“I’m Abel,” he offered, thrusting forward his hand.
The other man took it and said, “Jesús. Soy Jesús.”
Abel felt a rush, as if a telescope collapsed into his face, bringing the distant Holy Land forcefully into his mind’s eye. He knew rationally there were Latinos named Jesús, just as he knew that rocks are rock, and goats are goats. And he had learned behind surface realities there can be layers and layers of being, of truth, of reality, and of life. He knew Jesús was a Mexican working for his father (for probably very little money). And he sensed Jesús came from another place entirely, and still existed in other worlds of being, just as his name implied. Undetected, his left hand traveled quietly into his jean pocket to stroke a single, slender piece of twig which still refused to dry.
“Jesús,” he said from a far-off place. “Will you come and help my father?”
Jesús had been watching Abel’s eyes grow vacant. He thought to himself that the whole familia was loco en la cabesa.
“Chure,” he said slowly.
At his word, Abel felt deeply honored and gratified.
Jesús bore his strange gaze for another few seconds before Abel remembered himself and finally answered, “Oh, thank you, thank you, Jesús. I’ll drive you in my car.” He gestured for Jesús to follow as he turned. “We can get your truck out of the ditch later.”
It had been years since Jesús felt so viscerally not the author of his own narrative, like a jerky wooden puppet whose strings were rhythmically marching him towards some unknown but distinctly untoward end. He rode silently with Abel to the fallen father.
By the time they arrived, Virgil had grown too weak to sustain his harangue. Just the same, Flo was ever so grateful and relieved to see the men approaching.
Of course, Jesús would be able to help. How great he showed up for work so early. It was like he knew they would need him. Of course he knew! Good man, that Jesús. And such a nice family. She must remember to send something for his wife and children.
With Jesús there, Abel was strangely unafraid to lift his newly pliant father, making a throne of hands and arms, and carry him to the car, where they laid him weak and moaning on the back seat. Abel offered Jesús a ride back to the ranch house, or to his own home. Flo laughingly (almost coquettishly) suggesting she could sit on his lap since there was no other room in the car.
As badly as he wanted to get out of there, Jesús wanted no such (further) impropriety that day. No, he would walk back to his ditched car. Perhaps he could pull it out with one of the tractors. This way, he could also survey what other damage might have occurred. Slightly disappointed, even chastened, Flo perked up again and asked him to check in on the animals in the barn, and on the horses in the corral. Jesús, feeling far, far away, nodded once with a slender bow, communicating the largesse of a servant whose only desire is to serve his boss’s family in troubled times.
The two Almans marveled at his kindness. Feeling close and grateful to him, Abel mentioned if he had time, maybe he would go back down to the cattail swamp and check if the beaver lodge was still standing. Jesús bowed slightly again, a small, tense smile on his cracked and dry lips.
He did not trust himself to speak, for a great wind had taken hold of him, stealing his breath and whirling him high into the sky. From this far vantage he could see three small persons, two men and a woman, back down on the earth next to a tiny car and a larger piece of machinery. As he watched, one man and the woman got into the car, waving, and driving away, leaving a dust cloud like the growing line of exhaust behind a jet. Also leaving a third man, standing and waving. Now the man walked a few steps, perhaps to escape the dust, perhaps to give the impression that he was walking, in case Abel or Flo looked back in their receding rearview mirror.
Then he fell with dizzying rapidity from the sky to his knees.
From Holy Moriah: A Kabalah Copyright 2020 Dawn Robinson Rose