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Practical Advice for Fallen Gods

Practical Advice for Fallen Gods

A Story by Chopstix

He couldn't get a tune out of his head, but was it all a dream?

My eyes opened to institutional white walls fluorescently lit.  Before they focused and took stock, I heard, “And how are you this morning?”

My eyes snapped to the source,  locked onto his eyes and engaged uncomfortably long.  

“Can you hear me?” He asked.

I nodded affirmation.  He checked an item on a form on his clipboard.

“Can you speak?”  He followed.  His gaze rested on the form.

“Ja,” I started.  “Yes, I can hear you.”

“Good!” He marked the form again.  “Can you tell me how you feel?”

“Can you tell me where I am?”

“Perhaps later.” Another check on the form before he returned his attention to me.  “So, you do not remember how you got here?”

I scanned the room.  It looked like a hospital room, a recovery room, except for the absence of biometric monitoring equipment.  I felt my heart beating, but heard no life affirming beeps nor saw any squiggly lines on a screen.  The man’s name tag read Dr. Jonathon Brown, MD.  His white teeth and bright eyes contrasted with his dark skin.  He observed me with a practiced patience reminiscent of impatience. 

“Is there anywhere you need to be?” I attempted redirection.

“Right now,” he replied, “I need to be here.  Please tell me, what you remember?”

His posture seemed relaxed, so I concentrated and pressed my memory for … for anything.  Like a flash of lightning through a thick fog bank, an image came, and I pursued it.

“I remember having a dream last night,” I confessed.

“That’s fine,” he said.  “Let’s start there.”

“We are being lead down a hallway …” I began.

“We?” He interrupted.

“There’s four or five of us,” I answer.

“Four or five?”

“I don’t know.”

He jotted a note on the form before turning to face me.  Leaning forward a little, he said, “Go on, describe this hallway.”

“It was white like these walls here, but it didn’t feel like a hospital.  We are in a hospital, right?”

“Of sorts,” he said.  “What did it feel like?”

My memory of the dream crystallized in my mind.  I recalled it clearly.  I felt my pulse quicken as I rushed to tell Dr. Brown before it faded.

“It felt like a factory, but not a normal factory.  A specialty factory, like an Intel chip plant or something like that.  All of the workers wore white lab coats over brown pants, pale yellow shirts and red suspenders.  The supervisors had gold trim on their suspenders and gold piping down the seams of their pants.”


“Yes! And they sort of danced as they walked. “

“Was there music playing?” His interest piqued.

“No,” I answered, “but there was singing, it sounded like the old rock and roll song...”  My mind could not recall the title of the song so I sang.

Driving around in my automobile, nah nah a nah na na a nuh.

“Chuck Berry’s No Particular Place To Go,” he named the tune.  “It’s an interesting song.”

“How so doc?” 

“Well,” he explained, “It was written in the early sixties when automobile seat belts were still a novelty.”

“That’s interesting?”

“I think it’s interesting because the lyrics equate the safety belt to a chastity belt”

“I never thought of it that way,” I said.  Pondering the thought almost derailed my recollection.  The tune, however, brought fresh waves of remembrance. 

“It sounded like that song except it was slower and a cappella, no guitars or drums.  And the guitar part, nah nah a nah na na a nuh came from below and sounded like one of those choral pieces where women sing only unearthly vowels.”

“And they danced to this?”

“Yeah,” I continued, “It was sorta like choreographed, you know, like a loose vaudeville production.  No earlier than vaudeville, like …”

“A minstrel show?”

“Like a minstrel show!” I was grateful for the right words.

“You realize I’m black?” His voice tensed.

“You asked me about my dream,” I reminded him.

“Mama said there’ll be days like this,” he sighed and rolled his eyes.

“So, you dream to The Shirelles,” I inquired hoping this phenomenon was common.

“Nope,” he quipped, “just nightmares.”

Before I could suss out his meaning, he prompted me to continue.

“Well, we walked down the hall following this dancing man wearing a gold trimmed uniform.  We approached a large opened door.  I saw the legs and lower torso of a big, giant man.  Tubes stuck into his arms and thighs and tummy.  I sensed it was like a big liposuction operation.”

“Perhaps it was an outpatient hospital,” he interjected, but I continued.

“The giant stuck out his giant arm and grabbed this beautiful, blonde lady who was one of us.  Our guide turned to him, lifted his right knee, pointed to the giant and sang the next verse:

You better stop your Dionysan ways
A life of lechery never pays.
Drink a glass of wine and sing a song
But, grabbing up women is always wrong.

Best behave and calculate the odds.
Practical advice for fallen gods.

“Those aren’t the right lyrics,” Dr. Brown observed.

“None of the lyrics were,” I continued.  “There were old parables twisted into the song.  Even the women’s chorus sounded like words sometimes. Then things got weird.”

“Weirder,” he said, “I imagine.”

“Our guide led each if us into our own room, a room very much like this one, but the giant’s room was just across the hall.  They set me down on a chair and strapped me in.  An attendant stood near the door and beckoned me reveal all the wisdom I acquired in life.  So I thought I’d contribute a smart a*s blurb from English class, ‘Etymology by sound is not sound etymology.’  My attendant waited for a verse to finish before he chimed in:

Makes no difference the way a word sounds.
Its meaning is derived from other grounds.
Dictionaries define all the words.
Lions come in prides and never herds.

Learn to read, now, and follow the bards.
Practical advice for fallen gods. 

“That’s not what I’d expect,” Dr. Brown commented.

“Not I,” I retold.  “I tried another one from biology class, “ontogeny recapitulates phylogeny.”  My attendant smirked and sung:

Human embryos take many forms.
To no other creature do they conform.
From simple notions you must stay away.
Even evolution will have its day.

Extract peas by cracking open pods.
Practical advice for fallen gods.

Eventually I broke down and contributed everything I knew.  My attendant and the other attendants took turns singing verses for hours and hours.”

“And, then?”

“And, then I awoke in this room,” I said.

The doctor jotted more notes on the form while I looked around.  A nurse peered into the room and scampered off.  I looked outside the window and saw the courthouse.  Revelations overwhelmed me.  I remembered the traffic stop, DUI arrest and hearing declaring I, and four others, legally insane.  White coated staff �" I can’t recall their faces �" lead us to this place.

“Doctor?” I called.

“Yes,” he replied.

“What kind of place is this?”

“We’ll get to that next time,” he promised. 

A rage built inside me born of impatience, superiority, arrogance and power.  A tsunami of memories pounded my consciousness.  Ancient memories, recent memories: A village offering a virgin in exchange for a fruitful harvest, a drunken festival, centuries of prosperity and decades of famine.

“YOU WILL TELL ME NOW,” I bellowed with the force of thunder.  The voice felt foreign yet comfortable.

Doctor Brown stood up, and I noticed his brown pants embellished with gold piping along the seams.  He unbuttoned his white lab coat revealing a pale yellow shirt and red suspenders with gold trim.  He lifted his right knee, extended his arm and pointed his finger directly at me.

”Humans suffer god’s influence most.
We drained your essence, found a mortal host.
Fooling ‘round with mankind has its cost.
Divine powers and more you have lost.

Best behave and calculate the odds.
That’s practical advice for fallen gods.

© 2017 Chopstix

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Added on February 6, 2017
Last Updated on February 6, 2017
Tags: gods, Chuck Berry, Particular, Place, Practical, Advice



Los Angeles, CA

In high school, I wrote lyrics. I started college writing poems and switched to short stories. After college, I discovered I could write computer programs, but I could not finish a novel (kept editi.. more..