THE TRUTH LIES HERE

There are days when You just want to scream! This is one of them!

I’m just like most other human beings.

Never have I felt superior or inferior to anyone. I was born; lived a crappy life—more or less—until I reached the age of fifty-five. One day, I will die. My life hasn’t been much different than all others I’ve bumped into during my eighty years.

Well, I really must be honest now. Throughout the years, I’ve known that my intellect was high enough to get me most of what I wanted. But I was never lucky enough to get what I felt I deserved.

In my time, I’ve belonged to this church and that, but it was always the doctrine which I had trouble accepting. Whenever a preacher, minister, or priest stated that such and such was so—or not so—I’d ask how he knew that.  The answers were always identical, “well, son, that’s a well-known concept, given by God.” My response was, “Oh, yeah! How do you know that?” When he couldn’t back up his doctrine with a Biblical verse, he’d say, “You do have to accept some things on faith.” You see, I figure if it had been given by God, every religion on earth would have identical doctrines. Am I wrong?

The trouble I have with doctrine, is that members who accept it, believe that if you don’t belong to their church, you are going to Hell—or somewhere in that vicinity. They make you feel so bad about yourself that you begin to feel that you’re already in Hell. And so, it became a vicious circle. So, I moved on. One day, I had this overwhelming feeling that, if I were ever to meet God face-to-face, I’d probably ask my questions directly.

Pondering the imponderable makes one reflect on his own talents, his own principles. After years of guilt, believing that everything I was doing was wrong or, at the very least not right, I decided that He and I would have to discuss the subject, mano a mano. You know, the ‘get it out in the open’ kind of chat. Our meetup wouldn’t be just any little tête-à-tête, though. After years of wondering without an answer, I picked out a place and a time where we could discuss our differences. I found a mahogany picnic table in a warm, peaceful park, quite some distance from home.

It wasn’t just any old park. This one had massive oak trees, and thousands of colorful flowers growing everywhere. A tiny stream sparkled in the sunlight, as birds sang, and deer wandering about. I wanted to make a good first impression. The outcome of our chat would determine the ambience of any future meetup.

This place had to be like none other. No bratty kids or crazy adults to interrupt us, and no ants or other creepy-crawly things. It had to be just right. I was meeting up with Jesus and I figured He’d like it to be clean and quiet. I knew He was told He could snap His fingers and make things right, but this was my idea and I wanted to make a great first impression on Him, not the other way around.

Everything was set. I got all dressed up in my best sweats, with a clean, pastel-blue T-shirt. It took well over an hour to drive there, but within a few seconds of parking, I was sitting on the bench at one end of my table. I even took two plastic cups, filled with ice. I considered champagne, but first impressions and all!

How I Got Here

I didn’t know how long I’d have to wait for Him. The sun was warm and, feeling sleepy, I laid my head on my arms. My eyes closed. In what seemed to be a flashback—more like a daydream—I saw myself watching a video of those exciting moments just before I was born. I was about to make my grand entrance when I distinctly remember seeing three guys. Each was dressed in a white toga, standing just off to my left. One of them caught my eye and said quite clearly, “Fasten your seat-belt, kid. It’s going to be a bumpy ride.”

As I began following his instructions, I was about to point a finger and shout, “Toga! Toga!” Before I had a chance to get it out, I heard one of the men say, “Open the pod bay doors, Hal.”

And, just like that, I felt a rush of cold, cold air, followed by lots of clanking sounds. I heard a woman give a loud sigh of relief as some other person placed me on a weighing machine. Hearing another gasp of relief from the woman, I glanced up at my nurse and thought, “I’ll have what she’s having.”

That woman turned out to be my mother. Looking toward my woman in white, she said, “can I hold him now?” As I was handed over, mommy smiled down at me and said, “My precious.”

When the guy with the blue rubbery hands was done, he said that he’d be back to check on her later. He leaned across the bed and patted my sensitive little head. His words still race around in that endless maze I call a brain; spoken a bit too cute as far as I was concerned, “Hasta la vista, baby!”

I nestled in closer to mom for a few minutes. Then, the nurse had to move her into another room. In doing so, she put me in a bassinet too far away for my comfort. I mouthed the words, but nothing came out. I kept shouting, over and over, “Nobody puts Baby in a corner!”

Nursey must have been psychic because she responded, “Frankly, my dear, I don’t give a damn.”

“A boy’s best friend is his mother,” I shot back, as they wheeled mommy out into the hallway.

Feeling sorry for myself, I felt a sudden urge to cry. I scared myself at first but, just like that, someone picked me up. I learned a valuable lesson that day; if you cry, you get what you want! How awesome is that? Before I had a chance to try out a few more tearful commands, I found myself attached to a big milk bottle. It was soft and warm.

As milk trickled down my throat, I realized what crying had done for me. It wasn’t long before I was pulled away from my lunch counter. And, just as fast, that empty feeling returned. I figured I’d use my new trick to get what I wanted once more. I was about to let out a scream when mommy seated me at another lunch counter, just like the first.

“Ah,” I drooled, “This is the stuff dreams are made of.” And, my friends, I think that was “the beginning of a beautiful friendship.” With a woman, I should add!

Old Memories

Often, I’ve reflected on what I considered to have been a rough childhood. That perspective came only with age, though. Naturally, I had nothing to which I could compare my life at that time, so what else would I think. I, eventually, came to understand that as a result of such treatment, that Jesus and I didn’t get along too well. I never really felt wanted, so I got used to shifting the blame onto God, “Well, here’s another nice mess you’ve gotten me into!”

And, just as I expected, He didn’t answer. Probably too busy solving more important problems on the other side of the universe. I pouted and seethed, depressing at every turn. It was especially severe once I discovered there was no God. But then, on a cold night in the middle of winter, I was startled awake by a sound near my bed. I couldn’t see anyone, but a voice in the dark said, as clear as a bell, “Snap out of it!” That was it. Nothing more, nothing less.

One day, as I BS’d with my best friend, he suggested that I just bide my time, and get out when I could. My old man used to love boxing and forced me into defending myself. My reaction was to lift weights thinking that, sooner than later, I’d get even. That time came one Saturday afternoon when I stood up to him. I said, “I’m as mad as hell, and I’m not going to take this anymore!”

Without skipping a beat, he retorted, “What we’ve got here is failure to communicate. Just tell me the truth about what’s going on and I’ll straighten you out.”

“Oh, yeah,” I shot back, “You can’t handle the truth!”

He thought he was pretty damn clever teaching me how to beat up people. Well, let me tell you, I remembered everything. That afternoon, he hit me over my right eye and, when he drew back his hand to protect his face, I saw my chance—his ribs.

I squeezed the glove in my right hand as hard as I could and, drove from my shoulder (just as the s.o.b. had taught me). I hit him as hard as a sixteen-year-old could. Words of satisfaction quickly fell from my bleeding lips, “Say hello to my little friend!”

Not long after that, still five months from my eighteenth birthday, I graduated from high school. Within two weeks, I packed my old car and left home. Leaving had been eating away at me since I ran off last Christmas. I felt free as I drove off, heading toward my girlfriend’s house. My foot pressed hard on the accelerator pedal. Adrenalin surged through my body as, “I felt the need—the need for speed!”

Surprised to see me, my girl smiled and said, “Hello, gorgeous.” But, her greeting melted in the mid-June sun after her query about what I was doing, and where I was headed. I told her that, all my life, I’d heard a resounding echo everywhere I went. I asked if she’d ever heard the expression, “West! Go West, young man!” She said she had. Then, she wanted to know about our relationship. I reminded her, “We’ll always have Clinton.”

“How will you live,” she asked.

“I’ll depend on the kindness of strangers,” I replied.

“Will I ever see you again?”

“Ah’ll be bock,” I said. “For now, I want to be alone.” With that, I gave her a big hug, then I hit the road.

I suppose one may think I’ve been overlay loquacious in my dialogue but, hey, what else does one do when one arrives too early for at a meetup? Anyway, all these memories ran through my mind in less than three minutes. I looked at my watch, then recalled what he’d told me the last time we sat here. “If I’m not there, just wait longer.” So, I sat and waited.

Jesus and I have a nice conversation

Just as I was remembering His words, I had that creepy feeling of someone looking over my shoulder. The hair on the back of my neck stood erect. I asked, “Is it you. Really you?”

He walked around and sat, facing me on the opposite side of my spotlessly-clean table. Looking me in the eye, He said, “I’m king of the world!”

Even though this was our one-hundred and sixty-second meetup, I was still amazed at how tiny I felt. I began with, “I really need your help. There are things going on that I’m having trouble with right now.”

“Tell me, Bobby,” He began. “I hope you remember that winter night when I sent a lovely angel to visit you?”

“Yes,” I said. “I was just thinking of that. But, I suppose you knew that!” He was the only one who could get away with calling me Bobby.

“Of course, I know. I know everything that’s going through your mind. Surely, you were effected by that angel! What else did she suggest that you do, I mean besides telling you to ‘get over it?’”

“I remember her telling me that if I build it, you would come.’”

“That’s exactly right. So, here I am again. Now, go ahead, make my day.”

“Well, you see, I’ve got this really good friend who’s putting a lot of pressure on me to invest in some penny stocks. He says we can really clean up, but I have a feeling the whole thing’s a scam. I feel guilty about it. That’s just the beginning of my problems. Ya know what I mean?”

“Of course, I do, Bobby. But, you need not worry. I’ve already looked into it because I knew you’d ask about that. You see, greed, for lack of a better word, is good. The problem lies in the end results. Investors tend to keep all the loot for themselves. I believe in sharing, just a little, mind you. Sharing teaches rich men to give as much as it teaches poor men to beg.”

“I guess I’ve been overthinking this, huh?” I asked, rhetorically.

“Well, nobody’s perfect. Not here, anyway,” He said, waving His arm in a circle, meaning—here!

Just then, a drunk staggered toward us. “Are ya talking to me?” He slurred, thinking Jesus was pointing at him. Then, looking around, he added, “Dis is Joe’s Honky-Tonk, ain’t it? Barkeep, I’ll have a martini. Shaken, not stirred.”

I was livid and started to get up from the table.

“Where are you going?” Jesus asked, laying a heavy hand on my arm.

“I’m gonna make him an offer he can’t refuse,” I shot back. “In all the parks in all the towns in all the world, he walks into mine. I planned our meeting so we could be alone.”

“No worries, mate,” He said.”

I looked up in time to see butterflies carrying His words through the air. He asked the drunk, “Why don’t you come up and see me sometime? All you have to do is pray. You do know how to pray, don’t you?”

“I spose’ I could do dat,” replied the drunk. “After all, tomorrow’s another day, ain’t it?” By the way, kind sir, what line of work ya in?”

“I see dead people.”

“Wow! Cool, man! Everyone’s got a gimmick. Well, may the force be with you.” With that, the drunk staggered off.

“Now,” asked the Lord, turning to face me. “Who’s on first? Tell you what, how about you talk while I listen?”

“How did I know you’d say that? Well, where to start, where to start? Can I be frank? So much of the time I feel that you don’t understand me! I coulda had class. I coulda been a contender. I coulda been somebody, instead of a bum, which is what I am.” I couldn’t stop myself! I just blurted it all out.

I was wallowing in my soup till I meekly looked up to see a sincerely loving expression in His eyes. He stared at me for the longest time. I dared not say a word. Then, He reached across the table and enveloped my hands in His.

“Listen to me, mister. You’re my knight in shining armor. Don’t you forget it. You’re going to get back on that horse, and I’m going to be right behind you, holding on tight, and away we’re gonna go, go, go! Do you hear me, Bobby? When I sent you here to fetch a body, my words were quite clear. You probably can’t remember my words. I said, ‘You’re going out a youngster, but you’re gonna come back a star?’ Do you recall me saying that?”

“Well, now that you mention it, I do!” “But for the longest time, I never heard from you.”

“That’s because you didn’t want to talk to me. Look around you. Life is like a banquet, and most poor suckers are starving to death! If you listen to my words, I’ll prove to you that, as your witness, you’ll never be hungry again. Surely, you realize I’m not talking about food, right?”

With that, He stopped talking and listened as I poured out my heart for more than an hour. I could tell by His piercing eyes that I was going to be alright. He promised to always meet me at my table, even if I felt He was somewhere else.

“I guess I should go now,” He said. “Just give me a shout anytime and I shall return.”

As he began to fade away, He smiled. Putting both thumbs up He said, “Here’s looking at you, kid.”

I smiled, picking up our Dixie Cups. Jesus taught me that He has a great sense of humor! If you don’t believe it, just look around you!

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