Editor’s Note – January-February 2023

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Posted: Jan 11, 2023

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The Bellringer

After Quasimodo’s death, the bishop of the Cathedral of Notre Dame sent word far and wide that a new bellringer was needed. He decided to conduct the interviews in the belfry.

Only one person applied for the job – an armless vagrant man with no name. The incredulous bishop said, “I don’t think we’ll be able to hire you. You have no arms with which to ring the bell. A bellringer must have arms in order to pull the rope that moves the bell into the clapper.”

“Sir, please. My father was a bellringer, and my grandfather was a bellringer. It is my destiny toring the bells. Observe – and listen.” The man threw himself face-first at one bell, then another, then a third, and he continued for what must have been a minute or more. What emerged was the purest, most beautiful tones the bishop had ever heard. When the man stopped, he shook his head, as if to clear it, and looked at the bishop whose astonishment was obvious. He knew he had found a suitable replacement for Quasimodo.

The bishop happily awarded the bellringer position to the man, who played the bells dutifully and beautifully for two weeks. Then a terrible thing happened. After ringing the bells beautifully as he always did, while shaking his head to clear it, the man became dizzy. He stumbled, tripped, and plunged out the belfry window to his death.

When the stunned bishop reached the street, a crowd had gathered around the fallen figure, drawn by the beautiful music they had heard only moments before. An old man sitting on a bench asked, “Bishop, who was this man?” “I don’t know his name,” the bishop replied sadly, “but his face rings a bell.”

Once again, the bishop sent out the word – a new bellringer was needed. The very next day, another man with no arms came to the church and said, “I am the twin brother of the poor, armless wretch who fell to his death from this very belfry yesterday. I pray that you honor his life by allowing me to replace him in this duty.”

The bishop agreed to give the man an audition, and his talent proved to be just as great as that of his brother. The bishop hired him on the spot. And the added benefit was that no other interviews would be necessary. The man served the church for only six days, when, after ringing the bells with his face, one bell swung back and knocked the man out of the tower onto the cobblestone below. The same old man was sitting on the same bench below the tower, and when the bishop ran out and saw the carnage, the man asked, “Did you know him?”  “Not well,” said the distraught bishop, “but he’s a dead ringer for his brother.”

Picture 3 goes with this piece.

CIA Assassin

A few months ago, there was an opening with the CIA for an assassin. These highly classified positions are hard to fill, and there’s a lot of testing and background checks involved before you can even be considered for the position. After sending some applicants through the background checks, training, and testing, they narrowed the possible choices down to 2 men and a woman, but only one position was available.

The day came for the final test to see which person would get the extremely secretive job. The CIA men administering the test took one of the men to a large metal door and handed him a gun. We must know that you will follow your instructions no matter what the circumstances,” they explained. “Inside this room, you will find your wife sitting in a chair. Take this gun and kill her.”

The man got a shocked look on his face and said, “You can’t be serious! I could never shoot my own wife!”

“Well,” said the CIA man, “then you’re definitely not the right man for this job.”

Then they brought the second man to the same door and handed him a gun. “We must know that you will follow instructions no matter what the circumstances,” they explained to him. “Inside you will find your wife sitting in a chair. Take this gun and kill her.”

The second man looked a bit shocked, but nevertheless took the gun and went in the room. All was quiet for about 5 minutes, then the door opened. The man came out of the room with tears in his eyes. “I tried to shoot her, I just couldn’t pull the trigger and shoot my wife. I guess I’m not the right man for the job.”

“No,” the CIA man replied. “You don’t have what it takes. Take your wife and go home.”

Only the woman was left to test. They led her to the same door to the same room and handed her the same gun. “We must be sure that you will follow instructions no matter what the circumstances. This is your final test. Inside you will find your husband sitting in a chair. Take this gun and kill him.”

The woman took the gun and opened the door. Before the door even closed all the way, the CIA men heard the gun start firing. One shot after another for 13 shots. They heard screaming, crashing, banging on the walls. This went on for several minutes, then all went quiet. The door opened slowly, and there stood the woman. She wiped the sweat from her brow and said, “You guys didn’t tell me that the gun was loaded with blanks, so I had to beat him to death with the chair!”

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