[The Family Lukenglasse continued. Start at Chapter One here]
Damascus Lukenglasse was a slight man with unnatural tendencies towards liking natural foods. He had long, grey hair that hung down his back in a limp ponytail that resembled the tail of a rat. He often walked around the house in a dazed fashion and would be found mumbling to himself in the kitchen while searching for spices to flavor his tofu casseroles or vegan “egg” scrambles. Gus often helped himself to special spices he kept hidden in the back of the pantry and this invariably would explain his constant mumbling. He believed the sock was a white man’s invention to suppress the freedom of his foot and saw Teva sandals as the only fit shoe, wearing them year round even in snow. Damascus Lukenglasse, or Gus, was in fact a white man himself but saw his refutation of following the man a symbol of his own ostracism from society.
His clothing was made of hemp or made twenty years ago and bought at rock concerts in which he partook of certain fungi not usually found in salads. For this reason, Miranda grew up knowing such names as Strawberry Alarm Clock, The Grateful Dead, Jefferson Starship, Jethro Tull, The Who and Led Zeppelin, but was not familiar with Jesus Christ, Pope John Paul the Second, or Lazarus. Simply put, Damascus Lukenglasse did not believe in or condone religion. He felt it warped the mind and caused people to take action in somebody else’s favor while their mental capacities were inured. He thought it was unnatural to believe that a virgin could produce a child or that a man was able to walk on water. He did not believe in reincarnation and absolutely refuted the idea that Jesus was both the Holy Spirit and the Father. Though he did believe that Jerry Garcia and Elvis Presley were still alive and sharing a small island in the Pacific with Tupac Shakur.
Gus went to school to become a teacher but after returning from lunch each day, where he religiously tested out some of his latest “spices”, he found that he was unable to focus. Gus could not put his finger on it. He claimed that one day, during a rather long speech about Post-Revolutionary Russia, he found his attention was drawn to a loud rumbling coming through the window. After further investigation, Gus determined that the rumbling sounds were coming from the Pentecostal Church across the street. From that moment on, he whole-heartedly believed that his inability to concentrate during class was due to these loud rumblings and not his after-lunch breaks in his car.
When Gus’ wife got pregnant, they agreed he could drop out of school on one condition. That he agreed to raise their daughter. Mom would go to work at the local car dealership and support the family. This was more than fine by Gus and he took to being a househusband with fervor. As a young child himself, and later as a student, he remembered the hindrance of inane rules assigned by society. He vowed to never impose such rules on his own daughter. Instead he would impose rules of his own design and couldn’t wait for her to pop out nine months later so that he could start imposing them.
The first task he set out for himself was making sure Miranda never knew, celebrated or followed any and all religions. Mom agreed to this because she followed Money. The longer Gus did the housework, the longer Mom could be away from home earning money. It was a perfect set-up as long as she cared nothing about the upbringing of their daughter.
As one could guess, Gus decided on home schooling. Through Gus’ tutelage, Miranda knew very little about practically anything and a lot about essentially nothing. She could recite every word of “Stairway to Heaven” but couldn’t tell you the name of the first President. She knew twenty different recipes for soybeans but was unaware that milk should not be consumed while eating meat. On Sunday mornings, Gus and Miranda would read from passages of “Howl” by Allen Ginsberg. Miranda would never be punished as long as she was exploring the world at large, unless, of course, that exploration led to religion, Republicanism, or red meat. Gus figured, go ahead and eat the mud in the backyard to see what it tastes like, wear your underwear on your head in public, talk to the squirrels to see if they talked back, but don’t pray, recite scripture, listen to Rush Limbaugh or snack on beef jerky.
To handle this discrepancy in his teaching style, Gus took to lying. The meat in the grocery store was dead children flesh that people fed to their pet snakes. Churches were hospitals for lepers and Politics was a bad word for using the toilet.
Gus was so adamant in his policies that he began to believe them himself. He was revolted by the deli section in the grocery store and became so afraid of touching other people’s hands for fear of leprosy that he carried around a bottle of Method counter cleaner and sprayed it out two feet in front of him whenever he was potentially going to meet someone for the first time. However, by the act of spraying people with a cleaning agent, he very rarely met anyone and found that he was quite content just hanging out with Miranda and talking to his wife on the phone while she worked overtime at the dealership.
All of this is to say, that it was no surprise that Damascus Lukenglasse fainted straight to the floor when he discovered God crawling around on Miranda’s floor, but the author gets ahead of herself.
God took a look around the room and weighed his options. He could leave quite peacefully and go back to his dreaded office where an infinitude of tasks waited for him, or he could see this as a well deserved vacation and wile the days away in the privacy of this young girl’s closet where no one would search him out or cause any horrendous announcements about his stay on Earth. Why in fact, if he played his cards right, he could stay here for quite awhile, enjoying a nice little respite if only he could convince the young girl to not go telling anyone else in the household. For God understood that although this Damascus character seemed to have no want for religion, he obviously was well aware of it in his past, perhaps too aware of it, and it might take only the slightest thing to set him off and then all God’s good intentions would be wasted.
At that, God took a seat on Mira’s window bench and patted the empty spot next to him. “I have an idea kiddo,” God stated. “I’m thinking that I might stay for awhile if that’s okay with you. You’ve got a cozy room and I’m quiet enough. I’ll just be shuffling up some cards, maybe have a friend or two over for an evening cocktail but not much. Alls I need from you though, is your secrecy. Do you think you could handle that?”
Miranda was not one for secrets, especially those she would have to keep from her father, but she was intrigued by this strange man and liked the idea of her own private social circle, albeit and an ill advised one. “I never lie to Gus,” she spoke at last after weighing her own options.
“I’m not asking you to lie, just don’t divulge the truth. Its not like your father will just happen to ask if there’s a Mr. God sleeping up in your bedroom after all.”
Miranda thought God had a point, “Okay fine, but keep to the closet.”
“Wonderful,” God clasped his hands and jumped from his seat, “well if you need me I’ll be playing poker.” God headed back into the closet and shut the door just as Miranda heard Gus calling her for breakfast. At the sound of his voice, she felt a guilty pang pull at her heart and wondered if she made the wrong decision. There was only one-way to find out; ask Ron.