Cult

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Not Out of the Shithouse Yet

After I flew back to Philadelphia, Ron picked me up at the airport. In the course of the conversation, I made the mistake of mentioning that Mary Beth Visionary was 11 million years old.

“Oh...Christ Brian You don’t believe that horseshit do you?”

He started laughing.

“Mom’s right. We never should have let you go to Penn. That’s where you started to get weird. Nobody’s ever the same once they attend Penn. Mom always said if you want them to lose their Roman Catholic faith, send them to Georgetown. If you want them to lose their humanity, send them to Penn. I think you’re having a reaction to not marrying Kathy.”

“Ron, Kathy has nothing to do with it. I can see that you’re going to be close minded about all this.”

“Brian, you can’t sit there with a straight face and tell me that this woman has been around for 25 million years and then not expecting me to laugh. I mean, be serious. And they really must have done something to you out there if you believe that one. What else do they believe?”

“Let’s talk about what you believe in. You haven’t seen the inside of a church since the day you were married. What’s your religion--rock and roll?”

“It’s not this Mary Beth Visionary world mother bullshit, is it? I’ll tell you that right now. Everybody knows that you’re only into this crazy shit because Kathy wouldn’t marry you. Forget her. Marry that nice Deirdre Mom says is always calling you. Mom can’t understand why you don’t call her back. She’ll make a great wife.”

“She’s not in the teachings.”

“What the hell does that matter? She will make a great wife. Didn’t you just take her to your friend Paul’s wedding when he married that Columbian girl? What does she think about the teachings?”

“About what you do but she’s too polite to say it the same way.”

“I knew there was a reason I always liked her. She has a sense of humor besides. Mom says that none of these peop1e have a sense of humor and that you’re quickly losing yours.”

“Fine. If that’s what Mom thinks let her think that.”

“Come on Brian...this isn’t some prophet you’re talking to! We go back a long way together. Three years ago you were the best man at my wedding .I’m just amazed that you’re falling for all this bullshit they’re handing you. And no sense of humor? You’re Irish remember.”

“Mom’s partially right when she says it’s because Kathy wouldn’t marry you. You’ve never gotten over that and this group keeps you hypnotized on other things enough that you don’t have to think about it.”

“Cut the shit and talk straight with me. I’m the federal agent who goes in and sees guys I’ve negotiated with blown away by some teamster local that doesn’t like the way the guy talked to him. Come out of the octaves and give me the truth about this group.”

“Ron I would but you’d laugh the way you did before.”

“Alright. I won’t laugh. ”

“Promise?”

“Yeah. I promise.”

“OK. We had a conference on a ranch in Montana where we listened to messages that were delivered to Mary Beth Visionary by the ascended masters. There’s going to be a lot of changes...”

Ron was smiling again. “Hey ... Ron ... you promised not to laugh remember?”

“I’m sorry, Brian. I can’t believe it. I just can’t believe you listen to these assholes. Who the hell are the ascended I masters anyway? Can I meet them, too? I want to see if they can get me off this Reading election. If they do that I’ll believe they can do anything.”

“OK, end of discussion, Ron. I not going to sit here and be mocked.”

“Brian – I’m sorry.”

I looked out the window and the skyline of downtown Philadelphia was fast fading in the background. We cruised down the East River Drive and passed the cemetery where some High Episcopalian ancestor of mine who married an Irish Catholic was disowned for marrying her, was supposed to be buried somewhere. I thought of that and how religious prejudice had yet to end in this land, subtle as it now was. We continued on in silence all the way to Chestnut Hill when Ron spoke.

“Brian, let me buy you a beer and we’11 talk about all this.”

“You know I don’t drink anymore. It’s against the teachings. It prevents God’s light from pouring into our souls when we clog our pores with booze.”

“It doesn’t clog anything on me. Let’s grab a beer. I know this great bar where there still might be a few nice girls from Chestnut Hill wandering around.”

“You’re happily married to a beautiful wife, Ron.”

“I meant for you. Mom figures if you met a nice Catholic girl she could get you away from those phonies.”

“She’ll be waiting a long time then. Just take me home. You have to be at work soon anyway.”

“I can understand why you didn’t want her to know before you went out. Yeah, you’re right not to tell Mom about going out there. She would have made life miserable until you promised not to go.”

“You got it.”

“I still don’t know about these people. You tell me it’s a legitimate church and everything they do makes me think they’re a cult. I just can’t figure out why I haven’t heard of them before. You’ve been into some weird shit before Brian--Taekwondo, transcendental meditation, --but this takes the cake. Mom tells me that you’re chanting prevents them from getting to sleep at night. Is that true?”

“Fine. I’ll stop chanting in the house then. It is their house after all.”

“Frank know about this?”

“I don’t know if Mom told him anything yet. If he’s called I’m sure she’s told him.”

“He’ll be less understanding than I am. I figure it’s your life. Just don’t give them any money, OK? You can’t even support yourself yet let alone this church. Do they ask for money all the time?”

“They have a Law of Tithe but all I pay for is the books I buy.”

“Keep it that way. Do what you want. You’ll be out of this thing in a year or as soon as you meet a nice Catholic girl, Mom’s right. Until then keep the lines open and don’t open your wallet. Well ... here we are. Hopefully Mom’s asleep and you’ll get upstairs before she wakes up.”

Ron was right but for one thing. She just waited until 5:30 the next day to charge into my room with about a dozen questions.

“So ... how much did you give the cult this time?”
“How are you going to pay off the MasterCard when you’re not working? BOY! Had known that’s what you were going to do with that charge card you better believe you ever would have seen it.”

“You had better get on the phone the first thing this morning and see if you still have a job! Otherwise, maybe your cult can support you because I sure can’t. I’ll talk to you tonight at dinner.”

“Talk or lecture?” I’d mustered enough strength to make a comeback.

“You’re not out of the shithouse yet, Buster! God give me strength! He’s never supposed to give you more than you can handle ’but I wonder sometimes! That’s just like your father.

I haven’t heard from him in over a week. He’ll just be on a high roll again.”

“Don’t refer to him as my father. Like Frank says, he sired us. That’s about the extent of his relationship with us.”

“And I guess I’m not your mother now that you’re a slave to Mary Beth Visionary? When are you going to wake up Brian and see that they’re just in it for the money they can make off you young people? I have a few bills that need to be paid around here if you have so much extra money.”

“Can it, Mom. Don’t you have to be at work?”

“I’ll get there, don’t worry. Somebody has to worry about the bills around here. You sure won’t if you can take these jaunts to your cult. Just how long did you think you could keep it from me? Are they able to convince you to lie to your own mother? I never thought I’d live to see the day when you’d lie to me so deliberately, Brian. You’re further gone than I thought.”

“Well... say a novena for me if you’re that concerned.”

“I’ve already sent money to the Missions for a few masses for the intention of winning back your soul. How long is it before you quit your job and join them out there-- if you still have a job, that is.”

“Let’s take it up tonight when we have facts and not rumors to discuss.”

“Fine. I’ve got to go out and earn a living. None of my children are going to support me, that’s for sure.”

I went downstairs and called work. When I got my boss on the line, she stated, “We just want to know when you will return to work.”

“This Monday...as I put down when I requested leave.”

“Ok.” She answered.

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