ME, THE SAINT, AND THAT OTHER GUY

“It’s not in here.”

“Are you sure? Could you check again?”
The anxiety in my voice acts like scissors, cutting the edge off my consonants.

The robed saint sighs and pretends to look in the massive book…again… dragging his index finger down the pages.
He smells of alleluia and cucumbers.
He sounds like destiny right after a beer.

I know the answer before it is given.

“Maybe you should see that other guy.”
He’s careful not to make eye contact.

“And he would be…?”

“Down there.”
He points with a sadness that hurts my bones.

I wish he would look at me, at least acknowledge I am here.
I bet his eyes are the color of atonement.

But I will never know because I am off to see if I should be with that “other guy,” the one parents warn against, the one who shreds salvation and weaves it into a lanyard for the key to condemnation.

Just thinking about all this makes my conscience sweaty.
How did it come to this?

That other guy has a book, too, but this one is held together with rubberbands and lies.

I give him my name and feel all dizzy while he hums to himself, flipping the pages.
I think he is singing “Steam Heat” in the back of his head.
I chuckle a bit and his eyes lock onto mine like a sniper.
He smells of refried cabbage and feels like Monday.
There is no doubt that his eyes are probably the colorless hue of deep desperation.

I hold my breath.
I so don’t want to go with him.

“You’re not in here.”

The book snaps shut to the sound of a hurricane.
But it is just the exhalation of breath I have finally let loose.

“Are you sure? Am I even dead?”

The other guy, the ultimate sinner, reaches inside and pulls out my soul by the tail.
It wiggles with life.
“Satisfied?”

So now I am at the bus stop, waiting endlessly in some limbo.
I guess I should be happy to be alive and relieved that this was all some kind of dream.

But all I can think about is why I’m not good enough or bad enough to make it into any book.

Copyright 2010

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