Celebrating Valentine’s Day

There are three Saint Valentines, all martyrs. For the profoundly religious, such as myself, it seems appropriate to celebrate Valentine’s Day every year by reenacting one of these Valentinian sacrifices.

Why should there be so many Muslim martyrs in current times, while so few Christian ones? Christians in certain communities reenact the crucifixion of Christ. All well and good. But why stop there? I, for one,¬† don’t.

How does my annual candidate react to the honor of being chosen Saint Valentine for a day, and to the prospect of eternal glory, beginning before the sun goes down if I hurry?

“Please let me go! I’m begging you! Please! I’ll do anything! I have a family. I don’t want to die!”

What has become of the strong religious faith so common at one time in this country?

How do I choose the annual martyr? I use Facebook. I open a new account on the first day of January, accumulate friends, and select the most popular of them as my candidate. Naturally, I have to figure out where my candidate lives. Then I must travel there and stalk him (Saint Valentine was not a female!). On February 14th, as early in the day as is practicable, I pounce with my chloroform.

Once the lucky martyr-to-be has been secured at a secret site that I have prepared, I give him a choice. Martyr Valentinus the Presbyter was impaled on spikes. Hieromartyr Saint Valentine was immolated at the stake. Saint Valentine Africanus was torn into quarters by elephants. (There are other Saint Valentines, but I see no need to go crazy with this.) My ceremonial candidate for martyrdom is allowed to choose one of the three saints. After I perform an informal mass, the consecrated execution proceeds, just as it occurred so many centuries ago. Except that instead of four elephants, I use three trees and a Ford F150 truck, when my victim chooses quartering.

I’m no sadist. I don’t want to cause unnecessary suffering. That’s why I wait until the 14th to collect my martyr. I would never keep the candidate locked away for days, worrying about what is to come.

My goal is to get the martyr under control, dress him in period costume, perform the mass, and put him out of his misery!

For example, you could impale someone all day without killing him. I would never do that. Contrariwise, you could kill the candidate with the first spike, but what kind of martyrdom is that? Ten spikes, more or less. That seems fair, doesn’t it? Twenty, perhaps, if I’m inspired to use that many.

This year, for the third time in a row, my victim chose the spikes. For some reason, no one wants to burn anymore, or get parted out after having their limbs torn off (no sense wasting healthy body parts when there is money to be made). I do miss getting my truck involved, but the disinterest in fire does not make me unhappy at all. Communities have become so fussy about smoke in the air these days. It’s hard to burn leaves or tires anymore, never mind humans.

And by the way, just to prove that I’m not some evangelical nut, please note that on Presidents Day, I celebrate the assassination of our greatest President, Abraham Lincoln. I go out and find some tall, ugly guy, and take the part of John Wilkes Booth myself, of course.

This year’s Saint Valentine was Josh, a popular and active fellow on the Web. Tweeted like a madman. Lived in the San Francisco area, which pleased me. I flew out two days early. Found his condo complex down on the Peninsula, by the San Francisco Bay. The ungated community was a hive of social activity. I kept track of Josh with ease. There were always people hanging around him. I don’t know how he maintained his Internet presence because he seemed to spend all of his time squiring women about and drinking in upscale bars and putting in time at the gym and the racquetball courts. Most of the women appeared to be married. Not to Josh. He looked smooth and cool. I couldn’t see into his soul but I could watch his expression change when he turned away from those he was charming. He was as crazy as me. Not that I’m crazy, per se, but that list of martyrs I have to my credit might make me look that way.

I didn’t see the sun once from the time I arrived in California to the time I chloroformed Josh. No rain fell, but a low winter marine layer blanketed the sky. The temperature invited sweatshirts but not jackets; then a chill would slide in through the fleece fibers and made my skin thicken with goosebumps. I could smell the Bay and I felt like a seagull sitting on a piling, waiting to swoop down on a scrap of garbage. In this case, Josh.

The hours passed and gaps would open in the gray floor of clouds, light spilling through with pale blue sky behind it, reminding me that the world is gray and heaven is not. Then the gaps would close, cutting me off from the radiant day hidden above. God likes to show us how small we are. When the clouds fill in and cover the sky while you watch, God is closing the bedroom door in your face and going out somewhere to have fun while you, the little kid, are left home to cry yourself to sleep in your bed, alone and frightened out of your wits . When God is at home, drunk, it’s no picnic, but it’s better than spending the night afraid of the dark.

I snatched Josh and secured him with ease. He took it badly. I hope that no saint, especially one of the Valentine persuasion, blubbered like Josh did. Getting him to chose his method of execution (spikes again), was a major pain. Valentine’s Day is supposed to be fun, not a grind!

“Why me?” Josh would say. “You’re the holy man. You should be the martyr.”

I chuckled.

“I wouldn’t presume,” I said. “I’m not worthy in the least. You are. You’re vain, immodest, a fornicator, wealthy. You’re perfect. Providing that you repent first, of course.”

“Well, I won’t!”

The sweat ran off him. He was as vulnerable as it is possible for a human being to be, and he knew it. The storage locker was bare. I had a gag ready, but Josh kept his voice down.

“Listen, Josh,” I said. “We can’t martyr you until you repent. Say the word and I’ll go get your Saint outfit and the spikes. We’ll have you sitting on the right hand of God before dinner time.”

“I take it back. I don’t want to be impaled.”

“I’ll tear you into quarters if you want, but I’m not going to burn you. Immolation is a royal pain in the neck.”

“No, I don’t want to be killed at all. I won’t repent.”

It took a while, but he did repent. Still in one piece, too, minus some blood.

When I went out to my truck to get the necessaries, a complication arose. Someone knocked me out. When I came to, I was handcuffed to the pipe in the storage area, and Josh was standing in front of me.

There was a light in his eyes and it wasn’t a holy one.

“Ouch,” I said. “What happened?”

“A private detective was following me,” Josh said. “A suspicious husband hired him. Before he could get the camera shots he wanted of Beth and me in bed, he noticed you lurking about. He thought you were another detective. When you jumped me, he knocked you out and brought you to me.”

“Why?” I said.

“So I could buy him off, which I did. He’ll report to the husband that there’s no need for concern. He left you to me.”

“Did you buy him off before or after he let you go?”

“Hey, I’m not proud. I grovelled and pleaded and promised him the moon. I can afford it. I please a lot of wealthy women. He let me go and cuffed you to the pipe instead of me.”

My hands were numb. The back of my head throbbed.

“Here’s the good news,” Josh said. “I’m going to go clean up and visit your truck.Than I’m going to come back and we’ll celebrate the day, Mister Saint Valentine.”

“I won’t repent” I said.

“That’s OK,” Josh said. “I’m not Orthodox. You can decide which Saint Valentine you want to be and I’ll send you off just as you are, sinful and all.”

I decided who I would be before he got out of the room, although I didn’t tell him so. I’m going with the fire. Hieromartyr Saint Valentine, Bishop of Interamna. Let this jerk find out for himself what a hassle it is trying to burn a 250-pound man to death.

2 Responses

  1. Dexter gets Dextered?

  2. What a hopeless romantic you are! Would you please NEVER be my Valentine??

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