The Wild Jesus (Part 1 of 4)

My father is in the woods far from our house. He is hunting Jesus. Jesus stalks the woods in his antlers. He is chasing Ronald Reagan. That’s when my Dad shoots Jesus. Jesus runs off, bleeding in five places from one bullet. Nice shot! My Dad waits. He lets Jesus go away to see if he’ll bleed out. When my Dad gets down from his tree he follows the blood. He follows it into the corn field and stops. He cannot go any further. There is a Berlin Wall. The blood trail goes over the Wall. My Dad will not. He can smell the blood and the scent of burnt matches on the other side.

Dad makes us all leave our house and live in a camp by the Berlin Wall so he can continue his hunt. It’s so far away I have to ride a kangaroo to get to my high school. My friends have me over to their nice houses and ask why we live way out by the Berlin Wall now. I tell them because my Dad shot Jesus when Jesus was chasing Ronald Reagan and it’s my Dad’s job to wait and finish off the wounded Jesus. But he has to respect the line represented by the Berlin Wall. He cannot cross it. He has to wait until wounded Jesus crawls back. “What if Jesus dies on the other side of the Berlin Wall, though?” asks one of my friends. “Then he will never get Ronald Reagan,” I tell him. “And Jesus would never die before he gets Ronald Reagan. That would mean the end of the world for him. Jesus has to get Reagan or Reagan will never be able to destroy evil.” My friends say nothing, and look at me with pity. I ride my kangaroo back out into the woods to my Dad and my mother and two sisters by the Berlin Wall, a thing I’ve begun to hate.

One morning I go to the Berlin Wall to wash off Jesus’s blood left from the day my Dad shot Jesus once and gave him five wounds. I scrub and scrub the Wall until there are no more traces of the blood, which the rain could not erase for all the weeks my family has lived in misery waiting for Jesus. As I clean the Wall, I curse the time we’ve lost living so far away from everyone else. “Haven’t you seen Ronald Reagan, Jesus? We see him every day in the woods over here. He’s running around all the time! He’s right here! Haven’t you recovered from your wounds yet?” I end my complaint to Jesus by calling him a coward for not coming over to find Ronald Reagan just because my father is such a great hunter. I put my face close to the Berlin Wall and imagine Jesus is on the other side listening to me. I tell him I will go to the tent where my father keeps his guns and I will take all the bullets and extra ammunition. I tell Jesus I will do this for him, to protect him from my father, so Jesus can come back over the Berlin Wall and safely pursue Ronald Reagan and finish the hunt he started. So I do this. I throw all my father’s bullets over the Berlin Wall.

My father sees what I have done. “Whose side are you on?” he screams. My mother tells me to run, that no man can be expected to hold his temper after something like this, even a great hunter like my father. “You’ve ruined the hunt your father has waited to have his entire life!” I run. I hide in the woods. I look for Ronald Reagan. Then I look for other bullets to give my father, to replace what I stole, so he can be happy again, and my mother and sisters can be happy again, too. I run to the windows of my friends’ houses at night, but get too afraid to wake them up. A light goes on. “It’s the crazy boy whose father forced his family to sleep in the woods! Pity him! No, shoot him!” I hear gunshots and run all night until I am no longer breathing in and out but up and down and left and right with lungs that expand but cannot contract, they just balloon inside me until I collapse somewhere in the dirt and darkness far from the lights of all the houses in town, beyond the cornfield, beyond the woods that hide the wild Jesus and Ronald Reagan, miles from the Berlin Wall that snakes through everything.

The next day I can breathe again and I go find Ronald Reagan in the woods. “I have done it,” he says. I ask what. He comes toward me. “Have you not heard the good news?” he says. As he steps closer I smell burning matches and see that he has been shot through the head. Sunlight pierces the wound. “I have been found,” Reagan says.

I run back to my family’s camp, prepared to face my father’s anger, prepared to die if need be. The Berlin Wall is no longer there. “Welcome home!” my family shouts. They all look much older than I remember.

End Part 1 of 4