Wednesday, September 01, 2004


A Letter to Mullah Billdoug

Dear Mullah Billdoug:

I was sitting in the second row from the back, you know, my favorite place on the bus, when the lacquered blond in the brown pantsuit with the bad case of the shakes in front of me disappeared, poof! She was just gone, man, gone. Shocked me so damn much I checked my head—was I getting the DT’s or flipping out? Nah, turns out my head was fine, because then I see that all kinds of people have gone poof. The damn bus driver had gone poof, and the fuckin bus crashed into the side of a church. Church was still full of folks, though. Wino, Ol John, usually out front was gone. Nothin there but his brown bag, you know he left in a hurry, man sure enough now. My head’s bleedin, now there’s blood all over my shirt, must have been that window, ahhh, hell, I went out the window headfirst.

Now I was ramblin in front of the church and the grocery next door, the one that the church folk wanted to close because they sell beer and playboys and cigarettes. The front of the church is all crashed in—it was mostly glass, storefront church—and there’s people all running around, looks like they was having a Baptist wedding or something, no a funeral, huh—there’s a casket up front and that means, means dead march, flowers funeral.

Who’s this chick running around screaming, the casket’s empty! Empty! Empty! She’s sayin and there’s this dude in a suit after her shoutin shut up shut up shuttup And back around to the back of the church they go, like some kind of chase scene from old movies I saw back when I had a teevee.

The Ol John’s brown bag has a bottle in it. Half full of the Kickin Chicken. Yup he left in a hurry, for sure, so I miteswell take what’s left, waste not want not and my head hurts, an see if Mr. Pak, the grocer, has any bandaids because the blood is really getting into my eyes now, but now I’m in the grocery and there’s nobody in it at all. This is weird. So I go back to the aisle where the first aid and pills and stomach goop stuff is and wash my head with hydrogen peroxide and slap some band aids on it, but they won’t stick too good, so I just grab a stocking cap, special on sale for $2 each and that seems to help.

I’ll get some of these baby wipes here, too, and mop off my face a little. Now, lesee, gotta find some money to pay for, oh hell that’s right, Mr. Pak has disappeared too. Well, I guess I don’t have to pay him then. The teevee’s on tho, right where he usually leaves it above the counter, alla time news, news, news. They’re saying people are disappearing all over the world, but only winos, dope fiends, queers and prostitutes. Sinners. Well, then, hah, that settles it. I always knew I was one of the righteous select, I laughed, tapping the bottle I’d picked up from Ol John, and then I got real quiet except for the pounding and buzzing in my head.

I was a sinner. At least that’s what the preacher in the damn church kep telling me. Tells me that all the time. Says that my wicked ways are gonna lead me to hell. And whassat he always said, too—shit, I’ve got to think—something about the rapture of the saints, alla Christians going, poof! To heaven. So this is backwards or something. That’s why all those folks are in the church still.

Well, sure, I walked right over there and found that preacher, after looking around awhile, the place was a madhouse, seems only the janitor sitting in the back of the church and the corpse in the coffin had been Poof!ed and nothing else. There was arguing and yelling and slapping, folks havin a fit about the sinners all being took on to heaven and not them, but then over in the far corner, by the stack of hymnals, I found the Preach and he was busy telling a fat old woman wearing a black dress that Maybe these sinners hadn’t gone to heaven at all, maybe it was the other, hotter place, and she was just a-noddin her head so much it like to make me dizzy and I could feel that old Red Rooster comin up my throat but finally she waddled off and the preacher lookin at me like What the Fuck You Want, Scuzz? And so I told him, hey, if it’s sinners got taken like the news is sayin then how come I’m still here, cause you have sure called me a sinner enough, when I come in here to get warm in the winter.

An he, he looks at me harder, and he finally says You know perfectly well that all these folks haven’t gone to heaven that they really been taken to hell and to roast forever and only reason YOU’RE still here—he shoutin now—is because you had the good sense to come in here and listen to the word of jesus, so you better just git down and thank ME and the LORD for takin you in… and on an on he went and then finally loped off with that funny kinda penguin-preacher walk they all got and left me standin

Standin there, in the alley with the big old tore up sofa that’s so nice to sit on specially when you’re head’s broke and elbows an knees all skint up. I reckon I walked there, here, from the church but I swear to jesus and moses that I don’t recall it. I’m just gonna lie back and kick up my legs an sleep, thas wat…

And now the sun is way down, for sure. The street light and the little bit of moon are on and shining. It hurts to move, so I reckon that crash musta—crash? What?

Let’s try this again. So I walked down to Pak’s Grocery and looked inside.

Everything was the way it always was. Mr. Pak was standing behind the counter, chain smoking as ever, cold beer in his hand, bitching at a kid about an ID for beer. The teevee was on behind him. There were a couple of old Korean ladies in the back by the coolers, feeling up some cabbage. I walked in. The kids walked out, no beer.

"Mr. Pak? You’re here?" I asked, carefully looking him over.

"Where sho' I be?" he asks me carefully through bloodshot eyes over rimless glasses. "I allus here."

"It’s just that, earlier, when I came in, you, I mean, the store ..."

"You OK?"

"No. I mean, yeah. I don’t know."

"Hm. You gonna buy anythin'? Or what?" He didn’t look happy. Everybody knows he keeps a ballbat and a pistol behind the counter.

"Nah, I was just checking. I gotta go now." And I split. The teevee had just had some crap on about the stock market going up, or something. Nothing about folks going Poof!

The church was locked up and the sign said, "SERVICES TOMORROW."

Ol John was curled up with his bag by the steps.

The buses were running.

Everything seemed normal.

What're you going to do? Everything seemed normal. So I hiked back around to the sofa and stretched out. I guess I slept pretty good because I damn sure don’t remember anything until in the morning, when a cat climbed on top of my head and began clawing my eyes out. Now I'm blind and angry about being left behind. If I was.

What should I do, Mullah Billdoug?

Love and Kisses,

Skid Rowbum

PS. I never attended, visited, or graduated from Sufi U.

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