Been having a lot of trouble concentrating. Usually I can think of a story to go with a prompt within 15 minutes. Lately it's been taking days. I think I need to keep the music side and writing side of my brain separate for a while. Here's Friday's prompt, which also happens to be the first line of the piece.
The sign said, “No shirt, no shoes, no service”-but that didn’t stop him. He had to get inside. He looked like a rabid wolverine, yet harmless. The bags that were strapped to his feet, once used to house Wonder bread, were now his shoes. His shirt, a paper bag with arm and head holes, like we used to do when we were kids. I envied his beard a little, unkempt and free. The blue in his eyes was as piercing as McQueen’s, maybe more so considering the circumstances. My heart went out to him as he walked into the café.
“Come on Joe. You know you can’t come in here. We’ve been over this,” an agitated barista yelled.
The other patrons turned, glared for a moment, then ignored him. Joe just stood there, his fingers twitching with some sort of anticipation. His eyes were as wide as a meerkat’s.
“Get out of here Joe!” The agitation escalated to anger. But the barista’s words bounced off him. Like a prayer that has been memorized and recited too many times, they meant nothing. I decided this man needed help, and for some reason I was the one to give it to him. The barista was moving around the counter when I grabbed his arm and said, “He’s got shoes, and a shirt.”
His angry eyebrows moved to me.
“I’m a psychiatrist,” I lied. “Let me buy this man a scone and tea. I’m sure he’ll leave you alone.”
My eyes said please, but his didn’t care.
“Ok pal, but if he starts wigging out I’ll make sure the cops get you too.”
The barista went to his register, eyeing my new friend and I. I walked slowly to Joe, looked him in his amazingly blue eyes and said, “Care to join me?” He nodded.
His scone and tea arrived. I figured tea would be better for him than coffee. Joe stood at my table while I sat, eyes darting back and forth.
“Take a seat,” I invited. And he did.
“So your name is Joe?”
He wet his lips and slowly opened his mouth, closed it, then tried again.
“No. That’s just what people call me.”
He took a tiny bite of his scone, wiped his beard of crumbs, and folded the napkin.
“Well, what do you go by?”
“Of Nazareth?” I said half-jokingly.
He smirked slightly. “Not this time.”
Jesus took another tiny bite of his scone. He sniffed the tea and sipped it. I stared, almost inspecting him. He did kind of look like the Aryan portraits of Jesus that hang in white people’s homes across America.
Suddenly he stood up. He took the scone, set it on top of the teacup and reached his hand to me.
“Peace be with you.”
Mouth open, I let him shake mine.
“Where can I find you?”
“Letters work. Just send it to Jesus, in care of the Pentagon.”
Jesus walked out of the café and I sat there, thinking.