God got off the Greyhound on a sweltering July afternoon and was immediately scraped by a tumbleweed. What the... he thought. Did I create that? What was I thinking? He drug his heavy Tree-Bark duffel bag into the sun-baked wooden shack, a couple bells jingling as the door slid closed behind him.
God squinted, the shade of the inside messing with his eyeballs.
Kenny Chesney played low on a radio.
"Did I create that?" He mumbled.
"Did you create who-what now?" A man's voice fired back. Caught God off guard.
There was an old man staring at the Savior over a pair of Buddy Holly glasses, though that wasn't why he had that style, to be honest. God dropped his bag and wiped his brow with a green bandanna with big cartoon dollar signs as a pattern. Then, God spoke.
"Oh excuse me. Didn't see you setting there, bud. I was just wondering aloud about that song is all...Anyways I'm a little early for the 3:38 PM to Los Angeles and to be honest, man, I could eat a walrus tied to a hippo. Where can a dude get a bite to eat around here?"
He tucked his bandanna back in the back pocket of his dirty jeans as the old man behind the linoleum counter eyed him suspiciously.
"The 3:38 to LA is delayed." The old man laid that out there, matter-of-factly, with a hint of bemusement, like a little challenge; a little checkers game of wits out here in the middle of Hell On Earth when the long boring day had blown a hippie through the screen door. He sucked on a straw poking out of a can of Country Time.
"That bus is late. Late late. Might be here tonight 'fore midnight."
THAT sentence just hung up in the thick dry air with all the speed of a penny in Jell-O: clothes-lined to the atmosphere, fat words in belly shirts resting on a hot afternoon.
"Might not." A crash of words.
God sighed and glanced over at the dog asleep on a burlap bag in the corner. A mutt. Part beagle, maybe. Some kind of hound in there.
"Nice dog," he said.
The old man slurped his straw and stared God in the eye.
"How about some place to eat then?" asked the Messiah.
"'Course. Just belly on up there to the buffet there, boy. Help yourself." The old man nodded towards behind The Lord, where there was nothing but a church pew riddled with skin cancer. A trillion pen knives come and gone. So many greasy bus rider skins that a new varnish had replaced the old.
"I'll put some more plates out so you can have a clean one every time ya' hit her!" And with that he broke out laughing, the mucousy snot down in his lungs whipping and flapping like sheet metal.
The joke took a second to hit God, the sort of rawness of the wound coming into focus only after a little time in which he'd actually believed he might just be drip-dripping some Thousand Island down on some chilled iceberg wads any minute now. He'd even tasted the stale-ish croutons collapsing beneath his teeth. The garlicky crunch decorating his tongue with flavored paint. A semi-frozen sliver of pink tomato rolled across his tired mind. A cold cucumber coin.
He smiled a little. Forced it.
"This ain't no resort, boy." The old man stuck a toothpick in his ear and probed a little. Then he pulled it out and looked down at the tip.
"There's a vending machine out back," he added with disappointment.
God went and bought a small can of Pringles and came back in to sit on the pew. A country song came on that tried to rhyme Wal-Mart and Dale Earnhardt. God rolled his eyes, grinned. All rhymes were his creations.
He looked at the old man looking at him, smiled a little. Awkward, he thought.
"This whole country is gone to seven kinds of Hell," the old man started talking just as God bit his first Pringle. "Immigrants taking all the jobs. Mexicans and Gooks and Eskimo people. Terrorists everywhere. Hard-working man can't even take his family out into town 'cause there's always the chance of some half-cocked ass dimple blowin' himself up at the MacDonalds and taking everyone else with him in the name of what? Some false God? Some animalistic belief system?"
He paused as his thoughts made their way through the air over towards The Almighty Creator and also towards the beagle/hound, who didn't bat a lash and just kept on snoozing.
God snapped three Pringles with one chomp.
The old guy sighed. "And now this."
"What?," said God.
"Socialism." The old man picked at his ear with the toothpick some more, his mouth opening under his twitchy nose.
God stopped chewing, his own deafening crunching just unplugged within his skull. He swallowed the half chewed chips. Coughed.
"The health care thing?" he said.
The old man bolted up fast out of his seat and slammed the radio off just as an interesting/promising(?) ad about CASH FOR GOLD was babbling.
"Yeah the goddamn heath care thing!" he raged. "All of these stinkass liberal Liberaces are gonna pop a Band-Aid onto every outlaw illegal bleeding heart that comes down the pike and drive our taxes through the fucking ceiling and honest hard-working people with jobs are gonna lose their homes because all of Medicaid is gonna be cut back to pay for abortions for freakin' Girls Gone Wild and queer lesbians are gonna get married to each other and drink fucking Zambooka shots out of their dirty lover's belly buttons on table-tops under paintings of the Founding Fathers in friggin' VFW halls that are forced to rent their spaces out to Satanic freaks who are trying to force us to become faggots too so they have us all butt-fucking instead of regular fucking so they can end the whole human race!!!!!"
When he was done he was out of breath and standing next to a tattered map of America over by the dog, who'd been dreaming of little hunks of steak dangling from a long rope tied to the crescent moon, but was now, of course, awake.
God was stunned. For a moment he couldn't really process anything. The old man's words or his anger. Or his meaning.
The old man sighed like an exhausted air conditioner. "I am a Christian man," he cooed. God did not react. He simply stared at the voice. "But these people are trying to make these sneaky back room deals so that they can take over our towns and bus in millions of Mexicans. And Guatamayans." The dog moved his neck so some of the burlap went into his mouth.
"It's all Socialism. And Darwinism." And with that, his tone announced he was done.
God bit a Pringle and it was loud.
"Well...," he finally said. "Phew."
The old man stared at him kind of weird. Like he'd maybe shit himself.
God continued. "You don't recognize me, huh?" The old man just stood there.
"Oh, Chester, you sad sumbitch."
"Howdyouknowmyname?!" Chester fired.
"I dunno. I know a lot of stuff, Chester. I know you like beets," offered the Lord.
"HowdyyouknowIlikebeets?!" Chester exploded. "Whothehellareyoumister?! Whosentyouhere?!"
"Chester, Chester, calm down buddy," God said. "Let me just tell you some stuff. It isn't really your money anyway. It's mine, man. Please, just let me explain..."
But it was all too much, you see. Too many wires had gotten all crossed up.
The 3:38PM to LA was parked outside the small shack in the dark with its big bus blinkers on alongside a bunch of sheriff SUVs and some assorted state trooper cars, all their bubble-tops hurling light laps: onto the beat-up siding of the building/across the logos on the vehicle doors/out into the blackness of the endless desert where coyotes bowed their heads and refused to howl for the first night in ten trillion years.
They carried the bodies out separately. Only one of them under a white sheet though, because someone on the ambulance crew had forgot to re-stock. The first stiff was Chester, they all knew him. His trigger finger was still squeezing its twisted curl, even in death. The other body, the hippie, they covered with a cheap Korean Dora The Explorer quilt, a sweat-shop job they fished out of the mostly empty lost and found box.
They loaded the bodies into some van. A tumbleweed smacked up against it in the black wind.
The bus groaned, killed its blinkers and slowly pulled out for Los Angeles, The City Of Angels, hours behind schedule.