Student Voice Editor

The Pope was at the end of his rope, but I was stuck talking to a gay faction of luchadores about the fabrics they used to make their long sparkly gowns. I was busy watching hundreds of videos and I liked the way the luchadores kissed each other, puckering sweetly, delicately displaying their manhood. The original men.

It will never be known why the Pope really decided he was no longer fit for the job, but I can tell you one thing: he might be the most self-aware man to ever come to power in the entire world. How many men have come to the end of their rope and pulled us along with them?

I heard two men talking on the way to work and one man said to the other, “Before he was Pope, they used to call him ‘God’s Rottweiler.’” The other man laughed. “I don’t know what he had to do to earn that title.”

Had it been the countless child sex abuse cases gone unsolved? Scandals had plagued the Catholic Church during Joseph Ratzinger’s entire reign. One could argue that this had been the worst period for the Vatican since the Protestant Reformation.

I wanted the answers, but I couldn’t investigate.

The newsroom was crowded with little men who are far more interested in what men are wearing than who men are. Goddamit, man, the pigs have won! People recognize you by what you’re wearing, what you’re in, who you work for. The biggest scheme pulled off in history. The branding of the human being.

I ran into the editor’s office and demanded a press pass to the Vatican. The fall of the Pope MUST be covered. What madness must be unfolding in Italy this evening.

He gave me a quick look and said, “Out.”

Can’t anyone see what’s at stake? Such ignorance caused the crusades, man.

Then he called me back: “I need you to go cover a story. TruPhitniss is launching a new product and I want you to check it out.”

He handed me a piece of paper with an address.

“The event started an hour ago. You’re already late. Now out.”

I darted to the subway, hurrying past the sickly hordes of people, coughing and sneezing on one another, vomiting from too much afternoon drinking.

There was a woman sitting on a bench on the NQR platform. At her side was a baby stroller full of garbage. The horror. How could America help but pity this poor woman and the way her hair lifted off her head in tufts? I would have stopped to talk to her, but I was in a hurry.

The Pope might have taken one look at her and decided it was easier to die than retire. He might stay in office.

Note: no Pope has retired from office in six centuries. Every single one had died, dropped dead before the Holy Spirit who rolled his eyes and said, “Another one.”

I jumped on a train and when I got to Prince Street, I was welcomed by fiends.

One guy wearing a denim jacket and a greenish mustache stopped me outside of the subway stairs and asked me if I’d seen his buddy. He rubbed his face the way a man would if he were trying to peel it off.

“Yes, man,” I said. “He was in a big hurry and the police were after him. Something about a nanny and a blowtorch.”

This could have gone one of two ways: He looked like a man frustrated, without his next fix and he could shank me with a knife he’d made out of an old toothbrush… or he could figure that his buddy was in deep trouble and get the hell out of Dodge.

Instead, he sat down on the cement and started to cry.

“The hell with it,” he said. “Holy hell with it.”

He’d let me go and I was goddamn grateful.

I rushed down the streets of downtown Manhattan, looking at my watch. Half an hour before this thing would be over.

No time to waste… but I kept thinking about something one of the gay luchadores had said to me over the phone about the red light district in Mexico City, something too horrible to repeat.

What these men had seen… the horrible violence that spread over the country like a pestilence. All the dead. If they ever got even a hint of downtown Manhattan, they would have every right to rip our street signs out of the ground and beat us over our heads with them.

It was cold. We’d just come out of a snowstorm and it was hard to walk over some of the dirty ice, which was stained with motor oil and piss.

When I got to the TruPhitniss event, they said I couldn’t get in.

“But you don’t understand, goddamit,” I said to the big pimply man in the gray, three-piece-suit. He looked like he owned the place, but I could tell they paid him too little to dispose of savages like me.

“I’m here from Details. Do you understand what that means, man? SERIOUS COVERAGE! I MUST have full access!”

“The event’s already started, do YOU understand?”

I tried to run past him, but he already had his arm out, holding me back from getting through the glass doors of the TruPhitniss headquarters. That’s just it: mankind on the brink of discovery but held back by forces we are unable to understand. I don’t know where this big pimply man woke up or where he calls home. I don’t know what his wife made him for breakfast or if he has a wife at all. But I’m guessing she’s a little blonde woman who likes to blow her snot out in the bath.

“Who is this? Who are you?” a woman asked from behind the big pimply man.
“He says he’s from Details.”

She looked me over, inspecting every part of me with her eyes from behind the big man’s arm.

“Well, are you who you say you are?”

“Damn, right!”

They rushed me straight to the press table and told me to take a press kit, to sit down and shut up.

What unfolded is a tale too terrible for the folks back home.

A new kind of electric band that goes around your torso to keep track of how you exercise.

It’s horrible, really, as they show the rising heart rate on a screen and the burning calories (the crackling of bacon comes to mind) and the speed of running, shaky limbs.
A trainer has a woman tied around the waist with an elastic band and he tells her to work harder.

Get that heart rate to 192…SHE WILL DIE, MAN. She can handle it, really, he argues with the crowd. BUT LOOK AT HER. SHE’S DETERIORATING RAPIDLY…All with a smile as the sweat falls off her like a gel. He holds onto the other end of the elastic band and pulls on it. Visions of the sickest BDSM come to mind. JUMP. RUN. SPRINT. SQUAT. SQUAT.

HAAAAAAAAAAAAA!!!…as she reaches her target 192 bpm.

A round of applause, folks.

I was out of there as fast as I could. I walked around downtown aimlessly. No place to go. Nothing to report.

I thought of the Pope again and how today was Ash Wednesday.

I was in the subway now and watched a homeless woman stick her finger in some grime and draw a cross on another homeless man’s forehead. It was so beautiful.

I wondered what the Pope would say if he saw this. Would he back away in fear or would he embrace his people?

I can only imagine he is drinking his tea and feeling sorry on a rainy day in the Vatican.

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