The Poisoned Ink Well

Friday, February 07, 2003

W, and The Prophecies of Nostradamus

(Warning: The Alert Level is now raised to Flaming Red)

I had a friend years ago who was a real idiot. I hope you don’t mind me calling him that, but he really was an idiot. For the purpose of this diatribe I am going to call him by the first letter of his first name which is W. I don’t want him to get busted, so I‘m not going to use his whole name.

I think the only book that W had in his house, besides the phone book, and the bible, was a book on the Prophecies of Nostradamus. He kept an assault rifle in the corner of the kitchen and lots of ammunition in his closets to help him prepare for the day when every thing fell apart. I knew him and his family as they readied themselves for the end of civilization, as we know it, back in the late 1980s. They were sure that 1987 was the year, that was going to be end of the world. I was pregnant at the time and they were my neighbors.

Every morning I had to face W in the parking lot. W was a short, middle aged, nome looking, little country guy, from way back in the swamps, he had greasy dark hair, and squinty eyes, and bad teeth, and he always wore a dirty white T-shirt. His parking space was next to mine at our apartment building and W would always be sitting on the hood of his car with his assault rifle propped up next to the front driver side tire.

When W wasn’t talking about the end of the world, he would read the want ads in Soldier of Fortune magazine out loud to anyone who would listen, and he’d talk about which job he was going to take, usually some kind of mercenary position in South America, I think. He'd exclaim loudly if he found one looking for a hit man, and who ever was walking by, (mostly me) would have to point out to him, that the one for the hit man, was probably put in there by the feds. And then he’d scratch his head and agree, and go back to reading, or he’d bring up Nostradamus and the end of the world, again.

W’d see me outside going to work or a doctor’s appointment or something, and he’d walk over and say things like, “Well Marie are you ready for it? It’s going to start with earthquakes and then everything is going to happen at once. It's going to be the war to end all wars and everyone on earth is going to die” and then he’d hold up his assault rifle and pat the barrel of it and say in a deep, gravelly, voice, “If you need protection, girl you know I’m here.“

His daughters and his wife believed it too, except they were into this religious thing and if they were outside, they’d chime in with eerily sweet little tinny voices and say odd things like, “Jesus, will come for your baby, so he won’t have to be born or die.” Everyday was going to be our last day on earth, or could be according to them, and Orson Welles, who narrated the movie about the life of Nostradamus, which they watched over and over, and talked about incessantly.

If you live in a city like Baton Rouge you get used to scenes like that. Hyper religious, republican, racist, gun nuts with assault rifles in your parking lot are all the norm in Louisiana and Texas, but W and his family were starting to get on my nerves. I was 6 months pregnant and every morning I awoke to that asshole and his brood and their apocalyptic visions complete with weapons, and descriptions of how he was going to be ready for the fall of all civilization, and he said it with such a gleam in his eyes. You know, I think W and his family were actually looking forward to it.

Finally one morning I’d had enough, so I started yelling at him “Look W, let me tell you something. I don't give a FUCK if it is the end of the whole FUCKING world as we know it. W I have had enough of this and I don't care if we are all about to die. I have to go to work, and my feet hurt, and it's going to be another hard day, and the last thing I need to wake and hear, is more about possible catastrophes. I may walk across the street and get hit by a car and die from my injuries, or I may get struck by lightening, or die suddenly from a heart attack. W what you and Nostradamus say might be true, we may all be about to die in one big bang, in earthquakes, wars, or terror attacks, but we’ll all still be the same kind of dead. It doesn’t matter if we die one by one, or whether we all die at once, because when I die it’s the end of my world, and when you die it’s the end of yours. People have been dying for millions of years, so what fucking difference does it make how you die, or how many people die along with you? You‘ll still be just as dead. W you gloat too much about fighting in wars for profit and you don't even think about who you might kill if you do answer one of those ads. W I think you and your whole family should enlist and go join the fight." I kicked the tire on W's car for emphasis, as hard as I could, and watched as his assault rifle clattered noisily down to the pavement.

W scratched his greasy gray-black hair, and pretended not to think, and jumped down off the hood of his car, and picked up his assault rifle, and cradled it, like it was a newborn, (I think he may have kissed it) and propped it up on the car, again, and went back to reading the classified ads in Soldier of Fortune. I think the idiot really wanted to be a hit man or a mercenary.

My baby was born, healthy, months later, and 1987 came and went without the fall of civilization or the massive continent jarring earthquakes, or world wars, and we moved away and I don't know if W ever answered any of those ads in Soldier of Fortune, but I haven't seen him in quite a while.

(Hey, It's Satire and yes, I know, I have a warped sense of Humor) Mel