I opened the front door after a dozen or more desperate knocks. I stood there in plaid boxers and a black T-shirt. The man standing at my door wore a long white robe and had a white turban covering his humongous bald head.

“Can I help you?” I asked him, looking at the two tackle boxes he gripped in each hand.

“Why yes sir, yes you can. And most kind and gracious sir, I can help you too. I’ve come to show you the truth,” he said with an Indian accent.

“The truth? Well, I guess you better come on in.”

“Yes sir. Thank you kindly, very good sir.”

“Sure thing. What do you have with you?”

“Yes sir! Straight to the point, and I may add, very kind and sincere of you to ask . Inside these two boxes contains magical items that’ll make your everyday mundane existence turn into a joyful and peaceful one.”

The man only blotted out a small portion of the sun that blasted from behind him, rendering him a Christ-like figure. I could see he was not Indian but white, even more pale than myself.  I looked at his tackle boxes and noticed a couple stickers of Hindi gods on one, and on the other one of those 1980’s smiley faces with the words “Have A Nice Day,” wrapped around the yellow face. Part of me wanted to close the door on his excited Vishnu face so I could go back upstairs and continue to enjoy what I started earlier, but the other part of me couldn’t help it. I needed to know what he was carrying inside those two tackle boxes. I wanted to know how they would turn the mundane into joy. I thought about it for a minute and curiosity got the best of me. I stepped to the side and motioned my hand to let him in. Mrs. Harris gave me a dirty look from the sidewalk. She was out for her usual walk with her toy poodle named Fritz. The dog gave me a nasty look too.

“I’m Nikhil David,” he said. Instead of reaching out to shake my hand he placed the boxes on the floor and pressed both of his palms together and bowed like we were both in India, instead of Minot, North Dakota.

“Name’s Scott Shepard,” I replied.

“May I sit?” He asked.

“Sure, sure… Sit anywhere, Buddy.”

He smiled when I called him buddy, but I don’t think he liked it much. How it rolled off my tongue like we were a couple of construction workers in a barroom getting drunk and talking about sports and pussy.

He placed his two tackle boxes on the coffee table in front of the couch and sat down. A pair of flip-flops freed themselves from the robes, but all I could see were his toe nails. Long, yellow, and they let out an odor that would easily strangle my cat, Jim Bob, if he were not already busy outside the house mounting one of the neighbor’s cats.

“Mr. Scott,” he said. “Can I trouble you for a glass of water? I’ve been walking all day trying to spread joy in the world and I tell you it can make a man quite thirsty.”

“First, drop the ‘Mr.’ just Scott is fine. Second, we both know you are not Indian nor from India. I’m not judging you. I don’t really care how you live your life. And the accent might work on the ladies’ panties and unsuspecting old people, but if you are Indian then I am Japanese.”

He looked puzzled for a moment, like he had no idea what I was talking about. Fake accent? He leaned back and threw his arms up on top of the sofa, his lips were enormous like his head and his ears were pointy.

“I assure you the accent is every bit as real as I am. It’s as real as the joy that I radiate out into the world. It’s as real as the love I have for the ant, the cow; every man and woman I walk past.”

I listened to the hard footsteps walk across the ceiling above me. A crack of a whip, then a slam of a paddle against a bedpost. Nikhil David looked up at the ceiling too, he shot an uncomfortable smile at me.

“Sounds like anger up there,” he said.

“You have no idea,” I told him.

“Looks like I have come to the right place then. A place where the Gods of Harmony can wrap their large arms around the angry and frustrated.”

“You don’t want to wrap anything around what’s up there,” I told him. “I can assure you of that.”

“There’s nothing the Gods of Love can’t handle. Any anger both small and big can be put at ease with care and understanding. No need for therapy. There’s no need for fighting and violent sports. Only love can cure anger. Love and understanding.”

“Sure,” I told him walking towards the kitchen.

“Well, inside these two boxes I truly want to show you some of the joy I brought with me. I want to make your life a better one. They come from my Ashram, blessed by the monks of The Deeper Understanding. I go door to door out of love not of financial gain, but to spread their words of a New Age: A New World. A world of harmony and love.”

I listened to him carry on, and he watched me grip at the front of my boxers and he noticed how I walked funny. I wanted to know what was in the two tackle boxes and how they’d turn me into a happier person. Truth be told, I hadn’t been happy for quite some time. I had been in and out of different therapist’s offices, each one telling me the same thing after I had emptied my soul out to them. I gave up on their useless advice. It never helped me. I went home and cried over a childhood that wasn’t all that bad. I cried over relatives I loved that had died many years ago, but they lived into their eighties, what was there to cry about? I was tired of crying. I had no tears left inside of me, nothing left to give.

I found more solace and peace in the Dilaudid the emergency room doctors pumped into my veins if I had a blood clot or I thought I had a blood clot. Almost every time I didn’t have a blood clot, but I didn’t care the medicine put me down and put me in a state of having no feelings at all. The shrinks always advised me to sit with my feelings, it never did any good. I sat there for hours staring at walls and thinking of horrible things that never happened to me until I believed they did happen. I started telling the therapists about fake horrors and then they’d advise me to sit with the unreal. It was a violent cycle. I needed something that removed feelings completely, Dilaudid did just that, but there’s only so many pumps the doctor is going to hand out until he starts handing out pills instead, and those pain pills are no different than the pills the shrinks hand out.

I thought about suicide, but not by gun, knife, or pills. Nothing like that. I had a plan. I was going to save up all kinds of money from my day job, and once the spring came I was going to fly out to a foreign country. Maybe Vietnam, Denmark, Thailand, maybe Poland. The location didn’t really matter. Once there I’d get a five-star hotel and I’d sleep with as many beautiful women as I could. I would pretend to be a fancy businessman or a rebel on a motorcycle, whatever would get them to lift up the skirts. After I got tired of all the screwing I’d stop taking my blood thinners and start getting drunk again. I haven’t been able to get drunk since I started taking them. And I’d drink until either a clot killed me or until I ran out of money and died on the side of the road due to exposure and hunger. I’d have no identification so the locals would either bury me without a stone in some boring field that suited my boring life, or they’d burn me and flush my ashes down a dirty toilet halfway across the globe. My suicide plan was something I took serious. I researched plane tickets, hotels, different countries. I found myself excited about it, and after a few weeks of serious planning I met Mistress Natalia by chance. The love of my life who happened to be making all the noise upstairs.

I went to the kitchen and put ice in glass and turned to the faucet, sure enough outside my kitchen window I saw Jim Bob mounting Shelia, Mr. and Mrs. Brown’s cat next door. Good ol’ Jim Bob get you some, I thought to myself as the glass filled with water. I returned to the living room and handed Nikhil David the glass of water.

“Many thanks,” he said, sucking down the cold water.

“Not a problem,” I said. I looked over my shoulder and out the sliding glass doors and watched Jim Bob go at it with Shelia. Birds sat on the feeder in my back yard like they were watching a porn.

“Now can we get to your joy?” He asked.

“If you lose the turban. I’d ask you to lose the robe too, but I figure you have nothing on under there but some cloth underwear and I don’t need to see that.”

“Why the turban?” He asked.

“Because I want to talk to the new age salesman sitting in front of me. Not the costume you are trying to sell me.”

“No monk or follower of The Deeper Understanding removes their turban. It is a sign of obedience to the Lord Vishnu, to the Lord Buddha, to the Lord Christ.”

“Have it your way, chief,” I said to him. I looked outside and noticed Shelia run off, Jim Bob exhausted in the grass. The birds had lost interest.

“Now, Mr. Scott, let me show you what I brought that’ll change your life.”

He reached for the box with the Hindi God stickers on the box, “You’re gonna love this,” he said with excitement. I heard footsteps coming down the stairs.

Mistress Natalia came down, still wearing her thigh high, laced up, black latex boots. She still had her chin length purple wig on, as well as her black latex corset and panties.

“What is all of this?” she said with a fake Russian accent. “I’ve been waiting upstairs to finish the job and you are down her talking to some fool in robes?”

“I’m sorry,” I said to her, “This fella and I were about to discuss joy..”

“But our ‘joy’ started hours ago. First come, first serve, Slave!” She said, yanking on the front of my boxers. I liked the pain she inflicted on me. It was better than any therapist. Better than any suicide pact. Better than Dilaudid.

“What are those? She said, pointing at the two tackle boxes.

I saw Nikhil David’s eyes light up. Another person who’d listen to his words of enlightenment he was eager to share in my living room?

“Let me see,” she said. She reached down and to the horror of Nikhil David her purple strap-on she had been using on my ass swung around and slapped the Lord Vishnu sticker right across the face.

“Oh my lord!” Nikhil David shouted. “What is that thing?”

“What’s this?” She said, gripping the flopping dildo harnessed to her midsection. “This is best form of therapy in the world. You want to try when I finish with this one over here?”

“I think not” Nikhil David said. “All I need are the words of my guru, the chants of the monks, and the stars, sea, and sky. That’s all the therapy I need. And after I show you what I’ve brought with me you’ll soon both agree.”

The purple strap-on flung around from her mid-section and hit the second tackle box.

“You don’t know what you are missing out on,” she said. “It’ll change your life.”

“I assure you, ma’am, I do not need your devices of anger to bring joy into my life,” he told her.

“You are a fool, simple minded,” she said. “I am what God intended to straighten out all of you  men. I’m here to drop you all to your knees and make them worship the goddesses of the world.”

“I know a few Goddesses,” Nakhil David said. “But they don’t talk like you, Mrs. Scott.”

“You’ve talked to these goddesses?” I don’t know about you.”

“I talk to them every day,” he said with a glowing smile. “Walking down the street. When I’m in bed at night. I talk to thousands of Gods and Goddesses. I am a God too.”

“You are a god? Don’t bullshit me,” she said. “You’re a slave like the rest of them, and delusional too. I am the best kind of Goddess,” she continued.“The goddess of freedom! The Goddess of pain. The Goddess of war and love.”

I turned around from the both of them and reached inside my boxers to straighten out the cock-cage Natalia had fastened on me a few hours earlier. “Don’t even think about taking that off,” She said. “I’m not finished with you, leave it right where it is.” She was right, I wasn’t finished. Hours earlier she had me in a leather mask with zippers for eyes and tied me face down on top of the mattress she had put a leather sheet on. The big purple cock fastened to her midsection took me something fierce for the last half of the day, but I liked it. I was no longer in control. I was owned and returning to my senses about everything: I no longer had a suicide pact. I took half the amount of anxiety pills I normally took. I mowed my grass. I let Jim Bob mount any cat he wanted without breaking it up. I watched less television news. I went out more and enjoyed the sunshine. I took walks without a destination in mind. I talked and smiled with strangers. I started to read again. Mistress Natalia didn’t mince words. In fact, she was often rude, but I loved that about her because she was always honest with me. Back home in Sioux Falls, South Dakota, she might’ve be named Megan or Sara. She probably enjoyed swimming and travel, but when she came to my house she was the mad Russian, Natalia, and I was her “pig” her “slut” and with every push into my ass, and with every insult she shouted at me I let go, and each day I became more and more myself again.

I stood next to Natalia and we both looked down at the coffee table as Nakhil David fumbled with the first tan and brown tackle box. I heard a female cat meow loudly from somewhere out in my backyard. Natalia pressed her high heel latex boot up against my naked calf either as a sign of ownership or a sign of care. Deep inside I hoped it was a sign of care. I was falling in love with her and I think she knew it too. I felt the KY jelly she inserted in my ass start to ooze and slightly wet the back of my boxers. We both stood there wanting so bad for the New Age Salesman to deliver on his great mystery of the tackle boxes. What would be inside? Ancient scrolls of some kind? Perhaps shrunken heads of deities, or marvels he had acquired from the far east I had never seen or heard of before? He opened the box and, slowly removed the top and made prayer hands at what was inside and turned it around to face us.

Natalia looked at me like I was an idiot. Nakhil David looked at us and placed his left hand over his heart. A gesture of peace and love.

“Amazing, huh?” He said to us.

“You mean to tell me…,” I said unable to finish my words.

“I knew you’d feel joy instantly. Each one has it’s own price of course because each one will make you feel something different. And the money doesn’t go into my pocket, but straight back to Ashram.”

“Like what kind of different?” Natalia asked.

“One will make you feel complete joy. One will help guide you in your Kundalini practice. Another will help you connect you with nature. Like say if you are in a coffee shop in the city and you feel stress, well, just grip it and next thing you know you’ll be with the Gods in an ancient rain forest.”

“What’s that one do?” Natalia asked.

“Oh, this one right here?” David said holding it in his hand, “This one will improve sex. Hours of sex. Tantric sex. The amazing sex associated with yoga. It’s a special one with a special price for you and you only.”

I looked at what he was holding out to Natalia, “But it’s a plain old rock,” I said. “It doesn’t even look like a gem or a crystal. At least you might’ve awed us with a gem of some kind you can get at the shop downtown, but that is just a rock. It looks like you found it in your backyard. In fact,” I said to him,”everything you are showing us and telling us about looks like a plain old gray or brown rock you found in a yard, maybe you found them walking down the street on your way to my house.”

“This one here,” I said picking one up, “looks like a chunk of concrete from a demolished building.”

“I assure you,” he said, “These are magic fuck rocks and joy rocks and love rocks and rocks that’ll make you want to go out into the world and do great and wonderful things.”

“If Jim Bob gets done fucking someday, I can go out into my backyard right now and find at least a dozen more rocks. This one is for money, this one here is for better circulation. This one here cures asthma”

“No Scott, you have to believe in them. Just because they are not precious gemstones doesn’t mean they are not real and powerful. I find the plain rocks out on my journeys, then take the rocks back to my Ashram where they are blessed by high priest. We place them on the floor in front of The Guru in the shape of a heart. Then we all dance and chant and place flowers on them, soon after we perform the rituals of Inner Engineering. It’s really an amazing sight to behold.”

I didn’t even want to know what ‘inner engineering’ was. I had no interest in asking him even though I could tell he wanted me to ask him. All I know is I stopped what Natalia and I were doing, what she was curing deep within me, to let a conman inside my house. That’s the problem with the world and these types of people. It’s the inspirational quotes that none of us can ever live up to. It’s a lack of reading anymore. They are so strung out on spiritual books and self-help books they forget to read fiction and poetry. The world has been conned time and time again by the illusion of the open hand, rather than the truth hidden within the lie. That’s why people read fiction, and why the people who don’t are often fooled by these Nikhil Davids.

“That’s the most dumbest thing I’ve ever seen,” Natalia said, “and I’m gonna make you learn all about how dumb it is, Scott.”

“Don’t you want to see what’s in the other box? I have many mysteries inside that one too?”

“I’m going back upstairs and if you know what’s good for you, you’ll throw this stupid man and his rocks outside the door and get your runt ass back up there with me.”

“Looks like it’s me and you, Scott,” he said. “Do you want to know what’s in the other box?”

I figured, why not? How much more harm could it do? I needed to know for myself. I felt desperate even if Natalia had been curing me of it. Even if I was in a room with a man who believed in his own words more than he should. I couldn’t help but think of what and who he might’ve been if he hadn’t been swallowed by his Ashram.

He turned the box with the smiley face sticker on it and faced it towards him, and with turban on his head and the rancid scent of his toenails locking itself into the fabric of my couch, he pressed his palms together and mumbled a chant he sure as shit made up on the spot, opened his eyes and opened the box. He sat there and looked amazed. Ten times more amazed than he had when he showed us dirty and blessed rocks found in random yards. I waited patiently for him to turn it around.

“No! This can’t be right,” he said.

“Turn it around,” I told him. “Let me see what you got.”

“No, it can’t be true. I know I grabbed the right box.”

I leaned over the table and grimaced a little due to the cock-cage and pulled the box towards me. I saw his face. His disbelief. How let down he looked. His whole con he had been pulling for ever how long he had been doing it slid right off his face. I looked inside the tackle box, and sure as shit it was full of things that normally go in one: hooks, fishing wire, little weights, and an assortment of colorful lures.

“Will any of these cure my anxiety?” I said pulling out a yellow lure in the shape of a tiny fish,  will it help give me the biggest erections known to man? What do I have to do? Hang it from my dick?”

“But I have gifts for you. Real precious gifts. Gifts of insight, love, and a deeper consciousness, and you mock me?”

“I know but which one of these fishing lures cures brain cancer?”

“Look, my brother, he’s a fisherman and we must’ve mixed up boxes when I visited him yesterday. I assure you, it is not what’s in my box.”

“Sure it ain’t, Swami,” I said to him tossing the lure back inside of the box. “I think it’s time you go now. If I leave Natalia waiting any longer she wont let me ride on the sex swing. And I LOVE riding on the sex swing.”

He looked up at me with puppy dog eyes and pouted his giant lips. Those big lips of his really didn’t belong on such an oddly shaped head. He looked more like a carnival side show than he did a complete being, or complete David. And who would call themselves Nakhil in the first place? From what little I know the word means “whole, complete.” No one on earth is complete. None of us. We all have our flaws, regrets, and scars. I smelled the aroma of shit when he told me his name was “Nakhil David,” but I couldn’t help myself I had to let him in. He wasn’t the average dull Mormon at my door, he claimed wholeness and he claimed he had joy inside of a box. It’s not everyday someone knocks on your door holding boxes that contain joy, love, peace, better sex, and harmony.

He packed up the two tackle boxes, got up, and walked towards my front door. I opened it for him and Jim Bob ran straight by me and jumped up on the chair after an exhausting day of mounting the neighborhood cats. I didn’t fully open the door, but left it open just enough for him to get out.

“I’m truly sorry about the mix up,” he said walking out the door.

“You know, Nakhil, I think you are full of it, but you seem nice enough. Like you truly believe in what you are selling…”

“I do, Scott,” he said, interrupting me. “I believe in it to the point that it aligns my chakras, all seven of the major ones.”

“Out of curiosity what was in the second box?”

“The secrets to the whole universe.”

“What’s the secret to the universe?”

“Inside contains the scrolls of the tenfold path, spiritual path, to Inner Engineering. It’ll change your life. I wanted you to see the truth, Scott. I wanted you to let you know that your three dimensional self can turn into an open universe full of stars and moons, and to be nothing more than the flesh of love.”

“How much would that’ve cost me?”

“Can you put a price on anything I’ve told you today?”

“Everyone and everything can be bought and sold, Nikhil. Anything you see in the world has a price.”

“You’re a sad man, Scott. I feel it deeply in my heart. Your aura is black. I feel for you. Tonight I’ll ask for my guru and the monks to pray for you.”

I looked him over and all he was trying to sell me, and in a way he wasn’t wrong. There was a time I was in the black. A time I would’ve rather been dead and forgotten, until I met Mistress Natalia.

“I have Natalia now, Nakhil. She’s the only secret to the universe I need to unravel. The only secret I want to understand.”

He didn’t return eyes. He knew I wasn’t going to budge. There was no winning with me, not today, maybe with Granny Moses down the road. He pushed his robed body through part of the door, and one of his tackle boxes got stuck on the way out and I pushed it for him.

“Scott, can I ask something of you?”

“Sure,” I said.

“You wouldn’t happen to have a few bucks I can borrow would ya? As soon as I sell some of these rocks I’ll come right back and return what I borrowed.”

My curiosity got the best of me, “For what? Running low on mystical enlightenment?”

“Okay,” he said. “I have a cocaine problem. I need help. My old girlfriend was helping me out until I stole her television and sold it for more coke and she threw me out. I’ve been working on my addiction since I went to the Ashram. The inner engineering really helps but that nose candy calls for me every day. There’s no quitting it. I just need a little bit until I can get myself into rehab.”

“And there’s the rub,” I said to him.

“There’s no rub,” he said. “I come to you in honesty and love.”

“You really believe that?”

“I do. There is no other way. By the God Vishnu! By the earth and sea…”

I shut the door on his face before he could finish. Something I wouldn’t normally do to a struggling person due to my work at the homeless shelter, but the rocks, the turban, the joy, he tried to sell me without the promise of melancholy or depression that runs side by side with joy was suspect. They always leave those parts out. That with good times there will always be bad times. They try to turn us into something we are not, robotic. We are flesh and bone. We are human. We are meant to feel as much pain as we do joy.

The leather mask came flying down the stairs and hit me in the back, “Get your fucking little piggy ass up here,” Natalia shouted from up top the stairs. I held the mask tightly in my hands. I looked at the zippers across the eyes and before putting it on and vanishing into the void of my up-and-coming punishment from a woman I’d love to call my own someday, I looked at Jim Bob sleeping on the chair. I wondered when he’d wake up and be ready to let himself loose upon the world again. I looked up the stairs and watched Natalia lube up the strap-on with her two enlightened prayer hands.


About the Author

Frank Reardon has published poetry and short stories in many reviews, journals and online zines. His first poetry collection, Interstate Chokehold, was published by NeoPoiesis Press in 2009 as well as his second poetry collection Nirvana Haymaker in 2012. His third poetry collection Blood Music was published by Punk Hostage Press in 2013. In 2014 Reardon published a chapbook with Dog On A Chain Press titled The Broken Halo Blues. Frank is currently working on more short fiction.


Photo by Susan Holt Simpson on Unsplash