So, I'm playin' Risk with the boys. You know, that old Parker Brothers board game of world domination. It's a freakin' blast conquering the world, and with us, as close to a ritual as we got, seein' that we're not into voodoo, head-hunting, cannibalism or any of that crap.
It's a quarter past ten according to the basement clock, Cheap Trick's on the radio, some black and white Gable movie's on the tube, ice-cold Michelobs are in hand, and that nasty old rancid smoke from Art Sully's Tiparillo hangs in the air. It's me Jerry Draper, Sully of course from advanced Algebra, "Patch" Grier, our own one-eyed version of Moshe Dayan who lost his left eye in a freak-accident at golf camp of all places, and the always gassy Dale Mayweather whose increasingly audible expulsions mix with the pungent cigar smoke to create a stale, musty impenetrable fog.
I'm cleanin' up the place, takin' over the whole darn world, which wouldn't be such a noteworthy deal, except there's an old wrinkly green note courtesy of the U.S. Mint, the type with Andrew Jackson's face on it, for the winner. All I need is Yakutsk, Alberta, Peru, Venezuela, and Northwest Territory and I'll have enough for that new Zebco fishin' reel from the Hobby Hut down on Twelfth and Jenkins, just in time for the start of trout season. I got the die in hand, shakin' em up, ready to roll...
And that's when my damn cell phone rings. And wouldn't you know, it's Dad's new wife, fourth in line, the born-again, ten years his junior, the phony one who I'm supposed to start callin' 'Mom'."
"Jerry, you were supposed to be home half an hour ago."
"Come on, for Pete's sake, a half an hour more is all I'm askin' for," I plead. "It's a matter of life and death." And "I know there's school tomorrow, but I'm fourteen years old for Christ sake!" And "I'm sorry Mom, I didn't mean to take Jesus' name in vain."
So she tells me in that squeaky, ungodly Rosie Perez voice of hers that I have exactly five minutes to get home or she'll call my father at the power plant and tell him I'm being "confrontational and belligerent again," and then I know there'll really be real hell to pay. And "No," say the guys when I ask for my part of the pot back, you put your fiver in fair-and-square and it's non-negotiable. Sorry Charlie. And as I'm walkin' out the door lightin' up a Parliament, head down, pissed off as the friggin' Dickens, I get to thinkin' about some guy we learned about in Old Mister Lemmon's history class, that guy who they say wept 'cause he had no more worlds left to conquer. And that's when, what our high-school guidance counselor Thomas "Bubble-butt" McVickers terms my "rather fertile imagination," takes over and transports my dejected self to...
...somewhere out in a tent in the middle of the barren and desolate desert. A sudden sandstorm whips up and a phone begins to...
"Hello. Alexander the Great speaking. How can I help you?"
"Alexander, this is your mother. I need you to come home right away please. I have just started my spring cleaning and I need your help getting some things down from the top shelf in the closet."
"Uh...Mom...you've actually reached me at kind of a bad time."
"A bad time, you say? Is this my son speaking? You know, maybe I've dialed the wrong number and reached a different Alexander the Great, because this does not sound like my sweet son who would do anything to help his poor little mother!"
"Mom...stop it. I'm in the middle of something important. Really important. Can't this wait?"
"You know...you were a lot nicer when you were just plain old Alexander. Since you've become the Great, you've undergone some rather unpleasant changes. I really think this fame and popularity has gone to your head!"
"Aww Mom, I-I just have India left to go, and then just a couple of small places left to mop up and then...the world is mine."
"I DON'T CARE!" You get yourself back to Macedonia. NOW! NO EXCUSES!"
"But Mom, what am I gonna tell all the guys?
The phone clicks. Alexander turns to the generals seated around him in the tent. He wears a disconcerted grimace as he addresses his men...
"U-Uhh guys. Th-this is a little embarrassing, but I-I have to go home. Mom's orders. Sorry men, maybe we'll have some good weather for waging war next spring."
And I know there were no damned telephones back in 320 B.C. for Christ-sake. But through my utter dejection, I just can't help thinking...
You and me Alexander...we're peas of a freakin' pod.
BIO: Jonathon (Yonatan) Maisel is a psychologist and writer. His works of humor, appearing as Only in Jerusalem, are regularly featured in the Jerusalem Post print-edition weekend magazine (circ. 40,000) and JPost Online. Born and raised in Pennsylvania, he now lives with his lovely wife Rebecca and faithful dog Halva in Jerusalem.