Even if you’ve missed this fictional series’ previous chats (archived in my “Cleo Theo Cosmo Chats” category) the single paragraph synopsis, below, can quickly get you up to speed.
The twenty-something carpenter / homebuilder Cleo, fiftyish Catholic theologian Theo and thirtyish cosmologist Cosmo all call the bustling metropolis of Upland their home. Their similar Friday a.m. work schedules and dependence on public transportation first caused their paths to cross in mid-August ‘16. The punctually late buses usually afford them plenty of time to engage in sugary confection and caffeine buzzed, political and social commentary. From day one, these three newfound friends have established an immediate rapport, respect and resolve to chat on a weekly basis.
An earlier than usual, distinctly autumnal coolness has descended upon the city as September’s second Friday, early a.m. commute commences.
This new day, Theo and Cosmo have unintentionally met up at the Go Nuts 4 Donuts bakery while waiting in a somewhat long line. Once the “Hi how are yas” banter subsides the conversation steers towards more “serious” biz.
“I missed not seeing each other last week,” Theo says.
“Yeah, me too. Guess we’re forever at the mercy of early and late running buses.”
“Since Cleo treated us to a bagels and jam breakfast last time I figure it’s my turn to provide the sweets.”
“Well, since I’m ahead of you in line, how about if I buy this week?”
“OK… but since the coffee here is a bit pricy… why don’t I buy my own?”
“Fair enough. Well, at least we’re dealing with an efficient staff… wow… look how rapidly the lines are moving!”
“They do put the ‘fast’ into ‘fast food’. Hopefully, this’ll give us more chat time with Cleo!”
Upon exiting the bakery, they walk the short distance to the bus stop. Even from a block away, they can readily identify their female friend… center seated on the bench… talking animatedly on her smartphone between sips from her thermos’s steaming coffee cup. She’s welcoming whatever warmth will negate the chill in the air… be that assist from her black java or thick blue denim jacket.
The three friends exchange silent, cordial hello waves as the men settle in… assume their customary theologian on the right / cosmologist on the left seating arrangements. While both men tear open and empty sugar packets into their coffee, Cleo completes her call. Cosmo then presents and opens the white paper bag.
“Ta Da! We didn’t discuss, last time, who’d be buying what for our next breakfast… so I chanced it. Inside you’ll find a vast variety of ‘Go Nuts 4 Donuts’ goodies… plain, chocolate covered, powder sugar and cinnamon glazed,” I hope you’re up for a sugar buzz this morning.”
Cleo grins, “You’d better believe it… I’m addicted to such yummy, calorically incorrect decadence.”
Theo, next to dig into the bag adds, “I do hope there’s no 11th commandment.”
While taking a bite out of his powder-sugared selection, Cleo asks, “You mean the one that goes, ‘Thou shalt not worship false junk food gods?’”
As chocoholic Cleo sinks her teeth into her chosen pastry, Cosmo asks her, “So, tell us how your brother and sister-in-law are doing… any plans to fight City Hall?”
“Yep… Al and Liv, with an assist from the ACLU, have obtained a temporary court injunction. The mayor’s Un-Welcome Wagons are now parked. The ACLU believes they’re dealing with closeted, small town, political bigots… that their anti-blight ordinance is aimed squarely at low income minorities… those who can least afford to pay for home repairs. I’d say the mayor’s comply or get your house condemned ultimatum is the epitome of localized Trump arrogance.”
Seeing how this discussion has saddened everyone, Theo tries to cheer things up.
“Cleo, I couldn’t help but overhear your phone conversation… your speaking in Spanish. While I’m bilingual, too, I could never even come close to your fluency.”
Suddenly, her body language becomes undeniably defensive… her facial expression a mix of dejection and indignation.
She practically snarls, “Like… uh… what’s it to you? I suppose you now want to see my papers or something?”
The taken aback priest sits there in jaw dropped silence. Cleo’s eyes dart both left and right. Her friends’ shocked expressions speak volumes. The echoes of her last words have barely died off when her apologetic words cascade forth…
“I’m so sorry, guys. Trump’s ranting and raving against my people, bogusly insinuating that Hispanics are drug lords, addicts, murderers and rapists, has put me on the defensive.
“I’m sorry, too, for unintentionally striking a raw nerve,” adds Theo, “Trump deserves to be charged with committing hate crimes.”
“As do those who he’s emboldened to follow his lead,” Cosmo adds, “Dangerous Donald’s profiling has gotta be tough on all minorities.”
“And that makes life extremely unpleasant and downright dangerous, for my family… for me… for the entire Hispanic community. We’re getting unjustifiably and illegally detained and questioned. Our only ‘offense’, by Trump’s skewed standards, is our higher skin melanin content. And don’t think such profiling could never happen to you, Father… if not for your collar, by now, I’m sure your Mediterranean features would’ve raised at least one law enforcer’s hackles… I mean… you are of Greek extraction, are you not?”
Theo nods yes as Cleo continues her now somewhat subdued rant.
“The irony is all of my living family members are born in the U.S.A. American citizens… and we’re fed up with having to constantly prove it to a Gestapo channeling police force… cops whose main mission has become ferreting out, rounding up and deporting illegals… making life miserable while making points with their superiors. To be sure, here, my family and I do love America’s once upon a time grand vision… where our differences are supposed to meld to make us stronger… but… Adolf Trump’s tirades have totally Mucked up everything for everyone. And btw, I start out spelling that “M” word with the letter “F”. I hope that doesn’t offend either of you.”
Cosmo responds, “Trump is the far bigger obscenity here. What he’s doing, I suspect has already brought America to its breaking point.”
“We may already be at the point of no return,” suggests Theo.
Cleo responds, “My family and I feel the same way. We’re even seriously considering Mexican citizenship, should Donald Trump ever become president. That damned wall he incessantly rants about could work two ways… you know… could also serve to keep that xenophobic bastard and all of his likeminded, rabid rabble out of our lives, too.”
“Although I know it’s a highly unlikely event, I’m constantly looking up to the heavens… wishing some ETs would land and offer me a lift to their home world.”
“Well if they ever do touchdown, let’s pray it’s nowhere near a Trump rally. Those boneheads would easily provoke an interstellar war we’d never be able to win.’”
“Well, it looks like vehicles of a terrestrial origin are now approaching,” Cosmo points out.
Two buses now pull up alongside the littered curb… their lit up route signage indicating that Theo and Cosmo will be leaving Cleo as they had found her this early a.m.… all alone.
“I’m buying breakfast next week,” Theo proclaims as he rises. Just before boarding, he turns to look over his left shoulder. With a grin he shouts above the rumbling diesel engine, “You two have a great day at work and an enjoyable weekend.”
With his “Take care Theo, Cleo,” Cosmo, too, heads off to his bus and climbs aboard.
“See you guys next Friday,” Cleo shouts out and waves.
With time to further mull over her Trump complicated life in solitude, Cleo laments the demise of civil American society. As her ears detect the diesel drone of her in the distance bus, the tears well up in her distant eyes.
A note to my readers: My game plan is to post these Cleo, Theo & Cosmo Bus Stop Chats on most, but not all, Fridays.