On a bus to Cleveland, dappled sunlight shining in your eyes. You’d bought a ticket earlier from the fat little man at the booth. His greasy forehead reminded you of Crisco.
Last night in Philly you fucked a girl with black hair in the backseat of her car after the band played that song that made you feel real sad and real good. You remember looking over her shoulder as she straddled you in the milky light, your fingers tugging the clasp on her frayed red bra. She had this wooden crucifix hanging still from the rearview mirror. The cracked skin of her lower lip brushed against your ear and she said some words you didn’t bother to listen to — one of those commands people always issued in strange breathy voices in the dark, something like, tell me how bad you want it, baby. You just kept looking at the crucifix, hanging dark against the smudged windshield, and you thought about how you could never really ask this stranger with her dark burning eyes about why she had it and what it meant. Maybe she had gone to church as a kid and it had been a gift from some relative. Maybe it had belonged to a grandmother who had died. You could tear through her clothes, get inside of her, deep like it meant something. You could shape the car’s empty space into the sound of her name, but you’d never know her enough to know why she had that crucifix.
Drunk, you staggered to the bus stop after crawling out of her car. It was always, see you later. The same lie.
You remember another city. Boston maybe, or Chicago. Some bar where you were so sure you’d seen Jesus drinking a Budweiser at a table in the back, sandaled feet flat on the floor amongst a sea of piss and booze and puke. He was alone in a white t-shirt. You were flying high on the pills from the guy who’d stopped you in the hall outside of your motel room and said something about how you looked like the kind of guy who knew how to have a good time. You’d laughed in response, a short, jerky snort of a laugh, and bought the pills. At the bar you kept asking people if they saw him, kept going up to groups of pretty girls whose voices sounded like cooing. You told everyone that Jesus was there, at that bar. You could tell it was a local place. After so many different streets with different bars, you got to know how it felt to stand in the yellow light of a tavern that was run by its regulars, got to know the who-the-fuck-is-this-guy glances from beneath baseball caps. You tried to tell people how lucky they were. This was their bar, and Jesus had chosen it.
One girl with pale ringlet curls giggled like you were joking, the curves of her cleavage rising and falling, reflected in the glass of beer in her hand. Another told you she had to go to the bathroom, and that she’d be right back. She didn’t come back.
No one believed you.
Jesus held up his index finger and signaled to the girl with muscled legs in the tight shorts for another beer. You told yourself you were too drunk and too high to talk to him. You wanted to ask him how he’d brought Lazarus back from the dead, if he was still mad at Judas for being a bad friend. You wanted to know what it had been like to walk on water, to look down and see fish floating below, their mouths popping open and closed at your shadow above. You wanted to know if you could do it too.
Instead you went out to the trashcan on the street corner and held your own stomach tight while you emptied its contents into the street. The cops told you to leave. You did. But you never forgot Jesus’ eyes following you from the back of the bar, watching without speaking while he sipped from his glass.
The next morning you woke up and went into a church. You didn’t take communion. You just sat in the pew and looked around for Mary, the angel Gabriel, someone. You waited till noon for God.
It was His own house and He never showed.
Krista Diamond is a 23-year-old vagabond originally from New Hampshire. She currently lives, works and writes in Yellowstone National Park.