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Parousia With Pepperoni and Anchovies by Richard John Purvis

Jesus Christ finally returned to this world on a Thursday afternoon in early May. Christians the world over were both incredulous and joyful! Jews, Muslims, Buddhists and others had accepted the return of the Lord Saviour, rather grudgingly; they all proclaimed allegiance to Jesus in varying degrees and in somewhat confused manners. Even atheists thought that this might really be the Second Coming and that all of Humanity’s problems would be solved. Paradise. A new world, a world without end! Certain Christian fundamentalists in the United States expected preferential treatment and went on and on about the Rapture, although they were at a loss as to why there were no trumpets, angels or other heavenly signs. They were also at a loss to explain why Jesus Christ had rented an apartment in the Bronx. Or why he seemed unconcerned with all of the sinning and the fornicating taking place around the world. Finally, they were most concerned by the fact that they were not lifted up into the Heavens to witness the judgment of the sinful and those who had not accepted Jesus as their Saviour. What Jesus seemed most concerned with was getting satellite TV installed, a good, solid Internet connection and the best pizza in town delivered to his door, which opened on its own accord to admit only the pizza delivery guy and no one else.

The fact that this was Jesus Christ was not in doubt to most people, he had after all turned water into wine, fed a crowd of five thousand in Central Park with just a dozen fish and cured two people of disease, one man with AIDS and a woman who had been born mute. The woman went on to talk incessantly about the miracle to anyone within earshot, including Jesus, who eventually made her mute again. Despite this minor setback, Jesus had proven himself in front of witnesses. The Pope flew to New York to meet Jesus, but the door on Jesus’ apartment wouldn’t open and the poor Pope went to his knees and stayed there for three hours until the pizza delivery guy showed up and the Pope slipped into the apartment when the apartment door opened for Tommy from Pizza Plus. The Pope was never seen or heard of again, it was assumed that he had been taken to the Heavens as a reward for faithful service. Meanwhile, the crowds outside of Jesus’ apartment building grew in size and a permanent encampment grew as more and more people joined the throngs of the faithful, waiting for a sign. So it went, the world held its breath, for the most part; car bombings were down, stocks were up, but for the majority of people, it was a time to rejoice and to wonder at the beauty of the Universe. There was, of course, the confusion over the circumstances of the return of Jesus Christ, but then the Lord works in mysterious ways and people show an amazing ability to adapt to changed circumstances.

Tommy, the pizza delivery guy, had become a bit of a celebrity in his own right and soon appeared on a few talk shows and set up his own web site (www.pizzas4christ.org), however, he still kept delivering pizza to Jesus as the door wouldn’t open for anyone else. No one could see inside the apartment and Tommy refused to talk about what he saw, except to say that Jesus was very soft spoken, very kind and always tipped well. Tommy’s appearances on talk shows waned and the number of hits on his website dropped after a while. To sum up, the world got used to having the Son of God living in an apartment in the Bronx, eating pizza and seeing no one but the pizza delivery guy. The world had changed and people had changed with it. Soon wars were being fought again, people fought and argued over everything, including religion – pretty much life as usual.

One day in July, Jesus Christ came out the front door of his apartment building and started walking down the street. People tried to touch him but their hands froze a few inches from his body; Jesus didn’t want to be bothered. How anyone could stay in an apartment for almost three months was hard to understand, but he was the Saviour after all, surely he had some pull with the man upstairs. On he went, down the street in the July sunshine, his features revealing nothing of his thoughts. On he went, walking, floating, his followers in tow, all in rapt attention to his every move and word, except there were no words. On he went, all the way to 641 Grover Drive in the Bronx, the home of Tommy, the pizza delivery guy. Jesus walked up the steps to the house and politely rang the doorbell. Tommy’s brother answered the door because Tommy had become fearful of strangers ever since his fame as the guy who delivered pizzas to Jesus Christ. Jesus smiled at Tommy’s brother and was, of course, invited into the house. By this time, there was a crowd of thousands standing on the front lawn, in the street, around the block. The crowd was growing by the minute.

Inside the house, Tommy was sitting watching TV and eating a free pizza he’d gotten from last night’s shift at Pizza Plus. Actually, his employer gave Tommy free pizza all the time, special treatment for a special employee, so he was told.

Jesus sat down on the couch and nodded at Tommy, who nodded back and offered Jesus a slice of pizza from the box on the coffee table. Jesus smiled and took a piece of pizza, opened a can of Coke and settled into the couch. Tommy was watching the news and offered the remote to Jesus but was politely refused. Tommy’s brother stood in the doorway to the living room, keeping one eye on Tommy and Jesus and one wary eye on the growing crowd outside, visible through the window of the front door. His brother and the Prince of Peace sat on the couch watching the TV news roll through its litany of wars, hate, economic collapse and, of course, the weather. Jesus smiled slightly when the weather forecast came on. Both man and god were silent, absorbing the barrage of images and sounds. After a while, Tommy changed the channel and they watched a movie on the Movie Channel, a good, somewhat sarcastic off-beat film about a boy and his dog. Outside of Tommy’s house, the crowd just kept getting bigger and more vocal. People asked, pleaded with Jesus to heal their ailments, to help them out financially, to solve all of their problems and to save them from eternal damnation!

As the movie was ending, as the credits were still scrolling by on the TV screen, Jesus looked at Tommy and smiled. No words were spoken yet Tommy felt something in his mind, like a stray breeze on a calm summer’s day, there for a second and then gone, but this breeze had left something, an understanding, in his mind. For a brief second the whole world was in flux, Tommy, his brother, the people camped outside of their house, the people in houses all around the world. Everyone, everywhere. But it just lasted a fraction of a second and then was gone, afterwards, Tommy couldn’t even be sure what it was or if it had even happened. Jesus just smiled, a smile for the angels, and began to fade, slowly at first, becoming more and more translucent with every second. He kept his gaze fixed on Tommy and continued to fade until after a minute or so, Jesus had faded completely and was gone.

Outside of the house, the crowd was still demanding, pleading, begging, praying for assistance. Tommy and his brother opened the screen door and went outside, the crowd was huge and somehow menacing whereas before it had seemed somehow pathetic. Tommy felt greedy, grasping hands clutch him as he was lifted aloft, above the heads of the crowd, his brother lost in a sea of people. As Tommy was lifted like a toy by the crowd, he caught a glimpse of a wooden cross on his front lawn with half a dozen men standing nearby with hammers and nails. As the mob carried him to the cross, Tommy realized with horrific clarity what that brief breeze of a thought was. It was so obvious now. Jesus had simply said, “I’m free!”

——————–

Richard John Purvis grew up reading ridiculous amounts of science fiction, eventually discovering that there are in fact other genres of literature. A confirmed bookworm and local eccentric, he now creates his own worlds for others to enjoy. Fascinated by the bizarre nature of our society, he uses satire and tongue-in-cheek humour with wanton abandon.

I’ve always wondered what the return of Jesus Christ would really be like. Two thousand years is a long time. Two thousand years for Christ to go from a martyr who died for our collective sins to an image on a tee-shirt; from a demigod to a twelve-inch plastic action figure. Maybe Jesus would just be tired of the whole celebrity thing, maybe he’d just want to pass the buck to somebody else and get on with his life, meet a nice girl and settle down on the astral plane. I think that since we created him in our own image he’d be a lot like us – Internet, TV, pizza, an apartment of his own away from the parents. Maybe too much like us!

One Comment leave one →
  1. Andrew A. Eck permalink
    06/08/2011 02:43

    Well, let me start off by saying that I liked this piece very much. There’s a lot of charm here, and I think people are often afraid to touch religion in this way. I’m glad you “went there” so to speak.

    That said, I felt the first paragraph was a little weak. Not due to the writing style, but because I had a hard time buying the idea that Jews, Muslims, and Atheists would simply believe in Jesus’ return just because of a few miracles. People often say a video is doctored when it’s one of those stupid online videos, so I’m sure they’d be even less lenient towards Christ’s second coming.

    But again, it’s easy to forget about that when the rest of the story is so spot on. Tommy’s reaction to being suddenly befriended by a celebrity is what I imagine a lot of people’s would be. Trying to be cool and not too invasive as well as polite, but not really knowing how to act. Also, the idea of “life going on” is one I liked. If something doesn’t directly affect a person, they often lose interest.

    It’s a great story and I liked it a lot!

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