Thursday, May 27, 2004

Fernando and Jesus 8: Resolution

I sat for some time, watching the old man across the street, and watching the sky lighten. I was mentally purged, yet physically as dirty and sore as I'd been in a long time. The net result was that I felt fine as long as I didn't move--so I sat, not moving, for some time. I felt like a Buddha: clean, but covered with this hard epoxy resin of sweat and debris.

Eventually it occurred to me that the sun was actually up, and the man across the street had gone back inside. I was still cold, and the house had been quiet for some time.

I had almost re-entered the house several times last night, but always backed out when the screaming quit. If Fernando was quiet, maybe he was coming out of it--and I wasn't about to fuck that up. I felt sorry for the guy, and while I would be content (and have been content) with never seeing him again, I didn't wish him any ill will, especially since he was by far the better parent of the two (I'll argue this point with any one of you, too).

So it was with trepidation that I walked up the front steps and knocked on the door. I had a brief flashback to the night before when it opened and Darlene stood there, blocking the television (still stuck between channels). She seemed sort of pleased to see me, but immediately left the room after casting a disgusted glance at Fernando and Jim.

Fernando and Jim were sitting, arms around each other's shoulders, on the couch. Grinning. They looked for all the world like they were posing for a photo captioned "best buds," and both of them were happy to see me, for radically different reasons.

Jim was pleased to see me because I was going to help him get out from under Fernando's arm. Fernando was happy to see me because he could tell me about his new religion.

There followed an hour of listening to Fernando speak frenetically in broken English about how he was going to church to take communion for the first time since he was a boy. He had spent the night in the arms of Jesus, who protected him against a demon and the Devil himself, who at one point threatened bodily harm to his baby daughter. Jesus and the Devil had striven all night, literally, for Fernando's mortal soul, and sometime before dawn both demon and Devil had disappeared, and Fernando found himself being supported by his new best friend Jim.

There was a lot more, how he saw his dead brother's face, and how he struggled but couldn't move, how every time he thought he was free, the Devil would come back and torture his some more...

I listened to an hour of this because he insisted we go with him to church, so we could be witnesses to what he considered divine intervention. Jim finally managed to convince him that he should probably go bathe first--and that we'd catch up with him later.

The last words I ever heard from Fernando were: "I give my life to Jesus. Jesus saved me. I no sell cocaine any more. I no beat Darlene no more. I wanna be good father and hu'band, and give my life to Jesus. I love you guys--you help me come to Jesus."

When Fernando rushed off to the bathroom, Jim and I gathered up as many of the scattered beers as we could and hit the door running. We sat in the car, facing east, and popped a couple of beers. We drove out, past the crackhouse, past the guy watering his lawn, and past a church, whose parking lot was beginning to fill up. It was one of those very rare moments in life--a moment when Jim was completely speechless. We were the only two people on earth who knew what had gone on there. We'd wasted our (e), we thought the whole night, but once it was all over with we felt both closer to each other and closer, somehow, to godhead. We (for the most part) had kept cool and done the right thing in a very, very weird situation, quite possibly saving someone's life in the process. I never thought about it like that before tonight, but I don't think I'm exaggerating: I think he would have killed Darlene if we hadn't intervened.

We pulled up, still without speaking, in front of Jim's apartment. Before I could say goodbye, he rushed upstairs. Wanting some sort of closure on this, I followed him. He met me at his apartment door, and thrust a fairly large baggie of cocaine into my chest. "Take this," he said, "I don't want it. I'm never doing drugs again. We just witnessed a miracle."

I pushed past him: "sit the fuck down."
I sat down at his table, and dumped out the baggie: "that was no miracle."
found a razor blade, and began to cut: "that, sir, was amphetamine psychosis. Get me a beer, would you?"

Just for good measure, we chopped up the remainder of Fernando's ecstasy and added it to the pile. Then we began to argue. Everything was back to normal.


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