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Of Oil Paintings and Insanity

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Every once and a while the world would stop spinning. And for that one moment, every baby in the whole universe would cry, for they had seen the truth. Scientists determined that the truth must be very scary, and we should all stop searching for it immediately. But to be completely honest, babies cried at wonderful things too, like earthquakes and falling chandeliers and darkness. So maybe the truth was wonderful after all. Or maybe the babies were right. Maybe the truth was horrible, like lollipops and haircuts and Tuesday mornings. One day, when the world begin spinning again, everyone who was anyone flocked to the church, as God always seemed to know what to do in these kinds of situations. The church in one particular town was an understated mahogany structure. More of a plain building that could have been inhabited by a post office than the dwelling place of the Lord. As a matter of fact, at one point, it had been inhabited by a post office. The old owner of the post office, Bernie, was devastated the day a minister knocked on his mahogany door, a cross in one hand, and a lease in the other. Bernie wasn’t sure which frightened him more. Nowadays the church was frequented by Armenians. As a matter of fact, it was a single Armenian family that immigrated long after the masses came to America. They always felt out of the loop in the immigrant circles, chastised for being “new poor” rather than the classic, original “old poor” like other immigrants in the town. The family of 9, along with a large group of people who seemed to look like them and talk like them, had been the only ones to give that church the time of day before the scientists made their declaration. There was also a senile old man who sat on the front stoop of the church cross-legged every day of the week except for Sunday and was considered a regular.


Yet now, the pews were overflowing with 300 brains, fidgeting a little to the left or a little to the right. The room was filled with a chorus of sneezes and coughs to the melody of the organ, whose player hastily pulled out sheet music that hadn’t been in commission for a very long time. The minister excitedly relished in the midst of the most attention he had gotten in years, as he began a sermon entitled “Our Purpose in Life on This Earth”. It was half about devoting your life to the name of the Lord Almighty and half about increasing church membership. By this point most of the toddlers in the room had run down their attention spans after a long day of endless crying and a particularly riveting episode of Barney. Upon discovering that the leather bound books between their parents knees were not for coloring, they wandered outside towards the front stoop, where the crazy old man sat in his cross-legged position. A few of the toddlers wandered back into the church in a disdainful fit, as the old mans hair was shaped like cauliflower, which was about the worst thing you could give to a kid under the age of 6. But the rest were intrigued by the man who was half shrouded in darkness. He opened his mouth and began making purple, blue, green and red noises. The children happily stared at the man and his colorful words. He spoke in a nonsensical lull that only babies could understand, as it was the language spoken in their dreams. A teenager who had left the sermon in disgust at how the minister was capitalizing off of fear, a power that could bring even the strongest man to his knees, began listening with the toddler. He heard the old crazy man whisper a sentence over and over again, breaking through the haze of nonsense he had been muttering, like a mantra that had been burned to his being. “We are nowhere and it is now.” The teenager was fascinated by the sentence, and motioned for his sister to join him on the porch, a girl who believed in her magazine prescriptions almost as much as he his medicinal ones. The girl made a commotion on her way out, drawing attention to the spectacle quickly forming on the porch. As soon as the crazy old man and his audience were discovered, all of the parents whisked their children home, glaring at the minister on their way out. How could he let such a man on his premises! Did the church not have standards?
The organist sped out the door, glad to be able to make it back to one more hand of poker. He had been pining for a victory for a very long time and after taking into consideration his skill level, he had recently decided to join a poker group he was sure he could conquer. But as a matter of fact, the Armenians who dealt out the hand would go on to beat him every time. The minister sadly packed up his papers as the church quickly emptied, preparing to divulge himself in every deadly sin he could manage. “God dammit Bernie,” he said to the crazy old man, who was now lying in one of the pews. The minister flipped off the lights and exited the chapel while Bernie stared up at the dimming chandelier. There was a portrait of Jesus knowingly smiling as he sat alone on some sort of rock, hung high towards the ceiling. Bernie smiled at it and closed his eyes, remembering the logo of his old business that had long been covered up by the matted portrait. “We deliver anywhere, anytime.”





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