Another Likely Story
It's a lovely summer afternoon. After a hard day's work, you're settling down into your favorite easy chair, getting ready to groan through the evening news and contemplate your dinner when you hear a loud knock on the front door.
Peering through the window, you notice a man holding a large black book. With apprehension, you open the door and ask, "Can I help you?
The man responds in an authoritative voice, "I'm here with good news. You don't have to go to prison!"
Bewildered, you exclaim, "Prison? What are you talking about?"
"You've been condemned to life in prison, with hard labor and solitary confinement, but I'm here to show you the way out."
"But, there must be some mistake! I haven't even had a trial!"
"That doesn't matter," replies the man. "You've already been convicted. Bob, the boss of this area, has given you the maximum sentence possible, and you'll soon have to begin serving it."
"Who's Bob?" You ask. "How come I've never heard from this guy? Heck, I've never even seen him!"
"He's a bit of a recluse. He used to hang out in the neighborhood all the time and chat with the locals. But he hasn't talked to anyone for a long time, and he doesn't like to go out in public anymore, either. Still, his word is the law. Ask anyone in the neighborhood."
"But I haven't even done anything!"
"It doesn't matter. You see, a long time ago, your great-great-great-great grandfather did something that really pissed Bob off. And now it's time to pay up."
"But can't this Bob fellow and I come to some sort of agreement? After all, if he's a reasonable guy, I'm sure we could come up with something."
"Oh, Bob's a wonderful guy. He loves everybody! Unfortunately, he won't allow you to pay him back personally. But, as I said -- there is another way!"
"Bob got someone else to pay for your crime."
"So I'm off the hook, after all?"
"Not exactly. We took Jerry, the neighborhood "hippy," dragged him down the street and beat him to within an inch of his life. Now Bob says your debt is paid."
"That doesn't make any sense. Why did he pick on Jerry?"
"Oh, Jerry's his favorite. He loves him more than anybody."
"That makes even less sense! And it doesn't sound very fair to Jerry! If that's what Bob does to people he loves, I'd hate to see what he does to people he hates!"
"It's okay! Jerry volunteered, and Bob agreed. Now, because of Bob and Jerry's love for you, you don't have to go to prison."
"But Bob's the one who was sending me to prison in the first place!"
"Hey! Bob founded this town, and he knows what's best for it and those who live in it, so who are you to question Bob's plans? Anyway, now you owe Jerry!"
"I don't mean to seem ungrateful, but that doesn't sound very fair to ME! First, I owed Bob for something somebody else did, and now I owe Jerry for a favor I didn't ask him to do!"
"Sorry. I don't make the rules. But there is a way you can pay Jerry back. All you have to do is bow down to him every day and tell him you love him back -- for the rest of your life. Oh, and he would really appreciate it if you slipped an envelope full of money under his door once in a while."
"Hey! This is starting to sound like some kind of racket!!!"
"Sorry. But that's the way it is. It's either that or get ready to bust rocks in the big house."
"How do I know this isn't all one big scam? After all, if I'm supposed to go to prison, where are the police? Where is the warrant?
"Oh, they'll come for you, but you won't know the time or the day. Of course, once they show up with the warrant, it will be too late to take Bob & Jerry's deal. So you have to decide now."
You look back at him and sigh. "Well, I suppose paying homage and a little cash isn't that bad, compared to doing hard time."
"Great! Here's our manual." He hands you the big black book. "We encourage you to read it once in a while, but not too much. Don't worry, we'll tell you which parts to read and what they actually mean."
"Have a nice day," he says as he makes his way back to the sidewalk and down the street.
You look forlornly down at the big black book in your hands and, with a heavy sigh, place it on the end table and return to your easy chair.
Just then, as you're starting to get comfortable again, there is another pounding at the front door. "What the heck? Is he back already?"
Peeking once again through the window, you see a different man, holding a big GREEN book...