Patron Saint of a Hundred HangoversbyRumpleteazer©
Patron Saint of a hundred hangovers knows the score of the Game. He doesn't bother with trifles like friends & family, jobs & jabber, he has all the answers in one cupped hand.
Sitting atop a glass mountain with a nose of broken blood vessels, he laughs at all the little people below, scurrying everywhere with so little to show for it. When their disillusioned young approach for tutelage he simply slurs. "Comeback to me when you can claim Jack Daniels as Kin, grasshoppers. The road to enlightenment cannot be bridged with a fully functioning liver."
His belly droops like a stillborn fetus & his belches wake the dead, with drinking songs that outlive the classics, and when the students return, humbled & tipsy, Patron Saint deems them worthy with the greatest compliment he can bestow on their sodden likes, a baptismal flood of regurgitation, pastel colored fountain from a cavernous maw atop their heads, bowed in supplication, hot flood welcoming them home from their besotted Buddha.
The first task, according to the master himself, was to strip their heads bare of all follicle fat, sacrificing individuality in a group oriented ritual of emasculation.
They gathered atop that mountain of empties Patron Saint kept within his makeshift kingdom, the local dump, disciples balanced atop glass footholds in an inner circle of razor wielding cue balls. They passed the blade from brother to brother, sister to sister, heads covered in soapy foam & lips bitten in sincerest regret as the master himself directed the path of the blade, shedding layers of fur in a mere handful of errant strokes, depriving each & every would-be member of that esoteric order of their respective pelts.
Tears fell with random locks, wails to highest heaven as the necessary pruning occurred, each & every disciple moving through the appropriate seven stages of grieving whilst the straight razor ran along much adorned skulls, some still crusted with the unfortunate remains of Patron Saint's introductory outpour.
1. Denial: "N-Not my cornrows you sadistic monster, you won't take my silky strands by half!"
2. Pain & Guilt: "Oh god, I'm a freak! Put me in a straight jacket & ship me to the nearest cell, I don't deserve to be among normies!"
3. Bargaining: "Oh fate, the cruelest task masker a man could know, from the depths of my heart I swear I won't entertain a single more syllable from this pissed pontificator if you grow my luscious bangs back!"
4. Reflection: "OH my GOD, I'm absolutely repulsive, the ugliest of the ugly....who'd prefer a bare pate over a manly mane? I might as well be dead!"
5. The Upward Turn: "Well, I guess it isn't too bad, black guys seem to get around totally shorn, I'll follow their ebon example. And if that don't pan out well....there's always paper bags."
6. Working Through: "I'll just have to aim for the girls who have absolutely no standards...all three hundred pounds of them."
7. And finally, Acceptance : " Well, I can always staple a hat to my head...."
Now? Twelve gleaming skulls lined up in a row, sunlight glaring harshly of baby smooth skin, eyes downcast, arms crossed. Never had they imagined the price of their Awakening would be quite so steep.
Patron Saint looked on these waffling grasshoppers & decided their collective bark required further hardening; thus, a trip to town in broad daylight, without the benefit of snug fitting caps or dime store wigs, smack dab center of the village square where the blinding glare of their shorn scalps could be best endured.
And so it was: citizens donning sunglasses, traffic lowering cockpit visors, dogs & cats howling at an absent moon, cloud bound jet liners above drifting off course- such was the brilliance of the assembled noggins, a blaze of brightness that inevitably drew the ire of an afflicted rural populace, gathering round in a circle, pointed fingers & jeering faces, the terrible, terrible righteousness of the fully follicle'd....
The dozen brothers & sisters stood fast though as per instructions, weathering the awful downpour of aghast peers & betters, first with an upturned chin & stalwart (though undeniably fractured) heart, but- as the insults & jokes continued unabated, contrived shells of indifference slowly beginning to crumble, bit by painful bit until, as the baskets of rotten fruit & bushels of fetid vegetables arrived on scene, launched by enraged hands into humbled faces, all emotional remove fell flat & our young students broke down before the lynch mob, tears spilling from tomato & egg caked eyes.
Now normally , as I'm sure you know, for any half decent congregation of amateur pitchfork & torch wielding locals, the sight of acute suffering would be testament to success on their part, target(s) in question so sufficiently broken that to continue forward with all guns blazing would strain if not break the rules of propriety & good taste; not so with our hearty band of hoi polloi.
Such was there aesthetic outrage that the sight of fresh tears & trembling chins did little to slow the onslaught. If anything, it only compelled them further, fueling their fury in a way the stiff upper lip routine clearly hadn't. Curveballs of stinky cheese & stale bread increased tenfold, taunts & jeers too.
Initially, our dozen initiates' paws had been loose & dangling, only quaking when the roast really warmed up. Yet, the upgrade in persecution necessitated some sort of contact, a way for our wayward seekers to endure their crucible as One, unbroken by hardship & intolerance.
Those be smirched, bewildered paws therefore snuck to comfortably clench each other, gentle & lithe at first before the righteousness of Their cause retook slumming grey cells (understandably overwhelmed by the ferocity of the assailment) reigniting wavering dedication & causing clenched digits to tense.
It was if an invisible current coursed through our battered charges, energizing their newly erected circuit with an overdose of sheer chutzpah, limp noodle grips becoming iron purchases, downcast eyes meeting defilement head on.
Slowly but surely, lowered heads, gleaming from impromptu vegetable sliming & fruit icor, lifted upward, miasma of hot shame encircling heavy hearts dissipating & dissolving as brothers & sisters united against a common foe.
Thus, as the mantle of self loathing was lifted for a true blue moment of Acceptance, Patron Saint's hard lesson was finally grasped, shorn heads bared proudly before the status quo, passing through rotten food projectiles as if they weren't there, accepting their shared ordeal with the honest zeal only true martyrs could muster.
The journey of a thousand miles....
Seated around the campfire later, Patron Saint favored his brood with the greatest compliment he could bestow on stalwart students:
A solemn nod.
The fanfare however, jubilant charges barely reframing from hearty back slaps, was short-lived, no sooner the congrats commencing than their elder sage went mum on the matter, emptying a cloth sack of dead presidents onto the roaring hearth, much to the shocked dismay of his semi enlightened charges.
As many a billfold disintegrated under the harsh moonlight, his followers looked on with open mouths; finally, when one novice broke the strained quiet, inquiring as to the sanity quotient of his sensei, Patron Saint could only harrumph indignantly, answering in a cool, steely tone:
"Sacrifice of ones' worldly possessions is essential to enlightenment...and there's' too much cash left over from my drinking games besides."
And to the utter horror of all assembled crechlings, their wizened wizard required just as much unfaltering dedication of his choir that he unflaggingly applied to himself.
Before the night sky the dozen disciples emptied their wallets & purses upon the roaring blaze, cash, trinkets, knick knacks- all indicators to past identity swallowed by licks of orange flame, in some way even *harder* to endure than even their previous public lynching.
With this ritual immolation, everything of their past identities disappeared in a haze of grey smoke, one more step on the rocky road to self realization. Type written names & photocopies faces went up in dank clouds along with the treasured green paper, the strange burden of identity claimed by no more than a twilight brush fire on a balmy night, Patron Saint's 2nd challenge met head on by dedicated devotees with not a little difficulty, adjusting to their new roles as Seekers of the Sublime, the Ineffable, all whilst a tickled task masker looked on, cracking open a new found bottle with the expert precision of the cultured lush, chugging back the suds like a Chihuahua with bratwurst & slurring his sacred chant a smidgen.
And when this deed was done, past debts wiped clean by the cleansing flicker of flame, Patron Saint deemed them slightly more prepared, ready for the next stage of purification.
Before an uthouse latrine each student of the cosmos approached a new level of understanding, voiding their bowels of the eve's purposely tainted alcohol, a fragrant mud pie mountain our benevolent drunk immediately set upon, sobering up as duty demanded, going to industrious work on their aggregated output, working his mysterious & arcane way- dense, obscure lyrics and esoteric buzzwords through sheer force of transcendent will, making something out of nothing...and the lowest nothing at that.
Slowly, what had started as the lowest excretions of a sad, sorry bunch of human beings became the highest, austere & most sought after lucrative; base to precious metal in a few easy steps, 1-2-3.
In an effort to prove to each & every grasshopper the possible rewards & pay off's of conscious, dedicated service to the Higher Good (for their as-yet un transmogrified, un evolved brains couldn't help BUT measure in material gains or loss) Patron Saint proved his powers of alchemy, transmitting & transforming bullshit into a classic display of wealth:
forty carat gold, a sizeable hill top of the valuable stuff, charming & further bewildering their already beer-befuddled senses.
Upon unveiling the secret booty that lay within even the most despoiled of substances, his disciples predictably clawed & mewled for the worthless stuff, literally traipsing over each other in a mad dash for the ransom he'd whipped up for ignorant eyes...and yet all he'd MEANT to convey with that blatant display was the untapped wealth laying at the core of their shallow, compromised selves.
Therefor, Patron Saint was forced to dispense with the shiny baubles, leaving his charges gasping & stupefied, jones-ing for more.
"Mourn not" He declared when the time for sermonizing had arrived again (Rude awakening the mid morning next, sour stomach & throbbing foreheads around a misty pile of ash) "In each one of you is an even bigger booty, just waiting for you to quench the parched thirst of minds gone dry...now If you'll excuse me, AA is this morning at the local rectory & future pledges await. You're welcomed to come with & testify to the cosmic blunder of stone cold sobriety."