LISTEN TO SAM HERE:
The space aliens were tired and grumpy and needing a place to land. They had traveled millions of light years and needed to stretch their legs. Wally desperately needed to use a bathroom. They were also lost and needed to get directions.
As luck would have it they stumbled on the planet Htrae and settled down on a nation called Acirema – to the relief of all, especially Wally. The creatures on the planet were hospitable by and large. The people had a difficult language that required nearly an hour before they could speak it fluently. The customs were more challenging. They learned, for example, that it was social courtesy to buy something in a mini-mart if you used the bathroom.
This put them in a bit of a spot. They naturally did not wish to offend but the clerk did not recognize their Universe Plus or Comic credit buttons. They were hungry and had planned on being home for dinner so they had not packed anything and the smell of the foods was exotic and attractive to them, especially the burritos under the infrared heaters.
Now here was the peculiar answer to their quandary. Outside Chip and Ben were shoveling out the slag from the reactor and were about to put it in the dumpster when an Acireman pulled up in a vehicle that ran on wheels and hurried over to them. He seemed focused on the slag and told them excitedly that it had value to them. In fact, he gave them some of their currency in exchange for it. So that’s how the guys were able to have dinner.
As they studied the currency they found something very interesting, the words, “In Sam we trust.” Naturally they were curious. They asked the clerk who Sam was and how it was that Aciremans trusted in him. The clerk avoided the subject which only made them more curious.
Ben speculated that the picture of the man on the foil was Sam. But Wally said that couldn’t be because on other foils they had different pictures. Chip postulated that Sam was the currency itself because they noticed the Aciremans put much confidence in it. I guess they suddenly snapped into cultural awareness mode. They determined to find out who Sam was before they headed home. They had already gotten directions, by the way.
They attempted to inquire of the local creatures about Sam but received odd answers that only peeked their interest; “My faith is a very personal thing. I don’t talk about it.” “I used to believe in Sam until my child died.” “Sam is a myth our people are about to retire.” They overheard some say things like “Sam damn it” or “Sam bless you.” “Whoever Sam is, the creatures here must seek his power to bring trouble or happiness”, said Ben.
They decided to go to a center of education and came upon a school for young Aciremans. The timing could not have been more perfect . They walked into a pod of Juveniles with hands on their cardia and reciting a pledge to their banner . All three of the guys elbowed one another when they heard the children say, “One nation under Sam.” You can imagine how eager the guys were. They knew they would get their answers here!
Unfortunately they were in for disappointment. When they asked who Sam was and how the Aciremans went about trusting him the principle seemed totally stymied. He said, “We don’t talk about Sam her. This is a public school.”
I won’t belabor the discussion. It actually wasn’t very long. The instructor said it was illegal to talk about Sam and he was afraid of litigation if he did. Of course the guys were amazed. The children’s pledge would indicate that Sam was someone to be trusted but the educators were not allowed to share with the students who Sam was, how he might be known and how to go about trusting in him. Naturally it seemed crazy.
The space aliens were appalled. It was like all their enzymes fell out of their accelerators. They saw that the the Aciremans had intelligence for building mini-marts but somehow lost it all in dealing with Sam. Actually their quest for learning about Sam lost all momentum because of their amazement with the inconsistency.
Ben sarcastically said, “These people must be schizophrenic.” Wally corrected, “You mean bi-polar.” “At any rate”, said Chip,” it makes no sense to refer to Sam in currency, pledges and historical recording devises but not be allowed to talk about him.” Ben said, “It’s kind of like jerking your tractor beam. You say on the one hand that you should trust in Sam, and be under Sam, but you say to young inquiring minds, ‘We can’t tell you about Sam.””
In one last attempt they approached a professor of history who told them that in the nation’s heyday many had believed and followed Sam. But her words seemed old and dusty. They did get an answer however. Sam, according to history, was the Creator! He was reputed to be good but He had set standards that today were avoided. In fact Sam had fallen on hard times. Although most of the creatures there liked the idea of being blessed by a passive, benevolent power, they did not like the idea of being ultimately accountable to Sam as an evaluator.
It was late and Ben needed to get home because he worked early next morning. Chip, Ben and Wally left the planet rather disappointed in the Aciremans, but stimulated about Sam. They reasoned that they too were creatures so must have a Creator. Was His name Sam? Was He knowable? And was he to be trusted?
As it turned out they had an animated conversation all the way home.
Many of you have read “Sam” before. I am putting it out again because I am looking for an illustrator. I am also looking for people that might be willing to publish it. Suggestions are welcome!
Steven C Johnson