Rectuma, monsturd, and deadbeat at dawn

This was a STRONG week on Tubi. Right when I was about to give up (not just on Tubi, but on life in general) I got slapped across the face with three BANGERS.

Rectuma (2003)

This is why I say it takes a couple of decades after a film’s release before it can be properly critiqued. Audiences were probably pissed when they saw this in 2003. They probably discarded it as just another lame attempt at South Park-style humor, which many attempted, unsuccessfully, to emulate. But now, nearly 20 years later, Rectuma’s stupidity can be fully appreciated.

Just in case you forgot, I’ve taken a LOT of drugs. And as a result, my memory is nearly shot. So if you want an accurate plot summary, you’ll have to look elsewhere. But best I can recall, the story is about some schlubby dude who gets raped by a frog in Mexico and then he gets nuclear rods shoved up his rectum thus causing his ass to grow massive in size before it starts attacking LA. Plus his wife is trying to kill him.

In 2003, I was fully steeped in this low-brow, offensive, toilet humor (still kinda am, tbh). That was practically internet culture in those days. So watching this movie was like a walk down memory lane.

People forget, there was a time when “politically incorrect” humor (before it got relabeled as “anti-woke” humor 🤢) oddly lacked any political dimension whatsoever. Everyone laughed at it because it was after 9/11 and we all thought we would die soon anyway. Stuff like Rectuma was supposed to distract us from that horrible fact.

So to appreciate this movie, one must see it as an artifact of very early 21st Century life. It should be shown in colleges and history classes across the globe.

Monsturd (2003)

Both Monsturd and Rectuma were released in 2003 and were both seemingly filmed in Butte County, California. So I’m assuming there was some overlap in the productions of these two movies.

I don’t think Monsturd is quite of the same caliber as Rectuma, but I appreciate the effort nonetheless. The plot is simple: a gigantic, living turd -created by a mad scientist- terrorizes the citizens of a small community, and it’s up to the sheriff’s department to stop it.

Despite being the lesser of the two films, like peanut butter and chocolate, this goes well with Rectuma.

Deadbeat At Dawn (1988)

I saved the best for last. Outside of one Ouija Board scene, this really isn’t a “horror” film. But I’m glad, that in Tubi’s infinite wisdom, they recommended it.

Filmed on the mean streets of Dayton, Ohio, Deadbeat At Dawn is about one man’s revenge against rival gang members for killing his girlfriend. The final confrontation at a train station is simultaneously amateurish and utterly fucking brutal…and it concludes in the most satisfying way: the bad guy gets his throat ripped out (this was released a year before Road House, btw).

The violence in Deadbeat At Dawn is delightfully absurd, but the highlight of the movie is when, in his darkest hour, our hero goes from getting drunk to snorting coke to shooting up heroin before finally dropping acid. Self-destruction never looked more hilarious.

This is definitely one of the great underrated action films of the 80s.

*******

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Breaking bad on Wall Street

Yeah, like everyone else in the early 2010s, I was addicted to Breaking Bad. It came at a turning point when we started evaluating the male ego in art and storytelling. Many bitch about this paradigm shift, but honestly it’s given me a fuckton of creative fuel to write my dumbass stories.

Without it, I wouldn’t have a writing career at all! So thanks Breaking Bad for all the digital trees I’ve wasted on the internet.

But as time has passed, it’s obvious that there were problems with the show. Now I try to evaluate art by the intentions of the artist. So what were the showrunners trying to do here?

https://www.yahoo.com/entertainment/breaking-bad-creator-vince-gilligan-231701266.html

https://variety.com/2022/tv/news/breaking-bad-skyler-hate-vince-gilligan-1235347122/amp/

Apparently, creator Vince Gilligan didn’t know either. While I think everyone involved did their jobs in the most competent and effective way possible, in my opinion, there was a fundamental difference between Gilligan’s vision and Bryan Cranston’s portrayal of Walter White/Heisenberg.

I base this opinion on zero research, but hear me out…

I’m assuming, when the show was pitched, that the thrust behind the story was to watch the protagonist turn into the villain. At least this is what drew me into the show. But if that’s the case, we run into an age old Clark Kent/Superman problem.

Philosopher and film theorist Slavoj Zizek, while discussing The Joker, claimed that the real identity of a superhero IS the mask and the person beneath it is the alter ego. Or, in other words, the MASK is what permits us to be our true selves.

In that sense, Heisenberg-the “MASK”- is really what Walter White is. If Heisenberg was ever wearing a mask for a disguise, that mask was the man Walter White. Therefore, Walter White…or, more accurately, Heisenberg…was ALWAYS evil.

I’m glad all of that makes sense.

But the problem is Walter White doesn’t always ACT like the bad guy. In fact, he’s usually shown being a loving father and Jesse’s guardian. Sure, he poisons a child, watches a woman choke to death, etc etc. but Walter White…probably due to Cranston’s acting choices…seems to signal horror at some of his decisions. In fact, if memory serves, he shows a sigh of relief when he learns that the child WON’T die from the poisoning attempt.

He even begs for Hank’s life for fuck’s sake!

Would Gus Fring, Walter White’s arch nemesis, have done that?

Fuck no!

And therein lies the fundamental problem with Breaking Bad: the audience never severs its sympathy with Walter White. Nor, I would argue, were they ever encouraged to do so.

Was this a deliberate choice by the showrunners? Was Cranston too damn competent at his job? Did anyone think any of this through?

I don’t suppose that this undermines the quality of the show. It’s just annoying to consider while re-watching it. The show seems to fail at meeting its own objective.

In fact, this concept…displaying a totally deplorable character in the most engaging way possible…has been successfully done before. Perhaps you remember it: The Wolf of Wall Street.

To be fair though, Martin Scorsese has a knack for this kind of thing. In fact, the movie that put him on the map, Taxi Driver, does something similar. The audience is exposed to a deranged world of a protagonist, we even empathize with him to a certain degree, but we can’t ever imagine coming to his defense (as fans of Breaking Bad have done many times before with Walter White).

With the Wolf of Wall Street, Scorsese “let’s you in on the joke.” Jordan Belfort is an over-the-top nutcase, and Scorsese allows you to indulge in his depravity, but you know that the end will come crashing down at any moment.

Scorsese isn’t afraid to “pull the trigger”…or show you the moment when a protagonist looses his grip on reality.

While Walter White certainly had his over-the-top moments, the audience is never encouraged to lose sympathy for him. This is reinforced through the writing. White should have never of begged for Hank’s life, his relationship with Jesse should have been established as being purely manipulative and nothing more, his role as a father should have deteriorated, etc etc.

Perhaps that’s the limits of television. When you spend five or more seasons with a character, it’s hard NOT to have sympathy for them.

But it always felt as though Walter White never quite broke bad.

wings hauser

I’m sure Italy is a wonderful place: nice people, delightful food and wine, rich history, beautiful scenery, etc, etc. But ‘giallo’ films and Italian horror as a whole…I’ll just say they make me absolutely sick.

And I think I know why:

Caligula.

Now Caligula can’t be considered ‘giallo’ OR horror, but it might as well be. If you recall, that film absolutely scared the shit out of me as a kid and I never quite recovered. So my response to Italian horror is similar to having alcohol poisoning: if you get it once by drinking vodka, you can’t quite stomach vodka again. The Italian style of tight closeups, zooms, disorienting music and editing, and fixation on gore and nudity just make me a little queasy.

But I have a job to do. And that job is to watch EVERY cheapass horror film on Tubi. That includes the filmography of the legendary Lucio Fulci. So I started at the worst possible place:

A Cat in the Brain.

The movie forced me to do some research while I was watching it, largely because I had no idea what the fuck was going on. Fulci plays the lead: himself as a film director that’s slowly becoming disturbed by a movie he’s making. As we watch him descend into madness, we’re shown random clips from prior films, almost as if this movie was thrown together in the most halfassed way possible.

A Cat in the Brain was produced towards the end of Fulci’s distinguished career, so there’s no telling where he was mentally. But I’ll say this: Fulci did a much better job of cobbling together this Frankenstein of a movie than Godfrey Ho did for Robo Vampire.

I neglected to mention that A Cat in the Brain is considered a “comedy” (thus deploying the “covering your ass” method over decade before Tommy Wiseau did for The Room). Maybe the humor went over my head, but I was too petrified watching some guy beat his wife’s face off to laugh.

You needn’t worry though, because this movie has a happy ending: a disgusting Fulci sails off into the sunset with a bikini-clad woman that’s at least a third his age.

I hated A Cat in the Brain. But Fulci fans love it. Just check out the reviews at IMDB.

After watching that shitshow I needed a palate cleanser. That’s when I found the 1984 Wings Hauser and Bo Hopkins (RIP) classic , Mutant.

Perhaps calling Mutant a ‘classic’ is a bit of a stretch, yet despite its lackluster script, it is competently made. It’s a story we’ve seen a thousand times before: strangers roll into town, weird things happen, everyone turns into zombies, heroes save the day in the most ham fisted way, blah blah blah.

Of course, none of the character archs pay off. Least of all Bo Hopkins’, the alcoholic town sheriff with a dark past. Nevertheless, Hauser and Hopkins’ performances carry the day, ALMOST to the point where you don’t feel cheated out of your time or money.

Actually, I just LOVE saying ‘Wings Hauser’. It sounds like Wings of Desire, the 1987 Wim Wenders film. Then I imagine Wings Hauser being in Wings of Desire and it makes me happy. His might be my most favorite name of anyone who has ever had a name.

Wings Hauser

It’s not his birth name, but still…

Jack hardcock: Christian detective (part iv)

I returned to DCI headquarters to check in the Chief. He was shoveling jelly donuts down his face hole and getting shit all over the paperwork.

“Can you believe this shit, Jack?” he said while shards of donut was flying out of his mouth.

“I’m a Christian, Chief,” I replied, “I believe everything that I’m told.”

“Take a look at this.”

Chief handed me a report from the Pittsburgh FBI office regarding a series of murders. I had to swipe away jelly just to read all of the paragraphs.

“So what?” I asked.

“The autopsies came back from the McGarth killings. It can’t be a coincidence Jack. The same guy killing all them hookers in Pittsburgh is the same guy who killed McGarth and our two prostitutes.”

“The FBI are a bunch of jokers, Chief. I wouldn’t trust them to find a missing cat. Especially after what they did to President Donald Trump at Mar-a-Lago!”

“Now cool it, Jack!” Chief said. “I know that you hold a grudge against the Bureau after they shitcanned you and sent you to Ohio BCI, but I expect your full cooperation!”

“Cooperation?” I asked. “The fuck are you talking about, Chief?”

“The Feds are coming to help us with our investigation,” he replied, “and I don’t want ONE word out of you! You hear?! Or you’ll be sent to Toledo so fast that you’ll bust your pants!”

“I already busted in my pants once today, Chief,” I said, “then I prayed for the Lord’s forgiveness. So don’t threaten me with a good time.”

“That’s it!” the Chief yelled, “get out of my office!”

“With pleasure.”

The FBI would not be getting my cooperation. But I couldn’t solve this case on my own. So I went looking for my good friend: local gangster Gregg Poppovich.

I found him enjoying a plate of lasagna at his Italian restaurant that he owned just outside of town. I grabbed his head and shoved it into the plate.

“Jesus, Jack!” he said as he wiped away the tomato sauce from his face, “you could have just said hello!”

I laid the .38 down on the table. “I need some answers,” I said.

“About what?!”

“Art McGarth.”

“I told you! I know what you know!”

I grabbed the plate and smashed it against his face. “Not good enough!” I yelled.

Gregg grabbed another towel and began wiping the blood from his face. “Is there something wrong, Jack? You seem a bit agitated,” he asked.

I took a deep breath and exhaled. “Thanks for asking Gregg,” I said, “but it seems like the FBI is always up my ass!”

“I know how you feel,” Gregg replied, “it ain’t easy being a local gangster, ya know?”

“Unfortunately, they’re coming down here from Pittsburgh to investigate the McGarth killings,” I said. “I don’t need their help. What good has the Federal government ever done?!”

“Jack, I know we haven’t always seen eye to eye,” Gregg said, “but if you ever needed any assistance, I’m always here to help.”

“Thanks Gregg,”I replied, “you’ve always been a good friend. So since you’re offering, I’m gonna need the entire Cleveland criminal underworld to help me catch a killer.”

TO BE CONTINUED….

Rip Michael Krueger

If I’ve said it once, I’ll say it a thousand times: I am to Tubi what raccoons are to trash. So if Tubi puts something up there to watch, by God I’m watching it and leaving a godawful mess while I’m at it.

Why though? Why would one put themselves through pointless agony?

I’ll tell you why: Mindkiller and Night Vision.

Before you read this, you probably never heard of either of those films. But now you have. So I’m providing a FREE public service: finding overlooked gems before they are totally and completely forgotten. I’m a historian, this is what I do.

Both films were directed by Michael Krueger and both…according to IMDb…were released in 1987. Unfortunately, Krueger died in 1990, presumably leaving both films to lie in obscurity until their resurrection into the public consciousness by Tubi.

You might think I’m being facetious over my praise of Krueger’s work, but I assure you, I genuinely enjoyed both movies. Sure, they might look like cheap after-school specials…the sound editing is particularly atrocious in Mindkiller…but a few technical issues aside, aspiring filmmakers should take note: where you lack a budget, you can make up for with heart.

As you all know, I have a horrible memory. So I don’t recall too many plot details. But Mindkiller, roughly, is about a dork librarian who reads some outlandish shit and he begins to control minds. I think. He then begins to control the mind of his love interest, played convincingly by Shirley Ross as a strait laced librarian.

Ross then flips the script for Night Vision, also as the love interest, as she plays a street wise video clerk showing her boyfriend the ropes. The streets of Denver have never looked so mean. Remember, this was the 80s, before all the hipsters moved in and gentrified the place. But supposedly Night Vision is also a horror film. I think a VCR is demon possessed or something. While I don’t remember being scared, I do remember being taken in by the film’s earnestness and Ross’ performance.

It’s a shame that Krueger didn’t have a longer career. But I am thankful for what we did get.

RIP

tapping into the Roddenberry box

We can all agree: Kurtzman era Star Trek has been godawful. There was no reason to think that Strange New Worlds would be any different, but then the first episode became available on YouTube. So I thought: “fuck it, I’ll give it a shot.”

Whoever’s running SNW had the right idea: just tap the ball into the hole. Don’t try to do too much.

It’s common to assume that Trek fans are notoriously hard to please . This is false. In fact, they’re a little too easy to please. Furthermore, I’d say that Star Trek is stupidly easy to write: minimize drama between the main characters, the Federation humanistic…almost utopian…ideals always win out, the “alien of the week” is analogous to current events, and everything can be solved using science…even if the science is totally pulled out of your ass.

This is also called the (Gene) “Roddenberry Box.” TNG writers initially struggled with it until Michael Piller turned staying within it into an art. The Next Generation is now considered one of the best shows in the sci-fi genre. It’s also the benchmark for which all other Trek shows are evaluated.

Hollywood writers, especially ones that aren’t familiar with Star Trek, might think they have to do MORE to make the story interesting. But they really don’t. You can “challenge” the box every now and then, but the optimism and science MUST win out.

So using this criteria, based on the first episode, Strange New Worlds is Star Trek…which is more than I can say for Discovery and Picard. Yes, that’s a low bar to hurdle but I guess third time is a charm. Maybe the rest of it will be shit, but as long as the show runners don’t try to do too much, they might have a pretty good show.

Still not paying for Paramount+ tho.

paris tx

There are few scenes in the history of film that hit me harder than the Super 8 sequence in Paris, Texas.

Rarely do films like this get made. Especially now. Not without a dose of heavy handed social commentary and violence.

That’s not the case with Paris, Texas. It’s subject is simple: one man’s inability to face his problems. All of this juxtaposed against the vast American landscape that’s both empty and crowded…dead and alive. Wim Wenders’ vision of America is embodied by the character Travis, played by the enigmatic Harry Dean Stanton.

The first time I watched this, it was almost like a religious experience. I was 10 or 11 years old and stayed up late while watching cable to see some tities. Fortunately, nothing was on Cinemax so I switched over to HBO. Paris, Texas was playing.

I don’t know why I kept watching it (probably because you see some Aurore Clement side boob), but next thing I know, I was fully engrossed in the story. It was the first movie where, when it ended, I didn’t know what hit me.

It was probably at that moment when it occurred to me: THIS is why people love movies.

Some people hate Paris, Texas. Some say it’s too slow. Some don’t like Travis because he abandoned his family.

I personally like movies that take their time. And if you don’t like Travis’ decisions, it’s not like the movie presents him as mensch.

In fact, Travis…along with his wife Jane…are presented as two VERY troubled people. From the perspective of Travis, he had to leave at the end because he was utterly broken. I would go as far as to say that Travis’ entire existence consists of (unintentionally) ruining people’s lives.

This film is not only about Travis trying to reunite his wife and child (Hunter), but it’s also about ruining the lives of his brother Walt and his wife Anne who took custody of Hunter during his disappearance.

Another heartbreaking scene is when Anne fails to convince Travis and Hunter to return home, and she goes to lie down in Hunter’s bed. Even though Hunter wasn’t her actual son, she was still attached to him. And that’s the last scene Anne is in, never to be mentioned again.

But Wenders’ direction mixes realism with a childlike perspective (which resembles Travis’ emotional state) quite well. So, I think, that permits me to have a pessimistic interpretation of the ending: there was no way that Jane would maintain custody of Hunter, and Hunter would return to Walt and Anne with a better sense of his “real” family, which would likely cause further damage to everyone involved. Meanwhile, Travis, once again, ran away from it all.

Is my interpretation correct? I dunno. But that’s how art works.

So do yourself a favor: stay up late one night and watch Paris, Texas.

according to Simon (part iii)

“What happened to your face?” Jacob asked as I met him at the Cyrene’s inn.

“I was attacked by one of Herod’s thugs,” I said. “They’re onto us. So watch who you talk to.”

“You didn’t tell him anything did you?”

“I told him I was a friend of Joseph’s. After that, he left me alone.”

“Shit,” Jacob said and rubbed his face. “Well good news is I met with Ananias and his wife Sapphira. Remember them?”

“The one’s from Rome?”

“Yeah. They sold some of their property in Judea. They gave the money to John to distribute to the widows outside of the city walls. It’s finally happening Simon!”

“Don’t let it get to your head!” I told him. “You still need to lie low.”

Just then a big burly fellow with six other men busted through the door. “Χαιρετίσματα Jacob,” the booming voice said.

“Hello Stephanos.”

“You’re Stephanos?!” I exclaimed.

Stephanos looked over to me and back over to Jacob. “Who’s dis?” the man asked in his Greek accent.

“Relax, he’s Simon,” Jacob replied. “He was a good friend of Yeshua’s.”

Stephanos looked me up and down. “I heard you were arrested,” he said to me.

“No, it must have been another Simon,” I replied. “I’m from Bethsaida.”

Stephanos was confused. He looked back to Jacob. “I was told that Ananias gave you money. Our women and children are starving too-“

“Now Stephanos,” Jacob interrupted, “I know where you’re going with this. But Ananias was very clear: he wanted us to use this money to help the widows of Jerusalem.”

“Because we’re Greeks we’re not as important as the Hebrews?”

“I didn’t say that. Please listen to me. I’m only respecting Ananias’ wishes.”

Stephanos was furious. “We’ve been in the streets for days while you Hebrews have been coward up in your homes! Do you support us or not?!”

“Of course I support you!” Jacob yelled then took a deep breath. “I get how you feel, Stephanos, I really do. But you gotta understand our situation. Herod and Pilate aren’t too concerned with the Greeks right now. But they are after us. We can’t be out in the streets and we don’t have the money to spread around to everyone. I’m sorry. But Ananias is a very successful man from Rome and a diaspora Jew just like yourself. If you go to him and explain your situation, he can probably provide you with some assistance.”

Stephanos stood silent for a moment then muttered something in Greek. He walked up to Jacob. “μη με σταυρώνεις,” he said. Then him and his six men left the room.

“You should’ve stayed away from him Jacob,” I said.

“I know.”

“And Stephanos is a convert. To Ananias, he’s still a Gentile. He’s not giving him the money.”

Jacob began rubbing his temples. “I need a drink,” he said.

We went down to the tavern where Levi was scribbling something down. “What are you doing?” Jacob asked him.

“The Greeks wanted something to tell the people back in the Decapolis. Something about Yeshua.”

I looked over the writing. He didn’t write much but it was all in Greek. I couldn’t understand a word of it. Jacob was puzzled. “Where did you learn to write Greek?”

“In school, here in Jerusalem” Levi replied, “I had to learn it along with Hebrew.”

“Maybe we should drop the subject of Greeks for the time being,” I said.

We sat silently drinking our wine for a few minutes. There was a commotion on the streets. Andrew came running up. “They’re about to stone some of the Greeks!” he screamed.

Jacob and Levi instantly got up. “Aren’t you coming along?” Jacob asked me. Against my better judgment, I put down the wine cup and followed them.

A few blocks away, a crowd was gathering. Some were shouting. Others gawked out of morbid curiosity. Moments later, Temple guards began dragging out seven Greeks. One of them was Stephanos.

Behind them followed a few members of the Sanhedrin, including Joseph. Standing beside him was Ananias.

“Thief! Thief!” Ananias shouted. “These men conspired with Yeshua to rob the Temple and overthrow the Romans!”

My heart began to sink. This was a setup.

The guards threw the Greeks in front of Herod’s black-cloaked mercenaries who had their spears ready. Meanwhile, the Roman guards stood back smiling at the whole affair.

A judge from the Sanhedrin stood among the crowd and faced the accused. “Conspiracy, sedition, robbery of Ananias,” the judge said, “are these accusations true?”

It didn’t matter what Stephanos said. And he knew it. From his knees, he laughed and looked at the crowd. “You stiff-necked people,” he said, “your hearts and ears are still uncircumcised. Was there ever a prophet your ancestors did not persecute? They even killed those who predicted the coming of the Righteous One. And now you have betrayed and murdered him—”

“God help you,” the judge said.

With those words, the mercenaries plunged their spears into the bellies of the Greeks. A pool of blood formed in the middle of the crowd.

Levi screamed in horror and ran away.

But the crowd was just getting warmed up. They picked up stones or any disposable object and began hurling them towards Stephanos. He got bruised and battered and knocked in the head a few times but kept crawling forward.

Among the mercenaries, I recognized a familiar face: The scars….the scabs…the wiry frame. It was him alright. It was the man that attacked me a few days earlier.

And Stephanos kept crawling towards this man as the stones were raining down on him. When he reached his feet, Stephanos grabbed the man’s cloak and got to his knees.

I was too far away to hear anything, but Stephanos was clearly saying something to this man. Judging by his face, the figure was stunned by what was being said. But before the figure could react, a member of the crowd smashed a rock into Stephanos’ skull.

The man in the black cloak stood back with blood and brain matter splattered all over his face. He was in a daze.

Before the crowd could mutilate the bodies, Joseph stepped in to quiet them. That’s enough!” he yelled. “The perpetrators of the Passover sedition have been caught and punished! This matter is closed! Please return to your homes!” As the crowds dispersed, the Temple guards started dragging the bodies outside of the city walls.

Jacob and I returned to the inn in silence. We didn’t know what to make of what just happened. “Do we leave Jerusalem?” Jacob asked.

“Why?” I replied. “It looks like Joseph and Ananias took care of our problem.”

TO BE CONTINUED…

according to simon (part I)

Time to shit or get off the pot.

I’ve had this story in my head for awhile and just now acted on it.

I originally wrote an introduction but then said fuck it. All you need to know is that this is historical fiction, perhaps my least favorite genre, but this blog is all about challenging myself as a writer. So I’m giving this a go.

Just imagine if you were some nobody that got caught up in an incident that you believed had little significance, but it was actually the most important event in all of Western Civilization. I want to explore how reality turns to myth. I guess that’s the impetus behind this story.

I dunno, we’ll see how this goes…

Ain’t promising nothing.

***

Jerusalem, Circa 30 CE

Roman Judea is under the governorship of Pontius Pilate. Yeshua from Galilee has amassed a small yet devoted number of followers as messianic fervor sweeps the region. After causing a ruckus at the Jerusalem Temple during Passover, Yeshua is tried and sentenced to death by crucifixion.

With their leader dead, the followers of Yeshua await their fates…

…one such follower, and childhood friend of Yeshua, is Simon, the fisherman of Bethesda…

Joseph (of Arimathea) knocked me on my ass. He continued to berate me as I laid out on the ground.

“Do you know how hard it was for me to not turn you over to the Romans?!” he screamed. “All of these young ones,” Joseph then pointed to Thomas, John, Andrew, Levi, Jacob, and Mary, “…you and that idiot friend of yours could have gotten them KILLED!”

I leaned up and wiped the blood from my lip. I couldn’t feel a thing. I was too drunk. “Don’t worry Joseph,” I said, “you’ll never see my face again.”

“You’re damn right I’ll never see your face again! You have until sun up to get out of Jerusalem. If you’re not gone by then, so help me God YOU’LL be crucified next!”

Jude spoke up. “What about Yeshua’s body? Surely you didn’t leave him at Golgotha. It’s the Passover.”

“Do you know what I had to do Jude?” Joseph asked. “I had to talk to Pilate. Yeah! Face to fucking face! Luckily for all of you, he barely remembered this morning’s fiasco so I was permitted to take him off the cross. As for the Sanhedrin…they’re PISSED and will probably be looking for you guys. Which is why you better get the fuck outta here!”

“Just tell me where he’s buried,” Jude replied.

“I’m not telling you!” Joseph said.

Levi spoke up. “Just tell him father.”

Joseph took a deep breath to cool himself. “Because my idiot son here was an admirer of Yeshua,” he said, “his body has been placed in my family tomb TEMPORARILY, at least until all of this shit blows over. Then I will remove his remains. Now: please leave the city.”

Joseph departed the tavern and took Levi with him. The rest of the group stood around aimlessly. Jacob helped me off the ground. “Do we go back to Galilee?” he asked.

“I sure as hell am!” I replied.

“But…what about…”

“What about what?!”

“The Kingdom of God?”

“The Kingdom of God? Jacob, your brother is DEAD! He’s not coming back! If you know what’s good for you, you will return to Galilee and kiss your mother and tell her how sorry you are for your older brother’s death.”

Jacob began to weep and I instantly regretted my words.

He was only a kid.

“I’m sorry,” I said, “this was all my fault. I shouldn’t have agreed to come to Jerusalem. All of this could have been avoided.”

“I can’t go back,” Jacob said. “I can’t face her.”

He told me that he was staying in Jerusalem. I didn’t know what else to say to him. So I patted him on the back and he departed the Cyrean’s tavern. I thought I’d ever see him again.

“I’m going to Damascus,” Jude said, “I’ve got some connections there. Maybe now just wasn’t the time. I….”

“Let it go Jude,” I interrupted.

“But Simon, maybe this was just the beginning of something big…perhaps the end for the Romans.”

I laughed. “Are we experiencing the same reality? We just got our asses handed to us. Do you really think we can bring down the Romans?”

“Why are you here?! Did you not see all of those followers in Capernaum? In Cana? In Caesarea?!”

“I was his friend, Jude. I knew all of this was getting to his head, but I said nothing. I let the rest of you talk him into coming to Jerusalem. I said nothing. I let him go to the temple. I knew what he was going to do. But I said nothing. Well now I’m telling YOU something: go back to Damascus or wherever you’re from, and forget all of this happened. And I will go back to Bethesda where I will regret for the rest of my life that I was never able to bring Yeshua’s body to his mother.”

“And what of the Romans? What will you do if they ever find out what you did here?”

I laughed again as I drank another cup of wine. “They don’t care enough about me,” I said, “but if they did ever find me, I will tell them to send me to Rome so that I can tell the Caesar to kiss my ass.”

Jude shook his head. “Goodbye Simon.”

“So long Jude!”

As I was filling the wine skins, Thomas approached me. “Should I go to Egypt?” he asked.

“The world is your oyster, Thomas,” I said, “I’m going home.”

The two of us embraced for the last time. I thanked the Cyrean for sheltering us then my brother Andrew and I left the tavern. Maybe it was the wine, but as we were leaving Jerusalem, I was seeing Yeshua’s face everywhere. The guilt was unbearable.

Andrew wasn’t at all affected by the day’s events. As we traveled the road back to Galilee under the cover of night, he was cackling. “Boy, Joseph licked you good,” he said.

Andrew was a simple man.

“That’s because he’s a member of the Sanhedrin,” I replied, “if they ever found out he provided aid and cover to us, they’ll stone him for sure.”

As we stopped along a creek bank for the night, I laid out my bed. As I walking away towards the tree line, Andrew asked where I was going.

“Gotta take a shit,” I said.

As I got out of earshot of him, I kneeled down behind a tree and vomited. I closed my eyes for a few moments. All I could envision was Yeshua’s smiling face. Then I wept uncontrollably.

Finally I stood up and walked back to the camp where I found Andrew picking his nose. “Boy I can’t wait get back to fishin,” he said.

I laid down on my bed, looking up to the sky. “We’re not going back to Bethesda,” I said. “We’re going back to Jerusalem.”

TO BE CONTINUED…

anouncement (and thoughts on writing)

Hate to toot my own horn but 2051: A Space Monstrosity turned out much better than I thought it would. I also wrote a lot more than I intended.

It’s not perfect. Far from it. And I blatantly ripped off lines from various Star Trek productions, almost verbatim, because I’m a shameless hack.

But I’m getting closer to being able to tell stories the way I want to: where I create a plot on the fly by establishing a rhythm and hitting the story beats. If you do a few setups and meet the payoffs in any ridiculous way you can, BAM…you have yourself a story.

Maybe not a GOOD story, but a story nonetheless.

My method is akin to Bill Walsh’s “West Coast Offense” in football: where players lack in athletic ability (or, in my case, artistic genius), you can make up for in precision and timing.

This runs entirely contrary to the way my high school teacher tried to teach me. It was his belief that that the secret to writing was in rewriting.

The problem I found with this practice is that my interest always waned and the magic was gone. Editing and proofreading is necessary of course, but frankly it’s boring and if I spend too much time on it, I end up hating everything about the piece itself.

It is my belief that art works best when it exists in the moment….when the artist can, however briefly, be completely honest with themselves.

So I’ve written a lot to get the practice in. And most of the stories are in fragmented pieces. Therefore I created a separate page to compile all these short stories.

…that is, once when I figure out how to get the page up on the website. Right now it looks like shit. I dunno 🤷‍♂️

I’ll get it figured out.

That is all.