Jesus the short order cook is stripping off his stinking t-shirt. Stepping out of his chinos and boxer shorts.He wear rubber clogs to work. His are cornflower blue. These, he places side by side next to the basin, beside his leather sandals. He is not Jesus as in a Latino Hey–ZEUS. Everyone calls him Jesus because of his flowing hair and beatific gaze. Beatific. An old girlfriend had dubbed him Jesus. Even though his name was Gordon.
His very ball sack feels greasy after the long shift. Jesus steps into the steaming bath. It is fucking three o’clock in the morning. His wife and newborn baby are sleeping down the hall. They live together in a duplex apartment. The neighbor’s place and theirs are mirror images.
After he soaks and soaps, Jesus will read for a few minutes–a few minutes is all it will take for his eyes to grow heavy. One time, not long after the baby was born, Jesus was so tired he heard in a daze the paper guy gently removing his house key from where he’d left them in the keyhole. Jesus had frozen, breath caught, half-upright on the couch while the paper guy nudged the door slightly wider. Then set them down just inside, closing the door with a click.
Keyhole; was that even the right word? Verily, he was so tired. He was lucky. Tonight his neighbor Brooks was up late, too. Brooks worked swing shift at the pillow factory on the West side of town. Jesus could hear him very softly plucking his banjo. The apartments had matching wide and shallow closets abutting each other. Sounds carried through. So soothing to the ear. But tonight, his neighbor’s loneliness seeped through the closet doors, too. Jesus felt it in his own hands and chest. Brooks was a good man. The two had grown up together in Nazareth, Tennessee.
Brooks’ playing was so gentle, the night so still Jesus thought he could hear Brooke’s fingertips on the strings. He wished he could turn some water into wine and bring it with some bread and fish over to Brooks. If he could only muster the energy, he’d find the light; the way. Pick his way in robe and sandals atop the little stream that separated their porches. He’d just leave them outside Brooks’ door for his old classmate to find and savor.
Bidar means awake. Patricia Bidar is a writer and California native looking forward to life’s third act.