Cult of the Magic Cup
By: David K. Montoya
In a teacher's lounge found at James Christopher Preparatory Academy in Southern California, the smell of coffee wafted across the open space. Sylvester Styles, an English teacher there for the school walked into the building and found his fellow co-workers stumbling around like zombies taken directly from a George A. Romero flick.
Styles found his best friend, Stanley Masters, a PE Instructor turned Math Teacher lounging in the far corner of the room, appearing half dead himself. Stan used to be the picture perfect specimen of physical fitness, but now, as a math teacher, he had gained at least one hundred or so pounds.
Sylvester stood in front of his friend for quite a few moment, without being noticed. Stan's eyes were glazed over, the term soulless popped into Styles' mind. Stan was a lady's man, great body, full head of hair, drove a red sportster and lived in a large bachelor's pad. But, his problem was that he blew through money like there was no tomorrow, hence the reason in changing to the mathematics department.
Masters thought that if he got his degree in Mathematics and transferred there, that he'd receive a hefty pay raise. But what he did not figure into the equation was how much time it would take to prep a plan for the semester and just how much time it took to grade the student's papers.
Almost immediately Stan realized that he would have to alter his personal routine, just to make time to grade papers. So at first he decided to go to the gym during the evening right after he finished grading. Initially it worked, but he was tired all the time and it wasn't until his doctor told him that fours hours of sleep a day was not enough.
Then, he began going to the gym a couple hours before class started, but always found himself shorting himself on timeif he did do his full workout routine, he found himself rushing to work hoping not to be late. After that, Stan decided to just workout only on weekends and that lasted for only about a month.
Sylvester reached over and slapped Stan's knee which brought him back from his haze.
"Huh," was the only thing that Stan's brain produced as a response.
"Stanley, what is your problem?" Sylvester said as he took a seat next to his friend.
"I'm just blah, bro." Stan paused for a moment, and then continued with, "I have nothing to live for... No direction. If only I could get a sign from above."
"Wait. What? I thought you didn't believe in a God being?"
"At this point, Sly, I'm open to anything."
Sylvester was at a loss for words for his friend.
"I'm just tired," Stan mumbled to himself.
"Well, that I can help you with," Sylvester exclaimed. He reached into his brown leather book bag that rested at his feet. He flipped back the flap, and removed a polished metal thermos lined with black rubber at the top, middle and bottom for more insulation. "Here try this!"
Sylvester handed Stan the container and raised from the chair to being his exit.
"What's this?" Stan asked in a monotone pitch.
Sylvester stopped and glanced down at his friend, with an unamused expression.
"It's a magical cup, drink from it and it will give you strength and health."
"Re-really," asked Sylvester in complete amazement.
"What do you think?" He replied and slung his book bag over his shoulder and walked away from Stan.
The next for mornings Sylvester brought his buddy a fresh brew, and at the end of the day Stan would return the thermos. Styles noticed that his friend was slowly coming back to life, and by the end of that week, Sylvester topped off a fresh brew and gave it to Masters to keep.
Sylvester never saw Stan after that final encounter. A week later the school was on Summer Vacation, and while he attempted to text message his friend, Stan never responded back. When Sly got back to school, he was shocked to learn that Stan had quit the school district to follow a new calling in his life.
Sylvester was sad to see his friend go, but he was pleased to learn that Stan had direction again. But like anything in life, time waits for no man, and Sylvester moved on with his life; and eventually forgot about his friend Stanley Masters.
Sly would continue on for the new academic year, and even learned that he would become the school's new Vice Principle. Like anything, the new adventure in his life was exciting, nerve wracking and exquisite. But by the year's end, only half finished as academics were concerned, Sylvester became uninterested in his new job.
As a person Sylvester Styles, was outgoing and was a people person, but as the school's new Vice Principle he was the complete opposite. His was locked down, isolated in his small office sifting through mindless paperwork. He contemplated about going back to his teaching job, but the payday was enough of a difference to keep him in the position he held.
It was during the school's winter break, Sylvester received an odd invitation in his mail box. It was a yellow 3X5 postcard with red writing, at the top was a circle and placed in the centre was a drawing of a coffee thermos with a halo which floated above it and beneath it was the initials CCM.
Below the logo more aligned in the centre was the actual body of the card which read:
Starts time: 6:00 pm at the CMC Centre � Gates open at 5:45pm
HOPE TO SEE YOU THERE!
Sylvester sat down at his desk, and stared at the invite. Was this a joke, he though? Then a weird reality hit him, that it was one hundred percent real, Stan was not that sort of prankster and unless it was on a women he was trying to sleep with, he was the biggest tightwad Sylvester ever knew.
He turn to his laptop which rested atop his desk and looked up Church of the Magic Cup. Sly was somewhat surprised to find out that his friend and former co-worker, Stanley Masters, had in fact, created a church that worshiped some sort of magic thermos. The thing that boggled his mind was that the church's social media page had over 35,000 members and was listed in an article as the fastest growing church in California.
Even though Sly wasn't a person of faith, he knew it was a calling from another realm for him to be at that Wednesday's service.
That Wednesday, Sylvester found himself in a long line to get inside the huge Church of the Magic Cup Center, he scanned the areathere was a person from every walk of life. Rich, poor, black, white, man and woman. "He's certainly done well for himself," Sly said to himself.
Sylvester noted that no one had any sort of tome, like a Bible, or Quran or Nostradamus' Quatrains. They all appeared to be just standing around chitchatting with the people in line with them. Sly turned around when he heard, "Get your genuine holy cup replica! Get your holy cup right here, folks! Only thirty dollars!"
What the Hell, Sylvester thought to himself; he watched people as they forked over cash for what appeared to be a plain metal thermos. Finally the salesman reached Sly, without a word said, Sly lifted one finger and the salesman removed a polished metal thermos lined with black rubber at the top, middle and bottom for more insulation. With a quick exchange of three ten dollar bills for the container, the salesman walked away.
Sylvester held up the stainless steel thermos to examine the contents he paid thirty bucks for. It was indeed a plain container, nothing fancy or markings for that matter, but he noticed that it had the same logo for the church that was on the invitation, on the bottom.
After an hour later of standing in line, Sylvester finally reached the front of the line where a man who was almost half Sly's height stood in the door way, holding a tablet.
"Good evening, sir, may I have your invitation please," the man who stood at the entrance way asked. Sylvester handed the yellow postcard over, the guy looked at the paper and his face contorted for a moment.
The man looked up from his tablet wide eyed and said, "The Prophet is personally expecting your presence."
"The Prophet?" Sylvester asked.
"Yes sir. Please head to your left, those men will take you to the Prophet."
A short time later, Sylvester was lead to an over-sized wooden double door with a large star in the center (half on one side of the door and the other part of the star on the opposing door) that read:
"The Prophet is just behind those door," one of the men stammered and both quickly exited with a hint of fear in there words. "All HAIL the Magic Cup!"
"That was odd," Sly said and pushed the double doors open to find Stanley Masters, the man now known as the Prophet in the center of a large room. He was dressed in what can only be described as a top-end purple and gold Pope's Halloween costume that had been customized with Church's logo instead of the cross.
"Oh hail to the mighty cup! Sylvester! My friend!" Stan said, then walked over to his former co-worker and acquaintance. He paused for a moment, then place both hands on Sylvester's shoulder. Sly saw the weight of the world in the Prophet's eyes, but made a mental note that Stan looked physically fit, like back when he taught PE Class. "I really need your help."
"Oh course, you in some sort trouble?" Sylvester asked.
"You can say that, Sly," said the Prophet. He removed his hand from Sylvester's shoulder and walked over to an overstuffed sofa and plopped down. "The Magic Cup is angry with me?"
"Wait. What? I don't understand."
"All right let me start from the beginning," Stan said and shifted on the large, plump cushions getting ready for a long story. "After the first time you allowed me to drink from the Magic Cup, I felt so much better. By the end of the second day I realized that I needed to consume the blessed content inside in moderation."
"You mean the cof"
Stan interrupted, and said, "Please let me finish, okay?"
"Uh, okay, Stan," Sly said softly.
"Thank you. Okay, as I was saying, I would only drink about a quarter of the blessed content and save the rest. Over the break," he took a breath, then continued, "I felt the need to share the glorious power of the Magic Cup. So I gave a small cup to Curtis."
"Curtis? The custodian," Sylvester blurted out.
Stanley gave Sylvester as tough look, for interrupting.
"Yeah, him�" Stan paused and waited for Sylvester to respond, but when he did not the Prophet continued, "It was Curtis who persuaded me to start the Church. Over the break we went door-to-door witnessing about the amazing power of the holy Magic Cup. We got some one ounce cups and shared it with the people that allowed us to witness to."
Stan removed the large purple and gold hat, and used the back of his hand to wipe away the sweat.
"Half way through the break, we had almost one thousand followers in the Church. We started meeting up at a converted storage unit, but by the time it way time to go back to work the Church had gained almost $500,000 in tithes and offerings alone. That's not even counting the monies that we got from donations, I think that was around an eighth of a Million dollars."
"So, you're rich?"
"No! No! No! The Church is rich, I'm just the Magic Cup's messenger." Stan said. "So a week before the break ended, and for us to go back to workI quit working at the school and started the ministry full-time, and have been the Prophet of the Magic Cup ever since."
"So what's the trouble you're in?"
"Well, I didn't want to be greedy with the power of the magic cup and I took the last bit of its substance and had it synthesized into a mass quantity for my congregation to partake in," Stan stood from the sofa and walked over to a podium which held the stainless steel thermos that Sylvester had given him all that time ago. It sat atop a plump, purple pillow with gold trim and matching tassels which hung from each corner of the cushion, and encased beneath a thick glass case.
Stan ran his index finger around the rim of the glass case, and said, "It stopped working Sly. The substance lost it's magic power and I need you to tell me why? 35,000 people are expecting communion tonight, and if they don't have the same experience it could crush the church!"
Sylvester smiled inwardly.
"I can help you for the right price, Stan," Sly said, now with a visible smile.
Stan was transfixed on the thermos as he spoke, "Name it, Sylvester, without you there would be no church. Name your price."
"I was ten percent of the church and to be put on payroll with an equal cut of it�s weekly income."
"Done." Stan quickly said. He walked back over to Sylvester and asked, "What is the answer to my dilemma, Bishop Styles?"
"Did you think about doubling the size of the cups, including your intake?" Stan tilt his head in confusion.
"No. No I haven't. Why would doubling the size help?" Stan asked with a nervous quiver to his voice.
Sylvester began to chuckle and slapped Stan on the back and said, "Because Stan, the cup wasn't really magic, it was only coffee inside."