Monday, September 18, 2006

Corpus Belli

It began with what I thought was a strange tick: a tendency for my right hand to hit the opposite arm, several times through the course of a day.

Then I noticed a cut on my left ankle, owing to a tendency to kick myself with the other foot. Soon the right hand was hitting my arm more often, with more force. At this point I became concerned and went to see my doctor.

The medical community was divided. A battery of tests failed to determine any disorder, and the specialists soon began to quarrel with one another even as the right hand escalated its assaults and began pulling my hair, and that right foot began to launch itself up to kick me in the ass.

The orthopedic surgeons tended to see things from the hand’s point of view and soon began to badger the cosmeticians, and the podiatrists assumed that my ass must be quietly provoking my feet. It became clear that nobody trusted the brain whatsoever, with rumors of factions from the lower right temporal lobe providing covert support for the ass-kicking. Hand and foot found some common ground and formed an axis, and soon my hand was punching me in the head while the foot persisted in hopping around to make my travel as difficult as possible.

There’s a friend of mine who works in some kind of international relations capacity, his name is Kofi Annan, and since he seemed like an even-keeled guy I asked him what he thought I should do. Annan said, in a very quiet tone of voice, “Limbs! You must all stop what you are doing right now!”

Whereupon my right hand flew out and caught him on the jaw. That did not go over well. Annan, still splayed out on the ground, produced a whistle that hung around his neck. He blew it, but I could hear no sound. Still, two guys in fatigues and blue helmets appeared. Annan said, “Arrest this man, he deliberately targeted me!”

Some other guy in an expensive suit appeared with a briefcase stuffed with papers – stray bits of paper flew about his sweaty, red, bald head. “Not so fast! You don’t know that!”

Annan said, “I stand corrected.” Then he noticed that he was still on the ground, and got to his feet. “NOW I stand corrected. Arrest this man, he apparently deliberately targeted me!”
My new portly friend, straining at the seams of his bulged-out suit, said, “Not so fast, internationalist collectivist appeaser-monkey!! This is not a member of the world community – THIS is an AMERICAN!”

Unfortunately, at that moment my troublesome foot heaved into the air and hit his briefcase with a thud. Shocked, he took several steps back. He pointed a fat, calloused finger at me. “On second thought,” he yelled, “Take this evildoer to The Salt Pit! Wake up the dogs and get the black hood ready!”

While this was going on, I tried to apologize and explain what was going on with my limbs, but my hand kept punching me in the mouth and preventing me from getting out more than a couple of words.

“If you are interested in resolving this problem,” said one of the blue helmets, “Why won’t you speak?”

At that moment, I punched myself in the mouth at the same moment that my foot jerked violently and for a moment I flew into the air. At this Annan blew his whistle and said, “This is not a safe place – we must withdraw! Come!” And he and his friends in the blue helmets ran off.
At this point, my hand pulled my hair so hard that I took myself down the ground where my self-beating continued. Somehow, I could hear my neighbors making remarks about the scene through the windows of their houses.

“Isn’t that awful?”

“Some people.”

“If he would come to Jesus, I expect he’d leave himself alone.”

“You know, maybe that’s why he’s beating on himself in the first place! Satan’s in him trying to keep him from Jesus!”

“Isn’t there anything we can do to save his soul?”

“Well, if he won’t come around, we could cut off his arms and give him an opportunity to embrace the Lord.”

“Well hold on there, Jim, he can’t embrace the Lord if we cut his arms off.”

“Don’t take me so literalistically. I’m using an alimony.”

“Maybe we should leave him be.”

“Well, I suppose you’re right, this is America and all, but I can’t have someone lying there on the street in our neighborhood rejecting Jesus like that. My kids will see him. Then I’ve got to explain he’s an infidel, and you know who infidels follow, don’t you? Here’s your clue: in-fidel. Fidel? Fidel, that communist! You want proof that atheists are commies, well there it is in black and white.”

“There ya go, Ed, when it comes to logic, there’s no mouse going to change your cat’s pajamas!”

“That’s right!”

“Let’s drag him out of the neighborhood and leave him somewhere!”

“It’s too hot. Call the police.”

“I’ve been trying to call 9-1-1 but they say it’s disconnected. Didn’t pay their phone bill, I guess.”

“Damn government. Never there for us.”

“Well, we are at war.”

“Forgot about that.”

"Shall we stand? I think we should stand."

The sun was glaring harshly, but soon I was beyond worrying about that because I had dug out one of my own eyeballs while my besieged foot decided enough was enough and my feet were now engaged in an all-out kicking frenzy. I heard a different pair of feet approach me. A young voice said, “Why do you hate America?” and then ran away.

Still, lying there as I was, now half blind with bloodied and swollen lips and broken ankles, I remembered the words I heard through one of the windows: that’s why he’s beating himself. And as my limbs kept fighting, I thought, That’s true, isn’t it? These aren’t just a bunch of limbs fighting with each other. I am beating on myself. Why? And come to think of it – what am I anyway?

I had been thinking so hard I hadn’t heard the feet. My hand had also ripped one of my ears off and had tried to stuff it into my mouth, so it was a bit difficult to hear – but I felt a warm, friendly touch on my head.

“You are asking the right question,” said a soft voice with a slight accent I could not determine.

What am I? You are fighting yourself because you do not know what you are.”

I responded as best I could: “Can you (SMACK!) please (BIFF!) teach me (POW!)?”

“Yes, but I’ll have to ask you to pay quarterly dues for a membership and attend three of my weekend retreats, and you are going to have to buy a uniform and some yoga mats and cushions and some surgical tubing - oh yes, and a dance belt - and you must read all six of my books – how is your Sanskrit by the way? – and before your first retreat, there is a cleansing workshop you have to go through and you have to raise your fee for that workshop by asking your friends for money and bringing five new people to an introductory workshop…”

Both my hands went for him and he danced away, chanting.

So I lay there. And the beating continued.

And continued.

And continued.


Tara said...

True that.

The Rabbi said...

I have heard that a good cure for inFidelity is Castro oil. Maybe that's just a rumor...