My name is Charlie Heron, and I am Jesus Christ.
* * *
Of course, you can’t possibly think that I’m telling the truth. Probably think I’m a tweaker or a schizo. But I mean, you can think what you want—I won’t judge. I’m Jesus, remember?
It’s the first day of my senior year at Henworth High, and I’m dressed in my usual garb—my long white robe. It isn’t as white as it used to be, more like an off-white-gray. It has definitely gotten dirtier over its everyday wear and tear, but I did collect a lot of patches on it. I put patches on my robe for every church I go to. I have a couple Catholic patches: Pope Francis and the Vatican. I have some Mormon temples and prophets. Got some Baptist crosses and doves and whatnot. My patch collection is growing; pretty soon my robe’s gonna be more patch than white. Besides, those patches really bring out my Rainbow sandals—they were the closest “Jesus-looking” sandals I could find without busting my bank. I also grew out my hair and facial hair as long as I could, this summer, to really sell it. Of course my facial hair looks like a bunch of straggly pubes. Does Jesus shave his pubes? I’ll Google it later. Point is, it’s senior year, and I gotta be the best Jesus I can be. And soon, I’m going to have to choose my successor. Someone has to be Jesus once I graduate.
I feel like, as Jesus, I automatically know everything. I’m one of the more radicalized Jesuses. I specialize mostly in parodying the man, but I respect his powers. His powers are what made him popular after all.
“Excuse me, uh, sir, we’re all out of sausage, do you want bacon instead?”
Totally forget I was at Denny’s. Dad and I used to come here every morning before my first day of school. I just sorta kept the tradition going, I guess.
Shit, look at the time. I hope she hurries up with my food. Jesus has places to be, people to bless. While I sit and wait, I take out my small, slightly waterlogged pocket Bible. It has a red cover with an inscription on the inside in gel pen: God only exists on Sundays. Sometimes I pretend to flip through it. I feel like, as Jesus, I automatically know everything. I’m one of the more radicalized Jesuses. I specialize mostly in parodying the man, but I respect his powers. His powers are what made him popular after all.
No one really got onto the Jesus train until my sophomore year. Freshmen year, everyone made fun of me and thought I was autistic or just mentally insane, but I stuck with my schtick. I wanted to be popular. Only by becoming popular would I be worth something. But I think that my idea of a worthy life is one that has grace to it—a life to create something weird and dark that makes people uncomfortable; that pushes me and everyone around me outside of it all. My life should be graceful, but I should not.
My dad was never graceful. He was a ruff n’ tough sort of guy who loved fishing more than anything. He also loved that I pretended to be Jesus. He thought it was the funniest thing.
He would buy me more patches if he found any.
* * *
The waitress was able to get me my food, but right as I was working on that last piece of bacon, the bus pulled up outside. I scrambled out of my seat and threw a crumpled ten-dollar spot on the table. Running in Rainbows isn’t that easy. I was about to cross the street, when I tripped up on the end of my robe and stumbled backwards. The bus roared away, unforgivingly, and I stood in the street, trying to figure out how the hell to get to school.
A call came from a big truck that pulled up next to me on the side of the road. It was none other than Miles Humann. Thick, luscious, junior-class hockey star, Miles Humann. Lord give me strength. You’d think with a name like that he’d act more human. But he’s animalistic. And I fucking love it.
“What do you want Miles?” I asked grudgingly, looking up at him as I adjusted my robe.
Miles let out a snicker and turned down his ungodly music, “Thought I’d stop and help a beggar.”
“You know damn well I’m Jesus.”
The overcompensation truck let out a roar from its engine and Miles swung open the door. “Come on,” he beckoned, continuing to push on the acceleration. “Let me take you for a ride.”
Humann does have a certain charm that I can’t resist. I climbed into the truck and we roared away. He turned up the knob on the radio:
“Can Jesus listen to rap?”
I shrugged and turned it up. “Jesus accepts the music of the world as good.”
Miles let out a deep laugh and we sped through the streets toward school. He began to rap along with the lyrics and turned to look at me during the red lights:
“Bow, get the fuck though, I don’t bluff, bro
Aimin’ at your head like a buffalo
You a roughneck, I’m a cutthroat
You’re a tough guy, that’s enough jokes.”
As a solid Christian man, I do not know how to bop along to these beats, but I tried anyway. I turned and smiled at Miles, bouncing my head to the music. But as I stared at him, I kept noticing the way his lips moved to the rap lyrics. God, he was making so many mistakes. I was a school-year above him, but he looked way older than me, and my god-graced body didn’t care. It liked it. It liked it a little too much. And my body reacted way harder than I expected. Humann pulled up at the school and we stepped out of his big ass truck together. I wanted to thank him for the ride, but I felt embarrassed to even look at him anymore.
He knows Jesus loves him.
* * *
Everyone began clapping and hollering as I glided down the hallways in my white robe and brown Rainbows.
“He has risen, bitches!” I yelled and my patrons went wild.
The school day dragged on, and it wasn’t until my Disciples gathered around me at lunchtime that I was itching to spill the news about my ride with Miles. Like the Original Jesus, I have twelve Disciples. I collected and groomed them throughout my four years of high school, and there was a high-intensity competition to see who got one of the twelve spots. Many applied, mostly to gain the popularity and the best seats at lunch. The first Disciple I chose was my good friend Jude Johns. Out of all my Disciples, I think Jude works harder than the rest. He tries to make a good connection with me, rather than just use me for my popularity, which is valuable in a Disciple.
My second-man in command, Jude Johns, whispered fervently in my ear as I passed around my Costco box of Uncrustables so each Disciple could have a sandwich.
“Your mum giving you a hard time lately?”
Once everyone received his sandwich, I picked mine up and took a big chunk out of it.
“Yeah, I don’t think she’ll ever let up.”
Jude synchronized his bites with mine. “That sucks, dude. But, hey, I heard Humann gave you a ride to school today!”
The boys continued to mingle and gossip about the latest stooges and jesters, but Jude and I have always had a stronger bond and better conversations. I took too big of a gulp of my sandwich and started to cough to push it down. “I—um,” I started, before breaking it up with coughs. “I got a boner in his truck.”
Jude slapped his hand on the table. “What?!”
His loud response triggered a chain reaction from the rest of the Disciples, and everyone started up at me, waiting for their lord and savior to speak.
“Yes, my Disciples,” I began, outstretching my legs and grabbing my package. “Jesus is well endowed.”
My Disciples cheered and I grinned back, fighting the urge to scream out for Miles. But I knew he was straight. Everyone did. But he wasn’t a dick about it. He’s known I’ve had a crush on him for the longest time. But he’s not a dick about it.
After school, I decided to take the bus home. I didn’t want to run into Miles again, because I was afraid that he noticed my boner from earlier. The bus driver let me on without having to scan my ID, and my schoolmates gave me the very back seat all to myself. The bus ride was bouncy, and the chipped fake brown leather on the bus seat rubbed against my robe in the most uncomfortable way. The bus dropped me off at home and I went inside and collapsed on the couch, opening up a can of Diet Mountain Dew.
“Charlie,” my mom’s voice was sharp and cold as she entered into the living room. “You have to quit this stupid act of yours.”
I wonder which friend of my mom’s saw me this time. I mumbled as quietly as I could, “It’s not an act.”
Mom began to raise her voice, as she ripped the soda can from my hand, spilling it all over my robe, “Don’t push it.”
I sat silently on the couch, feeling the residue of the Dew begin to stick up my fingers.
My mom stood overhead, overshadowing me with her bland, grayish figure.
“Dad didn’t care,” I told her, looking up at the shadow above.
“Your dad’s dead.”
As soon as she said that, I knew this conversation would go nowhere. I stood up to leave and as I began to walk past my mom, she gripped me hard by the shoulder.
Refusing to look her in the eye, I made my way down the hall and slammed my door shut. I rustled through my closet to find my dad’s old pajama pants. I scrunched them up in a ball and held the bundle of cloth to my nose. I hadn’t washed them since he wore them. They still smell like honey-roasted peanuts. And both pockets still have the deep holes in them from the time he forgot to take out his fishing lures. Mom has been a real cunt since dad died. She blames everything on me. Because I was so “sacrilegious,” God made dad die in some freak fishing accident. There are days when it gets to me, like today. I can’t help but think that maybe, just maybe, it really is my fault.
I climbed in the back of the truck bed and curled up into a ball, gripping my knees tightly to my chest and praying to God that I wasn’t going to get crucified today.
The rest of the night brought me down into a continuous spiral of guilt. It got to the point where I couldn’t stomach it anymore and I went downstairs to the basement. There were stacks and stacks of Mountain Dew cases, all different flavors, piled up on top of each other in the corner. My dad used to drink five a day. I drink it now, but I add something else to it. Behind the cases of Mountain Dew, I dragged out an opened brown box that was full of quilted blankets and musty-smelling stuffed animals. After digging through the box, I found my bottle of vodka wrapped inside a poorly made Hot Wheels quilt my dad made. Instantly, I chugged half a can of Mountain Dew and poured vodka into the rest of the can. After about two Dew-vodkas, I already started to feel inebriated.
I went back into my room and locked the door, pushing my dresser in front of it, so my mom wouldn’t burst through. My phone lit up in my hands as I scrolled my way through Instagram, looking at all of Miles’ pictures. He’s only a junior this year, and he has an average of 200 likes per photo. That is popularity.
Before I continued my deep dive of Humann’s pictures for the fifth time this year, I went over to my dresser and pulled out a tube of lotion. I collapsed sloppily back onto my bed, feeling the room and the lights dance around my mind like a concert.
One hand kept scrolling, as the other lubed up my other hand, and I started masturbating.
This Jesus doesn’t have a Virgin Mary. This Jesus doesn’t want one. This one wants Miles Humann. Miles Humann was so fucking hot. My heart started thumping wildly and then my drunk ass got a terribly great idea. I turned my phone on its camera and began to record myself.
“This is what I want to put in you Miles,” I breathed heavily, smelling remnants of Mountain Dew Code Red and cheap vodka.
I showed off my dick on my phone’s camera. I showed it erect, naked, and big in my hand. And I kept filming.
“Miles Humann,” I moaned, biting my lip and rubbing my cock up and down, faster and harder. “Fuck—,” I paused and came on camera. “—me,” I finished.
The next thing I knew, I was asleep. When I woke up the next morning, I felt as if I had been pummeled in the head. A searing migraine and nausea crept up within me. My eyes looked down to see my butt-naked ass and dry, crusted-over cum all over my sheets. I vaguely remembered filming a video of myself, but that was it.
Despite my mom hating my Jesus attire and attitude, I continued to do it. I dressed back up in my robe and Rainbows and headed to school. The day was normal enough. Unfortunately, I only saw Miles once in the hallway, but he smiled and waved at me like he usually does. At lunch, Jude sat down next to me as per usual and I admitted my sinful, drunken mistake.
“NO WAY?!” Jude exclaimed, looking me up and down, as if I would do it again, right here, right now.
I let out a slow release of air. “I was drunk, my Disciple. Drunk and in love.”
We talked for a couple minutes about my masturbation video, and how I wanted to delete it but didn’t at the same time. And then, right before lunch was over, Jude asked me the strangest question:
“After you graduate this year, can I be the next Jesus?”
I looked my friend dead in the eye. “You can’t just be Jesus, Jude. You gotta be picked by God to be Jesus.”
Jude’s facial expression made me realize I had pissed him off.
“Come off it,” he bugged. “You don’t believe that you’re actually—”
I stood up and walked away from him. I didn’t feel like dealing with Jude’s outrageous question. All I wanted right now was to go home and watch a soap opera with my dad. But he’s gone. He’s gone and maybe my mom’s righ—
“Jesus Christ, is that you?” Miles ran over towards me, interrupting my own train of thought.
I could only manage to give him a weak smile this time.
Miles seemed to notice my change in pace. “Why aren’t you sitting with your Disciples, my Lord?”
“Jude has betrayed me.”
Humann began to laugh and shook me playfully by the shoulders. “Hahahaha, goddamn, Jesus, even I saw that coming.”
He left his hands on my shoulders for a second and I immediately felt okay again.
“Miles,” I began, trying to sound more confident than I seemed. “Can you come with me to the lake today?”
My question definitely changed Miles’ nature into one that was more serious and stoic.
He knew that’s where my dad died.
Humann gave me a nod and whispered, “Meet me after school. We’ll go together.”
We parted ways and I started to walk towards my fifth period class. As soon as I sat down in calculus, I became overwhelmed with a gut-wrenching feeling. I didn’t have Miles’ number. Where would I meet him? What if he thinks we’re meeting in one place, but it’s the wrong one? What if he forgets? Leaves?
I pulled out my phone and hid it underneath my notebook in class. Jude tapped me on the back; he happened to sit behind me in calc.
“Hey,” he whispered, pulling his body more forward so I could hear. “Sorry about lunch.”
But my mind had long forgotten about Jude’s lunch scandal. Now, it was focused on getting Miles’ number. I didn’t respond to Jude’s apology, but stared anxiously at my phone.
“You alright?” Jude asked, obviously aware that I seemed out of it.
I shook my head at him and tilted my head back, “M-miles and I are going somewhere after school and I forgot to get his number.”
Jude gave me a blank stare for a couple of seconds and then replied, “I have it.”
My heart leapt and I immediately handed Jude my phone.
“Do you want me to text him for you?” Jude asked, taking a much longer time with my phone than I wanted him to.
“Okay, give it back now,” I said sternly.
But Jude’s fingers kept typing away.
“Give it back!”
I sharply ordered him once again, and he handed my phone back. But as he did, I heard the whoosh of the text message sound. Jude had sent something. Frantically, I pulled up the message. The contact name just said “Miles” and the first message was the video. My hand-job video.
As loudly as I could, I yelled, “What the fuck?”
Usually as Jesus, I would forgive and forget. But not this. Never this. I stood up and tipped my desk over, swinging my fist at Jude, who barely tucked his head away. The teacher instantly got involved and pulled me off of him and nearly had to drag me away, as I screamed and yelled, tears burning down my face:
“I fucking hate you! I FUCKING HATE YOU!”
The teacher led me to the principal’s office, and I stood outside its doors, heaving heavily, feeling the urge to punch through the wall and kick Jude in the balls. How could he do this to me? Just because I wouldn’t let him be the next Jesus? Had this been his plan all along—to pretend to be such a good friend, just so he could become the next Savior? As I thought more and more about it, the angrier I got. I checked my phone and saw that the message had been sent, but there had been no reply. Jude Johns was the fucking devil.
I gave up waiting for the principal and I ran down the hallway, my Rainbows clacking hard against the shiny tiles. I swung open the double doors to the school and hurried down the steps. Right before I could leave the parking lot, I saw Miles’s big truck parked right up front. I thought about hiding in the truck bed, just waiting until he came out so I could explain to him how sorry I was. I didn’t know if that would be a good idea or a terrible one. So I did it anyway. I climbed in the back of the truck bed and curled up into a ball, gripping my knees tightly to my chest and praying to God that I wasn’t going to get crucified today.
When the final bell rang, my body felt paralyzed. I was completely frozen in fear. I checked my phone and there still had been no response to the awful video. He had to have opened it though. There’s no way he didn’t.
I heard Humann’s voice approaching the truck and I slowly sat up.
“Whoa,” he yelled, backing up, “Christ, what the hell?”
My eyes started pouring out tears and Miles jumped up into the truck bed.
“Hey, hey, hey,” he soothed, putting his hand on my shoulder. “What’s wrong?”
It took a while for me to reply to him, “J-Jude sent you, um…, this video of me, and I’m so sorry. You were never meant to see that.”
Humann fished his phone out of his pocket and handed it over to me.
“The passcode is 7743.”
I put in his passcode and the phone unlocked.
“I haven’t looked at my messages since lunch,” he told me quietly. “Go ahead and delete whatever it was he sent.”
Without much thinking on my part, I threw my arms around him, hugging him tightly to my chest, crying to him words of gratitude. But when I opened up his messages, I didn’t see anything from my number. No recent texts either.
I gave him back his phone. “I guess it didn’t send,” I quietly whispered in unbelief. “I swear I thought it did.”
Miles shrugged and hopped out of the truck.
“By God’s good grace!” He shouted and lifted me out of the truck bed.
We grinned at each other and got into his truck. Humann and I drove with the windows down towards the lake, listening to the wind and the bugs near the water as we got closer and closer. Miles didn’t put on music for this ride. He knew I wanted it silent. Once we parked, we got out and stood by the shoreline. We were quiet.
I looked back out at the lake my dad drowned in. The water was brown and ugly. People tossed their old McDonald’s Big Mac wrappers into it. No one is allowed to swim here, but you can fish. My dad fished here, but nobody likes this lake.
I stood and looked out. A dead fish floated on top of the brown water. It was one of those common silver ones that fishermen throw back. I watched as the water rippled under the fish, not caring if it pushed it one way or the other. The fish was gonna dip down eventually. My Rainbows started to sink into the gravelly sand, with the water dangerously approaching the bare tips of my toes. A couple gnats spritzed past my head and one tickled at the edge of my nose. Miles came up to me and offered me a cigarette. He pulled out his lighter and lit it. I could feel the extreme warmth of the tobacco as it pressed up against my lips. This was what I needed—to be here—with Miles—with my dad.
Suddenly, my phone began to buzz. It was an incoming phone call, but it was coming from Miles? I looked down at it with a confused expression and showed it to Humann. He reached in his pocket and took out his phone, but no call came up.
Now I was really confused. Did Jude put in the wrong number?
Whose number did he put in?
My heart skipped a beat.
Whose number did he put in?
I answered the call.
My mom’s voice echoed out, cold and maliced, “Come home.”
I wasn’t sure if I should leave or wait. Wait for what—I don’t know. To be sure maybe?
Maybe she didn’t watch it? My fingers began to twitch. I didn’t know what to do. Jude put Miles’s name in place of my mom’s name. He edited my mom’s contact information and changed it to say “Miles.” She saw the fucking video. She saw the fucking video. Today’s the day I’m getting crucified. I’ll be dead for three days. Maybe she’ll beat me. Mom’s never beaten me before, but she just might start. She didn’t know I was gay, at least I didn’t think she did. Now besides pretending to be Jesus, she’s going to chew me out for being gay too.
I didn’t know how to respond to her; I could hear her breathing on the other line.
The line cut off.
Miles turned and looked at me, his face white, the tips of his ears red.
I looked back out at the lake my dad drowned in. The water was brown and ugly. People tossed their old McDonald’s Big Mac wrappers into it. No one is allowed to swim here, but you can fish. My dad fished here, but nobody likes this lake. Nobody really comes here anymore. It used to be better; at least that’s what dad told me. I remember when they pulled him out of the water. His eyes were squirmy. They knew things that I didn’t want to fucking know. I didn’t want to know those stupid fucking things. My hand dipped into the gravel and I chucked a rock out into the brown stagnant water. It bubbled and sank. Bubbled and sank. Just like him.
My mom waited up for me to come home. Miles drove me to the grocery store to pick up some flowers for her and some beer for me. Miles had a fake ID, which came in handy. When Humann dropped me off at my front door, I turned to look at him.
Miles’s eyes blinked with a hint of fear. “W-what do you mean?”
I smiled up at him. “After I graduate, you’re gonna be the next Jesus Christ of Henworth High.”
Humann looked shocked but in a good way. I don’t think he was expecting that response to, “It’s you.”
My friend Miles stuck out his hand for me to shake and he pulled me into a hug.
We sat there for a while with the engine running, holding each other.
“I’ll pray for you,” he whispered, before letting go of me.
I got out of the car and gave him a final wave. “I’ll pray for you too.”
And I began to make my way inside, walking directly towards my inevitable cross.