The Gem and Other Stories

The Gem and Other Stories

A Story by John F Carver

The Gem

The jewel was in his pocket. He was a seventy year old man who sat under the pavilion and fed the seagulls. No one would ever think he had such a jewel. They were not even aware that it was not in its rightful place yet. They never noticed he was there when they shut the alarm down though a big shot did tell him to leave. He didn't and nobody noticed. Stealing the gem was as easy as picking up a quarter someone had dropped and made his back strain to reach that far down exactly the same. When they noticed him they kicked him out the back door and he had walked over with bread for the seagulls and one little thing he would be most grateful if they would not eat as he fished for bread crumbs in his pocket and tossed them to the airborne seagulls that caught them in the beaks just the way he had taught them bringing attention from all the tourists around to see the unusual sight that rarely they will do on their own if the wind is just right. He slowly found the bottom of his pocket and set the gem on the lawn in the shadow of a streetlamp that would mark the spot. They were coming for him from the museum. They never actually miss a thing.

You don't mind if we check your pockets?” they asked.

He pretended not to understand and emptied his pockets for them.

Then they rushed away and he walked back to the shadow of the streetlamp at that time in the morning. There it was right where he had laid it. It is strange but it felt lighter in his right pocket than before now. But his conscience was bothering him. He had never stolen anything in all these years and it was an odd free feeling he had never thought it would be. He had expected to feel closed in and surrounded like with dread or fear. But this was a liberated feeling of freedom but for the funny headache he knew was his conscience having made himself remorseful and stayed that way. But why? Why had he picked up the gem? He had no use for it. It was beautiful but not that much more beautiful than a lot of things nowadays for sure some of them worthless and he had never collected or saved anything but his body for any real length of time and it seemed sure one day he hoped twenty maybe thirty years away they would want that and steal it from where he left it.

So he spotted a white pelican with its wing a little dinged up. He was walking rather than flying but there was no obvious reason why. So he inched toward it. Stood near him and fed him carp minnows left over in his bucket. It didn't get much to eat but it waited for him to feed him sometimes for hours and they never missed a decent day. Then the idea hit him and he didn't release the next carp minnow alive. He crushed its head with the gem between thumb and forefinger but made sure it dropped down its throat and not into his pouch. Then he dumped the rest of the carp minnows into its pouch and pretended to turn ornery and flung his arms, cap and bag of bread chased the pelican aloft holding his right hand flat to his forehead and at a right angle to his countenance to watch the beauteous creature fly way out to the far rocks knowing they make droppings every few seconds and hoped the gem found its home in a surprised clam shell.

Then he looked up right at God and said as he reflected on what he had done, “I'm a thief now God. The municipal court would have eventually called it grand larceny had I hung onto until they found it. I ain't never been in jail. I just thought I'd mention that though not knowing if you are lenient with first time offenders too?”

It belonged to God,” I told him.

I just bet myself and hopefully no one else,” he said looking around, “I could do it so often I knew exactly how it would go. And, it did.”

Then he sat back on a willow stump by the river bank and thought, 'What makes me think on crazy things like that? A thinking man would know there is no way they would miss an old man's presence in such a case. Then a thinking man's mind would reason that no fine museum would be at the bay of a lake in just a middle city like this. He would see clearly that pelicans are leery creatures and not likely to eat minnows out of the hand of man. Anyway if they would they would never be eating carp minnows. The DN|R would never allow it this far from their native waters. But a pelican would fly away with or without the help of man's mastery. So there is one more imaginary gem in the midst of the rocks for some photographer most likely to find while looking for a better angle or the perfect shot.

He liked to pretend life was interesting some times. It kept him from lying. He never bragged his pretenses about. People would have believed him and all these years later he would have went insane rationalizing how he supposed they could come about.

But when all the bread was gone in the bag there was something left that felt like a small pebble. He started to unfold his empty pocket and let whatever it was fall free in the grass and the goose droppings. But I told him, 'Look Harry,” and said, “Look in your pocket.”

He put his hand down in and felt what seemed like a pebble. Then he grabbed it between the side of his pocket and his pointer finger until it was almost to the lip before he grasped it between thumb and pointer finger. It was a gem, the same gem he had pretended here free and no one looking for it if they even knew it existed.

He said right out loud to me, “What-what in the world did you do?”

I reminded God he wasn't the only one who could do that,” I said.

God was very quiet like he always was when I did it and he knew he did not.

If you believe,” I said, “There is nothing that anyone else can do that you cannot and there are even some things no one else can do you can do, but there are a few things you can even know for a little while that God does not until you at last tip your hand.”

What am I to do with a thing like this!” he shouted under his breath.

You wanted it,” I said, “In heaven they curse God by telling him everything they want and he's a giver. He always gives it to them or something even better. You'll be there soon. Your caretaker is ready to keep your body alive and God is ready to bring you to heaven. Well, he might.”

He quickly shoved it down in his pocket not knowing what it was worth but expecting it to be a great lot. He was paranoid of being robbed or having it even accidentally taken away by some younger man or a bully though he had never known for sure he had seen one at the lakefront.

What are you going to do with it Harry?” I asked.

I don't know?” he said, “What do you think I should do with it?”

I have this friend who is under a curse,” I said to his mind saying nothing but putting the ideas behind the words into thoughts. “If I have anything precious at the end of him for him I will give it to him but it's gotta be something he can't give away. That is what I want to give him. Now nothing is the only thing someone can have but can't give away as a good gift. But when you meet him and you will, everybody does and he gives them everything they want from that moment on or something better and they just keep taking until they forget all about him that he ever gave them anything and take it all for granted; maybe they don't even believe him anymore. If so or even if not the day comes when he has nothing left to give. Then he dies never having been given anything permanent. Give it to him. It will be permanent because whoever you give it to it's there's forever. Just carry it with you and see what you think. That way neither one of you will ever die unless there's another way for him to die broke with nothing to give anyone anything anymore.

I will give it direct to God in your name to save as his last thing and never give it away!” Harry said, “Here I thought you gave me something a fortune worthless to me but not to anybody else. I planned to give it away right away. I really did.”

If it is nothing by then he cannot give it away. If it is all that the Spirit has on her own he cannot give it away/ All he can do is point to it, tell someone what it is and where it is and it's theirs. If I give him myself and he doesn't refuse my gift we both become a new God and we both die and someone else experiences the rest without end and the mystery ends for us. But for now I give him the hope that is in me that neither one of us gives the other one the last thing there is to give for the new God will not give anyone anything. He will make everyone get it all on their own.

I sure hope Harry is there and that he gives him his little gem and tells him to keep it to its last so that he always has one last thing to give but that would be evil to give it away so he always has something if he ends up as good as he began and was all the way along. Give something to God, something back of yourself if nothing else.


The truth is Jimmy,” he said, “You can't curse God. He is already cursed.”

Jimmy looked at him wondering what this new axiom was all about so he had his attention.

In heaven or earth it is thought because it's true in heaven you can have anything you want as often you want and as you as many times as you want it,” he continued. “Until God is worthless to you and you are dead and God is the only one left to start over and give you another chance to curse him with your death. He can't die forever unless he does it this time. He failed all the other times. He just gives it all away. He's a giver. And, a giver with no one left to give to has lost his reason and his purpose to live for for him giving is life. Treat me like God Jimmy. Take this with you wherever you go because God is there, he's always been there waiting to give you anything you want in the end and he will always be there hoping you will come back so he can give to you until that last thing you choose; to die without end.”

Tell me then hot shot,” Jimmy said, “You think you know so much. I' hate God. I'm going to torture him forever. I'm going to be the one that kills him. Me, Jimmy Hanson. And, I'll do it to him for all the pain and discomfort he let me go through. He's the whole damned reason we suffer. He does it. No one else. It's all his damned fault.”

We never were intended to be, Jimmy,” he said. “He made us all him and he has never done anything but suffer. Every time a mosquito lands on you you know the future just like God does. It's going to bite you. A little mindless thing that is part of nature, your body. You were never intended to feel that very tiny bit of pain as its stinger pierces your skin and the itch that follows them. He never gave that to you. You stole it from nature. Everything you take from nature. Everything you steal from your body, all your food, all your clothing, all your shelter and everything your body ever felt because it did or did not do something, every word you spoke whether it caused pain, relief or pleasure everything but nothing from the material world was never intended for you, but he made you a God just like him. But you took it didn't you? He knows it's there. But it's not his. It's just there and you could steal it. So you did. You've been doing it since you were a new born and until it is no more you will steal every last bit of it. You're a thief on a cross defending God for being punished for stealing it. 'This is nature,' the sign above the garden reads to this day, 'Beware. It is mine. Signed by God.' And you know why it's God's God never gave even an elemental particle of it to any one. He was just showing it to you what he was saving for you for when you get to heaven. But when you get there it will still be yours but it won't mean which is anything to you if you know what is something and what is not. He saved the best for last. But you stole your own present before your birthday. So on your birthday you won't get one. It can't be had in heaven. Nature is not there. It's all homemade decor. And, that is all it ever was or ever will be to you forevermore. You can't have any. You stole all you could. Now be satisfied with that. Nothing. That is all you really wanted in the first place. It's all yours. But God's love... Will it be there for you? Will it be there for anyone? When God's dead will anyone but me remember him and that only because I was so nearly him we had to be careful all my life from turning one into the other and never being either one of us ever again. In them days, Jimmy, there will be a new God, a God that was never known to be and was only known to be coming, not God not me someone you nor I can ever know completely, the God that is comprised by the two of us then one with us both dead.”

Go f**k a pine cone! I will live forever. I will outlive God. I will never die. And, there won't be any f*****g God,” Jimmy Hanson said.

Yes, Jimmy,” he said, “What you say is true. You are a witch and a witch cannot ever die. And, you will think there is no God. We will at last just be a very powerful witch like everybody else never to know the end of ourselves even if we want to. It will be as had the Great Power been more than fiction and was recreated. And as prophesied by you witches not in the mind of God he will torture and torment every witch there is forever with no end to it which will be everyone for there will be no one but witches left all Gods just like God commanded us to be in the beginning. Only our bodies are part of nature Jimmy. We never were. We were God and we will be again. God has one thing he cannot truly do.”

What's that?” he asked with a surely expression and a rebellious stance.

He nor I can ever be a witch,” he said, “By that you will all know him. You win.”

Jimmy was stunned then he looked at him as had he been lying to him all along.

We will do our best to make everyone so much a witch there will be not difference between witches and man man being evil by doing good to witches and witches doing evil to saints. All of us even that God and there is nothing and no one to keep that from happening but God and John. Everything else points to it but one simple thing. It is not in God and nothing not in God has ever happened and never will unless that end becomes a reality.”

Jimmy walked away, the last witch he ever tortured or tormented on purpose and when he did he always enlisted God's aid in making it right according to the way witches love to be treated. A witch, a saved witch and a man or even that God will be impossible to tell apart. Everyone will be that God should the end come and I don't believe there can be an end. But which God, the witch God or the God of the witches?

Jimmy Hanson was the very nicest man after his witch went to the free cell where it spend most of his time at the complete but good confusion trying in vain to rid himelf of the knowledge he had shared with him. He grew a new spirit from me unawares of what had killed his witch it being when his witch left him only a the spirit of a human body. I instructed the spirit to always be good to everyone and made him that way so that he had a second chance and Jimmy Hanson's body didn't mind.

Jimmy saw two little boys fighting over a toy gun that shot actual caps. The bigger boy took the gun from the smaller boy and began shooting it for it was a lever action small replica of a dangerous gun used in the old west, a gun the smaller boy's father had loved since he was a kid watching television programs on an old black and white TV. The smaller boy kept trying to get it away from the larger boy and in the end the lever action broke. Then he continued to fire the gun a few more times until ultimately it would not even shoot caps. The smaller boy cried and the larger boy called him a big baby and took off on his bike the one with the banana seat and peddled away laughing and taunting the smaller boy. Jimmy Hanson as it turned out happened to have one in new condition he had collected back in his childhood. He gave the smaller boy his collector's item and told him to take good care of it and shoot it only himself. The smaller body now cried for a different reason. He loved Jimmy Hanson.

The bigger boy passed by his house. Jimmy called to him and the larger boy brashly rode right across his grass to where Jimmy was standing near some small gardening plants expecting static for what he had done to the smaller boy.

I know you,” Jimmy said. “You ride by here often. Do you live nearby?”

Yeah, so what?” the boy said.

'That was a lot of fun you had shooting that really neat gun of that other kid's the other day. How did it feel? Like the real thing I'll bet,” Jimmy said.

He thought he was such a big shot,” he said.

'”He did. He was wrong in showing it off knowing no one had another like that. Them things are retro. I know I bought one when I was his age and collected it and never took it out of the plastic all these years,” Jimmy said. “Most parents won't even let you own a gun like that nowadays. But tell me. What was it like? I never got to enjoy mine even that little bit. How was the feel?”

It was great!!!” the boy said with no fear of being yelled at anymore. “It was the coolest thing I ever had while it lasted!”

I wish I had gotten to shoot mine,” Jimmy said, “I sure would have liked to. I thought of it a number of times. But then I thought how much nicer it would be to remember it and knowing I could shoot it any time I wanted and it would work just like that. I can almost see it now. But you see I got to big to do it. It wouldn't be the same. But you actually got to shoot it and use it like I probably would have.”

Yeah,” the boy said sadly, “It really wasn't much. It broke right away.”

That was the way it was when I was a kid just like you,” Jimmy said, “They made great looking toys like that but in ten minutes using them they broke and then them and a stick with a knot near one end was just as good any way and they lasted a lot longer.”

Yeah?” he said, “Now all they have is crumby plastic ones with no weight to them. They don't even try to make them feel real. They look good sometimes but they are really hokey. Of course no one can break one. That's the only good part about them.”

Yeah,” Jimmy said, “Well, how is your dad?”

I don't have a dad,” he said, “Just some guy that comes home from the bar, makes a lot of noise sometimes hits my mama and leaves. He always comes back though. Not like my real dad.”

Does he come sometimes too?” Jimmy asked filled with compassion unable to imagine what it's like for a kid to have to live that way.

He came once when I was four,” he said, “He's my real dad! He doesn't come any more.”

Well, stop by and talk to me then,” Jimmy invited him. “Do you like to build stuff?”

Stuff?” he asked.

I got this little dinky poodle but he poodle doodle's all over the house,” he said. “He's my wife's little baby. She loves him with all that is in her when he doesn't do that. I'm buiding a dog house for it. You ever use a hammer?”

The boy shook his head, “Not for real.”

Would you like to try?” he invited him again. “It ain't hard and every boy should learn how to use a hammer proper at least.”

You mean you would let me?” the boy said amazed and excited for the chance to use real tools.

Sure!” Jimmy said, “Come on. Let's go in and see what we can get done shall we? You doing anything?”

The boy shook his head and Jimmy began to make his way toward the front door.

Coming?” Jimmy said.

The boy threw his bike down on the lawn and followed him in the house.

Together they built a dog house. It was tiny and it didn't look like much but it worked. The tiny poodle sniffed it all over and even went in it and laid itself down in it, the only time it ever did that. Then it was time for the boy to leave so he felt even though he had nothing to do.

You're a lot of help,” Jimmy said, “Want to hang around and help me a while. I don't need help but I would be obliged.”

Do what?” he said eagerly.

He kept him busy throughout the afternoon and the boy never forgot Jimmy Hanson's kindness or his hospitality. He often stopped by to see what he was doing and Jimmy had a new friend.

But Jimmy was a nice guy like that everybody not just kids took to Jimmy. He had a way of caring how things were going for you and he never complained he just kept all his friends in his mind and did things for them or gave them something.

One time he used his trailer to take the kid that had already broken the gun he gave him a fishing outing. He would rather fish for walleye or northern pike or some game fish but since it was his little buddies first time he took him to a spot where they caught 37 little perch and 17 sunfish and 1-2 ½ pound eel pout. Then after some challenges with his boat he scaled all the perch and sunfish and even cleaned the eel pout. Then he made an early supper for his friend and sent him away happy with a promise to do even better next time.

Along about ten o'clock at night a car pulled up and parked just off the narrow sidewalk from the side door. A young hippie looking kid got out of the run down eyesore of a vehicle and Jimmy went out to see what he wanted.

Is that your trailer?” the young man said.

It's kind of bent in places if you're looking to buy it,” he said.

He looked it over and stood back, took his hat off and scratched his hair and he had a lot of it but he did it more than once.

I suppose it's shot ain't it?” he asked.

Nothing $50 worth of parts and a torch can't make sound as she was,” Jimmy said, “But I wouldn't take a dime for her if you'd limp her away for me. I parked her in the park. Last one in a row and somebody hit the back of it.”

Yeah, I know,” the young man said. “It was me.”

You?” Jimmy said, “How did you find out whose it was?”

Your name's on the side bar,” he said.

Oh yeah,” Jimmy said, “Me and the neighbor girl were practicing to make a sign for her to advertise her babysitting business. Didn't she do a good job?”

He looked around a bit, saw the sign such as it was and never even nodded.

So how much you want to fix your trailer?” the young man said.

Where do you live fist?” Jimmy asked.

He gave him his address. It rang a bell as in a trailer park with a lot of rundown trailers and a lot of people struggling just to meet the lot rent.

You can just forget about it,” Jimmy said.

Forget about it!” he said, “I went to all the trouble to find you and then just forget about it. With my record I figured they'd find out and put me in jail.”

Jail?” Jimmy said. “What makes you think you would've gone to jail?”

Somebody saw me and besides it ain't right,” he said, “Besides it ain't fair. Just because I got a drinking problem doesn't give me the right to ruin other people's property.”

Jimmy looked over the car. There must have been four dirty faced little kids and a girl about thirteen with long dirty hair and a woman that was pregnant that was holding one of the little ones on her lap as they sat in the heat of the evening and tried to be as cool as they could when the baby unable to handle the job began bawling and was given a bottle.

You warmed my heart enough,” Jimmy said, “Just hunting me up and taking time out of your day unable to find a babysitter means more to me than had you bought me a brand new trailer and it had to get used somehow sooner or later.”

Look!” he said becoming nervous like he might be angry, “I drink. But I always carry my weight.”

Not this time,” Jimmy said, “If I ever seen a man that needed help you're it. Anyway. That is what I do. I got plenty. So I help people.”

The man reached in his pocket and came out with fifty well worn dollars.

Take it,” he said, “And that's it.”

Jimmy ignored the bundle of bills offered him. Took a step back and looked at the house and said, “I'll take it. But only if you and your family will be our guest for dinner. We got air conditioning, central air.”

He looked back at his car. He knew they were hungry and there would be precious little at home left for him because of what he spent drinking and no promise for tomorrow like always. The little one was hot and hungry. Even the thirteen year old hadn't had anything today leaving it all for the younger ones and he had thought about his wife home hungry for the third day running to make sure he had food to work at anything he could find which was most days nothing these days.

He looked back at Jimmy but couldn't say a word.

Honey!” Jimmy shouted, “Thaw out a lot more hamburger. We are having guests for supper again.”

She came to the door and looked out, “How many?” she asked. “Oh, God! There's enough for a running start already thawed because you surprised me by catching fish. Well,” she said, “Welcome! Come and get her. There will be more than plenty by the time you get to it. There is even part of an eel pout if any of you would have an appetite for her.”

They had a party and Jimmy's place that night. Even the eel pout got eaten. And on the way home the young man noticed something scratching his back. It was an envelope with a crisp new fifty dollar bill in it when he finally got a hold of it.

They never met again.

Jimmy is an engineer making the best of money, no kids, a cheap car, a used boat and trailer and a nice little house for him and his wife that cannot have kids. It's amazing the difference between a witch's spirit and a spirit made by God to give a good man who was rude, crude, obnoxious, hateful and full of pride. He never did any of it for God. But every bit of it would seal the deal when he finally saw God's face and found he could have anything he wanted, as often as he wanted and all he wanted of it.

Everybody loved Jimmy Hanson, God sure does too.


I brought Barb to work. The first thing I did was look at John. He was sitting at the table and I shunned him. He knew that the fun he had writing was over. He knew I was in full form and that I hated him. He believed he was a phenomenal power. To me he's just a man and he doesn't like the way I try to run things. I was happy I had his back up.

He shunned me and went outside to sit with his new friend. I saw my chance when he lit up after lunch. I didn't know he had saved it from before lunch. I would hand the food to others and make him reach for his still hoping to make him angry.

When he got up from the table and went out to have his smoke and Marn went with him I got up on my high horse and stomped out to tell him off. I thought he was bumming cigarettes from her and she would be short.

When I got there I said to Marn, “Let me see your cigarettes.” She seemed hesitant but she did give me her cigarettes and I said, “You need to stop borrowing cigarettes.” Then I turned on John expecting trouble and said, “And you John need to quit bumming cigarettes from clients.”

He was hip to me. He knew no one told me to do it and I really didn't give a damn if she ever had another cigarette. This was my fight with John and this time I was ready for him.

He said, “Who gives you authority to take Marn's cigarettes from her. Is this a new rule. You don't have any authority do you?”

I do too have a right,” she said, “Her PCA limits the number of cigarettes she can have.”

That was not a problem. I had cigarettes coming and I always paid Marn back. She likes the store bought kind better than her own anyway.

You're lying. No one told you that. You are just making it up like you always do. Is it even true you have a PCA?” I asked Marn.

She said that it was true and her PCA limited her cigarettes which may have been true but she never gave Barb authority to take them away or give them to her. I do that to her. I made up the part about taking her cigarettes away when she was giving away too many. He knew. Marn did too. But Barb had the cigarettes now and was not about to give them up. I make her think that John is steeling cigarettes from her. I always make her not trust him.

I went too far and remarked that he couldn't be bumming cigarettes from clients which is bullshit. I had to fill Marn's ears with a bunch of crap now to keep on my side. She was afraid of me steeling her cigarettes. I made out he was a thief.

He surprised me. He let it go. Then he went inside and got a prn. He was angry. Very angry. Then he started hitting my mind with a bunch of stuff. He threw my mind around, made me dizzy brought me up to the top of God's mind. God was working overtime to keep me alive. I was wondering what was going on. I had heart palpitations and felt like my mind was going down in. God was resisting him but he kept after me. He kept me under, technically dead, and giving Barb pain and all sorts of weird sensations as he did almost anything he wanted to do to her. I was afraid she was going to die. But he was just using his mind. I begged God to keep helping.

Finally hours later he settled down but he was still holding me down in. He talked to God and they discussed what he was going to do with me. He decided to put me down in and keep hitting me with what he called a rabbit. Every time I would start to come back he would have his rabbit hit me back down so God couldn't take me out. He was really pissed.

Finally God was able to talk him out of keeping me dead by saying, “What did she do?”

He said, “I don't like the way she treated me. I have a right not to be treated like that by a measly damned witch.”

Yeah,” God said, “But is that any reason to lose your life.”

God had been taking my side and telling him how valuable I was to him but he said he didn't even like the idea of him using witches for his purposes. But he did acquiesce seeing how God doing what he does might have need of someone to mess people over, my job I guess.

She knows I am talking to her. She knows I was fully cognizant of what was going on, who was doing it and why.

He has sent me off to the top of God's mind so fast I didn't even get a chance to see which way I was going so I could go back. He just left me here with no one, none of my friends, no one.

Then he gave me the choice to go to the free cell where he says people of my kind are having loads of fun. God asked me if I wanted to go there or back in. I decided eventually to go back in but he sent me to the top being entertained by him entertaining me writing a story about his day and mine. He says he wants to get to know me because the one I call the Great Power he says he never heard of and God backs him up on it. I can't even raise him if I wanted not like I'm crazy to. He is only around to torment witches. But God says there is no such one. There is not even anyone to raise. He is just gone and that makes me cry. I guess I had better lay off this guy. I mean, dah! Look what this guy can do.

Yeah, and if you want to see me pissed again just start acting up up there. I know where the infinitesimal is and I can take you to it and you will die doing the last thing, actually just deciding to do the last thing with no recollection of even getting started over and over. Just doing that forever. He's a real nice guy. He scared hell out of me. But he says he wants me to treat him with respect after this. Like I said, “I will try.”

That won't be enough,” he just said, “I am equal to God and even more powerful. I have a little more might. But not enough so as you might notice.”

I better make friends with this guy,” she said.

Stop calling me this guy,” he said. “Just call me John. I am a man in God form where Jesus was only a God in man form. You haven't even begun in your wildest dreams to see what I can do to you.”

That's it, Big Guy,” she said, “Threaten me.”

I don't threaten,” he said. “If you want to live stick chose as chap stick to God. The moment this body is dead and I get my might. You are going to be damned hard to find even if I just think of you.”

I'm scared,” she said, “What are you going to do to me?”

Nothing that ever happened to you before and probably it never happened to anyone before. You like torture and you keep testing the limits but you don't know what a limit is when you are so far past it there is no way to go anywhere and no way to slow down let alone come back.”

Sounds like a bluff,” she said, “Was being dizzy a bluff. The rest of it?”

I'm glad I met you,” she said, “Now I've got a lot more to use against you.”

Silent night,” he said.

I felt the bottom fall out.

God I've changed my mind,” I said. “I can't handle these things. She goes down to the infinitesimal.”

Am I there yet?” she said.

If you want her, God,” I said, “You raise her.”

I can't,” she has to raise herself.

I can't either then,” I said. “Oh well, what the hell. I can't stand them damned witches anyway.”


You guys do what I tell you,” he said, “And together we will make this plant a whole new plant and we, yes sir, you guys and me will be running it.”

What have you got in mind?” Therrot asked suspiciously.

You'll see,” he said. “What do you say? I can't share what it is. Anybody but me knows what's going on would ruin it. You with me?”

What do you say guys?” Therrot said, “We ain't getting anywhere this way. The boss doesn't know what he's doing and if we got any chance at all we better take it.”

That is if Jugs has got anything going,” Eatre said.

Even if it's nothing,” Therrot said as Jugs knew he would, “ It's better than nothing. We can't get in trouble for nothing and anyway who could be worse off than we are anyway?”

Okay,” Eatre said, “I'm in. What do we have to do?”

Just spread the word around,” Jugs said, “I'm the top canary. I say what we say and only me. Anything else doesn't get said or it won't work. Trust me.”

They got the word around and for weeks nobody squealed on anybody, no one complained for lack of production materials and no one said a word about anything. The unrest on the job had squelched and the boss was riding big looking on like a king from his little stage type thing carried by four men and no horses. He even told his soldiers to relax. There were no more foremen looking over your shoulder complaining about things you couldn't do anything about.

Then the word came down from the big guy, “Find out who is responsible for this. I want to talk to him.”

They found out it was Jugs.

Nobody could believe their eyes. It had worked. The big guy was talking. He hadn't offered to talk to anyone since he broke the union. It was a pain doing all that work in these terrible conditions but Jugs had done something nobody else ever did. He was, the top canary. Well, he was talking; none of the rest of them were.

Jugs walked into the big guy's office. They treated him real nice�"even gave him a cigar and offered him a can of beer. The big guy drinks beer all the time, never stops I hear.

What's your name, son?” the big guy says.

Alfonz Gatone but everybody calls me Jugs,” Jugs said sitting large on one of them fancy flimsy stools.

Look, Alfonz?” the big guy said.

Jugs nodded. He didn't even say, “Yes,” or , “No,” to the big guy. He just nodded and never said, “Yeah, that's my name,” or nothing. He just nodded; you hear me. He sure did.

I have been around a long time, Mr. Gatone,” the big guy said, “Yeah, just like that 'Mr. Gatone,'” and then he said, “What is your angle?”

I want to be a big shot,” Jugs said. “He really did, just like that. He says to the big guy, 'I want to be a big shot,' just like them. 'They obey me.”

Yeah,” the big guy said and handed him another beer and Jugs turned it down. Did you ever see Jugs turn down a beer before. Did you every hear of a guy that would? “You,” the big guy said looking him right dead in the eyes and staring with no movement in anyone in the office's eyes. “You have made me a problem I can't seem to argue with.”

Jugs just sucked on his cigar and tilted his head a little as if he was about to say something profound and important and everybody needed to listen. “I'm your best friend,” he said and I almost cried to think he would turn on us. Then he said, “Or you're worst nightmare.”

Now I grant you that ain't very eloquent but to me it was beauteous music just them words just the way they stood, “Or your worst nightmare,” just like every word was weighted down like it had a dozen train cars sitting on it.

You have the men working a full ten hours, no complaints. You have them meeting their quotas no matter how I set them. You have everybody sweeping their own places and scraping grease off the floor with their hands and paying to go to the toilet and gladly eating while they run their machines nonstop. They come in on time. They don't throw steel at the foreman's back. They don't argue. They don't cuss me or my men. We haven't had to use one of those nasty clubs for a month. I don't know how you did it, but I have to admit you have it going,” he said, “Mr. Alfonz Gatone,” he said as had it been the most meaning words he had every encountered then he added, “You... are... FIRED!!!” .The big guy hit the fuse and she blew with a whistle that would wake the Red Cross.

Well Jugs said, “What the hell do you mean, 'I'm fired!'?” of course.

Don't you hear so well, Mr. Alfonz Gatone? You're fired. Get the hell out of here. I'm on a busy schedule,” he said.

He walked out into the shop looking dejected. Then he went to his machine and sat down. Then finally he went back to work and we went back to doing all that we could because now they knew exactly what that was so they would add even more.

When we were gnawing on a hard crust of bread each I asked him, “What gives Jugs?”

Nothing,” he said. “I just thought I'd like to be a top canary for a while. Did you ever consider I ain't been a big shot before, not even when I was a kid?”

I said, “Come on Jugs! This is Eatre here. I've worked beside you for twenty-two years. You cannot fool me.”

I never fooled anyone,” Jugs said, “I said it wouldn't work if anybody blabbed. How did they know who it was? Tell me that! I'm not top canary; somebody blabbed. I sure had fun though. Didn't I? Didn't you? It looked like it was going to work for a long time didn't it? Eatre! I got myself fired because my stomach was full. I had a cigar, the very best you can get and I had a can of beer and you may not have noticed but I put the bottoms of my feet up on the big guy's coffee table. Me, I? Alfonz Gatone! I finally lived.”

Just then two of the men from the office came a long and Jugs thought they come to beat him. So did I. But no they took his lunch box from him and walked him away. You could have heard a pit drop punch machines or no punch machines! Our buddy was maybe going to die they would beat him so much and he was going to take it like a man, no screaming, no cussing, not even a minor complaint. No one had ever died at their hands before but this time the big guy was mad about something we didn't understand and he was really really mad. He came out of the office in person.

When Jugs was walked right up to him, you could tell he knew it was the end. But suddenly the big guy his self reached up at Jugs. I saw him try to dodge but there was no time. He put his thumb and forefingers on his neck and yelled above the noise of the punch presses and yelled at the top of his lungs, “MEET MY NEW LABOR RELATIONS LIAISON!!!”

Then when Jugs understood he was neither dead or fired he ran back to his machine and when the foremen explained he was to keep doing only what he had been doing and not a lick of work but just to find out what was eating the workers and report back to the big guy and find out what the big guy absolutely needed and doing his best to get the guys to help them get it done.

Work is almost a fun place now. They still get out the brass knuckles but nobody's heard of them using them but as just a warning and an object lesson and to think it all happened because Jugs just wanted to be a big shot once, no harm, he just wanted to be a big shot and now he is one every single day.

Then they all sat where they were and applauded... just before they all got up from their machines gathered around Alfonz Gatone who led them out of the shop, a brand new union and a badly needed strike it had been so long, and they were armed with strips of metal about twenty-two inches long and beating back the so called, “Foremen.” The shop would never again be the same. The honeymoon between the workers and Jugs; and the big guy were definitely over and done with. This time... nobody could beat them down.


She sat at the table watching him remove part of a role of carpet in the large deep hole in the earth that was about five or six feet deep that he found later solving the mysterious disappearance of his brother-in-law as she said, “The rug has rotted away but his bones are still there.” Then when he struck bone she said, “Now cover the grave before someone buries you there.”

Roman stopped what he was doing, looked at her knowing she was never known to be kidding but left the grave as proof of where he had uncovered the decayed body of his brother-in-law and drug the skeleton from the gave just as she stood, leaving him nervous. He had no recollection of ever seeing her stand before. But as he turned his back her to face his deceased brother-in-law she made it to his shovel, hit him over the back of the head, rolled his sister's husband back into the deep grave and placed his own body in on top of it. Then she made her way slowly to the Bobcat managed to figure out how it worked and filled the grave that was plenty large enough for two and parked the Bobcat atop the grave, moved slowly into the house and sat back down in her chair that no one need ever know she had actually moved from.

Her brother would not be missed. He had no job that was why he lived with his sister. He had no family but her. All his friends stopped visiting first. Then they stopped calling and in the end they gave up on leaving messages and she didn't think any of them knew how to text.

She thought about her husband.

Dig it deep,” she called as he dug what unknowingly on his part was his own grave.

He looked at her in silence and used his shovel to make it much deeper. Rather than two or three feet deep he kept working until it was six foot deep, five in places and along one side seven feet deep.

Be sure the sides won't cave in and slide all you dug back in the hole,” she said.

He hadn't wanted to, thinking the sides were solid enough so not much dirt would crumble back into the hole he dug just because she had said, “Norman, I want you to dig a hole in the back yard for me.”

He knew better than to argue with her. He had tried that once. Now every day he lived with her he feared for his life. Nobody argued with his wife.

The side of the hole gave way and the more he struggled to get out the more the top part of the hole fell in on him.

She got up out of her chair. He had never seen her get up out of her chair since she had gained her weight. She found a piece of metal pipe from where the sink had been fixed the day before though it did not need fixing and laid right where she had ordered the plumber to lay it.

She made it outside. Norman could not believe his eyes. She had moved and she seemed to move pretty good and she was holding the water pipe as had she intended to use it on him. She did several times. Then she waited.

When night came her brother came out of the bedroom to get coffee having no idea what the hole had been for being only a teenager.

Go out there and fill that hole,” she said.

Now?” he asked.

Did I mention any other time?” she asked.

Though it was pitch dark in the hole he shoveled bit by bit into the hole until at long last it was completely filled in. Then he rested and she had him come in and take his coffee back to his room saying he could rake it and level it out for shrubs the next day.

The next forenoon it was raining, not hard but plenty.

Rake that hole flat and plant those shrubs,” she said.

Why can't your husband do it?” he asked averse to working out in the rain.

He would never get it done and I want it done now,” she said.

He put on a heavy jacket not owning a raincoat and did what she said making sure it was the best job he could do.

There,” he said, “Show that to him.”

He isn't coming back,” she said. “He hated me.”

So he left!” her brother was surprised to understand.

What does not coming back mean?” she asked and went back to reading an old classic about the Joad family. The Grapes of Wrath I think but cannot verify that for you.

When her brother had retreated to his room she said, “God? I have done evil. Make it good. My husband and his brother-in-law did it right. I have done all I can. When can I expect my evil to turn good and my me and mind to be restored in heaven where I intend if I have my way to spend very little time?”

Who were you talking to?” her brother Roman said, amazed that was going on for she spoke so seldom.

Not you,” she said, “Not anyone it is likely you know yet.”

The old dog laid itself down just before her feet and looked up into her face and barked.

Let that dog out,” she said.

He did. The dog went directly to the hole the shrubs had been planted in showing a very avid interest but when she called it the poor thing simply came in and lay in front of her feet and her brother went quietly and unconcernedly back to his room.

Now in the present her hip hurt from using the Bobcat. So she groaned as she said, “I appreciate all you do for me God when you right my wrongs and make my evil good. We have been good for each other. I never could have done what I did without you.”

When she doesn't realize it we will take care of her money for her,” Norman had said of his wife. “We will be rich not playing poker for tooth picks and matches but making some real money in the casinos. Everything I have taught you about the game won't be a waste of time anymore like everything else I ever did in my life. We will be living on easy street. Just look at her Roman. What can she do to stop us? Nothing. I have it all planned out and the plan is flawless. No one will know what happened and as long as she has been a total recluse depending entirely upon us to even move in her chair soon I tell you it will be soon. You can count on me. I have made a mistake. This time I gave it a lot more forethought. She is dead.”

Isn't that murder?” Roman laughed being only fourteen never realizing Norman was dead serious and had meant every part of it as we made ready to take care of Norman's evil plans.

So what?” Roman said, “Do you think we would live forever here under her thumb? And, she won't live forever. So what if we just speed it up a little bit. Huh, Kid?”

You really should not think like that,” Roman said, “Sure it would be great to be rich but she isn't that rich. Besides its her money to keep. It doesn't matter how she keeps it. It is hers. Even if she wants to bury it in a hole out back where we nor anyone else ever finds a dime of it it's hers. You can't run around stealing people's money and you certainly can't run around killing people without getting caught. Where would you bury her?”

In the back yard,” he said, “It's foolproof and it's perfect. And, I ain't making this up. Someday. Someday soon we will do it and leave this old rundown house and take off rich as rich can be with her entire inheritance she makes us lock up. Locks are easy broken, Roman.”

Roman laughed thinking he was not serious but found it a blast as to how entertaining he was to even think of something outrageous like that.

I would have had her once,” Norman said.

Once Roman!” complained about his lie.

If that battery terminal hadn't been corroded when I attached it!” he said, “It would have electrocuted her giving us all the time we needed to dig her grave and wrestle the big fat tub of cement in there, cover up that damned mouth of hers and never have to think on her again.”

That wouldn't have worked,” Roman said surprised he was still given to fantasies. Car batteries might give someone a heck of a shock but as far as killing someone he had been really getting desperate if he hadn't been playing a practical joke on her. “Besides she hardly ever says anything. Why does what she says bother you so much? Why, I remember when you tried it out on the dog all that happened was he yelled and made her worry about her poor dog. It's a good thing you are so willing to just do things like that teasingly. But even then I think you scare her sometimes. Did you ever consider it might not even bother her that much to actually have you kill her and you really just can't do anything right.”

Something always goes wrong!” he shouted angrily. “It ain't natural that so many of my best ideas just don't turn out. Remember the time I put razor blades in her pulled pork? That could have killed her but instead all that happened was God caused her to cut her upper lip and she was finally alerted to what we were trying to do. Had she cut her mouth bad enough she had no way to get up. We could have just let her sit there and bleed to death like I planned. Now she checks all her food for anything that might go wrong by making me eat half of it every meal. You think I enjoy eating with that worthless old woman the same as an invalid that just for meanness refuses to die.”

You even scared me,” Roman said, “I actually began to believe that you did really intend to hurt her and bad. If you really did hate her you would cut her throat with a butcher knife. She could never stop you.”

She would know it was coming and scream loud enough to alert the entire neighborhood. We need something quiet we found out with the razor blades in the mouth trick,” he said. “She alerted everybody for blocks.

Why not just do it when she's asleep?” Roman asked, giggling to think how silly he was being. Making out he really wanted to murder her and would tell him all about it at the same time like he would keep it quiet. Unless he planned to kill him too. That idea made him a bit paranoid until he sloughed it off thinking now I am scaring myself. That's all he wants to do is scare her or me. He really wouldn't kill either one of us. Would he? No way!

That old broad never sleeps,” he said, “More the case she sleeps like a cat. She'll wake up when even the dog won't. I hate that damned mutt. What I should do is what I am going to do. I am only thirty-six bucks short this month. Then next month I just come home, walk around behind her and put the gun with the silencer where I can shove it in the fat of the side of her neck, pull that trigger and we are free!” he was saying it as had he just figured out how infinity worked.

Roman had never seen his eyes sparkle with excitement and hope like that. He was not sure of him at all anymore, no sir not in the slightest.

He was glad when he just left and never came back and she was happy. It wasn't pleasant living with her but it was a lot more pleasant than listening to all that plotting to kill her just for entertainment. She must have told him to leave. He knew he would go too far one day. Now he was probably homeless or something worse. He was too lazy to work and too broke to ever buy anything.

Where did he get money for a gun. And then even beyond that a pistol with a silencer. He didn't think he had ever so much as seen one of them. Weren't they illegal? Well pretty much anything you want you can buy, steal or try one of the many other ways there must be. There might be hundreds. He didn't know. He never took it serious. And in the end he didn't believe his brother-in-law did either.

Actually his brother-in-law suffocated not having actually died from the beating she had given him with the water pipe in his grave. When he got to heaven a guy got him so angry at annoying him and teased him for timing it too slow to annoy him so bad that that he got a really bad one to finally put him down inside.

After a while God brought him back up and let him see his face and put him in a free cell that included those that all they ever seemed to accomplish was to plot how they might enjoy destroying someone else since they could have anything he wanted. After a while he got tired of trying to plot evil when he seen God always made it good and always either made it so his plans didn't work or did but didn't turn out his way but right instead of wrong. He tries to ignore it and winds up having so much fun doing what he does he doesn't notice he isn't getting anywhere. One day he will go to the complete but good confusion and God will teach him how to think of other things and he will be in heaven like everyone even those in free cells or those who do right, righteously and good. That is just God. But knowing him it would be almost a miracle if he did.

But Roman found the gun in Norman's drawer. He must have been saving it for just the right moment. But the fat woman was working him to death. He was lucky to get his coffee even part time. But he grew to hate her. And when he managed to borrow a Bobcat that a worker that was working on the boulevards for the weekend she knew his time had come. He just couldn't keep from thinking about it, not at all and how much money he would have and how he would never have anyone telling him what to do again. But when she buried him with the Bobcat she was sorry.

A couple of years later a bad flood washed the two bodies in the grave away. They were found about a hundred feet away trapped in a storm drain and the case was opened for the first time and it looked like foul play. The law had an idea that she was a suspect but decided someone had tried to rob them and when it was found they had no money they had killed them and left their body trapped in the storm drain leading into the river. Then the case was closed having been solved to everyone especially her satisfaction. She had them cremated and eventually disposed of their ashes in the river during high water.

She was eventually moved to a nursing home and died many years later after her money ran out and the country had to pay to keep her alive. Everybody loved her. No one ever felt threatened by her again and she kept her evil between her and God.

She went to heaven of course and though God took care of her wrong and her evil she eventually went to the same free cell with Norman. She may have forgiven them but she doesn't act like she did. She still blames Norman for corrupting Roman and he is often sorry for what he would have done to her. They are friends. Roman no longer finds the scenarios that Norman thinks of funny and he nor anyone in that free cell can trust him.

But they are all three contented with the way they are living but of course Norman may never be fully contented though he can have anything he wants but he wants all there is he can possibly think of or discover as something he might even just like for a little while. No one ever completely trusted him to live with anyone ever again. When we leave neither one will realize we even left.

But Roman is coming along just fine in heaven.

© 2018 John F Carver

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Added on September 24, 2018
Last Updated on September 27, 2018


John F Carver
John F Carver

Bemidji, MN

I, the God of the Physical prophecy that the Great Power will come before these latter days. He will torment all witches forever in me, God, his God and my son will be saved a Christian and be the son.. more..