Supplication and Demand

Posted on Mon, Jun 22 2020 in Essays and Stories

"What do you reckon is the bandwidth of the Almighty?" Jonesy asked as he hung his lanky frame through my office doorway. I had been up all night going over the latest report from accounting, but he looked as though he'd had even less sleep. Impressively dark circles hung around eyes that were shining like I'd never seen.

"What?" I asked, startled by the sudden interruption.

"The Almighty? You think we could..." He trailed off. "It'll be easier if I just show ya," he said. "I have some charts pulled up in the conference room. This is gonna be huge, Jimbo!"

"It had better be," I said, tossing a stack of papers onto my desk. "The most recent numbers don't paint a pretty picture." I grudgingly hoisted myself from my chair and followed him down the hallway to our small windowless conference room. Projected on the white wall I saw the same numbers I'd poured over the night before: a flat, faltering line meandering lazily across the months.

"These are our numbers for the past thirty-six months," Jonesy began. I guess he could tell by my expression that I was already painfully aware of that fact, because he quickly clicked the mouse and a second line appeared, slowly but steadily trending upwards. "These are the number for Cullinghams over the same period."

"Where did you get those?" I asked

"Well, ya see, I met this little chap at Jacob's middle school play back in May. Turns out his mother is old man Cullingham's secretary. So I gave him a USB drive and twenty buck and told him to copy all the files on his mommy's computer."

"Do you have any idea how illegal that is?"

"Do you want to know what I found out, or not?"

I had to admit I was curious.

"So, most if it was worthless, but I found some internal quarterly reports that allowed me to graph their growth for the past three years. Basically, it coincides with what we expected."

"So you risked getting us sued and shut down to find absolutely nothing?"

"I ain't finished yet. You know I don't give up that easily," he said. "So, I emailed down to their accounting department and asked for the complete database of transactions, to see if there was anything interesting there."

"And they just said, 'Sure, here you go?'"

"Well, I used his secretary's email address."

"How'd you do that?"

"You remember the USB drive I gave to her..."

"You know what, on second thought, I'd like to keep some plausible deniability. What did you find?"

Jonesy clicked the mouse and a third line appeared on the screen, roughly tracking the previous line, but with noticeable spikes and jumps.

"Now a lot of this here is just noise. Payroll, rent, contracts they've had for years. So I went through and scrubbed out any recurring events, to get a feel for the real picture." A new line appeared, offset a bit from the others, but with some noticeable small bumps. "You can see there's a bit of a pattern. Let me zoom in here a bit, so you can see it better"

Sure enough, a heartbeat pattern appeared. "Now I went through and checked, and every Friday a new revenue bump starts. Fridays! I thought that can't be right, but I went over it again and the signal is there, regular and repeating. So regular, in fact, that I was able to map the standard deviation from a rolling window." Yet another line appeared, this time closely hugging the zero line, with only an occasional jump or dip.

"So, I pulled up old man Cullingham's calendar to see what he's being doing. Turns out, every Friday at 10 AM sharp, the old boy sets aside ninety minutes to go down to St. Paul's church and spend some one-on-one time with the Good Lord Himself."

"You're telling me you think God is helping Cullingham?"

"You're right to be skeptical, Jimbo. I didn't think that made no sense neither. I reckoned it was some sort of mental boost he got. You know, getting alone with his thoughts for a bit, calming his soul, that whole thing."

"So, I …

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Posted on Fri, Mar 13 2020 in Essays and Stories

It's now the seventh week of the COVID-19 outbreak. Electricity has been out for nearly a month, and I'm running low on ammunition and gun oil. The looting has slowed now that the virus has fully taken hold. Some joker set up a solar panel in a tree to play It's the End of the World on a loop all day long. I can only hope he died in agony shortly thereafter. I've considered cutting down the tree, but don't want to waste the battery for my chainsaw in case the zombies come back. I'd ask you to tell my family I love them, but I know none of us will survive this. If only I'd hoarded more toilet paper.

The Hospital

Posted on Mon, Jan 23 2017 in Essays and Stories • Tagged with parable

Once there was a hospital with an amazing doctor who could heal any injury or disease. People traveled great distances to be seen by her.

One day some patients met together in the halls of the hospital and began to talk, as patients do, of their treatments.

"The doctor is quite alright, I guess," said the man with the broken leg, "but she keeps insisting that I don't put weight on my leg for six weeks. Doesn't that seem excessive to you?"

"Absolutely," said the man with the rare blood disorder. "What's worse, she keeps prying into my personal history, asking about my parents and the environment I grew up in. What business is that of hers?"

"Frightful," said the obese woman. "Do you know she had the audacity to tell the nurses to stop bringing me the fried food I requested?"

"No!" said another woman, who tried to tell of her plight but was overcome with a fit of coughing.

"That's nothing," said the man with appendicitis. "She wants to cut me open!"

The patients all agreed that the hospital was in a dreadful state and decided they should do something. They raided the supply closets for white lab coats and stethoscopes, then set about to fix the hospital's problems.

The man with the broken leg made it his mission to fit casts to the legs of anyone who would hold still long enough, while the woman with the coughing fits followed behind handing out cough syrup.

The man with the rare blood disorder visited each patient's room, spreading the news of his journey from being a patient to a doctor, and telling everyone where they could find their own white coats and stethoscopes. He was joined by the man with appendicitis, who taught the patients that while the doctor's emphasis on health was excellent, her more radical suggestions were not in step with modern thought, and what really mattered was that they foster a mindset of "healthfulness".

The obese woman took it upon herself to visit the sick in the waiting room and refer them to her fellow patients for treatment.

If you visit the hospital today, you will be met by thousands of patients in white lab coats, each claiming to be perfectly healthy and offering you a similar cure. They will lead you in a reading of the Hippocratic Oath that they have reconstructed from memory and give you your own white lab coat and stethoscope.

Rumor has it that the doctor is still somewhere in the hospital, but no patients have seen her in years.


Posted on Fri, Jul 1 2016 in Essays and Stories

The crowds were noticeably increased the week before Passover. A destitute widow slowly worked her way through the commotion to drop two copper coins into one of the temple's collection boxes. Jesus called out to his followers: "Look at that widow! Most of these people are only giving a small percentage of their money, but she gave one-hundred percent. Everyone should be more like her. Then we could finally add on that new wing, replace the carpet in the sanctuary, and hire a full-time childcare coordinator."

Jesus called out to his followers: "Look at that widow! Giving money to the very people who are plotting to kill us! She and all the rest of those sinners will burn in hell!"

Jesus called out to his followers: "Look at that widow! Another stupid sheeple, blindly following the religious establishment. Wake up! Fight the system!"

Jesus called out to his followers: "Look at that widow! Putting money into the temple when it is already scheduled for destruction. She should be giving that money to my ministry instead."

Jesus didn't say anything to his followers, because drawing attention to the poor is rude.

Jesus called out to his followers: "Look at that widow! Here's a perfect example of injustice. She is going to starve herself to support the lavish lifestyle of self-righteous religious leaders, because they told her it's God's will."

Jesus called out to his followers: "Hey Judas, that woman just gave away all her dinner money. Go give her a few bucks and a tract."

Jesus is too busy talking to his followers about their big outreach project to notice the widow shuffling by.


Posted on Thu, Feb 11 2016 in Essays and Stories

Have you ever gone outside the city gate and looked down on Ben Hinnom? Have you seen all the waste from the city that is thrown there? It is a noxious place, filled with worms and vermin. Fires rage though the trash heaps, and the smell of its burning and rot turn the stomach. Have you seen there, in the valley, the high places of Topheth, where the pagans sneak off to sacrifice their own family members to secure worldly advantage?

I haven't seen certain members of your family recently. I thought perhaps they were busy elsewhere, or maybe they had decided to leave the city, but now I have seen their corpses rotting in Topheth, and I can no longer deny the reality. You have followed after the pagans, and I can go no further with you.

I would prefer to stay in the familiarity of the city with you. I have thoughts of turning you back from destruction, but I have been warned against this day. Already I see the abomination that causes desolation standing in the temple, and I must take my family and flee to the mountains, stopping to take nothing. I do not leave you in anger, but with the deepest turmoil in my heart. I can see that the siege engines are not far off.

I will pray that the siege does not last long, and that you are not reduced to eating the flesh of your brothers and sisters, but I fear that my prayers will not be enough. I know you will fight to hold your place, no matter how far you must debase yourself. I also know that eventually your walls will be breached, and enemy soldiers will dump your body into Ben Hinnom with the rest. I regret that it has come to this. I will miss you.

The Mountain King

Posted on Fri, Dec 18 2015 in Essays and Stories

In my land there is a mountain that everyone is forced to climb. From my youngest days, I listened to the elders tell us of it. While other children wasted their time in play, I trained. Some, realizing they must one day face the mountain, trained physically but I was wiser. I knew many skills would be required to reach the summit. I learned to measure people. I toughened myself to endure pain. I studied the known trails. I reviewed the accounts of climbers who had failed, and resolved that I would not fall into the traps that felled them.

Finally my day came. We gathered at the base of the mountain. I could tell most were unprepared. I sneered at them. However, among the crowd I spied a few who shared my ambition. They were my rivals.

I pretended to race ahead, but doubled back to plant traps. Only when I knew my competitors had fallen did I set to scaling the face of the mountain. I armed myself with the gear I had collected for this day. It was light but strong, and I bent my head to the climb.

It took many hours, but eventually I reached the final barrier to the summit: a bare rock wall. I set my hooks and grabbed my ax. The wall was treacherous, but I was skilled. Already my head filled with my victory. I was soon to be the king of the mountain. In my distraction, my hand slipped. The next instant I was reeling backwards.

As my eyes flew heavenward, I saw a vision that mocked me. Standing there, only feet above, was the mountain king, crowned with glory. I screamed in defeat, until the rocks  smashed my bones. I lay broken, and waited for my death.

Then the mountain king appeared again. He bound up my wounds and pulled me onto his back. He fitted his crown on my head, and made the climb that had defeated me. At the top were other broken and defeated climbers. Each wore a crown.

Monster Patrol 1.02

Posted on Tue, Jul 7 2015 in Essays and Stories • Tagged with Monster Patrol, Webcoming

The location of the Monster Patrol headquarters was an especially well-guarded secret, even in a city known for its secrets. The helicopter carrying James descended on the rooftop of a nearby office building. In the back, Greyfang fought against the bonds that held him tight. A medic administered another syringe of tranquilizers. James walked with the flight crew to a secure freight elevator which took them to the detention center deep below the city streets. The crew dragged Greyfang to a cell. Screeches, howls, and screams erupted from the others prisoners. James parted ways with the crew there and began the long underground walk to the Monster Patrol head office.

From the outside, the building appeared like any other. Even a close inspection would reveal nothing out of the ordinary. If the security was a bit tight, that was to be expected in this day and age. Deep inside, far away from prying eyes, were the offices that ran Monster Patrol operations around the globe. James was headed to the very center, to an office with no windows. The sign on the door read "D. Robertson", but everyone called him "Chief".

The Chief didn't believe in having a secretary. James let himself in. The gray office walls were decorated with paintings. They differed subtly every time James visited. Behind the black granite desk sat the Chief. His close-cropped blonde hair had turned white around the edges, but he was still powerfully built. His piercing blue eyes looked over small dark glasses. His face bore a continual scowl of displeasure.

"James." The Chief's face remained frozen. "Glad to see you're doing well. I wish I could say the same for the Jefferson Memorial."

"Relax Chief, it's not like anyone goes there anyway."

"We'll clean it up. We've already got a restoration crew working on fixing the marble. In the meantime, it will be closed for a private fundraiser. Did you get any useful intel out of the werewolf lord?"

"He wasn't ready to talk just yet. The boys down in interrogation will find out why he's in the city soon enough."

"It's not your task anymore. There are bigger things afoot. All the details are in this file." He passed a large envelope across his desk. "Try not to start a war."

Monster Patrol 1.01

Posted on Thu, May 7 2015 in Essays and Stories • Tagged with Monster Patrol, Webcoming

"Monsters should remain in the shadows, Greyfang!"

The words echoed through the empty Jefferson Memorial before being lost in the distant rumble of freeway traffic. James Stas crept around the columns, careful to keep his heavy boots from making a sound. The hem of his black coat swung freely an inch above the white stone floor. His hand gripped a large nickle-plated handgun, glowing slightly from the light of the full moon.

"My boss wants to know why you've decided to pay a visit to Washington, D.C. Come in peacefully and this won't have to turn dangerous for either of us." James carefully cocked his pistol and slid into the massive doorway. A piercing howl erupted from inside the memorial. A massive hairy form barreled toward him. James squeezed off a few shots of tranquilizers into the beast before it crashed into one of the pillars.

The force of the impact cracked the pillar and sent it tumbling down the entry stairs. The beast pulled the darts from its hide. A werewolf lord was not so easily taken. Another howl split the night. James pitched his handgun away and pulled a shotgun from under his coat. He sighted in on the glowing red eyes and pulled the trigger, but the beast dodged sideways, spittle flying in the air. A large section of white pillar disintegrated under the shotgun barrage.

As the deafening echo died away, James retreated into the center of the memorial, his back to the bronze statue of Jefferson. Greyfang's silhouette filled the entryway. James chambered a second shell and fired into the center of the dark shape. Greyfang lurched, but continued lumbering forward. He slashed at James's head. James ducked under his arm and fired another shot into the werewolf's chest. The beast growled in fury, towering over James. He lunged for the kill. "Gotcha," James thought.

As Greyfang attacked, James rolled sideways, for the first time revealing the rocket launcher hidden under the folds of his black coat. A rocket spiraled into the air and a massive explosion smashed through the enclosed space. James covered his head with his arms. The werewolf's sensitive ears were his weak point. Greyfang cowered in shock as the massive bronze statue and a shower of marble pinned him to the floor.

The extraction team was late as always, and the first hints of dawn revealed smoke rising from the severely damaged landmark. Finally an unmarked helicopter descended and came to rest near the Potomac. The pilot removed this blue and red helmet and surveyed the devastation. He'd ran extractions for James before.

"What happened here?" he asked.

"The werewolf lord has agreed to our terms. He will come with us for questioning. You'll find him inside."

The crew of the helicopter pulled their supplies for restraining a werewolf and rushed into the building. James climbed into the co-pilot's seat and relaxed. His record of successful negotiations continued.

The Perfect Garden

Posted on Tue, Apr 7 2015 in Essays and Stories • Tagged with parable

A man decided that he would make the best garden there had ever been. He bought a beautiful plot of land on the top a mountain, with picturesque views in every direction. He brought in truckloads of the finest black mulch and laid it out in perfectly straight rows. He gathered the most expensive seeds he could find, and carefully hand-painted intricate designs on each of the shells. He set each seed on its own white pedestal with a bronze nameplate and a large glossy picture of the fruit it could grow. Finally, he built walls and a ceiling over his garden to keep it safe from the weather. It was an amazing thing to behold, and he spent many hours admiring it.

The man visited his perfect garden every day, observing his seeds carefully. If he noticed any seed starting to crack, he would throw it out and replace it with another. No imperfection was allowed in his garden.  As the weeks passed, the thrill of his new garden began to wear off, and his visits became less frequent. They became weekly, then monthly, and eventually yearly, though at each visit he was sure to rid his garden of any seeds that had cracked or had odd green or brown things growing on them.

One night a terrific storm rocked the mountain. The wind shook the walls of the garden and the frame creaked. A massive gust ripped the roof from its place and sent it spiraling into the valley. Pounding rain poured into the garden for the first time, turning the carefully planned rows of black mulch into a sea of mud. Winds whipped through the garden, knocking the beautifully painted seeds from their white pedestals. They sunk into the watery mess. The perfect garden was ruined.

After the storm had moved on, the sun rose over the remains of the perfect garden. As the weeks passed, green sprouts began to appear in the black soil. Eventually the man returned to see his perfect garden, but he found a shocking sight. The beautiful order he had spent so long creating was gone, and in its place, plants of every variety filled the damaged garden.

The Murder of Glenn Beck

Posted on Thu, Feb 26 2015 in Essays and Stories


Reginald Winchester - Self proclaimed “World’s Greatest Detective”, he has an unflagging thirst for the truth and the ability to take any set-back in stride. The only element missing from his detective's toolkit is deductive ability. Occasionally adopts a fake British accent, especially when saying something he considers to be of great importance.

Caitlin Axelrod - Talk show host bumped by Glenn’s show. She is stable and methodical, a no-nonsense type, and her style has won her leagues of fans and enemies.

Justin Harding - Arms manufacturer supported by Glenn. A true professional in every sense, he is never out of control, and constantly on the lookout to expand his company or his influence.

Gary Lexington - Eager fan impersonating honored military veteran Dan Jacobs. Overwhelmed at the prospect of meeting Glenn Beck, he is in way over his head.

Tabitha Reed - Socialist who broke into Glenn’s compound. A true child of Reddit, she was raised in a conservative home, and sought the liberal elite as a form of rebellion in college. She has never looked back. She views her role as one of bringing freedom and transparency to the evils of the right wing.

Therese Fischer - Glenn’s faithful maid. She moved to the US from Austria as a teenager and still speaks with a noticeable Austrian accent. Seemingly simple, because that is what people expect her to be.

Jess Thomas - Glenn’s publisher, about to be dropped by Glenn. She is frazzled and overwhelmed, but trying to make the best of everything. She constantly has too many irons in the fire and worries that any misstep may ruin her future.

Officer Daniels - Police officer called to investigate the murder. Jaded at the world, but efficient and effective in most situations.


Glenn Beck's home in Westlake, Texas. In particular, a lounge area in the house. It has, among other furniture, a large desk with a red phone, a chalkboard, a dresser with a lamp near the door, and at least six chairs spread out around the room. (The audience is seated around a table in the center of the room)

Act I: Gathering

Ms. Fischer: (starting offstage) You may wait here, gentlemen, until the other guests arrive. Mr. Beck will be along very soon.

Ms. Fischer, Reginald, and Mr. Harding enter the room.

Ms. Fischer: (to Reginald) Feel free to look around. Mr. Beck’s art collection is not to be missed.

Mr. Harding: That’s for sure. Glenn has wonderful tastes in portraits, especially the Revolutionary War portraits. Very stirring. I hope you will get a chance to check them out, Mr....

Reginald: Detective. Detective Winchester. (waits for recognition) Reginald Winchester, the World’s Greatest Living Detective. I’m sure you’ve heard of me.

Mr. Harding: Well, you’d think with a name like that I’d remember. A detective, eh? I guess I should consider my suspicions confirmed, then.

Reginald: Suspicions? Did something seem suspicious to you?

Mr. Harding: Nothing to get excited about, detective. I just mean that it looks like Glenn is up to one of his tricks. He had an odd gleam in his eyes when I saw him downstairs. That usually means he’s on the tail of some crazy idea. And your presence here would certainly seem to confirm that.

Reginald: Of course. (recovering his superiority) Yes, I noticed the same thing. I said to myself, there is a great mystery afoot, and Mr. Beck is depending upon my deductive skills to solve it. And his confidence is well placed, I should dare say.

Mr. Harding: In that case I look forward to a very interesting, and hopefully enlightening, evening.

Jess Thomas enters

Mr. Harding: Ahh, Jess. It’s so good to see you, again. Do you have the night off, or are you here on business?

Jess Thomas: A bit of both, actually. Officially, I'm only here because Mr. Beck invited me for dinner. Unofficially, I’m hoping to convince him to give me the updated manuscript for his new book. We’re on the verge of missing the scheduled release date.

Mr. Harding: You said the same thing the last time I saw you.

Jess Thomas: It was …

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