Book II: Chapter 6
A couple hours passed, yet nothing changed for me. I was still sitting on my couch, only now I was getting ready to watch my Phillies play.
How could I watch baseball at a time like this?
Hey, if the end of the world really was coming, then I wanted to be like my friend Frankie and enjoy myself for as long as I could. After all, God destroys both the blameless and the wicked so why should I struggle in vain?
“Thanks for staying with us.” Phillies Broadcaster Tom McCarthy said from my new TV – a gift from a local charity. “We have a doozy. 5 to 2, Giants lead in the bottom of the seventh. Bases loaded, two outs, and Carlos Santana is coming up to the plate. What’s your take, John?”
“The Giants had to change their pitcher.” McCarthy’s partner John Kruk (one of my all-time favorite players) jumped in with his color analysis. “Bumgarner was on the verge of falling apart. Let’s see what Miller can do with the mess he just inherited.”
“And…here’s the pitch from Miller… Strike one!”
I sank deeper into my Laz-E-Boy – with my Phillies losing, the game was not to my liking — naturally I blamed the broadcasters. Oh sure, McCarthy and Krukie were good, but for my money I still prefer Harry Kalas and Richie Ashburn.
Nonetheless, I couldn’t curse like I wanted to because over on the sofa sat one of my “friends” – Craig Wozniak. Craig was a 22-year old snot-nosed student at Lycoming College; apparently visiting me was somehow part of his internship.
For my part, I could never quite recall how I got roped in to the college’s Elderly Outreach Program, but whenever I tried to talk to someone about removing my name from their lists, I was gently reminded that my utility bills were being paid by a government assistance program and that the Outreach Endeavor was one of the so-called “benefits.” Since my cable bill was part of this package and since that is how I got access to my Phillies, inevitably I gave up my demands for privacy and thus occasionally allowed do-gooders like Craig the opportunity to come by.
On his last visit, Craig found out that my old TV was kaput — he didn’t ever learn the real story behind what happened, but even still I think he was surprised to see the TV kick the bucket before I did!
More importantly, on his visit today he brought me a new 42” HDTV from the college’s charity and even set it up for me. (I guess these new Gen Z kids are good for something after all, neh?)
“So what do you think about your new monitor, Mr. John?” Craig admired the gift. “Want me to show you how to use the remote?”
I merely grunted.
Craig waved at the device again. “Look here, sir – now you don’t have to get up to change the channel any more. Now all you have to do is click, like this.”
“Don’t change that dial, boy!”
“Oh, sorry. So, do you think our Phillies will pull it out, Mr. John?”
“Who’s your favorite player?”
“The one batting now.”
“You like Santana too?” Craig smiled, thinking he was finally making a connection with me. “Yeah, he’s always been mine t–“
“No.” I interrupted. “I like WHOEVER is at bat for the Phillies because that means we still have a chance to win.”
“Oh. I see.” Craig looked at his watch, suddenly pained with boredom.
“Swung on…it’s a high fly ball… the Phillies might take the lead right here!” McCarthy shouted from the TV. “Back…back…BA—“
<BUZZ! BRRR!> The screen was mess of blurry lines.
“NOOOOO!” I shook my fist at the interruption.
“What’s going on?” Craig said, as the TV refocused and we looked upon a new scene – The Phillies game replaced with a view from above a dark cave within which two men were laying in squalid conditions.
“Gol’darnit, not another special broadcast.” (At the moment, I was so upset I didn’t really notice what was being shown).
“I don’t know, John. It looks like too strange for a news report. Those guys look like prisoners in some crazy medieval dungeon – it’s creepy.”
Looking again at the TV, I recognized the Two Witnesses and realized they were about to deliver a new prophecy – yet this only annoyed me all the more because it surely meant I’d miss more of my game.
Unfortunately there was nothing I could do but sit and watch like the rest of the schmucks around the world.
The prophets’ cell looked cold and brutal, with dirty hay strewn about the floor, and a hole in the corner for their toilet. Still dressed in those filthy burlap rags, Elijah and Enoch now had sores which blanketed their bodies. Heavy wrinkles notched their unshaven faces, and their oily hair stuck in ratted mats to their heads.
Yet it was their eyes – or rather their empty sockets — that captured your attention and made it impossible to look away. Even I was taken aback – for the more I stared, the more I felt myself being pulled into the black caverns in their faces, as if they were the passage to a forsaken afterlife.
It gave me a case of the Jimmies and sent Craig into a panic attack.
“Are they… dead?” Craig managed to spit out between breaths
“How should I know?” I lied to brush him off.
Suddenly I saw Enoch rise up — swaying on his feet, he gurgled a bit before proclaiming, “Sixth Seals we had spoken of, yet another is to come.”
The second man now sat up, “And it too shall be broken.”
Just like that, both fell back to the ground in apparent exhaustion.
Craig fell back in the sofa, “What do you make of that, Mr. John?”
I didn’t reply — for I knew there was more to come. Peering through tightened eyelids, I grew angrier by the second…waiting for the inevitable.
“144,000 will escape.” Elijah murmured, as if half-asleep.
“Their names in the Book of Life.” Enoch replied.
“Their robes will be washed white with the blood of The Lamb.”
“ARRRG!” Both prophets cried in unison, covering their ears in a futile effort to ward off the BOOMING of great trumpets – blasts which not only pummeled them, but us as well. The rush of sound so loud I wouldn’t doubt if the world over shook from the thunder!
“DISASTER!” Enoch wailed.
“WOE!” Shouted Elijah.
“The Seventh Seal…” I whispered, as the seers cried it to the world.
Again the trumpets, louder than before – and I felt as if the foundation of the world shook.
The TV went dead even as Craig and I tried to steady ourselves.
“WHOA! What was that?” Craig screamed. “I’m sorry, Mr. John, but I gotta get out of here! I’ve gotta see if my family is OK!”
And I watched as he raced out – not giving a second thought to the elderly man he was supposed to be caring for.
In reality, I didn’t care that Craig had deserted me, instead I merely glowered in my chair, incensed with anger.
“Oh, God, what have I done that You oppress me like this? Why do you always spurn the work of my hands? Please kill me now and get it over with.”
(Obviously I didn’t get my wish).