The Wild Jesus (Part 3 of 4)

My grandfather is at the top of the mountain looking for my grandmother. She’s been missing for years and each summer she’s been gone her earthquakes destroy more of the town. Soon, everyone has left. My grandfather stays and promises to find his wife and learn why she’s done this for so long.

My father tells me this story at his camp out in the woods and says that was the last time he ever saw his Dad. It’s why we live so far away from the mountains, close to the canal and the fields, where there are woods to hunt and where good families are easier to protect.

I listen to a lot of my Dad’s stories without Jesus around. I can’t tell him the secret me and my sisters know. They think they can catch the shadow of the Jesus lizard. I don’t. But knowing about the shadow would drive my father crazy. My Mom has told my Dad he can hunt for one more full moon after this one, then he has to come home and be a worker again. The moon is nearly full. He watches it each night, knowing he only has a month to figure out how to find Jesus and kill him, without any bullets, which is my fault. “If I don’t do something,” my Dad says, “I’m afraid your Mom will disappear to the mountains. But I can’t go back to being a worker again.”

I tell my sisters later on what Dad said. They look worried, then laugh. “Mom would never leave. Even if she did, she’d take us with.” I don’t know if that includes me or not. I say, “We have to get Reagan over to the canal and use him as bait to get Jesus’s attention.” My idea of course is if Jesus comes back out of the water to chase Reagan, maybe my Dad can catch Jesus and my mistake about throwing away all the bullets will be erased.

At school, I see my best friend and he yells, “You’re still here!” He says people thought me and my family got scared by the fire in the woods and we moved away for good. I say, “But all you had to do was stop by and check our house.” He says his parents don’t really want him hanging out with me because they’re kind of freaking out. I say, “It’s okay, my family is crazy, I don’t blame your parents. But we have to promise always to check on each other from now on if we think one of us is maybe moving away forever.” We use his pocketknife to cut our hands and do a blood shake. In class later our teacher makes us go up front and read our stories out loud to everybody. I tell about the day I threw my Dad’s bullets over the Berlin Wall, how Reagan fought the lizard I chucked at his face, and how me and my sisters saw the Jesus lizard turn into an underwater shadow at the canal. My teacher says nothing. My friends are too embarrassed to look at me.

After school, I sneak through the woods to see if the Berlin Wall is still there or if it’s disappeared again. I follow the blood trail from the day my Dad shot Jesus once and gave him five wounds. I follow the blood into the cornfield. It ends. The Wall is gone. But the blood that should be on the other side of the Wall is gone, too. There’s a blank line through the corn field where the Wall was. The corn on the other side looks funny, like someone from the world on that side sprayed the stalks with plastic to keep them looking fresh.

That night at dinner my Dad shows up in the back yard. We go out to see what’s the matter. “Reagan is not the same,” my Dad tells us. “I saw him in the woods. He said a lizard healed his wounds. He believes Jesus is gone forever.” Me and my sisters look at each other, forcing ourselves not to say anything. My Mom packs up some food for him. We give him hugs good-night even though by then he smells pretty awful. “There’s going to be a full moon tonight,” my Mom says, then goes back inside. My older sister says, “Okay, I know what to do.” An hour later, she leads us into the woods. We split up and call for Reagan. Our voices echo around the burned woods. “There he is!” Reagan appears from behind a bush and looks at us like intruders. “Reagan!” my older sister yells. “All the magic lizards are drinking water at the canal!” He’s on us quick just like we want as we run ahead and hide in the tall grass.

Reagan shows up by the canal breathing hard, holding his hat in his hand.  “Where are all the lizards, you worthless babies?” he yells like he’s about to cry. I put my hand over my mouth so I don’t laugh. I feel a drop of water on my arm. I look up and don’t see any clouds just little patches of stars around the huge yellow moon. Then I feel another drop. “Oh, my gosh!” says my middle sister. There’s a tall watery shadow at the edge of the canal right beside us. The shadow has antlers and long hair. The body has five holes in it. We watch as five different craters on the moon shine down a grayish light that each pierce one of Jesus’s wounds. The rays of moonlight going through the shadow get thinner and thinner until he is flesh again. Jesus appears with his arms outstretched. Above his dark wet hair I see his antlers fill the bright circle of the moon.

Reagan screams. The moon goes out like a candle. In the dark, I hear Jesus run past me. Drops of water hit my face. The air is filled with the sound of Reagan’s screaming and something else like soft thunder coming from beneath the ground. The moon reappears just in time for my sisters and I to see the wild Jesus and his shadow jumping away silently, dodging and rocks and the trees.

End Part 3 of 4

Read Part 1

Read Part 2