THE INFORMATION #934
MARCH 31, 2017
WHEN THIS WORLD CATCHES FIRE
BOOK THREE: SAVAGE NOXTOWN
CHAPTER ELEVEN: PART SEVENTEEN: DAYS OF WRATH
When Cadger Tandy next met up with Count Victor Justin, it was at Holly Park, in early spring. The orange sun squatted like an old gold coin on the cold horizon. Squirrels as black as soot were scampering high in the bare and overarching branches of blighted trees. The Count seemed somewhat the worse for strong drink, and his usually meticulous clothing was somewhat mussed, as though he had narrowly escaped a barroom brawl (as indeed he had).
“Mr. G. God Almighty must be laffin’ his little ass off, Yob, to see his Jewish Messiah being worshiped–by folks as hates th’ Jews,” said Count Justin Victor–seemingly apropos of nothing. Except that the Count seemed curiously disinclined to let the thread of the previous conversation devolve further into mere carny anecdotes, which he considered unworthy of a man of his demonstrated intellect.
“In fact, there’s a lot of things about this stupid old world that most likely set Big G. to chuckling to Hisself. I’m betting that jolly old Jehovah laughed like hell during the siege of Jerusalem. “Come on out,’ says what’s his name, the one after Vespasian–shit, I always forget his name–Titus! ‘Come on out, says old Tight-ass, and we’ll spare your life.’ ‘Nothing doing,” says the Jews. And so he starves them out. And even after that, old Tight-ass, he says, ‘Now don’t you go burning down their temple.’ But some Roman soldier gets to playing with matches and 6,000 Jews burn up in the twinkling of an all-seeing eye. Now, what kind of God would countenance those kinds of doings? I’ll tell you, Yob–a God who likes to laugh at the queerest things.
“Not to be sacrilegious or like that. Lordie knows I set a bad enough example as it is to a green sprout such as yourself. You still be saving that money I’ve been handing to ye? Good-o. Where are you hiding it, Yob? Not under your mattress or anywhere like that, I hope. No? Good. Bravo. Bravissimo. Burying it somewhere out-of-doors is best. No, I don’t want to know where you’ve squirreled it away. If I want to borrow me some, I’ll ask you straight out. ‘There is honor among thieves.’ But don’t you believe that lie. Never take the word of a thief. ‘Nor thieves, nor covetous, nor drunkards, nor revilers, nor extortioners, shall inherit the kingdom of God.’ Haw! That’s because they’re all having one hell of a swell time right here and now–in the kingdom o’man!
“Like I told you before–trust no one. Given the right circumstances, even your ane Mammy might sell you out and cut you dead–in the shadow of the Gallis Pole. It sounds pitiless, and hard, but always remember this, Yob–chances are that if it sounds hard, why, then, it’s God’s own truth. So don’t let ’em kid you, kid. Don’t let ’em kid yuh.
“Now, you would think that an all-knowing God would protect the most humble of his critters, but all ye have to do is look out in the street and see that life is hell for horses, and pushcart merchants, and icemen. And coal-wagon drivers and streetcar conductors and virtually any drudge who earns his bread through the sweat of his brow. Why do some men get to laze the afternoons away while others are under the lash? Maybe it’s due to the fact that God isn’t good, but merely great. Maybe God throws trouble our way so we’ll have something to pray to him about. Or maybe God simply has a peculiar notion of what’s funny. You do know that in the Amazon, babies are routinely eaten by soldier ants. Stripped clean to the bone in forty seconds. And what can you do about it? You can’t shoot an ant. They don’t give a shit. They’ll swarm all over you and eat the wooden stock of your gun even as you’re shootin’ at them. Did you know that in Saudi Arabia they still buy and sell slaves? That in deepest darkest Africa there’s all sorts of awful worms that it would make you sick just to hear about? And if you visit the Ganges River, you’re sure to come home with cholera. Life is cheap in the Orient, they say, but it ain’t worth a damn in Russia, neither. It’s the law of the knout in that rotten icebox, where Cossacks will rape your daughter and laugh in your beardless face. Nor are you safe at home in Serbia nor Bosnia nor Herzegovina. To say nothing of Montenegro, Macedonia, and Albania. Or any other of them bohunk countries. What does it say about Europe when a man would rather eat out of garbage cans here–than try to raise a family over there?
“As a matter of fact, though, we Americans needn’t be so smug. There’s probably places in old Mexico where you can buy a baby girl for the price of a bottle of Mescal. And Eskimos are well-known for their habit of shipping old granpaw out on an ice floe when he starts to become forgetful and has lost all his teeth. And down south they got hookworm and pellagra and all sorts of other delightful diseases–not to mention lynching bees. Meanwhile, up north–well, our own good old Captain John Smith said it best: He who does not work shall not eat.
“All this makes me think that man had something to do with the creation of God. How could it be otherwise? A God as arbitrary and cruel as any savage? No–wait–nowadays even a savage doesn’t go around bashing out the brains out of pore innocent babies. Unless provoked. And people always say “This was God’s will, and while we don’t always understand why God does what God does, we must accept God’s will, or else he may smite us.” Haw! He sounds like a real bully-boy to me!
“Me, I think the answer is relatively simple. God is playing the long con. He’s conditioning us to put up with awful stuff so as to make us stronger and more fit to face the challenges of this brave new world. Sorta like the strongman Sandow, only with machinery and dynamite instead of dumbbells and medicine balls.
“I’m telling you, Yob, that kingdom of God must be one hell of a place. What with all the dead cats and dead dogs mewing and barking up a storm, and all the dead horses leaving enormous turds on the streets that are paved with gold, and all the dead babies a goo-goo-ing and shitting every which where, not to mention all the martyrs having a good old time with some wine that Jesus made out of a barrel of rainwater, and all the cripples throwing away their crutches and trusses. And all the dead virgins indulging in orgies. I’m telling you, heaven must be a place of wickedness. I’m betting that hell is a bit less rowdy. Austere, even. From what I know of the Devil, I’m betting he’s a conservative. A real stuffed shirt. Doesn’t believe in fun. Doesn’t know what fun is. Then again, most men don’t–when they get to be a certain age. The Devil is an old man, and he runs his plantation like an Oriental despot. That much is certain.
“Whereas heaven? Heaven is most likely run…by anarchists. Celestial nihilists–with a real crazy sense of humor.”
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