Literary Journal – Fall 2016

The Other Ten Commandments

By Meredith Betz

There was a pall called listlessness that draped over Allerton Point, Massachusetts. No one in town could imagine anything different. Legend had it that over one hundred and fifty years ago, there was a terrible tragedy, so heinous a crime, that the town went into permanent shock.

There were generations of pleasant joylessness. That is, unless you had spent any time away from the Point. Sure, everyone appreciated the prettiness of the sea, but recognized it as if they were looking at a photograph, a surrogate to the real thing. They missed the relentless beauty of the ocean, the briny mist, the bursts of Prussian blue hydrangeas, the lavender swathes of seagrass and heather dressing the dunes.

I was used to the real thing having spent my early years in Providence. We moved to Allerton Point in 1964. I met Sam and Eli that summer when I joined them as a lifeguard on South Beach. Sam and I lived on Blair Lane in drab Victorian houses that had seen better days. Eli lived in a mansion overlooking the sea on Waverly Boulevard. Sam and I went to high school together.

Eli went to prep school. Imagine a blond haired, blue-eyed guy with Ralph Lauren taste. That was Eli. Every mother wished her daughter would bring Eli home for dinner. I was a puny acned-nerd. The sensitive kind. A life guard by day, artist by night.

Sam, who was full of life was the beacon of light in a drab and listless town. He was tall and buff, yet there was something about him that was extraordinarily compassionate. Even now, despite being fifty-nine, he worked out every day without fail. He was an art aficionado with tattoos for a shirt. He wore his burnt umber curly hair in a ponytail.

Everyone liked Sam…except Luke, the creepy kid who lived on Helen Lane.  He had a dark menacing look that today we would call “goth.” No one could figure out why he didn’t like Sam and they didn’t like Luke one bit. We all were relieved when he moved away. Salem, I think.

Allerton Point was one dimensional, but not for Eli, Sam and me who had the misfortune of being drafted and sent to Vietnam. Ours was an ocean of, pain, anger and sorrow. I can’t tell you why we returned to Allerton Point after the war. Maybe it was because we had so much of grief and loss too sharp to bear.  For a while, we welcomed the numbness of the town. It was respite from the real. We got used to it and stayed.

Then Delia came to town.

There was a remarkably foreign look about her. She had ebony corkscrew hair that framed a pallid face, a sculpted visage with high cheekbones that would have been the envy of any Cosmo cover girl. Her raspberry lips were full and pouting. She had ice-blue eyes, yet strangely enough, hazel rings circled her pupils. She had a kind of exotic beauty; not the kind you were drawn to, but the kind that made you chilly just looking at her.

To Sam, though, she was “hot.” He was in love with Delia from the beginning. They moved in together one month after her arrival.

It took very little time to figure out that Delia was a little strange, often seen walking from the grocery store, library or book shop talking to herself. At the library she would browse Webster’s unabridged for hours. I once saw her with manicure scissors clipping out words and surreptitiously placing them into an envelope. No one else seemed to notice.

Nevertheless, Delia began to fit in just nicely into life at Allerton Point, probably because her talent made her an asset to the community. She was a master gardener. In fact, she soon became known as the best in the county. Her house had been on the garden tour forever. It was an English garden, with plotted perennials and espaliered pear trees along a white picket fence. Old fashioned crimson holly hocks dressed up a magenta trellis.

She made it a point to volunteer her time to ordinary town projects. There were competitions like who could design the best hanging basket, herb garden or street triangle.  They all wanted Delia on their team. But it was the solo projects she loved most. She was the creator, the beginning and the end, of living art.

One day, after having her fill of sharing the glory with others, she came up with a new project, so original, so daring, that everyone started to think she really was nuts.  She would plant the cemetery with perennials and shrubs at every grave. The graves would be her inspiration for planting specific plants in specific places.

Sam was the only one in town, next to me, who knew that she was more than just nuts …kind of twisted …with her weird word scrambles for everything. Her crazy invented vocabulary that was not English or French or German or Martianese confirmed she was off her rocker. Sam and I were the only ones who understood her genius. Whatever Delia was up to, guaranteed it would be unpredictable.

That spring Delia began her cemetery project. She planned to begin on the North Jefferson Street entrance and would finish at the South Washington Boulevard exit. She entered the cemetery, with her trowel, manicure scissors, baggie and Sam’s Allerton High sweatshirt stuffed into a green canvas backpack.

Along the way, she gave the most scornful looks at the day-old gladiolas and carnations crammed in cardboard “vases” on the freshest graves. “Gladiolifias and carnartaci should be extinctulated,” Delia remarked.

She began her work at a World War I gravestone. Kneeling on the ground, she began to read the inscription on the lichened limestone: General Uriah Salem. She was distracted by a corps of ants invading a vertical crack a third of the way up the memorial. She took out a baggie from her pack and, with bare hands, scooped up the ants and threw them inside.

A man’s voice jarred her from her work.  “You new here?” he inquired.

Yes, as a matter of fact, I just arrived.”  Delia answered.

“Well, I’ll tell you this,” the voice exclaimed. “You’ve got a grave-load of stories in this place.”

He went on, “I like to think of the stones as tablets, you know, like the kind that Moses brought down from the mountain. We residents have taken it upon ourselves to create our own commandments, so to speak.

Take this gravestone for example.”

Commandment Number One: “Thou shalt not do what you can for your country if your country does squat for you.”

“I don’t think that’s what the first commandment says.”  Delia replied.

The voice stepped out from behind a stone. It belonged to what Delia determined could only be a man-wraith, a see-through figure in what used to be a white t-shirt and Levis.

“It means…that you can die for your country if you want. But if you think there’s something in it for you, think again.”

“Well, by the size of his stone, I guess you could say that he was honorified. Isn’t that something?” she insisted.

“Say what?” said the ghost.

Delia decided that she would plant red, white and blue lodeliobas on the grave.

“It’s like this guy over here. Poor sucker,” he continued pointing to a small gravestone not far away.

Commandment Number Two.  “If you screw around with your best friend’s wife, you’re screwed.” 

He pointed to his forehead.  “That’s right…one bullet to the head and here I am.”

“I’m sorry to hear that.  May I say that you were revengalized?” Delia quipped.

“Are you crazy?????” the ghost retorted.

Netllifolia will do very nicely for your grave,” she said.

With that, she put another spoonful of earth from the ghost’s grave into the baggie.

Delia decided to ignore her companion and walked over to a cluster of small grave markers. From the center of the graves, a statue of a protecting angel holding a sword in one hand watched over them. She read the inscriptions on the markers.

Joseph, 1846– 1846; Elizabeth, 1847—1847; Deborah, 1848 -1848; Ruth, 1850-1854; Mary Endicott, Mother 1826—1859; Father Ezra Endicott, 1820-1920

“How very sad to have lost all of your children before they were even four years old!” Delia exclaimed.

He was behind her.

“You think so, huh?  This babe knocked off her children, one by one.”

“That’s impossible,” Delia shook her head.

“You ever heard of munch, munchhouse?” he asked.

Delia was familiar with the term. “You mean Munchausen’s, the disease that causes mothers to want to make their children sick so they could seem like heroines when the kids got better?”

“Whatever. Well, this mother was on steroids with the whatever you call it. Dispatched the kids before they had any chance of getting better,” the wraith exclaimed.

“Yeah, and not only that, I heard she was cheating on her husband with one of those Allertons up there.”

He pointed to a bleak granite structure with fluted columns and black iron gate. See that pyramid with the ball on top?  That’s her final destination.”

“Commandment Number Three:  Though shalt not drink the dandelion juice.”

 Delia determined that she would plant chilelies on the graves of the children.

“Look whatever you are, I’ve had enough. Go along. I’m going home.”

When she was just a distance away, she heard him yell, “Stay away from the Angel. She’s Satan’s mistress!”

The next day, Delia crept into the cemetery, camouflaged in a grey cardigan and grey wool pants, hoping to not be seen. She began her work when she heard a voice behind a tall granite obelisk. This time, a ghost of a woman in a long white gown, greeted her.

“Good day!” I was so hoping I’d see you again. He didn’t scare you off did he?  He’s a big bully. No wonder he got it between the eyes,” the ghost said.

“Yes, I’ve determined that he was revengalized,” mocked Delia.

Delia was once again taken by her genius with words.

“That’s a good one,” said the ghost.  “I like you already.”

Delia, not wanting to be distracted from her work said, “Thank you very much, now I must be getting on.”

“Aren’t you going to ask me about my story?” the woman inquired.

“No, I really wasn’t. Goodbye.” Delia dismissed her new companion.

Just then, at the cemetery’s Jefferson entrance, she saw Reverend Lloyd in his green VW convertible with his daughter Alice on his lap, pretending to teach her to drive.

“I hope, hope, hope he didn’t see me talking to myself.  It’ll be one more person who thinks I’m nuts,” she prayed silently.

The specter went on. “Well, you’re going to hear it anyway.

“I was twenty and he was twenty-four. We were about to be married. The two of us were not traditionalists.  No ordinary church for us.

We planned an elegant wedding in a large tent in the garden and hired French country furniture for our guests and a massive Federal cupboard for a bar.  Aunt Sadie had found a lovely chandelier with hundreds of prisms and we hung it from the “ceiling” thirty feet from the top of a huge tent.

We did it all ourselves!  We were able to pull everything together in one week’s time, save the flowers. I decided to do arrangements on the day of the wedding so that they would be absolutely fresh. Yes, I admit I went a little overboard.”

Delia was getting impatient with this interminable story.

“I went to the flower market in the Boston at 6 am to buy delphinium, my favorite, roses and white phlox with ferns and English ivy.  We had found a twenty-five-foot stepladder so that I could climb up and drape the chandelier with flowers.  It was to be spectacular.”

As I stood twenty feet up on that ladder with hundred stems of delphinium in my arms, I lost my footing.  Yes, landed right in the wedding cake. The cake broke my fall, but, I landed on my head. Broke my neck. That was the end of the wedding. That was the end of me too.”

“What a ridiculous story,” Delia thought.

As if reading her mind, the ghost said, “Okay, you think I was going to tell you right off the bat that I hanged myself on the chandelier the night before?”

“You mean you suciliated yourself?” Delia half-jested.

“I guess that’s nasty way of putting it,” the almost-bride retorted.

Commandment Number Four:  Though shalt not plan a big wedding when you have no intention of going to it.” 

Delia had already decided to plant delphiatnem on the ghost’s grave. One more spoonful in the bag.

“By the way, stay away from the Angel. She’s Satan’s mistress. I know that for a fact!” Delia’s visitor warned. Her voice reverberated through the cemetery.

“I know.” Delia whispered under her breath.

Delia determined to do a little work at the Endicott plot and then be off to the Allerton mausoleum. Sam had decided he was going to make it his mission to expose Delia and her scurrilous project. He stalked her into the cemetery, beating her to the mausoleum.

(Mysteriously, Sam could see and talk to ghosts himself. Maybe that’s one of the ways that Delia and he were soul-mates.)

Elijah Allerton, was there to greet him. Sam sat on the mausoleum steps, spying on Delia.

Eli sat next to him also taking in the scene.

“Damn it Dude, why didn’t you wear a helmet?  Biking without a helmet and in a snowstorm? Death wish?” Sam said, half-complaining and half-scolding.

“D’ya have to give me the business every time you come to my place?” Eli said.

“That’s some house you have here.” Sam mocked as he hammered his fist on the granite steps.

“You could really help me find out what Delia’s doing here,” Sam insisted.

“Yeah, I’d love to know why she’s chatting it up with those two. Not the kind of person you want to hang around…believe me.” Eli shook his head.

“What the hell does ‘Watch out for the Angel’ mean anyway?”  Sam asked.

“Believe me, you don’t want to know,” Eli warned.  “Look, that crazy lady is up to something.” He pointed to Delia below.

“Hey man, watch it.  She’s my girlfriend.”  Sam always defended Delia whether she deserved it or not.

Delia was crouched over the Endicott family plot, trimming the graves with her manicure scissors and scraping limestone from each of the gravestones. Dropping the trimmings and stone chips into the baggie, she proceeded to the Allerton mausoleum.

Before Delia rounded the bend, Sam hid on the other side of the tomb.

“Oh, hello. I don’t usually receive visitors without requests to meet. But in your case, I’ll make an exception,” Eli (kind of) welcomed her.

“Thank you very much. Your house is very aristcratofilistic,” Delia replied.

Eli, quizzical at first, finally got it. “You have an unusual way of putting things, but I get your gist. Yeah, my family was a big deal in this town.”

“I’m here to decide how to improve the landscaping on the old homestead. I’m thinking that juniplias and lorelorias would be nice,” she suggested.

“Great choices. I would have gone for the junipers and mountain laurels but they may work too,” James said sarcastically. He continued, “So, I’ve been watching your little project…if that’s what you call it. What’s your deal, anyway?”

“Enough about me, what about you?” Delia insisted.

“You want to hear my sad story? I arrived here rather expectantly. You see, my “extra-curricular activity” was visiting my girlfriend Wanda. I was driving my Mercedes to the ‘other side of the tracks’ to see her. Stupidly, I drove in a snowstorm. I was so horny to hook up with Wanda that I didn’t pay attention to the flashing red lights on the tracks.  By the time I saw them….”

“You mean you were pankakified?” Delia mocked.

“What the hell is wrong with you, lady?” Eli was starting to get really annoyed.

Commandment Number Five:  Thou shalt stay on your own side of the tracks.

Delia looked up on the hill near the Richards Mausoleum. Reverend Lloyd and his daughter were cruising the upper road.

“That’s not good news for a crazy lady,” Delia said under her breath.

After she surreptitiously snatched a bit of gravel from the “front yard”, she walked in the opposite direction.

Sam emerged from his hiding place.

“She’s a freaking lunatic, right?” Eli said.

“Looks that way.”  Sam said dejectedly.

Eli said, “I sneaked up on her the other day and guess what?  She was crouching in front of that angel on the Endicott plot muttering something. Don’t know what, but by the look of her, she wasn’t really happy.”

By this time, Delia was already conversing with a ghoul named Luke leaning on a skull and bones marker.

The ghoul bent toward her, causing Delia to contort with revulsion. “Aren’t you going to ask me my story?”

“Actually, I’ve heard enough stories today, thank you. Besides, that’s not why I came.”  Delia said.

“Yeah, well, listen to this. Besides the basics that you already know, I used to be a good guy.

Clocked in an eighty-hour week.  Brought home the bacon in seven figures. Funded two loser kids who wasted it…or got wasted on it.  Put my wife in Armani and a Porsche Carrera.  She drove her butch girlfriend to the Cape when I wasn’t around, which was most of the time.

“Excuse me, but please refrain from referring to lesbians as butch,” Delia protested.

“Whatever.” He continued, “The girlfriend wasn’t fond of me despite the wheels, and didn’t want to share them. Ungrateful bitch. She ambushed me one night as I drove my Ferarri up to my girlfriend’s cottage in Pelican Shoals. Yeah, drove miles to track me down and send the Ferrari with me in it into the Atlantic.”

Commandment Number Six:  Thou shalt not buy your wife a Porsche…especially if you suspect she’s a lesbian!”.

“Channeling one of your clients, I assume?” sneered Delia.

“Yeah, I’ve got some fantastic tales in my repertoire,” smirked Luke. “Remember, you owe me one. Bring me the locks.”

An unfortunate Delia had cut a deal with him though she didn’t have a clue why he wanted them.

“I’m working on it.”  She had enough for the day. “I’ll be back tonight.”

Sam observed the theater from the roof of the Allerton mausoleum. What he saw was Delia in a virtual fencing match with a ghoul. He debated whether he should confront Delia and find out what she was up to but decided to wait, which ended up being rather unfortunate for Sam.

There was a small stream that spilled into the cemetery when Allerton Point flooded. It did every spring and fall.  Delia knelt at the tiny granite gravestone flush to the ground and wet from the licks of the stream. She dipped a corner of her baggie into the stream, spilled the water into it and zipped it up.

“Hey there, what gives?” Emerging from the stone was what looked more like a hologram that ghost of an older man with long grimy hair. He was wearing ripped jeans and a Grateful Dead t-shirt.

“Wouldn’t let you cross over to the other side?” said Delia.

“Yeah, sucks don’t it. I don’t expect that will be anytime soon,” the ghost named Tom replied with remorse.

In life, Tom loved little girls…very, very much. So much so that he had to put in some serious time in Pennsville Prison. When they let him out after forty years, Tom decided to shack up in his home town, Allerton Point. Allertonians didn’t like it but they didn’t have enough energy to do anything about it except to make it impossible for him to find a place to live.

He took up residence under the Capetown Bridge and built up a lucrative horticulture business, becoming the number one distributor of weed in the county.  At first he expected to do most of his business in Allerton Point, but the people were already so numbed down they didn’t see the point of it.

By that time, he had already become invisible, so transitioning to a specter was a breeze. That transition took place when hurricane Eva washed a bundle of his stash out to sea.

Some very unhappy hoodlums from two towns over were pissed. They had bought the whole lot, “for their friends.” They took matters into their own hands and agreed that Tom should swim out into the ocean to find the weed.

Tom hung down his head for a moment. “That’s what you get when you do a little night swimming.  Found my body sprawled out on the dunes. Since I didn’t have the cash for a proper send off, they torched me and put me in a coffee can. They could have tossed my ashes into the sea, but Angie Margolis was nice enough to pay for my burial and give me this poor excuse for a gravestone. I think she had the hots for me.”

Delia rolled her eyes.

Commandment Number Seven:  Thou shalt listen to the weather report.

“I think I’ll put some atustibasemia on your grave.”  Delia said.

“So long, Tom.  I’ll be seeing you,” Delia grinned.

Delia had already targeted the Richard’s mausoleum. It was a large brownstone tomb with a sloping rooftop that provided a great overlook to spy on the newly buried and sobbing loved ones, gladiolifias and carnartacia and to be on the lookout for any suspicious nocturnal activity. She would go there that night.

Back at the house, she collected her artifacts from the graves she’d visited: Dirt, ants, gravel, limestone and Endicott grass clippings, and a stone all soaked in stream water. She dropped them into a tin pail.

Then she took the scraps of paper on which she had written the names of the plants she’d identified and threw them into the pail. The spell went like this: “Gladiolifia, carnartaci, atustibasemia, lodeliobas, suciia, reventia, pankaki, honorif, delphiatnem, netllifolia, chilelies, juniplias.” She stirred the pail, mixed the ingredients with a little dandelion juice and some kerosene, strained the concoction and poured the potion into a glass vial.

There was only one thing left to do.  Get the locks.

Right after Sam and she made love that night and before they turned out the light, Delia turned to Sam and said, “I met these people at the salon today. They belong to this group, “Locks for Life.”

“Yeah?” Sam yawned.

“Have you heard of them?  They’re asking people to donate their hair so that they can make them into wigs and hairpieces for people with cancer who have lost their hair. My hair is too short, but I thought…since you have long hair…and your hair grows so fast… you could give yours?”

“Are you kidding me?  I’ve had my ponytail since I was twelve.  It’s my identity. Del.”

“I didn’t tell you before, but my sister died of leukemia.  She was twelve when she died.

It would mean so much to me if you’d do this.”

“Okay, you shamed me into it. I’ll go down there tomorrow,” Sam sighed.

“I know you…you’ll change your mind…and besides they’re leaving for Maine tomorrow.

I can cut it now and get it down to the shop before they leave. Please!!!”

Delia already had the scissors hidden behind her back. She was going to get the locks one way or another, but Luke said they would be so much more potent if he gave them up on his own.

“Let’s get it over with,” Sam said regretfully.

With that Delia lopped of the whole ponytail right up to the elastic.

“Thanks so much, honey,” Delia cooed.

They went to sleep. Or, at least Sam did. Delia crept out of bed, put on her wool cape and headed for the cemetery, potion bottle in her hand, a lighter and a fistful of Sam’s hair in the other. She had time to cut off some curls and stuff them into her pocket just to give her a little fortitude to carry out the job.

When she found Luke, he was waiting for her. She thrust out her hand and dropped Sam’s locks onto his.

“Okay, a deal’s a deal.  Help me out with my “project,” Delia said with all the scorn she could muster.

Luke vanished.

Delia Allerton was perched on top of the Richards mausoleum when Mary Endicott, Satan’s mistress, emerged from the Angel. She was making her nightly rounds, swooping over the graves, brandishing her sword and hissing warnings of red-hot fire and ice-cold hell. Delia called to her and Mary landed on mausoleum and sat next to Delia.

“Hello, Mary,” Delia seethed.

“Well, what I nice surprise to see my best friend after all these years,” Mary said warily.

Delia spat out the words, “You think so? It wasn’t enough that you cheated on Ezra and stole Justin from me, but killing your own babies? I thought I’d come back and settle some matters for me and them. They should be revengalized. Your boyfriend Luke is helping me out. Should have been nicer to him!”

“What can you do to me?” mocked Mary.

“Let’s just say I could turn up the heat.” Delia grinned.

With that Mary shoved Delia who slid, vial and lighter in hand, off the roof of the mausoleum. Though the pitch was steep, the tomb was not very high. Delia landed safely with her bottle intact but breathless and little wobbly. By the next time Mary plunged toward her though, Delia had recovered her resolve to do what she had come to do.

In addition to gardening, Delia’s pastime was karate. She happened to be a black belt. So, just as Mary and her sword were inches from her body, she pivoted sending Mary to the ground with one swift kick.

With that, Delia dumped her potion on Mary’s head, chanted, “Gladiolifia, carnartaci, atustibasemia, lodeliobas, suciia, reventia, pankaki, honorif, delphiatnem, netllifolia, chilelies, juniplias”, lit her lighter and set a stunned Mary on fire.

Though Delia knew that this move would not dispatch Mary to Hell on its own, Luke had assured her he’d do anything he could to help. (It wouldn’t be that hard for him to get another mistress.)  And with that, Mary was sucked into the vortex of scorching oblivion.”

Commandment Number 8:  Thou shalt think twice about becoming Satan’s mistress.

“It’s over, finally,” Delia said as she started home.

By the time she arrived home, Sam had already been taken to the hospital.  Even with excruciating chest pains, he was able to call the ambulance. Tragically, Delia didn’t make it there in time. Sam died on the stretcher in the Allerton Hospital ED.

It was a really nice send off. Delia made sure that the obit read: “Donations should be sent to Locks of Love…and please no gladiolas or carnations.”

After two days of mourning, Delia went to Sam’s grave. She hardly recognized him without his ponytail.

“Hi Delia,” Sam said. “I guess we’re back where we started.”

“Uh …Hi Sam.  Hey, sorry about the hair and all. Didn’t know Luke would take it that far. I miss you so much already!” Delia apologized.

“Yeah, well he’s laughing his head off over there,” Sam sneered.

Commandment Number Nine:  Thou shalt always go to the barber shop.

Leaving the cemetery, she said to herself, “Sam gets the ladejobia (Jacob’s Ladder) just in case they finally let him go up there. He deserves it.”

Luke’s plan was to extinguish that last spark of life in Allerton Point by getting rid of Sam. What happened was quite the opposite. With Sam’s departure, all of Allerton Point rallied and, for the first time in over one hundred and fifty years, its residents felt the brine and mist and vibrancy of the sea. Pain, joy, love, hate, laughter and sorrow returned to the town. Sam had laid down his life for the Point.

Delia kept up her cemetery project even though her original purpose was complete.

“A promise is a promise,” she said.

Soon after, Delia walled off her garden and devoted her time to creating new plant species.  For many years, no matter how hard horticulturalists throughout the world tried to reproduce the plants, they could not. You could say they were stupifidallyplexed.

She died at seventy years old.

Reverend Lloyd performed the service, mentioning quite a few times about the kind and strange ways Delia had in comforting the departed. He left out the part about having let his three-year-old drive.

After her funeral and in direct violation of the will, the town raided the grounds making a beeline for the garden.

It was the most amazing thing. Yes, there was the same English garden layout. The white picket fence and magenta trellis stood where they always had, but that was all that was recognizable.

As the trespassers wandered through the garden, they read the plant markers: Gladiolifias, carnartaci, atustibasemia, lodeliobas, suciia, reventia, pankaki, honorif, delphiatnem, netllifolia, chilelies, juniplias and ladejobia.

The gladiolifias and carnartaci were in a hideously orange stand behind a fence and on the edge of the compost pile. A ticket on a stake read, “Please exinctualize.”

When that afternoon Mr. Peacock, Delia’s attorney, read the will to a yawningly bored great grandniece and nephew, they were forced to listen to their lunatic aunt’s story about her cemetery adventure and a mean angel.

“I think she was toking weed when she wrote it,” the girl conjectured.

Actually Delia’s name for it was marunta candeosis. She grew it herself and, yes, she did treat herself to it from time to time.

At her request, they buried her close to the South Washington Boulevard exit next to Sam, deep in a cluster of witch hazel with a tombstone of red granite surrounded by devil’s claw.  Just to ward off the Angel, they conjectured.

Commandment Number Ten:  Thou shalt not ever be taken in by ridiculous stories like this one.

Meredith Betz is a former high school Communications/English teacher whose avocation is coaching students of all ages in writing and delivering presentations. Currently she writes for the Nonprofit Quarterly. Her vocation is executive coaching and organizational consulting to for profit and nonprofit organizations.