Jesus (Jack Cohen) Meets the President

by L. Ron Gardner

(This is an excerpt from my mind-blowing surrealistic novel "Kill Jesus: The Shocking Return of the Chosen One." It is available in Kindle and paperback at
Jack arrived at the Department of Treasury just before 10:30 a.m. He made his way through security, located Grinder’s office and found himself seated across from the Secretary of the Treasury by 10:45 a.m. Immediately he made himself at home, extending his legs so that his Nikes rested on Grinder’s desk. He pulled out a long, fat Cohiba and promptly lit it without bothering to ask. When Grinder objected, Jack blew smoke in his face without apology and proceeded to laugh out loud.

No doubt Jack was feeling his oats — and as he was only nineteen years old, some might attribute his boorishness to teenage immaturity. But it was more than that. Tibetan Buddhism would say that he was simply exhibiting “crazy wisdom,” the sort of unconventional, outrageous, or unexpected behavior that comes from En-Light-ened activity.

“I’ll get right to the point,” said Grinder. “The President has authorized me to offer you a generous lump sum to end your revolution and the run on the banks. For us, this is the most amenable solution to the problem you are creating for our country and economy. Are you agreeable to this?”

Jack glanced at his new wristwatch before blowing smoke rings into the air. “I think you already know the answer to that, Timmy. Otherwise I wouldn’t be here.”

“Good.” Grinder smiled slightly. Perhaps this might go easier than anticipated.

He told Jack that he was authorized to offer him $50 million. “That is a monstrous sum for anyone, especially a nineteen year-old.”

Again Jack roared with laughter. “I’m afraid you missed your calling, dude. You’re a regular comedian.” Then he sat up, leaned into Grinder’s desk and looked him straight in the eye. “I want $50 trillion.”

Grinder looked as if all the blood had been drained from his head. “Jack, be reasonable.”

“I don’t have to be reasonable — I’m not the one with the problem. If you want me to call off the revolution, the price is $50 trillion. Every penny of it will go to paying down the federal debt.”

They went back and forth for several minutes. Grinder escalated the offer to $100 million, then $250 million, then finally half a billion dollars. Jack turned him down every time.

Grinder grimaced, excused himself, and then left the room. A few minutes later, the door reopened, only this time it was President Mogambo himself, dressed in his signature black suit and blue necktie. He looked tired, yet considerably younger than his fifty-three years, a remarkable trait considering how the burdens of the Oval Office can age a chief executive.

But what struck Jack the most was the President’s attaché case. He couldn’t tell for sure, but it looked like it was made of human skin.

“It’s a privilege to make your acquaintance,” said Mogambo as he shook Jack’s hand. “You’re a true patriot, and though we have our differences, I believe we can work together to make America a better country. Obviously more money does not mean much to you — I understand that you’ll be making millions from the Putin fight — but my guess is that power does. If you join my team, I can practically guarantee that you’ll be in my shoes in twenty years. What do you say?”

Jack took another glance at his watch. “Mr. President, to quote Ayn Rand, ‘in any compromise between good and evil, it is only evil that can profit.’”

“Are you insinuating that I’m evil?” said Mogambo.

“I’m not insinuating it, I’m declaring it,” replied Jack nonchalantly.

“I can read auras, and yours makes Darth Vader’s look benign.”
Mogambo’s eyes narrowed as he opened his briefcase. He was through playing games. “I want to show you something,” he said as he pulled out a half-dozen shrunken human heads and displayed them on the desk. “I’m not insinuating anything. I just want you to know my passion.”

Jack blew smoke rings into the air. “So you like to shrink heads. Where’d you learn that, in Zimbabwe?”

Mogambo flashed an evil grin. Beyond that he said nothing.

“I assume there’s a point to this, Mr. President?”

Mogambo reached inside his pocket and handed Jack a plain white envelope. Inside was a cashier’s check for a billion dollars.

“That’s cash, Jack, free and clear.”

Jack looked at the check, put it back on the desk, and then cupped his palms around the back of his head. As he was seated directly across from the President, the clasp of his wristwatch directly faced Mogambo. “And if I say no?” he asked.

“Then I’m afraid you’ll join my friends in that briefcase,” said the President. “Certain Christian leaders have been asking me for your head. They want me to crucify you… and I won’t hesitate to do it.”

Jack rose from his chair, stared down his adversary and tore the check in half. “I’ll take my chances, Mr. President.”

“And I thought you were a bright young man,” said Mogambo. “Turns out you’re just another fool.”

“Well, you know what they say about fools, Mr. President — sometimes they’re wiser than you think.” With that Jack Cohen walked out the door without a backward glance.


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