Saturday, September 18, 2004


Karl Rove Makes Obeisance

Satan strides up to the back door of the White House. The Marines recognize him instantly, of course--he's there practically every day--and wave him through. They don't even search his red leather fanny pack, the one with the cute little red forked tail hanging off it, that Karl made for him at Boy Scout camp one year. They have their orders. Nobody frisks Satan.

George W. is out in the outer office, chatting up the secretaries. Fortunately for the Republican Party, Satan knows, the secretaries are absolutely safe. The primitive cloning technology that produced him made it so Georgie can't get an erection without a special pill; and, well, he's never been particularly interested in sex anyway. This is a very good thing. After eight years of a pussyhound like Clinton in the White House, the American people needed a little morality, a guy who doesn't even fuck his wife. Clinton was way too smart to be president anyway: how's a guy going to listen to Satan if he's got higher than a 100 IQ?

"Hey, Satan," Georgie says. "How's ma man?" He gives his signature shit-eating grin, the one that his detractors say makes him look like a moronic chimpanzee.

"He in?" Satan says.

"Yeah, but he's kind of busy," Georgie says. "He and Dick are up to something. Something big, I think."

"Of course he is," Satan says. "That's what I'm here to talk to him about."

"Oh, right, right," Georgie says. "Well, you just go right on in, then, ha ha!"

Satan rolls his eyes a little as he opens the door to the Oval Office. There at the big desk sits Karl Rove. Dick Cheney is leaning over the table looking at some papers with him.

Karl jumps up. "Dad!" he cries. "Good to see you! May I service you?"

"Sure," Satan says. Karl comes over and takes Satan's rather large red veiny penis in his mouth, begins to fellate him. The other Dick looks away politely. He's no longer embarrassed by Satanic fellatio in the Oval Office. It's funny what you can get used to, if you see it often enough. But he figures it isn't polite to stare.

Satan doesn't really care, though. He ejaculates explosively and Karl swallows, then pulls his hanky out of his breast pocket and wipes his lips.

"So," he says when his voice works again, "did it work? Did your lights come on down there?"

"Worked like a charm," Satan says. "You're such a good boy. Why can't your brothers all be like you?"

Rove shrugs modestly. Beside him, Dick Cheney burns, but keeps smiling. Tries to empty his thoughts. No point pissing off Satan. Too much is on the line. Not just the election, but the destruction of the American democracy. It's a big gamble, but what isn't, with Satan? Always the high-roller. Always the earth-shaking stakes. A theocracy--ruled not by Yahweh but by the fallen Morning Star Lucifer in a Yahweh suit! What an idea! It's so crazy, Cheney thinks, it might even work.

Friday, September 17, 2004


Thomism Weighs In

All this talk of flashlights... sigh. Submitted for Your Consideration:

Posit: The lights have never gone out in heaven before.

Posit: Since the lights have never gone out in heaven before, there has never been a need for artificial illumination; e.g., flashlights or candles.

Posit: Things are only created for a cause.

Posit: When there is not a need for something, it is not created.

Thus: There are not likely to be flashlights made or stocked in heaven.

Posit: Someone may have brought a flashlight into heaven, thinking that it might be useful.

Posit: Since there is no cause requiring a flashlight in heaven, the flashlight would have no function or need to exist.

Posit: Since the flashlight has no function or need to exist, its existence would be futile and even illogical.

Posit: Items with a futile and illogical existence are not allowed to function in heaven.

Thus: A flashlight would not work in heaven, even if one existed.

Thank you for your time. Sincerely, T. Aquinas, Th.D.

PS. The batteries would probably be dead, anyway.


I Make a New Friend

Things have not improved much. It's still dark as the inside of a mole. Not a flashlight in the place. And anyway our resident ontologist, Tom Aquinas, tells us that they wouldn't work even if they did exist. I don't pretend to understand his proofs, but they sound reasonably scholastic, in a medieval, quasi-Aristotelian sort of way.

I'm feeling my way over to the chaise-lounge where I left my laptop, not that it's going to work any more, but, you know, when a very big person who can apparently see in the dark bowls me over.

He is instantly solicitous. "Gosh, I'm sorry," he says. "I was looking right past you, didn't see you there. Let me help you up."

And he does. And to my surprise, I can sort of see him. He gives off a reddish glow.

"Are you okay?" he says, brushing at my clothes. "Didn't break anything?"

"No, no, I'm fine," I say. "But you look awful familiar. Do I know you? The red horns, the goatee, the red tail--I could swear we've met before. Have you ever been to Oxford, Mississippi? Faulkner's town?"

"Many a time," he says. "I love the South. Republican territory."

"Oh," I say politely, "you're a Republican?" Thinking: just what I need in my life, another Republican.

"Well," he says modestly, "I sort of helped organize them."

"Yeah?" I say.

"Sure. Back when the Dixiecrats started jumping ship, going Republican. I was sort of the brains behind all that."

"Wow," I say. "History in the making."

"You got that--" he starts, but is interrupted by Yahweh.

"What the hell," the Lord of Hosts thunders, "are you doing in my back yard?"

"Hey, Big Guy," my new friend says easily. "Long time no see."

"Didn't I expressly tell you never to--darken my door again?"

"I know, I know," the red guy says. "But I thought, given the general darkness around here, maybe it was time to come up and bury the hatchet. Let bygones be bygones. Hug and make up. Get back to the good old days when me and you used to throw dice on whether Job would crack under pressure. All that."

"Never!" Yahweh shouts. "Get out!"

"Hey, fine," my Republican friend says. "I'm going. Just thought you might like some help rigging up emergency lighting. I've got a little experience in that line, you know ..."


The red guy laughs a little, claps me on the shoulder, says "Nice talking to you," and leaves, humming an old Blue Oyster Cult song from the eighties.

Yahweh turns to me. I can't see him, but the turn is unmistakable. You can practically hear the black heavenly air going oh shit. "What did he say to you?"

"Nothing," I say. "We were just making polite chitchat about the Republican Party in the South. This was--after he ran me over."

"Are you sure?" he says, leaning in close. I can smell his breath, he's that close. "Because, you know, I can go inside right now and check the records. And if you're lying--no, shitbuzz, I can't check the records, we got no power. Damn it! Well, you'd just better not be lying, is all!"

I swear up and down that I'm telling the truth, and he finally believes me, sort of, and stalks off.

Man, I think, this is major. And then I can't think of anything else to do, so I feel my way down onto the chaise-lounge, lift my laptop into my lap, open it up, and put my fingers in the home position. Then I stare off into the darkness, and imagine myself blogging.


The Lights Come Back On

And then, suddenly, it's day again. The bright orange sun stands high in the bright green sky. Suddenly it's the kind of place where, you know, seldom is heard a discouraging word. And the skies are not cloudy all day.

Excellent, Satan thinks. That Rove boy came through after all.

He always worries about his children by human mothers, but Rove has never given him a moment's cause. The others in the White House these days, well--you could chuck em all in the sea of fire and Satan wouldn't shed a bloody tear. Bunch of fuckups, your Rumsfelds and your Cheneys and your Ashcrofts and your Rices. But Rove, now. There's a boy to do his daddy proud.

If his calculations are correct, heaven will be dark now, dark as this pit was when he first landed here. Yahweh will be shitting bricks that he won't be able to see.

Satan gets up off his offalounger and starts taking down the makeshift lighting he rigged up lo these many millennia ago. He won't be needing them again.

Thursday, September 16, 2004


The First Year Zero: War in Heaven

"And there was war in heaven . . . and the great dragon was cast out, that old serpent, called the Devil, and Satan, which deceiveth the whole world: he was cast out into the earth, and his angels were cast out with him."

Satan turned on the atomic clock and energized the synchronized quartz resonators. It would be necessary to detect the time control organ, if indeed he had one. But the top scientists said in that article that everyone has one. And if one was in him, and working, then it would be possible to travel back to the time before the war in heaven, before Yahweh made hundreds of excuses for invading Satan’s neighborhood, and then went ahead without even a nod from the Board of Karmic Adjusters, before he had been toppled and thrown from his lawn chair down into hell.

Ugh, Satan remembered, the falling. It was like a dream, the fall. Only, when I hit the bottom, I felt awake, and I was twitching, shaking. What was it like?

I plunged down like a stone. It was a horrible moment to experience. I was trying to catch something on my way down, but I could not. As far as I can remember, I hit the ground and woke up instantly. I was covered with sweat all over.

Then I slept, Satan recalled. I slept like a stone. Yahweh thought I was dead. But I was just in what’s known as a “lethargic sleep.”

The Guinness Book of World Records claims the longest lethargic sleep brought on by stress was that of Nadezhda Lebedina, who was in one for 20 years, after an argument with her husband. Ha! She is a piker, compared to me, Satan thought. I must have been in one for 30 centuries!

Oh, and how I have waited for revenge. Putting the right people in the right places, setting up genetic chains that reach from the pharaohs in chariots to modern presidents in business suits. Plotting the DNA of their advisors. The Manchurian Candidate. Phooey! The Satan Candidate. Ha, ha.

Yes, look. The time control organ is resonating. I can feel it, and the atomic clock shows a slight backward movement.

Satan replayed the images from so long ago, when he sat unbelieving in front of the television, watching Heaven 4 as Yahweh made outrageous claims about his neighborhood. “I won’t wait for mushroom clouds filled with demons to come up from Satan’s Southside Ranchero. We must take action, now.” Yahweh was even wearing that silly cowboy hat.

And it had all started with that energy deal that Satan had made with Yahweh’s dad…god, those had been good times. Until it all went bad.

That had been the first year zero. Then there had been the second year zero. Soon, the revenge, darkness and war return to heaven.

Wednesday, September 15, 2004


Online Zeros

Dear Mullah Billdoug,

In reference to the quite interesting theory propounded by my colleague at On-Line Bush, Dr. Moshpath, that we may have entered into a new Year Zero such as was inaugurated at the Birth of Our Most Holy Lord and Messianic Savior Jesus Christ--

Our clocks here at Oral Roberts have shown no signs of stopping--except, I might add, on that godless channel of Satanic filth, John Kerry propaganda, and anal sex the Internet. This leads us to conclude that, if the Year Zero has indeed begun, it has done so only on line.

Which makes me wonder: what's the situation at the other Bush campuses, the ones located in yardstick space? Do they still have clock time, or not?

I would also suggest that my esteemed colleague Dr. Moshpath leave the creationist meteorology to the experts, and not go predicting divine weather that he obviously knows so little about. There is, for example, absolutely no Scriptural precedent for giant collection plates in the clouds; and we haven't seen an incidence of fish-stick rain since midnight, the Year of Our Lord, 999, in Arles, France, and do not expect one again any time soon.

For God's Own Weather, this is
Mike Riddle
Professor of Creationist Meteorology
Oral Roberts University
signing off

Tuesday, September 14, 2004


The Zero Year Phenomenon

Dear Mullah Billdoug,

It's too soon to be sure, but my department's nine Creationist Chronometers have begun to show the first minuscule but still unmistakable and (it goes without saying) quite exciting signs that, some time yesterday afternoon, time may have temporarily stopped.

Now--lest you assume this might mean that all temporal activity should have (and obviously has not!) ceased--let me clarify that the time stoppage seems to be purely a Chronometrical Event. By this I mean that it is a spiritual or virtual phenomenon, one related not to the actual flow of time but to its measurement--one that is uncannily parallel, in fact, to the Zero Year phenomenon last recorded at the birth of Our Lord and Savior Jesus Christ.

At that precise moment 2004-plus-zero years ago, as I'm sure you're aware, the measurement of time stopped, to celebrate the Holy Birth, for one full calendar year. Time passed; but the day remained Sunday, the date remained the 0th day of the 0th month of the Year Zero. It was, in essence, a year of Sundays; one long Sabbath, during which all the world gave thanks to Our God.

If my measurements are correct--and of course one of the consequences of the Zero Year phenomenon is inevitably the wild unreliability of all measurements, but in this case that unreliability is mitigated considerably by incessant prayer--with the performance in heaven of the forbidden experiment, we have entered into a new Zero Year.

If this is the case, of course, we should expect still more portents in the heavens and other divine weather: frozen poultry rain, fish-stick rain, Bible-verse hail, sundogs, pseudo-rapturous updrafts, and giant collection plates in the clouds.

Yours in God's Own Time,
Xero Moshpath, Ph.D.
Professor of Creationist Chronometrics
George W. Bush University, On-Line Campus
Houston, Texas


Scientists Write In: Concern Grows

Dear Mullah Billdoug:

Lately your blog has been full of discussion about the “forbidden experiment.” What exactly is the forbidden experiment, and why is it forbidden? Who forbade it?

As a scientist, I do a lot of experiments. But I never had anyone tell me there was one I wasn’t allowed to do. What could it be? And, has it been done? If so, what were the results? Help me out.


Dr. Erasmus P. Totem, Scientist-at-Large

Dear Dr. Totem:

Let’s address each of your questions one at a time. What is it? Let’s just say that if the forbidden experiment were done, we would know if Schrodinger’s cat were alive or dead. There would no longer be any heaven or hell. The Heisenberg uncertainty principle would be certain. And Karl Rove would control all the energy in the universe but would be unable to do anything with it. It involves mechanical Christs, okay? There, I said it. But that’s all I’m gonna say. Who forbade it? Nobody, exactly speaking, forbade it. It’s just that everyone knows it’s forbidden. I mean, hell, nobody has to tell you not to shit in your shoes, do they? As to whether or not it’s been done, it’s hard to say right now. The lights are out in heaven, and frozen poultry is raining from the sky. Baseball in America has been replaced with some game involving headless goats, and there’s no designated hitter rule. It could be that it has been done. We’ll know soon enough, because the results would be even worse than what I’ve described so far. Stay tuned, and keep your Bunsen burners turned off for safety’s sake.

Yours in Premillennial Ecstasy,

Esther Lynn Prescott
Secretary to Mullah Billdoug


It's Even Worse. MUCH Worse.

Yahweh’s on the cell phone now, yelling at the poor lady who usually sits alone at the Heaven Electric Company, doing nothing but eating potato chips and drinking diet coke.

“Whaddya mean, maybe I didn’t pay my bill? Are you nuts? There is no bill. This is heaven! And no, I haven’t seen any frozen poultry falling out of the sky! What’s that got to do with it, anyway? Oh, uh-huh. A sign that someone’s done the forbidden experiment, y’say? Whatever. Look, I don’t know from experiments, dammit, just flip a switch or something. What do we pay you for? Okay, so we don't pay you--hello? Hello?”

Yahweh looks at the cell phone. “She hung up. Can you believe it? She friggin hung up on me. Did the Holy Ghost find a flashlight yet?”

A loud thud, followed by another, and another, interrupted. “Ouch! Goddamit! Shit!” voices near the wall yelped. “I just got nailed by a frozen duck, I think.” “What’s this? Feels like a frozen turkey. Hit me right on the foot.”

“What’s all this mean, Yahweh? Allah? Wodin? Ba’al? What’s going on?”

“Maybe it’s the weather.”

“Get your hand out of my pocket, Ba’al.”

Thud. “Ow! Another frozen bird. Feels like a capon. Got me right on the ear.”


Yeah, the weather. Blame the weather. You try careening around heaven getting poultry sucked up into your vortex, through your insides, and all the way to the top, where it freezes and then shoots out and rains down to the ground. Hope it didn’t hit anybody. Sucked up two houses, a bar, a grocery, a Zen garden and two drugstores and spit them out, too. I guess I woulda kept spinning through all eternity if it hadn’t been for those power lines.

Tripped right over them, and they snapped and sparks flew all over and then it went dark. And I thought a cloud couldn’t get electrocuted. That jolt dried me right up. Now I seem to be some sort of ball of electricity. Whadda they call it? Ball lightning. Saint Elmo’s fire. Why’d they name it after a cuddly little muppet? Ain’t nothing cuddly about me. I’m just sitting here. I must be somewhere near Yahweh’s place. I’m afraid to move.

Those power lines looked like they went all the way to hell. But why would power for heaven be generated in hell? Doesn’t make sense. Maybe it’s not that kind of power.

I’ll just sit tight, here. Someone’ll find me.


“Hey, what’s that light over there? Just sitting there.”

“Let’s go find out, Wodin.”

“What is it, you guys? Can you tell?”

“Wait, Thor’s picking it up. It’s kind of hot and tingly. Like a light bulb, only more.”

“It puts out a lot of light. No bigger than a basketball.”

“Hey! Put me down!”

“And it talks.”


“Yeah, Thor?”

“Home come he can glow, but I can’t get a lightning bolt up to save my ass?

“I don’t know.”

“Hey, Thor, bring him over here. I think I’ve found the fusebox.”

"Just leave me alone, fellas. Please?"


The Night the Lights Went Out in Elysium

I'm starting to think this isn't a half-bad place, heaven. One neverending cookout. Ribs, chicken, catfish grilled to perfection. The best barbeque sauce outside of Memphis, Tennessee. Sun and bright green skies all the time--no clouds, no rain, no night. Ever. And the sun doesn't burn your skin. No sunburn ointments. No skin cancers. It's California without the smog and the dermatologists.

And nothing bad ever seems to happen.

Well. Today's been sort of an exception. There was that strange squall when Bill came and upchucked on us. But even that passed in the blinking of an eye. It was amazing. One moment we're all drenched in stinking sewage--and I am somehow wearing rain gear and hip boots, and brandishing an industrial-strength umbrella (I'd been in shorts and t-shirt when the cloud approached!)--and the next moment we're all dry and warm again. I'm back in my shorts and t-shirt, with no signs of the rain gear.

It was like Bill's upset stomach was an anomaly that should never have been, and was automatically righted the instant it occurred. Clouds in heaven? Acid rain in heaven? Not a chance. It happened? No it didn't.

And to top it all off: we've got internet access here. I mean, what more could anyone want? An endless sunny fly-less cookout--with blogging and net-surfing. Tell me that ain't heaven!

Then, suddenly, the lights go out. Like somebody flipped a switch.

"Oh, shit," Yahweh says. "What now?"

"If you do this to pick my pocket," Allah says, "I have nothing in pockets, Yahweh."

"I didn't do this," Yahweh says testily. "Honey!" he calls out. "Mary! Bring some candles!"

I hear a door open and close. Somebody trips over a child's toy. Then, Mary's voice: "Yahweh, is that you?"

"No," Ba'al's voice says. "It's me. But you don't need to stop, baby."

"We don't have any candles," Mary says. "They don't sell them at Walgreen's."

"Right," Yahweh says disgustedly. "Because it's never dark in heaven. Shit. Now what're we going to do?"

Doug? Mullah Billdoug's voice says inside my head. What's going on?

We just lost power, I think.


Heaven went dark, I think.

Damn, he says. I knew it. Rove beat me to it.


He got to Olivia first, performed the forbidden experiment. It's all over.

What's all over?

It, he says. Everything. They've won.

They? I think. Who's they?

Who do you think, he says. I mean, they don't call them the forces of darkness for nothing.

Monday, September 13, 2004


O'er Elysian Fields

I can’t fucking believe it. I spewed the entire contents of a small municipality’s sewage pond on this soiree, and these guys just keep shoving limeade into me and screwing under a boat cover like nothing’s wrong.

I nudge a cherub who’s sitting on a wall next to me. “Hey, chubby. Where’d all the shit go that I spewed out? Didn’t faze ‘em.”

He looks at me, and smiles beatifically. “Nobody shits on Yahweh’s picnic, man. Duh. You see any ants? Bees? Flies?” And then he flutters off with his harp.

Mary stands up. “Well, I’m to put Baby Jesus to bed, and then take a dr—er, I mean, do the dishes.” Jesus is snoring.

Looks like the party's winding down, except over by the boat. Doug's talking to himself. Probably all those ribs.

Me, I gotta pee. All that green beverage. I’m turning into a cumulonimbus. My head is up in 7th heaven and I’m loaded with moisture. Whooo-ee. I decide I better go around to the front of the house. 'Cause, y'know, I'm a modest cloud.

There’s a phone truck outside Yahweh's place, and there’s a ladder against the house. Um. Better not cut loose here, then. Might short-circuit something, or electrocute myself. (Can clouds get electrocuted, I wonder?)

I move briskly along one vertical horizon, looking for a safe place. Someplace dry that needs rain. I spot what looks like a field of wheat, growing on a pale, soft belly. Looks dry. Farmers need rain. So, I cut loose. It’s a good storm, too. I even somehow cut loose with a bolt of lightning and plenty of thunder, which surprised me. I guess I clouds can't get electrocuted.

I look. The wheatfield is wet and shiny with green liquid. Some of it is running off to the sides of the belly and down.

Suddenly, the wheatfield sits up. There are little huts and houses on it, I see now, and the people inside are looking up. Not at me. At the head of the guy whose belly was covered with wheat. He’s wearing a cool hat. Like King Tut or something. His eyes are painted all around, very gothic and he has red lips.

“Who dares expel urine on the belly of Osiris?” he rumbles. “Who dares fling lightning at the mighty God? If this is some sort of Olympian prank, I swear, I’ll…”

Oh, shit, I think. This isn’t good. Osiris. Some Egyptian big shot. “Uhhh, it was me. Sorry.”

“What, you? The cloud? Who do you work for?” His teeth are very white and sharp.

“Nobody, really. I mean, I used to be a detective for Sufi U, but then I became…a cloud…and…look. I really didn’t mean anything by it. Your wheat looked a little dry, and I don’t know how to control the thunder and lightning, yet…” My voice trailed off. I sensed I was in trouble.

"Really? An inexperienced cloud wanders into the wrong part of town? Ha, hahahahaha!" His laughter shakes every droplet of me.

And so he poked one finger into the top of me and began swirling my innards. It was a very strange feeling. I felt myself turning into a twisted, like a, a sort of…o, shit! A tornado! He’s turning me into a tornado.

“See what you think about that!” he laughed. A hohoho, hah hahaha! And all the people on his belly laughed, too, as I spun away across the adjacent landscape of heaven, unable to control my twisting and undulating dance. I was sucking things up, up into myself, but what? Where am I headed? Is this up or down? I feel something squishy being sucked up into me. And then something crunchy. Tastes vaguely like a Chinese dish I had once. I feel nauseous.

“Twist and turn and turn and twist he goes, and where he stops, nobody knows!” And as I skittered off, Osiris just laughed and laughed, and the people and the wheat and the little houses and huts rippled in waves.


I Heard That

I've gone back to my blogging, over in the corner of the back yard farthest from the power boat, laptop on the chaise-lounge between my legs. It's a great thing, I'm thinking: a wireless network and blogging by email. What did we do in the old days? How did we post to our blogs before computers?

Allah strolls over.

"What you are doing," he says. I have to process that for a moment before I realize it's a question.

"Blogging," I say.

"What means blogging," Allah says.

"Web logging," I say. "Writing a log, or, uh, a diary, what's going on in my life, to the Web."

"What means Web," Allah says.

"The Internet," I explain. "The World Wide Web. It's a--"

"What this machine is," he cuts in.

"This? A laptop computer."

"What it does," he says.

"Uh," I say, wondering how to explain something I only half-understand myself, "what doesn't it do, ha ha."

"Where you got it? I am thinking I get one for Mohammed."

"Down at Walgreen's."


"Yeah. They've got an amazing computer section there. Back on earth, you could hardly buy any kind of electronic devices at Walgreen's. But here--man. They've got everything. Last time I was in they had a special on radio-controlled goats. Buy two, get the third for free."

"Goats?" Allah says. He uses rising intonation for the first time. His eyes go wide. He may not know from computers or the Web, but he knows from goats.

Then Mullah Billdoug starts talking to me.


Uh, yeah, I think, smiling up at Allah. But I'm sort of in the middle--

Just listen, he says. I think Rove's ready to roll. He's got Ann Coulter in place, and--

I don't think you need to worry about Ann Coulter any more, I think.


She's got amnesia, I think. And she's turned into a priestess of Ba'al.

She what?

That was after she had decided to be a liberal. Apparently on the recommendation of Millennium Prize candidate Grisha Perelman.

How do you know all this? he says.

They're here, I think.


Yahweh's place. We're all in his back yard, eating ribs and trying not to listen to Ann Coulter playing temple prostitute to Ba'al. Grisha's over there now, getting his ashes hauled.

"Who you are talking to," Allah says.

Who are you talking to, Mullah Billdoug says.

"Mullah Billdoug," I tell Allah. Allah, I tell Mullah Billdoug.

"Oh!" Allah says, his eyes lighting up.

Tell him I think he's great, Mullah Billdoug says.

"I heard that," Allah said. "Tell him I'm a big fan of his work too. Though sometimes I think maybe he uses too many profanities."

I heard that, Mullah Billdoug says.

I roll my eyes, trying not to think what I'm thinking.

You're hungry? Mullah Billdoug says. You've been eating ribs all day!

Damn, I think. I hate mental telepathy. No privacy.

Allah wanders off. Mullah Billdoug lowers his voice.

Here's what I need you to do, he says.

"Don't think," I say out loud.

No, he says. I need you to leave Yahweh's place and go visit Olivia. You're going to have to talk her into doing the forbidden experiment for us.

Me!? I don't even know what the forbidden experiment is!

Never mind that. You're the only one who can do it. Bill is still AWOL--

He's here, I think.

He's there? How come I can't reach him?

He's, um, a cloud, I think.

Oh, Mullah Billdoug says. That explains it. All those droplets are murder on reception. Okay. It's up to you. Do it today.


But he's gone.

Sunday, September 12, 2004


What Ann Coulter Wants To Be

For the seventh or eighth or maybe ninth time--high single digits, anyway ... I've lost count ... probably we all have--there emerge from under the tarp on the power boat the mingled bellows and screams of Ba'al and Ann Coulter at sex.

We're all pretending not to notice, of course. But it's loud. We're noticing.

Grisha Perelman in particular looks a bit green around the gills. He's been making dogged math conversation with me for what seems like hours.

"So I'm thinking," he's saying, "maybe heaven isn't a sphere at all ... or if it is, it's a zero-sphere, which would be one shit-bastard to calculate ..."

I look over at Bill. He's looking a bit green himself. But maybe that's just a reflection of the sky? Or else he's guzzled down all the green Power-Ade again. Yahweh just sent the Holy Ghost on another 7-11 run for more. But Bill is one thirsty cloud. He chugs it by the barrel-full and clamors for more.

Then--a thick smug silence seems to gather and settle around the power boat. Out of that silence extends a long white arm, which unfastens and throws back the tarp. Ba'al and Ann Coulter stand up, naked. Ba'al is wiping himself off with an oil rag, and starts climbing down. Ann Coulter makes no move to cover herself. She isn't entirely unattractive, certainly. She's got all the female parts. But she's--lanky. Long torso. Long skinny legs. No ass to speak of. Small saggy breasts. Long neck. The kind of woman you might be attracted to if you had a million-dollar trust fund--

--or were Grisha Perelman. He swallows so hard beside me his chaise-lounge quakes.

"Grisha," Ann Coulter says.


"I don't think I want to be a liberal," she declares.

"Uh--fine," Grisha says.

"I just realized what I want to be. I want to be a priestess of Ba'al."

Rolled eyes all around. "Oh, Jeez," Allah says.

"I've had a sacred vision," Ann Coulter explains. "During sex. I had a vision of Aaron dreaming of Ba'al in the underworld, Ba'al submitting to death at the hands of Mot, and his rescue through Anat's fierce loyalty. I will be Anat. I will be a lover and a warrior for Ba'al. I will be Ba'al's high priestess in heaven. Who wants to have sex with me? I'll do you all."

"Please, Ann dear," Mary says gently. "Come down from there. Put some clothes on. Ba'al has that effect on everybody at first. They get over it."

"Who wants to be first?" Ann Coulter says, a little louder.

Little baby Jesus sits up, looks at Mary. "Mom? Dad? Could I--?"

"No!" Mary and Yahweh thunder at him in one voice.

"Okay, okay, Jesus Christ, I was just asking."

"And watch your language, young man."

The Bill-cloud drifts over. "I might want to give it a try," he rumbles, "but I'm not sure I've got the necessary parts in this thing. Anybody know more about it than me? I'd sure appreciate a little demonstration."

Grisha stands up, red-faced. "I'll do it," he says.

"So there's one real man among you!" Ann Coulter declaims.

Grisha shuffles over toward the boat, looking like he's shat his pants. He gives one rueful glance back at me.

"Hey," I shrug. "Don't look at me. Go for it."

He climbs up into the boat, starts pulling the tarp back over. Ann Coulter stops him.

"No," she says. "In the open air, for Ba'al!"

Grisha ignores her, keeps pulling on the tarp. We all go back to our ribs. The barbeque sauce is really out of this world. It must be Corky's. But how does Yahweh ship it in?


Ba'al is Dead

Back down at the bottom of the mountain, in his tent, Aaron is dreaming. It is a dream of Ba’al. Which is sort of treasonous, because he’s supposed to be the first priest of Yahweh, but face it, Ba’al is bigger than Yahweh. Ba’al is El’s first son and second in command. And since El mostly holes up in his hall up on top of the mountain (not Mt. Sinai where Moses is now, another one), between the two rivers that are the source of the world’s oceans, in practice Ba’al is boss. Yahweh is just some shmuck lower down on the chain of command. And nobody likes Yahweh anyway. He’s an insufferable prig.

Anyway, in this dream there is a god named Mot, god of death and the underworld, who is so hungry that he wants to eat Ba’al. Aaron sees Ba’al quivering with dread and instructing his assistants Gapan and Ugar to placate Mot with promises. “‘Be gracious, divine Mot,’ you should say, ‘for I am your slave, your servant, your hired gun forever.’” This is a huge concession for the mighty Ba’al, and Mot is very happy. In his dream Aaron sees Mot dancing and throwing up his hands with joy. He invites the humbled Ba’al to come to the underworld to party with him and his friends. “‘Tell your master,’ he tells Gapan and Ugar, ‘to bring his clouds and winds, thunderbolts and rains.’” Ba’al, after all, is the god of weather, and of nature. “‘Tell him to bring his seven serving boys and eight serving girls, and his three daughter-brides.’” Ba’al calls to the cattle god Shegar, asks him to gather up a bunch of cattle and sheep and take them along with some other gods down to Mot.

When he goes to Mot’s kingdom he will be as one who has died. Aaron can feel his dread at this prospect. It is a very sharp visceral pain. He clutches at his stomach in his sleep. Before he goes down to the underworld, Ba’al decides to have one last fling. In the fields by the shore of the kingdom of death, he finds a heifer and fucks her eighty-eight times. It is a mighty fucking. To sustain him in his labor Ba’al requires his companions to strip naked and fuck along with him, men and women, men and men, women and women. There is a lot of sensuous writhing and moaning and crying out in sweet agony there in the field by the shore of the kingdom of death. Whenever his companions waver in their ardor, when they fall back spent, Ba’al bellows at them to get up and fuck some more, or he will fall back spent himself, and then he will be dead.

When at last he is done, the heifer conceives and bears him a boy, a calf who is Ba’al’s twin, with golden skin. Ba’al picks up his robe off the ground where he threw it and wraps it around the boy and sends him along with the other gifts to Mot.

The dream moves to El’s hall on the mountaintop. Ba’al’s messengers are telling El that they found Ba’al dead in a field by the shore of the kingdom of death. El staggers down off his throne, weeping; sits on the ground; dumps ashes in his hair, rolls in the dirt, puts on sackcloth. He cuts his flesh — something Yahweh’s followers are strictly forbidden to do. Yahweh doesn’t even allow tattoos, because you have to cut the flesh to make one. Anat, El’s daughter, Ba’al’s sister and wife, comes in and finds her father moaning on the floor. When she hears that Ba’al her brother and husband is dead, she goes in search of him and finds his body on the shore of the lake of death.

She too mourns for Ba’al, cutting her flesh and wailing. She calls on Shapash the sun goddess to help her carry Ba’al’s dead body back to Mt. Tsaphon, where Ba’al lived in life. There they bury the body and throw a great funeral feast. Many animals are slaughtered and sacrificed. Because Ba’al the god of rains is dead, the water in the well is perilously low.

Anat is a great lover. But she is an even greater warrior. She straps on her armor and goes to the underworld to confront Mot. She seizes him by the throat and tortures him until he confesses that he ate Ba’al. With a mighty shriek she brings her sword down on his belly and splits him wide open. She builds a bonfire and burns his body to ashes, then sows the ashes in the fields. Birds eat him one tiny black morsel at a time.

In his dream Aaron dreams that El dreams that Ba’al is alive. He rejoices, dances and sings. He tells Anat and Shapash that Ba’al lives. But no one knows where he is. The fields are parched without Ba’al’s rain. The whole world mourns the death of Ba’al. Shapash the torch of the gods looks for him in vain.

Aaron wakes from his dream in a sweat. He knows that he must do whatever it is in his power to do to bring Ba’al back from the dead.