JESUS CHRIST SUPERSIZE

UntitledBloodBladeThe third issue of Blood, Blade & Thruster featured my story, “Jesus Christ Supersize” which has a little fun with the idea of what might happen if Christ actually returned to Earth in the present day climate of corporate sponsorship, media saturation, and the fickle nature of celebrity. Far too much of it is told through narrative summary but, hey, I told you I was still learning.

Blood, Blade & Thruster published a stellar-looking magazine just prior to November 2007. The issue my story appeared in happened to be their first online version so I never received a hard copy of my story as it appeared. However, they did a nice job presenting it in a PDF format with beautiful cover art and a very fitting ink drawing inside of Jesus in shades (pictured here). It should also be noted that BB&T published very large issues with upwards of a hundred pages of material in each. For this reason, I never read the entire thing until years later. Imagine my surprise when I discovered that the issue in which my story was the feature also included BB&T’s exclusive interview with the far-less-famous-at-the-time author George R. R. Martin (a personal hero of mine). In the interview Martin talks about the possibility of his best-selling “A Song of Ice and Fire” fantasy novels being turned into a miniseries for HBO. I wonder how that all turned out? Yeah, suffice it to say that my mind was blown. And my little story shared the same pages as Mr. Martin’s interview. Amazing.

 

 

JESUS CHRIST SUPERSIZE

by

Christopher L. DelGuercio

 

THE BOOK OF JUDITH

I met the Messiah at a gas station in northern Arizona. I was making a pit stop at a familiar little hole on the outskirts of a town called Eagar. It was on my route to work. I could’ve sworn I was seeing things when he appeared to me among the cactuses in the distant sands. His silhouette danced like a flame over the oil-streaked interstate as he strode out of the red desert, a purpose in his step.

He looked to be in his mid-forties—old for a savior—a little paunchy but on the cute side, with a hairline disappearing faster than the rainforest. His cherub’s cheeks were rosy with sun and the skin on his face and arms was cracked and peeling badly. When he walked up to my pump I asked him if he needed some water. “Bless you child,” he said. The words escaped from lips that had been sewn shut by the mid-morning heat.

I fetched him some ice water from inside the station. He took the cup and sipped from it. The water loosened his lips and he thanked me. Then he took a seat on the asphalt in the shade of my Chevy Malibu. “Are you going to be all right, pal?” I asked him.

“For all eternity,” he replied. I nodded my head unconsciously. “Your kindness will not go unnoticed in His eyes.”

“Oh please, it’s just a little water, no big thing,” I told him, plunging the nozzle of the gas pump into the side of my car.

He looked skyward and declaimed softly, “For I was thirsty and you gave me water to drink. You do not know of me; I am but a stranger to you. Whatever you do for one of the least of these brothers of mine, you do–”

“Goddammit,” I blurted.

“What troubles you, child?”

“They’re out of regular unleaded—now I’ve got to buy the good stuff,” I said, shaking my head. “I don’t even think this rusty old beater knows what to do with super premium.”

At that moment he got to his feet, removed the pump from the car, and placed his hands over the open tank. “You are no longer in need of gasoline, Judith,” he told me.

I chuckled a not-very-nice-chuckle. I couldn’t help it. “Hey, I appreciate the effort ‘n’ all, mister, but I’m on E right now—wait a second, how did you know my name?” He smiled coyly. “Do you work here or something? Did someone here tell you what my name was?”

“Judy Riotasic, your tank is full of the highest octane fuel,” he said and then sat back down on the pavement with his drink.

“Riiight,” I said. “I’m just gonna fill up anyway.”

I started to pump. The car regurgitated gasoline down its side and onto my shoes before I noticed to stop. I started the car and checked the gauge–it still pointed to empty. I crammed the nozzle deeper into the tank and tried again with the same result, the pump spitting and spilling all over my knockoff Manolos. The fuel gauge must be broken, I thought to myself. It seemed fine when I pulled in.

The Messiah simply stared at me with those honest eyes. I couldn’t do anything else just then so I twisted the cap closed a few clicks and got into my car. He was sitting with his back rested up against my front bumper. I saw him and shouted, “I’ve got to get to Show Low and I can’t do it with you sitting up there like a hood ornament.”

“No gas today, Judy?” he asked in a smart aleck tone.

“I guess I didn’t need any after all,” I said.

“I could sure use a lift into Show Low if you were inclined to extend the invitation.”

It was intriguing. My sister would think I was crazy for giving this stranger a ride, but I knew I wasn’t crazy–and I knew there was nothing wrong with my gas gauge.

“Hop in,” I told him. “The A/C’s broken though.”

“Not for long,” he said.

That was the morning I met the Son of God.

            *                                                          *                                                          *

The Messiah was welcome company on the long drive into Show Low. He told me all about his dreams and visions of the past few months . . . about The Voice. I suppose I should have been at least a little frightened, but strangely, I wasn’t.

He told me that God had spoken with him. When I asked him what God sounded like he chuckled and did his best impersonation. He might have been spot-on for all I know—he certainly seemed to get a kick out of trying. The Messiah had an adorably high-pitched giggle.

He said that The Voice of God told him that he was The Son and he’d been charged with this mission: to be the Second Advent at a time when real faith had all but evaporated and those who claimed to know The Word only twisted and perverted it to their own ends. And when the time of this holy mission had passed, there would be a Day of Judgment, a great reckoning, and a new epoch of peace and glory would reign.

“The Almighty doesn’t think it’s exactly fair to judge the world in its current state,” he said. “First, He wants to send someone who can give the people a true representation of the meaning of The Word.”

The Messiah shared with me how the Holy Spirit had compelled him to wander off into the painted Arizona desert and how, while there, he was tempted by Lucifer in the form of a praying mantis (or a stinkbug–he said it was dark and it was hard for him to tell for sure). I would have had a real rough time believing all of it, but for a conviction in his voice that would not allow me to dismiss him completely; there was a power present within him that I’d never experienced before. He wasn’t some nut. He was living electricity and his words were galvanizing the dead muscle my faith had become after all these years. That, and I’d been driving in cool comfort for over a half-hour now with the needle buried on E. Now, an Arizonan man who thinks he’s the Son of God is a tough sell, but the fact that my air conditioning had been resurrected after three years and my Malibu was still moving down that ribbon of highway without me having put in a drop of gas was hard to ignore.

That day, on the way to Show Low, he asked me to be his friend and his follower. I’m a thirty-six year old, unmarried woman from Tuscon. I aged a whole bubble last year. What I mean is that on all those Cosmopolitan magazine quizzes, I’m no longer able to fill in the 18-35 year-old bubble that at least had me lumped together with young, firm sorority girls. All my good parts are starting to sag. And if they can’t sag they just wrinkle. I’m a receptionist at an ad agency. My psychiatrist thinks I’m depressed, my sister and her husband think I’m high-maintenance, my parents think I’m a lesbian, and my boss thinks I’m interested. I’m a middle-aged woman so the rest of the world doesn’t seem to think much about me at all.

I told him I’d listen to him while we drove. He told me plenty.

“Mankind has been screwing up The Word for as long as there’s been a word to screw,” he said. “What you have to understand is that religion is man-made, no different than this road we’re driving on. Look at how many different kinds of roads there are: stone, brick, asphalt. Is it any surprise then that there are so many different religions? All these roads and all these religions lead you somewhere but it’s not the kind of road or religion you’re on that matters—it’s where you’re being led to. It doesn’t matter what the name of your faith is, or that it has one at all, as long as it takes you to the truth of The Word, you’re golden.

“The Old and New Testaments of the Bible, the King James version, the Koran, the Torah, the Vedas, the Book of Morman, they weren’t inked by the hand of any God; they were written by men trying to shape the world around them with selectively chosen words to fit their particular views. These texts have been interpreted and re-interpreted endlessly to justify some of the most heinous acts ever perpetrated. How ironic is it that more blood has been spilled in God’s name than any other? He’s finished with man’s games–He wants no more of it!” He pounded his fist into the dash. “God has awakened me to the world to end all the guesswork. It’s time for the Living Word to be heard by all.”

He was right.

Too long had good people turned their backs on God because one more pompadoured preacher was found coked-up in a sleazy motel with a fifteen-year-old on the ministry’s dime, because the holiest rollers roll around in Rolls-Royces instead of piece-of-shit Chevy Malibus, because the Pope wears a hat shaped like the end of a shovel and no one knows why, because Catholic priests have a taste for young boys, because Allah recruits women and children to be detonated, their entrails painting Israeli shop windows, because a wife in New Delhi is burned alive by her husband, her murder sanctioned by religion; because the children of Africa are lost and the rest of the world doesn’t give a fuck, because boys are trained to kill and die in His name; because no one knows who’s right and who’s wrong, the time is upon us. The time of The Great Clarification.

“God engrained into each one of us an internal Bible,” he told me. “Strip away all the things you learned were wrong, all your knee-jerk reactions, all your fears, all your insecurities, and act only in the service of your true self and the inner Bible will guide you. Of course, whether we chose to follow it is entirely up to each one of us–free will can be a real bitch that way. But to ignore it or to rationalize our inner Bible is the only real sin that exists. After you take everything else away, if it feels wrong to you, then it probably is,” he said.

I told him I’d tag along for awhile once we reached town.

            *                                                          *                                                          *

He had me drive him to Show Low’s new feminist church, Our Lady of Perpetual Bleeding, founded earlier that year on the principles set forth in the holy text, The DaVinci Code. The women were in the midst of their annual “Buy-A-Bunny-For-Your-Sins” indulgence drive. We entered the sacred place and the Messiah asked a group of parishioners if they were aware that the selling of indulgences had been forbidden by the Catholic Church since just after the Council of Trent in 1567. They asked him what harm it would do to sell cute little rabbits in church. When he informed them that, in addition to eternal damnation for the indulgences, the man who was buying most of the eight dozen bunnies “for his kids” was actually Earl Thompkins, owner of Lucky Earl’s Novelty Shop on the other side of town, they scoffed at the Messiah’s claim. “What on earth would Earl Thompkins want with eight dozen rabbits?” one woman asked.

“He’s gonna chop off their little feet, dye them purple and green, put them on a chain, and sell them in his shop, you ignorant twits!” I said.

“Oh, I don’t believe that for a second,” one of the church’s Lady Triumvirate asserted. Then qualifying it with, “Besides, what he does with them after he leaves here is his business.” And with that, all three women turned their backs to us simultaneously.

The Messiah said that he would not stand for his Father’s house to be defiled in this manner and he freed the remaining enslaved, tossing their empty cages into the pews of the church to the women’s dismay. Then he tipped over a Coinstar exchange machine and walked around flinging handfuls of silver and copper at everyone, demanding they repent. He proceeded to the pulpit of the church and, keeping the women at bay with his belt (which he had fashioned into a whip), presided over the altar with his kingly presence. There he spoke, and as he did, he held them captive with nothing more than his words–The Truth—peering with his divine eyes deep into their souls.

Someone called the cops anyway.

The police arrived. The Messiah and I were taken into custody and transported to a holding cell at the sheriff’s office. By dinnertime, we were informed that all the charges against us had been dropped and that we’d been bailed out by the very same women who had just heard the Messiah speak. They were waiting outside the stationhouse to apologize upon our release. He rewarded them by performing wondrous acts of healing right on the steps of the building: He removed the disease of self-doubt and a negative body image from one young woman, allowing her to see the beauty of her inner self and taking her pain away forever; with the laying of hands, he relieved one man, a long-time sufferer of apathy and cast out the unclean spirit of angst from another, a teenage boy. And he did it all in full view of the television cameras on hand. Then he spoke to the viewers at home, instructing them to come to the park the next afternoon where he would hold sermon again.

            *                                                          *                                                          *

I’m not exactly sure why they came. Maybe they thought there would be another clash with police and came out to see the show. Maybe they just wanted to see what all the fuss was about. Or maybe, just possibly, these people needed saving. Whatever the reason, the whole town seemed to come out to the park the next day to hear the Messiah speak. The forecast called for showers but the Messiah announced to the throng that there would be none—not on a day with so much at stake. He couldn’t allow it.

Any clouds that day simply ran off.

On top of a grassy hill in the center of the park, he spoke with his people about life and about love, peace and harmony, answering their questions with the honesty and concern of a savior. He spoke to them just as he had spoken to me on the car ride to Show Low, turning their lives irrevocably with just the words that came from his mouth. It was amazing.

There was a man. One man among the crowd asked, “Why should we listen to you? Are you supposed to be someone special or something?”

The Messiah responded to him directly. “You should listen because it is the word of God that I speak and I am His son, the deliverer of The Word.”

The people of Show Low bristled with discontent as harsh whispers ran through the crowd. The Messiah was taken aback. “You have come to this place and listened to the divine words that I have spoken and, yet, when I make the origin of their divinity known, you hesitate, you scream out. Why? Who else’s words could have this effect? All God asks in return is your worship and praise. Follow me children and help spread His word across the world.”

“Prove to us you’re the Son of God,” the man cried out.

“I’ve stilled the storm—is that not proof enough?”

Sporadic laughter rang out among the crowd. “It’ll take a lot more than that to convince me you’re not a fraud,” the man said. A few voices from the previous day’s healings sounded in defense of the Messiah. The rest of the herd waited for a response. The Messiah frowned and gave them one.

“I see no sense in quieting these clouds any longer. The faithless may take leave of this place now, for there is no amount of proof that will sate them. But once I’ve left, and the skies open to soak you all to your very cores, you will know what you’ve forsaken here today. And when the Day of Judgment arrives, God will forsake you in kind.”

The Messiah said to the man, “To you, sir, a mere “innocent” who speaks for so many here in demanding proof of me—let me offer that God is aware of what you have done. He has seen your black deeds, however shrouded in darkness: The way you’ve looked at a man’s body, even after you knew he was a man. The things that you thought to do. The things that you’ve done! Did you think He could not see? Did you think He would not know? God has seen your missteps . . . and you are forgiven all of them. All you need do is ask. Fear not, a new day is dawning. Now tell these people that their faith has not been misplaced. Speak now, for God holds your tongue no longer!”

Heavy stares bore down on the man with each quiet moment that passed. He looked desperately at the faces surrounding him. “It’s true,” the man finally cried as he dropped to his knees. “He’s for real.” The Messiah brought him close and comforted the man. The heavens opened and a cleansing rain fell on the park. They would never doubt him again.

            *                                                          *                                                          *

The next few months, spreading The Word westward, were a blur: Winslow, Flagstaff, Scottsdale, Phoenix, Tempe, Yuma. People were flocking from as far away as Utah and New Mexico to hear the Messiah speak. We packed everyone we could into a convoy of donated school buses, family vans,
and R.V.s. The Second Coming Tour was headed for the California coast.

With no money to speak of, the Messiah still made certain we were all fed. He entrusted me with a golden card he said God had provided for him. Each time we stopped at a McDonald’s, he instructed me to hand it to the restaurant manager. It was a year’s worth of free Filet-O-Fish sandwiches that he said had been bestowed upon him as part of a radio station giveaway before he started hearing The Voice. He was unaware at the time of its meaning, but now fully understood the purpose of God’s gift. “The Lord really does move in mysterious ways, Judy,” he said.

The tour was going just as we’d hoped. We were preaching The Living Word and converting the faithless in every burg we passed through. I watched him take the beaches of San Diego, crisscross up the coast to San Francisco and Oakland, into the streets of Los Angeles. I walked with him through Anaheim and Compton and up the steps of the CapitolBuilding in Sacramento.

I witnessed the miracles: I saw him instill the Holy Spirit of Hope into the people’s sick hearts. I was right there when he walked on the La Brea Tar Pits, despite our concerns, instructing us all to “cheer up”, that God’s providence would cause him to be no heavier than a feather. I was in attendance at the wedding in Beverly Hills where he famously turned water into bottled water. I was with him in Hollywood while he held the ear of many a celebrity who lent us their support. The publicity helped resurrect the career of Sophia Loren, who promised to return home to Italy and trumpet our arrival to the Pope at the Vatican.

Things couldn’t move fast enough for me though. I was passionate about spreading The Word. We’d been on the road for nearly a year and gained a loyal following wherever we played, but we had yet to visit the east coast, where we were still seen as little more than a localized, granola-induced, hippie cult. I was growing restless with the Second Coming Tour, but not its message.

I was a disciple to the glorious end and I would follow the Messiah, no matter where it led. I loved him. Not in the way that a woman loves a man but in the way that a little girl loves her father, the way a sister loves her brother. He was my teacher and my protector. He was one of the few men in my life who would love me unconditionally no matter what I’d done in the past. But he was my friend too; he trusted and relied on me. We’d stay up nights, in our bunks on the bus, giving each other the giggles. We had a bond. A group of us on the tour formed a real close circle with the Messiah. There were about a dozen of us all told, but I was the first.

            *                                                          *                                                          *

The Messiah looked beat; he’d lost a ton of weight. He was physically exhausted from making appearances, speaking engagements, performing miracles, and shepherding his flock up the countryside. He instructed most of the groupies on tour to return to their homes and spread The Word in their daily lives and from their email boxes. I thought it a wise idea; use every possible resource.

I was approached one evening in Oregon by a representative from the confection company Mars, Inc. about possible corporate sponsorship. I persuaded the Messiah to meet with them. They offered us an <forgive me Father> ungodly sum of money and all the candy bars we wanted for the tour in exchange for signing a licensing agreement. The King of kings was less interested in financial matters over spiritual ones so he charged me, his devoted apostle, with the marketing of our name. The cash would be nice in case of an emergency to keep the tour rolling (Messiah never asked for money from his followers.). It would ensure that we had the means to get The Word out in the event of the Messiah’s untimely sacrifice. It sounded like a great idea to me.

By the time the commercials hit the airwaves touting Snickers as “the official candy bar of the Second Coming”, I had brokered a slew of other sponsorship deals. I had the Messiah’s face plastered all over the TV, the internet, satellite radio, and in print, peddling everything under the sun. The public ate him up.

The Messiah, himself, was far too taxed to participate in the promotions, but I made his likeness available for whoever wished to make a minimum “donation”. His face could be found on lunchboxes and talcum powder, from Holy-O’s breakfast cereal to bottles of Viagra. Mountain Dew even made religion “extreme”: a Messiah body double swooshing down the slopes on a Rossignolsnowboard and Nike boots, Doing The Dew. The fitness world took full advantage of the svelte, Christ-like physique of the New Messiah–their “Abs of a Savior” line of seven-day workout videos hit store shelves at the same time as the Saturday morning cartoon and action figure.

He was the Gerber baby, Colonel Sanders, and Mickey Mouse all rolled up into one divine pitchman. His features became as ubiquitous as the products he touted. He was bigger than Jesus in his heyday. Bigger than the Beatles. He was a marketing phenomenon. He was a superstar. He’d become famous the world over for being famous. All thanks to me.

That’s when it all fell apart.

It didn’t take long for journalist snoops to figure out that the Messiah had a name, Gerry Kublick, a plumber from Nogales, a divorced father of four who failed the third grade and pulled down 18K a year after taxes. Not exactly the resumé everyone expected.

Those of us closest to him called him “‘Siah”, short for “Mes-siah”, because he liked it better than my first nickname for him, “Messy”. The tabloids didn’t bother to ask us though. Their covers revealed the shocking truth in grocery store checkout lines across America:

HAS DIVINITY GONE TO HIS HEAD?

 SECOND COMING DEMANDS MINIONS CALL HIM SIRE!!!

Very unchristian thing to do, but it sold a bunch of papers. Little by little, we started to hear the blasphemer’s prattle. The Lord? He is, like, sooooo last year.

The Messiah’s Q rating was down just as his fifteen minutes were up. Of course, he fought it as best he could, but how do you fight against something you don’t even understand? The Messiah certainly didn’t understand it. “It’s good that people know the whole truth about me, isn’t it Jude?” he’d ask me in his confusion. “Then they’ll know I was just as lost as they were once. It should give them hope, right?” I didn’t have the heart to tell him that people don’t like their Messiahs to be too real.

He always expressed his amazement to me as the crowds on tour got smaller and smaller and even the miracles ceased to impress any longer. “I saw Criss Angel do the same thing on TV last month,” one onlooker cackled. “And he’s no sell-out either!”

I’m scared, Lord. I’m scared that I failed you. I’m scared that they came looking for you and I brought you right to them. It wasn’t supposed to end like this for us. I’m scared, Lord. I’m scared for all of them.

            *                                                          *                                                          *

Once the tour had petered out and suffered its final death throes, I moved to California. I’ve got a house there right out on the water in Chula Vista. The ocean is beautiful and violent. Sometimes I feel closer to you, Lord, just listening to the waves. I heard somewhere that The Messiah went back home to Arizona. He just sits around his apartment in Nogales now . . . waiting for his agent to call. As for me, Lord, I’m just waiting for those really big waves to roll in.

 

-THE END-