And you may ask yourself

The driver is on his back in a bed in a hotel on the outskirts of Ljubljana, in a room smelling of cold cigarette smoke, trying to find a comfortable position. He moves very gingerly because his lumbar pain has flared up from driving a Mercedes with diplomatic plates for four hours to deliver two dancers, and then from carrying a bunch of heavy stuff.

Unfortunately, there is no comfortable position.

He does not turn the TV on.

He stares at the ceiling and wonders what the engine light meant, the one that looks like an engine and was on for an hour on the way down.

He is glad he is not Jason Statham, because right about now the shooting would start.

He needs a new prescription for his glasses. They are trifocals, and are off just the right amount that they make him see ghosts when he wears them. He sees ghosts at breakfast a lot before his family gets up.

He sees his father’s ghost in the mirror, grinning at him as if to say, In fact the bad back is my ghost, kiddo.

The next day he drops the shampoo bottle in the shower and leaves it there. He has already washed his hair, and if he bends over to get it he will never straighten back out.

Breakfast is not so fine at this particular hotel. Too many eggs, not enough fruit, and the coffee is not so good.

On the drive back, the engine light does not go on. He is thankful for that. The driver, who is not Jason Statham, is somewhat vexed by the circumstance that the steering wheel is in such a position that it blocks his view of the speedometer. He has to bend his head at a strange angle to see how fast he is driving. Normally the GPS device would tell him roughly how fast he was going, but the battery is low and the cigarette lighter in this particular car does not seem to put out a charge.

He eventually figures out the cruise control and uses that for a while, but gets tired of it because vehicles keep pulling out in front of him and requiring him to change his speed and so on.

At the end of his trip, he is parking the car and the transmission goes *CLUNK* right when he’s angling it into a driveway. He sits there for a minute, at a 45-degree angle, blocking a sidewalk but fortunately not the street, making stirring motions with the gear-shift lever and trying to figure out exactly what just happened and as it dawns on him, thanking the powers that be that this happened here and not on some road in Slovenia or elsewhere.

Some henchmen are sent over and they help him push the car into a proper parking position.

He helps push despite his back. The driver has that much Jason Statham in him.

Then he goes home and looks for useful pills, but he’s out of them.

Gang of four noble truths

Four noble truths walk into a bar.

“Everything sucks,” says the first noble truth. “I’m dying for a pint. My job sucks. I am insufficiently kind to those I love.”

“I’m sorry, we don’t serve alcohol,” says the bartender.

“What?” says the first noble truth.

“You are only miserable because you think you should always be happy,” says the second noble truth.

“I’m miserable because I have a splitting headache and you somehow found the only bar in the world that doesn’t serve alcohol,” says the first noble truth.

“You only think you have a headache. But who is the You who has a headache? There is no You. The headache has you, and not the other way around,” says the second noble truth.

“WTF are you talking about,” says the first noble truth and lights a cigarette.

“No smoking,” says the bartender.

“Oh ferfuckssake,” says the first noble truth and puts his cigarettes away.

“What the second noble truth is trying to say is, if you could overcome your craving…” says the third noble truth, but the first noble truth jumps him before he can finish his sentence.

“Bar fight!” someone yells, and everyone else in the bar whips out their smart phones and films the first noble truth fighting the third noble truth while the second noble truth tries to break them up.

The fourth noble truth sits down at the other end of the bar, laughing and laughing.

“What’s so funny?” says a woman on the next stool.

The fourth noble truth shakes his head. “Everything. Nothing. I don’t know. I was so thirsty I drank a liter of ice water and my stomach sloshed for hours. Someone I love needed a compliment and a pat on the back and I didn’t notice until hours later. My dreams have been unusual. The world is mysterious.”

“You from around here?” asks the woman.

“Am I ever,” says the fourth noble truth.

After the rapture

God was all like, I’m outta here and took the true believers with him.

They fit in the palm of his hand.

And that was that.

The world was as quiet as the post Eyjafjallajökull sky over Europe.

For a little while.

Then, ding, someone came into the shop and had to be waited on.

A kid was hungry.

Cats meowed.

All that.

The streets were lined with people who had thought they were true believers, all moping around.

We stepped over them on our way to work.

And this was our work: peeling back the world, little by little, and letting heaven out.