With a huge can of Monster Energy, I hoped to buy back El Patron’s friendship and kindness. The weeks leading up to today have been peppered with reluctant gloomy mumbles of hello at the beginning of the workday and goodbye at the end, impatient glances of annoyance, orders delivered through coworkers rather than directly, and unease during communal gatherings. Disturbed, I had approached Pih, a colleague and a close ally to El Patron, and circuitously asked him to mediate our differences. He failed at the task. Or perhaps he didn’t try at all. The indifference continued unabated. So, I decided that if I wanted something, it was my responsibility to go for it.
“You’ve been a wonderful boss. I want to buy you a monster.” I said one evening, some days ago. I knew he liked… no, relied on energy drinks. He smiled.
“Or a Red Bull. Which one do you want?” I asked. He thought for a bit.
“A monster,” he replied.
Since that conversation, things started easing up. And then today, I purchased one huge can and a four-pack on my way to work. My intention was to get a taste of the drink and share the rest with some of my workmates as El Patron quenched his insatiable thirst on the gigantic one.
Karl was already there when I arrived. The smell of paint and freshly cut wood met me at the room’s entrance. After we exchanged greetings and set to work, I asked Karl if he drunk Monster Energy. Until that point, I had assumed that energy drinks were the order of the day for most of my workmates. It was such a surprise to hear Karl’s reply then.
“Nope!” he said flatly.
“No?” I asked with a raised eyebrow.
“No!” he repeated.
“It’s not good for the heart,” he said eying me like I was the stupidest person he had ever met. “And it’s a 666 drink,” he added after a brief pause. He looked away pensively.
“A 666 drink?” I asked nonplussed. I knew the drink could be harmful health-wise. But a connection to the mark of the beast!? All kinds of theories I had heard about the ways through which the devil manipulates humans ran rapidly through my mind.
“All this I will give you if you fall down and worship me!” His words to Jesus crossed my mind.
He may be manipulative and cunning. But won’t we walk on scorpions and on fire and be neither bitten nor burnt if Jesus walks with us?
“Look at this!” Karl interrupted my thoughts. He walked across the room towards me, his smart phone held horizontally. I watched him as he neared me. Tall and fair complexioned, Karl’s thick dark hair and full beard qualified him as an attractive young man. A shyly protruding belly threatened to steal him from the physically fit club but once he opened his mouth to speak, a neat set of milk-white teeth and the steady baritone issuing from his larynx erased such fears from one’s short-term memory. Once he started moving though, one could not get off their mind that his legs had to be the heaviest part of his body. He dragged them so!
“Don’t take my word for it. Watch this,” he said positioning himself next to me and pressed ‘play’ on the YouTube video open on his phone. An agitated middle aged white woman held an empty Monster Energy container in her hands. In the background, a crowd bustled and jostled. The vroom of vehicles, the ahem of coughs and throat clearings, the pitter-patter of feet hitting the ground and the ting tong tung and dang ding dong of numerous incomprehensible noises mingled with the clamors of multiple people speaking simultaneously to form an incessant ruckus. Her face furrowed, the straining woman’s raucous voice rose above the hubbub.
“Have you ever asked yourself why the ‘M’ looks like a flame? Have you ever wondered why the three arms of the ‘M’ all resemble serpents?” she asked and looked around panting a little from the shouting. The tin was held high in her right hand, her left one gesturing at the symbols she was speaking of.
“It doesn’t stop there! Who can say they’ve never noticed the not-so-hidden cross on the “O”?” She fingered the letter with her painstakingly manicured left index finger.
“Now what happens when you take a drink?” She asked tilting the empty container in a mock act of drinking.
“Of course, the cross gets inverted!” She answered her own question in a shriek.
“And don’t we all know what an inverted cross symbolizes? Isn’t it pitiful that we’re consuming something so utterly poisonous when we all know exactly what it is? Of course, I know this sounds like a revelation but it’s so only because the evil one has blinded the world! It’s all right in front of our very eyes!” She finished emphatically punctuating each word with a clap of her hands.
Ephphatha! “Be opened!” I remembered Jesus’ command to the deaf mute who was brought to him at Decapolis. In Jesus’ case, the man had literal hearing and speech impairment. In the case of the woman’s audience, the blindness was less apparent. Still, I thought it needed the miraculous power of Jesus to abate.
“See?” Karl said bringing me back to the room awaiting our attention.
“Wow! So, you only drink Red Bull then?” I asked steering clear of comment on the video.
“Red Bull is even worse!” Came Karl’s certain response.
“You don’t drink that either? How about the other guys?”
“Only El Patron, Kustas, Mika, and Fran.”
“I see!” I said.
My mind flew to my car’s co-driver seat where four beastly creatures and a fifth monstrous one stared angrily at me. Growling, they looked ready to pounce as I opened the driver’s door.