Friday, November 30, 2012

Dubs and the End of the World

Some of you have asked me to combine my last two posts about my friend Dubs McClusky to make it easier to read in one setting.  I've edited it under the title Dubs and the End of the World.  Here it is:

Dubs and the End of the World

My best friend, Dubs McClusky was at the house the other day.  Dubs is really more than a friend: he's a confidant, someone I can trust with my darkest secrets (he thinks a dark secret is one you tell at night); he's someone who will keep refilling his glass with my most expensive single malt whiskey without feeling the need to ask for permission about something so trifling.  I've known Dubs for more than twenty years, and if nothing else he's consistent (especially with my single malt).  Not being a photographer himself, he always tries to say something nice about my work, despite the fact that there's not an artistic bone in his body.

"I love your pictures, but they would look so much better in color.  You know, color pictures are just so much more colorful."

Worshiping the Maximon by Tom Bell.  Copyright 2012.  All rights reserved.  The Maximon embodies Mayan mysticism.  By the way, this one's in color for Dubs.

"It's a matter of preference, Dubs.  Some people really love black and white images."

"I know, but they stopped making movies in black and white because people like 'em in color more."  He poured another glass and looked silently pass me for far too long.

"Something wrong, Dubs?"

"I'm worried, Tom," he lamented.  "They're saying the end of the world's only a month away."  He took a big gulp and stared deeply into his glass. "You know about that Mayan end-of-the-world stuff, don't you?  I mean your wife is from Guatemala and speaks Spanish and stuff."

"Right, Dubs.  I also have some friends who are archaeologists.  They say there's nothing to worry about."

I saw a glimmer of hope in Dubs' eyes.  "You know, I saw a Three Stooges where the guys were archaeologists.  They found Rootin' Tootin's mummy."  He smiled deeply as his thoughts went back to the movie short of long ago.

"That was in black and white, by the way," I noted.

Magic by Tom Bell.  Copyright 2012.  All rights reserved.  

He nodded, as if I had revealed something important, then he was lost again. "The world can't end before Christmas.  What about the presents!  This Mayan stuff is serious business!  By the way, there's just a little left in the bottle; you don't want any do you?"

I picked up the bottle and poured the rest into his glass.

"You should keep this 15 year old Scotch all the time," he noted.  "Its really good."

"I bet."

"But what if it really is the end of the world?  What then!"

"Well, Dubs, I'm really looking forward to it.  If it's really the end of the world, it's the best event a photographer could hope for."

"What do you mean?"  The confusion on his face intensified.

"Can you imagine having something like that to photograph?," I asked.  "Every photographer in the world will be looking for the best angle, that fine art shot that defines the moment!  It's going to be something great!"


"Mine will be in black and white!"

"But you said those archaeologists say there's nothing to it."  Dubs was almost in tears.

"What do they know?" I said.

"Really?  But.... you said...."

"I know what I said.  But this is it, Dubs.  My wife told me not to tell you.  But this is it..."

His eyes were huge. "Noooo.  You're just playin' with me aren't you."

"Sorry, Dubs."

Silence.  Dropped jaw. Owl eyes.

"Listen, Dubs, if I were you, I'd enjoy it since there's nothing we can do. Why don't you buy a case of this single malt. Make it a couple of cases and you'll get a discount.  Since you won't have to pay it back, use your credit card and buy a  couple of cases of the 18 year old stock.  I can store it and we can drink to the end of the world anytime you want.  We'll show those archaeologists!"

His mouth was still agape.

I wasn't sure if I should slap him slightly, but I decided to speak instead.  "It's okay, Dubs.  I promise that the last photograph I take as the world ends will be of you."

"Okay," he said after a while. He hesitated, "...but would it be okay if you did it in color?"


After about a week, I'm still waiting on the cases of 18 year-old stock I thought Dubs might deliver.
I shouldn't have played with his  mind like I did.  But,  I saw it as a way that he might partially reimburse me for some of the many bottles of 15 year-old single malt he's more than helped finish while sitting with me at the table over the years.

Dubs stopped by again just a few minutes ago.  "Hey, let's have a drink," he said.  "I want to ask you some more questions about that Mayan prophesy stuff."

"Okay," I said softly.  "Let's talk.  But I'm out of whiskey.  I just haven't had time to stop by the liquor store."

He stared at me and squinted for a while. "You know, Tom. I don't recall ever stopping by when you didn't have whiskey.  But, right now, I'd drink about anything."  His look was almost deathly.

"Something wrong, Dubs?"

"No, not really. I know your wife knows about this Mayan end-of-world stuff and all.  She has a real pretty voice when she speaks that Spanish.  But maybe she's wrong about it being the end of the world."

"She's never been wrong before, Dubs."

He looked at me seriously.

"Never," I intoned. 

He hesitated.  "Yeah, I know."

"You know, I've got a bottle of 12 year old rum," I offered. "It's one of the most most popular in Guatemala, and it's the Baktun edition."

"Back-toon," he said in an accent that made him sound southern. "Is that something like the rerun of a cartoon?"

"Well, sort of," I offered. "In this case, a Baktun is a Mayan period of time.  We're on the last one.  It ends on December 21.  That's the last day."

"A period of  time?"

"Yeah, it's about 400 years long.

I opened the bottle of rum and poured each of  us  a snifter.

"Hey, this is good," he said.  "A toast to the Back-toon!"

I lifted my glass.  "Yeah, drinking to it only ensures that it's gonna happen.  That's cosmic law."


"Yeah, the end of the world.  It's okay. We've lived a long time.  It's time for creatures from some other universe to occupy our space!"

"What!"  He downed every drop in his snifter, and I quickly poured him another one.

"Sorry, Dubs," I apologized, "but it's time on this Earth for creatures that will appreciate 18 year-old Scotch, those that are more spiritually developed."

"What... I appreciate 18 year-old spirits.  I appreciate them a lot!"

"I know, Dubs, but I suggested you bring over a couple of cases, especially since it's the end of the world and you won't have to pay the credit card bill.  You  haven't done a thing!"

His eyebrows shot up.  "Why?  So we can toast to the end of the world again and again?"

"Yeah, but you can also toast against the end of the  world."


"That's right.  That's what the Crystal Skull told my wife."

"The Crystal Skull?..."

I photographed this Crystal Skull in the  Popol Vuh Museum in Guatemala City.  My wife knew one of the curators who gave us special access, so this is one of the only photographs in existence of this particular crystal skull.  The red on the eyes, nose and mouth, is Cinnabar, a mercury compound used by the ancients for mystical purposes.  Since there's no backlight, I'm not sure why it glows.
"Yeah, there's a very special Crystal Skull at the museum in Guatemala City.  It might be hundreds of millions of years old, maybe billions, or even trillions.  No one is sure.  It told my wife that if enough people toast against the end of the world with very good whiskey, it might not happen.  It's eyes glowed red, and it told her. It told her in Spanish."

"Are you sure!" Dub was aghast.

"I photographed it as it was telling her how to prevent the end of the world."  I went to my files and pulled out a print of the Crystal Skull and handed it to him.

"It's real, he said, looking intently at the photo, "it's real. That means we can do something about the end  of the world!"

"That's right," I said.

"Okay!," he was almost yelling.  "I'm going out to buy a case right now. Call all our friends.  We're going to do some  toasting!"

"That's great," I smiled.  "I'll call some of  my buddies, you call some of yours. We'll meet here for a toast in an hour."

"That's great," he vocalized almost at the top of  his lungs. "Maybe the world's not goin' to end."  Then he paused with a puzzled look on this face

"What is it, Dubs?"

"You know, I don't want to sound like a kill-joy, but if the world doesn't end, I'm going to have to pay the credit card bill for all that whiskey, aren't I?"

I looked down in sympathy.  "You're right, Dubs.  The skull said it might be a problem.  Maybe it's better that the world just ends to make way for the more advanced beings."  I almost sniffled.

Dubs' again looked like a deer caught in headlights.  "Wait a minute," he said.  "Make those calls.  I'm off to the liquor store."

"Good call, Dubs," I said.  "The skull knows how to throw a party."

"Wow," he exclaimed as he went  out the door, "maybe you won't have to take that picture of me as the world ends, after all.  Maybe you can take a picture of me drinking against the end of the world!"

"Sounds good to me," I said.  "Just go out and get those cases of 18 year-old single malt before it's to late!"

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1 comment:

  1. I love the funny stories. I know it's a photography blog, but please give us some more Dubs stories.