22
Aug
12

the caller id just says ‘jerk store’

I guess everyone has a story about where they were when all the Christians got raptured into heaven. Me, I was in Astoria at my dealer’s apartment, of all places. He just disappeared into a cloud of smoke, right between explaining why an eighth was suddenly $60 and promising that it was only a temporary price hike, when his clothes suddenly crumpled to the ground after a half second where they briefly, dramatically, still held his shape. I sat there stock still for about twenty minutes, worried that the same thing was gonna happen to me, but it never did. The wind blew through the window onto my face, and I felt perfectly, horribly alone, the trance only breaking when I heard a few voices talking on the street. Within a few minutes, dozens of others had arrived and we figured it out pretty quickly. It took us all a while to absorb the concussion, at first collectively before we each began picturing the specific ways the event was going to affect us all individually, then we began drifting slowly away one at time from the huddle to gather our loved ones close and begin rebuilding our lives. I knew it was just the shock setting in, but I found myself most mystified by the knowledge that the guy who sold me baggies of Sharkleberry Kush and Hulk Dick was a believer. I mean, over the years I had heard him make a few vaguely homophobic remarks, but I had no idea he was that far gone. I walked quietly back into his apartment, then after a little detective work I stuffed a couple of bricks under my sweatshirt.
There were a lot of people gone. In His infinite wisdom the Lord took a pretty broad interpretation of the phrase “whosoever believeth in Him”, showing no regard for denomination or sect. Episcopalians? Snake handlers? The Pope? Death row inmates? The 2007 National League Champion Colorado Rockies? Everyone. To answer the question asked ad nauseam by Newsweek that year, yes, Mormons were definitely Christians, although I think most of the people who were wondering that were no longer with us. There were a few days initially where it looked like things might get pretty bonkers, but over the next few weeks and months, the 24 percent of us who remained in the United States gradually pulled together and began rebuilding society, taking newfound comfort and pride in civilization’s vital institutions as they rose back up, and either altering or shedding altogether those customs that had before driven us apart. Without most of our elected officials, we were especially thankful for the calm, steady leadership of President Barack Obama. Turns out he really was a closet Muslim, but nobody gave a shit.
It was amazing how much work there was to do that first year; things you’d never think of. We put crews to work repurposing all the newly abandoned houses and buildings, focusing a lot on the churches once they figured out how many of them there were, and how much stuff was in those suckers. They started with the big ones. These guys would find like a nice leather couch in a youth group lounge and give it to some ninety year-old old Laotian lady or something. Without the Christians to help them discern which poor people were deserving of help from the ones who hadn’t sufficiently tried to pull themselves up out of poverty, they just basically took everyone who knocked. You can fit a fuck ton of beds in a church building if you use the classroom and office space wisely, and some of the nicer ones even have showers next to their basketball gym. The places that had top-of-the-line sound equipment, like huge PAs with EQs and racks of processors, put on free shows all the time. Megadeth were actually better without Dave Mustaine, eschewing that kinda indulgent, overproduced prog metal direction they had been increasingly moving in over the last nine records in favor of a return to the good thrash sound they had back when all their album titles had ellipses.
Over time we found our way. Abortions and teen pregnancy went down, thanks to vastly improved health education, increased access to birth control, and a willingess to have frank, honest conversations about sex in terms that showed respect for young people’s growing adult decision-making skills. Surprisingly, people only had slightly more sex than they had before, although we noticed that a lot of the really fucked-up genres of porn were no longer as prevalent. Climate change still posed a considerable challenge for global leaders, but with three quarters of the world’s largest resource-consuming nation gone, the planet’s temperature skated just under the deadline for irreversible change for a few years before scientists finally reported small increases in polar ice.
It wasn’t perfect. Though we have come pretty close, we still haven’t been able to fully eradicate gun violence. And of course, the world has never quite gotten over the loss of Stephen, the most talented of the Baldwin brothers, feeling a collective measure of regret for the way he was cruelly exiled from Hollywood for his convictions. Other than that, though, not too bad. People seem a lot less certain of the inherent rightness of their opinions, which has led to some interesting and productive discussions. Plus, after all we’ve been through together, folks take responsibility for each other and are more likely to talk to each other on the street, unprovoked, and it’s not even weird. Kinda pleasant, actually. In fact, just this morning I was walking up the steps from the West 4th subway stop when I noticed an older white-bearded gentleman by the basketball courts having some difficulty with his camera. He was a solidly built man with a regal bearing about him, like he was from somewhere far away. Maybe Russian, I thought. I helped him out, then he took a few snapshots and said his son was playing out there, pointing to this lean, swarthy guy in his thirties who was just dominating the court. He threw down a rim-rattling dunk, then on the other end blocked a shot, somehow came down with the ball, and pulled up for a jumper just inside the half court line. The crowd that had gathered to watch completely erupted as he drained it, and he humbly acknowledged them before he stripped off the headband that had been holding his long hair in place and wordlessly placed it into the hand of a child. The older fellow smiled and told me they were on vacation and I asked him long they were in town for. Not long enough, he told me with a weary sigh, but they were going to have to get back soon. He didn’t want to say where they were from, only mentioning that the people there kinda got on his nerves.

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2 Responses to “the caller id just says ‘jerk store’”


  1. August 22, 2012 at 7:52 am

    Please don’t ever stop writing.

  2. 2 Maple Worm
    August 24, 2012 at 11:30 pm

    Went to a party, had fun, did some crystal, went bareback and now i got raptured


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