What did Jesus do? 4
Peter the Apostle brought a more to life than life attitude and his faith was like flying fish. He couldn’t sit on his arse for a minute. We lit a fire in the back garden, away from the creosote fence. Peter could do anything with a few wood shavings and rocks, cook anything. I added a bit more of Ian’s broken up guitar to the fire while we drunk vodka out of mugs and fish fingers cooked inside a pot. I told him about my broken-up marriage and how I’d become a cock sucker and homosexual with a growing propensity for low self-esteem.
Peter the Apostle slapped me hard on the face. ‘Stop whinging,’ he said. ‘You’ll be turning our dinner.’
Peter the Apostle wasn’t one for talking or cognitive therapy. If he hadn’t been given the keys to the universal church, he’d have probably joined the Tory Party and voted down increases in Universal Credit.
‘I guessed it was true,’ I said. ‘We all get more conservative when we get older—why aren’t you stuttering.’
He gulped another drink of vodka, and hiccupped. ‘Drink cures everything, it’s a very well know proverb.’
I clinked my mug against his, and cracked the seal on the forty-ouncer of Vladistock. Pouring us both a reasonable amount. ‘I don’t remember that one, I told him, but what about, My cup doeth overflow.’ I licked the vodka but it still ran onto and coloured the knee of my grey joggy pants.
‘You think I’m conservative? Let me tell you, when I have to nip off and leave John the Baptist on the gates of heaven, nobody much gets through the Pearly Gates and there’s always a backlog for me to sort out. I think if Jesus Christ wasn’t his cousin and the risen God, then I’m not sure He’d be allowed in either. Too namby-pamby for John the Baptist’s liking.
I gulped down another drink and poured myself another, working my jaw to let it settle. ‘Well, I don’t suppose he got Trump then?’
‘Donald J Trump…he recently died. 45th President of the United States…Fat, bald, psychopathic liar, doesn’t speak English unless it’s in catchphrases.’
Peter the Apostle used a fork to take the lid off what was our good pot. The Bakelite rim was burnt, but I don’t care anymore about matching pot sets. He was breathing hard, staring at me with a contented smile on his face. ‘Should I say Grace Before Meals?’
‘Nah, just tuck in. You can say Grace After Meals.’
He speared a fish finger and still looking at me put it him mouth and chewed. He spat it out onto the grass. ‘These fish with fingers. They are the work of the devil. That’s the worst meal I’ve had since I shared a mouthful of locusts with John the Baptist in the desert.’
‘I could make you a piece in cheese?’
‘What is this?’
‘Bread and cheese.’
‘Bread?’ he shrugged, and moued his mouth to show he could take it or leave it. ‘Goat Cheese?’
‘No, Kraft Cheddar Slices. Individually wrapped for freshness.’
He picked up the bottle of vodka and gargled and spat out into the lawn. I reached into the pot and took out a fish finger and stared chewing it.
‘Spit it out,’ he urged me. ‘Spit it out.’
I swallowed and took a swig of vodka to wash it down and made appreciative ‘umming’ noises.
‘You truly are an arsehole,’ Peter the Apostle said. ‘Perhaps you can bring me some food of the shepherd’s?’
‘You mean a piece in cheese?’
He kicked over the pot and crouched down started pulling burning wood to the side and nudging the rocks into the centre of the fire, banking it up, again.
‘Perhaps, some bread with olive oil, should be enough.’
‘I’ll no be a minute. I’ll get you some chocolate…Everybody loves chocolate.’ That got me thinking. ‘I’ve got a neighbour, who has a demon controlling her body.’
He looked into the fire, squatting on his haunches and then up at me. ‘Well, bring her here and we’ll pray over her and cure her in the Holy name of Jesus Christ.’
I glanced up at her bedroom window. Her blinds were half up, but they were usually like that and her window was open, letting it the night air. I picked up the bottle. ‘She’s maybe sleeping.’
‘Leave it,’ he said in a stern voice, pointing at the bottle. I took a quick swig, before putting it down beside him. ‘Demons never sleep.’
I wasn’t sure if he was talking about me or my neighbour so I babbled on, changing the subject. ‘So this Trump?’
‘Oh him, has he got a poofy voice like a purring cat?
‘Yeh, that’s him. And I should know, I’m a poof.’
‘It could have been worse. He could have got John the Baptist…The first thing he said was, “Do you know who I am?”’
‘Well,’ Peter the Apostle shook his head and picked up the bottle and took a little tilt. ‘In thousands of years we hear everything in every language known and unknown. There’s no one kind of person that gets into heaven. And all must gain entry, at least for a fraction of a section, because if you’ve never experience heaven, you’ll truly not know what hell is. But anyone that…’
‘Yeh, I get it. He thought he was too big for heaven?’
‘Well, let’s just say, I gave him and chance. The same chance as our humbler brethren. I slapped him on the shoulder and told him to tell me ten people he’d helped in his lifetime.’ He sighed. ‘I’m not a great one for predestination, I mean, usually, I follow the management procedure. The mantra of downgrading to those stuck outside the gates of heaven: helping five people or even saving one person…’
‘Look, I’m going to nip in and get this bread. We can break it, toast it…I’m feeling peckish myself.’
‘OK.’ Peter the Apostle looked up at the comet tearing across the sky, its tail so bright our bodies cast wavering shadows. ‘But you better hurry.’
It was Hovis Brown bread. Not great for toast, but Peter the Apostle broke and blessed it. And we chewed it slowly, as if it was our Last Supper.
‘So this Trump fellow, purred on about his heart attack and on about those he’d helped with tax breaks. And I heard the Holy Terrors laughing and coming closer and closer. I had to shut the Gates of Heaven and go outside and tell him…Look, I can clearly see what you’ve done with your life, but I wouldn’t like the Holy Terrors to get a hold of you…just yet…Let me get in touch with Satan, I’m sure he’ll have a nice wee room for you, with the worm that never sleeps.’
I watched the sky, not really listening. My neighbours were staring out their windows. They looked terrified. ‘I’m going to get my next door neighbour.’
Peter the Apostle licked his lips. He stared into the flames.
I put a hand through and unbolted her back gate. She was watching me from her window. I pointed towards the back door. Gave her time to use the stair lift..
She wore a blue towelling housecoat with a hood, over her pyjamas. She held onto the frame of the door and leaned on the work surface to her right side, her gait too wide. Her hands shook and her body trembled, but she tried to smile with a loose mouth with a smidgen of pink lipstick. ‘It’s a bit late for calling.’
I cut through the small talk. ‘Do you trust me?’
‘Well, not really…I hardly know you.’
She couldn’t help making a joke of it, of me, but I carried on speaking. ‘I’m going to ask you to do something really strange.’
Glancing at the sky, her eyes met mine. ‘I thought you were gay. You’re not going to ask me to appear on The Jeremy Kyle Show with you, and claim I was your long-lost sister you accidentally made love to—and then ask me to take a lie-detector test, to prove I was, or wasn’t, or whatever?’
I cocked my head. ‘Yeh, I probably will.’
‘Then I’m in,’ she replied. ‘I’ve not got anybody, else.’
I felt her stringy body against mine as she rubbed my arm and gulped down tears on my shoulder.