YOU ARE HERE: LAT HomeCollections


A higher authority weighs in

April 22, 2009|Mark Haskell Smith

"Money Walks," a serial novel by 16 Los Angeles writers who will be appearing at this year's Los Angeles Times Festival of Books, runs through Friday. The festival takes place Saturday and Sunday at UCLA.


People like endings. They like their stories wrapped up -- loose strings tied together in a tidy little bow, everything concluded to their satisfaction, cut and dried, over and done, put away neatly in its proper place. They love closure.

Whether it's a relationship or a business deal or a movie, they crave some kind of finality -- a signature on the dotted line -- so they can go on with their lives. One time I asked the Jefe about it, and He said it was because people think they're separate from life, like they're above the whirling gazpacho of matter and energy that makes everything possible. It's not a sophisticated point-of-view.

The Jefe's not like that. He doesn't give a squat about neat and tidy. He hates endings. He likes to start stuff.

He reminds me of one of those TV writers I see sometimes, always spitballing, throwing out half-baked ideas and then not even bothering to follow through. Take the oyster. What was He smoking when He came up with that? He likes to whisper ludicrous ideas in people's ears just to see what'll happen. Remember "Nash Bridges"? The Jefe loves his shtick.

But I'll hand it to Him, when He has a good one, He has a good one, like this whole cash 'n' credit rapture. It was supposed to be a regular, straightforward, lift-the-souls-of-the-righteous-up-to-heaven kind of rapture, but then me and some of the gang started asking questions. You know, help Him think this through so it's not another pointless bivalve or Don Johnson comeback vehicle.

It was in our self-interest, I admit. Like, what'll I do if there's no people anymore? Watch over skunks and plankton? They don't call 'em the "end days" for nothing.

So the Jefe came up with this financial vanishing act. That's typical of Him, really. Like I said, He doesn't like endings and the regular rapture had the distinct reek of final judgment.

At first I was worried about the churches and temples -- I'm a company man, I admit -- but then I realized they spin Armageddon better than anyone. In fact, it's one of their most popular products. They're Armageddon enablers, really. They'll do fine.

The people who got faith will get more faith and the folks who choose not to believe, well, maybe this'll give 'em a reason. It's kinda win-win from my point of view.

Although I have to confess, I'm troubled by Rev. Franco. I mean, back in the day Bunny had a super bod, but Franco's obsession with her is borderline sinful. I'm thinking about reminding him of Paul's Epistle to the Colossians. That was a zinger.

Besides, things have gotten out of hand, mass hysteria has taken hold; Rudy and Angela believe they're fictional revolutionaries, or worse, characters in "The Matrix," and trust me, no one in the theological realm likes it when you go meta.

It's not as bad as sci-fi -- once you go science fiction, even the most crackpot theories start to sound like some version of the truth -- but the meta is bad for business.

So it's time for me to get in gear. Time to spread my wings and show the City of Angels what a little divine intervention looks like.


Smith is the author of the novels "Moist," "Delicious" and "Salty," which was a Book Sense Notable Book in 2007. He will be on the "Mystery: Gun in Cheek" panel at 3 p.m. Sunday in Dodd 147 at UCLA at the Los Angeles Times Festival of Books.

Los Angeles Times Articles