Me and God -- by Roy Pickering
or most of my life God had played an insignificant role. As a younger man, I vaguely believed in the concept of a mastermind behind creation. I gave thought to intervention from on high primarily on occasions when I desired an outcome for an event beyond my control. Once the Yankees had won or lost, my reverence was forgotten. Much like Santa Clause leaves the minds of children on December 26th.

It wasn't until college that atheism became my official policy. In the years that passed after forfeiting the right to deity worship, my life seemed no less blessed. To the contrary. I married; married quite well as a matter of fact; raised a family; rose to the highest rungs of the corporate ladder. In the latter category, it helped some that I am the son-in-law of the company's founder and father of his grandchildren. As you can see, most if not all things of import were going my way.

Then one day...

I initially took him for what he appeared to be, a standard issue hobo, and rushed past with scarcely a glance. My thoughts were on matters undoubtedly beyond his comprehension. Had he asked for money or something equally typical, I would have paid him no mind. What he said was:

"Do you not recognize me?"

"Huh?" Could it be this mendicant was someone I once knew? Curiosity made me stop and peer into his face, but no recognition came.

"It is I."

"And that would be?"

"The alpha and the omega. The creator of all things. The second coming. But my friends call me Jessie."

Enough precious time had been wasted. I turned and continued on my way. A peculiar manner in which to begin the day, but already beyond the span of my attention.

I thought of neither the man nor God, much less equated them, for the next three weeks. My workdays were packed with innumerable pressing matters. My nights consisted of tending to the humdrum details of home life. As for the time in between, these precious few hours were spent thrashing about on the spacious confines of Delia's four post bed.

I craved my reflection in her eyes. She made me feel that I fulfilled her every need, including those unknown until I unearthed them. It had been a long time since my wife Nora made me feel needed in such a way. And never had Nora possessed the raw sexuality and elasticity, the flawlessly curvaceous body designed to whip loins into a frenzy, that characterized Delia. What Nora did own was a tremendous fortune inherited from her family. With this, I was willing to make due.

The dual existence I had arranged quelled my restless nature, making the domestic half more tolerable. My infidelity actually made me a better husband and father than I would otherwise have been. So everybody won. Temporary attacks of anxiety did occur. I did not classify my actions as wrong, for rationalizing suspect behavior was an art I had mastered. But I did recognize that they were less than right. Plus, and far more importantly, I was taking a tremendous risk. If caught, Nora would undoubtedly leave me, taking every precious penny along with her. Therefore I took great precautions to keep from being found out, except for the surefire method of ending the affair. This I was unwilling, perhaps unable to do.

One evening as I waited for a cab to obey my commanding finger and transport me from Delia's apartment to home, a vaguely familiar voice addressed me.

"Remember me?"

I did not at first, but was soon reminded.

"It is I. Your lord and savior, come to offer you redemption."

Operating on well-honed instinct, I took a ten-dollar bill from my pocket. I figured this was substantial enough of a bribe for privacy. The man certainly looked like he was in need of a few bucks, so his refusal of my offer came as a surprise.

"I don't want your money. I desire only the salvation of your soul."

"My soul is fine, thank you. Now if you don't mind..."

"But I do mind. I mind very much that you do not believe in me. You see, as before I intend to select twelve disciples to help spread the word of my return. You are one of those men. I know this strikes you as a peculiar form of recruitment, but my ways tend to lean towards the mysterious side."

"Look, buddy."

"Jessie. The name is Jessie."

"You've got the wrong guy, Jessie. I'm not a prime candidate for cult membership. I don't believe in God, and if I did, I'd expect a bit more of him than some nut in need of a haircut, a shave, a fashion consultant, and a bath."

Jessie was unfazed by my cynicism and insults.

"Which is partly why I have chosen you. There is no greater persuader than one who initially had the least faith of all. Take Saul. Or Deon Sanders."

My arm thrust into the air again, this time with success. A cab screeched to a halt, providing me with the means to escape.

"Until next we meet."

The lemon chariot pulled away from Jessie's parting words. As it turned at the corner, I could not resist the temptation to look back. Jessie was no longer there.

Only three days passed until our next encounter. In the springtime whenever my demanding schedule permits, I enjoy spending an hour or so outdoors. The finest restaurants with their attentive wait staffs cannot compete against a New York City hotdog beneath a cloudless sky. As I savored the first bite, someone sat down next to me.

"Have you given any thought to our conversation?"

In a city of millions, it was astounding that this man repeatedly managed to find me. For the first time I scrutinized his appearance. His style of dress was nondescript: jeans, a pair of low top sneakers, a tee shirt advertising New York. I'd always found it idiotic when people (usually tourists and immigrants) wore clothing that proclaimed the city they were presently in. Could they not wait until returning to their homeland? But I digress. Jessie's apparel was dirty and worn, but not overwhelmingly so. The foul body odor possessed by the unwashed was not detected. His shoulder length hair did not appear to be entirely unfamiliar with a comb. Perhaps he was not homeless, but merely impoverished. The difference was negligible to me.

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