Sunday, June 5, 2011

John

Last night I was sitting alone in the Kesler basement watching HGTV, doing some drawing, and essentially vegging out when I was struck by the sudden urge to write!  I guess I shouldn't say it was sudden because I have been contemplating a writing project for a long time now, but it was at that moment that I was overwhelmed with the notion.  So overwhelmed that I opened up my laptop, brought up Microsoft Word, and just started typing.  I had no idea what I would type.  Or where it would go.  Or if it would be any good.

I typed for about an hour until Brian came home.  I saved what I had written as "John."  I'd like to share what I wrote, and any comments would be greatly appreciated.  Just remember that it's a first draft of a small portion of an undecided project!


He knew he had a church program lying around somewhere.  It hadn’t been that long since he’d gone to Church.  Had it?  Last Sunday he had to work and today, well, he said he had to work.  Of course God knew he was lying but for some reason he felt the need to cover up his sins for the godly people who walked the halls of God’s house, acting in God’s name.  It seemed sort of ridiculous, this need to lie to appease such unimportant people.  Like worrying more that a fly on the wall saw you come out of the shower naked than the fact that your mother has just walked in on you.  Who the hell cares what the fly thinks?

He did.  His whole life had been spent making sure the flies didn’t know his shit stank.  If they did, they’d be all over him.

Was it just the two Sundays?  Yes, John, he thought.  Just the two Sundays.  But even when he was sitting there in attendance he was absent just the same.  He had been absent for months now, both literally (off and on) and figuratively.  Lately he found himself wondering if those around him noticed the vacancy that was in the shortish thin boy with dark hair and eyes.  His eyes.  Surely his eyes must give it away.  A smile on the face could be so easily displayed—with relish even—but a smile in the eyes… that was difficult.  Almost impossible really. 

They know something’s not right, he thought.  They can sense it.  They can sense me sensing that they sense it.  He dwelled on this thought, rifling through papers that lay in a disheveled heap on the desk he shared with his roommate.  A taller young man in better shape.  A theater major.  It was funny that people often questioned if Jonah wasn’t in fact less than truthful about his actions.  He did seem more of the type, what with his eccentricities and mildly inappropriate humor.  He stuck out like a sore thumb at University.  But it was really John.  John, the 22-year-old former missionary now searching desperately for a piece of paper from two or three or maybe ten Sundays ago.  A simple Sunday bulletin that contained the phone numbers of all the important people in the congregation.  Oddly enough his own phone number was on that list.  What a stupid list.  How many other people on that list had skeletons in their closet?  How many others sat in their positions and fretted over what the flies have seen?

John suddenly remembered that his dress pants were still lying on the floor amongst all of Jonah’s many, many outfits.  Jonah was the kind of guy who would try on seven different shirts before deciding on one.  Each rejected garment was flung to the floor in disgust, and somewhere in that vortex of branded tees and designer jeans lay John’s black slacks.  He located them and, as he thought, discovered the rolled up program within the pocket.  I haven’t been to church in so long I haven’t even bothered to wash these pants, he thought.

The Church bulletin was a simple sheet of eight-and-a-half by eleven white printer paper, folded in half hamburger style.  On the front of this little pamphlet was a very Caucasian-looking image of Jesus—blonde and blue-eyed, like the Prophet—and he wondered why he chose the image, seeing as it was his least favorite and it was his calling to print the program every Sunday.  Well, the Sundays when he was there.  Luckily he shared that responsibility with a girl in the congregation.  Deborah.  She was always very understanding whenever he let her know he wouldn’t be able to make it to Church.

John always suspected that Deborah liked him.  She was always so accommodating.  Whenever he would drop off the saved program file Saturday nights she would invite him to stay awhile.  He never did.  Poor, na├»ve girl.  Didn’t she realize she was playing with fire?

Of course Deborah’s number was on the program.  As was his.  But most importantly was the number to the Clerk.  Ezekiel.  That’s right, he thought.  He never could remember his name.  He pulled his phone out of his pocket and stood there for a while, silhouetted against the light of the setting sun through the sliding glass doors that led to the tiny balcony.  Beyond that you could see the beautiful trees that surrounded the apartment and the towering snow-capped mountains even further.  How small John seemed.

Just do it.  Just dial the number.  He dialed the number.  As the phone rang in his ear he thought how silly it was to say dial since nobody dialed numbers anymore.  He laughed to himself and was almost caught off guard when he heard a voice near his ear say, “Hello, this is Ezekiel.”

“Hi Ezekiel.  This is John.  I’m in the congregation...”

“Oh, okay.  I think I remember you.”  Ezekiel didn’t really.  John was just a name to him.  One of the many sheep.  “Well, what can I do for you?  I’m assuming you want me to set you up with an appointment?”

You could always say forget it and just hang up.  If you share with them what God already knows, you’ll only make them more godlike.  You can keep the flies away a little longer.  Swat them away forever even. 

“Yes, Ezekiel.  I really need to speak with Bishop.  Tonight if possible.”

He decided then and there to lay the flyswatter to rest.

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