What Would Jesus...
Actually now that I`m on the subject, is it just me or is it weird that the name Jesus is popular in Central American cultures. I mean seriously, imagine being saddled with that, talk about trying to live up to your name. I`m named after a saint and that’s difficult enough, how weird would it be to hear some mother calling her son in for dinner, “Jesus,” or as I`m Irish I suppose that`d be “Jaysus, your dinners ready.” Though now that I think of it, I have heard many a mother screaming, “JAYSUS CHRIST get in here ye little fecker,” maybe there are more of them about than I thought.
Where was I? Oh yeah, Jesus Garcia. Anyway Jesus is gunned down in an ambush, and his three compadres escape by carjacking a passing Buick being driven by eighteen year old Maria with her fourteen month old brother in his car seat in the middle of the back seat. (See, I hate that last sentence, the word seat twice so close together, ugly) anyway…
Cheet, who`s in the front passenger seat, is next in command and wondering what would Jesus do in this situation (see what I did there) while Nico bleeds all over the backseat, he`s been shot in the left side, and is slowly drowning in his own blood.
There`s a whole cast of other characters, like Terri, an ex-trauma surgeon with a coke habit (that`s why she`s an ex) who does patch up work for the gangs, among others. Everybody`s story is in flashback, we start in the aftermath and work our way backwards; a day in the life as it were, all very Tarantino. It`s a really good story, (would I lie to you) possibly the best thing I`ve never written :)
Sounds great I hear you say, (did I mention I was psychic) what`s the problem?
Well, firstly I`m forever bumping up against the word limit. Not a complaint, it`s there for a reason, I understand that; but this thing is turning into a novella in my head and I`m regularly getting complaints in feedback when my stories are unfinished.
Secondly; while it adheres to the letter of the title, I`m pretty sure it`s not in the spirit that Alison intended, Tis the season, and all that.
So instead I`ve written a poem that abides by the spirit if not the letter of the title, it`s more than a little twee, but hey.
Oh and a Merry Christmas to you all and I`ll see you on the other side.
P.S. in case you were wondering; what Jesus would have done is off Maria and her brother Peter at the first opportunity. But as it`s almost Christmas, and Cheet isn’t a complete bastard, he lets them live (Phew)
And now as promised……….
A GIDDY JINGLING
WHEN BONE CHILL AIR DOES FROST OUR PANE
TIS JINGLING TIME BEGUN AGAIN
AND SONGS OF PEACE AND LOVE ABOUND
WHEN CAROLING HORDES US ALL SURROUND
THOSE TUNES RUNG OUT THROUGH SHOP AND MALL
WILL RENDER FREE THE TOTS IN ALL
AND FROM EACH SEASONS GREETING GIVEN
THERE IS A CHILDHOOD MEMORY RIVEN
ALL SMALL ONES EYES AGLINT AND GLOW
FRONT FEVERED THOUGHTS CONSUMED WITH SNOW
AND ALL THE HOUSES NOW RE-DRESSED
IN LIGHTS OF BRILLIANT HUE
THAT TWINKLE, FLASH AND MESMERISE,
REMAKE THE WORLD ANEW
BEHIND EACH DOOR A FRONTING ROAD
NOW WEATHERED ALL IN HOLLY
THE MANY TALES THEY ARE A TOLD
OF HIM SO ROUND AND JOLLY
TO SLEIGH FILLED TALES OF FLAKES THAT GLISTEN
WITH WIDE EYED SMILES THE YOUNG DO LISTEN
THOSE TALES ARE FILLED WITH REINDEER FLEET
WITH MAGIC SHOES UPON THEIR FEET
THEY DANCE AND PRANCE ACROSS THE SKY
FOR ALL DO KNOW THOSE REINDEER FLY
AND NOW AT LAST THAT DAY IS HERE
THAT ONCE UPON A MAGIC YEAR
AND SANTA NOW HE BOARDS HIS SLEIGH
A SNAP OF REINS, HE`S ON HIS WAY
THE LITTLE NOW TO EARLY BED
ON MALLOWED COCAO THEY`VE BEEN FED
AND DREAM WILL THEY OF HOOVES AND SLEIGH
A BRIGHT RED NOSE TO LIGHT THEIR WAY
BEFORE THE DAWNS NEW LIGHT CAN BREAK
BE SURE THOSE SCAMPS WILL LAY AWAKE
THERE SEE THEM DOWN THE STAIRS THEY CREEP
SO SOFT, SO QUIET, WHILE PARENTS SLEEP
A MOUNTAIN NOW SURROUNDS EACH TREE
WRAPPED GIFTS AS FAR AS EYES CAN SEE
AND ALL THROUGHOUT THE LAND THEY`LL SCREAM
OH MUM! OH DAD! DEAR SANTA`S BEEN
SO NOW ONCE MORE TIS DRAWING NEAR
THAT GIDDY JINGLING TIME OF YEAR
RELEASE WITHIN EACH GIRL OR BOY
WHO`LL FILL AGAIN THIS WORLD WITH JOY
He said love your neighbour
And we understood perfectly.
We fought Crusades, we colonised the world in the name of religion, we enslaved those who didn't fit-wrong colour, wrong faith, wrong culture, we were racist and bigoted, we committed genocide: we wiped out cultures from the Guanche to Incas, we invented inter-Christian war because one type is always more right...from Latvia to Ireland, we were misogynistic and took way women's rights, we persecuted gays and gypsies, we escalated conflicts in the name of just war, we created the Inquisition, Nazism and Klu Klux Klan, we developed intolerance to other faiths and those with none, we created institutions that shut out non-Christians, we destroyed great art and literature in the name of purity, we obliterated the environment as man can rule with impunity, we learned that living in harmony is less important than proselytising.
And if Jesus turned up today,
would we let him or her in?
Left to sit on the front step,
head slumped in hands.
'What would Jesus do?'
The skull-faced smirk, a last ditch attempt at glib eyebrows. What would Jesus-'
A strange yuletide silence.
Dallas had never been the religious type. Nor had she been the sort to question her own strong-willed choices of action. A brash, loudmouthed ex-socialite from St. Louis with a refined taste for the vulgar, she liked to pick up words or phrases that amused her and put them to ironic use, never quite appreciating how sincere she could seem in her insincerity.
I would never forget the 2008 summer of 'groovy', much less when she first moved to England and read John Masefield and insisted that time and tide and buttered eggs were waiting for no man. I don't believe she had ever permitted butter to pass her lips, let alone those of her then husband (number four).
Since then we had passed through a short-lived 'lol', a newly single 'life is like a box of chocolates' all the way to the worn winter of 'what would Jesus do?'
Of the tropes it was my least favourite.
'What would Jesus do?' Sipping a martini in a Mayfair lounge. 'Well he sure wouldn't have approved of me.'
'What would Jesus do?' Reviewing the divorce settlement from husband (number five). 'If I had long hair like his I'd buy me that De Beers tiara Paolo showed me.'
'What would Jesus do?' Gazing at shoes with unpronounceable names in the swankier bits of Chelsea. 'Pick the reds, I think.'
It never added much, as a catchphrase, never seemed to stop her in her tracks or make her think. She bought the tiara anyway and I grimaced at the receipt. 'For chores day,' she joked. I think she joked. She had never worn an apron in her life.
Not once did I see her falter in her luscious decadence; not once did she put a sparking pedicured toe out of her lavish hedonistic line. But always the relentless, indulgent refrain: 'What would Jesus do?'
I don't think I ever realised in those months quite how frail she was. The cancer that had been toying with her for a year or so had spread to her lungs, and however much she flirted with handsome, long-suffering Dr. Chivas, it was not going away.
At her insistence, I was the one to hear the news from him. She didn't like hospitals. Charming the nurses to their chagrin, she pushed through the children's radiology department to find the building's only balcony, pulled a gitane from a little brass and wood case in her purse, and calmly lit it. Her matte lips closed around it and she waved off what I was trying to say.
'One thing you have to hand to Jesus,' she said. 'He was no quitter.'
I had never really felt angry before.
She smiled and took another drag.
Dallas died at two minutes to six on a cold December Wednesday. Any later and I would have been asked for a gin and tonic. Her last words were incomplete and her window was open. Dr. Chivas had been relegated to the downstairs kitchen. I fetched him and we looked down at the stubborn silver lady.
It did not matter what Jesus would have done - what were we to do? It was that, exactly that, the verb. The 'doing' bit. It was one thing to think of this man, this presence, the words that echoed down generations of faith, generations of disbelief - to think of what he said and what he meant and what we took it to mean when we killed for him and bled for him across the strata of history. But quite another to commit him to action, to complete her sentence.
We folded the eiderdown over her face and left the room with the window open.
In her will she left me the De Beers tiara and two framed photographs. The first was a photocopy of her divorce settlement from husband number five; the second a black-and-white family portrait. It was of a ranch in a southern state. In the corner a little girl, seventy years ago. She was holding a Bible.