[theMystery.doc hardcover book cover art.]

October, 2017
Grove Press

978-0-8021-2491-3

Purchased a hardback? Download your free ebook >

Purchased a hardback?
Download your free eBook >

Act I:
Home & Garden

Live Conversation with

Michele
Michele:

Hello, I am Michele, I am the website greeter. Welcome to Website​Greeters.com.

Michele:

May I know your name please?

Visitor 1969:

Hello, Michele.

Michele:

hi :)

Michele:

May I have your name please?

Visitor 1969:

Is this an automated program or is there a live person on the other end?

Michele:

I am a live person

Michele:

This is not automated.. Live assistance is what we sell :)

Visitor 1969:

Assistance in doing what?

Michele:

We assist the customers with any queries they have

Visitor 1969:

Any sort of queries?

Michele:

We are trained according to different business models we are representing

Visitor 1969:

which sort of business models do you represent?

Michele:

Yes we actually understand what type of questions we will have to answer on any particular website.

Michele:

by monitoring the initial chats we have

Visitor 1969:

What sorts of things have you chatted about recently?

Michele:

hmm, I have chatted the same way with some other customers on our website.

Michele:

Just the way I am chatting with you

Michele:

Do you have a website?

Visitor 1969:

Doesn’t everyone?

Michele:

Yes, actually I wanted to know your website address if that’s ok?

Visitor 1969:

Why do you want to know that?

Michele:

Just wanted to have a look at it. Are you interested in using our service on your website?

Visitor 1969:

What kind of service do you--Wait a second, are you trying to sell me something?

Michele:

The live chat service

Michele:

We will have a team of greeters assisting the visitors on your website.

Visitor 1969:

May I be honest with you for a moment, Michele?

Michele:

sure

Visitor 1969:

Thank you. First let me ask a question of you. What country are you in right now?

Michele:

USA

Visitor 1969:

Me too. What part?

Michele:

Chicago

Visitor 1969:

What’s the weather like in Chicago today?

[Time passing]

Michele:

It’s partly cloudy.

Michele:

what about your side?

Visitor 1969:

You’re right! Partly cloudy is exactly what it says on weather.com for Chicago’s weather. It also says 60 degrees, and that it feels like 60 degrees. On my side it is…i have to check weather.com…partly cloudy. 44 degrees. Feels like 39 degrees.

[

session terminated by

Michele

]

contents

CHAPTER ONE

It was one of those plots where you wake up and you don’t know who you are. You feel like you’ve been through the mill. Your head aches. Your ribs ache. Your arms ache. Your hands, your fingers. Everything aches. You know you did something—or somebody did something to you—but what that was now completely escapes you. You’re awake. And it’s like you’re still coming out of a dream. And you wait a little while for the facts of the matter to settle in your mind. Who, what, where, when, why… You know, like everyone knows, that coming out of a dream can be a confusing time. Sometimes it takes a while for the dream to split off and fade away. You’re in a familiar room but you don’t recognize anything. The bed seems like it’s your own but you think it’s someone else’s. Or you think you’re somewhere other than you are. That’s all perfectly normal. A transition from one state to another. Well, this dream splits, it breaks off, it fades, but nothing takes its place. Just the ache. And a girl at the closet stepping into a skirt, saying:

“I’m super late, so I’m gonna drive, OK?”

I couldn’t see her well. She was just a blur. I groped around the bedside table for a pair of glasses that weren’t there.

So I lay back, watching the blurry form as it dressed. Tall girl, short stylish hair, platinum blonde, a good figure—that’s about all I could tell. A small room. Modest. Curtains closed. A sound like an airplane going over.

She zipped up her skirt in the back.

“How are you feeling?” she said.

“Sore.”

“I bet. Too much time on that ladder.”

She left the room. The old hardwood creaked beneath her feet. I heard her voice from the other room.

“I had to change my number, remember? New one’s on the counter.” She came back in. “OK?”

“OK.”

She sat down on the bed. Dark blurry face. Her light hair like a corona.

“Why don’t you take a break from scraping. You’ve still got a month of summer. Take the day off. Why don’t you go back to your book? Do some writing. You get so grumpy when you’re not working on it.”

“Yeah?”

“Yeah. Maybe tonight I can read some more.” She leaned forward and kissed me.

Pretty face. Almond-shaped eyes.

“Your glasses are in the bathroom. I borrowed them, sorry. There’s coffee in the kitchen. And a smoothie in the fridge.”

“OK.”

“You all right, babe? You look kind of dazed.”

“Yeah, fine.”

Instinctively a person knows that if he wakes up in a strange place with a strange woman calling him babe he should just go along with things and pretend he’s in control of the situation, that everything’s fine. Things go wrong quickly when you share information with strangers who say they’re your friends.

“Did you hear the cat this morning?” she asked.

“No.”

“It was howling something terrible. It sounded like it was in our back yard. Probably that fat orange one I always hiss at. I’m surprised you didn’t hear it. It was pretty horrible. Sounded like it was being eaten by wolves. I hope it was. Well, I wish I could stay,” she said, rising from the bed. “Remember when we first moved here we used to stay in bed all morning?” She sighed. “I miss those days.”

“Yeah. Me too.”

“I’m really sorry about last night. I think I must have been enchanted or something.”

“Yeah?”

“Give me another chance tonight? All right?”

“Sure.”

“Call me if you need anything. Don’t call the old number, though. Remember, call the new one.”

The door closed. I heard her run down some steps and another door slammed shut.

The car started up and backed down a long driveway.

I got up. Went into the bathroom and found the glasses. Put them on. Looked at myself in the mirror. Well, that seemed right enough. The face was mine. I knew that much. So then the problem couldn’t be me. I poured a cup of coffee and went into the living room. A couch, a chair, a lamp, a table. I looked out the window. The house was small. A house of similar size across the street. Two rows of modest, pre-war bungalows. Maple trees in bloom. On the porch was a ladder on its side, a tarp, a little table, a broom, a pile of light-colored paint chips. The front lawn was dried out, yellow. I went into the adjacent room. This must be my office. A desk in front of the window. A laptop computer. Old metal bookshelves. Books stacked on every surface. History, philosophy, fiction. Post cards and old photos stuck to the bookshelves with magnets. A drawing by a child of some sort of rainbow-colored craft—bright vibrant colors covering every molecule of the page—and little round balls—smiling faces. An old green couch. A black throw pillow. A metal trash can, empty except for balls of gum stuck to the inside. A yellow chair. I sat down. Hit the spacebar. The computer started up. The black screen flashed and then a white sheet stared back. Nothing on it.











The title of the document was themystery.doc. It was the only thing open.

It was all very suspicious. I know when you wake with your memory lost you’re supposed to believe everything they tell you. You’re supposed to blindly fit in with your surroundings. To trust the legitimacy of all that’s been laid out before you. But I was quite sure I had never been in this house before. I had never sat in that chair. I didn’t know who those people were in the photographs, I didn’t know what child had drawn the picture. I lifted it up. On the back an adult had written in yellow crayon: “The Bus”.

The phone rang.

I got up and passed through the little bathroom, back into the bedroom. In the still-dark room I could see a gadget glowing on the dresser. I picked it up. Pressed the talk button.

“Hello?”

“Hi, babe.”

“Hi.”

“I forgot to tell you the sewer guy’s coming to snake the drain today.”

“What drain?”

“The sewer line. It’s all clogged up because of the pine tree roots, remember?”

I didn’t know what the heck she was talking about.

“Right,” I said.

“He should be there about eleven, I think.”

“OK.”

“The checkbook’s on the coffee table.”

“OK.”

“You’re not very talkative this morning.”

“Aren’t I?”

“You’re not still angry with me, are you? You can’t believe anything I said last night. I told you. It wasn’t me. I was enchanted.”

“What did you say last night?”

“Hmmm,” she said. “I should get off the phone now. I don’t like talking while I drive. You get distracted. That’s how people end up driving off bridges. Knock on wood.”

“Where do you work again?”

“Where do I work again? Babe, I think you might still be asleep.”

“Right. Yeah, that’s it. I must still be asleep.”

“You just stay in bed today. I think you need a break. Stay off that ladder. You just stay in bed and read a book or something, OK? I better go.”

“OK.”

We hung up.

I was wearing a white t-shirt and red boxers. The house was very warm. I found a pair of shorts on the floor by the bed and put them on. They were green army pants that had been made into shorts. I took my coffee out into the back yard. There was a patio there, a couple wicker chairs that didn’t match. One of them had no seat but a rudely cut piece of plywood had been plunked down with a little cushion on top that was too small for it. There were tarps and old sheets lying over the flower beds. The house itself was pink—pink or peach—that was the color. But everywhere I could see the gray/brown of old cedar shingles. The house had been scraped, and it must have been a terrible paint job that was being scraped off because a third or more of the observable house was down to the wood. I rolled my head around on my neck. It was tight and sore. My head still hurt. Everything hurt and just looking at the house made everything hurt more.

The back lawn was just as dead as the front. It seemed whoever had been living here had decided to let the grass die. It was a good-sized yard. There was a weird-looking orange bundle lying there in the back. I put on a pair of flip-flops that fit me perfectly and walked back there.

Near the back fence, an obese orange cat was lying stiffly, its tongue sticking out the side of its mouth. It had a leather collar and a round disk hanging from it. Without touching the cat I moved the disk so I could read it.

OLIVE.

I went inside and turned on the phone, compared the number that had last called me with the number the girl had written on a pad of paper in the kitchen. They matched.

I dialed.

A doodle of a fish with a smiley face had been drawn in a quick, smooth hand below the number.

“Hi, babe,” she said.

“I think I know what happened this morning.”

“What do you mean?”

“Olive,” I said.

“What olive? You hate olives.”

“Not olives; Olive. Don’t you know who Olive is?”

I could hear the girl sigh into the phone. “Babe, I don’t know what you’re talking about, and I have a lot of work to get done.”

“Olive the cat. Is dead.”

“The big orange cat?” she blurted. “Gladys’s cat?”

“Who’s Gla—? Yep, that’s the one.”

“It’s dead?”

“As a dormouse.”

The next thing I heard was a bit disturbing because it was the sound of gleeful laughter. “That must be what I heard this morning!” she said giddily. “Its death throes! Oh, joy! Joy!” Then she said something about how that will teach it to go to the bathroom in her blueberry beds. Who was this woman? “Thanks for telling me, babe, you really brightened my day.”

“Well, what am I supposed to do with it?”

“I don’t know. What do you do with dead cats? Put them in the trash, I guess.”

“I figure I should alert its owner, don’t you think?”

“Yeah, I suppose. How did it look? Gross?”

“Stiff.”

“I wonder how it died.”

“I should get in touch with Gladys,” I said. “How should I reach her?”

“I don’t know, how about with a ten-foot pole?”

“You don’t get along with Gladys, either?”

“I would get along with Gladys if she would stop trying to give me advice about lawn care. I’m trying to save water. Besides, we’ll start working on the garden when the painting’s done.”

“Sure,” I said. “That makes sense. Well, I suppose I’d better go talk to this Gladys.”

This Gladys? OK, but you might want to wait awhile. You still sound really spacey.”

“Yes. Certainly. Of course.”

“See, that’s what I mean.”

There was a shed at the back of the property. It was unlocked. I found a pair of branch cutters and used them to snip off the deceased’s leather collar. It was a tricky business because I didn’t want to accidentally snip the cat. I took the collar and walked down the side driveway. The whole side of the house was in the same condition as the rear as far as paint and scraping was concerned. Whoever had done this had made it look legit. Poor bastard, I thought to myself. The scraping had obviously been done with a little hand scraper and a heat gun. The gun blew hot air which loosened the peeling paint and then it was up to the scraper to get it off. It was a small house, but no small job. Perhaps whoever was trying to make me think this was my house had hired a team to do it, in which case it could have been done in a day or two, depending on the size of the team.

The front of the house had yet to be scraped. I could see why anyone living there would have wanted the job done. It had been painted that pink/peach color and nothing else. No trim or accent colors, so the little house had the appearance of a nondescript pink blob. None of the details of its design or architecture were showing. I wondered what color it was going to be.

I stood on the sidewalk looking back at the house and chewing a piece of gum I’d found in the pocket of my shorts. I was distracted by an old woman next door. She was standing in her driveway sweeping. She saw me and smiled.

“Good morning! Looks like the scraping’s coming along. I can’t wait to see what color you two have chosen. I hope not gray. But I’m sure it’ll be beautiful. Your wife is so styli—”

“Gladys?” I said.

She stopped smiling and looked at me funny. “Yes?”

“Then I have some bad news.”

I walked over to her so that I could deliver the bad news quietly and in a soft voice, and no sooner had I stepped from my yard into hers than I heard a loud snarling which instantly turned to barking and I turned to see an angry dog bolting in my direction. I leapt back, then seeing it was just a fat corgi I readied myself to kick it like a football as soon as it brought itself in range. But it turned out the dog was tied up on a line and couldn’t quite get to me. “No, Brute, no!” said “Gladys,” in a voice that wasn’t chastising at all, and which while assuming a negative position paradoxically revealed something in the order of approval.

The dog stood off a distance growling under its breath.

“What’s the bad news?” said Gladys, looking concerned.

“It’s Olive.”

“The cat?”

The cat? It’s your cat, isn’t it?”

“No, that cat belonged to a man who lived down the street. He had two cats and he didn’t want to take them when he moved, so somehow he got Vel to adopt them—this was right after Gerald left for the home—but then, well, as you know, they had to take her away because she was hiding in the bushes and snarling at passersby and—have you heard anything? Is she still in the mental hospital? Carol was telling me she chased you with her hose? Is that true?”

“That’s a good question, Gladys. There’s a lot I’d like to know.”

“Well,” said Gladys sweetly, “Carol heard that Vel thought your pine trees were killing her with pollen. So after she sprayed her house from top to bottom she started spraying yours. Then when you went out and asked her to stop she accused you of stealing her windows and putting them on your house and then, well, according to Carol she chased you down the driveway spraying you with the soaker attachment. It really is a shame that you had to share your driveway with Vel for so long. I used to see her wandering into your back yard all the time. I guess she had become convinced that there was a body buried back there. At least that’s what she told the ambulance driver when they took her away. You know she spent all her time in that house watching true crime shows and the Home Shopping Network. And she hoards. She has for as long as I’ve been here—almost forty years. But I think if you had one of those antiques shows come to her house they’d find some real treasures! Why, some of those old silhouettes must be worth a thousand dollars apiece! Do you ever watch the antiques program?”

“Never miss it,” I said.

“Did you hear they’re coming to town next month? My friend Mavis has two tickets and she’s giving me one. I’m going to take an old Indian pestle I found at a junk sale and see if they will carbon date it for me. At least I think it’s a pestle—Tim down the street says it may be something called a lingam.

The dog had not stopped growling.

“I don’t think your dog likes me much.”

“Oh, Brute? Don’t take it personally; he growls at all men. I think in his first home there was a man who used to hit him. A dog remembers. But as far as Olive goes, she’s not really my cat. It’s just when they took Vel away no one was feeding the cats anymore, so I started leaving food out on my porch for them. Now the other one has run off somewhere, but Olive is still coming around.”

“Well, Olive won’t be coming around anymore. I’m sorry to tell you that Olive has kicked the bucket.”

“Oh, dear. She died?”

“In my back yard. And very loudly, I might add. Apparently the woman pretending to be my wife heard a bloodcurdling scream this morning. I can only assume it was Olive dying a horrible death.” I handed Gladys the collar. “My condolences.”

Gladys clucked her tongue. “Oh, that’s terrible!” she said, taking the collar. “Where did it happen? In your back yard, was it?”

“That’s what it looks like. Unless the body was moved.”

“Was she attacked by something? I know we have raccoons.”

“I don’t know how it happened, I’m no vet. But I thought I should let you know.”

“Do you want me to come get her?”

“I’ll take care of it, Gladys, no problem.”

“Well, thank you. Do you think I should send the collar to the man who owned her? I got his address from Tim after Vel was taken away. I wanted to know if he was going to come back for the cats. He never wrote back.”

“Yes, I think you should send the collar. I’m sure he’d like that.”

I went back inside and after a short search I found a large plastic shopping bag. I put Olive in it. Tied it. And deposited it in the garbage can.

I went back inside and drank the smoothie the girl had left me in the fridge. It was banana and strawberry, very tasty. I walked around the house examining items, picking up a stuffed frog here, a bowl of pine cones there. On the mantle was a large green cookie jar in the shape of a stern-looking owl. I lifted off his head and looked inside. Toy animals of all kinds. I put his head back on.

“Boris,” I heard myself say. That was its name. How did I know that?

Footsteps. I turned to the window and saw a woman walking up the porch. Her bedhead hair and t-shirt with the cartoon dinosaur were unmistakable. It was Gladys. She knocked on the door.

“Come in,” I said, and stepped back, motioning for her to take a seat.

She seemed surprised, but stepped in, looking around the room with wide eyes like a kid in a candy store.

“Have you not been in here before?” I asked.

“Not for eight or nine years,” she said. “There was an incident with some renters who started a fire. When the cops left Carol and I came in and had a look around. Have you ever noticed the burnt floor in the basement? They were making meth and I guess whatever they were cooking it in exploded. One of the renters was pretty badly burned.”

“Have a seat,” I told her. “Can I get you a drink or something?”

“Oh, no thank you. I just came to give you the address of the man who owned Olive in case you’d like to contact him, yourself, for any reason.”

“I don’t think that’ll be necessary, Gladys,” I said. “The cat’s already in the bag, so to speak.”

The room was sparsely furnished and nothing matched. There was a plush captain’s chair that had stained arm rests and scratch marks, probably found somewhere with a FREE sign on it. The couch Gladys was on was nearly as dingy as the chair and the springs must have given because she was sinking noticeably into the center of it. She was swiveling her head all around to make mental pictures of every item of décor so that she would be able to call it all up later, in future conversations with other neighbors. I was afraid she was going to throw out her neck.

“Gladys,” I said.

“Yes?”

“How long have I lived here?”

“Let’s see… You bought the house a few months after the renters with the pit bulls left. So, I suppose it’s been almost three years.”

“And what is it that I do for a living?”

She chuckled. “You’re a writer!”

“Have I ever published anything?”

“Of course! You signed my book for me. Don’t you remember? You wrote: For Gladys, thanks for the tips. I will do it your way next time. I remember well because neither Carol nor I could figure out if you were being serious or sarcastic.”

“What was the name of my book?”

“The name of your book?” She laughed. “Are you playing a prank on me?”

“I know it probably sounds weird that I’d ask you all these questions that I already know the answers to. But let’s just consider it as an exercise I’m doing for a book. OK?”

“That sounds fun! Your book’s name is In Complete Accord.

In Complete Accord. Odd title. And did it sell many copies?”

“I don’t think very many. I know I bought one.”

“Now my wife, what does she do for a living?”

“You’ve told me before that she’s a graphic designer.”

“And what’s she like? Trustworthy? Nice? Devious? Shady? How would you describe her?”

Gladys thought about it. “Well, to tell you the truth, I’ve never been able to get to know her very well. I know almost everyone on the block because I’m always out watering or sweeping and I talk to people when they walk by, and that’s how I get to know them. But I can’t say I’ve ever had a very good conversation with Eva. It seems like every time I try to strike up a conversation with her she remembers she has something on the stove. And yet,” mused Gladys, “I never seem to smell any home cooking coming from the house.”

“So that’s her name is it? Eva?”

“Yes. Eva.”

“And what’s my name?”

Gladys suddenly burst forth with: “Well, your real name is Daniel, but for the first three months you lived here you had me calling you Corky!”

“I had you calling me Corky?”

“Yes, and I was very cross for a long time with you, because every time I would talk about you to people I would call you Corky and they would say Who’s Corky? and I would explain that it was you—the new couple: Eva, the designer, and her husband Corky—and they’d say, His name’s not Corky, it’s Daniel! and I’d say, No, it’s not, it’s Corky!—and when I finally figured out you’d only been having a bit of fun with me, well, I was pretty upset about it. And I even talked to Eva about it over the fence in the back. I said, Do you know your husband has had me calling him Corky all this time? and she apologized and said you are a very imaginative man but that you get bored very easily and that I shouldn’t take any offense and I started to give her some advice about how to check her arbor vitae for spider mites when she suddenly remembered she had left the iron on and had to rush inside.”

“And how does one check for spider mites?” I asked to humor the woman.

“You take a white piece of paper and you place it flat inside the bush—or the tree, rather—and then you shake the tree and take the paper out and if they’re there you’ll see them crawling around on the page. They’re small and red. And they can wipe out an entire block in a single season.”

“Good to know,” I said, rising to my feet. “Well, thank you for stopping by, but I should be getting back to work now. I’m sorry for having you call me Corky.” I opened the door.

“How’s the book coming?” she asked. “Is it almost finished?”

“I imagine so,” I said. “By the way, what’s the book about? Have I ever told you?”

“Oh, no, it’s top secret. You never say the first thing about it. Whenever I or any of the other neighbors ask you just say it’s a really big book, that you don’t know when you’ll be done because you never put timelines on things because it’s better to let it be whatever it wants to be—which I’ve never understood—and what else do you say? Oh, yes. That you may not be making any money but that it’s a very rewarding experience.”

“Sounds like a cop-out to me. And how long have I been working on this book? Have I ever told you?”

“Well, your last one came out when you were young—twenty-six, I think, which probably explains all the profanity. And I know you’ve been working on this one since then. So it must have been something like…eleven years?”

“Eleven years on the same book!” I exclaimed.

She smiled.

“How does a person work eleven years on a book and not finish it? What’s my work schedule? A minute per day?”

“Well, you tell people you work on it from the time you wake up until you go to sleep. And that you don’t have any friends or hobbies or belong to any clubs (I don’t think you even vote to tell you the truth) and that you have devoted your entire life to working on it.” She lowered her voice. “We all just figure you have writer’s block and are too embarrassed to say.”

“Yeah, I don’t blame you. Eleven years working on the same book sounds like madness. Have I ever told you the title?”

“No. But once you called it a post-post-neo-modern mystery story. But I don’t know if you were just feeding me more Corky.”

“Thank you for the information, Gladys,” I said, escorting her down the slanted wooden steps. “I promise you I’m going to get to the bottom of this.”

“The bottom of it?” she said. “Is there something wrong?”

“Oh, yes. There’s something definitely wrong.” I walked her to the lawn and she headed for her house. “Wait, Gladys! One more thing!”

She turned around.

“I didn’t get a very good look at my wife this morning,” I said. “I didn’t have my glasses on. She’s beautiful, wouldn’t you say?”

“Yes, she’s very beautiful. Everyone says she looks like a model.”

“And the way I look now,” I said, spreading my arms wide so that she could see my old t-shirt and baggy shorts. “Is this how I normally look?”

“You mean how messy your hair is?”

“Well, I wasn’t meaning that, but yes. And my attire.”

“You always look pretty much the same,” said Gladys. “Although when it’s colder you wear long johns under your shorts.”

“So then the question is…what would a girl like that be doing with a guy like me?”

Gladys thought about it for a while, but at last could only respond with a shake of the head and a smile. And a:

“I suppose it really takes all kinds.”

contents

(6_7_07 11_55 am alice.wav)

::: Hi!

::: Hi.

::: I didn’t get you up, did I?

::: No.

::: Sometimes people are day sleepers, you know, and… I’m just admiring your tree—is that going to be an apple, or…

::: Yeah, we just planted that a few weeks ago.

::: Oh! It looks healthy, it’ll probably do fine there.

::: Do you know much about apple trees?

::: Pardon me?

::: Do you know—

::: Not a lot; what kind is it?

::: It’s a McIntosh.

::: Oh, that’s a nice apple. Yeah, and they’re pretty! I like ’em. I would put a little thing around it, because the stem could easily get broken on you—you know, sometimes even kids will come along and—I saw that just the other day. A little screen around the base that comes up so high to protect it a little bit until it gets a little stronger.

::: Good idea.

::: Yeah, I just planted a dogwood tree two years ago and boy it’s really taken off—you’d be surprised how fast they grow.

::: Really.

::: Yeah! Isn’t it so beautiful out—the flowers are just gorgeous! Well anyway, you’re probably wondering why I’m ringing your doorbell, I’m calling with some good news from the Bible.

::: Uh-huh.

::: Seems like we hear a lot of bad news anymore—[clears throat] I mean sometimes things are so bad you wonder if there’s some sinister influence behind all of it. Have you ever thought of that?

::: Uh, yeah, I have actually.

::: Uh-huh, are you a Bible reader at all?

::: Yeah, I read the Bible.

::: Are you familiar with Revelation chapter twelve? Um, let me see here………… You’ll have to pardon my Bible, I always say I’m not gonna mark ’em up and I’ll get another and then… [laughs] Anyway, it goes into here verse, um, twelve verse seven, And war broke out in heaven, Michael and his angels battled with the Dragon, and the Dragon and its angels battled. But it did not prevail. Neither was a place found for them any longer in heaven. So here you have the good angels fighting with the bad angels, at this period of time. And so down the Great Dragon was hurled, the original serpent, um, the one called Devil and Satan who is misleading—notice—the entire inhabited earth… You see what’s going on.

::: Wow.

::: And he was hurled down to the earth and his angels—the bad angels—were hurled down with him. And then it says how happy they were, and then it says, On this account be glad you heavens and you who reside in them, Woe for the earth and for the sea, and over here the sea refers to restless humanity. Uh, because the devil has come down to you having great anger knowing he has a short period of time.

::: Short period of time, wow.

::: Well, when Jesus died for us and went to heaven he sat down at the right hand of God, it wasn’t quite time for him to rule in his kingdom.

::: Uh-huh.

::: But when he took up ruling in heaven the first thing he did was cast Satan—the devil—and the angels that followed him down into the earth. Um…you probably know how Satan became what he was.

::: How did that happen?

::: Well, in Genesis he was the covering angel over Adam and Eve if you remember, and uh, he was supposed to watch over them, but instead he could visualize Adam and Eve multiplying as God told them to do, and fill the earth and extend that paradise to the whole earth. But um, but he wanted that glory, he wanted to be worshipped, so he uh, he challenged Eve’s rightfulness to rule—I mean God’s rightfulness to tell Adam and Eve what they could do and what they couldn’t do. And remember he said to Eve, let me find it here…Now the serpent—oh, let’s see, where should we start here…um…So [clears throat] here’s the Satan using the serpent, like a ventriloquist, you know. The serpent proved to be the most cautious of all the wild beasts of the field that Jehovah God had made, but began to say to the woman, Is it really so that God said you must not eat from every tree of the garden? At this the woman said to the serpent, Of the fruit of the trees of the garden we may eat, but as for eating of the fruit of the tree in the middle of the garden, God has said you must not eat from it no you must not touch it lest you die. And at this the serpent—or Satan, you know, speaking through him—said to the woman, You positively will not die. For God knows that on the very day of your eating from it your eyes are bound to be opened and you are bound to be like God knowing good and bad—in other words, You don’t need God telling you what to do!

::: Yeah, right.

::: Yeah. And so he told the first lie.

::: So that was a lie?

::: First lie. You will not die, he told them.

::: Wow.

::: And she—she—you know she dwelt on it. Instead of putting sin behind us sometimes we dwell on something—you know it’s wrong—

::: Yep.

::: And they had everything—I mean they were created perfect, God had personally taught Adam, he let him name the animals that he had created, and uh—

::: What else was it like in Eden, do you think?

::: I beg your pardon?

::: What else was it like in Eden?

::: It was a beautiful paradise!

::: Yeah?

::: And, God’s person—I mean God’s purpose was to extend that garden to the entire earth, and the earth be filled—in fact before they sinned he gave them the command to multiply, and fill the earth, and uh, at that time…he said here…And God went on to say, Let us make man in our image according to our likeness and let them have in subjection the fish of the sea and the flying creatures of the heavens and the domestic animals and all the earth and every moving animal upon it. And down in verse twenty-eight it says further, God blessed them, and God said to them, Be fruitful and be many and fill the earth, subdue it and have in subjection the fish of the sea, the flying creatures of the heavens and every living creature moving upon the earth. Well, now we don’t see us in command over the animals, you know. Some of them, some are pretty wild.

::: Yeah, they can get wild.

::: But at one time it wasn’t true. And um so…the earth was completed in the seventh day. And many people tell you, well that was seven literal days.

::: Hmm.

::: But the Bible says that one day is equal to a thousand years. Because he’s—

::: So seven thousand years.

::: So, uh…we don’t know exactly how long those creative days were, but um, you know, science—God is the greatest scientist, he’s the—so the Bible doesn’t contradict the true science.

::: Right.

::: So, you know, a thinking person knows, after—have you been to college, or…?

::: Um, I spent some time in college.

::: And, and then—just even watching the History Channel, they had a deal on the sun, and how it functions and everything and it was just awesome, because—

::: How does the sun function?

::: Well, the protons and neutrons and everything, I would love to get a copy of that, it was on the History Channel, they’ll probably show it again.

::: Oh yeah?

::: It was just unbelievable.

::: We don’t have cable.

::: Oh, don’t you?

::: No.

::: Uh-huh.

::: Do you have cable?

::: I have a, uh, dish.

::: Oh yeah? Which one do you have?

::: I don’t know, it’s just a—well, it’s a dish that you, like a satellite—

::: Dish Network?

::: Well I live out on Mullan Hill Terrace, um—

::: Do you find you like the service you get with the dish? Because I’m constantly getting advertisements from cable and satellite, and you know it’s just hard to decide in this day and age whether you should get satellite or whether you should get cable… for your entertainment needs.

::: Well, they don’t have cable where I live, I live in a motor home park.

::: So you have to have a dish. You don’t have a choice!

::: No. And I did have cable and I liked cable.

::: Do you find that the reception with the dish is pretty clear?

::: It’s about the same as cable.

::: Really?

::: Uh, when you have a storm, though, sometimes it’ll temporarily go out. A bad windstorm or something.

::: I’ve heard that would happen.

::: Yeah.

::: What kind of package do you have?

::: I just have the basic, but I think it runs, uh, it goes up all the time—what is it now? I have it taken out every month, it’s automatic—and it’s gone up, let’s see, when I first got it I think it was twenty-nine dollars, I think it’s about thirty-five now.

::: Do they tell you each month when they’re gonna raise the rate on you?

::: Um…no. It just—it just automatically takes it out.

::: And when you check your bank statements they’ve taken more out each month?

::: Yeah, yeah—not each month. They raise it maybe every year or two or three, you know how they do—everything’s going up now.

::: They should give you some notice before they start taking more out of your account, because—

::: Yeah, you’d think so.

::: you could bounce checks or something.

::: Yeah, exactly.

::: But other than that you’re pretty comfortable, you like the service of the Dish Network?

::: Yeah, people are very—oh, the dish? Yeah, it’s been pretty nice. And they don’t charge you for that. I think you have to put a—you have to be with them at least two years. And they give everything free.

::: For what?

::: The little dish that they put on your house.

::: Oh, do they come and attach it to your house?

::: Yeah, they install it and everything.

::: Huh.

::: So that’s all free, and then the little handset—let’s see, did we get a handset? Yeah, I think we get a handset too. But you have to sign up for two years.

::: You have to have a two-year commitment.

::: Yeah. And I’ve been there four years.

::: Do you think it’s worth the price that you’ve been paying? I mean for the quality of programs?

::: Well, they’re pretty well—actually they’re pretty well all the same price, pretty much. But yeah, I think it’s very nice. I’ve been happy with it.

::: What kinds of shows do you like to watch?

::: Um, I love the History Channel—I have learned so much on that. Uh, they cover everything. Um, and I like to watch um, 112, Home and Garden. Yeah. Home and Garden. And what else do I like? Cooking Channel and I I like to watch CNN.

::: Oh yeah, for the news.

::: Yeah, I watch them a lot. And uh, local channels. I have 2, 4, 6, and 7, 10.

::: You have the local news?

::: Uh-huh. Uh-huh. Yeah. I’ve got 2, 4, 6, and—

::: Do you have a favorite local news station that you like?

::: Um, no, it’s just—

::: Just whichever one is on?

::: Yeah. Yeah. I see you’re sorta—you’re sorta—wondering which way to go, aren’t you?

::: Well, you know, I’m just gonna—they send us so many ads for cable and satellite that I’m just gonna have to give in and get one or the other—

::: Yeah, you don’t know which way—I can understand the dilemma—

::: I think maybe if I get either cable or satellite, then maybe they’ll stop sending me flyers in the mail.

::: I— No, I doubt it. I doubt it.

::: You think they’ll still send me flyers?

::: It’s just like you keep getting these things—oh, they want you to uh—um, like Visa or Mastercharge—

::: Yeah.

::: and all the different banks keep sending you that stuff, so…

::: Well, we rarely get much mail at all except for ads.

::: Yeah, you get sort of tired of it.

::: Yeah, it gets—

::: So just chuck ’em! [laughs]

::: Yeah, but then you have to pay to recycle them.

::: Yeah.

::: And then sometimes the recycling won’t take certain types of mailers—

::: Uh-huh.

::: if they have like a glossy sheen on them.

::: Uh-huh.

::: Or if they’re like a full-color uh gloss or—

::: Uh-huh.

::: matte or—

::: Yeah.

::: or something like that. It’s just a challenge…

::: I know, it is.

::: And then you have to pay for your own garbage disposal, so—but if you think about the amount of paper that adds up just from advertising, that’s gonna cost you a pretty penny each year.

::: Yeah, you start trying to cut corners because the cost of living keeps going up and up and up.

::: Yeah.

::: And uh, you know, things are just continuing to escalate—that, that’s why we—not going back to the Bible, but we can see how close we are—

::: To what?

::: To God’s judgment. We’re living in a judgment period.

::: Do you think that’s because of so much advertising…in the mailboxes?

::: Well, no, I think, um, it’s greed—it’s so much love of money, you know. Instead of being balanced, it seems you see so much corruption—like they just had a senator —I mean here’s this guy—it’s been two years I saw on the news—well, why is it taking two years to indict this man? So when we got—getting into this they found out that he was into graft and corruption and—

::: No!

::: And bribery!

::: A politician was—

::: A senator!

::: being dishonorable?

::: I can’t think of his name, yeah!

::: Well that’s something else. These are the end times.

::: Yeah! Well they’re always being caught with their hand in the pot lately. We see corruption and this is all over the world! You know, so we’re living in—

::: Not just here.

::: No.

::: Not just in this country.

::: So we’re living in a judgment period and so it’s so important that we take in knowledge of the Bible. And accurate knowledge. Because uh it’s so important—so many people want to worship God the way they want to, and—

::: Right. And they say, You know what, maybe the Bible’s not true. I’ll find out who God is for myself.

::: Exactly.

::: That’s what they say.

::: Yeah, and yet this Bible has been perfectly preserved. Even though many—well, the Catholic Church—it’s a well-known fact—tried to—in the Dark Ages tried to suppress this. Because the Catholic Church was formed way back four hundred years after Christ—well, by that time false religion had entered—

::: Right.

::: just like Jesus said it would—when it said, when the apostles were martyred, the early Christians, it said the wolves will scatter the flock, and that happened, you know, and apostasy entered into religion, and some of those pagan doctrines have been handed down until today!

::: Really! You’re kidding me! Like what kind of pagan doctrines?

::: Well, for example, Jesus was not born in December.

::: He wasn’t born in December? He was born on December twenty-fifth.

::: No.

::: Like about a week short of January.

::: No.

::: No. Really?

::: Yeah. That was—well, that’s another whole story. He was born about October first.

::: October first.

::: Yeah, the Bible doesn’t say, but he started his ministry when he was exactly thirty—that was fulfilling the—

::: On his birthday?

::: Well, exactly thirty. And that was to fulfill, um……the Jewish requirement that you had to be thirty to become a priest. And he’s our high priest—he needs no successor because he never died. So he waited—then he was serving his father full-time until his death at the age of thirty-three and a half.

::: As a carpenter?

::: Yeah, he was a carpenter, he helped his father—his stepfather—and then when he became thirty he was doing the ministry of his father full-time.

::: Joseph.

::: Joseph was his stepfather.

::: So he was doing the ministry of Joseph full-time?

::: No, of the Lord.

::: Oh, right, right.

::: See, his father was really God.

::: Right. Right.

::: Joseph was just raising him.

::: Joseph was just—

::: Married to Mary.

::: Mary’s husband.

::: And so—

::: He was a carpenter.

::: He was a carpenter, and Jesus was a carpenter until he turned thirty and then he started serving his father full-time, until he was thirty-three and a half. So if you count back six months, that would take you back to about October first or second he was born. So then they decided—

::: September thirty-first it could have been also.

::: …Yeah. They—they started, uh, celebrating—decided to Christ mass, the mass of Christ, to get the uh, Emperor Constantine, to get the Jews and the Romans together, into one religion. And then they had church-state, you know where the church would govern the state, or the state would govern the state type thing? And uh, he wanted the people to support him, so uh… The Romans celebrated the Saturnalia, the return of the sun.

::: The return of Saturn.

::: Well, the twenty-fifth is the shortest day of the year, right in that area. And they had their pagan celebrations to their gods, you know, they worshipped the sun, the moon, and everything, you know, they even prayed to the Unknown God because they didn’t want to offend anyone.

::: What was his name?

::: And so they just, uh…they… Well, just so they wouldn’t offend maybe some god.

::: Which one?

::: I don’t know, they worshipped everything. They worshipped the creation rather than the creator. The Romans.

::: The Romans!

::: Exactly. So to get the Jews and the Romans together, they decided to start celebrating Jesus’ birthday on October first—well, the Jews did not celebrate birthdays.

::: They didn’t.

::: They considered the day of the death more important. And they didn’t think it was right to build—you know how you’re king or queen for the day and everybody gives you gifts and all this? They didn’t do that. Well, I’ve got some people waiting for me, but do you want me to come back sometime and we can sit down and study some of these things?

::: No, it’s OK. But it’s been really nice talking to you.

::: Yeah!

::: You have to go now though, huh? You can’t stay and chat more?

::: Well I would love to but I I I uh um, they’re getting cold out there probably. And um—I would like—she has to meet someone at twelve. I have a book: What Does the Bible Really Teach? Have you seen this? And it’s a new book. Do you live here?

::: Well, I’m staying here right now. And I’m not going to be around for very much longer.

::: Oh, I see, you’re sort of going to find your own place.

::: Yeah, I’m not originally from here.

::: Oh, aren’t you? Where are you from?

::: Well, I was born in       ,        , in 1976.

::: OK, that’s a nice warm place.

::: When I was two we moved up to Federal Way, Washington…

::: Yeah, I know where that is.

::: Then when I was eight we moved to California.

::: Uh-huh.

::: And then eight and a half we moved to England. And then…

::: Oh, was your dad in the military?

::: He was um, he was a drifter, you might say.

::: Uh-huh, OK.

::: And then when I was, um let’s see, ten we moved back to California.

::: Uh-huh.

::: And when I was thirteen we moved back to Federal Way.

::: You’ve seen a lot of the world!

::: I lived for a while in Seattle.

::: Uh-huh.

::: I’ve lived in Iowa. Let’s see…where else have I lived?…Montana.

::: I’ve lived in Montana too.

::: What part of Montana?

::: I was born in Deer Lodge and I lived in Butte one year. My mom and dad were both born and raised in Montana. And my dad was out of Helena, and my mom lived on a ranch out of Deer Lodge.

::: Wow.

::: And I had aunts who lived in Missoula; one in Great Falls, one in Billings.

::: Wow.

::: Yeah.

::: I stayed in Lake Flathead area for a little while.

::: Yeah, that’s beautiful. So are you gonna get an apartment or what?

::: Oh, well, I’m probably going to go back to the other side of the mountains.

::: Are you going to be a drifter like your dad?

::: Um, yeah, maybe. It worked out for him pretty well, until he died recently.

::: Oh, I’m sorry.

::: So what was your name?

::: I’m Alice.

::: Alice. So um, now, I know your friends are waiting so you have to go, but is there anything more you can tell me about this—about the satellite dish?

::: Yeah. They come out and they install it on your roof, and they have to direct it.

::: Uh-huh.

::: So that it picks up the—it picks up the uh—you know the uh… So I don’t know if you’d be more satisfied with the cable or that because uh, I don’t know—I don’t think you can go wrong with either one of them.

::: Really.

::: Yeah.

::: Because they’re both just great?

::: Yeah. So, um, why don’t I leave this with you. This will really direct you. As to the kind of worship that God approves. Do you know God says, Oh, if only you obey my commandments—

::: Right.

::: then it will go well with you—

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Michele:

sorry I lost you for a second

Michele:

Are you still there?

Visitor 1969:

Yes, I’m here.

Michele:

great

Michele:

May I have your name please?

Visitor 1969:

What happened to you?

Michele:

I think there was a glitch but it’s fine now

Visitor 1969:

Well, I’m glad you’re back. They call me           .

Michele:

Would you like to share your website address with me?

::: I know what all the different religions teach, and I wouldn’t be at your door if I didn’t feel this was the true faith. You know, if I didn’t know for positively, I wouldn’t be out here in the snow and the heat and the rain—I’ve been out doing this for forty-some years. Yeah, I’m seventy-one and I—

::: Well, you’re getting a lot of exercise. You look great for seventy-one.

::: Well, I don’t know about that, but—

::: No, you do.

::: Well, I—

Michele:

Still there?

Visitor 1969:

Your diction is different, Michele. Please don’t be offended with my asking, but are you sure you are the same person i was chatting with before?

Michele:

Yes it’s me

Visitor 1969:

How can I be sure?

Michele:

Well I re-engaged with you because I was assisting you:)

Michele:

and there is no other Michele except me in this shift

Visitor 1969:

OK, sorry Michele, I guess I can get a little paranoid. It’s just you never really know who you’re talking to on the web, do you?

Michele:

you’re right, specially with so many technologies out there

Michele:

so do you have any other questions for me?

::: See, the thing is—and I know you’ve gotta go—the thing is, it seems to me that God is very large. And that he can’t be contained—

::: No.

::: in a book.

::: Uh…

::: And that all of God’s ideas and everything that God has in store for us, and created for us, it can’t really can’t be conceived by man, so man just has to go out and seek God himself and not necessarily blindly believe in the beliefs of his fathers or in a preexistent faith.


::: Well, let me leave this book for you to examine :::

Michele:

still there?

Visitor 1969:

Yes, still here.

Visitor 1969:

There was a question i wanted to ask before we got off-track. Does it seem to you that in this country we’re not really expected to do anything but buy and consume, or to be anyone but a buyer or a consumer? It feels that way to me.

Michele:

well I guess that is the life cycle

Visitor 1969:

what do you mean?

Michele:

well we buy and consume that’s a universal fact. As far as roles are concerned, we all have one.

Visitor 1969:

All of us? What is yours?

Michele:

well we have a professional life and personal life and the role varies according to that

Visitor 1969:

You’re right, and what I mean is that both our professional and personal lives now seem to be dictated by the consumer environment. We buy personally, and sell professionally.

Michele:

hmm you’re right

Michele:

you seem to be doing some sort of research

Visitor 1969:

Well, I don’t often have the opportunity to chat with people like you.

Michele:

hmm, so do you have any questions regarding our service?

Michele:

I still don’t have your name by the way :)

Michele:

Are you there?

Visitor 1969:

Sorry. Yes, still here. I do have questions about the service. This is all part of the decision-making process, Michele. And I did tell you my name. Look up and you’ll see.

Visitor 1969:

          .

Michele:

yes I got that.

Michele:

I was just wondering if that is actually your name

Visitor 1969:

Do you like America?

Michele:

Yes, don’t you like it/

Visitor 1969:

What do you like about America, specifically?

Michele:

Visitor 1969 I’m Sorry but my shift just ended. Is there something that I can do for you before I log off?

Visitor 1969:

Tell me what’s so great about America.

Michele:

well I’m a citizen of US and I love everything in this country

Michele:

like everyone does

Visitor 1969:

including what exactly?

Michele:

well I like the country and that includes everything

Michele:

nothing specifically

Michele:

is there anything else I can help you with, today?

Visitor 1969:

would you ever want to come to America?

[Photo of a burning church fading into white.]
Michele:

well I am there.

Visitor 1969:

partly cloudy. 60 degrees. feels like 60 degrees.

Michele:

I am sorry but I have to logout Now. Incase you have anything Business Related you can call us at 312-   -    

Michele:

Thankyou for Visiting Website​Greeters.com Have a Great Day

Michele:

Bye

[

session terminated by

Michele

]

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