John Joseph Jones the third walked into his house in much better mood than usual. He smiled at the gatekeeper, even gave the nasty mongrel of a dog the gardener kept a pat on the head [and then, obviously, promptly squeezed some purell out of the travel-sized bottle he kept in his briefcase]. He had been commissioned by a local bank to paint a mural on their street-side wall, and his mural turned out absolutely fantastically, likely some of his best work. It didn’t matter that the bankers refused a ribbon-cutting ceremony like he requested, or that he was only commissioned for one wall instead of all four like he obviously deserved, no, the only thing that mattered was that his mural blew the pants off of those three amateurs. John hopped in the shower and spent a full hour basking in the warm water & his glory.
“AND!” he thought, “their art doesn’t have nearly the depth of meaning that mine has. I mean come on, a serpent, which is biblical, riding a unicycle, with a sun in GLASSES, pointing to the abhorrent culture of materialism those kids hold today” Satisfied, he grabbed his towel— which he had been saving as a treat— and dried off.
The next morning, John decided to walk over to the bank and admire his work. To his absolute DISGUST, he noticed that his mural had been painted over! In a fit of rage, he walked into the bank, demanding to speak to the manager.
“What, praytell, do you plan to do to fix this?” he shouted, spittle flying out of his mouth. Continuing to yell, he said next “I am THE MOST coveted painter in the E N T I R E world, and you let some HOOLIGAN paint over my m a s t e r p i e c e??”
“Sir if you could please calm down a moment I can ex-“
“CALM DOWN? Why don’t you calm down, woman?”
“Alright sir I’m going to have to either stop yelling and, frankly, being incredibly rude, or leave. I would be more than happy to sort this out with you, but only if you treat me as what I am, your equal.”
Stewing silence on the part of John Joseph.
“You see, yesterday was Holi, a Hindu holiday that celebrates the beginning of spring. That ‘graffiti’ is powder called gulal. The local kids were celebrating after you left yesterday, and it got on the walls. It will be clear by the next rain.”
Angry at being proven wrong. John turned on his heel and practically stomped back to his car. On his way home, he calls over his best two lady friends for a little comfort.
A couple hours later, after his friends had left, John decided to take a shower, wash the day off. He walked into the bathroom, the house shaking in his wake. However, much to his dismay, there was a person in his tub! The man sat up in the tub, waving his fingers in greeting, as if it his presence was perfectly normal.
“Wh- who are you?!” sputtered John, his shock overcoming his rage.
“Mike, like the hat says, can’t you read?” said the man, apparently called Mike. “I’m here to teach you a lesson.” he said, with a note of foreboding in his voice “I’m your last shot. You don’t shape up in the next half an hour, they’re gonna get you.”
“Well, Mike,” John said, spitting the name “Whoever ‘they’ are, I doubt they’ll get past security.”
“Oh nothing can stop these folk once they notice a bad seed.” Mike chuckled. “Well anyways lets get going. All your yappin’ means we’ve only got time for one trip, so we’ll have to make it a good one.”
“What do you mean trip? If you think I’m going ANYWHERE with you, you have another thing coming. In fact, I’m going to call the c-“
Before he could finish his statement, John was whisked into a movie theatre of sorts, except it was empty except for him and Mike. On the screen before him, a movie, except instead of movie stars— many, close personal friends of his— it was one lady. The lady from the bank, Rita. The “film” started with her, waking up [hours before John had gotten up] making breakfast with her wife, then packing lunches for three little kids, then giving the kids lunches and kissing her wife, who had to leave to get to her job. Rita waited outside with the kids for the bus to show up. Waiting. Waiting. Waiting. Then a scramble for keys and briefcases and lunches and wallet and keys again because she set them down and finally shovelling all the kids into the car to get to school on time. Dropping the kids off. Getting a phone call, some kind of family emergency, from the look on her face. After sitting in the parking lot of the bank for twenty minutes composing herself, Rita walks in. Not 5 minutes later, in stomps John, and then the film halts.
“So.” said Mike, imploringly, “How do you feel?”
“What do you mean how do I feel? I feel fine. It’s not my fault her morning was a mess. She needs to learn how to keep work life and personal life more seperated”
“Damn,” said Mike “I was hoping we would get somewhere with that. Oh well. I did my part.”
And then disappeared.
And then, all of the sudden, John Joseph was on the ground, seemingly having slipped on a puddle of water left on the bathroom. “I’ll have to yell at the maid for that tomorrow” he thought. He opened the shower curtain, relieved to find nobody there, and got to work destressing from that weird, Christmas Carol type dream with the foreboding messenger. He was so consumed in his thoughts, he didn’t notice the shadow approaching from behind him. He never saw it coming.
Be kind to one another. For their sake and for yours.