Grinding out another commute in their offensively uncomfortable seats, life had beat the passengers of Subway Train 33 into Atheism. According to them, “Jesus Christ” was more of a swear word than a source of comfort.
The passengers had learned to ignore the legions of rag-tag city bums who each claimed that they were, indeed, the son of God. Beard-lint speckled these bums’ faces like ticks as they shouted mortal warnings and demanded change.
According to the passengers on Train 33, the street was humanity’s litter-box.
It was on Train 33 that the true Jesus H. Christ, in full flesh and blood and beard, finally came back to Earth as a passenger. “Brothers and sisters,” he announced, “I am here. Walk with me and you will know light.”
Except for the fat man wearing skinny jeans a few rows behind Jesus. His once-white shirt said “Unapologetically American”. Specks of processed potato rained on his potbellied gut as he chomped his chips. He chortled, spewing chewed-chip-goo all over the goddamn place.
The fat man said, “Get a job, you bum,” and buried his bulbous nose back in his self-help book. The title of the book was How to Be a Perfect Person in Just Three Days.
Since Jesus was a man of God, he never talked back to anybody. But this situation was starting to burn his Birkenstocks, so to speak. He swiveled around to face the fat man.
“Brother,” he replied, “God loves you for all your sins.”
The fat man had already forgotten about Jesus and couldn’t care less about what God thought of him. He was preoccupied with becoming a perfect person in just three days.
Jesus turned back around, silently forgiving the fat man.
Then, a lurch. The train lost some velocity. A man’s voice resonantly invited the passengers to disembark soon, if they wanted. The voice repeated itself in five other languages.
The train rounded a sharp corner and came to a stop.
When the train reached the platform, its doors opened with the hiss of a hundred snakes. A flock of passengers, including the fat man, stumbled out, drunk on their daily routines.
Jesus waited until everyone else left the train and followed the flock like a shepherd, stepping out onto the smooth, gum-infested concrete.
People swarmed back and forth and sideways and all around Jesus as if their jobs depended on it. Jesus began swimming his way through the mass of humanity. He spied the fat man twenty yards to his left, engrossed in his book, wandering the platform in vague slow-motion circles.
Five yards beyond the fat man, a man in a suit was wheeling a suitcase in Jesus’ direction. He had gray hair. Lonely middle-aged ladies called him a silver fox.
The silver fox was unapologetically successful, so instead of walking around the fat man, he tried to walk through him. He was largely unsuccessful. Instead, the silver fox ended up spinning the fat man around so that his gut was facing the tracks.
Not that the fat man noticed.
As the silver fox continued walking toward his world of meetings, money, and adultery, and Jesus, the fat man shuffled one foot forward. Then another. And another.
He was nearing the end of the seventh chapter.
He was also nearing the edge of the platform.
Jesus took off like a linebacker, intent on saving the fat man from sacrificing himself on the altar of self-improvement.
The swarm of humanity stopped in their tracks. A thousand eyes darted towards the excitement – a scene from an action movie, live in concert.
“Jesus,” thought Jesus, whose adrenaline was pumping in overdrive, “This must be how the Christians felt when they played the Lions at the Colisseum.”
The fat man was mere inches away from the yellow line, which meant “stop walking”.
Train 34 was just around the corner. It clacked like a machine-gun as it roared through the tunnel.
The train hurtled into view just as Jesus closed his eyes and slammed into the fat man.
Jesus opened his eyes. Train 34 was gone, off to dump another load of people onto some other platform down the line. Jesus and the fat man lay in a horizontal heap on the gum-infested concrete.
The fat man was safe.
Somebody on the platform started to clap for Jesus. Another person joined in. The duo became a trio, then a symphony orchestra, then a thunderous cacophony of applause.
Jesus stood up and extended a helping hand to the fat man, whose frankfurter-fingers were still clutching How to Be a Perfect Person in Just Three Days.
The fat man clasped the hand of his savior and struggled his way upright. He didn’t know what to say. Nobody had ever saved his life before.
The storm of applause fizzled back into the sounds of the daily grind as the commuters carried on with their routines. People had little time for heroes. Being late to work is an unforgivable sin in the Church of Money.
Before the fat man could say anything, Jesus turned on his heel and walked out of the fat man’s life. He continued walking past all the faces and through the crowd.
And straight into the armored chest of a blue-uniformed policeman.
“Mike,” he said, “I heard you were telling people you were Jesus again. Is that true?”
It was true.
Mike’s schizophrenia had torn him away from the society he was once a part of. Reality and manic illusions had blended together in his mind until they were indistinguishable from each other.
“I saved a man today,” said Mike.
The policeman slowly shook his head. “Mike, I’ve told you a hundred times before, if people need to be saved, they’ll go to church. You can’t go walking around pretending to be Jesus. It’s wrong.”
Mike looked down at his dirty feet.
Sighing, the policeman placed his hand on Mike’s shoulder.
“I’m sorry, Mike, but I have to take you back to the shelter.”
He gently nudged Mike towards the nearest exit.
How to Be a Perfect Person in Just Three Days thumped against the bottom of the garbage can. “Who was I kidding?” the fat man asked himself.
He walked across the sidewalk and through the entrance of Born Again Books.
It didn’t take him long to find what he was looking for. Though torn and frayed, he knew the book’s pages contained the answers he needed. After that morning, being perfect wasn’t going to be enough.
He pulled the book off the shelf and walked to the counter, holding his first Bible.