“The dragon don’t nap, brother. But he plays a mean game of possum.”
Reverend Chette is a spook. Not the nostalgic Old World tuxedoed-gentleman-imperialist sort of spook. Reverend Chette is more New World capitalist in a jean-jacket, southern-gent, Manifest-Destiny sort of spook. He’ll come to your banana republic to gift your guerillas guns and bring bibles to your savages and he’ll loan your people liberty, but they’ll never afford the interest. Or at least this is how he got his start, traipsing around everywhere between Savanah and Sinaloa, Alabama and Panama, District of Columbia and, well, Colombia, greasing palms as if his spirit animal were a fried chicken. He eventually went domestic, sniffing out the terrorist girl-next-door, at least until bin Laden was crowned prom queen, after which Chette was put out to pasture. These days, Reverend Chette spends most of his time either on the links or giving speeches at luncheons hosted by the Daughters of the War of Yankee Aggression.
I was not expecting to hear from Reverend Chette when a package arrived in Florida at the unoccupied house I was unofficially occupying (courtesy of my realtor girlfriend being privy to the keys). The package is addressed to a “Buster Balllicker” and requires a signature. It’s an old family name, I say to the deliveryman, signing my name “BB”. I have my suspicions, but toss the box aside and commence the sanitizing of my corrupted hands. It is the age of coronavirus, after all. The box begins to buzz; I’m curious. A quick dissection of the box spills out a cheap burner cell phone. And it is ringing. Again, too curious, I accept the call. “Jello?”
“Brother, you’re about as oblivious as a dog chewing a catfish head. Never answer a phone mailed to you in a box!” Reverend Chette can be like this. I don’t give him the satisfaction of a response. He eventually breaks the silence, “So how’s your mama and them?”
Now, if you were to take the time to clang the bell of the Freedom of Information Act, you might learn the original Reverend Chette died in a helicopter crash in the 1970s, somewhere in Louisiana. That Reverend Chette mustn’t’ve been the Reverend Chette I first met in 2007 at a “9/11 Truth Mix-and-Mingle” event in a brownstone on the North side of Chicago. I only went at the bequest of my roommate, Puck-Faced Paulie, who recognized Reverend Chette from a description on the Deep Web. Puck-Faced Paulie introduced himself to the clergyman, but Reverend Chette was less interested in the sidewalk socialist than the Blackberry he was thumbing with one hand and the paper plate of finger sandwiches & deviled-egg held in the other. A month later, Puck-Faced Paulie banged on my bathroom door to inform me Reverend Chette had perished during the I-35 bridge collapse in Minnesota.
2 years later, you would have expected the remains of Reverend Chette to be mud-spitting, water-logged, fish-pecked and scattered downstream, perhaps as far as the Mississippi Delta, but there he was, in Texas Hill Country, cowboy boots and all that shit, southern charm grin and open handshake as if I were his long-lost bunkmate from Fort Meade. We drank bourbons in a subterranean Austin blues bar until I became distracted with a barmaid and he disappeared into the ether, as we’re inclined to do. The next year, I received notice Reverend Chette died again doing the Lord’s work during the Haitian cholera outbreak after eating a bad oyster.
As Grandfather Mordecai once told me, “The problem with ghosts is they almost never die.”
Hey Chette, I say into the burner phone after a squirt of sanitizer. Nice to hear his voice, I suppose, and mention last I heard of him he was boarding Malaysia Flight 370.
“I missed the boat.” The phone squawks his explanation, “Trying to get through Kuala Lumpur traffic is like asking for a slow-dance during race week at a Talladega whorehouse when it’s standing room only… so I’ve heard. I caught the next flight for Beijing and did alright.”
This was par for the course. Reverend Chette had a way of popping-up in the most opportune of times, suggesting, “Hey, that trip you were going to make to Tunisia… next year you’ll be glad you didn’t” or “Hey, that last blog you wrote… you’re pissing a little too close to the third rail” (which was a reference to Puck-Faced Paulie’s freak-death electrocution on a Chicago elevated train platform (right after purchasing a one-way ticket to Brazil)). And so I went to Croatia instead of Tunisia and watched the Arab Spring from afar (Oh! to be in 2011 again…)
Reverend Chette clears his through, gathering himself before beginning. “You’ve got your pantyhose pulled tight, Vic? There’re things you need knowing and we’ve got less than ten minutes before the NSA – which is not my agency – perks up their rabbit antennae ears. Here goes: the coronavirus was not made in a lab, it is a naturally-occurring Old Testament plague the Chinese discovered in a pile of guano and put in their pajama pocket as a ‘might be fun to fuck around with’ bio-warfare toy, where it remained until these contemporary times when they decided to loose-it upon the world as if sneezed in the pharaoh’s face by Moses.”
I’ve questions. For one: why?
“Peoples Republic wants to eat the world of all resources. They have more people than all get-out. They own much of Asia and half the mineral deposits beneath Africa and Australia. With Trump withdrawing from Latin America, China is swooping in there too. Once China found the anecdote to this coronavirus, they blew a goodbye kiss to the west. Sure, they sacrificed Wuhan for the optics, but did you notice how quickly they overcame the outbreak? What’s a dozen million dead here and there? Back to business as usual, even as the rest of the world panics itself into a global recession.”
Conceivable, I suppose. But what are his sources?
“Oh, but I do have one source I can quote. Back in April, Alabama was shutting down all businesses for the virus. Wiley-old Chette read the Governor’s ordinance and found a loop-hole in the mandated social distancing to keep my local golf course, Dixie-Country Country Club, open. All we needed were separate golf carts to ensure social distancing and before long I’ve revolutionized quarantine golf and I am out there with an assortment of my favorite gentiles, none of which really have a fear of ‘Rona’, as we call Covid-19 in & around Birmingham, as if Rona were an ex-wife with full-custody of off-spring we’d rather not associate with anyway… where was I?” Reverend Chette sounds to be a few cups of whiskey & coke in. I am not far behind after grabbing a lime, pouring some gins and discovering a flat tonic in the back of the fridge. “China! Sumbitch.” Chette renews, “Well, I’m playing 18 holes with Bubba and Jeff, Bubba being a purveyor of much needed things in times of needing such things and Jeff, well… Jeff works at the local county lockup, hosing down the never-most ne’er-do-wells, and it is Jeff who comes whispering things best said in private. ‘Hold on, hoss!’ I tell Jeff. What he’s selling smells richer than possum gravy, but this here ain’t the place. ‘Save it for the Bunker’, I tell him, referring to the bar at the country club. Now, I don’t even know if the Bunker is open, given Governor’s rules and what not, but Jim, the owner of Dixie-Country Country Club, who I convinced to remain open with social distancing, well, he damn-sure decided he’d keep the barroom open to club members, being as how we were as deep into Colbert County as a Tuscaloosa turnip in autumn. The Bunker is a dark and windowless room with a bar adjacent to the kitchen, all open and serving. We took a table next to the bar. I sat with my back to the corner, allowing me full viz of the room, the comings & goings; you can never be too careful. I ask the barkeep for a round of Corona beers, which riles up a chuckle here & there. Y’know, coronavirus and all…”
Right… About this source named Jeff.
“Solid fella, stock breed and reliable lineage other than the off-uncle we’ve all suffered through. Jeff…”
Wait. Surely, Reverend Chette is providing fake names to protect his sources. Why “Jeff”? If we are making up names, why not something more theatrical? I suggest “Billy Gene”.
“Alright.” Reverend Chette is malleable in his storytelling, “Billy Gene is a solid fella. He works for the county and he’s always talking with state guys and these state guys are talking to federal guys and these federal guys…”
Wait. I have to know… Is Billy Gene his lover?
Reverend Chette snorts angrily over the phone. He admits, “Billy Gene is not my lover.”
Oh damn. Perhaps it is quarantine cabin-fever, but I am hysterical. I nearly die laughing. My sides ache as I moonwalk beside the phone.
“Billy Gene has his sources as I have already outlined. He has heard the coronavirus was plucked like a lily at a county fair by the Chinese and studied at Wuhan labs. Once they had their green-light, they let it go like a rodeo bronco, kicking & fuming, toppling governments along the way. And while everyone is focused on these ten miles of bad road, little distractions start inconveniently popping-up like warts on a prized pig.”
“North Korea. Kim Jong-un went missing. Have you ever noticed that every time China wants America looking the other way, Kim Jong-un does something unexpected? Now you see Kim; now you don’t! Ha! Suddenly, out of the hat, appears dopplegänger Kim Jong-un.”
“North Korea is a puppet of China. If China wants to test war with America, they’ll send in No-Ko first. And yes, Kim Jong-un is dead, heart- implosion. Poor little fella never had a chance. Doesn’t matter, China has a dozen doubles waiting to take Kim’s place.”
I ask Reverend Chette if the Chinese fabricated Kim Jong-un’s disappearance as a distraction to world media or did they merely just cover-up the death of Kim Jong-un?
“Yes.” Reverend Chette replied. “And have you noticed Big Brother’s drones over-shoulder while you’re tanning at Daytona Beach? Drones have been donated to American police by a company out of Hong Kong. Police are taking these drones to warn people of social-distance violations, but you know what is really going on. The biggest brother is China. They’re using the goddamn American police to spy on our domestic soil. And, you’ve seen this Tik-Tok, kids dancing like a hot-hen with a flaming tail-feather? Every kid who downloads this Tik-Tok onto daddy’s phone is pumping daddy’s details straight to Beijing.”
Bikini-cam drones and dance-spy phones; pretty kinky stuff out of the People’s Republic.
“And those American mercenaries who invaded Venezuela… Who do you think they are secretly financed by?”
“Worse, Russia.” Reverend Chette claims. “These Florida boys were approached by agents of Putin who were wearing MAGA hats and claiming to be there on the directive of President Trump. They even had a Puerto Rican posing as the crown prince of Venezuela. Well, these good old boys didn’t know Venezuela hasn’t been associated with monarchy since Bolivar drove Spain out and, next thing they know, they’re plotting a coup in Caracas, for which, they’re expecting compensation in the form of untold jewels and easy Latin women with enough backside for an army camp. What’s not to love?”
Quite the sale’s .
“But they’re all patsies, a bunch of Florida-Man Lee Harveys. Putin is fucking with a borrowed mule’s pecker; there is no bad outcome for him. While Venezuela is in bed with Russia, they also owe millions to Moscow. If the mercenaries are caught on the beach, as they were, Putin only loses the mule dick. But if they succeed at anything, Putin can either inform Maduro how to attack the mercenaries and regain the country or Putin could inform an alternate successor to Maduro on how to rid Venezuela of this semi-American menace. Either way, egg on American face, bacon on Vladimir’s plate.”
Okay. Fine. Just answer me this, what about the Murder Hornet? Did this escape a Wuhan Lab too?
Reverend Chette considers it, “Sure as shit likely, I’d say.”