Issue 4 TOC




by Laurie Fraser 


    Jesus drinks a little extra tonight, just to be sure. No one notices. He makes sure he leaves the party early, though, as he “really needs to be responsible tomorrow. Y’know, to some people.” The bitter smile doesn’t shape his lips until he’s out of view, thank the good lord. He grabs the plastic grocery bag with his two cans of Miller Lite and heads for the back gate. Chain link fence metal frame clangs against the gate closure in the still night air up above the trees.

    Walking into the alley, he examines his plan/exit strategy.

    He’d won a tidy little sum in the state lotto recently, though not enough to get his name in the paper in this town, what with the teenage hate crimes and egregious political schmenandering. (And hair shows! How the masses occupied themselves with the hair shows!) And there were nine other winners among the blessed that week anyway, one of them a deposed boyfriend of an American Idol finalist. So as no one was really paying much attention to the non-quasicelebrities, he fielded no slaps on the back and whatchya-gonna-do-with the money questions. (Not that anyone he knew read newspapers.)

    But it was enough money to do something. He would do what he’d been dreaming of  –  what he’d been praying about  –  for a long time. Something loud. Something unignorable. Something for the people, though they wouldn’t realize it, yet. There was this gorgeous ‘65 Cadillac that was always parked on Third, every time he drove home, every time he happened to pass by. He ogled it, every day. Probably in the possession of one of those Men of Projects that make money fixing up shitty old cars into pieces of historic beauty, then selling them to other Men of  Projects, or renting them to Hollywood. So well built, such time capsules of America’s luxury class ideal,  the proof that this nation was rollin’. Foretelling the future of consumption as religion, of malls as temples, of hedge fund managers and hotel heiresses as high priests.

    But Jesus has always been about substance over style, so he collected his affairs to make sure the amount of money would sufficiently cover his own modest outstanding car debt and back rent, the Project guy’s deVille and some money left over for a nice microbrew if the guy wants to have himself a pity kegger. He has written down bank phone numbers and left blank checks on the counter for his roommate to discover when he gets home from his Pantry Barn shift, so no one will be too inconvenienced over his planned theatrics. He’d duct-taped his yet-to-be-patented Prototypical Guarantor Of World Obliteration to the oil tank the day before.

    Thank you, Father, for the gift which I have received, without which I could not have fulfilled my purpose.

    He has checked to see that his target is there tonight, fairly unobtrusive under quiet steely moonlight, on a lonely corner near the golf course, all Rat Pack grace. Majestically spacious, all new vintage deadstock creme/mahogany leather interior, original radio and glove box lock. Jesus thinks he recognizes it from that X-Files flashback episode. The old girl probably doesn’t lend herself easily to shifting and cranking for parallel parking purposes.

    He got in the Fiesta and whirred down the sleepy street. He could almost hear people snoring, imagined their brows furrowed as they stressed about their waking lives even in repose. He shan’t miss them, he thinks. The revving of his puny engine won’t wake many, most likely, and if it did, they were just in for a pretty explosion if they went to the window to see what the hell was going on out there.

    So, gloved hands gripping the cheap brown vinyl steering-wheel cover, he gingerly stepped on the gas, let it fall. Heavier, heavier still.

    Not that he had ever asked for it to play out this way. Oy, it’s never easy.

    He aimed.