Scene: Karma Department, Division of Destiny, Reincarnation Administration. Eris is coming through the door.
Eris: Wow! You’ll never believe what just happened!
Nemesis: Okay, I’ll bite. What?
Eris: Saint Jude just drop-kicked a cherub down the hall! Darned near hit me!
Nemesis: Oh…. Well, I can’t say it surprises me.
Eris: It doesn’t, huh? That means you know the story behind it. So tell.
Nemesis: I don’t suppose it is any kind of secret… In a way, I guess you could say it was my fault. Or at least that I started it.
Eris: How’s that again?
Nemesis: You know how every once in a while we get some loopers? How some souls just refuse to work out the Karma from their previous lives so they just loop through life after life without advancing?
Eris: Sure. Usually the field agents can take care of it. Sometimes they get bounced up here for supervisory work. What of it? I never found one I couldn’t handle.
Nemesis: Really? Well I sure found one! Better than that, I found two!
I tell you I tried everything! Rich, then poor. Smart, then stupid. Famous, then obscure. Life after life. Nothing, I repeat, nothing, made a dent in them!
Eris: Take it easy! I’ve never seen you like this.
Nemesis: Sorry. Its just that I take such pride in my work. Then along comes not one, but two utter recalcitrants. They drove me nuts.
Eris: I think I see what’s coming. You finally gave up and got rid of your problem by bumping it upstairs. Right?
Nemesis: You’ve got it. And I went one step further. I sent a priority request straight through to the Boss, asking for his best. I got Jude.
Eris: Patron Saint of Impossible Cases! I’ll say you got the best!
Nemesis: Sure did. Best of all, he asked me to stay around and assist him. Was I proud?
Eris: I’ve never seen one of the head honchos working right up close. What was it like?
Nemesis: Very impressive. But to really appreciate it, come look over the case files.
Eris: Hmmm. Interesting. One unable to completely commit to anything, the other unable to completely let go of anything. Nice symmetry there. But it looks pretty straightforward.
Nemesis: That’s what I thought! I tried… But I’m not talking about me. I’m talking about Jude.
First thing that impresses you is how he likes a challenge. Right away, he takes one look and decides that the elegant solution would be one that combined the problems and forced either one or the other to change.
Eris: Sounds crazy.
Nemesis: That’s what I thought. But he is creative, too. He came up with a plan that couldn’t fail.
First thing he did was switch roles. He made Complete-Commitment-Is-Self-Destructive female and made There-Must-Be-A-Pony-Under-Here male. Then designed them to be perfect complements for each other. Compulsion to be together with enough contradictions to drive them crazy. Then he made the so difficult no one else would do. The he arranged for them to meet after they had both been through enough to have almost given up hope.
Eris: Sounds like a formula for an explosion.
Nemesis: And how! They started demolishing commandments from the very first. It was great.
Eris: Sounds like fun, but I don’t see how it was supposed to solve your problems.
Nemesis: I told you he was creative. He made them both difficult enough that nothing less than complete commitment could make it work. Get it? He presented them with what they most wanted and put the ultimate price tag on it. It was beautiful. Either “she” would have to commit completely or “he” would have to learn to let go. Just perfect.
Eris: Did it work?
Nemesis: Only up to a point. They fell in love, so Jude had them neatly on a cusp. Left path, they’re mated for life. Right path, they cannot possibly succeed.
Then came the choices. “He” managed to commit completely. “She” took one look and didn’t. Neat and clean. Now they had to break up. With a little luck, in time “she” would learn how much “her“ fear had cost and “he” would learn he had to let go of the past. Really tidy.
Eris: So what went wrong?
Nemesis: Jude forgot Rule #1 (pointing to a sign on the wall): “You Cannot Out-Smart Human Stupidity.”
Eris: I don’t get it.
Nemesis: Human logic. She was terrified of complete commitment. Therefore it was impossible to imagine. Therefore their relationship couldn’t require it. Therefore they didn’t need to break up. He was terrified of letting go. Therefore they couldn’t break up.
Eris: I beg your pardon?
Nemesis: Working that logic, they stayed together for years, making each other miserable. She wouldn’t leave because she had done everything necessary to make it work. He wouldn’t leave because he couldn’t let go.
Eris: That’s pretty spooky. They turned the whole thing around and made all the reasons they couldn’t succeed reasons to stay. Weird.
Nemesis: Wait. It gets better. Jude is nothing if not persistent.
Eris: Did I hear you say stubborn?
Nemesis: Of course not. That would be disrespectful. Let’s just say he had a certain childish faith in his own design.
Nemesis: So after they finally broke up, he gave them a few years recovery and arranged it so they met again.
Eris: You don’t mean…
Nemesis: Oh, yes I do. He was so sure his plan was infallible he tried it again.
Nemesis: She was so certain about complete commitment being suicidal she simply declined to reconsider it. He was so certain he was right not to let go that he just tried harder.
Eris: Sounds like looping has gotten into their blood. Same result?
Nemesis: More or less.
Eris: Okay, So what was plan B?
Nemesis: Jude doesn’t understand the idea of Plan B. I told you he was persistent.
Eris: You’re not going to tell me!?
Nemesis: You got it. Jude waited a few more years and then threw them together again. Same thing. Spectacular beginning, then they just looped back and confirmed their assumptions. Darned near twenty years and no closer to working out their Karma then when they first met.
Eris: Pretty frustrating. I guess I can understand why Jude was so peeved.
Nemesis: I told you it kept getting better. We just got a memo from the Boss. Those two are assigned as Jude’s personal number one priority until they move on.
Eris: Talk about permanent employment! Let’s hope next time he tries separate solutions. …But I still don’t understand about the cherub.
Nemesis: He brought the memo.