The place is here, the time is now, and the journey into the shadows that we’re about to read could be our journey. A journey that is not without irony. I submit for your review, John Michael Jones. A father of two and a devoted husband. He’s a guy of average intellect and an above average opinion of himself. Who if he were to close his mouth and listen, just might learn something about himself. There’s a sign post up ahead. You are now entering the twilight zone.
While Apollo’s chariot shown brightly in the morning sky, John stepped off the porch and looked up. Peering through the green, with the Sun’s halo waxing the edges of the leaves, he dropped his arm. It swung in an arc as he pivoted toward the garage to pull out the lawnmower. Farther into the distance, he could see three figures walking from house to house.
In the early hours of a Saturday morning, they walked the streets. Hard bottom footfalls announcing their arrival. The sound of closing doors and shuttered windows preceeded them.
His wife identified them first and gathered up the kids like little goslings with her guiding arms. She hurried them into the house. Placing her shoulder against the door, she closed and locked it with force. She closed and locked it as if they were threatening to burst through the door at that very moment to descend upon her with a thousand pamphlets and scripture.
He pulled the chord on the lawnmower while the three forms began to develop definition. He gave the chord two more yanks, before juicing the engine with a few squirts of gas. Every Saturday, between nine and ten in the morning, he cut the grass. If he had to guess, he’d cut that yard once a week times twenty years to the tune of one, two, three, oh a lot of times.
He rounded the back of the house with the mower chewing everything in sight and there they stood out front. Waiting. This particular group made a habit of visiting him almost nearly every Saturday – about this same time – ten, eleven, maybe fourteen, oh a lot of times. The leader, Diane, had to be in her late fifties, early sixties. She still had a youthful look about her. Diane brought other believers with her to have discussions with him about scripture. She seemed to have a personal mission to bring him and his family into the fold. He saw it as an opportunity to showcase his talents.
“Excuse me. Can I interrupt you for a minute. Are you saved?” Asked one of the younger men with her. Rookie. Who’s been coaching him. “I have?” John replied.
“So you’ve accepted Jesus Christ as your Lord and Savior?” John looked at Diane and nodded his head, “Yes.” Thinking to himself, Why must we follow this script into a conversation every time.
Rubbing his chin, he asked the young man, “Where will you go when you are resurrected?” The young man replied, “We will all go to Heaven with him.” Every other past visit, at about this time, he’d nod his head and say, “Well looks like we’ll be spending a lot of time together when we all get there.” But today, who knows, call it a devilish twitch or something, he couldn’t let it go. “You know only martyrs will be in the throne room and that his throne will be on the Earth. Sez, it right in Revelations, plain as day.”
He sized up all three for their reactions. “While we are on the topic, the “Rapture” – make believe. Doesn’t exist. You’d do better to make it happen by declaring it a national holiday. It’s never spoken of in the bible.” The older man, who stood just at an angle behind Diane wiped his forehead. His arms, dangling out of his short sleeved buttoned down shirt, were feverishly at work. His hands thumbing through his bible, searching frantically for scriptures. The older guy appeared to be roughly the same age as Diane, but the years wore on him like a heavy coat.
John never liked guys who wore those kinds of shirts. They reminded him of a jerkface teacher he had back in Lutheran school as a kid. A teacher who forced him to write ridiculous sentences over and over as punishment for childish crimes. One such round of discipline had him writing, “I will not talk in class,” for the better part of an entire Saturday and partial Sunday. Until he arrived at a light bulb of an idea, with his hand cramping, to photo copy what he’d written to finish off the rest. Jerkface with a jerk looking short sleeved button down shirt. Finished off with a jerk looking clip-on tie.
He reached down to pick up a piece of paper that’d blown onto his yard. “Well, while you guys are looking that up, here’s a softball. What cloud are you gonna pick out in Heaven?” He was coming; round after round; quip after quip. Diane’s hands were visibly shaking. She was filling up fast on his sarcasm and smart-assery.
The younger man began to back pedal away from the conversation. John continued on, despite their body language. “I’m just saying young fella, you sound like you believe the resurrection to be, something like, extended retirement. We started off as gardeners. We’ll probably be getting new jobs, if we don’t get the old ones back in the Garden of Eden.”
Diane had enough for today. “John. Thank you so much for your time. We’ll let you get back to mowing.”
He replied, “No problem. My pleasure.” He reached his hand out to shake their hands. “Fellas, take this wicha. Ask yerself. Do you exist to serve your god or does your god exist to serve you?” The trio made their way to a car parked across the street and sped off.
His wife peeked through the blinds before opening the door. “Why do you waste time speaking with them?”
He responded, “They do what they do outta habit. I’m just trying to enlighten them. Help them to think a bit more about what they believe and why they believe it.”
He wiped his forehead with a towel. “Besides, like the scripture sez, you never know which one of these visitors might be Jesus in disguise. He ain’t gonna catch me with my trousers down, around my ankles on judgement day. I accept their visits and talk to those people as a function of good habit.”
His wife turned to go back inside. At that moment she noticed a sign planted in the lawn. “John, did you put that sign in the grass?” It read, “Jesus was here. Better luck next time. Got Jesus?”
It’s kinda like a same difference. John Michael Jones. A know-it-all, foot-in-mouth citizen, who had the opportunity to share a bit of politeness with his fellow travelers, but failed to do so. This goes out as a warning that a simple act of kindness or in this case, politeness has long extending consequences in the Twilight Zone..
By malakhai jones
(C) Copyright 2016
img src: http://1.bp.blogspot.com/-ktweidEe4Gw/UGcjvYRv91I/AAAAAAAAJuI/PN-iNDs4EHY/s1600/108-0918070110-to-serve-man-521.jpg
Thank you very much Heather!
Oh my goodness. It’s not even the cleverness of subject, or concise observations about human nature or that twist of sadness and humor few artists and writers can muster, that turns me green with envy at this outstanding prose, and then glorious with pride for your success. It’s the sheer intuition you have as a writer, something you’re born with, not something learned, you either have it or you don’t and good grief my talented frie nd, it’s an honor to atest, you have it
Wow! I am humbled by your words Candice. I’ll enjoy it for a quick moment before saying, just about everything you write, I say to myself, “I wish I had written that.” I do appreciate you reading it and even more so, giving me notes on the piece. Thank you so much Candice! 🙂 <3
You’re so far above average it’s unreal
I agree with The Feathered Sleep above…you most definitely have “It”, M. And I think this would make a great Twilight Zone episode. Don’t ever stop writing. 🙂
I’m gonna have to keep on writing to get good. Been reading up on how to get better at telling and structuring stories. I wanna get good at this now. 😃
You’re already good, M, but I understand what you’re saying…we can always get better, keep improving.
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