Jesus wiped the neck of his Heineken bottle with a damp napkin. "You people down here," he explained as He scrubbed the bottle vigorously, "are pretty disgusting. I mean, you guys really these plagues get out of hand."
When he thought it was sufficiently clean, he took a long swig of the beer and slammed the bottle on the bar, sighed heavily and then said, "Damn I needed that! I got friggen drunk last night with Peter and Paul. Those two, ever since they retired, all they do is fish and drink. They like that wine, real sweet stuff, not like the Blood of My Blood, get it!" He squeezed out a phony snicker, winked and nudged me with his elbow.
I laughed politely and sipped my scotch. "God, that's horrible booze."
Jesus turned serious all of a sudden, "Hey, don't use the Old Man's name in vain. Have a little respect. You don't see me swearing up a storm with your family's good name."
I apologized, having forgot that I was in the company of the Alpha and the Omega, not another fading sports star or some local politician. For some reason, Jesus Himself had contacted me, of all people, to "explain a few things" because he had been taking a beating in the press since this whole Revelations/End Times thing started. Two days ago, in a press conference organized by publicity man and author of his own Gospel, John of Patmos, Jesus had to admit he dropped the ball on managing the End Times Revelation … and allowing Trump to come to the forefront of the world scene.
Since then, he was, admittedly, "hitting the sauce pretty hard," and he even confessed he went back to smoking Marlboros. It was a tense time. Jesus looked nothing like the glowing, halo-topped visage that hung on my grandmother's wall. Quite the opposite, he kept his long, wiry hair pulled back in a "man-bun" any offbeat hipster would be proud to sport. His beard was long but had gone unkempt since "the situation" happened; heavy bags had formed over one sleepless night after another.
"You're looking kind of rough, Jesus," I said meekly, hoping I might inherit an answer.
The Son of God sucked down the rest of now lukewarm beer, grabbed his fuming cigarette, puffed on it deeply, hacked a cough and admitted the situation wasn't going away any time soon. "This is a giant shit sandwich," he said. "And we're all gonna have to take a big, fat bite of it."
"Yeah, I saw you put a team together. Remember that Monty Python skit, the Vatican Hit Squad? I saw you called Lucifer in on this one. Interesting choice." Again, the laugh I thought I would garner never came.
Instead, Jesus yelled to the bartender for another round on the "comedian's tab." Then he explained why he chose the Prince of Darkness: "He's the only choice."
"The incarnation of evil to fight … well, to fight the other incarnation of evil, Donald Trump? How's that going to work?" I asked.
"I'll let you know when I know," He assured me.
"Wait," I was miffed. "I thought you knew all and saw everything?"
"Nah," He corrected me as He sparked another butt. "That's the Old Man. I'd never want that responsibility."
"Okay," I started, "don't get mad when I ask this, but if The Old Man, as you call him, can see everything and knows everything, then how does bad stuff happen?"
"Don't sweat it," He consoled, "I get that all the time. Every drunken broad in every bar I've been in has asked me that. It's like a radio. You can't listen to every channel all at the same time. You'd get confused. And here's a little inside info: He really does take Sundays off. Saturdays too That's why He set up organized religion. He's not around to watch them, so needed them to police themselves. He gave them a place to be and he gave them guilt if they did anything wrong. Meanwhile, He and Krishna are crushing the sacrificial wine and watching football. Krishna's more of a soccer fan, but The Old Man has the dope flat-screen, so he gets to choose."
"No Mohamed?" I tried yet another joke.
"Can't drink, the Muslim thing," Jesus shot back, "so he skips the games." Then, he changed gears. "Yeah, no, Lucifer, the Morning Star, the Prince of Darkness, whatever you like to call him, He's been on board for day one. The Old Man needed someone to make him look good. You wouldn't think someone would take a job that entails looking so bad that he makes everyone else looks good, but it's a pretty good package the Old Man offered him. Dad screwed him over; Lu has to work weekends, especially Friday and Saturday nights. Lu is supposed to tempt people so they prove how loyal they are to Dad. Just between us, and if you get to meet The Old Man don't tell him, but he's kinda needy. Really, think about it. He sends this guy out creating situations just to get attention. He's like a high-school girl sometimes, but keep that between us. He'd flip if you knew that."
"You didn't call in Buddha?" I asked.
"Buddha's weird," The Prince of Peace began. "He's too passive, a real loner. That guy is happy to just sit in the fields all day, not doing anything. We needed someone with some teeth, like Lucifer, right?"
"Mohamed," I suggested. "Now there's a guy with some teeth."
"Yeah," Jesus wavered. "But they're not on the same page about the End Times. I mean, the Koran paints me out to be a friggen madman who comes back, kills all the Jews, breaks all the Crosses and converts to Islam and, here's the kicker, I die after forty years. Right now, I still have the immortal thing going on, so I'm not giving that up."
We stopped chatting for a minute and Jesus fixed his gaze on the TV hanging over the rows of liquor bottles. A football game was on. "Who's your team?" I interrupted Him.
"Patriots," Jesus stated matter-of-factly. "What'd you think it was? The Saints?"
"Yeah, but the Patriots? Really?"
"Why do you think they win all the time?" Jesus explained. "The Old Man makes a killing off of them every year. Krishna almost lost a temple to Dad; he couldn't figure out that The Old Man only lets the Patriots enough to be realistic. Otherwise, he's killing it every season."
"God rigs NFL games?" I was kind of shocked.
"Just the Patriots."
Another round of drinks was in front of us as the game ended. The sweating, slightly bloodied football player was being interviewed. He said that he gave all the glory of the victory to the Lord and Savior Jesus Christ, kissed his fingertips and looked upward to "Heaven."
"What an idiot," Jesus whispered into the neck of his beer bottle. Then he repeated it more loudly to introduce his rant: "What an idiot! He's got it all wrong. I don't give a shit how he does in a friggen football game. I'm not the Lord. My dad is the Lord. And Savior? Yeah I did a bang-up job 'saving' humanity, didn't I? The Old Man should have pulled another Great Flood except not tip humanity off." The Prince of Peace broke off his diatribe and steadied himself with a shot of tequila. "Sorry about that, man. I've just been stressing about this whole situation."
I offered him another shot and he accepted. The spirit seemed to be moving Him to better humor. Sensing this shift in mood, I asked if he had any sort of strategy for fixing this Book-of- Revelations-type problem.
"This seems like the kind of thing you treat but never really cure, kind of like herpes," He drew a gruesome comparison. "Lucifer swears he cut off the source of Trump's power, but the problem is that it's gonna take quite a while for that strength to wear off. Like I said, we just have to handle it while he weakens. But I think we got this. It's just gonna take some time." Jesus paused; the heavily lacquered bar caught his attention. He ran his hand over the smooth surface. "Shoddy work," he said as he inspected the joint on the corner of the bar. "My step-dad, Joseph, did way better work than this. This might be the End Times carpentry like this. Uggg."
With that, The Beloved Son and I decided to save the world at our next meeting. Until then, the only thing Jesus wanted to work on was getting rid of his hangover and getting one for me.