The 10th or 12th Greatest Story Ever Told (maybe).
When I was 16, I came home stoned one night. It was a strong, lingering high which I couldn’t shake, which would only lead to sleep. The kind of high where you swear you have a clown face, and you can in no way look into a mirror without giggling at your image. No one seemed to care that I was home late, and it was probably assumed that I was high, but it was fairly known that I had committed myself to living, shall we say, outside the grace of God. I grabbed myself a snack and moved toward my room in the dark.
It’s my room, it has been my room since I have lived here. It’s actually the parsonage of my grandpa’s church and my mom and my sisters and I are staying here rent free. Meanwhile, some old bitches from the church gripe and gossip and we never seem to get ahead and manage to get out, and the only lesson consistently learned is that poverty makes you hate yourself, makes you hate the people looking down at you, looking at you askance because yes, you’d steal, yes, you’d scam and break the law and yes, you’d sin if you could only get one step ahead of the hell you have to live in and work and make a little money and maybe one day rest and dream your ascent out of this hell or finish your damnation and maybe sleep another hour from your awful work and maybe get these goddamned eyes off of you and live the life others seem to be able to live in with such ease.
God! Everyone wants to have God in their life, God on your side, God as your Father (or Mother), but God doesn’t do that. God gave his Son. If you are a child, God gave his Son to be your brother, if you are a rebellious child like me, the comparison to Jesus will drive you crazy. If you are a parent, you can take Jesus into your heart and raise him like a little child, raise him up to be a man, to be a man unlike your own son, a son who will be what and how you want him to be, not a 46 year old “writer,” not the one producing this blasphemy, the one rambling because you won’t believe what I’m going to say, you won’t believe what I believe, but maybe I’m dreaming my own damnation, maybe this is a vision of my own hell and you should just check it out because it’s fire to my flesh, it’s scourge to my spirit and it makes me scream and it hides the music of death and I don’t want to die and die and die and suffer the tortures of the damned without you understanding a few minutes of what killed and killed and killed and kills me still and always will.
There he was in my room. Jesus. Yes, Jesus Christ, the Savior of Mankind, the guy in the Bible, that dude. He was in my room, and my parents were there with him. My parents have been divorced since I was 8, but there they were, together, with their Son, given by God. There they were, raising Jesus. There’s no way they would be hanging out, my dad always referred to my mom as “that cunt,” a fair assessment I suppose, as I have myself been an ex and can’t dispute that it probably feels good to be away from me after being with me. The point is, there they were together, they had somehow resolved their differences, despite their apparent hatred for each other, and they were raising a 16 year old Jesus. I don’t know how I knew it was Jesus, but you just know. Being raised religious; Pentecostal, actually as a member of the International Church of the Foursquare Gospel, I can say that we do know God and His Son Jesus personally, and on sight.
His homework was stacked on the little table by the door, you could see it was done and he was ready for school in the morning. Jesus had not dropped out like myself, and no GED score would have spared them that humiliation. Wait! Where were my posters, my stereo, my heavy metal tapes and records? Someone had cleaned out my room! My Slayer poster where someone had carved the logo into their arm! A feeling of dread overtook me as I noticed, the floor was cleaned and vacuumed. Certainly, my little tray was gone, you know the one. My mind raced for a moment contemplating what I would have had to explain about this room, and then I noticed it. The blackest rage overtook me suddenly, and I shouted “How come Jesus has long hair? How can he have long hair!?!” they were always fucking with me about cutting my hair. I ran away from my dad’s 3 times, including spending a whole summer living in Las Vegas at my friend Nick’s house and hiding when my dad and my stepmom showed up. I promised my mom I would cut my own throat rather than cut my hair, and just try it, the hair gets cut and the very next opportunity would mean a gruesome suicide, and it mostly worked because I made myself so much work for single parents, and the gossip began again, and “those poor people, that boy is in to something Satanic, and no, Johnny Dale, you can’t hang out with him, and no he’s not a good guy, but yes, she’s heavy handed and he left her and became a Mormon, (whispered) ball breaking bitch I heard . . .”
They looked at me with the predictable resigned look, like when you’re going to rehab, or a group home, or everyone in the house wants to do an intervention, or everyone got saved while you were out partying for the weekend and you can’t stay here and they’ve already had a really good cry about it and somewhere was a mound of Kleenex destroyed in your name, like an Old Testament sacrifice. “You only ever think of yourself,” my mother leveled the accusation (men don’t really speak in the family, unless in threats, and I assumed my Dad wanted to impress Jesus with how sensitive he was, how much he had, as a man, patiently endured). “We are raising Jesus in God’s will, not yours,” she pointed to the heavens. “You could never be able to get yourself ready for the nail. Would you ever sacrifice yourself for the World?”
Now, you can believe what you want about Jesus. I know what I saw, and I’ve made clear that I know how that motherfucker can be. I know many of you love him, always have. I know you don’t really know me. I’ve revealed myself to you as an unreliable narrator, and if you really know me, I may have lied to you or stolen from you or ripped you off on a lid or whatever, so you got no reason to go along with what I say, but that motherfucker was smirking that good son little suck up asshole face behind them, especially when I noticed the hair. “What the fuck are you looking at motherfucker!?! You better change your goddamn face when you look at me!” My Dad stepped in front of the Lord then, my ears were ringing by that time and I couldn’t tell what he was saying, some shit about respect and you know all that crap about the son against the father and the mother against the daughter and let’s not forget not peace but a sword and a house divided against itself and I could tell a decision had been made in my absence. I was leaving, that was clear, and it would be without my little tray, you know the one, and without my stereo or heavy metal tapes and records, and without the Slayer poster with the carved logo in the arm.