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Rant #79
(published Early, 2002)
St. Joeseph and the Fish Flies
by Ralph the Airborne Ranger

Religion, what the fuck is that?What ever happened to good old fashioned spirituality? What ever happened to love thy neighbor and all that good shit? When did it become about denomination, silly signs on street corners and freeway overpasses?

"Tom" Adam looked a little disgruntled. Adam was a skinny kid slightly more than moderately attractive, and he was short. He had dirty blond hair and horned rim glasses that gave him a buddy holly sort of appeal. "Yeah" Tom always spoke with a thick New Jersey accent even though as long as Iive known him he lived in Detroit. he was kinda short, not fat but definitely not thin, a little hairy everywhere except his head, which is shaven. I liked that he shaved it because until he did he bared an uncanny resemblance to all those paintings of jesus. Girls all seemed to like him and I could never figure out why. He had a strange demeanor in that although he was the most cynical person Iid ever met he always had a friendly smile on his face. He wasn't cynical because he hated everything or everyone, he had a lot of hatred but that is not why he was cynical. It was because deep down he knew that none of what we did ever really mattered. The only thing that ever mattered to him was how he felt at that precise moment. He still made plans for his future, he wasn’t impractical, he just made those plans based on the principles of living in the moment. At the end of the events I am about to describe he would not talk to me for months but afterwards he became myclosest friend and probably still is.

"What the fuck is that," Adam was shouting and pointing at the human sized bulge in a sheet that Tom was nonchalantly carrying.

"This is St. Joeseph," Tom placed the bulge upright and removed the sheet revealing a fiberglass likeness of St. Joeseph.

What the fuck is he doing in my basement.

"Right now nothing but very soon we are going to have a lot of fun with him."

"Where did you get this" Adam asked dumbfounded.

"I don't know for sure... but St. Josephs would be my guess" I interjected in the name of the obvious.

Tom and I took it upon ourselves to start arranging the evening's festivities. Adams father was an electrical engineer so in his basement he had tools for any occasion. First we brought out the table...

Plungers, Drills, Knives, pokers, prodders, electronic doodads and whatnots (I especially liked the whatnots), toilet paper, a saw, hammers... big ones, some tools which I can imagine no use for other than the dismemberment of whatever needs dismembering, three bathrobes three masks and a camcorder.

We decided to sit and have a few beers.

"My parents are Catholic." I said sitting down on one of the many couches scattered across Adams basement, which also served as his bedroom. "At least they where, they've been divorced and remarried though, to several different spouses, I don't think they're allowed to be Catholic anymore."

"I was baptized Catholic," this is Tom.

"So, I was too but I don't think that makes me Catholic does it?" I asked.

"I guess." Adam says fingering our display of utensils.

"How, I never asked to be baptized they did it when I was a kid."

"Me too" from Tom "I remember it sort of. I remember I didn't like the whole priest shoving your head underwater thing."

"Alright your not Catholic." I liked that about Adam he didn't argue with me about it, regardless of what his own beliefs on baptism where, he just accepted that I didn't choose to be baptized and that was that.

"What about you?" Tom asked Adam.

"Well my parents are Lutheran and I've always gone to a Lutheran church."

"I said what about you, it's not like religion is hereditary... unless your jewish I guess" I'm pretty sure Tom was joking about the jewish thing.

"Well I dunno I never really thought about it."

"You should" I intervened "it's something I've thought a lot about lately, we are all here for some reason. I find it hard to believe that we're here to make cars, fix computers or mop floors. I think your spiritual beliefs should be a part of why you do whatever your going to do with your life."

"What does making cars and fixing computers have to do with your religion?" Adam asked wondering where I was going.

"Nothing that's the problem" Tom answered knowing right where I was going.

Tom and I got up he went to the camcorder, I put on one of the robes and a hooded mask. We cleared an area in the basement and put the statue of joseph in the center. Tom put the camera on a tripod. We decided not to have sound in the video so our voices couldn't incriminate us. Instead we played some soft but swingin jazz over it. We thought this would create a nice comical tone for the whole thing.I started walking over to the statue waving and being friendly. When I got close I pretended to shake his hand, I put my arm around his shoulders and then threw him violently to the ground. I proceed to kick the statue a bit while two more hooded, bath robed figures jumped in and started to help me tie him up.

We stopped there for a few more drinks.

"Do you think we're going to hell for this?" Tom asked.

"Religions are so obsessed with going to heaven or hell" my voice betraying my irritation. "These are concepts not locations. It's not like you can make a wrong turn in Albuquerque and end up in purgatory. None of us really know what God or whatever there is wants us to do. the only guidelines we have are books written by men. I don't care whether or not I'm going to heaven or hell or fuckin new jersey, it's the journey I'm concerned with."

We made a sign out of some poster board that was lying around left over from some high school science project. We printed the words BATHROBE X-TIAN COALITION on it and presented it to the camera waving again looking like quite cheery suburban terrorists.

"What about you Tom what do you believe?" Adam asked as we where setting up for the next scene.

"I'm not sure yet." His tone quite serious, "I've been experimenting with eastern religions and trying to focus my energies. There is a practice which I am trying which involves charging a pitcher of water with all of my positive chi. Over several weeks I have been meditating with it and concentrating all of my positive energy and the energy of the things around me into this pitcher which I keep in my garden under a tree. When I drink it is supposed to cleanse me of negative energy. I assume I have a lot of that with all the drugs and well all the other drugs. The meditation seems to be helping though, I am much more relaxed lately."

"That sounds kinda flakey Tom do you plan on movin to san Francisco or something?" I asked " I got this chakra right underneath my ballsack you could charge with some positive chi if you'd like."

"Funny" he wasn't laughing "so what if it's a little flakey anything spiritual is going to sound a little hokey. At least I'm not erecting fiberglass statues and praising them, striking fear into the masses or burning anyone at the stake. Trying to understand religion is like getting a book on how to read. I'm not trying to understand it I am just trying it. That's the whole point to faith right."

"What's the point of this whole joseph thing anyway?" Adam asked.

"Well" Tom started " I like to see myself as a deliverer of karma. Karma is probably the only spiritual concept in which I fully believe. Sometimes I think it needs a little shove though. Catholics have been desecrating pagans and other non-Christian religions for centuries. even murdering religious figures and scientists who went against the church. This is my way of giving back to the spiritual community."

"Just because they don't believe in karma does mean they are exempt." I added.

In the next scene we all proceeded to kick and prod at the fiberglass figure. Our intent was to behead it. Which proved to be a more difficult task than we had anticipated. The god-damned thing wouldn't come off. We sawed, we kicked we hammered we bludgeoned with all sorts of blunt what nots. It was as if we where the inquisition and this damn thing was the whole of the pagan masses holding on to their ideals just to spite our relentless persecution. We gave up on the head for a bit thinking if we destroyed the body the head would just fall off. We electrocuted it bit it broke it removed a hand. Tom even ass raped it with a plunger, the head stayed on.

In the end the head was not an ideal the body was not the tortured masses it was a fiberglass statue and with one last swift kick it came off. We held the head up to the camera not angrily but gleefully. We danced a happy little jig and then stopped the camera.

We had a few more drinks and shot one more scene where the disembodied head watches a tv screen filled with static. Which didn't really matter because outside of our closest friends no one saw the tape ever. We decided it was too incriminating and if someone wanted to they could figure out who the hooded figures where. We put all sorts of ancient looking scrawl and a pentagram on the head for fun, drove by the church and threw the head back. Adams father, who was quite angry about the whole situation, got rid of the body. Imagine some 40 year old man on the local school board pulling a blanket roughly the size and shape of a body, minus the head, out of his trunk and disposing of it discretely.

I am glad we took all of the precautions we did because the next day we made the front page of the local newspaper, and the six o'clock news shows. They tried to connect us to some local kooks who where killing rabbits and carving them up to leave on peoples porches. Adams parents wrote the whole thing off as Tom corrupting their sweet little boy and somehow I didn't seem like that much of a corrupter to them. Tom wasn't allowed at Adams house for quite some time. Viewing of the tape became a treat at special parties with only the closest of friends because there was a reward from the church for information leading to our conviction.

A few weeks later I was sitting with Adam in his basement. We had a few beers and maybe a couple of joints in us and decided to see what Tom was up to. We went to his house due to his banishment from Adams, but he wasn't home. Adam and I have a little tradition, which was this; when we went to visit a friend, and he wasn't home, we stacked his lawn. "What is lawn stacking?," you might be asking yourself. Well I'll fill you in, we would gather up furniture from the local salvation army drop off point or from peoples trash and organize a room on the lawn of the victim, occasionally we would include plumbing such as a sink or toilet. Adam and I where extremely bored and decided that because Toms little St. Joeseph idea had caused so much trouble he needed a little trouble of his own.

We went back to adams house to develop a plan. Adam had just the thing. Instead of furniture we decided on something more fitting for Tom. The deliverer of karma was about to get some karma delivered upon him. We gatherd some equipment including a camera some work overalls protective hats and eyewear a shovel and some trash bags.

If you have ever been on the east side of Detroit in early spring you would have seen the fish fly. They are named such not because they look like fish it's more the smell. It is a disgusting little insect about an inch long with a body resembling that of an inchworm and dragonfly like wings. They only live about 24 hrs. The putrid smelling creatures come from lake st clair. They're eggs lay dormant for the entire year, and when the weather is just right they hatch. Millions of these little creatures rise from the water their bodies colliding in a mass wave. This is how they mate, there are so many of them hatching at once that they just bump into each other and inseminate. In these first few moments of their lives they fulfill they're only function. After that they fly around the quite little suburbs looking for light. They attach to every light within a few miles of the lake. It is a truly repulsive sight to see thousands of these things covering a mcdonalds or a gas station or just lining the sidewalk on your street. They make a popping sound when you step on them and when you drive over a street full of them the popping turns into a weak roar, leaving a sticky film on your tires.

We put on the protective clothing and drove out to a well lit gas station near the lake. It was closed due to the overwhelming amount of fish smelling insects stuck to it. Adam took pictures as I shoveled them into a garbage bag. I felt like a televangelist scooping up the huddled masses attracted to the light for my own rotten purposes. This is one of the most disgusting smells I have ever encountered.

After filling the bag we drove back to Toms house. I got out of the car and started looking for Tom's chi water. It was in a little nook he had made in the pine tree on his front lawn. There where rocks with I-ching symbols arranged around the pitcher, you could tell he spent a lot of time here and could almost feel the serenity he must have felt sitting with his chi water.

I dumped the bag of dying insects all over it. How better to destroy his positive energy than hundreds of dying creatures maliciously thrown on his chi water. Maybe the insects could feel the energy and became spiritually aware before the end of their short lives. Probably not.

After Tom found out that I was the perpetrator of the desecration, he wouldn't speak to me. I didn't understand that. We were all confused about religion at the time. We made it our personal mission to poke and prod at it given any opportunity. We went into chat rooms and tried to convince nuns of converting to hindu. We would invite jehovas witnesses into his house and show them our pentacles. But there in his own yard he couldn't take the sacrilege. I hope that he at least saw the karmic beauty in it.

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