Jesus wearing an overcoat and a silver metal of a wolf around his neck and nothing else, enjoying a large pretzel, wishing for mustard and a cold sip of beer, crosses the street in the middle of Havre, Montana. He looks faraway into the snow peaks of mountains and sees shades of pale blues streaking across the cloudless skies. The thunder of a late Amtrak train passing through town makes him blink once. He opens his eyes and sees a new red Ford pickup truck break right in front of the tip of his knees. The loud horn hurts his ears but he continues smacking his lips, savoring the tiny grains of pretzel salt. The self satisfaction makes him hum an old native tune, his grandfather used to sing to him as a small child.
by Charles Lara
A young rancher wearing black snake skinned boots steps out of his shiney red truck and adjusts his black ten gallon hat while putting his tongue between his cheek and gum and frowning from the strong sting of bitterness released from a lopsided wad of strong,2nd grade chewing tobacco.
He walks towards Jesus and yells, “Hey freak get yer red ass outta the street.”
Jesus smiles and slowly raises his left hand and holds up his fist and gives the rancher the Indian hi sign.
“I said get yer red ass out of the street, ” the cowboy replies.
Jesus stares at him and says nothing and then slowing spreads his long index and middle fingers and gives the young rancher the peace sign. The white rancher pushes him and the pretzel flies out of Jesus’ hand. It lands on the curb, where a stray dog quickly picks it up and runs off to find a quiet place to eat it in. Jesus raises his right arm and makes the peace sign again. The rancher with the black and white checker shirt spits into Jesus’s eye. A large phlegm of brown sticky tobacco clings on to his thick eyelashes.
A small group of on lookers begin to form a circle around the brown man and the rancher. The rancher feels obligated to give the crowd something to talk about. He stares at Jesus and screams, “Move or I’ll beat the living shit outta you.”
Jesus smiles, the rancher swings and hits him right square on the jaw. Jesus doesn't move and stares up at the mountains. He presses his lips that begin to seep red blood.
“This here injun is crazy.” Nervous laughter and then the crowd hears this...
“Hit him, hit him again, ” shouts a bystander holding a three year old child.
Jesus glances at the crowd and smiles. He wraps his thin arms around himself and begins to walk towards the local tavern. The rancher clinches his fist but does not throw a punch as Jesus walks by him. Jesus tries not to taste the blood in his mouth. His eye is becoming sticky as the tobacco spit becomes dry. He feels the cool pebbles under his feet. They bring him relief from the heat on his soles. He looks beyond the mountains and spots a full moon hanging low, basking in the sunlight.
The smooth sidewalk greets him as he walks over the curb and heads into a tavern full of old scents and very few people.
“Say, here comes our hero, ” says the barmaid who watched the whole situation unfold. She moves away from the window over looking the street and greets Jesus as he walks into the bar.
“Welcome stranger, ” says the barmaid.
Jesus walks to the middle of the bar and orders a beer. Chico the half bred, takes out a frosted stein and proceeds to fill it up with the cheapest draft beer in the house. Jesus reaches into his coat pocket but Chico notions him to stop.
“This here one is on the house, Redman.”
“Thankyou my brother.”
Roxy shouts from the end of the bar, “ hey big boy, how bout letting me in your raincoat. I’ll charge you a good price and I will give you the best piece of ass you ever did have! ! ! ” Jesus lifts his glass and smiles.
The cold beer washes the taste of blood from his mouth. The barmaid walks over to him and says, ”Why is it you got no shoes on? Don’t your feet get cold? ” She takes a wet rag and wipes the brown spit from his eye.
“ I’ve just come down from the mountain, ” replies Jesus.
“Well, do you want a good piece of ass or what? ” Roxy interjects.
“Leave him be, Roxy. He ain’t that type of man.”
“What‘s he a fag? ”
“No, I am a man of conscious, ” replies Jesus.
“Looks like he’s just another freak.” says a regular, who is watching monster truck racing on the television. Jesus ignores him and takes another drink from his thin beer. The barmaid touches his rough hand, resting on the bar. He pulls away and stares into her Irish green sad eyes. She looks back at him and feels warm all over. She says nothing else and walks away.
The door lets in a flood of sunlight into the bar. Chico turns away from the television to see that the Sheriff has just walked in.
“How bout one on the house, Sheriff? ”
“No, I’m still on duty, ” replies the man with the thick silver badge. He walks towards where Jesus is standing. Jesus feels his presence and turns to look at him.
“Don’t you go and do something stupid boy, ” says the man who up holds the law.
“I have done nothing wrong sir.”
“Step away from the bar slowly, ” instructs the man holding out his gun.
“I am only an honest man passing through town sir. I have done nothing wrong.”
“I said step away from the bar! ! ! ”
Jesus steps away from the bar and stands erect and stares directly into the sheriff’s grey eyes. The sheriff walks cautiously towards him. His gun pointed at his heart. The barmaid stands behind the man of jurisdiction. Her mouth is open but no words are coming out. Roxy is now at the end of the bar, giving head to the regular who continues to watch the monster trucks crush dead cars for entertainment. Chico watches from behind the bar and begins to reach for the rifle that is next to the cases of empty spirit bottles.
“Now, Redman, open up your coat slowly or I’ll put a bullet inside you.”
“But I have nothing.”
“Do as I say or you will walk off with Death today.”
“Go ahead mister, Don’t be a fool.” says the barmaid from behind the Sheriff’s shadow.
“ Alright, but you will see I have nothing to hide.” Jesus replies.
Jesus brings his long thin hands up to the first button and opens the coat, a patron opens the door and the sunlight hits the silver wolf that hangs around Jesus’ neck. The gleam from the metal makes the man behind the badge panic and pull the trigger. His bullet is way off. Chico gets excited, picks up the rife and fires a bullet between Jesus’s eyes. Jesus falls slowly onto the cool sticky floor and before he hits the ground he's back with his father. The barmaid releases a scream and Roxy bites down on the regular’s pride. The regular shouts inside the mouth of agony which startles the patron who was walking into the bar for one last drink and so he walks back outside, where the moon is still showing its full face of glory and a handful of promise.