I'm sort of angry right now.
No, not angry....
I'm shaky. At least, when I lift my cup of coffee to my lips, sitting here at Starbucks, my hand is trembly.
I hate that!
The power THEY have to still reach me on some hidden point that hides in the corners of my very being...
But, let me back up.
Begin at the beginning!
My car was very dirty when I went out to the parking lot this morning. It has been for days. I park under a tree. Those nasty blackbirds need some Pepto Bismol or something because they can't seem to contain much of what they eat! So, my car is their favorite loo (as they say in Europe.)
I actually had quarters in my ashtray! How often does that happen?? So, there wasn't any excuse NOT to stop at the local Car Wash and undo the DOO.
I park in the little cubicle and and start to feed the quarters in when a sedan full of suited people pulls up close to me. I hear a man's voice.
My mind was elsewhere. I was still thinking about the morning I had spent the previous day at a Rehab Hospital with my one-legged ex-preacher friend, Dub.
He has a sort of impromptu "sharing" ministry with the residents on the 3rd floor. They are profoundly afflicted people. Autism, spastics, stroke victims and catatonics in wheel chairs desperately lonely and seemingly trapped in their own bodies.
Like I say, I can't shake thinking about that and my mind was NOT anywhere near what was about to take place!
The man's voice finally reached me as I poised in mid air with my quarter a few inches from the Car Wash pay slot.
I turned my head and did a quick size-up.
My impression? He was lost and needed directions. He seemed to have some sort of map in his hands.
He was white-haired with glasses and had a sort of Insurance Salesman smile.
I stepped over to the car.
Since I'm six fee four inches I could not actually see into the passenger side. I only glimpsed there were at least 5 people inside.
I drag my mind to focus on his problem and begin to orient myself for giving directions that won't get him more lost than he already is...
"I'd like to share this with you, sir..."
I looked down at what had been a "map" in my surmise. It wasn't. A map, that is.
He may as well have extended a hand full of poisonous snakes.
I actually gasped. No kidding.
It was, of course, THE WATCHTOWER!
Now here is the thing. If you go to a doctor and he is going to give you a shot in your butt with a long needle you sort of steel yourself to the moment and man up so you don't wince like a girly man. The Doc jabs it in and you half smile and show no pain. Right?
This car of lost travelers that I was going to help was a long needle jabbed in before I could brace myself. Get it? I wasn't ready for it.
You'll have to take my word for this. I'm usually a quick thinker. I have a quick wit. Conversation is fun for me most of the time. I think of it as Ping Pong.
Whack that little white ball at me and WHAP! it is back in your face before you know it!
Not this time.
My guard was down and I couldn't shift mental gears.
But, something else was happening I could not seem to control. You want to know what it was? Profound emotion.
It took me the length of the conversation to sort out what the emotion was. By the time I did....well.....nevermind....
The Watchtower was offered to me with the man's hand sticking out the window and his giant smiling face beaming up at me.
I was NOT about to touch it.
Instead, I touched the man's arm....gently....
"Sir, I use to be one of Jehovah's Witnesses..." that was the sound of my voice. I heard it the same way he did; for the first time. It was automatic response and not quick wit.
I recall his expression flickered like a bad signal on an old analog TV set. He remained self-possessed. I was watching him. I thought to myself vaguely: "He has to handle this for the benefit of his passengers. He was going to be a fine example for them.
"What happened?" he asked. I felt he didn't know what else to say.
"I was disfellowshipped." Not much of a reply on my part.
He did another between-stations-screen-blip and his eyes "stammered".
"Have you tried coming back?" I swear he was glaring at me, but, it was probably my imagination.
At this point I'm trying to jump-start my THINKING and switch gears into some sort of modality that is proactive instead of reactive. Nothing.
"No sir. I was disfellowshipped for refusing to live with my wife. She was an alcoholic."
What he did next I'll have to describe for you. He began to belittle my comments without actually appearing to do so. That means I may be imagining it. But, I doubt it.
"Now YOU KNOW we don't disfellowship people for that!" In other words, "You are a liar!"
I responded: "Yes sir, that's true--and yet THAT IS EXACTLY WHAT THEY DID."
I heard somebody saying something directly to the man from the front seat. He turned his head toward them momentarily. I knew instinctively he was being counseled to get away from me.
"I was a Jehovah's Witness in good standing for 20 years, sir. I spent two years in Federal prison for christian neutrality. I Pioneered from the moment I was released. We were warning people that 1975 would bring the END of 6,000 years of human existence. That was 36 years ago that NOTHING happened."
The man was uncomfortably pulling his Watchtower back inside and adjusting himself....
"My wife lost her faith after that and started drinking. We had 3 small children. I left her. They disfellowshipped me. I lost all my friends....."
He didn't really want to hear any of it! He spoke with authority, "You KNOW that wasn't Jehovah's doing. You KNOW that."
I was starting to tremble. "No sir, I DON'T know that. How can I? His people and His organization are all I had to go by."
He had a sick smile as he said: "Jehovah will take you back. But, you have to make the effort. You have a good day sir."
Here is where I'd love to say that I said some withering, devastating remark that zonked him good. But, I came up empty. Just when I needed
my famous quick wit. I had zero...zip...nada. I was lost in my adrenal glands, instead.
He rolled up his window and the car full of zealous servants of Jah rid themselves of my lying ass apostate nonsense.
I plopped my quarters into the Car Wash slot as the pressure built in the line and the stream of water gushed out of the wand.
Symbolically, I directed the pressured stream toward the bird shit. It cut through the nasty white stripes of mess and vanished.
What am I upset about, anyway?
I think I know.
Even after all this time....
I'm still some sort of sleeper cell agent. Jehovah gives the triggering remark and I'm trembling putty again. At least, I react like I'm nobody and nothing but a slave in his mindless army. Blindsided yet again....
Talk about bird shit!