Friday, March 21, 2008

“Railroad Train to Heaven”, Part Sixty-Two: Arnold gets yet more sage advice from the big guy

In our previous episode of these CVS Award-nominated memoirs, our hero Arnold Schnabel met up with that other towering giant, the film-maker, novelist and all-around visionary Larry Winchester.

A warm night in August, 1963. The second-floor porch of the Biddle residence in scenic Cape May, New Jersey...

Fortunately Larry and Elektra began to talk, about Paris; I say fortunately because all I could think about was my erection, pressing up against Elektra’s warm buttocks. It amazed me that she went on blithely talking about Parisian streets and cafés and film-makers and movies and books and writers I had never heard of as all the while this thing with its own mind pulsed up against her.

I realized that I had to do something to detumesce this annoying organ, and so I deliberately tried to think of the most unexciting things imaginable. I cast my mind back to the many dull sermons I had stood through as an usher at St. Helena’s: old Father Peck’s mumbling endless rambles, young Father Murray’s tediously exuberant dithyrambs, Bishop Graham’s somniferent basso dronings, but even after five minutes of this retrospective feast of boredom my erection still pulsed proudly and defiantly.

“Hey, pal, don’t worry about it,” said that familiar voice.

I looked over Elektra’s shoulder, and there — where Steve had been sitting on the other side of Miss Evans — he was: Jesus, with his white shirt, white trousers, and white shoes.  In one hand he held both a Manhattan and his usual Pall Mall, and in the other he held the hand of Miss Rathbone, who, like Miss Evans, seemed only to be listening to Larry and Elektra talk.

“It’s not like this is some major torture for you, some big problem, Arnold,” he said.

“I didn’t say it was,” I thought but did not say, wishing to keep my insanity or my visitation, whatever it was, to myself, thank you.

“Well, you’re sitting there acting like it’s some big problem, instead of taking part in the conversation like a sane person.”

“Yes, like a sane person,” I said (without speaking). “That would certainly be an accomplishment for me, wouldn’t it?”

“Oh, boo hoo. You’ve got it so tough. Well, you know what’s tough, buster? Getting scourged. After being betrayed by one of your supposed best friends. That’s tough. And how about a crown of thorns for a chapeau? Oh, never tried it? Well, how about being cru-”

“Okay, I get it,” I said.

“I hope you do.”

“So I’ll get back into the conversation.”

“I’m not stopping you.”

I turned away from him, and I looked at Elektra’s beautiful face, lifted and in profile to me.

“I loved breathless,” she said.

“Excellent movie,” said Larry. “I’ve met Jean-Luc; nice guy, too.”

“Who’s Jean-Luc?” I said, making, as my mother has often advised me to do, an effort.

“Jean-Luc Godard,” said Larry. (I got the spelling later from Elektra.) “He’s a French movie director.”

“Ah,” I said, and as Larry named some of this Godard’s movies (none of which I’ve seen, the Fern Rock doesn’t show too many French movies) I became aware of one good thing my little colloquy with Jesus had brought about: my erection had gone away.

(Click here for our next thrill-packed chapter. And kindly look to the right hand side of this page for a listing of links to all other existing episodes of Arnold Schnabel’s Railway Train to Heaven, a Sheldon Leonard Production.)

And now, from Jean-Luc Godard’s Bande à part:


Unknown said...

I like that Jesus always gives Arnold good advice. When I've read about other saints undergoing visitations, it's like He's stalking them.

Manny and I had this conversation: I thought dithyrambs were by definition not tedious, and Arnold must be using poetic license. But Manny says if it's a priest's doing dithyrams, they're gonna be tedious.

Dan Leo said...

Yeah, Arnold's Jesus is the down-to-earth Jesus, all the way back since his first appearance in Arnold's poem "A Guy Named Jesus":

Hey, believe me, Father Murray's dithyrambs were tedious!

Anonymous said...

If Jesus looked like that I'd convert to Christianity in a minute!