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Mr. Wood brings a story about choices… When you’re done, ask yourself what you would do.



Daniel James Wood

Oh Lord all I can hear is the voice of Jesus tellin me, “Marci, Marci, put down the gun,” but I got so damn scared when I found him in my house I just keep it pointed at him aimin right atween the eyes. 

“Marci, please!” 

Oh Lord, I just come home from workin the hotel bar all day and got my hands filled with a half-dozen shoppin bags of groceries and the house is all dark and when I turned on the light I found a brown man with long hair, a beard and blood runnin down his wrists waitin for me in the shadows and he said, “Marci” -- well, what in heck else am I spose to do?  My shoppin bags fell outta my fingers, milk all over the floor, cracked glass, but I had to grab the gun from the drawer and I did real quick and then I pointed it at him and said, “Who the hell are you, dammit, and how’d you get in here and what d’you want and how d’you know my name?  Course he was real patient when he splained it all to me.  He’s Jesus, he says.  He’s my Lord and Savior.  Now he’s come back down he says, from heaven, because –

“This is it, Marci.  This is the way the world will end.  The time has come.  There will be a battle.  The forces of darkness are moving.  They are amassing an army.  We must do the same.  I have returned for this purpose, so those who believe in me may stand by my side as this world faces its final hour.  And the time for that has come at last; the time for that is now.”  But, oh Lord, I’m just a single mom from Macon, Georgia, and what’s our Lord and Savior want with me? 

“You are faithful,” he says.  “You shine bright; you lit the way for me.”  Lit the way?  I thought there’d be a heavenly glow, and angels, a voice from the sky, all that. 

“No,” he says, “just this,” and he opens his arms with his hands bleedin where they got holes tore through em and he says, “for now, just this.” 

But there’s a picture in Antoine’s room right above the cross we got hung on the wall, what shows our Lord and Savior glowin white and bathed in glory, not like this man here, kinda the same but in the picture his hair looks washed and his beard is trimmed; and the smell a the man in front a me I can’t even describe, but that’s part a the reason why I believe him cause he sure stinks like a dead man just risen, I’ll give him that.  Well, at least he blends in with the place: here’s me standing in a half-lit livin room in a one-bedroom apartment in a block on the side a town you don’t wanna see, pointin a gun at his head while he stands in front a the ripped-apart sofa with his bare feet on a threadbare rug and outside it’s dark and rush-hour traffic on the interstate a few blocks away is only just startin to thin out on a cold Thursday near the end a March.  And down the hall, Antoine is lying in bed, breathin -- breathin.  Antoine.  It’s hard, I know, but Antoine?  He’s breathin still.

Course I didn’t take Jesus just on his word, I ain’t no fool, I didn’t know if he was Jesus or just a crazy person when I walked in and found him here.  So I told him to prove it.  At the point of a gun.  If you’re really our Lord and Savior Jesus Christ, then prove it -- and he did.  He showed me good and proper them holes in his hands.  Then he reached over to the goldfish bowl on the stool beside the sofa and dipped his fingers in, and oh Lord, oh Lord, the water went from clear to blood-red and I felt my mouth fall open. 

“It’s not blood,” he said softly, “it’s wine,” and the fish, Antoine’s fish, floated upside-down on top until Jesus reached in and scooped it up and held it in both hands then put it back in the bowl, and the water was clear again and the fish was alive.  So I started to lower the gun.  What the heck else was I spose to do now? 

“Now,” he smiled and said, “Marci.  We must leave.” 

But I didn’t want to go, not out into the streets round here, not at night; and why go outside anyway? 

“There are others like you.  We must find them.  Trust me, Marci.” 

I trusted him but I couldn’t go.  Not without Antoine.  I sighed, and kept the gun well clear of him now, and sighed again.  What about my son? 

“You must leave him, Marci.”  But I could never do that. 

“There are greater things happening here.” 

But he needs me, and if I’m just spose to leave him when the time comes, what in the heck do I go through it all for?  Every day.  Every damn day you wake up on the floor where you’ve been sleepin next to his bed and the first thing you do is check on him and make sure he’s okay.  Does his machines need adjustin, does his sheets need cleanin, does his bedpan need changin?  Then you do what’s gotta be done afore you go out the door to work.  And all day long you mix drinks and pull beers wonderin is he okay, does he need help; and every spare moment you get to yourself you pray to your Lord and Savior to watch over him; and sometimes you get worried and wonder what if he dies, and sometimes you worry even more and wonder what if he lives?  What if he lives and lives until you’re an old woman and he’s thirty or forty and you can’t work no more so there ain’t no-one to take care a him proper, what then?  For now he’s just a boy but what about later, what then?  And you come home from work and the first thing you do is check on him and make sure he’s okay.  Does his machines need adjustin or sheets need cleanin or what.  Then you make dinner for him what he can eat down easy when you feed it to him with a spoon; but afore anyone eats any dinner you do the most important thing -- you take a moment and you pray; you thank the Lord for your meal and your family and you ask him to bless em all and maybe, maybe, if it’s wise and if it’s right, then, if the Lord sees fit, maybe he could fix Antoine right up.  It don’t have to be so he jumps up outta bed and does the tango; just so’s he can maybe talk again or feed hisself, or maybe just so’s he can look at me proper without them glassy eyes what I can’t tell if there’s really even anyone behind em anymore or not.  Even when the doctors asked me after the accident what I wanted to do with him I swore to the Lord I wouldn’t pull that plug, and I won’t.  But I wish sometimes the Lord would lend a helpin hand so long as the plug’s still in the socket.  A helpin hand.  A helpin hand...? 

“Marci” -- and I raised the gun again and point it right at him; a helpin hand –

“No, Marci.  I’m sorry.  I can’t.” 

A helpin hand. 

“I can’t.” 

Just a hand. 

“Marci, don’t you see?  I am asking you to help bring me into this world.  I am asking you to be my messenger for a purpose that goes beyond the four walls of this apartment.  I -- have -- returned; and I have returned to you.  You believe.  Your heart is pure.  I choose you as my first disciple in this life -- my first apostle -- but you must abandon your old life to enter this new one.  Leave it all behind, Marci, all of it, even Antoine.  Love him, but know that if you turn from him to me, then your love for me will help to give me the power I must wield if I am to guide us through dark times ahead.  I have made this request of all my disciples, from the apostles who learned from me while I lived to the saints who spoke of me after death.  And I ask you, Marci, to walk in their footsteps.  Please, do not be so angry.  I will guide you.  No, please -- Marci, Marci, put down the gun.  Marci, please!  Don’t do this.  Just listen to me, Marci, I am your Savior--!”

My Savior.  I cock the gun and keep it aimed at him.  My Savior: all mine.  

“Marci, this isn’t right.” 

I love my son, and this is love. 

“You must have faith.” 

I have faith, I do, but I can’t give any more without bein’ given somethin in return to keep it alive. 

“This is your gift: a place by my side.” 

I will give up the glory if you please just heal my boy. 

“If I heal him, you will stray from me.” 

If you don’t, I’ll stray; why else should I believe in you if you can’t or can but won’t try to help me? 

“Because this world is ending and I know you want to be doing the right thing when it does.” 

I do, but I don’t think abandonment is right –

“And neither do I, which is why you must not abandon me, Marci; and although I know you love me, the only thing standing between yourself and sainthood right now is your reluctance to turn your back on all this and accept me--” 

But I can’t; I just want my son to be well-- 

“I can’t; this is too important...” 

Do it, please, do it -- but suddenly I feel my finger move on the trigger one-two three four times and shots ring out, oh Lord, oh Lord; he hurtles through the darkness at me like some beast through a forest and I feel him shove me aside and I hear the door burst open and now he’s just footsteps clompin down the stairs and -- oh Lord, I hit him.  I hit him.  There’s blood trailed across the carpet.  And the front door slowly swings closed, creaky-creaky.  Oh Lord, what have I done?  If he hates me now, will he make Antoine worse? 

For a long time I’m just standin here in the livin room with blood on the floor and my pulse in my ears, wonderin if there will be retribution visited upon me for this, or worse, upon Antoine; then quickly with my heart a-thumpin I race down the hallway into the bedroom where he’s still layin in bed all hooked up to the machines and the first thing I do is check on him and make sure he’s okay.  Does his machines need adjustin?  No -- no, he’s fine.  He’s just fine.  And I feel my heartbeat slowin down.  Oh Lord.  And I thank the Lord for keepin Antoine safe in spite a what I done, and I look up at his picture hangin on the wall above the cross over the head a the bed and I say thank you.  In the picture he’s smilin, him with his hair like the golden sun and eyes like the wide blue sea.  I say thank you, but no.  I gotta do what I think is right, and the truth is that when I saw that man in the flesh he scared me with his demands and the frightful language he used about the world endin almost tomorrow; it’s more than I can bear.  Thank you, thank you, but no.  I’ll just sit here awhile with the picture instead; it’s better this way.