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Excerpt from Monsters



Illustration by Kyle Danley

I fly back to where the boss is. I’m not going to try to explain to you where it is, or the logistics of how I get there. Let’s just say it involves a wormhole, a belt, three stars, a sharp left turn, and either six or seven dimensions, I can never remember.

I show up outside the boss’s administration building. I walk to the receptionist’s desk and ask to see the boss.

The receptionist doesn’t even ask if I have an appointment. He says he’s very sorry, but I can’t.

I don’t know why I even asked. Nobody ever sees the boss.

“God damn it,” I say.

The boss says, “I heard that.”

I say to the voice, “I want to see you.”

I receive no indication of whether or not he heard that.

I’m about to turn back to the door when the receptionist says, “But I’m sure you can see the boss’s son.”


He checks J.C.’s schedule, then announces my name over the intercom and escorts me to his office.

Jesus Christ is sitting behind a desk. When I enter he leans back slightly in his chair, and gives me that wan expression I know so well. He recovers quickly, though, or at least tries to, and attempts a warmer smile. He says, “It’s been a long time. . . .”

“Almost two thousand years,” I say. “You haven’t aged a day.”

He smiles again, or at least tries to. Then he leans forward and says, “Before we get to your reason for being here, I want you to know that I’ve forgiven you.”

I hesitate, then ask, “For what?”

A confused look passes quickly over his face—it’s a good thing this guy isn’t a poker player—before he masks it with another smile. “For everything. That’s what I do,” he says.

I hesitate again, then finally say, “I thought it might have been about the advice I gave you. . . .”

“To allow myself to be arrested, then throw myself on Pontius Pilate’s mercy?” He pauses, then continues, “That turned out how it was supposed to in the end. Not that it wasn’t excruciating in the meantime. Honestly, I resented you for a while, but then remembered that my job is to forgive everyone for everything. And I’m okay now, so it’s all good.” Another pause. “Besides, you were just doing your job. It’s nothing personal.”

I pride myself on my professionalism. “It never is, is it?” I say.

I look around the room. If you’ve ever wondered What Would Jesus Do when it comes to decorating his work space, I can tell you his tastes run more to twenty-first-century office than they do to sixteenth-century cathedral.

He points to a comfortable chair—at least it’s not a couch—and says, “Sit, please.”

I do.

He asks why I’ve come to him.

I tell him I’m having some troubles, and was wondering if he could help me.

He releases his breath as though he’d been holding it. He smiles. “Oh, I thought you came to. . . . So this is more of a personal visit, and not a professional one?”

“Yes, I suppose it is.”

He gets up, walks around the desk, sits in another comfortable chair near to me, and says, “What is troubling you?”

When he asks it like this, all straightforward and personal, suddenly I feel silly. I’m here speaking with Jesus because another angel said I’m different? What am I, a child going to the principle to tattle on another student?

“Don’t be shy,” he says. “You have your role, and I have mine. Mine is to forgive, and to listen to people’s troubles.”

So I tell him of my loneliness, and of how the other angels melt away before me, of how they avoid speaking with me, of how they seem to be afraid of me, and of how I made this trip to his office because of what the other angel said. As I’m speaking, he listens with such attention that I feel I’m the only being in the universe.

Except when he looks over my shoulder to where his receptionist has opened the door, and then stage whispers, “Hold my incoming prayers a few more minutes.”

When I finish, he is silent for a long time. At last he says, “How did it feel to tell me that?”

I just look at him.

“It sounds very difficult,” he says.

Another long silence.

“I guess turning the other cheek won’t work. . . .”

“Nobody ever touches my cheek.”

“Or rendering unto Caesar. . . .”

A very uncomfortable silence.

“I, er, I, well. . . . Honestly, I’m more of a listen-to-your-troubles kind of guy, and less of a solution kind of guy,” he says.

That does sound about right, doesn’t it?

Suddenly he stands, gives me a politely apologetic look, and says, “I wish we could talk longer, but prayers are waiting. I don’t know why so many people want me to get involved in athletics. Why would I care who wins the American League pennant?”

We exchange a pro forma hug—which I can tell he’s very glad to quit early—and he sends me on my way.