I'm Not Wearing Any Underwear
“At first”, he said, “sitting there by the railings surrounded by the devout and the incredulous, I thought, ‘He’s waking up'. It seemed plainly obvious to me. You know how you might just open one eye and take a look around before deciding to get out of bed? You know?”
I nodded, looking up and trying to hold his gaze for as long as I could stand. His eyes were wild, wide-eyed and wet. I looked back at the cup of coffee cradled between my palms. A full minute went by before he spoke again.
“I wanted Him to see me sitting there when he woke up. I wanted Him to see me waiting. When the people come, I thought, and when the time is right, He will address us. And we will be saved, all of us. All of us who sat up with Him and watched over Him in His slumber - even those who laughed, because something kept them waiting there, something more than curiosity. They laughed because they were scared, and they were scared because they believed.”
He placed his hand on my shoulder, and I could feel him shaking.
“Like I believed,” he said.
Another silence. The steam rose from my coffee and I clasped my hands tighter around the oversized mug, trying to keep warm. Why was it so damn cold in here?
He rose from his chair, turning his back to me.
“And those poor sick children, the way they looked at Him, so hopeful. The old people, the mothers with their disabled sons, all with that same indescribable look. Decades of hopes and dreams and unanswered prayers right there, raw and exposed, on everyone’s faces. And yet, on His face, just that one eye. That one cold, dispassionate eye.”
Those last three words hissed through his clenched teeth, as chilling as the air in his one bedroom flat. Facing me again, tears streaming down his cheeks, spittle flecking his trembling chin. Unsteady, he wiped at his lips.
“You know what I realised? Huh? You know what it was that occurred to me as I sat there?” Shouting now. “That other eye was never going to open! Do you know how I knew that? Do you?”
Swallowing hard, and unable now to take my eyes off him, I shook my head.
“He was fucking mocking us! The sick! The lonely! The lost and the abused! All of us nothing more than entertainment, and that one eye another cruel fucking trick played on us, the faithful. That ultimate audience, that conjuror’s dream! The con artist’s dream! That one eye, that one lethargic eye, was the trickster’s sly wink at the hapless mark who knows he’s being duped but can’t help himself.”
Approaching me now - suddenly more animated, more confident in his steps - he raised an arm and pointed straight at me.
“And you! You with your reason and your science and your smug fucking cynicism! Who mocks you? Who denies you your prayers? Who keeps you waiting, repaying your devotion by denying for as long as possible your only reward?”
I was on my feet, my chair upturned on the kitchen floor and the mug lying handle-less in a pool of still warm coffee. He was calmer now, broken and sobbing, but still I edged backwards towards the door. He righted my chair, and sat down.
“This world”, he said, burying his head in his hands, “is fucked.”
I slipped silently out the door, closing it softly behind me. He sat in his cold apartment, and waited to die.