Smoke and mirrors

He leaned against the tile in the boys’ room, avoiding his reflection. He was reading the Bible and sucking in the last of his stash. He wanted to dissipate like smoke into air, or like an Old Testament guy into a swarm of progeny. Distant chanting and drumbeat poured faintly through the vent. Pep rally. God almighty. His classmates packed the bleachers, content, he supposed, with their understanding of good versus evil: home team versus rival team from three miles away. Decimate them, destroy them, score points: victory. Why was he here? Why was he hanging out, in a Sex Pistols shirt turned inside-out by decree, in a dingy lavatory with a book that everyone claimed to love but very few actually read? He had been born too late. Two thousand years, or at least fifty, he figured. But now the prophets were dead or co-opted, and the acid was doctored. No flaming pillar of cloud to follow, no parting ocean to be drawn across, no bread from the sky to trust. He pushed himself away from the wall, was headed for the door and the next door and the road behind the school when he caught a movement in the mirror. It was Jesus. Jesus in the mirror, his own reflection absent. The kid stopped, reached toward Him. Jesus leaned in, plucked the joint out of the kid’s hand and brought it to His mouth. He blew a smoke ring over His head and it hung there, a little in-joke, without dissolving. Then he smiled without moving His mouth. The kid gaped, praying that this was genuine, not drug-induced, as Jesus tapped ash and passed the joint back and they stood there, unmoving, looking into each other’s eyes.

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