Abe’s head was in a fog, his stomach in knots. Up and down the aisles at Home Depot at 8 am, he was trying to jump-start his brain. “Duct tape. For the legs. I guess.” He tried to recall that episode in Breaking Bad where Walter had told Jessie what kind of plastic bucket to get, but he couldn’t remember. “Wait, that was for the acid, not the blood. I’m not doing acid. No way.” Would he need butcher’s knives, or one big hunting knife? A hunting knife would mean making another stop. Damn it, he should have had some coffee and done some Googling before just setting off all knee-jerk like this. He still couldn’t believe this was happening. So unfair. So arbitrary. Maybe he should just refuse, but how could he?
It was a minimum day at school; Zach would be home by 1 o’clock at the latest. Okay, that wasn’t a lot of time, but it was enough. Just take a breath. Abe decided to go ahead and buy what he had, the duct tape, buckets, garbage bags, hacksaw. Swing by the Starbucks drive through, go home, take a bit to gather his wits and look some stuff up on the Internet.
Back at home, Venti dark roast in hand, he Googled “how to kill livestock.” Seemed as good a place to start as any. There were numerous videos on YouTube for steers, goats and pigs – killing and butchering. He watched several but only the kill part. Some insisted that a bullet to the forehead was most humane. Abe had a .22 pistol under the bed somewhere but decided he couldn’t do it that way. Throat slitting? At one point he typed “human beheadings” into the search box but couldn’t bring himself to hit enter.
After an hour of research and clear thinking, a plan had started to form. He made a checklist and took inventory: duct tape, plastic sheeting, butcher’s knife, bottle of Sarah’s Lunesta pills. All that was left was to open that new fifth of Maker’s Mark to bolster his resolve and pass the time.
Abe’s wife Sarah was out of town for a week on business. “Good thing she’s not here for this,” he thought. Then again, if Sarah had been home, none of this would have happened. Probably.
They had married in their early twenties and lived a very happy life ever since. Both were successful professionally, both were physically fit and healthy. The one bump in their picket-fence-lined road had been when, around their third year of marriage, the doctor told them that Sarah was infertile. But they came to grips with that and resolved to devote their lives to each other, and their time to living the fullest, richest lives they could. Took it as an opportunity to pursue interests and careers with a zeal that having a child would have kept from them. It was a surprise and joy, then, when Sarah had become pregnant at 35. That miracle baby was Zach, who was now 10 years old and finishing up a straight-A fifth grade. Abe had spent a couple hours and the better part of the bourbon re-living all of this.
Shortly after 1 o’clock, right on schedule, the doorknob turned and Zach walked in, throwing his backpack in the corner. “Hey Dad.”
“Hey Sport!” Abe said with all the energy he could muster. “You want a Coke? As a treat. Mom’s out of town, I thought we should splurge a little – do some stuff she won’t let us.”
Zach smiled and answered, “Sure! Thanks Dad!”
An hour later, Zach was fast asleep, his wrists and ankles duct-taped together, lying on the dining room table, a plastic sheet under him. A bigger plastic tarp was spread under the table. Abe stood over his boy, holding the butcher’s knife, wondering if another slug of bourbon would help or hurt at this point.
Suddenly Abe was staggered by a flash of binding light and a five-second burst of the Hallelujah Chorus, seemingly sung by a thousand angels.
“Jesus Christ!” he shouted dropping the knife.
“That’s my name, don’t wear it out,” said Jesus, sitting on the couch. When appearing in the western world, the Christ usually stuck to the iconic long hair and beard. He had worn out the Max Von Sydow and Ted Neely looks, lately sporting a more or less if-Brad-Pitt-had-ever-played-Jesus visage. It seemed to go over well. Clothing-wise, however, he had come to find a 90s grunge look both esthetically pleasing and far more comfortable than the traditional robe. Sitting in Abe’s living room he was wearing jeans with a gray t-shirt and green-black flannel over-shirt. “What do you think you’re doing there?”
Abe stammered, indignant, “What you told me to.”
“I told you to truss Zach up like a turkey and lay him out on the dining room table?”
“I believe your exact words,” Abe said, “were, ‘As the Son of God and your personal Lord and Savior, I command you to kill Zach, your only son . . . something, something . . . by sundown tomorrow.’ ”
“That?” Jesus waived a dismissive hand. “I was drunk. You were drunk. We were both very drunk. I was just goofing, dude. If I had said we should pile in the car and drive to ‘Vegas and hire strippers, would we have done that? Besides, what kind of loving, merciful deity would fuck with his devotees like that? Give me some credit.”
Abe stared slack-jawed, blinking for what seemed an eternity. “Son of a bitch,” he murmured, relieved and annoyed. Then more directly, “Look! You can’t just go around invoking your own name in vain like that, Jesus. People take you seriously. We want to please you.”
“Man, you humans; always so literal. Dad and HG are always telling me I shouldn’t fraternize with the creations. I have to admit, this little misunderstanding is a hash-mark in their column.”
“But still, Abe,” Jesus continued, “I’m very touched that you went to all this trouble for me. I mean, killing your own son? Braving Home Depot first thing in the morning? Your devotion has me all choked up. So, tell you what: you did the research; you bought all this stuff. No need to let it all go to waste. I brought you a baby goat – it’s out back. Go kill it for me, will you?”
“You want me to kill a baby goat just for shits and giggles?”
“No, no, no – we’re going to cook it! You have that big ole fire pit out back. How much did that thing cost? All I’ve ever seen you use it for is hamburgers. Let’s take it for a spin and see what it can do. Ever had cabrito? Spit-roasted baby goat like they make in Northern Mexico. Delicious.”
“I don’t know the first thing about dressing a goat. Or spit roasting for that matter.” Abe shook his head.
“So, you’re willing to Google and YouTube how to kill your son, but not how to roast a damn goat? What’s wrong with you? You get started while I go to the store.”
“Look,” Abe continued his objection, “it’s already, what, three o’clock? Without any research at all, I’m guessing that going from live goat to roasted goat is gonna take hours. We’ll be up all night.”
“Tomorrow’s Saturday,” Jesus said. “Sarah’s still out of town. What are you worried about? We’ll lay in some brews, shoot the shit, play lawn darts. Besides, if it starts to get too late, I’ve got a time-warpy thing I can do. Dad hates it when I do it, but fuck it, this is starting to shape up like a good time.”
“Alright, alright,” Abe conceded, warming up to the idea. “I’ll figure it out. Can you snap your fingers or something and wake Zach up?”
“Sure.” A wave of Jesus’ hand, and Zach was suddenly standing in the corner, mussed hair, a bit befuddled, but not even a trace of duct tape. “Now, like I said, I’m off to the store. I’m picking up a couple twelve packs, some spices for a rub and some sides. Should we go all Mexican? Beans and tortillas, or something more backyard cookout like? Mac salad?”
“Don’t matter to me,” replied Abe, already at the computer. “Hm, how do you spell cabrito?…. ”
“Okay, I’ll wing it,” said Jesus. “I’ll be back in about thirty minutes. And as your true Lord and Savior, I’m telling you, that goat better be dead and strung up by it’s hind legs when I get back!” He then strolled out the door whistling the theme to Jesus Christ Superstar.
© 2014 Whiskey Leavins