Today’s story idea comes from my beautiful older sister. You wanna see how pretty she was…right?
Ah…that felt good. Here’s Betsy’s story idea…I’m going to warn you: this is a very, very strange story.
Willman is the guy that rides on the back of the garbage truck. Based off the trash post-Christmas, he forms a revolutionary theology. Later he discovers that a cult has formed based on his new theology. He is labeled a heretic by a famous TV evangelist.
Willman tried to figure out how he got there. In that uncomfortable chair. Right next to the woman with canary yellow hair and behind the preacher. Not just any preacher. THE preacher. The one with a daily talk show. The one who had sermons syndicated on no less than five public access stations.
The preacher that was, at that exact moment, waving his Bible in the air, over his head. Speaking into the television camera. And saying horrible things about Willman.
Willman had zoned out for a moment. Until he heard the word.
“HERETIC!” mixed with his name “WILLMAN!”
Two Years Earlier…Three days after Christmas
“Will! The Man! The Willman!” Jake walked out to the garbage truck. “Ready for a long day on the old mobile cubicle?”
Willman kicked the tires. “Oh, man. I guess.” He looked at Jake. “Alright. who’s riding on the back?”
“I did it last time.”
“Seriously? Can’t we toss a coin?”
“Will, it’s your turn.”
“Do you know how much crap there’ll be on the corner today? All the wrapping paper and boxes and Christmas trees…”
“Yeah, today’s the worst day to be a garbage expert.” Jake climbed up into the cab of the truck. “Stop cryin’ like a girl and giddy-up.”
Willman hopped off the truck at every house, swinging large black garbage bags into the back. Over and over and over.
At the last house on their route, there was a mess.
“Oh man. Come on,” Willman said.
The trash was spread out all over the curb. Some kind of animal must have gotten into the bags, tearing them apart. Willman began picking up the pieces and tossing them into the truck.
“No way, Willie Man,” Jake yelled from the cab. “Ain’t our job.”
“We can’t just leave it all here,” Willman said.
He picked up a baby doll. Well, it was a doll without a head. And a few stuffed animals that were likewise decapitated.
“Come on,” Jake said.
“Man, Jake. There’s something weird going on here.”
“What? A bunch of chopped up toys. Who cares? Probably getting rid of the old stuff to make room for the new ones.”
“Nope.” Willman looked up at Jake. “These all still have the tags.”
“You need a drink.”
The two men left the mess. They returned the garbage truck to the landfill. Then they went to their favorite bar.
“It’s just weird, you know?” Willman said. “Why would anybody cut off the heads of brand new toys and then just throw them out?”
“Dude, you need to let it go.” Jake slammed back a shot. “You haven’t touched your beer.”
“It’s like they were sacrificing the toys or something.”
“Right.” Jake pushed the mug closer to Willman. “Drink up. You’ll forget all about that freaky cult.”
“I know.” He looked at Jake. “I bet it is some crazy cult. An anti-Capitalism cult.”
Willman chugged his beer.
“Another one for my friend,” Jake said to the bartender.
“I mean, Christmas has gotten so crazy commercialized. Maybe we should be sacrificing to the simple life. You know, like paying a tribute to a time when it wasn’t all about getting junk.”
“Jake, man, are you getting all this down? Video tape me. I wanna hear all this tomorrow when I sober up.”
By the end of the night, Willman was completely convinced of his theory. The best way to celebrate Anti-Holiday was to destroy the new and embrace the old. The next morning, however, he’d forgotten it all. Just the ramblings of a drunken man.
Somehow, the video of Willman’s rantings made it onto the internet.
Then someone began blogging about the “new religion”. Some guy who called himself a Prophet of the great Will-Man. A group in California would meet daily, in a basement, destroying new items which they’d stolen from the store. They were sacrificing the new things to Simplicity. Simplicity had become their god. For the sake of that deity, they shaved their heads. Wore only taupe. Sat on the floor. Only drank beer. After all, by the end of the “Night of Revelation” (when the great Will-Man had received the calling) Will-Man had ended up on the floor, passed out from all the beer, wearing his taupe garbage man outfit, his head clean shaven.
This group was gaining in popularity. Simplicity apparently had no problem with social networking and blog posts.
And Willman, the first and greatest oracle of Simplicity…well, he had no idea that this was all going on.
Present Time…THE preacher is still going…
“The great WILLMAN, oracle to the false god Simplicity, was brave enough to come on this show today.” The preacher drew nearer to the camera. “Let me warn you…if there are any easily influenced women or children in the room, please have them go elsewhere. This Willman is persuasive. He has single handedly convinced 1,000 people to sacrifice stuffed animals to an idol.”
“Wait, what?” Willman said aloud. “I’m sorry. I must have missed something.”
“And he denies it,” The preacher said, turning. “So, ready for the debate so soon, eh?”
“Soon? I believe I just sat through a 30 minute lecture.”
“A spirited one, are you?” The preacher sat at a desk.
“Go on now, honey,” the lady with canary colored hair said. “You just go on.”
“Me?” Willman asked. “You want me to go on?”
“Sure do, honey.”
“Where should I go on to?”
“Just go on.”
“Now, you’ve been called the great Will-Man by your followers,” The preacher said. “How many followers do you have now?”
“Well, I guess that depends.”
“Oh, a relativist.”
“I don’t know what you’re talking about.”
“Just tell us the truth.” The preacher snarled. “How many followers do you have?”
“Well, on Twitter I’ve got, like, 35. Not too many. But on Pinterest I’ve gotta have closer to 40.”
“You have Pinterest?” Canary hair asked.
“Yeah. I usually just put up easy desserts and organizing ideas.”
“What’s your user name? I’ll find you.”
“Willman,” the preacher said, clearing his throat to gain back attention. “How do you live with yourself, knowing that so many people are being lead astray by you?”
“Oh, I see. I know I lied about the calories on that brownie recipe I pinned. I didn’t want my wife telling me I couldn’t eat it. So, when I pinned it, I fudged the facts a little.”
“Ha ha,” Canary said. “Get it? Fudged the brownies!”
“Your cult, Willman, has taken the focus off of the true meaning of Christmas and put it on Simplicity. Has it not?”
“Right. Back to the heretic thing.” Willman leaned forward. “Listen, I really don’t know why you keep calling me that.”
“Because you’re a false teacher.” The preacher turned toward Willman. “And you can’t deny the evidence. Roll the film.”
Willman watched the screen in horror. On it was a film of him, drunk, speaking about the stuffed animals. Jake’s voice in the background, “Thus says the Great Will-Man.”
“No, no, no. You don’t understand,” Willman said, sputtering. “No. This is crazy.”
“I think it’s funny,” Canary hair said.
“This video went viral two years ago.” The preacher smiled with triumph. “Then came the cults.”
“Seriously, I was kidding. I didn’t mean it at all!” Willman stood. “Haven’t you ever told a stupid joke? That’s all this was.”
“I have never told a joke!” The preacher’s voice resonated. “Life isn’t a laughing matter!”
“He’s right,” Canary hair said. “He’s not a funny person.”
“I do, however, have the great Prophet. The one who recorded all your teachings through a blog.”
From off stage, Jake emerged. He walked out, sheepish.
“What the heck, Jake?” Willman said.
“Dude, I had no clue.” Jake stood as close to Willman as he could. “It was all just a joke.”
“Then, gentlemen. If it was just a joke, renounce it.” The preacher looked into their faces. “Do you renounce it?”
“Of course,” Willman said. “Yeah. We renounce it.”
“And it was never a true religion?” The preacher.
“Yeah. No. Never.”
“Then you heard it here, folks. Simplicity was just a big joke. As we all expected.”
That night, Willman and Jake went out for drinks. This time they went for coffee.
“Man, that preacher dude was intense,” Jake said.
“He has to be, I guess,” Willman said. “I’d be pretty ticked off if people were messing with my biggest holiday, too.”
“Whatever, dude.” Jake drank from his mug. “You’re going to church these days, right?”
“Yeah. We started for the kids. But I like it pretty well.”
“Hey, sorry about writing that blog. I never thought it would go anywhere.”
“No problem.” Willman finished off the last of his coffee. “Why’d you ask about church?”
“Oh, I’m just asking. You know. Just wondering if you believe the stuffed animal thing at all.”
“No. It’s nuts.”
“I guess you’re right.”
That night, when Willman got home, his porch was covered with decapitated stuffed animals.