May 23, 2013
God Is Dead
Posted on Jan 11, 2012
By Mr. Fish
Five minutes later I was flushing the upstairs john and shushing him as he ran up and down the hallway with his leash in his mouth, the carabiner bouncing along the floor like a tiny iron fist wrapped around a flattened jingle bell. By the time I’d climbed into my thickest pair of jeans, pulled two T-shirts and a sweatshirt down over my head, dragged on two pairs of thick socks, threw a baseball cap onto my head and tied two perfect bows into the grubby shoelaces on my Chuck Taylor sneakers, God was moaning and bending his black lips around what sounded like actual words, like Swedish expletives played backward. All it took was for me to stand up from the corner of the upstairs bed to send him thundering down the steps ahead of me and tearing through the living room and skidding across the linoleum in the kitchen, his big dumb tail wagging hard enough to metronome against the face of the dishwasher. With him too far away to hush anymore, I moved quickly through the house, taking elephant steps on the balls of my feet, before finally meeting him at the backdoor. “Jesus, God—relax, Princess!” I said, fastening the leash to his collar.
When I opened the backdoor the outside hit us like a bright light. The cold rushed in with the weight of water, flowing over our faces and freezing our noses immediately. In the dim light of morning I saw that the sky was the color of wet cement and that snow was everywhere. Everything was white and rounded, as if the whole world had been imagined only halfway by a groggy creator with socks on his hands, and it was still snowing. I waited for a moment before opening the screen door, pausing to appreciate how absolutely quiet it was, amazed at how the planet Earth was able to disappear so completely during the night without waking me up, when God opened the door for me, using his nose and exploding off the back porch and running around the side of the house, trailing his leash behind him. I gently pulled the door closed behind me and ran after him, with my sneakers crunching through the snow. It was the only sound in town.
When I got around to the front of the house I couldn’t believe how beautiful Manayunk looked. As far as I could see in both directions up and down the street, there were no footprints or tire tracks on the ground, nor were there lights on in any of the houses. There was just snow. It reminded me of growing up with my big brother, Jeff, down at the Jersey Shore and how he and I would wake up at 5 a.m. on snow days and pull on our thermals in the dark and, too impatient to wait for confirmation from the radio that school would be closed, sneak out so that we could run through the streets, deliberately ignorant of all property boundaries, our hearts bursting from the unique joy that comes with being the first men on the moon. Unstartled by my appearance, God stood hypnotized by the profound relief he was feeling at getting to pound a thick line of green morning piss into the ground at the base of the neighbor’s mailbox, a mini-soufflé of foam forming within the evaporated hollow created by his effort. Relative to nothing more substantive than the comfort and beauty of routine, I bent over and trawled my hand across the ground and scooped up a hunk of snow and stood to make a snowball, the bitter coldness against my naked flesh feeling almost immediately like burlap being pressed into a sunburn.
Finally finished peeing, God took one step forward, stopped and turned back around to examine the steam rising out of the snow, as if the stench of urine, as gregarious as a hot onion, had something to say about salvation. “Ball?” I asked, tossing my snowball from hand to hand, suddenly regretting my tawdry offer to replace his profound interaction with the music of the spheres with the cheap and easy pornography of sport just because my fingers were cold. Of course, seeing his ears spring to attention, his head cock to one side and his whole body shift toward mine, and then to feel something lovely somersault inside the center of my chest, I wondered if maybe I wasn’t providing both of us with the meaning of life. After all, by giving meaning to the moment and knowing that the biggest increment of time that either one of us is able to occupy at any given time is a moment, was I not merely bringing enlightenment to the smallest increment of infinity and therefore bringing enlightenment to the whole universe by proxy? “Ready?” I said, watching God bring wide separation to his front paws and arch his back. “Here it is, the meaning of life!” In a great pantomime of a magician releasing a dove from oblivion, I lobbed the snowball into the air and willed the significance of mine and God’s lives around its temporary weightlessness before it landed without bouncing and disappeared.
God searched through the snow with his muzzle for almost an entire minute before I made a move to tackle him, always ready when it came to ambush-wrestling to take full advantage of his knees being on backward and his thumbs being nothing but flabby little nubs on his wrists. He, of course, always ready to take full advantage of his superior hearing, phenomenal peripheral vision and instinctual distrust of monkeys wearing clothes and corrective lenses, saw me coming and took off down the block in the direction of the abandoned canal that ran parallel to the Schuylkill River, his leash dancing like a serpent beneath his gallop. I ran after him. With the snow falling all around me in big wet flakes, I was forced to narrow my eyes as if braving confetti, momentarily allowing my confused equilibrium to imagine that I was not only moving forward at a hundred miles a second, but that I was also ascending, along with the rest of the filthy, corporeal world that refused to leave the underside of my feet, into some sort of paradise.
An hour later I was in the passenger seat of Sawyer’s car lying through my teeth about what had happened. “I don’t understand,” she said, having been shaken awake fifteen minutes earlier by her boyfriend who was dripping wet and covered in blood. Her face was still pale and creased from sleeping and she was braless and dressed hastily, her coat humpbacked by an inverted hood. “Why didn’t he try to rescue you when you fell through the ice?” she asked, trying to wipe the fog off the windshield with her sleeve. It was drizzling now.
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