After too many years of mom’s psychiatric issues,
whose pendulum of unpredictable emotions swung
between fits of violent rage and victimized hatred,
I gave up the struggle many of us
try and fail to endure.
Some people who love the insane
fall into the pit of personal torment,
an anxiety or depression of inner madness.
Others choose eye for an eye revenge.
Headlines of such retaliation steam over social media:
‘Wife Murders Husband Over Cold Turkey Complaint’
I made the completely selfish choice of maternal divorce,
to spend Christmas with a neighbor friend
who had endured much of the same abuses
and learned the same lessons years earlier.
Ana and I spent several merry Christmases
at one of those all you can eat seafood buffet joints.
The restaurant was simply a massive room.
A trough ran the 100 feet length of the back wall,
where the cattle lined up to feed.
Each year, we looked forward to our glorious feast,
not for the quality of the food, but the friendship
and the king crab legs neither of us could afford
any other time of the year.
We’d trade laughs and stories of the year.
We reminisced about friends and family passed on.
For 2 or 3 hours on a cold winter’s night,
there was no poverty, no family, no hardship,
no greed, no fuss…only laughs.
Except for the year I asked myself,
‘What would Jesus do?’
Standing in the long, sweaty buffet line,
a mumbling buzzed about a **** up front
taking too many crab legs.
Even though the restaurant claimed unlimited portions,
in reality, the kitchen workers played a good game,
only filling the large metal bin every 30 minutes.
The unwritten rule among buffet veterans
is to take 5 or 6 crab legs and leave some
for the others behind you.
The poor must look out for each other
because we all **** well know
rich ******* only care about themselves.
After a couple minutes of the crowd grumbling,
a heavyset woman in a moo-moo screamed,
‘Look at that guy! Look at his plate!’
The slicked-hair office drone the moo-moo pointed to
confidently strode past the hungry patrons
in his business casual golf shirt and khakis.
In one hand, he balanced a plate stacked
with at least 20 crab legs.
His other hand carried a cereal-sized bowl of butter.
The apparent jeers of shame from my fellow wretches,
whose bellies would go empty for another half hour
didn’t affect this guy’s silent march,
his corporate attitude to loot, to conquer.
I stepped out of line in the guy’s path.
‘What the are you doing?’ I said.
‘It’s a free country.’
He tried to squeeze around me, pressing his hip
against the orange chicken buffet station.
I moved to block him again.
‘Free for you, but no one else, huh?’
‘Whatever,’ he said. ‘Just move.’
His empirical entitlement inspired me to perform
a little Christmas justice.
With both hands, I lunged for the man’s plate
and wrapped both hands around all but four crab legs.
‘What the hell, buddy?’ he shouted.
The guy had become a moneychanger in our temple.
‘Do something,’ I said.
A woman in line looked at me, her eyes wide, startled.
I handed her a crab leg.
The coward ran his mouth in an emasculated mumble,
but skulked back to his table.
I then walked down the line,
handing each of my fellow diners a single crab leg.
Old men formed expressions of confusion,
Young mothers and fathers laughed.
Children pointed their single crab legs to the ceiling
in a show of solidarity to the cause,
victory against a great evil.
A short Asian man approached me in line.
‘You must leave,’ he said in broken English.
‘But I paid for the buffet.’
‘No troublemakers. You go.’
I’d become a scourge to the Roman power structure,
an immoral bandit of Nazareth.
Being bad never felt so good.
After all, one can remove the boy from madness,
but without intense psychiatric treatment,
one rarely removes madness from the boy.
Ana wasn’t happy that we missed our annual feast.
I drove us home quietly content.
Another Christmas celebrated.
To be included in my next collection, **** River Sins.