12 Rejected Sketches of A Modern Day Messiah

I.

Jesus lives in a cold water apartment on the south side of Chicago. The complex is home to a hodgepodge of prodigals and vagabonds. Among them are crackheads, welfare-dependent mothers, an emancipated minor, an alcoholic couple with a newborn baby, undocumented immigrants, prostitutes and their menthol-breathed pimp.

He doesn’t own much. Anything smaller than a couch is liable to get stolen. No phone, no television, no coffee maker, nor anything typically customary to the 21st century. He never locks his door. If there’s anything to be taken he’d rather offer it freely. He never has more than a few days of food, but he always invites the huddled figures on the stairwell to dinner. He has a yellow refrigerator and an electric stove, but the coils were stolen a long time ago. His bathroom has a cracked mirror and broken tiles but the faucet runs and the water is almost always clear. He sleeps on a cot that was there when he moved in.

Over the sixty years of his life he has been stabbed, shot, beaten, cursed and ignored, yet he gives thanks over his meals, like his mother taught him, and he lays his hands on his neighbors and makes sure to tell them they are blessed and that they are loved. The young kids especially. They hope they don’t disappoint him, but they also hope they can live to move out of the complex.
 
 

II.

 
God’s Kickstarter expired this evening. The Almighty Creator was trying to raise money so that his son could afford the long trip to Earth and subsist on a living here while he preaches in the countryside and saves all men from eternal death. The Kickstarter came up with just half of the $500,000 goal. God said that while the initial project failed, he’ll “take it as a learning experience. It may mean that Jesus has to be born in a manger again and he certainly won’t be able to hire a lawyer when blasphemy charges inevitably arise, but we are confident the world wants to see us again.”
 
 

III.

 
Jesus works at the McElroy Coal Mine in Moundsville, West Virginia. His job, along with hundreds of other blackened faces is to move mountains.

He is a well-known and well-loved member of the community, donating thousands of hours a year to feeding the homeless in soup kitchens and on the street. He has never considered himself religious, nor has he decided if he believes in God, but he enjoys the tradition of his local church and takes part as one person of the whole congregation.

He believes that all it takes to believe in God is a popcorn kernel of faith. With this faith he knows he can move mountains, but for now it must be done rock by rock.
 
 

IV.

 
Jesus sits under the bridge at Forest Lane and US-75 writing symphonies that he can’t read. He doesn’t ask for money. He doesn’t have a panhandling license. The city doesn’t arrest him anymore so long as he’s gone by rush hour. He swears loudly at pedestrians that walk by him. From behind their car windows and inside their air conditioned cabins people mourn over his wilting sanity. For six years he has laid his head on concrete every night. He drinks rainwater on his birthdays. He crawls into dumpsters at night and defecates.

He was pierced in the side with a shiv when he was a young boy, he thinks about 13. He ran away from home because his step-father refused to take him to the hospital.  He says he healed his own wound and that was the day he discovered he was the Messiah. Jackson used to tease him about it, but Jackson hasn’t stopped by his corner in years and it’s likely that God struck him down for his unbelief.

He writes his symphonies in a language that will be readable in 1000 years. Men will once again sing in those days, every word of their language. The last time he bled was the day he healed his pierced side. He now bleeds through his pencil.
 
 

V.

 
Jesus is an old maid working late tonight at the laundromat. Rumor has it she has the best bleach and detergents that are homebrewed and are available freely to all customers who ask. Her business is mostly word of mouth. Everybody who cleans their clothes at her laundromat swears by her product.

Gutierrez sends one of six different men to her in a rotating fashion. They come back with a liter-a-day. He tells them to ask for two liters and she sends each one home with two liters. He sends one man every day for the whole week and the detergent flow holds steady.

For a few weeks Gutierrez and his men are able to keep the fact that the product is free quiet. But the woman’s detergent is immaculate. As good as everybody says. People flood to the laundromat. The courteous ones use the machines but most leave without so much as a small tip. It seems that the old maid is never out of the stuff, that she has spent her whole life making it. But after a few months the droves that came out stopped coming. Then those that had to make an excessive drive don’t make the drive. Finally, people stop coming for the detergent altogether, because they already have too much. No one comes to talk to the old maid or to ask for detergent. They come to use her washing machines and nod politely whenever she makes eye contact with them.
 
 

VI.

 
Jesus was prescribed to the depressed patient. 250 mg/day. She has a sneaking suspicion that Jesus is just a placebo and that her realization that Jesus is a placebo will nullify any effects it is meant to give. Still, she figures, she might as well take it and see what happens.
 
 

VII.

 
He raped her after he saw her stumbling in the dark hallway, looking for her keys. The minute she opened her door he pushed her in and held her down. After he raped her, he beat her in the back of the head until she was bleeding and unconscious.

Her pregnancy came as a shock to her. She had not remembered having sex. Whether she would not or could not remember, was never quite clear. She declared him a miracle child, and, as a result, she was condemned by her family. But she gives birth to him. And in his infancy she whispers to him what a miracle he was. She tells him of the great things he is destined to do.
 
 

VIII.

 
Outside the prison walls the people wear his name on their shirts. The state announced that he was going to die anyway, despite the online petitions and the outcries of political activists. He was tried by a jury of his peers. Several of these peers hated his skin color. Multiple DNA tests and inconsistent eyewitness testimony had shaken the ground upon which the case for his guilt was established. In his final words he expressed his innocence and admonished the legal system under which he was persecuted. He was killed and his ashes scattered in the wind.

Two states over on the same night, Jesus was executed. The sole protest was a black man who starved himself for a week outside the prison gates. The man who starved for Jesus knew that Jesus was guilty. He did not care that Jesus once beat another black man with a tee-ball bat. He did not care that Jesus was a self-professed White Supremacist. He did not care that Jesus would have hated him had the two ever met. The man protested anyway.
 
 

IX.

 
In what was supposed to be a landmark religious event, Jesus Christ was inexplicably absent during a specially planned sit-down with religious leaders in Los Angeles which included the Dalai Lama and Archbishop Evan Moynahan. The reason? He was spotted at the Palm in West Hollywood wining and dining with noted pornstar actors Mike-o “Psycho” Rodman, recently crowned AVN newcomer of the year Anabel Sparks, and formerly disgraced star Dez Delight who announced her retirement after she contracted HIV.
 
 

X.

 
She had unironically called him her Savior amidst the slurred and giggled vows. They drove out of the hot desert so hungover they could barely spit, much less trade it. She was looking at him from the passenger side through tinted glasses, wondering just exactly who the hell he was and what he wanted with her.

She had been saved from Hell. But she saw only more desert on the horizon. They’ll come to his house just south of nowhere and she’ll discover that it was never money that he promised. He never had any to offer. What he offered her was the chance to feel less alone; to be elevated from a whole to a half. She will sit and stare at the house, the glorified shack and think to herself, “Is this it?”
 
 

XI.

 
Jesus Christ died as the result of collateral damage from a US drone strike in northwestern Pakistan on Friday. The US government is not expected to comment on the situation nor has the CIA yet announced the death of the original High Value Target in question. This marks the eighth week in a row that US drone strikes have been confirmed to have killed multiple innocent civilians. Among the dead were six other males and two female companions of the man who has been called by some to be a prophet of end times and by others to be God incarnate.

It is unknown who the Pentagon was targeting with the attack or even if the target was linked to Al-Qaeda. Both the CIA and Pentagon have remained silent on the matter.

Described as a nomadic spiritual guide, he had faced criticism by both Muslim and Christian leadership including members of the President’s cabinet. In recent years many people have speculated that he may have been the target of a Fatwa from Muslim leadership. The age of the man is unknown. He leaves behind no known surviving relatives.
 
 

XII.

 
I am Jesus Christ the Savior of all mankind. I have the power to turn water into wine. I can cure any disease antiquated or modern, from leprosy to AIDS. I can stir the hearts of men to the point that they will die for me in excruciating manners. I can feed the hungry, clothe the naked, love the loveless, the psychopaths, the melancholy, the rich, the poor, the beyond poor, the people that shout and give glory to Allah, Buddha, Krishna, or those who shout to nothing but themselves, to their work, their money, their addictions, those who don’t believe in anything at all. But I don’t want to. They’ll make fun of me, call me crazy. It hardly seems worth it to love people like that.

Front page image by Ahmed Mahin Fayaz.

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