The Gospel According to Wayne

Chapter 1

1 So, I heard that after Jesus rose from the dead on Sunday, he was tired and a bit stiff. He went to see his mother and some of his apostles and friends, and got a redacted massage from Mary Magdalene. A splash of water on his face and he was revived, Luke told me. Then he came here to my place. I have a nice condo with a spare room and a second bathroom, and so had no problem when he asked if he could stay a few days while he got his thoughts together and figured out his next move. His father was still mad at him for that whole “why have you abandoned me?” thing on the cross, but Jesus and I talked it through.

2 “Jesus, man, you had nails in all your limbs and a vinegared stab wound in your side. Couldn’t he cut you some slack?”

3 “It’s fine, really, Wayne. I mean, he’s old school, you know. Do whatever your parents say, that kind of thing.”

4 I shook his head, thinking that he was being way to generous and forgiving. But that’s kind of his thing, I thought. I had some imported European beer in the fridge, and so I asked Jesus if he wanted one, or did he want to make some wine, you know, like the old days.

5 “Is the beer cold?”

6 “Fuck yeah.”

7 We both laughed and it felt good after the hell that everyone had been through the previous week. I settled into my comfy brown leather armchair and Jesus sat on the grey couch perpendicular to it, on the right-hand side so that we were close and could talk easily. Sometimes Jesus was very garrulous, and sometimes he went silent, and I just went with the flow, experiencing the moment and letting him be.

Chapter 2

We had one of those close conversations that only bonded friends can have, covering everything from the teeny to the funny to the very profound. I asked him about the time he was actually in the tomb, and he said it wasn’t that bad, except for the stone bed. As soon as they pushed the boulder across to supposedly seal off his influence, he was awakened by his father and told what the plan would be. A few days in the tomb, and then someone would come and remove the boulder, and voilà, no Jesus. God would make sure that the boulder-mover fell off a cliff later, just so that there was nobody to give away the true story.

It was musty in there, but there was a Coleman cooler filled with some of his favourite things, and packed with ice. Well, it doesn’t quite compensate for being nailed to a fucking cross, he thought, but it was very much appreciated. He overdid it a bit on the Nutella and sourdough bread, but the almond milk settled his stomach. He slept like a baby that first night, he said.

He looked good, well rested, and I was the same, so we settled in for a full nutritious meal to start the day. And talked about plans …


Chapter 3

Jesus and I sat down over coffee (he found it a bit weak) and we started to focus the topics of our conversation more than we had the previous night. He said he had two priorities: giving himself some time for the wounds to heal was first. The stigmata interfered with basic keyboarding, and as for texting, forget it.

“I’ll talk to my doctor today,” I said. “She may be able to fast-track you to a specialist.”

The other priority was finding work. He joked—you know, the kind of joke that’s not really a joke—that he couldn’t live on self-produced wine and loaves and fishes for the rest of his life.

“Well,” I said, “you’re kind of catching the world at the best and the worst of times. All the macro things seem totally fucked. Geopolitics, war, economies, supply chain, violence, and on it goes. But they say there’s like thousands of unfilled vacancies out there right now. And to top it off: they are looking for people in the trades, because all the boomer guys who did that work are now retiring. You’ve got a ton of experience in carpentry. You just need to get a qualification or something from a college.”

He sipped his coffee and grimaced, partly at the contents, partly at the prospect of having a lot to attend to if he was going to be a successful worker.

“College?” he asked.

“Yeah, usually you can’t just wander around like in the old days and stop at an experienced carpenter’s place, and then, presto, you’re his journeyman and set for life. You need to get papers at a college. Probably like a year’s program, I’d guess?”

“Is it expensive? And, you know, I was thinking of getting into some other business maybe. I’m thirty-five now and I’m not sure I want to be bending over all the time, and risking the loss of a finger every time I try to saw a plank in half.”

I sipped and grimaced myself this time, but managed: “So what do you want to do? What are you good at—that could pay well?”

“I’ve been thinking of freelance writing.”

“Oh, fuck, no.” The words were out of me before I had a chance to constrain myself.

“It’s perfect,” he said. “I’ve got a hell of a story to tell, and frankly a lot of the historical record to correct from what those hacks Matthew, Luke, John, and especially Mark cranked out. My father was a writer, you know.”

“Yes, I’m familiar with his work,” I said, sadly. I adjusted myself, mentally and physically in the chair, and tried to be more positive. “Listen, you can stay here as long as you need to. Why don’t we concentrate on the hand holes first and that slit in your side first?”

“You make a good point,” he conceded.

Chapter 4

“What the fuck?”

Jesus was sitting at the dining room table, a little too blasé for my taste, scrolling around on my laptop which he had evidently found in the guestroom closet.

He looked up from the screen, still eerily calm.

“The windows,” I said.

“Yeah, good morning. That’s Dad, I mean, God. God at work. His passive-aggressive way of showing me that he heard me when I mentioned abandonment on the cross. And that he’s pissed that I haven’t ascended back to heaven this time. Middle of April and there’s ice on your windows. I fucking hate when he does this shit, but I guess we should be happy he hasn’t done anything Old Testament–worthy.” He paused. “Yet, anyway.”

I stood there wanting juice and a sliced banana on peanut-buttered toast more than I had ever wanted it. And coffee. I wanted coffee. Had he never been a guest often enough in other people’s homes to know that that’s the first thing you do?

I calmed myself. I could grind the beans and be drinking dark roast in less than five minutes.

“Why are you up so early?”

“It’s my hands and feet mostly. The pain comes and goes but it’s excruciating when it comes.”

“How’s the side?”

“Oh, that. That’s fine. It was a clean stab and frankly I think the vinegar did it good.”

“Still, we need to get you to a hospital today.”

He was back at the screen again and so I made coffee. The sound of the grinder cancelled everything else out, and I had a respite of this-is-not-really-happening. I put the grounds in, taking a whiff of them first, and then waited for the water to produce enough for two cups. I stood there, everything silent except for his typing and the coffee maker gurgling. I stood there and looked through the living room at ice on the windows that was finally starting to melt because of the sunshine. And I saw that it was good, I thought.

“We need a plan for the day,” I said, setting down the cups. “You can’t go out in a tunic and sandals and with that—well, with that hair. At worst we’ll have born-again Christians chasing us, and at best it’ll be people from the theatre shouting that you’d make a good Jesus.”


“Are you listening. Listen, Jesus, for fuck sake, close that thing and talk to me.” He did as he was told.

The discussion for the next hour (God help me) was frustrating and infuriating. I was livid half the time, and depressed the other half. It finally ended with me shaving his head hair completely off and reducing his beard (“trademark beard,” he insisted) to a goatee. All of my clothes were too big for him, but with paper towels stuffed into the toes of the shoes, and a ‘70s belt that had holes all the way around and so could hold up big pants, and a joint concession to a baggy shirt, we got him ready to go outside and to the hospital.

We sat in my Audi and after I pushed the start button it occurred to me.

“We’re going to have to come up with a new name for you, too.”

Chapter 5

We sat in the car and I pondered how I was going to get him treatment in the hospital, while he fiddled with the glove compartment, opening and closing it, opening and closinig it, just totally entralled and fascinated.

“Stop that.”

He looked over at me. I have to admit that I’d done a magnificent job of making him not look at all like he looked last Friday, or how he’s been depicted in many precious photos since the Renaissance. I had a brief image flash of that classic photo of him, looking on high, wearing a white tunic, but his heart is outside his body being offered to the rest of the world in order to save us. Doesn’t anyone do any vetting of this stuff? Does the message make up for the visual image? It reminded me of an Elvis portrait, but it’s the one of the last day of his life when he has fallen off the toilet to his death. Jesus.

“It’s just fascinating what you humans have created in two thousand years,” Jesus said.

“We’ve done a lot of damage, too. Let’s talk later about that. We need a name for you. Your not near Hispanic-looking enough for your own name to cut it. We need something innocuous for a swarthy young man such as yourself. How about Bob?”

“I wasn’t born yesterday. Bob? No. Absolutely not.”

It went on like that for a full fifteen minutes. Ultimately, I conceded and allowed him the name he wanted: Brad.

“I’ve seen some of his movies. Handsome young man. And a good actor but underrated.”

“OK. Brad it is. Now let’s go in and let me see if I can talk them into getting you in here.”

Alas, it was another long discussion. No, he didn’t have any ID. No, he wasn’t born in Canada. No, he wasn’t employed right now. They let him in anyway after I showed my health card, and a prompt nurse showed up to wheelchair him off to surgery.

I sat in the waiting area. It had obviously been updated from what I’d seen in too many movies. The chairs were comfortable. It wasn’t crowded. There were plug-in stations for devices. Very nice. I checked my email and found that there were too many unread for me to even start to look at that right now. I checked some news sites, MSM and alt. The world was as fucked as it had been since COVID.

About three hours later Jesus walked up to me, no accompaniment, and said he was ready to go. I thought it was a joke or an illusion or a self-benefitting miracle, but, no: the surgery was done and he was just left with some subscriptions to fill. They wanted him to report back in a month.

“Well, that was easy,” he said. “Is everything this fantastic on earth?”

It was not the time to make any comment.

Chapter 6

Jesus (“Brad!” he insisted) was positively giddy as we exited the waiting area and walked back out to the car. Maybe he was still feeling the effects of whatever medication they used to anesthetize him or something? Or perhaps it was just the simple fact that he had the holes in his hands sewn up now. They’d wrapped only a small amount of bandage around each palm and so they were still pretty functional.

“So, Je—Brad, what’s the prognosis? Will you get full usage back in your hands?”

“I need to go to physio once a week for three months. They’re not sure. It will never be one hundred percent apparently, but I’ll be able to keyboard and hold utensils and stuff like that. I’m hoping for the best.”

That sounded great. I knew him well enough from the old days that he would be diligent with his appointments. He was charitable, yes, but when it came to self-care, he was very focused. I didn’t like the mention of keyboarding, as I worried it meant he wanted an office job, and he wasn’t really qualified for anything. Basic data input somewhere, maybe? Were there places that still did that, like, had people keying the info from forms into a database?

“Listen,” I said, “we’ve got a couple of things to take care of. First, let’s get something to eat, and then we need to go buy you some clothes. The paper towel is out of one of your shoes and it’s going to flop right off any minute.”

He looked down.

We went to one of my favourite old-time diners, where I knew you could get food that would be palatable for me and edible at all for him. He wasn’t used to fancy eating.

“Comfy,” he said, sliding himself in along the maroon banquette.

The server came, smiled at me, and kind of deadpanned at Jesus. The goatee and shaved head were indeed a little severe. He looked a bit like he could have just gotten out of prison. She laid a giant menu in front of each of us.


We ultimately settled on a burger and fries for me and a salisbury steak with mashed potatoes and peas for Brad.

“Go easy on the gravy,” I told her. “He’s got a bit of—well, just not so much gravy.” I was worried that it might be too rich for him, given the bland fare he was used to.

“So who’s King Charles?” he asked.


“King Charles.”

“He’s the new—he’s the King of England, and I guess the King of Canada, too. Sounds weird to say it. Why are you asking?”

“I saw a newspaper story that said that during his coronation the procession is going to be led by a cross that contains a—what did they call it—yeah, right, a relic from my cross. Where did they get that and how do they know? Can a piece of wood last for like two thousand years? Wouldn’t it rot or be petrified or something?”

“Are you sure?”

“Yes, I’m sure. For some reason I’ve lost all of my miracle powers but I have a photographic memory. That’s You-Know-Who fucking with me again. The story read:

“I mean, what the absolute fuck!”

“It’s symbolic,” I said, hoping to calm him down.

“It’s sick. Presuming it is a piece of my cross, I mean, I was fucking tortured and killed on the goddamn thing. What kind of sick fucks are these royals and the Pope?”

“It’s a long story,” I said.

Chapter 7

“So, we have time. Tell me.”

“I can’t recount the history of the Catholic Church and the British Royal Family in a few minutes. And we have to get going to the store to get you some clothes.”

“Give me the short version then. You know, the one with them thinking they have a piece of the cross I was killed on.”

I looked down at the lone french fry remaining on my plate, picked it up and considered it a moment, and then in my mouth it went. Greasy sustenance to help with the mini-narrative.

“Listen, after you died there were people who still believed in you. They believed you ascended to heaven. To say that that group grew is a bit of an understatement. Millions. They called—they call themselves Christians. Let’s say all was fine—in truth, all was not fine—but let’s say all was fine until about fifteen hundred years later, when the Christian church divided into two. Catholics on one side, and what were ultimately called Protestants on the other. That was five hundred years ago and that division still holds strong.”

Jesus seemed to be enthralled by the story, and I think a little selfishly flattered by the influence he’d had.

“Christians,” he said wistfully.

“Listen, we’ve got shopping to do,” I said, my voice a little higher than I’d intended. “We’ve got shopping to do,” I repeated in a whisper. “I’m going to say a few more things and then we’re leaving, OK?”


“The Pope is the head of the Catholics. It’s an odd organization he runs. No women allowed to work for it. The men all wear these elaborate dresses and hats. The ones who don’t live at the headquarters in Rome, the priests, a lot of them like to have sex with little boys, and all of the Popes over the last few decades have said how wrong that is, but they haven’t done much about it. So, anyway, that’s the Pope. That’s the guy who claims to have a piece of your cross.”

“Having sex with boys?” Jesus said. “How is—what—where the fuck does that come from?”

“I told you this was a long story and I’m not about to get into it here in a diner when we have better things to do.”

Jesus could see that I would be adamant about that. I took a big breath and thought about how I could sum up the Royal Family in two minutes.

“They’re a family that lives in England, who have a shit ton of money, and no power, but many countries, even democracies, consider the head of the household to be their King or Queen. The Queen just died a couple of months ago. She was like a hundred or something. And now her oldest son, Charles, automatically becomes King. That’s what the coronation is all about. A celebration of that. And so the Pope gave them a little gift, a piece of the—of piece of your cross, and they’ve made it into another cross.”

“You’re fucking with me, right?”

“Jesus, Brad, I wish I was.”

“So how—”

“I’m done talking.” I signalled to the server. She came quickly and I tipped her well.

We got up and headed out the door. Both Brad’s shoes came off and there were bits of paper towel everywhere.

“Pick up the shoes and let’s get going.”

Chapter 8

There were tears of confusion and joy at the corners of Jesus’s eyes as we walked into the clothing store. William’s Clothes for Men (“Est’d 1959”) had all the basics, from socks to caps, and nothing fancy and expensive. The floor was well organized, all the shirts in one place, all the pants in another, and like that consistently for the whole range of items. What it lacked in multiplicity of selection it gained in navigability.


“So,” Jesus replied. “I presume I won’t be getting sackcloth togas.”

“You presume right. For this first trip, let’s just get you like three of everything. Do you know your waist size and neck size? Oh, and your shoe size?”

“I wore sandals and dresses for twenty-five years. Both are very forgiving. Also: commando underneath.”

I looked around for the man I always called William and only then realized that this might be his son, the old guy long buried. He caught my eye and came over to us.

“Hello, gents. How can I help you?”

“This is my friend Brad and I’m Wayne, I come in here all the time. You guys are great. Brad has lost a bit of weight and needs the basic measurements.”

“Congrats, Brad,” William said, patting a visible but endearing tummy. “What’s your secret?”

Jesus looked confused. “I don’t think I’m supposed to say.”

Now William looked confused. “Low carb,” I chimed in. “And moderate exercise.”

“I find that customers prefer if they don’t have the store manager lurking over their shoulder the whole time.”

“I get it,” I said, nodding.

It turned into a pretty efficient operation. We ended up getting pants at 34” and large underwear because Brad said he wasn’t used to his Jesine Junk being so constrained. Shirts were easy. We got a couple in understated colours but also a brash patterned one that he liked a lot, in spite of the hints of pink and fuchsia. Shoes: a pair of comfortable everyday loafers and a pair of hiking boots with good support.

“Oh my God, I could shop here for hours,” Brad said, but I had to buzzkill his enthusiasm and tell him we’d better head home and get things all sorted. We had a lot to talk about.

“Listen, Wayne,” he said, pulling me aside as we headed for the check-out. “You are very kind for doing this. I know it must be a hassle at some level to be stuck with me for however long or short it might be, but don’t forget that I appreciate all this. And when I get a job I will pay you back! I’ve heard about other humans, usually from God mumbling this or that on a Saturday night. ‘How the fuck did we go from a couple wearing fig leaves to these yahoos drinking too much and falling over each other?’ He’s disappointed.”

“You’re welcome, Brad. I’m glad you didn’t re-ascend. I’m presuming you still have that option in your back pocket, but …” I trailed off.

“Let’s head off,” he said. “I want to get out of these baggy clothes and into something that fits.”

Chapter 9

I made the tricky turn around the huge concrete column and into my parking spot underneath the condo complex. It was odd. Others who have been in the car with me have held the edge of their leather seat, and one audibly gasped. It is a bit of a finickey manoeuvre, and I suppose that a couple of centimetres wrong one way or the other would result in me hitting the vehicle parked next to me, or scraping the driver’s side of the car along that column of death. But I’d done it so many times now I wasn’t nervous or impressed any more.

“Nice move,” Jesus said. “Miraculous.”

“Funny guy.”

We gathered up the purchases from the trunk like we were a couple of teenaged girls obsessed with fashion, just old enough to get their first credit card, and now returning gigglingly with their booty. Shopping!!!

I always liked arriving back at my condo. I could see straight through to the outside, and now the leaves had come in and it was lovely. I felt enveloped again. Jesus rushed

to the guest room to get rid of the baggy clothes and get into something that fit.

He looked quite dapper when he came back out into the kitchen, where I was putting together some drinks and snacks for us. The clothes were fresh, not too tight, not baggy and too loose. He had put on the socks a little ass-backwards, but of course he had never had any practice. His hair was growing back a little, his face was a little tanned, and the goatee looked positively stylish.

“You’re a new man,” I said.

“Yeah. Talk about rising from the grave.”

This would be a relaxed night. Red wine, cheese, breadsticks. I brought it all into the living room on a wooden tray and Jesus trailed after me. The socks were audible and for a brief moment I worried he would trip up in them and fall into me. But, no, we made it. I set the tray down and we both didn’t reach for food and drink. We sighed back in our respective seats and appreciated the feeling of not having anything to do, and with wine and sustenance at our disposal any time we chose, and …

Life was good.

As I sat up and took my own glass of wine and a bit of cheese (old cheddar), I considered that perhaps Jesus might become a friend of mine. Things had been quiet on the God front—no more frozen-over windows—but of course I knew what he was capable of. I don’t mean so much, say, destroying the planet, or ascending Jesus transitively to heaven, but more the kind of insecure fuckery he got on with in the Old Testament. Maybe I could negotiate and convince him that it wasn’t a bad idea that his son was surreptitiously back on earth again. Seeing how it feels. Gathering intel.

Chapter 10

The days of Jesus staying at my condo grew into a couple of weeks, and it came time for us to arrange his moving out, finding “his own place,” like a 20-something who’s finally finished university and now has his first job. It had been a nice treat, frankly, having him around. I’d lived solo for over thirty years (long story) and had gotten used to it, so the novelty of a guest was a real pleasure. At first. But soon I started to miss my solitude and the silence, the times when I could just sit in the darkness on my couch at 11 pm and just exist, like a low-grade form of meditation. Having someone always there hampered that, especially since he tended to go to bed later than I did as he was fascinated with both the mundane and the cool in my home, everything from the can opener that cuts the lid off from the side, to Alexa, who was often confused by what musical selection he was asking for.

I slept in on Thursday and I was surprised and happy to smell coffee as I lingered in bed a bit longer. He had made coffee? When I walked out into the kitchen, unshowered, and wearing only sweatpants and a V-neck undershirt, he was doing his best with the toaster.

“Good morning,” I said, analyzing the situation as I spoke.

“Hey, Wayne.”

“Aw, listen, you actually need to put bread in the slots before you push down on the level to toast it. The toaster doesn’t make toast per se. It grills bread that you put into it.”


I went to the fridge to get a loaf of bread, noticing for the first time my magnet which he had never commented on.

“Here you go,” I said, and he deftly put two slices in the slots and pressed the lever down proudly.

“Spoiler alert: you don’t even have to watch it. The thing pops up automatically when the toast is done.”

His eyes widened as if I had told him that tomorrow we would be driving to Mars to check out the new deli.

We sat down to some of the worst coffee I had ever had (basically water had been slightly dirtied with coffee grounds) and burnt toast, as Jesus had messed with the settings in his initial attempts to get the thing to work for him. It was OK. This will all be over soon, I thought.

We had already agreed on him moving out and in fact he was excited about the idea. I’d already identified some bachelor apartments in decent parts of town that were reasonably priced, or as reasonably priced as Ottawa gets anyway. I repeated to him for the tenth time that no, it didn’t mean that he had to remain a celibate bachelor to stay there. I wasn’t sure why this was an issue—perhaps he just took things too literally in English, like Hymie on Get Smart!—but judging by the search history on my desktop, well, it did seem like he had an aching.

We finished breakfast, cleaned up the kitchen counters, reset the level on the toaster, and put things in the dishwasher.

“Ready to go?”

“Yes, yes!”

Part of me thought this was going to be a cinch as he seemed so easy to please, and part of me, well …

Chapter 11

I was waiting a bit impatiently in the entrance of my condo while Jesus was still getting ready in his room. My impatience was really unjustified: I knew what it was. He still hadn’t mastered socks and so it would take him an inordinate amount of time to ensure that the heels were pointing in the right direction and that they were not inside-out.

“Don’t bother with the socks. It’s warm out. Just wear your deck shoes.”

In a couple of minutes he emerged from around the hallway, looking very presentable as a prospective tenant, but the socks were a mangled mess on his feet, like the odd bits of bacon that are stuffed at the back of the beautiful horizontal slices in order to satisfy the weight requirements.

“It’s hard.”

I felt a genuine twinge of sympathy, which is something to say about someone who had been crucified and entombed a couple of weeks ago.

“Take them off, man.”

He did as he was told and we headed out. I’d decided that it would be best to take this slowly, as the whole process, to say the least, was new to him. I have no idea what kind of mud and/or straw shanty he lived in when he was on earth in the early 1st century, or whether Heaven was a place of luxury or an austere holding place for eternity, but for sure he had never experienced the range of possibilities of an apartment in a modern city in 2023. And so we would see only two places today. One was a bachelor’s apartment in Mechanicsville in the west end of town, and the other was a one-bedroom in Alta Vista. I was keeping him on this (western) side of town because it was what I was most familiar with and, in the end, I wanted him to be located relatively close to me.

A friendly man in his 30’s, and with a magnificently coiffed beard—I was hoping this would not be triggering for Jesus—greeted us on the outside porch of the house where the bachelor was. We walked up two flights of stairs and he opened the door and stood back to let us walk in first.

“You can leave your shoes on.”

I could see that it was pretty basic. There was no bedroom of course, but there was also no kitchen to speak of, just a countertop with cupboards and a stove and fridge, all tucked into one corner of the one room. Thankfully, the bathroom (always the test of whether an apartment is good or bad) was, well, not bad. I imagined that an onslaught of water, cloths, and some heavy-duty chemical soaps would clean it nicely and kill whatever might be living there. Its key selling feature was the bay window which looked out onto a quiet street through a tall maple tree.

“So what do you think?”

Jesus was silent. I think it was too much for him to absorb, as if I had just asked a kid in the first grade to figure out this algebra problem for me. I don’t see any plus signs.

“Do you mind if we take a few photos?” I asked the prospective landlord.

“Be my guest.”

I used my phone to take about a hundred of them, as if I were working in forensics and this was a crime scene. I wanted us to be visually and accurately reminded of the true state of the place when we reviewed the photos later this evening.

Jesus had still said nothing. He spent the whole time looking out the window.

“Listen,” I said, “it’s a good place you have here. When do we have to get back to you to say yay or nay?”

“To tell you the truth,” he said, “I haven’t got a lot of lookers. So, like, a couple of days should be fine.”

We shook hands on the way out and Jesus, puzzled, just formed the landlord’s hand into a fist and clasped it in both his own hands, causing a wan smile.

We sat in the car for a while. I wanted to debrief.

“What did you think? Could you see yourself living there? I’d only be, like, two kilometres or so away.”

He was still silent and I worried for a moment that maybe it was so strange to him that he didn’t have the words to say what he thought.

“You can tell me in Aramaic, if you like,” I joked.

Finally he looked up and then over at me. “That was one of the most beautiful things I’ve ever seen.”

Chapter 12

Move-in day was April 30 but it wasn’t the mad scramble that it is for most people as they tape up boxes and still refuse to discard the assorted crap they have been carrying with them from move to move, apartment to apartment, and often leaving it unopened in storage until it gets touched again the next time they move.

“God is the father of the child?” Joseph had asked.


“How did that work exactly? Did he just show up one day when I was in Jericho working a job that would bring us a substantial sum? You guys got a little tipsy and then he fucked the shit out of you?”

“Joseph, please!”

Jesus had told me the story many times. That was a major simmering issue right through to his adolescence, and when he went out on his own, and started teaching and giving seminars, he had even fewer possessions. He absolutely loved the look of his new apartment with nothing in it. And nothing to bring to it except for his new clothes, which he carefully laid on the floor until we got him some hangers.

“Listen,” I said. “The great news is that though you have very little, you also want very little. Shopping is an ass pain, so what we’re going to do is get you set up for internet access, and my housewarming gifts to you are going to be a refurbished Lenovo all-in-one desktop computer—they are workhorses—and a Chromebook and basic cable. Oh, and a cellphone.”

“I know what some of those things are, and I am grateful to you, Wayne. You are generous. You are a good friend.”

“The other thing we are going to do—and this is going to be an annual expense for you—is sign you up for Amazon Prime. It will give you music, it will give you movies and television, and it will give you access to the largest shopping store in the world. As one of my uncles used to say, they have everything from a baby’s fart to a clap of thunder.”


It would take a little while for all this to be set up, and for him to be trained on it all, but I thought it was important that he get used to the idea of living alone, having your own space that wasn’t some fucking tomb that 2.5 billion Christians “celebrated” every year, but rather a place of comfort and peace and joy.

“Hey, man,” I said as I was at the door about to leave. “You’re going to love it here. I can see that you already do.”

“I do.”

“You’ve got some food, and I showed you how to use the stove and fridge, and you know, I think I’ll just leave you on your own for a couple of days. Well, wait—let’s say a day, and I’ll be back and we can get everything all set up. I’m excited myself for god sake. If you run into any problems, just go see the building manager, and he should be able to set you straight.”

We hugged and I was halfway to the elevator before I heard his door close. Things would be fine.


Chapter 13

As I stood outside the door of Jesus’s apartment, about to knock, I could already smell smoke and I could hear him inside walking around. He was slow to come to the door when I did knock, and the face of the happy man finally liberated from relentless deaths and ascensions had hardened and saddened. He let me in and closed the door behind us.

Something had happened here. My first thought was that he was having trouble adjusting to life on earth again after a couple of millennia of lack of practice.

“What happened, man?”

He just looked down. He still hadn’t said a word since I’d entered and when his head came up again he just stared straight at me, sadness drooping his features. He pointed upwards and I instinctively looked up, but saw nothing but ceiling.


He sighed. “My father, God as he still likes to call himself, is pissed off with me. He wants me back up there at his right-hand side as he still insists on calling it, but what it is really was me alone while he revelled in the gratitude of all those humans who were glad they weren’t dead any more.”

I looked around. The place wasn’t a wreck, but there were two places of impact of the anger of an omnipotent parent. Judging by the volume of it, not all but some of his clothing had been systematically shredded and was maintaining a precarious pile in the middle of the living room. It was colourful, but unnerving because of the cause of it.

“It’s like Joseph’s coat,” he said, “if your father was a sick fuck.”

I followed him into the kitchen. Everything was clean and spare as it had been the last time I saw it, but on the wall above the right back burner there was the unmistakeable mark of a fire that had burned there.

“But, Jesus, you don’t have anything yet. What got burnt?”

“Nothing. There was nothing there. Nothing. I came into the kitchen to see what the smell was, and there’s flames and I worry that my whole new beautiful apartment is going to be destroyed, and the maniac’s hand or whatever the hell is going to reach down and pull me kicking and screaming from the fire. Home to where I belong”—his eyes rolled—”while as per usual he doesn’t give a flying fuck about the rest of the building and the others that will be homeless or dead. I’ve never hated anyone as much since Luke.”


“Long story. He was just as asshole.”

“So?” I prompt.

“Yeah, right. So I don’t know what to do. I just go turn on the faucet thinking I might splash water onto it and as soon as I turn the water on, the fire stops. All over. Finished. The powerful shithead has done his bit.”

I was kind of stunned into silence.

“Listen, Wayne, it’s OK. This is typical stuff for him. You’ve read the Old Testament, right? I’m lucky I’m not torn apart by jackals or turned into a fucking pillar of salt or something.”

This was oddly reassuring.

“But if he didn’t plan on taking you up to heaven, why would he bother doing something like this?”

Jesus sighed. “That’s what he does. That’s how he operates. It’s all about mental torture that might go on for days or even years, and in the end you still don’t know what he’s going to do. He’s a sociopath. He likes playing with his dolls.”

“But you’re his son.”

Jesus looked at me, kind of world-weary. “Son, cousin, hippopotamus, spider—it’s all the same. He doesn’t have a sense of anything. He doesn’t know proportion or what’s right or wrong. He doesn’t know anything for fuck sake.”

I was less shaken now that I knew that Jesus was not hurt (at least physically).

“Listen,” I said, “let’s go out and get a drink or a bite to eat or something.”

“Nah, man, I’m too tired.”

“It’s still smoky in here. We should talk to the super by the way. I mean, of the building. You smell of it. Get cleaned up a bit and we’ll go out. I’m insisting. Did he leave you any clothing at all.”

“Oh, yeah, sure. Again, typical: don’t ruin someone completely. Just give them a hint of what you can do. Did I mention what an asshole he is?”

Jesus went to shower and to get changed and I just walked around the apartment. I was spooked by a noise, but it turned out to be nothing. This mysterious way scared me a little.

Chapter 14

The kitchen fire and the shredded clothing spooked Jesus more than he was willing to say. I could tell that when I talked with him over the next couple of days, he seemed subdued, and soon I came to understand that that was a perfectly normal human reaction when the surprise trauma you have experienced is not only from your father—who goes on and on and on about loving people—but of course from a father who was all-powerful. Perhaps God had heard the giggling jokes among residents in heaven about his prowess (“Omnipotent? I mean, he’s only had one kid in six thousand years. I’d say impotent, frankly, amirite?”)

I gave Jesus some space and time (“Hey, just like Dad did for the universe,” he joked, which I considered a good sign). He was slowly getting back to his normal self. But I put off being so anxious about finding him a job and all of that. He needed some me time, or whatever his pronouns were.

We took some long walks around the city, sometimes in the urban parts but mostly on trails and sometimes right in the cool, darkened woods, the sounds of birds around us, the sky barely visible when we looked up towards the tops of the high trees. It was lovely.

We gradually got to a point where we could sit and he would tell me his emotions about what had happened, and also ask for advice.

“Wayne, fuck, I have to say that this hit me harder than I thought anything could. Partly shock, partly just raging anger, and if I’m honest with myself, partly fear. I don’t know what I’ve done that’s so bad. Sons go out on their own all the time here on earth. It’s encouraged. Don’t you guys, I mean not you personally, but you know, humans—don’t you make fun of the man-boys who stay rent-free at their parents’ place, get free food too, and even get their cellphone bills paid for fuck sake? I’m in my early thirties, about the time that those guys sometimes move out. I want to make something of myself, you know, apart from being the saviour of humankind.”

It was hard to disagree with him. What I feared mostly was that God, based on his shaky and unstable record of psychopathy in the Old Testament, might keep this campaign of haranguing his son going for years. Or he might plant an idea in his head that he should jump off a building. Nobody knew what he was capable of.

Correction: everybody knew what that asshole was capable of.

During one of our walks on a maintained trail, we sat on one of rest benches that the city had set up. We luxuriated in the rest and the silence for five silent minutes. We both came out of our reveries at the sound of approaching voices. Nice voices, not some demon coming to do us in or a goddamn bush transmogrifying into a beast or something.

We smiled at the two women, one of them with a dog on a leash, as they went by. The smiles were returned, and they walked on by.

I looked over at Jesus. His eyes were slightly bugged out.

“Are you okay, man?” I asked.

He was silent for a moment and then turned his head to look at the women now fading in the distance as they made their way back to the parking lot.

“What was that?” Jesus said.

I hoped the question was rhetorical, because I didn’t want to be in this forest all day, no matter how nice it was.

Chapter 15

Jesus and I were sitting in his apartment about a week later. I didn’t say anything, but inside I was happy to see that things seemed to be coming together for him, in his mind and in his domestic environment. His place was ascetic and beautiful. I envied the lack of possessions, the clutter-free setup he had achieved. He had started with nothing and he hadn’t added much to it. He kept it clean and even seemed to quietly revel a bit in small chores he had to do that for various reasons were foreign to him. Either his life had been quite different in those few decades he had on earth in the 1st century, or he had the experience of heaven, where, of course, the moral atheists had been salvaged from eternal burning in hell in order to do all the housekeeping. Most of them were kind of surly about it, Jesus said.

“So,” I said, “you’re settling in. It’s been a good, what, two months or so since Easter, and here you still are.”

He smiled. “Yeah, I can’t believe it myself sometimes. You’ve been a real help, man. I appreciate it.”

“Can I ask you something?”


“Well, I guess two things.”


“Are you able to sleep at night? I mean, your father is displeased. Well, displeased is putting it mildly. He wants you back in heaven. Aren’t you afraid he’s just going to, like, snatch you up while you’re asleep some night?”

Jesus laughed. “Well, I guess he could do that. But he’s stubborn too. He’s determined to make me realize that life on earth is a struggle, and he’ll take pleasure when I beg him to help me ascend again. In the meantime, he probably gets a thrill every time I fuck up or something goes wrong. He does a lot of—what’s that German word? Shed something, or something like that?”


Yeah! Right. He’s just petty enough.”

Things went silent and I let them stay that way. Jesus had lucked out because his neighbours were quiet as well. When it was silent, it really was silent. Peaceful.

“What else did you want to ask about?”

“Oh, right. It’s a bit delicate.”

“I’ve been nailed to a cross and thrown in a cave for three days. I think I can handle it.”

“Do you remember those girls on the trail a week or so ago? What do you make of all that? Do you get attracted? Aroused?” I paused. “This is a little awkward, but maybe you know what I mean.”

“My bed sheet is like a small tent because before I fall asleep I’ve got a raging hard-on. I’m a man, remember. Father, son, and holy ghost. And only the son is human.”

“Have you ever had sex?”

“Nope. Depending on how you calculate it, I’m either a 33-year-old virgin, or an over two-thousand-year-old one.”

“Shit. That’s rough. How do you feel about fornication?”

“Where do I sign up?”

Chapter 16

Over the next few weeks I saw Jesus at various schedules. Often he wanted alone time and as a fellow introvert I was willing to allow him that, without worrying that he was brooding or depressed. Sometimes we had just lovely coffee chats on a patio—Jesus had become totally modern and was now partial to lattes with almond milk—where we would cover all topics, from his successful adjustment to shoes, to, as he eloquently put it, “the meaning of this whole fucking thing we’re in.” Other times we did a fun activity. He had somehow developed a liking for ballet, and so at least two or three times I took him to performances (twice we had to take the train to Toronto). I had these odd, paternal feelings of “seeing my boy grow up.” It was great.

At his favourite coffee place in the middle of a lazy Saturday afternoon, the two women we’d happen to meet on the trail that time walked in. Jesus kind of froze and I wondered what was going on, as the women were entering the place behind me.

“Hey!” one of the women said.

I turned around and recognized them immediately. Jesus was still a little speechless (well, speechless totally) and so I smiled back at them.

“Fancy meeting you here” was the best I could manage. I really was a poor teacher for Jesus in this area of life.

“Sure, that’d be great.”

She walked up to me and fistbumped. “I’m Kate by the way.” Her friend followed and did the same. “Vicki.”

Jesus and I just waited. We both sat there like teenaged dorks for a minute, and then I came to my senses and realized that this was a good thing. I slipped into fatherly mode for Jesus.

“Jesus.” His thoughts and attention were somewhere else. “Jesus,” I repeated, a little too loudly, and a millennial couple with a child glared at me and my apparent cussing.

“Yeah, Wayne, sorry. Distracted. Sorry.”

“It’s all cool. We have a chat with two women that we find attractive and see how things go. It happens all the time. It, as well as the laws of the universe and your father, is what keeps the world spinning.”

He laughed. That was a good sign.

Vicki and Kate came back out at sat in the two chairs that I had dragged over from another table. They were not only attractive, but decent, fun, very open, and funny. We were there for a good two hours and replenished our cups a few times. Kate finally looked at the time on her phone and said they had to go.

“Listen,” she said, “we’re going to a small pub tonight to see a band. The bass player is Vicki’s brother. Do you guys have any interest in joining us? It starts around eight.”

I jumped in before Jesus, who was still a little nervous about even the coffee talk, could intervene.

“That sounds like fun.” She gave her her phone and asked me to input my number, and she would text me the details. Big smiley waves on all sides as they walked off, eventually turning and heading back down the street.

“Jesus,” I said, “I have news for you. You are going to have your first date.”

“God help me.” Then: “Let me rephrase that.”

The club was small and intimate and even so it wasn’t full when we walked in. Vicki spied us and waved us over to a table left of the stage.

“It’s good when you know a band member,” she said. “Great seats.”

The company was great again, and frankly so was the music. Not too loud. Not too soft. Lyrics sometimes, and sometimes just music. I know this was good for Jesus because I had never seen him so relaxed, so open, so curious, so much, if I can say this, himself. He was telling stories from his past that, as especially as we all got a little drunker, seemed funnier and funnier. The women loved his imagination. “Where do you get this stuff? Walking on water? Sure, Superman!”

It all started to wind down when the band played their last encore, last call had passed, and then suddenly the bright lights went on, effectively telling us to get out.

“This was the most fun I’ve had in two thousand years,” Jesus said. “And I mean that!”

Vicki spoke up. “Yes, listen, I’m a little pooped for more partying, but it would be nice to wind down with a walk home. Mr. Jesus—I love that, by the way, you’re so bad—you’re in my direction, and close, so maybe you could walk me home?”

“Love to,” he said without hesitation.

Kate and I looked at each other. “Hey,” I said, “my place is pretty close but the other way. Want to come over for a nightcap?”

“Well, as the saviour said”—she couldn’t help giggling—”love to!”

We all hugged on the sidewalk, promised we would do this again soon, and then headed our separate ways.

I’ll just say it clearly: Kate and I never did have that nightcap, but the sex was great. And I assumed the same for Jesus.


I called him the next morning after she had left, but there was not only no answer, but a message saying the number was not in service. Goddamn cellphone companies, I thought. I took a chance and just went over to his place. As I stepped out of the elevator I met his landlord.

“Good morning.”

“I think we’re both headed to the same place,” he said. “I heard some weird sounds in your buddy’s apartment last night, and I just want to see if everything is OK.”

My mind went off in all directions at the possibilities. Jesus having his first orgasm and letting out some banshee scream. Jesus not know what the fuck he was doing, and he and Vicki getting into an argument. Jesus … well, who knew what it could be?

He knocked. Not a sound. Again. No sound.

I knocked a little louder. “Hey, man, it’s me. Open up.”

The silence was eerie.

“I’m going to take the prerogative to enter,” the landlord said.

He rattled the key into the slot and swung the door open.

There was nothing there. I mean, not that there was nothing unusual, but the apartment was completely empty, devoid, no furniture no nothing, just as it had been when Jesus and I had viewed it.

“What the fuck?” the landlord said.

We walked in and looked around. We confirmed: there was nothing.

Except for an envelope on the kitchen counter.

“He’s your friend,” the landlord said. “I don’t have any cause to be poking around in tenants’ things.”

I tore open the envelope. It contained money and a short note:

Hey, Wayne, I only have a few minutes while God the Holy Fucking Father clears out the place. And then, as he puts it, “ascends” me. Who knew ascend could be a transitive verb? He was not pleased with the drinking and the, how does a sort of gentleman say it, the fornication. No. No, not that. I had lovely sex with Vicki who was super cool about my inexperience. Orgasms are better than rising from the dead, man. Holy shit.

So I’ll be gone. You have been the absolute best to me. Truly my best evangelist! I’ll be making another try to non-ascend next Easter, but I am not hopeful frankly. My father will be watching me even more diligently now. But I’ll try. You humans complain a lot about life on Earth, but you have got it made. There are creations in a couple of other galaxies who have it far worse than you do and yet they never say a word of negativity. You guys should exercise the sapiens part of your species name and realize how good you have it. I’m speaking in general terms, of course. You yourself are a fine, fine human.

Give the money to the landlord. It’s to cover the rent for the two months notice I didn’t give him.

Take care, Wayne. I’ll try to get and stay in touch in some way over the next year. And don’t die on me and end up here in heaven. The place sucks balls.

I hope we meet again,




“Everything OK?” the landlord said, bringing me back to earth again.

“He’s sorry he had to move but here’s two months rent in lieu of notice.”

The landlord took the money. “Wow.”

I looked down at my shoes, and noticed that I hadn’t even tied the laces. I saw my tears drip down onto the mesh.

“I’ll be alright,” I said, as much to him and to myself. “It’ll be alright.”