Bradley Schuster and the Holy Grail: Chapter 19

I’d spent way too much mental energy since the scam in the park worrying about possessing $1500 I hadn’t earned. By the time Saturday night finally rolled around, it was crystal clear that as a professional iconoclast, I was a mis­erable failure. Sweet Franca had reached down from the heavens and granted me great­ness in the form of the most powerful non-nuclear object on earth, and here I was dickering with obsolete unclast icons over the pal­try sum of fifteen hundred dollars. I was thoroughly ashamed of myself.

I did­n’t really believe in Franca, of course. But it made such a nice name for the being/phenomenon that I had for years called ‘fate’ that it had already become a part of my vocabulary (and theology as well, it seems). Although fate in the 20th wasn’t a deity, to the Greeks she was—three of them, in fact. So may­be ‘fate’ was actually ‘Fate’ and she really was a goddess, and maybe she truly was Franca. If I could have found a text on the mythology of Atlantis I might have been able to make a better hypothesis, but of course there is no such thing (maybe I’ll write that novel next).

So I’d made peace with my unclast icons by insisting on buying dinner. Of course, my grand gesture could have turned out to be a big mistake if Judy Blue Eyes insisted on knowing where the cash had actually come from, but she played right along with the mystery and everything was fine. She was even more delighted when I ordered wine, then produced with a flourish the very goblet she’d given me to drink it from.

Afterward we did what young twenty-somethings did in the sweet aftermath of the sexual revolution (still do, I suppose, although it’s been a while since I’ve been a young twenty-something). Which would also have been just fine except that on two separate occasions I found myself fantasizing about Anne. Totally unacceptable, but I seemed powerless to stop.

* * *

The Boomer was still awake when I got to his place, so we had a beer while I brought him up to date on what I’d discovered about Jesus that day. Needless to say, with his brilliant and inquisitive mind running circles around my feeble intellect, he had dozens of questions about the gospel version compared with The Grail’s story that I couldn’t even pretend to answer. So he sug­gested that we go on a little fact finding mission, by which he meant reading the Bible. The very antithesis of what young twenty-somethings did on a Saturday night.

After digging around for ten minutes or so he came up with a pair of them. One was a fancy King James Version that his grandmother had given him when he’d graduated from high school. Bound in a maroon leather cov­er with gold writing, it had the actual words of Jesus printed in red, in case you wanted to skip the filler and get the straight skinny right from the horse’s mouth, so to speak. The other was a pocket-size New Tes­ta­ment from the Gid­eons with a spe­cial metal-clad cover, I guess in case the owner was carrying it in his shirt pocket when he got shot in some war. The faded blue jacket (which in one corner had turned that disgust­ing shade of purple that cheap blue book-cover dye becomes when it gets wet) suggested the war might be one of the World Wars. But as it was also King James, I reckoned it was the most current ver­sion, since the words hadn’t changed in a while.

{Mild Tangent: I am utterly amazed that even now, in the relative enlightenment of the 21st Century when there are lots of translations that are both readable and scholarly, three out of four Bi­bles sold are King James. The Grail had assured me that Jesus did not talk in stilted English. But I guess most Bible readers are more comfortable in obeying a god who gravely says, “Thou Shalt Not …” rather than “You really shouldn’t.”}

We took a break between Mark and Luke to walk around the block and clear our heads, but otherwise read straight through. All four gos­pels. Both of us. By the time we finished it was pretty late and the beer was gone, but at least we were a tiny bit less ignorant to make up for our tedious labors.

While we were out walking I told The Boomer about the radio appeal, which I’d forgotten to mention earlier. He was amused by my cleverness but unimpressed by my logic.

“What you have done is no more scientifically valid than if you had told everybody to wear red, then stood outside the student center and counted red garments. Without a control, there’s no method to estimate how many people would have responded in ex­actly the same way even if you didn’t have the cup. Oh, I guess if you get less than three or four responses, you can reasonably conclude that the cup doesn’t project over the airwaves. But suppose you get twelve? What will that mean, exactly?”

“But how can we establish a control? Make the same appeal without the cup? Wouldn’t the fact that I’d already done it automatically guarantee lower results?”

“Exactly. So we’ll have to go with something other than a strictly-controlled experi­ment.”

This was science, and therefore his kind of problem. Shortly after we turned the corner, he offered a solution.

“What you need to do is to appeal for them to do something that nobody would actually want to do. Make your pitch at the same time of day, same day of the week if you can. If it’s the cup that is causing them to respond, we should get roughly the same number of replies.”

“Like what are you thinking?”

“Oh, I don’t know. Contribute to the Ameri­can Nazi Par­ty. Shave their heads. Wear a necktie to class. That’s an artistic detail that I can safely leave up to you.”

While I was still pondering what he’d said, he added, “And while you’re at it, you need to get a private, anonymous P. O. box. You shouldn’t be using your own address for radio appeals. Too easy for the nuts you piss off to find you if they come looking. I’ll run you down there after class Monday.”

Great. First unearned money, then a post office box. Holy Franca, had my life ever got­ten complicated.

Bronze goblet final


1 thought on “Bradley Schuster and the Holy Grail: Chapter 19

  1. I’m going to start a compendium of Best of R Rhoad. This definitely makes the cut:

    “But I guess most Bible readers are more comfortable in obeying a god who gravely says, ‘Thou Shalt Not …’ rather than ‘You really shouldn’t.'”

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