The Finger Of God

by Fielding Goodfellow

 

When the blonde woman from The Weather Network who looked a lot like Connie Stevens announced the impending storm of all storms, my wife was quite excited. She had always been that way. I however, was somewhat indifferent. She was ecstatic, dancing around the house with the joyful exuberance of a school girl, waiting with gleeful anticipation of the impending downpour. She said that thunderstorms stirred up the spirit world and set the forces of the other side n motion. She said it was destined to be one scary night. The storm arrived late in the evening. She stood by the open window watching the lightening illuminate the night sky like fireworks on Canada Day, and listening to the thunder claps that shook her nerves and rattled her brain. The gale force winds howled, causing her to close her eyes every now and again as it blew the cool spring rain onto her face. She said she couldn’t sleep, not with Mother Nature being so exquisite, so I went to bed, leaving her to revel in the euphoria of nature’s unyielding power. Sometime during the deluge  I awoke to find her sitting on the edge of the bed nudging me. “You’re not going to believe this.” she said. “Someone was just in here.”

“Ah, hell.” I said. “There’s always someone in here.”

“I’m talking about someone from the other side.” she replied.

“I know.” I said. “They’re the only ones you ever let in.”

She said that the experience was weird, even by her standards, and she needed to talk about it.  I hated those conversations and did my best to avoid them at all costs. She was well aware of my feelings, but just couldn’t seem to stop herself from dragging me into her other worldly world. I had seen a lot of weird things over the years. With the assistance of an inordinate amount of hallucinogens and pharmaceuticals that I had religiously introduced to my brain, I have seen flying lizards, talking dragons, and miniature Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles performing ‘Dancing Queen’ in my kitchen sink, but to be honest, the whole spirit, and ghost thing just simply freaked me out. To my wife however, it was commonplace. It had become a recurring part of her life. This time though,she said it was different.

“It was really weird.” she said. “I was just standing at the window, smoking, and someone just came up beside me and stuck a finger in my ear.”

“You mean like a wet Willie?” I asked.

“Ya.” She said. “ But it wasn’t wet.”

“Of course not.” I said. “I don’t suppose spirits would have saliva. Maybe it was just the wind.”

“Are you listening to me?” she asked. “It was a finger.” She leaned over and inserted one of her fingers in my ear. “That’s what it felt like, a finger.”

“It doesn’t always have to be from the other side.” I said.  “Maybe it was from another universe. Maybe it was an alien probe. According to the Enquirer, they’re really quite common.”

“Do they usually probe your ear?” she questioned.

“I don’t think so.” I said. “But its possible you got a trainee.”

She thought that I was trying to be funny, and wanted me to take it far more seriously than I apparently was. I swear I was trying. She was spinning her wheels, stuck in trying to understand what the hell had just happened to  her. I struggled to help, trying to find some sort of reasonable explanation but sadly, I arrived at none. We carefully considered the possibility of her having been dreaming, but she was adamant that she was wide awake, standing at the window and smoking. Everyone else at home was sound asleep, and she claims to have not been under the influence of alcohol or drugs, although I have encouraged her to give it a try on several occasions,

“I suppose it could have been the finger of God.” I said.

“The finger of God?” she questioned.

“The finger of God.” I repeated.  “The same finger that brought the plagues to Egypt and etched the commandments into the tablets Moses brought down from Sinai.”

“What would God want with me?” she asked.

“I don’t know.” I answered. “But I’m sure you’re not the first one to ask that. I’m sure that everyone God has reached out to has asked ‘why me’? I don’t suppose it really matters though, I mean its God.”

“That’s a little nerve racking.” she said. “God has never visited me before.”

“Then I guess you’re due.” I said.

I sat beside her on the edge of the bed and I rubbed her back. The joy of the storm of all storms was gone.

“Just come to bed.” I said. “Its getting late.”

“How can I sleep?” she asked. “This is just so weird.”

“I’ll protect you.” I told her.

“Really? What are you gonna do?” she asked. I was surprised that I had to reminded her that I had spoken to God on more than one occasion, and that sometime in the mid 1970s I had firsthand experience with alien probing while completely messed up on a small bag full of peyote.

“Why don’t you just lay down and relax” I said, “and leave everything to me.”

“What are you thinking of doing?” she asked.

“Nothing, really.” I replied. “Just trying to help. I thought that if we recreated an alien probe, you might be able to tell if that’s what happened to you.”

“In my ear?” she questioned.

“No” I said. “I think we need to go the more traditional route. I think its worth a try.”

“Of course you do.” she said. “But I suppose we’ve really got nothing to lose.”

“Nothing at all. And after the probing” I added, “we can try to rule out the finger of God.”

“How do we do that?” she asked.

“Just leave it to me.” I said.

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What Do You Think

by Fielding Goodfellow

It was one of those oppressively hot summer days that sent the heat waves dancing across the road, making him think that he might just be having another flashback. They had been driving for an insanely long time, or at least it felt that way, and his wife hadn’t stopped complaining about the fact that her ass was sticking to the seat. “My God.” he thought. “Will this nightmare never end?”

“What’s that supposed to mean.” she asked. He wasn’t sure what she was referring to, but he prayed that those words didn’t really come out of his mouth. He was pretty sure that he didn’t make a sound, but he had learned a long time ago never to underestimate her super powers. With her he knew that he couldn’t really be sure about anything.

“I didn’t say a word.” he said.

“It doesn’t matter.” she told him. “I can hear what you’re thinking.” At first he didn’t believe it. He was pretty sure that if she could really hear what was going on in his head, he would have been dead a long time ago. As far as he could tell, this was just another round of the game that she liked to play with him whenever he was quiet and she was bored. A part of him knew that he had been wrong about her many times before, but this time, this time he was almost certain that he was safe. He was however, about to find out that he was mistaken.

“The only reason you’re not already dead” she told him, “is that I have way too much fun tormenting you.”  He leaned over and turned on the radio. “That isn’t going to help.” she said.

The truth was he had to try to silence the residual thoughts that continuously swam laps around his brain. He thought he had found some relief with The Tubes when ‘Talk To Ya Later’ came out of the car radio, but as he sang along, he just couldn’t stop himself from wondering how long she been able to hear what he was thinking, and why she had never mentioned it before.

“Its been years and years.” she said. “And letting you know about it wouldn’t really have changed anything.”

“No, I suppose not.” he said as he turned the radio off. “So you pretty much know everything I’ve been thinking about?”

“No, not really.” she said. “It doesn’t work like that. There are some limitations. Sometimes I can’t hear a thing. Sometimes I pick up so much that I can’t figure out anything. Its all just a jumbled mess, like listening to a bunch of songs at the same time. Its hard to isolate them and hear just one.”

“Well, I’m not sure that I like the idea of you nosing around in my head.” he said.

“There’s nothing to worry about.” she said.

“That may be.” he said, “but still, it would be appreciated if you could knock first and let me know you’re there.”

“Do you want to find a place to stop?” she asked.

“Why”.” he asked. “Are you gonna tell me I have to pee?”

“We both know you have to.” she said, “but I’d like to stretch my legs, if I can pry my ass off of the seat.”

It was a little concerning to him that she was sure that he needed to use the bathroom, but hell, she was right. All of a sudden he needed to pee. “I think I’d better find a place to pull over.” he said.

“If you think so.” she said.

He pulled into a small rest stop just off of the highway, fully equipped with a gas station, a restaurant, and a small motel. She got out of the car and stood in front of the restaurant giving it the once over as he walked towards it. “Did you want to eat something?” she asked.

“If you want.” he said, as he headed inside.

She wasn’t in the restaurant when he came out of the bathroom. He checked outside and she wasn’t by the car either.  “She went over to the motel.” some pimply faced kid in coveralls sitting outside at the gas bar told him.

He found her in the motel office, seemingly waiting for him to arrive. “I got us a room.” she said.

“Really.” he said.

“Uh huh.” she replied. “For the last half hour or so all I could hear from you was ‘fuck her’, so here we are.” She handed him the key as they walked towards the room. “You don’t mind me hearing what you’re thinking now, do you?” she asked.

“Not at all.” he said as he opened the door to the room.

“I didn’t think so.” she said as she walked in and lay on the bed. He supposed that there could have been a myriad of things she could do that would be far worse than knowing what he was thinking. And perhaps, if he thought real loud, he wouldn’t have to say a word. He tested his theory that evening in room 5 of the Crown Motel, and he decided then and there to never question or challenge her thought reading again.

All You Need Is Love

by Fielding Goodfellow

There was nothing we could have done about it. Even if there was, I’m not sure that any of it would have turned out differently. The truth has always been indifferent,  a purely subjective interpretation of  what we believed was going on around us. We were all just living a lie, really. Floating in a cesspool filled with symbols and slogans, and horrors and heroes created to convince us that we were sliding down a rainbow into the proverbial pot of gold. It all seemed a bit psychotic, really, but I don’t suppose there was ever any other choice. It didn’t matter what we believed. It never really did. We had been held captive for so long by a history that kept repeating itself over and over again, that no one noticed someone had left a window open.

It was a time when the White Anglo Saxon Protestant scourge choked the very life out of the city. When the violations of basic human rights perpetrated in the name of morality and God went unpunished.  It was a time of raids on bath houses and gay clubs, and gay bashing, which seemed to be an almost daily occurrence was usually ignored or dismissed. George Wohlinski was gay.  Not that I minded really, but he was the first gay guy I was ever friends with. He was surprisingly brave, openly reveling in his sexuality  when being gay was not only sinful and shameful, but also illegal.  George and I managed record stores for a small national chain, and we became friends. He introduced me to Husker Du, Japan, and The Cocteau Twins, while I offered him The Tubes, Sparks, and The Psychedelic Furs. Several times a week we would hang out at the place he shared with his partner, Paul in The Junction, listening to music and getting totally fucked up on one kind of hallucinogen or another. Paul was all right. but I suspect that he would have been much happier as an accountant. He was quiet, somewhat aloof, and eccentrically anxious.

We weathered the storm of the Madonna ‘True Blue’ release, when hoards of acne riddled, semi pubescent, pseudo adolescent mutant Madonista’s anxiously waited in line for hours, overwhelmed by the promise of getting their grubby little hands on a copy of the overplayed “Papa Don’t Preach” and “Live To Tell”. We sold out that day, and after closing, we met at The Imperial for beer and food, and then made our way to George and Paul’s place for peyote and a listen or two of the new Eurythmics album.

Along for the ride was George’s friend, Andrew, who was a little boisterous and exuberant in his presentation. He was what was referred to back then as a flamer. He was over the top with a need for constant attention,  but he was harmless really, posing a danger only to himself. We were pretty messed up, when Paul became concerned over the impending giant pigeon attack that was evolving on the balcony. Andrew was dressed to kill in a pleated, silk little black dress with translucent cap sleeves that made him look exactly like Grace Kelly in ‘Rear Window’. “He’s a transvestite.” George said. “I guess I should have mentioned it before.”

“That’s okay.” I said. “But hell, he looks like Grace Kelly.”

“I know.” George agreed. “They could be sisters.”

“How do I look?” Andrew asked as he twirled around the living room.

“Sensational.”, Paul said. He was right. The guy in drag was beautiful. Andrew left as Andrea, heading out into the city streets in the hopes of meeting someone who would make him feel pretty while Paul, George and I continued to get wasted and turned our attention to Echo And The Bunnymen, As the peyote began to take hold, we all drifted into different worlds, sailing across dimensions and landing back on the couch in George and Paul’s living room to the sound of the telephone ringing. It was George who answered the phone, making his way past the gargoyles and the plant people who had invaded the apartment when we weren’t looking. Andrew had been hurt. He had been attacked on the sidewalk in front of The Selby Hotel, brutally beaten by a bunch of men who discovered that Andrea was really an Andrew. No one bothered to help him. He suffered serious injuries and needed emergency surgery.  We took off like rockets to Toronto General and were greeted by several Police Officers who informed us that despite the small crowd that had been waiting in front of the Selby, there were no witnesses and there had no suspects. “It figures.” George said. “You have to get a license to hunt deer, but  its open season on gays in this city.” George was right.

Andrew spent a few weeks in hospital and a stint in rehab but seemed to recover from his injuries although he had lost the sight in his left eye and now walked with a limp. He was scared a lot of the time, and felt uneasy going out unless one of his friends accompanied him. George became active in the Gay Rights movement and suffered his fair share of beatings. He was determined to continue the fight, and with the help of his family, he returned to school and obtained a law degree. He ran for office and acted as a City Councilman for several years while taking the battle through the courts and exacting many of the changes that enabled the gay community to live in peace and safety.

We remained friends for many, many years, and he continued to teach me tolerance, acceptance and compassion until he passed away from AIDS in 1994. Paul remained at his side until the end, and then moved to Key West a few years later and opened a small restaurant. Andrew spent several years in psychotherapy, and  still works as a counselor at the Gay Men’s Resource Center that George helped to established. And me, well, I now live just blocks away from the gay village and have spent most of my adult life providing treatment and counseling to adolescents who have been the victims of abuse. I walk past the Resource Center several times a week, and each time I swear I can hear George’s voice reminding me that there is no greater sin than to deny a man the right to be loved.