For the first time this blog introduces a work of fiction. This short story, my attempt at a modern day parable, grew out of an assignment from my spiritual director. Due to its length, this will run over the next few weeks. Explanations of the symbolism involved will be given at the end of the series.
I turn around and start walking away from both the weirdo in white and the nightmarish black gremlin, heading upstream and back towards the road. I’ve had my fill of mythical creatures and schizo hallucinations for one day. I make it about six feet and the gremlin lunges directly into my path. I freeze but don’t run. I’m determined to hold my ground and prove that this whole scene is just a bad dream, or more likely hallucinations brought on by severe head trauma.
But then I smell the smoke of another one of my cigarettes…
My Ride – Part 5
“Oh just go away already,” I mutter. I’m tired. I hurt all over. I’m getting dizzy and I’m quickly losing my capacity to fight back, physically or mentally.
“Ah, but I’m not going anywhere without you. I’m part of you and I always will be. You’re stuck with me, kid. You belong to me.”
Spinning around, I see the stranger standing nearby watching the whole discussion. He’s no longer lost in thought but staring at us intently albeit silently.
“Is it true?” I ask the stranger, “This thing is part of me? No, that can’t be. You took that away on the cross, if that’s who you really are,” silently praying that he was real or at least real enough to get me out of this mess and to a hospital.
Saying nothing, he holds out his hand to me. I slowly walk to his side. Maybe…just maybe…it’s worth taking a chance that if the evil monster was real, than so was this guy. I’d swear I know this guy, but not in the same scary way as the gremlin. I think he’s from a time in my life when there was still quiet and innocence, before life got ugly.
“You’re wasting your time,” growls the gremlin, but I’m not sure if its words are meant for me or for the stranger.
“Are you really Him?” I ask the stranger, staring intently at his face. “I want to believe that you are but…” I bury my face in my bloody hands and sigh, “I don’t even know why… I’m so sorry I’m having such a hard time with all this.” My exhausted mind can’t even begin to come up with the questions I need answered.
“You’re not the first person to doubt that, you know.” His voice is so full of tenderness and compassion that my heart aches. But I know what I’m thinking isn’t possible. He’s just a kind stranger who has one of those seemingly familiar faces. I don’t why he’s even bothered to step into my hallucination. “People have struggled to recognize me for over 2000 years. Your struggle is nothing new. I’m here because I want you to see and to believe.” With that, this stranger in rough off-white woven robes and sandals begins to change. He morphs from one human image of Jesus to another to another like some kind of living flipbook. He flips through every image of Jesus I know and love, from the infant, to the happy, smiling young man, to the shepherd with staff in hand, to the terrifying bloodied crucified Jesus on His cross, and finally ending as the risen Jesus in brilliant ethereal white robes with the wounds plain to see on his hands and feet.
I collapse at His feet but the doubt still lingers. Am I’m truly safe from harm? Does the gremlin no longer have any claim on me? Am I dying or in Purgatory or just plain crazy? And then the guilt over my lack of faith, over my never-ending doubt, floods my heart and the gremlin begins to snicker.