Irony Feeds Divinity – Chapter 8

Book of Ferdinand 3

Thousands of people hurry down the streets of Las Vegas like blood cells through a vein, but the crowd parts around two men in particular. They give a small Frenchman in a dusty black suit, and a hulking young man who must have escaped from a monster movie plenty of space.  

“Go away, you black beast… Whatever you have in mind, it is not going to happen… Go find a different doctor,” Ferdinand says over his shoulder.

“The crow told me that you would be hesitant, but you have nothing to fear, our quest is just and true.”

“Shut up, you lunatic!” Ferdinand yells. This makes more than a few of the people around them jump. 

“Doctor Destouches, we must travel to the new Holy Land. It is the will of God. My task is to guide us there and your task is to buy it and deliver the messiah.” Bertram limps after him.

“To buy it?… With what money? I have spent all of the money I had on trying to kill myself… all except what I have in my pocket… which you can have… here.” 

Ferdinand reaches into his pocket and gives all the cash he has left to Bertram. He wasn’t going to hire the hookers or do the drugs. He will go straight to his room, say goodbye to Bebert and play one last game of roulette. 

Bertram takes the money. “The crow told me to take this money.” 

“The crow?… Oh, well, then you better do it… Insanity… all of it…. good, take it and go buy yourself your own Mecca… I’m glad to have done my part… goodbye!” With that Ferdinand leaves, and Bertram hobbles away in the other direction.

Ferdinand walks back to his hotel suite, doing his best to completely deny what just happened. Hank’s a pretty charismatic guy. Ferdinand had always told himself that God didn’t exist, that He couldn’t have existed after all that he had seen during the war, but if he truly doesn’t believe in Him then why did he go through this ridiculous ritual? Wasn’t all of this his way of trying to give God the finger? 

No, when he gets back to his room everything will be as it was before. But even if it isn’t a hallucination, it doesn’t change anything. The world is still a cesspool where vile creatures take turns raping and murdering each other for their own benefit. Every last dog is out to steal everything from everyone else, that is when they’re not licking their own scrotums.

Ferdinand’s words there. Sorry. This is how he really thinks.  

Ferdinand unlocks the door and steps inside his suite. Berbert walks straight up to him and meows. 

“You silly boy… You would do good to dislike me.”

He sits down in front of the radio and turns it on. The high pitched voice of Tiny Tim sings “TipToe Through the Tulips” over his ukulele. He changes stations until he finds one reporting the news.

An IRA attack in Belfast. The Watergate scandal unraveling for President Nixon. General Oufkir in Morocco attempts a coup and assassinates King Hassan II. And the USSR explodes another nuclear bomb in Easter Kasakh. Listen to any news long enough and it’ll convince you that the world’s a dumpster fire. 

He remembers his days in the mud in France during WWI, the War that Would End All Wars. He laughs at the naivety of man as he cycles through the dead faces of his friends in his mind. Real pain and horror had changed him and once a person has seen the raw brutality and violence man is capable of, it’s easy to let yourself hate the people who haven’t. It’s easy to hate on a global scale. 

Then the newsman spoke of the USSR nuclear testing again, but only a few miles away in the Nevada desert, in a place coincidentally named Frenchman Flats, the US has been testing their own nuclear bombs for decades. 

I’m going to go off on a quick tangent and then we’ll get back to our suicidal French apostle, or whatever he’s supposed to be in this story. I just want to ask you a question, really. How many nuclear bombs do you think have been exploded purposely? Do you know? I do. 

Most people will blurt out two, but then after thinking about it, they’ll say we probably tested a bomb before we used them again Japan. Then they might think other nations have tested them, so they’ll say something like fifty to a hundred. 

But not even close. Human beings have been using nuclear bombs on themselves for over half a century. We’ve detonated two thousand and fifty-nine. Yes, 2,059 so far. We’ve spent decades trying to avoid getting nuked by our enemies, all the while we’ve been nuking ourselves. What do you think that much radiation has done to the world? What do you think the cancer rate was before July 16, 1945, the day they tested the first atomic bomb compared to today? 

Do you know how many governments have nuclear bombs? Nine. Well, ten if you include Iran. Pakistan said that since India had them, they would develop them too. Just a year before Ferdinand and Bertram met, Pakistani President Zulfiqar Ali Bhutto said, “We will develop Nuclear stockpiles, even if we have to eat grass.” This doesn’t have anything to do with the story, but what does it say about a nation when their leader would let their people starve and use the money and resources to instead create nuclear missiles?  

Ferdinand leaves the radio on, reaches into the drawer where the Gideon’s put their bible, and picks up his .38 Special and bullets. He pushes the drawer shut and the noise startles Bebert. The cat runs underneath the bed. “Sorry, Bebert, but I must fix our little game… We are now up to one hundred percent.”

He puts all six bullets into the cylinder and locks it back into place. Then, just for fun he spins it. With his left hand, he puts the barrel to his left temple. “Honi soit qui mal y pense.”

BANG!

By Sean Davis

Sean Davis is the author of The Wax Bullet War, a Purple Heart Iraq War veteran, and the winner of the Legionnaire of the Year Award from the American Legion in 2015 and the recipient of the Emily Gottfried Emerging Leader, Human Rights award for 2016. His stories, essays, and articles have appeared in the the Ted Talk Book The Misfit’s Manifesto (Simon and Schuster), Forest Avenue Press anthology City of Weird, Sixty Minutes, Story Corps, Flaunt Magazine, The Big Smoke, Human the movie, and much more.

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