At the cafe with Ruby
The guy at the table next to ours has a tattoo on his chest. A heart tattooed on his chest over his heart. So, if you think about it, he’s got to be Jesus.
The guy at the table next to ours has a tattoo on his chest. You can see it there, under his shirt. He’s left a few buttons undone at the top and you can see the tattoo is a heart. A heart tattooed on his chest over his heart. So, if you think about it, he’s got to be Jesus. This guy, sitting here, next to me, drinking coffee just like me. Jesus. He looks a little nervous. But a lot of people do when they’re sitting by themselves. Maybe he’s worried someone will recognize him. Maybe he’s worried he’s got nothing else to do.
And Ruby’s been telling me rumours again. A guy on the east coast caught a lobster. Not just any lobster – this one’s huge. Twenty pounds. He’s got him in a tank to keep him alive, and he’s auctioning him online for a thousand bucks The animal rights people say it’s a sin. But they aren’t forking over the ransom money to save him. Ruby says they figure a lobster that size must be about 100 years old. I say that’s a miracle. And Ruby says it’s not like he can talk. He’s just a lobster.
But I’m feeling uncomfortable now, because it feels like we’re talking in parables, and Jesus is sitting right there, listening. It’s like singing someone else’s song right in front of them. Awkward. But he just looks out the window and watches sparrows picking at crumbs. I change the topic, ask Ruby how she’s been, and she says fine. She’s just come home from Washington, D.C., walking miles for monuments and souvenirs. She spent a lot of time in the gallery, too, looking at pictures. They have a lot of them there. She liked the way the old painters did the sky. Gold. Like it was different 600 years ago. Maybe it was. And she also says she liked the angels.
Jesus shifts his feet, drinks his coffee. She tells me about the churches where the paintings hung, how they painted them blue and gold, too, and she laughed and told me about a guy named Brunelleschi who was an inventor back then. He strung churches with rigging like ships and dangled children from above. Children dressed as angels, like swinging holy laughter above the congregation while a complicated apparatus lowered Gabriel gently down to set his feet beside the Virgin and announce the holy birth. Spectacle, Ruby said. That’s just how I like my miracles.
Jesus’ shoulders slouch. He pulls on his sweatshirt, and it makes him look younger, like a kid. A 12-year-old kid, looking to skip town and leave his parents behind.
Katie Munnik lives in Ottawa, Ontario.