It would behoove my grade school bible teacher to know that I have finally found Jesus. He sits alone at my neighborhood bar, and in a fashion that is not unlike the line at a New York City Jewish deli shop, he takes questions. Ticket number 347. “What kind of man will I marry?” Ticket number 7623. ”When will the end of days come?” My bible study class, oh, how they would shake inside their buttoned blouses with envy that I was the one to find Jesus, between drinks, between cigarettes, with beer and peanut excrements on bottoms of his sandals. Handing out answers like pork cutlets to mouths that haven’t eaten in years because they have filled up on the empty appetizer that is stomach-churning worry: the gutless and gut-full sin, of having problems without the hope of solutions of having questions with silent answers that it shakes believers so hard in the night they fall off their beds and they land conveniently on their knees. They wake up in the morning with bruises and scratches, external hurts treated with a mixture of peroxide and stuck-on-you band-aids that hug tight their stinging cuts until the next day when the Band-Aid losses its glue and falls off when they land in meat grinders turning out sausage links that no one even has an appetite for.
I found Jesus in a bar.
When I see him I remember Sunday school and how I stood up on the sweaty palmed stained pulpit and yelled, “He is not real!” and now that I am confronted with my falseness I wonder was I wrong to try to cool the fire of questions unanswered by answering them myself.
I took a ticket. I stood in line. I waited. The knot my Sunday school teacher tied with my intestines years ago tightened itself and pulsated with the influx of another beer and growing bowel movements that only made me more unsure of the source of pain in my belly.
I watched as Jesus nodded politely in between admissions of sins and proposals of betterment a gentle, deliberate nod like his neck was the waist of a Hawaiian girl on the dashboard of a Colorado trucker, or maybe like aged fast-food wrappers that tilt forward with the inertia caused by strategically placed speed bumps. Each nod, a mini-bow that seemed to contradict his devotion to his divinity and his authority over the bleeding-kneed and hungry-stomached servants.
I am the last ticket before the last call and being this close I can see sweat stains under his arms; my mother would say they are extra halos. “And your question, my child?” he says, and I think I should have been more prepared or at least not have stuttered like the elementary school student one stuck playing the under appreciated Pluto in the graduation play.
“Was I wrong that day on the pulpit?” It was rudely put. I was embarrassed. He said, “Did it ease the hunger pain of uncertainty?” He knew it did. So did I. “Then no, you answered your own question.” He seemed drunk when he said that, so I trusted it as a sober man’s thoughts. Then I walked away full with knees unscathed.