "No of course not, why would you be.  You're too busy fighting cubes and lickers and heck knows what to listen to any of my sermons aren't ya Don?  He didn't wait for a reply.  "Well if you did Don you would know that Jesus Christ spent forty days and forty nights in the desert without food and without water, all the while being tempted by Satan himself, and..." Don interrupted.

            "That's very interesting Pastor Tom, because as you know biologically that is an impossibility.  However if one were to find oneself enveloped by a previously mentioned Gelatinous Cube, one could feasibly stand to live for that amount of time, with such a lack of sustenance.  Also I suppose this too would be possible if one were to fall into the pry of a Mimic's chest, page twelve.  Though it would not be pleasurable, it would allow one to persist without proper nourishment."

            Pastor Tom was blank-faced and unpleased.

            Don continued, "I see I've lost you a bit here.  Are you aware of the film Return of the Jedi?

            Pastor Tom perked up.  Of course I am, he first thought to himself.  Why wouldn't I be?  I'm with it.  I'm a cool man.  He composed his thoughts, before he spoke.  "I enjoyed the film yes."

            "Great well it's like the Sarlacc Pit on Tatooine."  Don could see he'd lost him again.  "It's like the first part in the desert, when they're gonna throw Han Solo into that hole."

            "Oh yes that rebel Han Solo gets into all sorts.  Does he ride a hog by the way?  You know my Harley Davidson..."

            Don Continued, "So then you know that Jabba, rather than sentencing him to death, sentences him to something worse.  To be digested over thousands of years in the belly of the beast that is the Sarlacc Pit.  So one would have to surmise that though in a precarious predicament, Han Solo would be kept alive without food or water.  Though I'm not sure if that's an allegory for tempting Christ.  Besides everyone knows that Luke Skywalker is the representative of the Christ figure in those films, and..."

            "OK, I've had enough."  Pastor Tom wasn't sure of what he was hearing, but he was pretty sure it was getting too close to the possibility of being too blasphemous for his liking.  "I'm calling your parents, and this devil mag is going in the trash.  Turn back around and face the wall."  Pastor Tom exited to go make his phone calls, and while doing so he made a mental note to alert his parishioners to the dangers of the star films from Hollywood during his next sermon.

            When the pastor reemerged into the room Don already knew what he was going to say.  "I couldn't get hold of your parents, but fortunately I was able to locate Dooby, I mean Dustin's mother at work so she'll be coming by to pick you both up in a little while."

            You see Don's parents had begun letting their phone ring to their answering machine a few years back.  Don wasn't quite sure if it was because of all of the calls they received from school or church, or the Police department, or the zoo, or the deli counter at the Red Owl grocery, on behalf of his behavior; or if it was because he'd overheard his parents discussing his father's low sperm count and their inability to have another child.  He decided it was probably a combination of both.  "I guess it's me," he often thought to himself.  "I guess I'm what they got.  I guess they got a depression, and they're stuck with it," was another regular thought.

            Pastor Tom leaned over the desk and softly tapped it a couple of times with his fingers.  "You know what Don.  You're not a bad kid.  A little strange, I suppose, but that's not so bad.  Heck I wear jeans to service some times.  You've seen me right?"  He paused for a recognition he didn't receive.  "Don you just need to ask yourself.  Have you given your will over?  Have you given your will over to a power greater than yourself?"  And with that Pastor Tom left Don to wait for his ride home from church.

            Dooby and Don were now driving back from their failed Little Big Horn Reenactment.  Dooby was getting concerned that Don was still wearing only his skivvies.

            "Aren't ya getting cold Don?  Want me to pull over?  I got my Commie Con cloak in the trunk.

            Don didn't answer.  He just stared out the window at the vast prairie before him.  He felt scared.  He felt a fear of being different.  Or even worse, of slowly becoming the same.  He needed a new angle, and for once he wasn't sure what it was going to be.  He looked over and watched Dooby smoke his exaggerated MacArthur-style corn-cob pipe.  He looked regal and strange.  Just the way one ought to.  He waited for Dooby to notice his stare, which he soon did.

            "Hey what is it Don?  What's up?"  Dooby could recognize Don's intensity when it was present.

            Don spoke. "Do you believe in a power greater than yourself Dustin?" 

            There was a moment between them.

            "Yah I suppose I do.  You?

            Don ruminated in the question, but he knew his answer.  He'd answered it all those years ago sitting alone in that room after Pastor Tom had left.  He'd found a power greater than himself, and that power was strange and eccentric.  And that power existed solely for him.  Don had his God and he carried it in all that he did.

            "I know I do Dooby.  I know I do."

Back in the Day

Back in the Day

By

Hans Freiwald

 

FADE IN:

INT.  POLICE STATION - CUBICLE - FUTURE (MID 21ST CENTURY) - DAY

CHIEF, 50's, gruff, dressed in polyester, navy blue tones.  He has high blood pressure and is only comfortable when in control.

Chief is sitting in his oversized office chair, picking up a MANILA FOLDER off of a metal desk.  He's opening it, closely inspecting inside, then closing and setting it back on the desk. 

He taps his fingers on the desk, grumbling to himself, becoming more and more agitated.  His voice seems forced out from his lower neck.

     CHIEF

I want Lieutenant Mann in here now!

LIETENANT MANN, 30's, greasey hair, clean shaven, meek, aims to please, enters the room flustered. 

Mann has COFFEE in a “to-go” cup filled to the brim.  It spills on his hand as he enters, and the discomfort displays on his face.

     MANN

Um you wanted to see me Chief?

     CHIEF

Take a seat Lieutenant.

[Lieutenant Mann casually walks to take his seat but is hurried along by the Chief’s screaming demands]

    CHIEF

I said move it!  With Wings Lieutenant.  Move it, move it, move it.

[Lieutenant Mann takes a seat and sets his coffee down on the floor next to his feet. The coffee spills, causing the Chief to release a guttural sigh.]

    MANN

Is there a problem...

Lieutenant Mann is interrupted by The Chief who is holding the manila folder to his face.

     CHIEF  

Can it for a long winter Lieutenant!  You wanna tell me what this is?

     MANN

My case file for the month?

     CHIEF  

Your goddamned case file for the month.  This month!

     MANN  

There a problem sir?

    CHIEF

I’ll ask the questions in my office, got it?

    MANN

Got it sir.

   CHIEF  

Now, when I look at this case file, I find myself a little troubled.

   MANN

Troubled sir?  But this month there’s been nothing but...

[Chief interrupts Lieutenant Mann abruptly, with a pop of his mouth and a point of his finger.]

   CHIEF  

Bingo, Bango.  Nothing.

   MANN

Nothing?

   CHIEF  

Plum, nothing.

   MANN  

Plum, nothing?

   CHIEF

Shut up!  Now tell me something, son.  What the hell am I supposed to glean from nothing? 

   MANN  

Sir, there’s just nothing left for us to do out there.

   CHIEF  

What do ya mean nothing left for us to do?  I mean for jim-sakes this is New York City.  Something in this apple’s gotta be rotten.

   MANN

Ooh, good one Chief.

   CHIEF  

Thanks.

   MANN  

Chief I gotta tell ya, there just ain’t nothing left for us to do.

   CHIEF  

What about all them gun-toting spooks, drinkin’ and druggin’ up in Harlem?

   MANN  

You feelin’ OK Chief?

  CHIEF

Like I just had my coffee, why?

  MANN

We sent all them blacks to the moon damn near twenty-five years ago is all.

  CHIEF

Son of a bug, you’re right.  Ha, I must be slipping in my old age.  Boy it feels like yesterday when your only action was with your trusty piece. One wrong look, hell even some queer eye contact and chuck, chuck, bang.  Those were the days.

   MANN

But the paperwork?

  CHIEF

Don’t get me started on paper work, remember back in the day when we was buggin’ them sand monkeys?  Nah, wait you wouldn’t remember.  Ha, kids.  I’m telling ya all it took was one mention of Allah.

   MANN

Allah?

   CHIEF

Jesus you are young.  All you need to know is that "All- Uh" them is safe and secure, locked down at the torture-prison, in the center of the earth.  Thanks to hard workin’ people like me.

   MANN

The only thing I seem to bug... is my wife for some action.

   CHIEF  

Don’t be crass Mann!  You sound like one o’ them queened-out-queers I used to deal with down on Twenty-Third Street.

   MANN

Yeah I remember you telling me something about them.

   CHIEF  

Yep, give the drug companies enough cushion and you knew one of em was gonna fix that little genetic booger.  Any of the damn ones that escaped the gene fix were had by the McCarthy Bot and his trusty Communism Ray.

   MANN

So gays were communists too?

   CHIEF

Hell I don’t know.  They were different.

   MANN  

Different?

   CHIEF

There an echo in here Mann?  Yeah different (he pauses and closes his eyes for a moment.  He opens them back up).  Any way that’ll be all Lieutenant.  Thank you for your time.

[Lieutenant Mann gets up out of his chair to walk away.  He turns back toward Chief.]

    MANN

My coffee?

   CHIEF

What?

   MANN

I spilled my coffee.

   CHIEF

Oh yeah, well.  Just let it dry.  I like the smell anyhow.

[Lieutenant Mann walks away]

FADE OUT: 

A tentative footnote for my sci-fi adventure series (untitled)

     Now, I know what many of you are thinking.  Alcohol?  Couldn't they have come up with anything better by then?  The answer of course is yes.  In 2145, Donald Stink,  a young college drop-out and self-proclaimed scientist attempted to create a polymer for the heels of his sneakers, which were consistently wearing out before their counterparts.  Little did he know that this was a planned obsolescence dating back to Chuck Taylor himself (his Hoosier rube-nature was merely a convenient front), in order to sell more shoes and create a rich consumer-based anxiety that other corporations would soon emulate; this to fuel their addiction to inflicting pain, murder, and money of course.  In doing so Mr. Stink created an adhesive that, when placed on the skin, would create for the skin-owner a type of euphoria similar to that of a bong rip and/or a can-crack of Bud.  The “glew,” as it would soon be known on the sky-streets (scientifically, it was known as Cyanacralate  #12 [si-an-ak-ril-ate]), became an easily obtained recreational party drug, popular among college "bros," dirty "betties" and "mom-dads" alike.  The act -- “Stinking” as it was called, named after its inventor of course, was banned in 2212, though it is still commonly made in dorm-pod-bath-tubs, and most members of planet Sober had dabbled in it at one time or another.

Following the Leader (A worried sonnet)

Holy hell! What is this I'm witnessing?

A Seussian-like villain come to life?

Just as Gollum follows his precious ring,

We lap up the notes from his wicked fife.

I know of our love affair with the joke,

To laugh in this life is God's special gift.

But jokes put aside, now the fire is stoked,

We've been duped, bamboozled, caught in his grift.

So then what do we do?  Is it all done?

Um, garlic, a stake, brass bullet, or knife?

Already over before it's begun?

A guy from TV took over our life?

     I look around and something's the matter,

     This dumb shit makes me sadder and sadder.