Responding to a former friend’s betrayal

Most Sundays, I attend a weekly secular gathering called Houston Oasis. I go to take pictures for them to use in their marketing. It’s a lot of fun, and I feel like the people really appreciate it. It’s also built up my photography skills a lot. I would go with my girlfriend and her two sons, the older of which has Asperger’s Syndrome like me and their mother.

A few weeks ago, they announced a fundraising campaign, and my girlfriend posted some concerns she had about it on the group’s private Facebook group. Discussion followed, and it was all fine and dandy.

Then a member of the board, Alexis, posted something on her wall basically saying that she was upset about something (she didn’t say exactly what) and she wanted to post something passive aggressive about it. Because that in itself wasn’t passive aggressive. Despite the fact that we’ve had Alexis and her husband over for dinner several times and thought she was a good friend, my girlfriend thought it was about her, so she asked in a comment to it if it was about her. After a bit of prodding, she got a private message that took us completely by surprise. For your reading pleasure, here it is with my rebuttals.

Michelle, I want to explain what happened yesterday from my personal point of view. I was feeling frustrated and wanted to share that frustration without going into detail with friends, so I made a vague post to facebook. If I had responded to your question of “What’s it about?” that would obviously defeat the purpose of not posting details, so I chose not to respond to your question.

Judging by the rest of this message, you were more than just frustrated. You were angry. Decisions made in anger are rarely wise ones, and I’m surprised you think that you can defend posting vague, passive-aggressive things about someone on your friends list. You know how that makes you look, don’t you?

I am under no obligation to explain everything I post to you or anyone else. You then publically demanded an answer, asking if I was annoyed with you.

But it was about her. It turns out that she was actually completely justified in suspecting that it was about her, and she called you out on it. Nobody likes being called out when they’re being idiots, but adults accept it and take it in stride.

Honestly, this is completely unacceptable behavior for an adult.

This from a person who posted something vague to publicly complain about a friend without her knowing it. That’s a nice glass house you’ve got there.

I gave no indication that the post was about you, yet you chose to assume it was and make yourself a victim.

It was about her, and she was the victim! Like I said, you just don’t like your bad behavior being called out, so now you’re projecting your immaturity on her.

Josh and you then both privately messaged me, neither of you apologized, and honestly Josh had no reason to get involved what so ever, you and I are both grown adults.

(I’m Josh. Hi!) My private message read as follows: “I hope everything is all right with you. Michelle didn’t mean to pry.” If you had read it carefully, you would have read it as an apology. At the time, I didn’t think it necessarily was about her, so I thought it was a little inappropriate for her to press so hard for an answer as to whether or not it was about her. I totally had a reason to get involved, because I considered you a friend, and I care about my girlfriend. She is a grown adult, but you are clearly not.

Furthermore, you then once again acted the victim by saying I had hurt your feelings.

Umm you were hurting her feelings, and you’re doing it right now. Do you even care about other people’s feelings? I think you might be some kind of psychopath.

You asked if I was annoyed with you and I am under no obligation to explain why I am frustrated, but you are clearly choosing to make MY post about YOUR hurt feelings.

Alexis, your post was about her. And you’re explaining why you’re frustrated right now. You posted what you posted so that she would see it and be hurt by it, and that’s why you sent her this message. She’s not merely “acting” the victim. She is the victim of your passive aggressiveness and now your direct aggressiveness.

Since you clearly must know why I am frustrated.

Well, she thought you were her friend and she cared about you, so of course she wanted to know. You could have just said that you didn’t want to talk about it.

Yes, I am frustrated with you. Honestly, I found your post regarding the Oasis fundraising campaign offensive on a personal level.

It wasn’t offensive or directed at you personally. You took it personally when you shouldn’t have. All she said was that she wasn’t sure it was the best idea to start pressuring people to donate more than they already do.

Considering that I put in 15-20 hours a week into Houston Oasis, [Alexis’s husband] easily puts in 5-10 hours a week, and I’m assuming Josh puts in roughly the same, not to mention the countless other hours put into podcasts, organization, and childcare.

This is beside the point, but here’s what I think you’re saying. Since you put more time into Oasis than you believe Michelle does, you think that means that she has no right to criticize it.

The fact that you took this as a personal attack on you and jumped to conclusions without bothering to talk to anyone makes me feel that you want to get as much out of Oasis without giving a damn about the effort anyone else puts in.

That’s an idiotic assumption, not to mention completely out of line. You’re trying to make your outrage into everyone’s outrage. Only you are outraged, Alexis, and you have no good reason to be. Nobody else was offended, because they didn’t have a huge chip on their shoulders. Nobody else is pretending to be her friend and secretly hating her. Everyone else is a decent person.

As a whole and individually, I have felt that we’ve bent over backward to accommodate you.

There you go again presuming to speak for people other than just yourself. You haven’t bent over backward for anyone. Everything you do is for yourself. You volunteer at Oasis for your own ego, and when it’s bruised by someone questioning an Oasis program, you react like a child.

There is a special one on one person in the childcare room every single week for your son. I personally spent 4 or 5 hours one night talking with you and Josh after it came to light that many people were avoiding family friendly happy hour because of you and your kids, and trying to find a reasonable solution.

And we really appreciated all of that. It further cemented my commitment to Oasis, but I guess my contribution doesn’t cover that. Michelle’s older son, as I said before, is on the autism spectrum. He’s high functioning, but he’s had behavior challenges. We addressed the problem, and now he’s much better. Many people acknowledged it. The situation was resolved. Now you’re dragging it up again just to hurt my girlfriend’s feelings, and I don’t appreciate that.

Not to mention how hard we have tried to work with you and [girlfriend’s aspie son] after he has repeatedly injured another child.

That’s an exaggeration. There was some hitting and kicking, and we addressed it. He lost TV for a month. He learned his lesson. Again, you’re only bringing this up to make my girlfriend feel guilty.

In short, I feel Oasis and I bend over backwards for you.

“Oasis and I” You do not speak for Oasis, Alexis. You’re on the board of directors, but this is all you. In fact, this conduct goes against two sections of the code of conduct. You should know better.

I feel you make no effort to reciprocate and then have the nerve to criticize when an organization I put so much of myself into says “here are the facts.”

Your feelings are an idiot. They must have constructed that horrible sentence. Your ego was bruised, so now you’re lashing out like a little kid. That’s all there is to this.

I recognize you have the right to feel how you feel,

No you don’t.

but I have the right to be offended by it.

Again, no you don’t. If you had thought about it for two seconds, you would have realized that you are being totally irrational. My girlfriend didn’t say anything offensive, so you shouldn’t be offended.

I have tried to be your friend, but I don’tappreciate you taking a situation like this and trying to turn it around on me to once again, view yourself as the victim.

She is the victim. You are a bully. We thought you were our friend, but you clearly never were. You were just storing up things to use against her. You’re not a good friend, Alexis.

It is a behavior I have seen repeatedly from you and I am tired of dealing with it. I will continue to be civil with you, however I can no longer deal with the continued repeated drama and victimization you bring.

I don’t think you know what it means to be civil. Bringing up qualms with a program that Oasis is doing is not drama. It’s something every member has a right to do.

If you have an issue with MY feelings, please discuss this situation with me. This is a personal matter between two adults, you and me, and does not need to be posted on the Oasis facebook group. This is not a group issue, this is a you and me issue.

Why don’t you want it posted on Oasis’s Facebook group? Because it makes you look bad? I agree that it does, and that’s why I’m posting it here. It is a group issue, Alexis, because you are a member of the board of directors. You are saying all of this on behalf of Oasis, and you are wrong to do that. That’s why I am going to ensure that other members of the board see it and take appropriate action.

————————————-

If anyone wants to read Alexis’s message without my commentary, I’ll post it below.

“Michelle, I want to explain what happened yesterday from my personal point of view. I was feeling frustrated and wanted to share that frustration without going into detail with friends, so I made a vague post to facebook. If I had responded to your question of “What’s it about?” that would obviously defeat the purpose of not posting details, so I chose not to respond to your question. I am under no obligation to explain everything I post to you or anyone else. You then publically demanded an answer, asking if I was annoyed with you. Honestly, this is completely unacceptable behavior for an adult. I gave no indication that the post was about you, yet you chose to assume it was and make yourself a victim. Josh and you then both privately messaged me, neither of you apologized, and honestly Josh had no reason to get involved what so ever, you and I are both grown adults. Furthermore, you then once again acted the victim by saying I had hurt your feelings. You asked if I was annoyed with you and I am under no obligation to explain why I am frustrated, but you are clearly choosing to make MY post about YOUR hurt feelings. Since you clearly must know why I am frustrated. Yes, I am frustrated with you. Honestly, I found your post regarding the Oasis fundraising campaign offensive on a personal level. Considering that I put in 15-20 hours a week into Houston Oasis, Gosha easily puts in 5-10 hours a week, and I’m assuming Josh puts in roughly the same, not to mention the countless other hours put into podcasts, organization, and childcare. The fact that you took this as a personal attack on you and jumped to conclusions without bothering to talk to anyone makes me feel that you want to get as much out of Oasis without giving a damn about the effort anyone else puts in. As a whole and individually, I have felt that we’ve bent over backward to accommodate you. There is a special one on one person in the childcare room every single week for your son. I personally spent 4 or 5 hours one night talking with you and Josh after it came to light that many people were avoiding family friendly happy hour because of you and your kids, and trying to find a reasonable solution. Not to mention how hard we have tried to work with you and Isaac after he has repeatedly injured another child. In short, I feel Oasis and I bend over backwards for you. I feel you make no effort to reciprocate and then have the nerve to criticize when an organization I put so much of myself into says “here are the facts.” I recognize you have the right to feel how you feel, but I have the right to be offended by it. I have tried to be your friend, but I don’t appreciate you taking a situation like this and trying to turn it around on me to once again, view yourself as the victim. It is a behavior I have seen repeatedly from you and I am tired of dealing with it. I will continue to be civil with you, however I can no longer deal with the continued repeated drama and victimization you bring. If you have an issue with MY feelings, please discuss this situation with me. This is a personal matter between two adults, you and me, and does not need to be posted on the Oasis facebook group. This is not a group issue, this is a you and me issue.”

A Figment’s Tale part 17

Happy invisibly accompanied Joshua as he went to many stores buying furniture, clothes, appliances, dishes, silverware, and everything else they would need for their new place. It was all delivered that day in a giant circus of delivery madness.

That evening, everything was in place and cleaned up. Joshua collapsed on the couch with a pizza he’d ordered on the coffee table in front of him. Happy appeared floating over it.

“Finally!” he exclaimed. “That was a surprising amount of work. We probably could have done all that faster ourselves.”

“Probably,” Joshua said. “But sometimes it’s better to do things the normal way. I’m just glad it’s all paid for. Let’s see what’s on the news.”

Joshua picked up one of the remotes and turned on the big TV. All the major news outlets were reporting on the mysterious coma that the world’s Catholics fell into and then suddenly woke up from all at once. Doctors were baffled, but the families of the victims were relieved. Fox News blamed the president.

Then came the commercials, which Joshua usually didn’t pay attention to, but the first one started with the logo of the Church of Scirotology. It faded to a man standing in an empty field of white. He appeared to be in his early forties and had a serene smile on his face.

“Creepy,” Happy remarked.

The man on the TV said, “I’m sorry to interrupt the show you were watching, but I have something important to tell you. It’s the most important thing anybody has ever told you. It’s the secret to actualizing your true potential. I want to tell you how to harness your infinite potential for personal power over your life and your environment. Unfortunately, I don’t have time to do it right now, but if you come by the Center for the Scirotological Arts in downtown Houston, I will put you on the path to awakening the sleeping power within you. The address is on the screen. I can’t wait to meet you.”

Joshua wrote it down on a pad of paper: 2727 Fraudren, Suite 1A.

“When are we going?” Happy asked.

“Tomorrow,” Joshua replied. “Tonight we have a new bed to sleep in.”

“Maybe I could just go,” Happy suggested. “I could be invisible and patch you in on everything I see and hear.”

“I like that idea, but we’d probably be more effective together. I can do things you can’t, and you can do things I can’t. We’re getting paid a lot to do this, and I don’t want to half-ass it, you know?”

“Yeah, you’re right. I can hear what he’s saying but not what he’s thinking.”

“Assuming we even meet the head guy tomorrow. Whoever we talk to, it’ll help to know what’s going on in his or her head, and you never know when your muscle will prove helpful.”

“That’s right. We’re a team. We can keep each other from making mistakes too.”

For the first time in quite a while, both Joshua and Happy Face slept. They woke up the next morning feeling refreshed and strong. They were ready to join a new religion.

A Figment’s Tale part 16

Happy Face zipped back through the wall and became angel wings on Joshua’s back.

“Shall we go?” Happy said.

“You don’t want to hang around a bit longer?” Joshua asked. “How often do you get a chance to talk to a real live god?”

“He’s not a god any more than I am. I can’t believe people thought you were crazy when the people who created Yahweh are running around.”

“At least they’re all awake again. Now we can go on with our mission and find a place to live. Also, I’m hungry.”

“Me too,” Happy said. “Go figure.”

Joshua got up and walked out of the church as all eyes followed them in awe. Blogged accounts of the sight would one day become part of the Catholic Bible, especially descriptions of their takeoff.

Happy was a little drained from giving so much energy to Catholic Yahweh, so he flapped the wings he’d attached to Joshua in order to help get them into the sky. This created great gusts of wind that got the attention of everyone nearby. They had ample time to view, photograph, and make video recordings of the flying man.

Many of the people realized that he was the one who had come to challenge their god to a duel, and they all entered the church to talk to any personnel there who could tell them what it all meant.

Joshua and Happy ascended into the clouds. Then they decided to make their home in Houston, Texas. It was where their parents lived and where Joshua had lived and worked as the assistant to the head of tech support at the Law Offices of Goldman, Newman, and Goodman. Armed with a debit card connected to virtually unlimited funds, they went to the famously opulent Winning Towers and talked the snooty woman working the front desk into showing them their most expensive floorplan. As they spoke, Happy Face remained invisible, and Joshua tried to gain insight into her thoughts the way he did with the tourists in Malaysia.

He is certainly dressed nice, he heard her think faintly. But his manner of speaking is like that of someone who went to public schools. Must be new money. We’ll see if his credit score checks out.

Checking Joshua’s credit showed him to have a perfect score. His credit couldn’t have possibly been better, probably the work of the Bureau. The woman’s eyes widened. Then she looked at him, put on her best fake smile, and took a brochure out of a drawer and handed to him.

“These are our current floorplans,” she said.

Joshua opened it and looked for the biggest, most expensive one. It cost $20,000 per month and took up an entire floor of the building. Because of that, it had a great view of the city in the living room.

“I’ll take this one,” he said.

The woman told Joshua that he would have to show her proof of income. Trying something out, Joshua waved his hand and said, “You don’t need to see proof of income.”

The woman gave him a strange look, but Joshua concentrated and kept his gaze steady, and she said, “Oh yeah, I don’t need to see that. Everything is in order.”

Joshua considered getting the woman to waive the rent, but he didn’t want to push it. He signed some paperwork and received his keys. He then took a ride up the elevator to the 127th floor, which required that he use one of the keys, and stepped out into his palace. There was no furniture, so he laid down on the floor in the living room and looked up at the crystal chandelier hanging from the high ceiling.

Happy manifested sitting on the chandelier. “So what do we do first? Shop or do our job?”

Joshua smiled and replied, “I think you already know the answer to that.”

A Figment’s Tale part 15

I didn’t end up really totally finishing this chapter, so I’m just going to leave it short. Enjoy!

———————

Catholic Yahweh’s eyes shot open, and his whole body, imaginary as it was, tensed up like he was being electrocuted. His face didn’t register pain, though. He appeared to be experiencing a profound revelation. All over the world, men and women in hospitals behaved the same way, baffling doctors and nurses. After about a minute, Happy Face stopped the infusion, and Catholic Yahweh relaxed again, looking much healthier.

“That seemed to work,” Happy said, slightly fatigued.

“I’ll say,” Catholic Yahweh replied breathlessly. “That woke up every single one of my people and restored most of my power. I’d say it was a miracle, but you’re not a god.”

“You’re not either,” Happy said. “Not really. You’re the same kind of thing that I am, so either that was a miracle or there are no miracles. But it doesn’t matter what we call it. It’s done, and now I’ve undone the damage I did.”

“Hold on,” Catholic Yahweh said, sitting up. “You said that the Bureau came to visit your ‘other’ before.”

“Yeah, they sent some goons.”

“Can I assume, then, that you’re not working with them?”

“We are, actually. They made us a really good offer, and they seem to be on the up and up.”

“That’s good. Keep your friends close and your enemies closer. The angels say you and Josh are a good man. Don’t let the Bureau change that.”

“It’s all right. They just want me to investigate Scirotology and some guy named Dave or something like that. We won’t be hurting anybody.”

“That’ll be someone else’s job if the god they’re making won’t cooperate with them.”

“We’ll cross that bridge when we come to it,” Happy said. “Now we should get going so we can find a place to live. See you around.”

A Figment’s Tale part 14

Where are you? Joshua asked the Catholic god Yahweh.

You won’t find me, Yahweh replied. I’m well hidden.

We don’t want to hurt you. We want to undo the damage we did and wake up your followers.

I don’t believe you. Have the Bureau send somebody else.

They didn’t send us, Happy said. I don’t know if they even plan to send anybody to help you. They probably don’t know how to.

And you do?

Well, not exactly, but if I can see you, I think we can figure something out.

You sound sincere and no longer drunk with power, so all right. I’ll send one of my representatives to bring you to me. I can’t really move right now.

A man with a neatly trimmed beard appeared near them. He held his arm out as if to show them the way somewhere. Joshua couldn’t help but notice holes in his wrist and the blood all over him. Between that, the facial hair, and the tattered robe tied around his waist, Joshua assumed he was the Catholic version of Jesus.

“You never cleaned yourself up in all this time?” Happy asked.

“I’m a surprisingly recent invention, actually,” Jesus replied. “Follow me to my father.”

Jesus turned toward a wall and walked through it. Joshua and Happy stood there, unsure of what to do. Joshua couldn’t pass through solid matter. Only Happy could do that.

After a few seconds, Jesus poked his head out. “Oh yeah, sorry. There’s no door to the room where Dad is. The real one will have to stay out here.”

“That’s fine,” Happy replied. “You can just sit somewhere and see from my perspective.”

“Okay. I’ll just sit on one of these oh-so-comfy hard wooden benches. Why does this religion hate comfort so much?”

“I don’t know,” Jesus said. “Something to do with desires of the flesh. They sure didn’t get it from me. Anyway, come on in. It’s just straight down this way through a few feet of stone.”

Jesus’s head disappeared into the wall again, and Happy followed. Joshua picked a pew and followed along through Happy’s “eyes.” At first, all he could see was black, but soon enough, he emerged in a small chamber with stone walls, a lightbulb hanging from a cord in the ceiling with a string hanging down from it, and an old mattress on top of which laid an old, bearded man.

“Thank you, Jesus,” he said in a tired voice. “You can go now. I’m sure your church needs you.”

Jesus nodded and disappeared.

“He’s not Catholic Jesus?” Happy asked.

“No, he’s Third-Wave West-southwestern United Episcopal Jesus. His favorite color is green. Second Wave’s Jesus likes blue.”

“Ah, of course. Perfect reason for a new denomination. Anyway, I’m here to apologize for what happened before. If I’d known that I was hurting people, I never would have challenged you.”

“I had no idea a figment from a single mind could be so strong,” Catholic Yahweh said. “I would have warned you if I had any idea. How is your physical mind doing?”

“We were in the hospital for a little while, but after some rest, we’re both doing fine.”

“Then I guess it’s safe to say that you won the fight. Has the Bureau found you?”

“Yeah. They confronted Joshua at the hospital. He clocked them good.”

Catholic Yahweh smiled. “That’s funny. They’ve never met a figment that could give them trouble.”

“I was out like a light at the time. He got away from them all on his own.”

Catholic Yahweh’s smile immediately turned into a grave look. “Your person has command over the power?”

“Yeah. Is that surprising? We share a common mind. We’re the same person. Your believers each have a little bit of power themselves. That’s where your power comes from. You don’t already know this?”

Fear began to tint Catholic Yahweh’s face, particularly around his eyes. For a figment, he was very detailed in his appearance. It made Happy consider his own simple appearance and wonder how figments chose what they looked like—if, indeed, they did actually choose it.

“I don’t understand,” Catholic Yahweh said. “This is too much. I need to rest. Maybe this will make more sense after I’ve rested some more.”

“Yeah, it doesn’t really matter,” Happy said. “I just wanted to come and apologize and try something I just thought of. I want to try giving some of our energy to you and see if that wakes up your people.”

Catholic Yahweh was too tired to protest or argue, so Happy assumed he consented to the procedure. He floated up to the old figment and put his hands on his head. Then he concentrated on sending some of his power into the deity. The results were dramatic and immediate.

A Figment’s Tale part 13

A small hole opened in the clouds beneath Joshua and Happy, and a pale-green, tennis-ball-sized ball of light flew up through it and stopped near them. In a calming, androgynous voice, it told them, “Follow me.”

Happy became a pair of leathery dragon wings on Joshua’s back, and they flew after the glowing orb. Whoever sent it must have had some awareness of what speeds Happy Face was capable of going, because it flew at many times the speed of sound. Happy and Joshua, of course, had no trouble keeping up, and the sky was clear until they began to see airplanes. This told them that they were near land, but what land they couldn’t yet tell. They were too high up to make out any details yet not high enough to see which continent they were flying over.

The orb made a sudden nosedive, and though it slowed down to half the speed of sound, it was still traveling perilously fast considering anything could pop up in front of them at any moment. Fortunately, nothing did, and they soon landed in the middle of the grand courtyard of a castle.

“Welcome to Dawkins Castle,” the orb said. “Built six hundred years ago for King Richard the wise, it now serves as the home base for the Global Bureau of Celestial Events. The director will be here shortly to show you around.”

The orb disappeared, and Joshua and Happy Face started to look around the throne room, where the orb had left them. It was vast and mostly empty, aside from many thick marble columns that divided the room into large squares. There was also a tremendous throne that could have seated five large men, suggesting to Joshua and Happy that King Richard was either morbidly obese or compensating for something. Along the walls were paintings of young women in outfits that would have been considered skimpy six hundred years ago. They left the women’s necks and shoulders exposed, but no ankles could be seen.

“They weren’t Richard’s wives,” said the voice of a little girl from behind Joshua.

Happy had already noticed her, but he assumed she was the child of one of the Bureau members. Joshua turned and looked down to see that the girl was wearing a very nice grey business suit and had her hair tied back in a bun. She looked and spoke exactly like a small adult.

“Are you a midget?” Happy asked.

“Happy!” Josh admonished him. “I’m sorry, he doesn’t have much of a filter.”

“That’s all right, neither do I. I’m Evelyn Carlisle, executive directer of the GBCE. No, I’m not a midget. I have the mind of an adult and the body of a child. We don’t have time to get into it right now, but I’m sure you’ll discover a lot of things about this organization that will strike you as strange or even impossible. But believe me when I say that you are by far the most amazing thing here. That’s why we recruited you.”

“Is it why you attacked us?” Joshua asked.

“Yes. When you fled from our agents, I assumed that you weren’t interested in joining, so I thought it was best to have you eliminated. I’m glad to see I was wrong about you.”

“Like we were going to go anywhere with a couple of men in black,” Happy said.

“I didn’t assign the particular agents. I just told my assistant to have you brought here. I agree that they weren’t the best choice, but hindsight is 20/20. Now if you’ll come with me to my office, we’ll discuss the terms of your employment.”

Evelyn led them down a long hallway to a luxurious office. It had been the king’s bedroom, so it was the largest room in the castle other than the throne room. She handed Joshua a folder containing details of his first job and told him that he would be doing that same kind of thing for the first year. When she asked what they wanted to be paid, Happy joked that they wanted ten billion dollars a month. Their eyes went wide when she said, “Done.” They took a closer look at the folder to see what they wanted them to do for that kind of money.

They were to infiltrate a newly formed religion called Scirotology, get close to its leader, Daviid McCavige, and report their observations to their supervisor, Abraham Lincoln.

“Abraham Lincoln?” Joshua asked. “What an unfortunate name.”

“He’s not just a guy named Abraham Lincoln,” Evelyn told him. “He’s the Abraham Lincoln.”

“But isn’t he dead?”

“Yes. That’s why he’s a ghost. Don’t stare at his forehead. I told you there were stranger things at the Bureau than me.”

———

Evelyn sent them, head spinning, out to find their own lodging and begin their assignment with a month’s salary in advance in the form of a debit card. They could live anywhere they wanted, and they wouldn’t have to use their powers to steal what they needed. Evelyn also assured them that nobody would be looking to recapture them and throw them back into the Happy Place. They were declared sane, and their record was wiped clean of anything that would flag them to law enforcement. That made it safe for them to get some new outfits and travel to the church in Rome where Happy was able to summon Catholic Yahweh. Surely that was where the god would be recovering.

Nobody recognized them as they walked through the doors of the church wearing a ten-thousand-dollar suit. They sat in a pew and tried reaching out to the Catholic god with their thoughts.

Yahweh? they said together. It’s Happy Face and Joshua Peterson. Can you hear us? We came to say we’re sorry for what Happy did to you and to offer our help in getting back on your feet.

At first, they were answered only by silence. Then they heard a whisper in their mind. They strained to hear it.

When I get my strength back, I’m going to smite you into oblivion.