Bowling with Jesus

It was a pleasant enough day on the Avenue, and I brought home a page of notes but only one story that perhaps approaches interesting.

It was early when I got there, and lucked into a pretty good spot, where I'd be working next to Umberto. Him I like, not like yesterday's Jasper.

There was one annoyance in the way, though — a street waif sitting on the curb. Vendors have dibs on the curb, and usually the street waifs stoners, beggars, winos, high school punks, and other assorted losers respect that, and sit on the sidewalk. Like I said, though, this bozo was on the curb. Vendor turf. He was blocking me out.

And he was potential trouble. I've seen him go 'round with other people, and once he went 'round with me. He's not major league obnoxious, but he's in the upper minors — a feisty, argumentative dickhead. If I'd asked him nicely to relocate off the curb, odds are 50/50 he's have refused to budge all day.

So I leaned on a wall where I wished he was sitting, and pondered my strategy. What I came up with was...

"Happy Easter!" I said, a little too loud but not at all in his face. "Do you love Jesus with all your heart, all your soul, and all that's left of your mind?"

"Yeah, I do," he said, "Of course I do."

Well, fuckall, I hadn't expected that.

"I don't," I said truthfully, and then abandoned the truth. "I hate that lying bastard." Said blandly but sincerely, it made his eyebrows briefly squiggle, like maybe I'd caught him off-guard, so… "We went bowling once, me and Jesus. He was keeping score, but he's such a bastard, literally, whatever he rolled, always he marked it as a strike. By the third frame, I knew something was up—"

"Wait," the kid said. "He said he was Jesus?"

"No, man, he didn't say it, he was Jesus. His palms were bleeding all over his bowling ball."

The guy stared at me blankly, and I couldn't tell whether anything was happening behind his eyes. "He was Jesus," he said, monotone.

"Definitely. The beard, the flowing robes, bunch of damned apostles following him around, the whole deal." I was winging it — doing improv, basically. No punchline was planned, no idea where we were going with this, but they say you're supposed to stick with whatever you've started, so I stuck. "And 'son of God', my ass," I said. "That sanctimonious fucker was rolling gutter balls and marking 'em as strikes. Said he was rolling a perfect game."

"And he said he was Jesus," the kid on the curb said again.

"He was Jesus, man. They carded him when he bought a beer, and it was right on his license: Christ, Jesus H."

He looked at me like a doubting Thomas. "And where was this?"

"At the bowling alley in Fruitvale," I explained.

He said, "Dude, you're nuts," and gathered his stuff and walked away. And after that, I had an OK day selling fish on the Ave.

From Pathetic Life #23
Sunday, April 7, 1996

This is an entry retyped from an on-paper zine I wrote many years ago, called Pathetic Life. The opinions stated were my opinions then, but might not be my opinions now. Also, I said and did some disgusting things, so parental guidance is advised.

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