Rod and Maisey; Maisey and Rod, short story by Jim Meirose
Jim Meirose’s short work has appeared in numerous venues. His published books include Understanding Franklin Thompson (JEF pubs (2018)), Sunday Dinner With Father Dwyer (Scarlet Leaf Press (2018)), and Le Overgivers au Club de la Résurrection (Adelaide Books (2018)). www.jimmeirose.com.
Jesus Christ Maisey! This damned cruise line. Just one TV channel?
It was cheap, Rod. Cheap is what you said, go cheap—
But not on a trip as long as to Shanghai! Just one TV channel, and just one show?
Didn’t you know the big quarterly meeting was in Shanghai?
No, yes, but—I mean for Christ’s sake Maisey I but—
So, there’s more than just TV you know—here—
Plunging under the covers nude they went, thrashing and giggling, leaving nothing else for anyone who might be looking on in the room, but watch episode nine hundred one, of Sunday Dinner with Father Dwyer. Father Dwyer, who was just then saying, no one hearing, except, well—maybe some other ship someplace at sea had somebody watching, or maybe several people watching, or maybe actually dozens of hundreds of people watching, as Father Dwyer often reminded the red eye floating in the dark before him in the studio. But here in this room on this trip to China, under the covers Rod and Maisey were very, very, busy, too busy to hear as Dwyer went on to say over them, You know, some of you may be getting a special treat, to be seeing this show. That’s because this show is automatically beamed to all the myriads of cargo ships flying under every flag and traveling endlessly from continent to continent. Cargo ships, cargo ships mostly, container ships most frequently, even big oilers tankers and LNG; but. here and there a forward-looking passenger vacation cruise line, had decided to make my show available to their landlubber passengers as well—
Muffled up from the dark under the blankets something sexless said, Yes! Yes! See, I told you this was best—and Father Dwyer widely nodded agreement as he went on to say, These lines are forward-looking because they will go to any lengths to give their passengers the complete out-at-sea-with-no-land-in-sight experience. And my show is part of that. Who the hell is Father Dwyer, they might ask you in a cab in NYC, or, Who the hell is Father Dwyer, they might ask you on a bus, or on a plane, or even the cheapest most out of date big tubby out for your money-pockets vacation agent may have got you booked on, for mere Peanuts, anybody who would say that had got a peanut’s worth of what the real at-sea experience is from the hucksters who ticketed them with cheap for-shit tickets. Who the hell is the guy? What’s so great about the guy? He’s a guy, just a guy. Is all. Yes, is all. But if you’re in some pagan-based there’s no Jesus, Mary, or Joseph religion, you might say, Who the Hell is Jesus? He’s Jesus, just that Jesus. Is all. This is similar, really quite similar, because in many ways, Jesus and I are very alike; except, of course I do not claim God’s nature. This cannot be done. This must not be done. I certainly do not. But, think a bit. Read that last sentence again. There you there right there you two under the covers there, you, you two, who know the hell who you are—you two there!
The writhing pumping blanket stilled and in unison Rod and Maisey said, Huh? This guy’s something! What does he mean read that last sentence again? Huh? What? Huh? Why?
Say it again!
Say it again!
Say it and say it and say it again!
Not yes! No!
The blanket boiled around up and down again and Father Dwyer stated quite frankly, You know, if it were not for the word not I would be a blasphemer. How powerful is one, tiny, three-letter word; not. But, maybe, we better change the subject. Because that part should have been over many lines ago. If I’m a three-letter word’s worth away from plunging into the deepest fiery flames of the waiting longing licking hunger which is Hell, one tiny step from inadvertently putting in this book, that I am equal to Jesus, which if it’s not blaspheming I don’t know what is, I better step back! Yeah—back to the subject at hand. The fucking cooking. This is after all, a fucking cooking show. Sunday Dinner with Father Dwyer. Not the fucking and the cooking with Father Dwyer, but the fucking cooking with Father Dwyer. You guys hear me?
The writhing blankets writhed on.
I guess not. Well, as in cooking. See what I mean about the three-letter words? They’re dangerous. They trip you up. They can bring you down. All but one; one little bitty word for something so known that it’s almost unknown. Yes, that’s it—you in the back, who just blurted it out! Egg is the word. Egg! Egg! Okay, egg—and as sure as security ushers the wiseguy in the cheap seats out who guessed the word, we will go on and on and on and—
On! Yes! shouted the hot sweaty space under the active blanket, beneath the laser-like drone of Father Dwyer, going on way above, saying, Yes! This! The deceptively simple, yet holding universe upon universe upon universe within, egg. That egg. This one, yes! This one I hold aloft now—I—tell you what I will not do a trick, I will drop it and before it hits the floor, I will open the cabinet and slip out the skillet and get it under and the egg will splat inside; and we will make scrambled. Yes, scrambled. Yes—hereletgotheegghereitisfallingopenthecabinetstoop fortheskilletpullitoutgetitupandunderandsmileand—splat!
There it is, splattered! As we say in the business; car-crash splattered!
Oh, lord, God, yes, I hear you, I’m here, I heard. What a thrill this all is! But, with this egg, well, that was a true magic trick. Nature is one thing. Magic’s another. Behold, your humble defrocked priest turned magician. See me flick out the shell from the pan. And, since the sea you men see out your porthole when not so busy in bed, looks exactly the same as the sea looked back before mankind harnessed fire, we might have a few million years to wait before we can light this burner I’m gripping here, as a matter of fact, this burner and stove and all might be—might be the mystical sacred object that holds all of matter across the universe together. Just like that word not, which is the grand key to the cosmos, this knob on this stove being turned to off right now, if turned and no flame came would mean we are in the time before mankind had harnessed gas; imagine that? So long ago!
What the hell is that? forced up through the blanket weave.
You know damned well what that is!
—and if it does not light, and if the maintenance crew of blueclad short men they will send cannot get it to light, it might be that it is really just illusory and gas has not yet been invented and that the whole ship, the whole long wide so-real vessel, may be a magically created boat of a kind that we are not really on vacation in, or on the way to some business meeting in China for, after which we will return to our original homes, but of a kind that will sail us to a barren land of stunted colorless stark naked super-ancient cannibals, who are waiting on their ragged lava rocky shore, with long spears in hand, for the liner you think is a liner but it’s not, which will run onto the shore, and then be blinked out of existence by the spell cast by the bony-nosed witch doctor flailing long feathered chanty bellringing jangling things, and when the ship becomes what it really is, which is nothing all, all passengers will be in the water flailing and flailing desperate to stay alive breathe and make land, but a hail of spears will quickly make short of them, and there’ll be good eatin’ in hut-town tonight!
No way that can be, Rod. I mean—
Oh it is, Maisey. Here it is! You can take it!
—yeah, some really good eatin’ and a’ head rollin’ and allsuch games played before you thought was time but really wasn’t, had an instant to begin. So, I ask—you there, out there where you are, or you, or you—or maybe you; do you want to take a try at lighting this burner that always worked before and you are sure will always work forever, now having heard this tale of mine, want to turn it? Want to? No? You? No? You not either? You mean you don’t want to dwell in hell with the big Nazi and all the little and littler Nazis nested inside him like a Russian wooden set of nested dolls, who were only following the orders of make-believe mystic magicians that just had mail-order PhD’s anyway? They chose to turn some mystic knob; or maybe they chose not to. But, gee, my God, lord God, the egg! The magic egg I so deftly dropped, has burnt to a crisp black knob in the skillet while I was doin’ all the palaver and what-how, not! I guess I must of made the choice for you. I turned the damned knob, oh, myself, and mystic pale pygmies are not waiting at your destinations to spear butcher eat laugh and play around with your entrails after all! Oh, silly me. Silly, silly, me—but anyway, that egg was just the first of twelve. What of this next one? How wise might this one be, eh, eh—and after that, the eleventh. And the twelfth. And so forth. So, let’s shut the gas and prepare for the next. But look out the porthole, this time, when I turn on the gas Dare you look out? Dare you? I dare you—dare to look and find out if you will see sea, or shore, or what! So, bye, it for now!
The blanket threw back. Naked and spent they lay, smothered in stationbreak.
What the hell did he say? What the hell?
Oh, who the fuck knows, honey—every episode’s exactly the same anyway.
© Jim Meirose