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Visiting with The Man
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A new year is upon us, as fast and furious as guns being shipped south of the border. Lawsy! And of course, being that it’s a time to think about changes to be made in the coming year, or upgrades or better living or what have you, that knock I was anticipating sure enough came to my door.

I have a new front door now. It’s bigger and swings wide open. And of course, no surprise to find “guess who” standing on my doorstep.

Yeah, that’s right.


“Yo, J.C.! What is up, my brutha?” I asked, giving him a hard hug.

“Peace out, sistaaahhh ... Can I come in?” he asked, peering around to see my new digs.

“Yeah, come on in!”

He started to slip off his sandals, but I stopped him.

“Don’t worry about it. We’re gonna be changing out the flooring anyway so go ahead and keep them on. This floor is cold!”

I closed the door behind him and led him over to the counter.

He had a seat and looked around, taking in all the space I now have.

“Wow...ya done good!” he said.

“Yeah, it’s a sight better than that last little house we had. Don’t get me wrong, that was a great little house, but I’m starting to really like this one, too!”

He turned around on his barstool, looking at all the walls.

“I know... I know... you don’t need to say it!” I said, shaking my head.

“What? What am I gonna say?” he asked, with his back to me.

I raised my voice a couple of octaves and whined, “Why isn’t there a picture of Me up on the wall?”

He laughed and said, “Well ... I was wondering!”

I walked around the counter and went into The Kid’s room, coming back out with a lovely foot-high statue done in “His likeness.”

“Oooh! Nice! I haven’t seen this one before! Where did you get it?” he asked, turning it around in his hands.

“A friend of ours was cleaning out her mom and dad’s place and asked The Kid if he’d like it. Came from the mission at San Juan Capistrano.”

“Yeah, that’s a nice place. Nice statue. Kinda looks like me, but I don’t think I look that haughty.”

“Get real! You don’t look in the mirror very often, do you?” I said, laughing.

“Naw. Guess not.”

“Well, what brings you by here today? Surely you’ve got some souls that need saving ... right?”

“You were top on the list!”

“Funny! Not only can you walk on water, but you can tell a joke too!”

We both made a “ha ha” face at each other.

“Well,” he started, “I just basically wanted to drop in for a sec and see how things are goin’. You guys doin’ all right? Keepin’ clear of all the ills of the world?”

“Yeah, pretty much. And by the way, I’m glad you stopped by cause I wanted to ask you about something that I’ve been mulling over.”

“Oh good! A teaching opportunity! What is it?”

“OK. The deal with hell. Is it really ‘hot as’ or is it ‘colder than’?”

He nodded, nabbing a cookie off the plate I’d put out for him.

“Well, depends on who you are. If you’re a real skunk, you get the heat. If you are a bona-fide soul-less despot, you get the cold. Cold, dank, dark, dreary. Cave cold. Sell your soul to the devil, you get the soul-less journey. It is not a walk through the park. The folks that get the heat still have a soul, but they’ve just got problems they need to sort out. The other folks? The true baddies of the world? Cold as hell. No soul? Cold.”

“Really? Wow — that’s interesting!  Like Siberia cold?”

He nodded, chomping on the big chunky cookie.

“Girl,” he said with a mouthful of chocolate chips, “cold like you ain’t ever felt cold! You think it’s cold when your heat goes out? That ain’t nuthin’. Soul-less cold? Now, that’s a whole ‘nother level of cold we’re talkin’ about.”

“Like ... Siberia cold with a dose of cryogenically frozen cold? Like that?”

“Mmm ... yeah ... sort of. Hollow cold. Scary cold. Freak you out cold.”

“Well, is there some place that might be comparable to it? I mean, most people don’t understand the concept of ‘soul-less cold.’”

He sat back on the barstool, lowered his chin a bit, and then raised his eyebrows, lookin’ at me.

Took me a second, but once it hit me I was like, “Dude! No way! Really?” clapping my hand over my mouth.

“I ain’t lyin’!” he said, like he was a grade-schooler.

“Ooo! I mean, we always joke about it, reckon? Really?”

“I don’t ‘reckon’ anything! I ‘know’ it! Been there. Seen it. Felt it. I needed to go lay on some hot rocks after it!”

“So ... basically you’re telling me we can now call it what it really is?”

He nodded.

“White House cold?” I whispered.

“White House cold.”

“That’s a whole ‘nother level of cold, all right. Woo! Mega cold! Soul-less cold.”

“It is what it is,” he said, picking up another cookie.

He looked up at the clock suddenly and said, “I gotta run. Having lunch with Pops at Burger King.”

“Burger King? Why is that?”

“Well, as Pops says, ‘There is only ONE king!’ and of course, he means Elvis. He likes a Whopper every now and then. I’d better scoot!”

As he was heading out the door and down the steps, I shouted, “Hey! Where do you think I am? Hot or cold?”

He turned around and said, “Let me put it this way. The sand at Tybee on a hot day. Without flipflops.”