Watch Out for Elephants
So I used to work specialty jobs. I guess I still do, after a change in careers, forced retirement. Big Deal. I used to get crap done. You name it, I could do it. I probably still could too from the looks of things I get to see while I’m doing certain jobs.
Lately I’ve been doing a lot of religious gigs. Don’t ask me why. I quit asking questions a long time ago. I don’t know why and I don’t care. Anyone who pays enough attention and takes enough notes will start to see certain patterns forming, and by that time assumptions and observations become the same thing, don’t matter anymore than they ever did. But I digress.
When I’m not working a job I’m usually out in the desert somewhere. Could be any desert, I don’t know. Sometimes I see small shrubs, a lizard or snake or something, but usually it’s just hot dry arid dirt. Usually it’s tan, yellowish orange sand too, but sometimes it’s different colors. One time the sand was white. That freaked me out, but not as much as when I saw the white lizard. Whatever. I was out in a desert this one day, really enjoying the silence and peaceful nature of it. I had my eyes closed and was really trying to be present and all that crap. Then it gets real cold, and I realize I’m working a job. Instead of sitting cross legged in the dirt I’m now in a tight little chair or in a pew. Great. Right when I was enjoying the moment. Then poof, on the clock again.
I suppose should explain my line of work. I don’t know much about it, but every now and then I get zapped, transported or whatever to certain places. Usually I just sit there, holding space until whatever it is that’s going on is over, then poof, I’m back to some desert paradise. Weddings, funerals, divorces, quincenerias, bar mitzvahs, confirmations, graduations I’ve worked them all. Holding space. I can’t tell you how long I’ve been doing it, time doesn’t mean diddly to me now. Big deal. Usually they’re pretty dull, sometimes something interesting happens.
Watch out for elephants. One time I got zapped into the middle of Africa somewhere. I thought they messed up my assignment, since there wasn’t a single person anywhere to be seen, but a bunch of elephants. I started watching them and noticed they were circling around one in the middle. It was dead and they were parading around it. I guess it was some type of funeral. Every time one passed by me though, I could feel vibrations going through me. Each one was different, like a song, or prayer, or something. Those elephants are up to something, so watch out for them.
See? Sometimes something interesting happens. I suppose I should put that in the past tense. It seems like it’s been a while since I’ve worked a job actually. I think I messed up on the last job.
As I was saying, one minute or five on this desert paradise, then a millisecond later poof, I’m in some synagogue. I’d been there before a few times, usually for services that were short a few folks. They say they need a “minyan” to recite certain prayers. Big deal. Little do they know when there aren’t enough for a “minyan” several of us get called out to take up space. I have a few coworkers, but I don’t know many of them. Grace was there, as usual, and some new guy who was still asking questions, looking around confusedly. I ignored him, pretending to be one of the normals. I tried to get a good look at Grace. She was always at this temple, but I saw her at a Catholic gig once. I don’t know if her name is Grace, I’ve just always called her that because of her flowing blonde hair. She’s never said a word to me. I’ve tried asking her questions and was even able to shake her pretty good once, but in vain. She just looks around the joint, looking frightened and lost, her brown eyes large as golf balls. She’s usually wearing a faded white gown that matches her blonde hair, which has plenty of gray mixed into it. There were eight normals there, and three of us handymen. Plenty to make minyan and some to be there and look spacey. Big deal.
I usually don’t mind working a job, but this one pissed me off. Especially after being in such a peaceful situation and now I was there. I don’t have anything against Jewish services, or that temple or rabbi even. I like most religious services to be frank. It’s just that I was really in the zone out there in that desert and then there. A little warning would have helped.
So. I’m there before anyone else and I’m staring at these candles that are lit, trying to think of them as little suns burning the dirt in some desert somewhere, and things get started. That rabbi usually has a funny sermon about some small detail, but the last few times he’d been ranting about some conference coming to town. Someone called him a bully. Big deal. We’re about ten minutes into services, and I’m trying to focus on the candles when this punk kid comes and sits right behind me. I always hated that. I was even sitting further back than the rest of the people there. So it’s easy to understand my frustration rising, right?
I tried to put it all out of my mind, and focus on the prayers and sermon. I usually just observe at these gigs, and just sit there. I don’t stand when the officiant asks us to, I don’t recite whatever is being recited, no matter how many times I’ve heard it and know it by heart. We go through about half of the service when this kid leans forward, putting his lips inside where my head should be...damn transparency...and he whispers something in my head. I couldn’t quite understand what he said, but it sounded something like:
“I can see you. Nice bald spot.”
Punk kid. I said I don’t know if that’s really what he said, and it’s not because of any hearing problems I might have had as a normal. When someone says something inside your head like that, no matter how quiet it may be in the physical world, it’s still someone talking to you inside of your body’s biggest nerve. This kid sounded like a voice of G-d, I thought my eardrums burst with each syllable he spoke. Louder than someone speaking next to your ear with a bullhorn, or standing next to a speaker at a concert. It was worse than the beginning to Back to the Future, but multiple syllables trying to form words and phrases at 11, all inside the confines of my head. I was furious, enraged to a point where I wanted to rearrange this kid’s face with my bare hands, but I didn’t. I couldn’t, but I wouldn’t have even if I had been physically able. So before I knew it I’m standing next to his ear, standing behind him now, and I whisper next to his ear.
“If you can see me, you’re either dead or dying.” Which I have little faith is true, but he didn’t know that.
Before I had finished saying that he frantically turned around, looking for me. I hid behind the congregation president, crouching behind his shoulders. The look on this kid’s face was priceless. He couldn’t see me. He looked around, his eyes almost as wide as Grace’s. Apparently he couldn’t see her either. He stood there blinking and gulping for a few seconds. I started laughing hysterically, which he was able to hear. I heard the Rabbi call this kid’s name out and stopped laughing to be able to hear what was going to happen next.
Next thing I know I’m standing on the side of this mountain, in the snow, trying to prevent sliding off into the great decent of several thousand feet. I gave up counting the days and nights. It’s cold and I’m tired, but every now and then the Rabbi’s question still cracks me up. See, I heard him ask it right before I got zapped out here.
“Are you all right Mike? You look as though you’ve just seen a ghost.”
About the author:
Nathan Lyons is a writer of short fiction and a ceramist. He was born and raised in Albuquerque New Mexico and is an environmental technician for a small locally owned company. He is a student of all of the sciences, as well as traditional healing modalities.