40. Karma’s for Suckers (Part 2)

(Postings to this site have been delayed due to an overwhelming public backlash following the last installment, in which Eddie Trombone made several snide comments about karma, people from Southern California, and devotees of the Unification Church, or Moonies as they were disrespectfully referred to by Mr. Trombone in the mangled and soiled pages of his recovered manuscript. The U.S. Consulate regrets any misunderstandings this may have caused among believers in fringe religions the United States is forced to do business with, like Buddhists, Hindus, and other non-Presbyterians. I personally harbor no ill will towards such lost souls, and in fact remember occasionally driving by inner city Catholic churches back home, when getting off at the wrong expressway exit, and thinking to myself, “I’m glad they have their own place to go.”

At any rate, Consulate staff members were temporarily unable to tend to this website, as they were preoccupied with sorting through a barrage of angry e-mail, scrubbing unflattering anti-American slogans off the Consulate building, and periodically running for their lives (well, more like shuffling lethargically towards the elevator for their lives) during a series of regular, weekly bomb threats, all phoned in at 3 pm on a Friday and all fielded by Mrs. Doyle shortly after returning from the ladies room freshly made up and encircled by a visible gauzy cloud of extraordinarily assertive perfume that, just as lightning presages thunder, forebode a resounding eye-watering olfactory assault that sent us all ducking under our desks, which might explain why no one heard the phone ring when the bomb threat was called in.

So without further ado, though more ado is exactly what is needed at times like this, I am forced to return you, gentle reader, to Mr. Trombone’s rambling, nattering narrative.     –Gerard K. Dirkins, Consulate Officer)

“My uncle was one of the nicest, kindest guys you could ever meet. He was the best. He was . .  .” I searched for a word.

“Evolved,” Kale pronounced gravely.


Kale stopped abruptly, causing me to bump into him.

“Evolved,” he said again, by way of explanation.

I could see that famous poster of evolution, with the monkey slowly changing into a man as he walked from left to right. My uncle Dexter turned and smiled at me from right around the middle of that procession.

Stages in human evolution (archive by Kikuchi)

“Yeah, I’m not so sure,” I said.

Kale arched his eyebrows, which I noted were a lot thinner than my uncle Dexter’s.

“He . . . uh . . . he walks funny. Kind of hunched over.”

Kale was unimpressed.

“Has a very heavy beard.”

Kale turned and continued walking down the street.

“And a tail,” I finished quietly, but still loud enough for a passing mother to hear. She pulled her toddler close. I smiled, and she pulled the child closer.

I caught up to Kale and explained, “What I am trying to say is, my uncle was the type of guy who everyone loves. Not an enemy in the world.”

Kale, and then I, began down the stairs to the subway. We passed one of those monks you see standing perfectly still on the street sometimes, with the sombrero-type hat pulled down low and a money collection bowl in his hands.

“Wouldn’t hurt a fly,” I continued, just then catching from the corner of my eye the monk suddenly slapping himself on the cheek and pulling back a bloodstained hand. I turned, and nearly fell backwards down the stairs, to see the monk stare angrily at the mosquito smeared in his palm.

“Wouldn’t hurt a fly,” I repeated, a bit shaken. “Nicest guy in the world.”

“Evolved,” Kale said again, nodding. “Spiritually evolved.”

“Yeah, could be,” I said, assuming this was something that made sense to people in Southern California. “Whatever. Thing is, what I’m trying to tell you is, for all that, for all the good he did . . .”

“All the good vibes.”

“Yeah, bribes, whatever.”


“Yeah, anyway, it all got him nothing.”

Kale stopped again, and again I banged my forehead into the cushion of blonde hair that shrouded his sharp, angular shoulder. He turned and looked at me, either in disbelief or just with that look of confusion people can sometimes have when you ask them a question while they are thinking deeply about something else. Or also when they have had a serious head injury or something else preventing thoughts from forming in their brains. There followed an uncomfortable silence. I rushed in to fill it.

“He was hit by some clown,” I said.


“From the circus. A clown from the circus.”


“Stole one of those little cars. Ran uncle Dex right over.”

Kale blinked once.

“Wouldn’t have been so bad, but the car weighed over a thousand pounds.”

He blinked again, slow, and before he could ask, I answered.

“Because of all the clowns in it,” I said. “It was heavy because it was filled with clowns.”

Kale nodded his head thoughtfully.

“Karma’s a bitch,” he said.

“You miss my point,” I protested. “The man was a saint, an angel. He didn’t deserve that.”

Kale smirked.

“Do you think for one moment that tiny cars filled with clowns go around running over good people?” he asked.

My mouth fell open but no words came out. I stood like that, frozen, until finally flinching when I heard a loud slap from the subway stairs behind me.

“Exactly,” Kale said.

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