The Alternative Sweetheart
(In Hell Time Man)

by Gulliver J. Bloyband


A cock is crowing far away,
Another soldiers deep in prayer,
Some mother’s child has gone astray
She can’t find him anywhere

It sure was a cool day in hell that day the High Roller came down. Things had been so hot for so long. This guy on earth - this High Roller had given us all so much trouble. In the end the boss had to move on up there to put things right. He sought the guy out, made him all sorts of offers no-one could refuse. When the boss came back, things just got hotter and we had to work twice as hard. 

I heard the boss and Jake talking about this guy. He was "special" so they said, came from the High Place. I remember hearing about that Place once a long time ago when I lived up there on earth. Rules and regulations were too tight for me to get there though, seems I should have kept away from Ronnie and her mother. Doesn’t matter a thing to me now, I've got used to it down here. I just wish it wasn’t so damn hot at times, and we didn’t have to work so hard. 

Jake told me about this guy - a "mighty High Roller" Jake called him. He said the boss was worried about him. I’d never known the boss to be worried before, it scared the shit out of me just thinking about it. Jake said we would all be for it if this guy got his way ‘cos he could cause trouble for all of us. The boss was going to have to do something really wild to put things right. I kept my mouth shut about it, I’ve seen too many guys down here who talked too much. One day they’re on the line shouting their mouths off about how they’re gonna get out one day, then ya never see them again. Anyway I didn’t see what difference it made to us if the guy was so special, he’s up there and we’re down here. It just made the boss mad that’s all, so we had to work harder and it got hotter. 

Then one Friday, I heard Jake and the boss laughing. I was just hanging out by Jake’s rooms when the boss came out. "Mick’s never gonna believe it," I heard the boss say. "I'm leavin' right away to tell him. Look after things down here."
I was just hanging around finishing the garbage when Jake came out.
"Hey Jake!" I called over. "Boss seems happy."
"Yep," called Jake back. "We've made it real big this time. Tell the guys on the line to turn the pressure real down. The boss is leaving for a while. He’s gone North, boasting!"
I ambled over towards Jake. "Hey Jake, you know I'm not a nosey kind of guy, but what’s been going on?"

Jake must have liked me or he was in a good mood or somethin' cos he took me into his rooms and told me the whole story. Seems like the boss had been thrown out of some big syndicate a long time ago when he tried to take over that ring. Jake said that there had been a war going on ever since with the boss and the Head Man of that ring. The boss was banished down here and the Head Man is still living up there in that High Place where he manages things. According to the Head Man, the boss had been getting his own way a bit too much lately so this Mighty High Roller was sent down to sort things out. But the Roller had decided to switch sides, he’d split from his Head Man and was gonna take a big command down here. 

"So the boss is shootin’ up the town tonight," laughed Jake. "All them big cheeses up there’s gonna have one helluva party. He put on his best reds and sure left here in style. Did ya see that?"
"Na, I didn't see it," I said.
I liked Jake, he was a pretty important guy too. They say he ran the numbers of over 100 girls up there. I sure was lucky to get to empty his garbage. 




So things were pretty cool the day the High Roller came down. The first thing I remember about him was his scarlet robe and the thing that he wore on his head, some pretty cute hat. As Jake took the hat off the Rollers head, that son-of-a-bitch smiled that first smile that made me shake. 

Just seeing that smile for the first time, I knew he was different and that he shouldn’t have been down here. He kinda reminded me of this guy I knew up on earth when I was a kid, no matter what you did to him, how hard you kicked him, he just sat there and smiled. He got under your skin ‘cos you couldn’t hurt him, nothing you could say or do would hurt him. This High Roller reminded me of that guy I knew when I was a kid. 

I got to wonder what this guy had done to make him so important. How many girls were in his stack up there, what were his numbers? I could have been fixed up pretty good once. Ronnie said her girls would switch over to me. I would’ve made the five, just had to get rid of her parasite mother. But the bitch wouldn’t let go, and it all turned out wrong. It’s no good being small fry down here, you gotta do something really big to get a good place. 

There's always a lot of garbage on Saturdays so I got to Jakes rooms early. Jake was waiting by the door. "Hi. Jake," I called. "Hey that High Roller is one weird guy."
"What's that?" said Jake.
"Did you see him smile? No-one smiles like that down here. Makes me wonder what he’s doin' in a dump like this. Did he run a lot of girls up there? " 

For some reason Jake just got so mad. "Shut your mouth boy," he shouted.
"Just clean up the garbage and get outta here."
He must have felt really mean 'cos he kicked over two containers and sent the rats flying. He was so mad, he just walked off and slammed shut his door.

I was cleaning up the mess when I felt this hand on my shoulder. I turned round and it was that High Roller, smiling that son-of-a-bitch smile at me. His voice was smooth as silk. "Don't worry my son. He didn't mean it. Let me help you." 

Talk like that scares the shit out of me. No-one talks like that down here. It was lucky for me that Jake came to the door and told the Roller to get inside with him. It was lucky for me he didn't have time to help me.
It was a nice day so I stuck around by Jakes rooms. His windows were open and I heard him talking to the High Roller. Seemed that he was tryin' to warn the Roller about gettin' too cock-sure of himself. Jake told him that you had to be a pretty important person to be here anyway. That he’d have to watch his back the whole time 'cos some of the guys down here would get mighty jealous but if he did things right he could become a big noise. I tried to hear what the Roller said in that voice as smooth as silk, but Jake was just doin' all the talkin', the Roller didn't get a chance.

When I walked back to the line, one of the guys asked me where I’d been. I just said "Jakes." I didn't tell him about how the Roller spoke or how he wanted to help me. I didn't tell him that I thought it still meant big trouble and that I was just wondering how a guy like that came to be down here.




It stayed pretty cool the whole time that the boss was away. But as I went to get the garbage on the third day, things were mighty different at Jakes rooms. The place had already been cleaned up and the air was different. It was a totally bad scene that I found there. Jake, together with two Dirty Aces from the other line, were sitting on the scorched ground and the High Roller, wearing his scarlet robe, was talking to them in that lousy silk smooth voice:
"You have heard that it was said, "Eye for eye, and tooth for tooth" but I tell you, do not resist an evil person. If someone strikes you on the right cheek, turn to him the other also. And if someone wants to sue you and take your tunic, let him have your cloak as well. If someone forces you to go one mile, go with him two miles. Give to the one who asks you, and do not turn away from the one who wants to borrow from you."

Then one of the Dirty Aces asked the Roller what it was like in that High Place.
"It is like a treasure hidden in a field," the Roller replied. "When a man found it, he hid it again, and then in his joy went and sold all he had and bought that very field. It is like a merchant looking for fine pearls. When he found one of great value, he went away and sold everything he had and bought that very pearl. There will be found such treasure and such pearls."

I watched Jake totally out of his head. It was scary, I just wished the boss would come back. 

"But we could never get there," I heard Jake say. 

"Now," said the Roller. "In my fathers house there are many rooms. Each one of them is protected from the heat and flame you feel here. Just believe in what I say and you will be with me in that land of permanent bliss, for it is just one step away from here."
That was sure enough for me. I ran, man did I run. I got straight back into the line, worked harder that day for the boss than I ever did before.

Things just got hotter when the boss came back. He was madder than I've ever known him. The High Roller, Jake and the Dirty Aces had split, news came down the line that they’d squealed some of the bosses secret plans on how he was gonna win this fight. Since then he's been training some big guy who's gonna get up north for some revenge. 

I just kept my mouth shut about what I saw. I still empty the garbage but things are hotting up so fast these days, there’s never any time to stop and think. That High Place sure did sound nice though.

I live in another world,
Where life and death are memorized …
All I feel is heat and flame
And all I see are dark eyes

Signs on the windows 

The following links will take you to further pages mentioned in this article. Additional information is provided by reference to further links mentioned below. 

The lyrics to "Sweetheart Like You" can be found here.

The official site for Mel Gibson’s The Passion of the Christ can be found here.

Some further brilliant images of the Passion can be found here

Play extract from "Sweetheart Like You" (mp3 160 Kbps).