It’d be funny if it weren’t so damn spot on.
“Look what they did to the Papa John’s guy,” says Pope Mohammed. He’s referring to John Schnatter, the chairman of the mega-Pizza chain fired for racist remarks made in a meeting.
You and Pope Mohammed are sitting together at a table neighboring Times Square on a warm day in late August. Jumbotron screens blink and flash colors, symbols, words and graphics … they beam out the images of celebrities’ and models’ faces the size of semi trucks.
“Look what they did to the Papa John’s guy,” repeats Pope Mohammed. “Schnatter’s done more for blacks than you’ll ever dream of doing.”
You sit there, with your arms crossed, staring at a diverse group of students, white, Asian, brown, black. A latino man with a little flag at the end of a short pole walks backward to navigate his group. The students in choreographed unison pass by with their phones up like shields to photograph the sights.
Pope Mohammed continues, “Black people need to get over it and stop looking so hard to find racism. It isn’t that hard to find real racism that needs to be confronted.”
You spot a black man sitting on a flattened cardboard box. His back pressed hard against a building. Tourists amble past his outstretched legs. He has pee stained pants. He wears a ripped sweater over multiple other layers of ragged cotton. A sign on his lap reads, “Down on luck. Please help.”
“It’s time to stand up to these socialists,” says Pope Mohammed. A woman passerby jerks her head in your direction. Pope Mohammed doesn’t miss a beat. ” When are people going to start standing up for their free speech rights?”
The masses of people around you. The variety. The outright swarms are overwhelming. It moves you, to some degree, how, in all the chaos of this densely populated city, that there is a sense of togetherness. Of calm. Of unity. A flash of a woman, dressed all in green, raising her right arm high in the air with a flaming torch surges through your mind’s eye.
You half smile from the thought.
Pope Mohammed’s voice rattles your ear drum. “That’s the end of that,” he says, “I’m cashing in whatever Papa John’s points I have and I’m only ordering from Pizza Hut from now on.”
Pope Mohammed is a short story series I developed years ago. You can see past posts here.
I stopped writing the series because I got busy with life and the personification of my character literally became the president of the United States of America. To out Pope Mohammed Donald Trump is super challenging!