October 18, 2018

Believe This or Not!

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“Beware the Jabberwock…the frumious Bandersnatch!”
–Lewis Carroll, Through the Looking Glass

For many Sedonans down through the diaphanous years, blaming the planet Mercury in times of stress became a major way to pass the day–and better than actual work, for sure. Forget the mortgage payment, the rent, food for the javelinas, the hair appointment, whatever–Mercury is in retrograde. And when Mercury is in retrograde, Sedonans are flat-out not responsible for memory lapses or bizarre behavior.

It has always been easy to mock certain things–tawdry films, fatuous local elected officials–but always with a pen dipped in vinegar, nothing more potent. For two decades here in the land the Spanish called the Northern Mystery, I’ve been scribbling down whatever cockamamie thoughts surged through my mind including dollops of mockery at New Age axioms along the way.

Throughout, foul weather or fair, as a stout Thoreau disciple, I stood for individual responsibility, a concept that left no room for woo-woo theories about unforeseeable, unknowable, supernatural winds and such. I say “stood,” because these days I have lots of room for theories in that vein.

So much has happened to shatter my prior belief systems that I am not sure where to start. Was it the day I found a snake in the living room–the very day I was interviewing a secret source about what the Snake People may have done to an environmental activist?

Or was it the day a woman in white robes appeared at my door and offered her services? I looked away briefly to check that I was all buttoned up or not then looked back to see no one at my front door. Had it been a spiritual recreation of a former girlfriend, a nightmarish projection of a wife-to-be, a still-scary ex-wife or merely a dream unfulfilled?

Running out of questions, I espied the postal person skittering up the driveway carefully stepping between chunks of skunk leavings only to hand me several pieces of mail whose virginal white surfaces were blemished with red stamps. The beginnings of a sinking spell swirled around in my chest. A little voice said the day would not go swimmingly.

How right was that little voice. One letter was from my bank advising me that no mortgage payment has been received and the other contained a deadline to pay off long overdue income taxes; both problems had been dealt with weeks earlier. Perhaps I should call them to question their competence or simply ignore the two bills or whatever, another couple of days shot.

“BOGUS,” I yelled to the sky, which did not reply.

To change my mood, I wandered down to the post office at the “Y” (the old name for the Big “O”) and bumped into the Great Damon, artist, lothario, tile man, part-time palm reader and long time friend. “You look like –(expletive deleted).”

Since he was my pal, I brushed aside his compliment and related some of the morning’s surprises, even joking about Mercury maybe being in retrograde.

“You are past that lad, this is Pluto Direct time. And the day is still young. The way things are going for you, I’d head home and lock the door.”

Back on the front porch, more mail had arrived and a large cardboard box, too. Noting that one letter looked like an invoice from my local health provider, I ripped that one open first. Believe it or not it was a REAL BILL, even though I knew that all previous therapy sessions were covered by insurance. A note on the bill stated that the considerable amount was due now. Was this the work of Pluto Direct?

Surging forward into my whirling, confused brain was what happened the day Alice met the Red Queen soon after she went through the looking-glass. “Now here, you see,” the Red Queen proclaimed, “It takes all the running you can do to keep in the same place. To get somewhere else, you must run at least twice as fast as that.”

To be sure, I had nowhere to run. Besides, my tale was not imaginary.

Wait a minute! Looking at the cardboard box, I was startled to see the return address: the Vice President of the USA. Uh oh, what’s this about? My reading habits…my Russian girlfriend?

Inside the box there was a flashlight, a report card, an FBI number and a sheet of suggestions about how to mislead the press. So what would you do? I opened the letter and learned that martial law was about to be declared, and that the VEEP had named himself National Energy Warden with full powers to put environmentalists in jail in Cuba.

Summing up, the letter said that “We expect you to roll-back energy consumption in this area. THIS IS NO JOKE. WE ARE WATCHING YOU NOW!”

I ran inside, locked myself in a closet to wait for a cloudy night, with no planet in sight.

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