by David Novak
He tells me he can turn me into Jesus Christ. That he’s turned lots of folks into Jesus, and that he can turn me into Him, too.
It’s because he’s got this gift. It’s a gift from God. He says he’s had it for as long as he can remember. Probably had it since he was just a little baby lying around in some tiny crib somewhere wearing nothing but diapers.
And that gift?
It’s that he can see into people.
He can see right through their bodies. Straight into their souls. He can see what makes them tick.
And he can tell if they got that special light in them.
He says some folks have it, this special light. Some folks have it and some folks don’t. And the ones that do, they’re the special ones. They’re the saved ones. The ones touched by the Almighty Himself. They’re the ones that can turn into Jesus Christ. Because that’s what God wants, he says. It’s not enough to be like Jesus. God wants you to be Jesus.
And the folks that don’t have the light in them? They’re the damned ones. They’re lost souls and hopeless causes. Wanderers of the earth. Some of them are just dumb and unlucky, but other ones have evil intentions in them.
But I don’t have to worry about that, he says. Because I got that special light, and it’s one of the brightest he’s ever seen. I blind him. And that makes me more special than the whole lot of them.
He smiles when he tells me that. Smiles when he tells me what he can do. It’s a good smile, too. Full of white teeth and bright eyes and kindness. He looks like the actor from that old black and white film they play every Christmas, the one my mother used to always say looked so handsome.
If everything works out, he says smiling, all it takes is one night. That’s it. I’d be a man when the sun comes up and the Son of God by the time it goes back down again.
But there’s rules for when it happens. Three of them.
The first is, I can’t be drunk.
I have to feel it when I turn. Really feel it. And I wouldn’t be able to feel it if I’m drunk. He says he knows that sounds easy. But it’s not. Because when I start turning, I’m going to want a drink. And it’s not going to be easy to say no to that when you’re in a whorehouse.
That’s the second rule. You’ve got to be with the lowest of the low when you turn. Just like Jesus, you got to be with the sinners. The ones with no light in them. Because without those people, Jesus wouldn’t have been Jesus. The ones without the light turned Jesus into what He was. It takes something a little ugly like that to make something beautiful. Because being the son of God only gets you so far.
The ones that don’t have the light? They’re instrumental in this.
He brings me to them on a Sunday afternoon. It’s a small place, off the county road in the middle of the woods. It has a bar on one side and a pole on the other for women to dance on. There’s a jukebox in the corner with some condom wrappers lying next to it. The bartender serves beer out of a cooler. There’s not too many people there, but there’s enough.
He sits on a stool in the corner, and leans his back against the wall. He smiles, and it makes me feel less scared.
But I am still very, very scared.
Because rule number three? It’s that it must hurt.
If you want really want to turn into Jesus, you have to have your own crucifixion. You see, that’s why the ones without the light are instrumental. They’re the ones that turned Jesus into Jesus.
So I follow the instructions he gave me.
I walk over to the jukebox. I unplug it. And I begin to preach.
It’s not enough to call them sinners. I have to bring out the rage in them. Bring out their evil intentions. So I speak terrible, horrible truths to them. I curse them. I damn them. I spit on them, on their souls. I remind them that they’re not like me, that they’re below me because they don’t have the light in them and when they die nobody will remember who they were. All they are, are worthless seeds of a larger rotten fruit that’s been thrown to the ground. And from that rot I will grow.
A bottle gets thrown at my head and blood trickles down my face and all I can see is red and I remind them their only purpose is to rot. Another bottle knocks me down and my head screeches and I scream that I’ll leave their corpses behind with the worms. Even as they drag me out, I tell them that.
They take turns beating me in the parking lot.
Something cracks inside my chest and I cough up blood and it’s like I’m breathing underwater. They beat my face into something I can’t even recognize. They turn me into a stranger to myself.
They leave me out there like that. Broken.
I crawl. I don’t know where to, but it’s all I know how to do. It’s what Jesus would do. And eventually, I come across a pair of shoes. And in them is the man with that nice smile, the one my mother would have liked.
He tells me I’m special. I have that light in me. And he can turn me into Jesus Christ. If everything goes well, all it takes is one night. But unfortunately, he says, it can take more than that sometimes.
He smiles, and tells me he figures it will take at least one more honest try.