An old conversation

It was an unusually warm summer afternoon in Jerusalem 3000 years ago. Mort, Sayid, and John had just finished playing racquetball and were sitting around the bar drinking Baoji wine.

After a few minutes of guy talk, mostly about the new dresses that were showing much more ankle this year, Mort commented on the growing number of peasants in the area.

“You know,” Mort said as he polished off his second bronze vessel of wine, “there’s really a lot of poor people in my neighborhood. Sometimes I’m afraid of the way they look at me.”

Sayid shook his head in agreement. “I know what you mean. Sometimes I think they resent me for my wealth. They even follow me home and beg me for money. It’s scary. Sometimes it’s more than one, and I’m alone. ”

John stood up, although he was a bit wobbly from the racquetball game. Racquetball was much more of a manly sport back then as the balls were made of stone. John had been hit in the head twice and was still bleeding profusely.

“It might be the wine talking”, John slurred, “or possibly the large quantity of blood I’ve lost, but there’s like 5000 poor people in this country, and like only 100 of us rich people. We need to find a way to keep them from killing us and taking our shit.”

“Agreed,” Mort said. He reached into his gym bag and took out a stone tablet and chisel. “Let’s chisel down all kinds of rules and regulations, give them to the poor people, and tell them that if they follow the rules, especially the part about not capping our asses, when they die, they too will be rich and happy!”

Sayid giggled with laughter. “Me first. Me first. Ok. Thou shall not kill rich people, and thou shall name all first born male children Sayid.”

John laughed. “That’s great. Write that down Mort. And if they follow our rules, they can go to a great invisible place in the sky called Heaven. And if they’re bad, and don’t follow our rules, they will go deep underground, where it will be hot and sticky, they’ll be knee deep in shit, and they will have no food or water. We’ll call it Carnival Cruise Lines.”

Carnival Cruise Lines is too long. Let’s just call it Detroit,” Sayid said.

Everyone nodded in agreement.

“Ok, so how many of these rules should we have?” John asked.

“Mort smiled.”Let’s go with 10. It’s a nice pagan number.”

Mort was chiseling frantically. “Ok. Got all that. Now, who is going to keep everyone in line? How are we going to check up on them and make sure they’re following our rules?”

John smiled. “We’ll create a God.”

“Just one?” Mort interrupted.

“Yes. That will make things unique. But he will know everything and see everything and he will be vengeful, and he’ll have a beard. He’ll be like Larry King, the guy who reads the proclamations in the village.”

“Are you sure Larry won’t sue us?” Mort asked.

John smiled assuredly. “He’ll be dead in 10 years. How long could the guy live? Hell, he’s already been married 11 times.”

They all shook their heads in agreement, and for the next 30 minutes added details to the list.

“Read back the notes, Mort,” Sayid ordered.

“Thou shall not kill us.”

“Thou shall name all male children Sayid.”

“Thou may have up to ten smokin’ hot wives.”

“Yada. Yada. Yada.”

Gentlemen,” John raised his vessel, “To our new invention!”

They clinked vessels and drank.

Suddenly Mort got a funny look on his face. “What are we going to call this new invention?”

“Television!” John screamed.

“Television?” Mort yelled back. “What the fuck does that mean? We need something that sounds official, something that looks good when chiseled on tablets, something that the media can get behind.”

“I think we need to invent a PR firm”, Sayid joked.

John laughed. “No, we can do this. What one word best conveys what we’re trying to do here…basically lying to the poor, telling them that if they are good, and they don’t kill us and take our stuff, that one day, long after they’re dead, they too will be rich and happy?”

“Dude,” Sayid said. “That’s a lot of BS to swallow all at once.”

Mort’s face brightened. “It is a lot to swallow. So let’s just make it into a religion. There’s so many religions already that no one will even notice.  And we can each add our own special touches.”

“Can I add miracles?” John asked.

“Of course. Do whatever you want. It’s not like it’s going to catch on. Besides, we’ll be long dead before they figure it out. Good work gents. See you next week.”

They clinked vessels one final time, exchanged goodbyes, and headed back to their families, secure in the knowledge that they would soon be safe.