The Wild Jesus (Part 2 of 4)

Me and my mom and my sisters move back to the house. My father stays in the woods. He keeps hunting Jesus. He walks with a knife and studies the blood from when he shot Jesus once and gave him five wounds. He follows the trail of big red drops through the woods and into the corn field where the Berlin Wall has reappeared. He cannot cross. He has not seen Jesus for years. The weather gets hot. The heat makes my Mom fight with my sisters who skip school to fish all day and night in the canal. They dive in with sharp sticks and spear fish. One night my Mom sneaks over and locks them in their room. When she finally unlocks their door she says, “No more fish!” and breaks their wooden spears. My sisters walk past me and yell, “Don’t you follow us!”

My Mom tells me in an angry way to go to school. So I go because there’s air-conditioning, plus the work there is a lot easier than living at home with crazy people fishing and yelling and trying to catch Jesus from behind a Berlin Wall that keeps disappearing and coming back. I write about it at school. My teacher shakes her head and looks at me with pity. Later on she smiles and tells me I have some kind of imagination and I don’t argue with her, not one bit, because it might get me booted from school where I’ll be away from my friends and back out in the hot weather again.

That night I go to the woods and ride my kangaroo to see my Dad far away at his camp. He sits there alone sharpening his knife and dreaming of Jesus’s antlers. I sit down and ask him to tell me the story again. He puts down his knife. He says Ronald Reagan is booking through the woods. He’s dodging the rocks and trees. He can hear Jesus right behind him and when he looks back he sees Jesus smiling as he runs. My Dad raises his rifle and takes his shot. Ba-boom! One bullet, five wounds. Jesus falls and his antlers scrape at Reagan’s heels. Reagan runs off hollering. My Dad watches Jesus get up. Dead leaves fall out of his antlers and get caught in his beard. Jesus looks right up at my father in his tree, then runs away bleeding. My Dad looks at me over the campfire and says he needs lizards, “Lots of them.” I ask what for. He says boiling them in a big pot will create a smell that Jesus loves.

The next day I skip school to hunt lizards to try and help my Dad catch Jesus. I don’t tell my friends. I go alone and start hunting lizards in the woods.  I scrape my knuckles on the tree bark and the old rocks when the lizards dodge me. The lizards like the smell of my blood; it slows them down a little. I am so busy creeping up on a nice big lizard mesmerized by the smell of blood that I ignore this quiet creeping sound behind me. I turn around and it’s Reagan. “Your father was a great hunter,” Reagan says. “Until you stole all the bullets.” I don’t know what to say. I hold up the nice lizard I just caught. Reagan bends down and says, “You are a worthless baby.” I look up at him and get so mad I almost cry. “Don’t cry, worthless baby.” Before I can think I chuck the lizard at his face. The lizard smacks Reagan in the lips. He tries to grab it but the lizard falls down the front of his shirt. “Lizard!” Reagan yells as he punches his shirt and dances in a circle. “Lizard!” I see the lizard fall out, so I grab it and me and my lizard run for the canal.

When I get there I see my sisters are both underwater. They surface and yell, “We told you not to follow us!” I tell them I saw Reagan, but they ignore me. I say it’s true and he’s just wandering around the woods being mean to kids, not acting at all like he can defeat evil. “He couldn’t even defeat my lizard.” My oldest sister makes a grab for the lizard. I slap her arm, but it’s too late. She throws the lizard right out into the canal and it goes under, doesn’t even kick or try to swim. We watch it sink until it’s lost in a murky part of the water. “Why’d you do that?” I ask her. She wipes sweat out of her eyes and says lizards are worthless. “You guys, look!” my middle sister says. She’s pointing into the water where the lizard fell in. We see a long shadow in the shape of a person hovering over the sand and rocks at the bottom of the canal. The head of the shadow has antlers and the body has five holes in it. We see it start moving downstream.

My sisters grab at me as I dive into the water. I hold my breath and close my eyes and wait to turn into a shadow or a lizard or maybe something even better. Maybe I can swim for years and end up somewhere way out past the woods and the cornfield and the Berlin Wall, then disappear the next time it disappears. When I open my eyes my sisters are with me underwater. We’re still people. The shadow of wild Jesus is bent up and looking at us with dark hair waving around its antlers. My sisters pull me up and we all take a huge breath.

Our parents are standing at the edge of the canal. “Reagan set the woods on fire!” They hold on to each other tight and the light from the acres of flames makes them glow orange.

End Part 2 of 4

Read Part 1