Tonight, I’ll be seeing The Gloria Record play at the Unitarian Church in Philadelphia with some hardcore bands. I spent last night picking out films to use for the upcoming Reels of White Softly Flow shows. Today is the final day in TNI Books’ Little Engines tour…enjoy.
Welcome to the LITTLE ENGINES Issue Three Electronic Reading Tour!
an excerpt from Jesus Christ Lord of Hosts Meets L.A. County
by Holly Day
Jesus is walking down an empty stretch of road next to a poorly maintained farm dotted with scraggly yellow grass and dried-up shrubs. The sun beats down on His back and neck, unbearably hot, and finding a shade tree to sit beneath is becoming more important than reaching L.A. before dark. He knows He should have started off earlier this morning, but His ridiculous nomadic compulsions don’t ever seem to occur at convenient or logical times.
There is a small stream up ahead, running parallel to the highway, barely a trickle, but obviously steady enough to support the decent-sized group of trees crowding the banks. He picks up His pace and hurries toward the oasis, praying it’s real, not some wicked mirage.
It is not a mirage. Jesus kneels down on the sandy bank and splashes cool water on His face, on His neck, sucking up whole handfuls as quickly as He can. The trees provide more than adequate shade, the grass is soft here – His eyes begin to close against His will and He has to lie down. He sinks to the ground and rests against a pile of smooth gray boulders. Cattle have been here recently, their stink still thick in the air. Jesus notices that the boulders under His head feel soft, warm, and smell like yeast. He finds His stomach is not asleep. The flat, gray stone breaks off easily under His fingers. He puts the pieces to His lips, in His mouth, and gratefully swallows the warm pebbles, remembering to thank Him who is responsible for these impromptu miracles.
“Hey, Mister,” says a voice behind Him. He turns around, and two boys on bicycles are staring at Him. “Hey, mister,” the taller of them says again, a freckled redhead. “Are ya lost?”
“No,” Jesus replies, but that isn’t the end of the conversation.
“This is my uncle’s land,” says the boy. “I don’t recollect him invitin’ nature freaks to camp out here.”
“I just need to rest a while and I’ll be on my way,” He answers. “I’m not looking for trouble.” Jesus finishes His meal as He speaks, trying to look as non-threatening as possible. The boys stare at Him, at the gray crumbs on His face, the half-eaten boulders broken at His feet, and walk away slowly, backwards, facing Him until they are far enough away to leap on their bicycles and speed away. Jesus chuckles to himself and turns over onto His side for a nap.
When He awakes, the boys have returned. They have brought three older men with them. Jesus sits up quickly, wary of their intentions. The men are dressed in flannel shirts and ripped-up jeans and have little or no teeth left in their mouths. One of them, a slightly-pinheaded man with a limp, hobbles up to Jesus and grins idiotically. “My name is John,” he says.
“Hello, John,” Jesus answers. He holds out His hand. The farmer stares at it in puzzlement. Jesus lets the hand hang there for a moment, then drops it back down to His side.
“My name is John,” the man says again, then shuffles back to join his friends. Jesus scoots back a little against the rocks, nervous. John is kicking at little clods of dirt, the stupid grin back on his face.
“You a magician?” ventures another one of the motley crew.
“Why, no,” Jesus answers, even more nervous. “Why do you ask?”
“You eat rocks.” The man gestured to the boulders broken up around Jesus’ feet.
“These?” Jesus laughs. “I don’t know what they are, but they’re not rocks. Someone dropped some bad bread or something. They’re just dirty loaves of bread. See?” He picks up one small rock and finds that it is heavy, solid. He tries to find another of the faux rocks and decides that He must have eaten them all. The old man smiles triumphantly at his friends.
“You eat rocks,” he states again. “You eat rocks.”
This concludes the Electronic Reading Tour! Your regular website operator will return shortly. Thank you to all readers and all hosts of this tour. If you’ve enjoyed the week’s stories and excerpts, check out the newest issue of LITTLE ENGINES in the online store.