Lemme tell you where this came from. One day, I am sitting in the dining hall at this fitness spa we go to in Mexico and out of the blue and seemingly irrelevant to the conversation, I suddenly heard myself blurt, “Let’s kill Earl!”
I had no idea what it meant – besides the obvious – but I have been unable to extinguish it from my mind. Today, I’ve decided to follow this line of imagining and see where it takes me. It could be nowhere. But I have a personal interest in finding out.
THE SCENE: EARL’S LIVING ROOM.
THE TIME: THE FANTASITICAL PRESENT.
HAVING ANSWERED THE DOOR, EARL USHERS IN A THIRTYISH, THOROUGHLY INGRATIATING STRANGER, WHO SAYS “CALL ME JIM” AND INFORMS EARL THAT HE HAS SOMETHING TO TALK TO HIM ABOUT THAT HE IS CERTAIN WILL BE OF INTEREST TO HIM.
EARL USHERS JIM OVER TO THE COUCH AND INVITES HIM TO SIT. EARL SEATS HIMSELF IN A COMFORTABLE ROCKING CHAIR NEARBY.
THE CONVERSATION BEGINS.
JIM: Earl, if it’s okay with you, I’d like to dispense with the “small talk” and get right to the point.
J: I know you’ve been known to write blog posts about your unusual experiences. No need to bore your audience with extraneous chitter-chatter.
E: I could edit it out.
J: But you usually don’t.
E: You have read my blog.
J: In preparation for this meeting. I really enjoy it. Although even this is getting a little extended.
EARL SMILES, “BUSTED”, BUT SIMULTENEOUSLY TICKLED.
E: Go on.
J: Earl, I recently attended an international conference involving a panel of some of the greatest thinkers from around the world. The participants came from all walks of life – politicians, business people, academics, professional artists of various types, religious leaders. The subject of the conference was the indisputable sorry condition of our world – the agonizing poverty, the continual warfare, the internecine animosity… are you familiar with that word?
E: “Internecine.” That’s, like, between groups, isn’t it?
J: On the money. The conference was assembled to discuss what – if anything – could be done to improve things. The participants were instructed not to censor themselves, so a whole spectrum of proposals were tossed around, some of them promising, some of them, frankly, entirely whack-a-doodle. That last category – the certifiable whack-a-doodle proposals – is where the idea I am about to tell you about derived from. It involves… Earl, let me just come out and say it, okay?
J: A human sacrifice.
EARL ATTEMPTS TO SUPPRESS A CHUCKLE.
E: A human sacrifice.
J: As a desperate solution to get things back on track.
E: (HIS CHUCKLE ELEVATING INTO A GUFFAW) A human sacrifice.
J: The panel had rejected everything else by that time, and to be honest, there was alcohol involved. The thing is – and the panel was unanimous about this – nothing we are currently attempting is working. Hardline intransigence. Unrestricted negotiation. Whatever we’ve tried, the world is still going to hell in a hand-basket. That’s when somebody proposed, perhaps as a joke, though they were instructed not to hold back… a human sacrifice.
E: (BACK UNDER CONTROL) I see. And did they have anyone particular in mind?
J: Earl, if I may be painfully blunt, that is the precisely the reason I’m here.
E: What do you mean?
J: It was decided to kill you.
CONSIDER HOW LONG YOU WOULD PAUSE IF YOU HAD JUST BEEN INFORMED THAT PEOPLE YOU HAVE NEVER MET HAD ARBITRARILY DECIDED TO TERMINATE YOUR LIFE. AND INSERT THE LENGTH OF THAT PAUSE… RIGHT HERE.
E: (EITHER WEAKLY OR ANGRILY, DEPENDING ON YOUR PERSONALITY, FOR ME, IT WOULD BE WEAKLY) What?
J: Understand, Earl. Nobody has anything against you.
E: So it isn’t personal.
J: Not at all.
E: They just decided to kill me.
ANOTHER PAUSE OF A PARALELLING DURATION. FINALLY…
E: How exactly was this determined? I mean, why me?
J: They drew your name out of a hat.
E: They drew my name out of a hat.
J: That’s right.
E: Was it a big hat?
J: I imagine it was a pretty big hat. Though I am not certain why that matters.
E: I don’t know. Six billion people on the planet, you pull a name out of a hat of the person to be sacrificed and it’s me, it seems kind of natural to wonder how big that hat must have been to contain all those names on tiny slips of paper…was it tiny slips of paper?
J: I believe it was.
E: … all those names on tiny slips of paper. I mean, that’s got to be a pretty big hat, don’t you think?
J: To be honest, Earl, I did not actually see the hat. But if you’re really interested…
E: Maybe it’s perverse, but I would kind of like to how lucky I am. I mean, I am not an inherently lucky person – no “Lucky Draws” to my credit, no winner at an auction except for silent auctions where I ended up paying the most money, which would not necessarily make me lucky, it might make me a sucker. Suddenly, my luck has changed. One out of six billion and “Off with his head!”
J: I can see you are not taking this well.
E: Not taking this well? A stranger comes to my house and informs me that a panel of experts has decided to kill me? (GETTING UP) I’m calling a policeman. I would throw you out, but I want you to be here when they arrive.
J: The authorities know about this, Earl. In fact, there’s a patrol car sitting outside for protection.
E: I don’t need any protection.
J: I thought I might. Look, Earl, I probably should have mentioned this earlier and I apologize for that. But now that we’re entering “Two-Parter” territory, the introduction of new information makes it a natural as a cliffhanger.
E: The blog thanks you, but what are you talking about?
J: Earl, the human sacrifice is entirely optional.
J: Correct. We will only kill you if you’re agreeable.
E: Well then we don’t need a cliffhanger. Pass.
J: Okay, if that’s your answer. But what say we give it another day?
TO BE CONTINUED…
(Not necessarily to find out if Earl changes his mind, but because the writer is curious about why he should consider it.)