“Republican Jesus and Real Jesus Meet at the Endeavor Diner,” fiction by Ron Burch

Republican Jesus says, “So I say to you, Ask and it will be given to you; search, and you will find; knock, and the door will be opened for you. Unless you’re poor or an immigrant or you look dirty.”

Then he says, “For what shall it profit a man, if he gain the whole world, and suffer the loss of his soul? Unless you’re part of the NRA, of course.”

And then, “And know that I am with you always; yes, to the end of time. Which should be coming soon since you have no healthcare.”

Republican Jesus is so white he looks like a ghost. He has curly blonde hair and skin so fair like he’s hairless. He wears designer sandals and the threadcount for his white robe is over one thousand.

He looks nothing like the real Jesus, who is dark-skinned and skinny. His veins jut from his arms. He always looks tired since he has so much on his plate. If you saw him on the street, you’d think he’d be a junky from his gauntness.

Republican Jesus has his boots on the ground. He’s making the rounds. He’s advocating all kinds of behavior that isn’t even in the good book.

Real Jesus doesn’t know where Republican Jesus came from. Real Jesus thinks that Republican Jesus doesn’t know what the hell he’s talking about and especially doesn’t like his message about abusing the poor and homeless, the immigrants and those unlike yourself.

This pisses off Real Jesus. He didn’t go through that whole cross thing to have to deal with this crap again.

They got everything so wrong, so wrong, it hurts Real Jesus. He’d be tempted to wipe out all of them and start over. It would be like the sixteenth or seventeenth time he’s had to do that. Wipe it clean. Start anew. But then there’s these idiots who actually want Armageddon because they think it’s some party, and he in no way wants to make them happy. Besides, most of them wouldn’t even end up in heaven. That’s how wrong-headed they are.

What a mess, he thinks.

Real Jesus tracks Republican Jesus to the old black-and-white tiled Endeavor Diner on Summit Street in Columbus, Ohio. Republican Jesus gorges on the Touchdown Special, which has so much food it’s delivered on two plates.

Real Jesus sits down next to Republican Jesus, who berates Gwen, the fifty-three-year-old waitress. She has two kids: her son is twenty-two and hooked on coke and her daughter, twenty-eight, is in a bad marriage to a man who is stealing from his company. Real Jesus knows all. Sometimes it’s hard to take in so much misery. Real Jesus sighs.

Republican Jesus pushes his empty white coffee mug toward Gwen and demands a free refill even though the menu clearly states that refills are extra. Meanwhile, Republican Jesus raves about trickle-down economic policy to all the poor men and women around him. Some of them believe him because, hey, he kind of sounds like Jesus so he can’t be wrong, right?

Real Jesus doesn’t like people who misappropriate his words. He’s okay with misunderstanding because that lacks an intention. But for those who intentionally lie, he has no patience. His hands still bleed, not to mention the puss that continually leaks out, and how they cramp up when it gets cold. Try living with that for thousands of years. It’ll put you in a bad mood.

Republican Jesus looks at Real Jesus and turns to Gwen, “You really let these homeless people in here? He smells. Probably a criminal. Kick him out.” Gwen frowns.

Real Jesus could easily make Republican Jesus’s head split open like a crushed melon. Or Real Jesus could follow Republican Jesus and, when they’re in a quiet spot, cause the ground to open, swallowing him whole. Or it could be a simple heart attack.

Republican Jesus checks his robe and shows the waitress that he has no pockets. He’s a bit short today so could he wants credit.

Or Real Jesus could just let him get hit by a car.

Republican Jesus demands credit because he’s a white guy and his family’s been in this country forever as if that means something.

Real Jesus debates between a paralyzing stroke or one of those flesh-eating bacteria that he saw on the news once.

Real Jesus leans forward and places his hand on the arm of Republican Jesus, who balls up his fist to strike Real Jesus, but instead recoils and yells, “This fellow just touched me! Someone call the cops!”

Real Jesus reaches into his robe. Even though it doesn’t have pockets, since it’s the robe of the Real Jesus, anything is possible. Republican Jesus leans back in fear as if he’s going to get shot. Real Jesus places the right amount of money on the counter for the meal of Republican Jesus, including a nice tip for Gwen.

The fact is Real Jesus can’t damn Republican Jesus. It’s not the way it works. Then he’d be just like Republican Jesus. So he hopes the act of kindness, this little thing, burrows like a bug into Republican Jesus, gets in there deep and eats away the dark out of Republican Jesus’s heart and open it up so he can have a chance at the end. Real Jesus can’t promise this but it’s his hope.

Real Jesus crosses the faded tile floor of the restaurant, nodding at the other customers. Republican Jesus grunts at the act of kindness and pockets the tip meant for Gwen. Real Jesus shakes his head in amazement and wonders if he should leave an actual miracle behind for the other guy but thinks, fuck it, he’d rather have chocolate ice cream that was so cold it would give him brain freeze.

 

 

***

Ron Burch‘s fiction has been published in numerous literary journals including Mississippi ReviewEleven ElevenPANK, and been nominated for the Pushcart Prize. Bliss Inc., his debut novel, was published by BlazeVOX Books. He lives in Los Angeles. 

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