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  NIGHTSPOTS

BEING CONTINUED Black Jesus and the Floating Children
by AK Miller
2013-07-10

This article shared 2756 times since Wed Jul 10, 2013
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Though he can't exactly put his finger on why, fireworks have always made Joey a little sad. The flashes of light, streaks and designs that illuminate the night sky have never filled him with inspired awe. The streams of sulfur-scented smoke, however, have always given him a sense of lingering melancholy. He remembers being told to pick up the pieces of gun powder-scarred paper from his trailer's front lawn as a kid, but he always liked the way they smelled and never seemed to mind. Summer is his favorite time of year and he finds the sticky Midwest heat comforting, so that's not it. He isn't sensitive to noise and actually finds the crunching blasts of the crackling ones appealing. Without dwelling on it too much, he accepts that it is probably because of a deeper truth. He's personally just not had much in his life to celebrate.

Joey has spent the last nine months leading up to his twenty-first birthday working three jobs and saving every penny he earned. His birthday isn't for another month, but he couldn't take watching his mother drink her life away any longer. The dying-farm-town-Indiana life was beginning to crush him, just like it had the dreams of most everyone he knew. His sister got her high school diploma a few weeks ago and was gone within hours without saying where or goodbye. Joey paid a couple months' rent on his mother's rusted mobile home, packed up his few things and caught a bus to Chicago. He left a note saying that he was sorry to break her heart, but he had to leave to save his own. He wrote that he always would love her. He felt bad about not saying goodbye in person, but couldn't bear the thought of her crying and begging another man to stay when she knew that he wouldn't.

This year Joey is spending the 4th of July unpacking. On his first afternoon in Chicago he found a small, one-windowed studio in a five-story walk-up in Uptown. It was owned by a nice, older woman who waived the deposit if he agreed to mow the front lawn. She also agreed to let him move in that same day. She had a good feeling about him, she said; he looked like one of the floating children. Joey wasn't sure what she meant, but gratefully smiled and nodded. He had only two large duffels and a backpack. No furniture besides a few pieces that were left in the basement by past tenants that he was allowed to salvage. After bringing in his few things, he pried open the one large window to see his view, something he hadn't thought of doing until then. His view was of an old bank with a fading mural that took up its entire east side. In the center of the mural was a black man, very clearly Jesus, with a fading halo and palms facing up and out. Jesus was surrounded by children falling—no, floating—around him. They weren't angels; they didn't have wings and wore street clothes. They were just mysteriously suspended with smiles on their faces and a complete joy about them. The echo of the Chicago sunset began to glow behind the bank and matched the pinks and blues of the old mural. A drug store rocket screeched past the mural and exploded in front of one of the children, a boy, who looked an awful lot like Joey. The boy was looking up and pointing at the sky, as if to heaven. Joey stared at the boy as the sky grew dark and began to fill with sparks and whistles. Tears began to roll from Joey's face. He had a reason to celebrate and enough signs to know he would be okay.


This article shared 2756 times since Wed Jul 10, 2013
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