GOD ATE MY LUNCH (in progress)
GOD ATE MY LUNCH (in progress)
E. C. Wells
Internationally acclaimed playwright EDWARD CROSBY WELLS has had his plays produced from coast to coast in the U.S. and in Canada, Scotland, England, Ireland, Spain (translated into Spanish), South Africa, Belgium (translated into Flemish) Poland (translated into Polish), New Zealand and Australia. He is the winner of several international playwriting awards including the Spotlight On Best Play Award for Excellence in Off-Off Broadway Theatre for three consecutive years. His work is published by Greyridge Press, Cyberpress, StagePlays, Meriwether Publishing Ltd., Production Scripts, Smith & Kraus, Inc., and Samuel French, Inc. Edward wrote the screenplay, Road Kill, based on his play of the same title. He recently finished his first novel, QUEEN CITY AND OTHER DIMENSIONS, written under the pen of E.C. WELLS. He is currently working on his second novel, GOD ATE MY LUNCH, a novel about child abuse.
I hope you don’t mind me barging in like this, but I didn’t know anyone I could trust. I mean, really trust. You paid whatever it was you paid to read this; so, you are invested in this book. Thank you. I owe you something for it. However, I am puzzled and thought you might be able to help, dear reader; with my knowing there is actually someone on the other side reading this, is all the help I need.
At the moment, the truth is I don’t know what I’m doing, really, not entirely; and I cannot get my myself, my life, together without enough pieces to see if it’s day or night. I want to put myself together; to figure me out for myself; and not until then will I have knowledge. True knowledge. And I’d like a little wisdom thrown in, as well. Wouldn’t you? Anyway, that’s what I think. When I know what I’m doing, I suppose consequences from choices will be something to seriously ponder. Getting a life to bloom into its better Self is the consequence of good and true choices. It’s hard for me to disagree with that. Maybe, just maybe, I can do it. Or maybe not, if I don’t use will power, that is. So confused. Maybe together, you and I might come to an epiphany of sorts. Please come with me as I begin to fall into my rhythm.
Consider a sheet of paper torn into a dozen or more pieces, written on it are emergency matters of life and death, maybe my own, maybe your own. Consider that each piece is a part of you. And, you are needed to save the world. That takes some doing if you only have a single idea of yourself and your capabilities. It is going to take some mighty powerful Will to bring most or all of those pieces together. It’s a gruesomely difficult way to create a future for ourselves if we don’t know who or what is at the core of our being, nor the choices we make to get there. I don’t believe we need all the fragments of ourselves to find the knowledge of ourselves as a conscious being. That’s the first step. No, I’m not Humpty Dumpty! I am an ambiguous soul who found a way to design and reinvent himself.
We begin to create change by carefully thought-out choices and by listening to the subconscious—a bank of knowledge and wisdom. The subconscious is mysterious, but it’s worth the journey if we listen to it. The seat of our conscience is in the subconscious. I’ve tried to develop a dialog with the subconscious but, fortunately or unfortunately, nothing has changed and so here I am absolutely and really me: A product of relentless self-consciousness.
There is an important point to be made for ambiguity. Everyone interoperates from their own experiences. Here it is in a nutshell: The nanosecond you become conscious of ambiguity in what you hear, or in what you read; that moment is for you and you alone. Though elated, you are left to fill in the blank spaces. The void is filled-in by what’s on your mind at any given moment. It’s a state of mind that informs us of our state of Self. This should be carefully examined. You and I create ambiguity ourselves. With every blank space we fill in, we have taken a step closer to ourselves. The gravity and the connections we make, moves us to our goal. But, along the way, it gets dark and deep with fear, anguish and distrust before reaching the Truth, the Sublime and the Good. Quoting Marcel Proust in this regard: "Every reader finds himself. The writer's work is merely a kind of optical instrument that makes it possible for the reader to discern what, without this book, he would perhaps never have seen in himself."
Counsel given is best taken. I believe the subconscious is the place where our conscience resides. I’ve learned to trust the subconscious and to listen to my conscience, which took many decades for me to learn. Hopefully, not as long a time for you. To shorten those decades is the purpose of much in this book. Not all, of course. Remember that every nanosecond of a life exists in the vaults of the our subconscious.
Specificity allows ambiguity to enter the mind. I know of no other means to get to the source; to say what I want to say; to say what I need to say, to the both of us. A confession? No, not really, other than I confess that my life is a bit too vapid.
I’ve read all the books I could find on the subject of esotericism. Most of their authors should have been imprisoned and denied the use of pencil and paper. Insightful authors, however, may give confirmation to our long held, non-empirical convictions. Books on esotericism have little to nothing to do with the subject. Many are pure nonsense. Keep in mind that the subconscious hears and sees everything we do; every thought we think. I’ve heard that God can do the same. There are times you may think, "what’s he talking about?" It then becomes the work of the reader to make sense of it. And, with patience, the reader will.
It’s the oddest sensation going within. Touching the Soul of Being. Anyway, I needed to tell you this. And, to acknowledge why I came to you. You know truth when you hear it. I trust you do. I promise to attempt to say truth to the best of my ability. But, I tend to hyperbolate once in a while. Please don’t deny me some of the writer’s flair and style in the process. Certainly, you must be tired of the same o’, same o’. And style is the heartbeat of the Self and that’s one of the finer arts; simply by being oneself.
Again, please forgive me for barging in from off the page. I knew of nowhere else to go, no one else I could trust.
I know. But, I don’t want to go to the mother first. Why should I? Why would I? Nobody cares and nobody wants all that mewling; all that drama. I don’t want to go there until we build to it. I bet you know that anyway. Of course you do. Who doesn’t? Why whine when what’s done is done? Right? You know all about that anyway. Anyway, this is not the best way to begin a conversation; one-sided as it is.
Anyway. What is 'anyway?' Endless choices? Not unless 'ways' are infinite. As long as our race survives, if we do survive, our choices are as endless as those who choose. One should not expect to get their head around the concepts of 'endless' and 'infinite.' You cannot. Who can without the overwhelming uncertainty and terror when getting too close to the edge of the universe? Astronomers? You can turn yourself inside out and never understand the unknowable without getting engulfed at first glimpse with the concepts of 'endless' and 'infinite?' It is unnerving and untouchable. So, why bother, one asks? Who needs to know? It’s comfortable not knowing. Why make ourselves crazy over nothing of any, or of little importance, of little consequence? And here’s the thing. Worry free comfort is a good place to create the illusion of security, of safety. All is well and life is good. But, it is all an illusion. The fact is, there is no such thing as safe and secure. No one is safe, ever. Not you. Not me I choose not to comment on 'life is good,' other than to say, it’s simply a copout. A 'good' life is a life you help to live to its fullest. 'Life is good,' means nothing. I am always left wanting to ask, "how do you know?" A 'great' life celebrates the wonders of the universe, and ponders the magic of existence. Don't wait for good things. Make them happen, then make them great. But, you already know that, don’t you?
I wonder about the concept of endless choices. That’s pretty scary without a clue; a reasonable foreshadowing of things to come, where the road chosen leads; at least, some sort of reason for your attraction to this or that path. Some go with the flow. Some say it’s fate, or it was meant to be. Some throw it up to God and take no choice in their own existence. Bummer! That enervates . . . distresses me. I don’t care for being depressed. Nobody does. Doing nothing keeps it simple and predictable. The status quo. By that I mean some don’t make choices, or have adventures, or conquer obstacles, or face life-altering challenges, nor the Will to explore the universe within themselves. They are too 'comfortable' waiting for God. The status quo. Comfortable without worries, worries me. 'Comfortable' dulls the imagination; a predictable loss on all counts.
Let’s begin with early memories. Something pleasant. A time and place remembered. Like most memories, they come jumbled through spacetime. Memories are mercurial.
A time and a place to begin involves going back a long way. Picking up those fragmented pieces of a life along the way inward.. Withdrawal can get one through heinous days that should have been a time for wonder and questions; but they were days of horrific abuse; days alive and living in hell. Fear and abuse were chronic.
The boy created a new reality. I watched the boy disappear; the boy interrupted by fear and abuse. The boy, fractured into splinters, took refuse deep in the heart of being. Fragments of being took on personalities all to themselves. Every so often they appear and make their presence known. They appear and articulate conflicting points of view. Anyway, the boy doesn’t want me to talk about them . . . the boy asked me to tell you that he doesn’t remember . . . anything . . . the boy wants to sleep and forget.
Okay, I whispered to the boy, if you remember anything, remember this: Spacetime changes as we make our way through a lifetime. We throw this and that out the window and then we replace them with a different this and that. We constantly create new memories; we reinvent ourselves; but never our souls, our spirit; that can never be changed; it is constant. That’s where we want to go . . . in the direction of the soul. And, above all else, never trust your memories even when you think that you are absolutely certain. Remember that.
A farm house. Clapboards painted white. Green shutters. Tall hollyhocks. Narrow dirt roads; sometimes dusty, sometimes muddy. We’ll go to the lane first.
The lane is where the journey to the seminary began. The seminary was a huge rambling mansion made of brick and marble; occupied by the Roman Catholic Order of Something or Other. Priests and Brothers were at the other end of the lane from the farm house. The lane. Deep ruts. Tractors. Balers. Honey wagons. And, the boy’s favorite, the green John Deere.
To the boy, the Catholic Brothers were mystical. Purveyors of magic. They spoke from the soul. They didn’t waste words, but when they did speak, the words focused sharply before they pierced, jarringly into the boy’s head. They knew God. To the boy, they ruled the world. And, the boy wanted nothing less. He was going to be one of them. The boy daydreamed that the seminary, the castle in the valley, will one day be his own private paradise to rule however and whomever he likes. However, that will never happen.
The library was gargantuan. That was his favorite room. There were ladders on rollers to get to many of the beautiful books with gold and scarlet bindings, long highly polished wooden tables with lamps of brass and green and yellow glass shades. You know the kind. Stained windows, sky high, poured shafts of sunlight casting an array of colors upon the books the boy believed he would read one day. The library was scented with incense, as was the entire castle. The Fathers and the Brothers were perfumed by the scent of fresh linen. Kept fresh by nuns who never spoke. Despite Her gracious benevolence, the Mother Church owned the farm, the farmhouse—and its residents.
Box camera. Snapshots. Pinking sheared edges. Along the lane. Apples and pears. English walnuts and a grape arbor bursting with concords and possibilities. The lane. A narrow wooden bridge over a creek, maybe five feet across, over the stream that went through the lower cow pasture which fed into the pond where there was an island in the middle of it with home-crafted, unmarked headstones for the dead and buried remains of the unknown. A mystery. The stream ran through the pond before it rolled into white water. From there, the boy could not see any farther ahead.
Gathering watercress. A boy. Age five. Walking with his mother to the seminary where she was studying with the Father Director in preparation for her conversion to Roman Catholicism. The boy was forgiven from study, but he’ll be converted as well.
The boy has no memory of ever walking hand-in-hand with his mother; in fact, he remembers very little of his mother, other than brief glimpses in time which he would prefer not to remember.
Box camera. Snapshots. The boy’s head held down on the railroad track by the mother. Cheek pressed against hot steel. The odor of melted tar. They both believed that they were going to see Jesus. Eyes shut tight. Rumbling of the approaching train. It’s coming. The mother held his head down. The boy did not struggle. He was going to be a martyr for Jesus. The train blew its whistle. Black smoke. He could see it. She held him closely to her and to the rail. Yells came from the hobo. dThe shabby man grabbed the mother’s legs and pulled them off the tracks in time. In time to give living a chance.
The hissing sound escaping from unlit burners as the mother held the boy’s head in the oven with all the gas jets turned on. Wherever she was going, she was determined to take the boy with her. A neighbor friend came to the rescue.
The boy was dripping with kerosene. Poured over his head. Hearing the mother’s insane laughter. Please mommy. What did I do? The scent of sulfur from striking a wooden kitchen matches, but the mother never got the chance to torch the boy because a strong wind swooped in, stirred-up decades worth of dust and left her temporarily blind.
The scalding enemas. Please mommy. What did I do? It’s just a game, she told the boy. You need to poop and I’m going to see you do it. The scalding soap and water left him unable to sit for several days. Red fingernails dug into the boys flesh. "Because Jesus loves you." She laughed hysterically.
The lane. On the lane. The boy sensed that the mother wasn’t there. He never really felt her presence. She was somewhere else. Other worldly. She had black hair, black eyes, dark red lipstick and long meticulously manicured nails to match. She was more beautiful than she was pretty. The boy, who also had black hair and black eyes, danced from rock to rock, turned some of them over to see what lay hidden from the light of day; things unseen hiding in the cool shadows; things that crawled and buried themselves to escape the sun and a curious boy. Crayfish. Salamanders. Minnows. A galaxy of minute life.
The lane continued past the cow barn. The machine shop. The wooden outhouse with the rusty hinges and two seats. The pigpen and the rabbit-run. Sounds of men working, laughing, shouting, teasing. Belly-aching. The piercing breakneck heartbeats of the John Deere and the Harvesters. They strolled past pastures where cows grazed and meandered endlessly through the heavy scent of dung. A footbridge stood over the serpentine brook that led to the pond where the unknown dead were buried was less than a ten-minute walk away; even for a five-year-old boy with black hair and black eyes. The boy’s mother stopped on the footbridge. The boy was given his orders. Down the rocky bank. Don’t fall or else! Or else what? Her creative tortures were endless. Just the watercress. Nothing else.
Watercress sandwiches made with his grandmother’s homemade bread. Still warm. Hot kitchen. Pot belly stove. Flypaper. No vacancy on the flypaper. Oilcloth. Kerosine lamps. Blackout curtains. The War had ended, but the black curtains still fought the good fight. Just in case. Pump the water for tea. Carefully. Don’t spill it. On the cast iron stove. Carefully. Always carefully. The sandwich. Thickly spread with freshly churned butter and mayonnaise. Trapped in spacetime. Then, that moment of remembrance is on the tip of the tongue, and then it is gone.
In the spring. The lane. The boy with his mother. Her bright red lipstick and fingernails, her smooth flawless skin and penciled eyebrows. Walking to the seminary. This time, they took the long way through the orchards. Blossoms scented the breeze with an unsullied, familiar fragrance. And then quickly summer. Off to Catholic summer camp for the entire summer. Father Director pulled strings. No charge. Home before autumn. Autumn. Luscious. Pungent scent of fallen fruit; the boy’s favorite way to eat a pear; under the tree where they fell helter skelter. The boy and the mother rested on the weathered wooden seat beneath the grape arbor before continuing their journey past the orchards on the other side of the lane. Pears. The boy’s first place to go. Best when they cover the ground beneath the trees. The boy loved fallen fruit. They’re ripest when they are soft. Discolored spots were not a problem. The salvaged pear collapsed onto its core from the fingers of the boy grabbing it too firmly before biting deeply into its sweet, succulent flesh. The boy didn’t see, nor feel the pear’s nectar spill and run down his chin and neck. Sticky. On his shirt. The boy will pay for that. What torture would she devise this time?
Under the bee-buzzing arbor, they feasted on colossal concord grapes with skins that could be slipped back, then with a pinch of the boy’s fingers, the meat of the grape popped out. Near the arbor. A forest of evergreens. Mother and son dawdled through the forest. That was the boy’s spiritual part of the journey.
Through pine towers of evergreen were carefully intended trails that led to clearings where the Stations of the Cross were erected. Cool marble benches to languish upon and gather strength from the serenity of the evergreens as the marble Jesus sluggishly made his way toward his crucifixion. The boy wondered if he might also like to be crucified? To go directly to Heaven. He yearned to be a martyr for Jesus. The forest, preternatural and magical, before the age of reason came and explained the magic away.
When they arrived at the seminary, there were always the Brothers to greet them. The boy’s mother was escorted to her lessons by the Father Director of the seminary. The boy was left in the care of convivial Brothers in black cassocks. It was a respite from the horrors of childhood. It was a microscopic time of joy. A time to savor. A time filled with wonder. To marvel. The world. Nature. Creation. God. Short-lived. The resilience of childhood has its limits and risks becoming brittle; brittle as fallen leaves and dead twigs beneath steely boot leather.
When his mother was finished with her lessons for the day, she and the Father Director would find the boy laughing and playing with the Brothers. It was time to go home. The laughter suddenly stopped. Father Director, the boy and the mother set out to walk the Stations of the Cross before the boy and his mother turned back to the lane and began their journey home. Alone again. The boy and the mother; the mother who was always somewhere else.
The mother was twenty-three. The boy was five and never heard the words, "I love you." From anyone.
The scars from the mother’s last brutal beating by the father were still on her face, and pretty much the rest of her body as well. Her lip was split and swollen. She miscarried the boy’s little sister. The father blamed her. The truck driver disappeared afterward. Runaway. Time and time again. No child support. No rent money. No food money. Nothing. The boy’s grandparents who never said, "I love you," delivered food, mostly from their garden, and paid the next month’s rent. When the rent money ceased it was time to leave and move back to the boy’s grandparent’s house on the farm. Where the lane to the seminary is. The grandmother gave the mother her old room back. The boy’s room was small with a slanted ceiling covered with rose wallpaper. It was the boy’s favorite room.
Is that deep enough for you? Sometimes you scare me. There are some people who scare me all the time. I don’t know what to do. No. I don’t think I’m a coward, but time will tell. The truth is what I said, in my own way. I am pretty sure of that. I haven’t been tested yet. Besides, you don’t scare in a bad way and you know it. Honestly. I’m your biggest fan. Be mine. You know I don’t want to fight. Please. I came for your voltage. Yes, I confess. You’re my only way forward. Inward. I like being around you. Sometimes, you give me a jolt to move on. And, when you are lightning, you take my breath away. When you are wind you inspire. When you are rain you cleanse me. Thank you. Months later. Homeward wheels the father. Always the same. The mother will take the truant husband back. She always does. Always. Maddening, right? She fingers her rosary, kisses the hanging body of Jesus on the cross, a gruesome token of the crucifixion, then the mother puts the rosary into the pocket of her housedress.
The boy’s father had blond silky hair like cornsilk, and pale blue eyes that went somewhere beyond their opaqueness into a dark unfathomable place. He was attractive and enigmatic. He also had a fabulous way with bullshit! He was the master of bullshit. It carried the day. Much of what the father claimed to know began and ended with bullshit. He frighten the boy with the black hair and black eyes, causing the boy to want to be, beg to be, a martyr for Jesus. The boy saw himself hanging from an oak. A birch. An elm. Or maybe a peach tree. But Jesus wasn’t ready for him yet.
The only clues as to where the father had been, during his three months of truancy, were in an assortment of odds and ends. He bestowed, in lieu of needed cash, bolo neckties with turquoise and silver from Out West; a stuffed alligator from down south, maracas, beads and sandals from “Old Mexico;” a stuffed parrot and a kewpie doll from a parking lot carnival; a "real" shrunken head from the jungles of darkest Africa. At five, the boy knew rubber when he saw it. And once, a crate of inedible bananas still on the stalk from “Sunny Florida.” In this cycle of insanity the boy survived.
A long line where they gave food away. Cans of vegetables and fruits. Cornflakes and a box of spaghetti. The church undercroft dispensed clothing. The boy wore a girl’s winter coat that year.
The grandparents were tenant farmers traumatized by the Great Depression. They had no phone. Shut that light off. You’re wasting electricity. Use the kerosene lamp. The boy remembers his grandmother’s beautiful collection of lamps. Touching the good carnival glass and milk glass was not allowed. The boy loved his grandmother, and though he never heard his grandmother say "I love you" he knew she did. He imagined the words because the words made it real.
The mother suffered migraine headaches. She stayed in bed for weeks, crying mostly. When the father returned he expected her to take him back. Another ramshackle bungalow awaits. More torturous beatings. The mother put a chef’s knife under the boy’s mattress. Just in case. Hold it like this. Sharp side down. In the back. Stab him in his back as hard as you can. The father found the knife under the boy’s mattress. It was not the first time she used the boy to take responsibility for murdering her husband.
The father grabbed the knife and threatened the boy and the mother with it. He chased them around the small bungalow until the mother fell. He grabbed her hair and pulled it until she screamed with pain. The boy ran to his father and pounded on him to stop. The father picked up the boy by the nape of his neck and then threw him across the room. As the boy laid there crying, the father beat him with his meaty fists, leaving the boy bleeding, sobbing and unable to get up. The father then turned to the mother and beat her until she went numb and passed out. After the father left, slamming the door behind him, a neighbor who heard the awful ruckus ran into the bungalow and took the boy to the hospital. He had fallen off the John Deere, according to his mother. A terrible accident. But, the boy had never been on the John Deere. On the way to the hospital the boy prayed to the Devil. He promised to serve the God Satan. He prayed to Satan to save him. The mother remained on the floor of the bungalow, praying to another God.