short stories ~ literary fiction ~ social commentary
copyright © 1999 - 2013
Stop right there, Pilgrim.
This is not a Come on, Jesus! Kick me through the goal post of life, story. Pseudo-biographical, this story is meant as an esoteric, existential farce, illuminating a subculture from two generations ago and the idea of God talking directly to people. I don't expect most Internet readers to get this. The careful reader will be rewarded and maybe forever damaged.
I’ve always been fascinated by reports, stories of people talking with God. The brain is a strange organ, feeding us regurgitated information 24/7. Hearing voices is more common than most people know. Someone says: “I heard a voice. God told me to reach out to the poor and help the sick.” Everyone nods. Someone else says: “I heard a voice. God told me to drown my five kids in the bathtub.” Everyone to a person shouts her down.
Despite overwhelming evidence to the contrary, God is believed to be not only benevolent, but also loving, actually caring about people.
If the message is something we – meaning the mass of people, agree God might say, then indeed, it’s God. If the message is something we believe/hope God wouldn’t say, we call the person crazy.
Hope does spring eternal.
Easily I could mistake Mr. Collings’ contempt and taunting as a personal attack, me being a Young Turk, him the bulwark destined to fall on attrition’s merciless sword.
I smoked only enough pot and drank only enough bourbon to take the edge off.
The glow of the fire illuminated the faces, faces presented in emotional clines from manic bliss to shoot-me-now-I’ve-seen-enough. If I had a gun, I think I’d rather shoot the girl cackling like a Tickle-Me-Elmo.
Darkness pushes in perfectly, the faces floating, bodiless.
When you’re strange, faces come out of the rain. When you’re strange, no one remembers your name.
“Hey.” I point across the fire. “What’s my name?”
She crosses her eyes. Her boyfriend – an assumption, nods a warm sneer. “What’s your problem, dude? Chill, don’t ruin our high.”
Another girl abuses a guitar and my ears, insulting Joni Mitchell, vivisecting Big Yellow Taxi.
I pull my knit cap down to shut out the whining and swirling snow. My ears are warmer anyway.
And, this is where I come to forget about life for a while?
I remember your name.
With a wave of my hand, I dismiss the disembodied voice. “Anyone can say they remember my name.”
I shrug. “OK, maybe I’m not strange, then.”
I want you to do something for me.
Another shrug, the repeated finger. “Hear that?”
Again, the crossed eyes.
That should tell you something.
A twist of my face. “Either too much or not enough bourbon.”
You could get the gun from Bobbie’s father’s dresser and shoot those kids in school who make fun of your long hair.
Another shrug. “I guess in an infinite universe anything is possible. I could get an A in Collings’ history class.”
You could start with him.
“Not likely to get me an A.”
I’m telling you it’s all right. I’m telling you to do it.
Now that that’s settled –
Again, I wave my hand. “Okay, no.”
“You’re God. Do your own smiting. Leave me out of your dramas, I have enough of my own.”
Don’t it always seem to go, that you don’t know what you’ve got till it’s gone. They paved paradise and put up a parking lot.
She whacks away at the guitar as if to beat a contemptuous child, watching me.
Put up a parking lot!
I smile, wink.