Fiction: Jesus X. McGillicuddy

November 15, 2017 Fiction , Literature , POETRY / FICTION

Magnus Brath photo

 

By

Sarah Ito

 

 

 

“Hey, Jesus, what’s up, buttercup…Hot enough out here for ya today?”

 

Jesus X. McGillicuddy poked his pointy chin towards the sound of his name. Dew Rag Wanda was chugging towards him; her overripe buttocks propelling her forward like dual Evinrudes at full throttle. Jesus patted the empty spot on the bench next to him.

 

“Take a load off, Wanda, you look like you’re gonna keel over. I don’t wanna have to do any of that CPR shit on you, girl, no way.”

 

Dew Rag Wanda smiled, an expose` of missing and yellowed teeth. Fat sweat rolled off her shiny face and rained down onto her tee shirt, scattering damp droplets amidst the holes on Jimi Hendrix’s face. “You ready to roll some dice, Jesus? I wanna get some game on…I need a couple bucks to eat tonight. I’m sick of that Salvation Army slop…I want me some Micky D’s.”

 

Jesus smirked. “You come to the right place, Wanda. Right here in Cooper Square…My bench, my world…Jesus X. McGillicuddy is my name, and snake eyes is my game—”

 

“Cut the bullshit, Jesus, you sure ain’t no rapper, and you ain’t got no game…You got me to flash my titties to the suckas and rake them in…All you got’s the heavy dice. So let’s go. I don’t got all day.”

 

Jesus’s sharp chin bobbed up and down with laughter. All Dew Rag Wanda had was the day, and she didn’t even own that. Nobody owns the day. But she was right about one thing, and for a moment, he lost himself in silent acknowledgement of that sad fact…he had no game, not for many years now. Once, a boozy lifetime ago, his game was big numbers, big money, played out high in the sky above the view of the common man. “Jesus, that was some deal!” his boss would proclaim, in greedy awe. “Jesus, you nailed it!” “Jesus, sell it all off at market!” His name was Frank X. McGillicuddy then, before his passion for the Big Deal drowned in a glass of fifty dollar Scotch. Then it was “Jesus! How did you miss that uptick, you stupid bastard!” “Jesus, how did you fuck that up???” Jesus this, Jesus that, until the morning he was instructed to clean out his desk, and found himself escorted by a bored security guard 68 stories down to the street, to that real world where men have to pay for their drinks and their mistakes, and life becomes a twenty-four crucifixion.

 

He stared out over the park’s spindly treetops, west towards the Hudson where his office building once stood. “Whatcha looking at?” asked Wanda, swiping at her salty face with the contrails of her dew rag. “You thinking about your old job again, Jesus?”

 

“Thinking about the guys I worked with, Wanda. When I got canned I told them to go straight to hell…That’s what I told them, and they did. They did, Wanda, three months later.”

 

“Let it go, Jesus, it ain’t your fault you got lucky and got canned. And maybe they all went to heaven…What about that, huh?”

 

“Yeah, and maybe on Easter Sunday they’ll all rise from the dead, too, Wanda…Sure, just wait until Easter Sunday…”

 

“Jelly beans. That’s what I like about Easter, Jesus, them jelly beans. Especially the red ones. I really like the red ones, nice and sweet. The Salvation Army gives us a little bag of them with  Easter dinner…Anyway, screw Easter…Let’s roll them dice right now and get some game going, Jesus. Here comes Sonny Boy, and I bet he’s got a bottle of Colt 45 in that bag he’s carrying; that’s what I bet. Let’s play him right now. I could sure go for some Colt. It’s hotter than freaking hell and I got me a thirsty Jones.”

 

Sonny Boy McCoy, thick as a brick and square as a dump truck, came to a halt by the bench where Jesus and Wanda sat, awaiting their mark. “It’s game time, bitches,” he announced, holding up the brown paper bag like a trophy, the neck of the bottle peeking out. Leering at Dew Rag Wanda’s chest, he hoisted up the waistband of his saggy sweatpants, a false modesty at best. “Show me some, girlie, and maybe I’ll give you a taste.”  Wanda yanked up the front of her sloppy tee, revealing edematous layers of flesh in varying shades of brown, a map of bodily despair. Sonny Boy’s eyes glowed with approval. “Okay let’s play.”

 

Jesus leaned forward. “Usual rules, Sonny Boy. Three rolls, your snake eyes gives me the bottle and five bucks. You beat the dice, you go around the world with Wanda.” He pulled his lucky dice from his pocket, to be met with a snort from Sonny.

 

“You bitches think I’m gonna fall for that shit again? Fools. I brought my own…just scored them over on Canal…check out these beauties, bitches.” He held out his monster’s paw of a hand to show off a newly minted pair of dice, plastic ivory dotted with black paint.

 

Jesus and Wanda stared at each other. Jesus ran his fingers through his stringy grey hair, strands heavy with grease, unwashed for days. “No way. No freakin’ way, Sonny Boy. My way or no way.”

 

“No way then, fools.” He clutched his bottle tighter and started to walk away. Tears welled up in the corners of Wanda’s eyes as her hopes for a good day began to dissolve like her diseased skin. Jesus X. McGillicuddy stood up, his thrift store jeans sliding down his emaciated hips in the process.

 

“Wait.”

 

Sonny Boy stopped, turned around now. “What? Whattaya want?”

 

“I’ll trade. My lucky dice, your bottle of Colt.”

 

Sonny, confused, said “Why? What’s in it for me?”

 

“My lucky dice, they can’t lose. They got, like, little ball bearings inside, so they always roll the way you shake ‘em. You can win a lot of cash, man. All’s I want is your bottle.”

 

Sonny pondered this for a moment, the implications of easy money quickly sealing the deal. He held out the bagged bottle. “Here. Take it. Now gimme them little moneymakers.”  He snatched the rigged dice from Jesus and lumbered out of the park, his sweat pants dipping lower with each step, backside fading like two dim taillights on a Peterbilt. Jesus sat down on the iron bench and placed his hand on Wanda’s thigh.

 

“Here you go, Wanda. No Micky D’s tonight, but at least you got your Colt.”

 

Dew Rag Wanda took the bag, and without hesitation, twisted off the cap and slugged, a mighty gulp to quench an unquenchable thirst. Malt liquor splashed down her neck and chest. “Oh, Jesus, I’m sorry. You want some?”

 

“No, I’ll pass this time. You enjoy it, girl.”

 

“Thanks, Jesus…I mean, thank you. It was nice of you to give up your lucky dice like that. I know they meant a bunch to you. Why you do that for me, Jesus, really, huh?”

 

Jesus hesitated for a second, not expecting to be questioned, to be held accountable for a simple gesture. An urgent need for whiskey roiling in his gut, he rose unsteadily from the bench. Pointing his chin like some navigational aid towards saloon row, he prepared to shove off in search of a better drink, a magic elixir from an earlier time. “I don’t know, Wanda, who cares…Maybe because Easter is coming…”

 

Dew Rag Wanda put the bottle to her puffy lips and swigged. Smiling, she said, “Easter was four months ago, Jesus, it came and went, just like that. So what?”

 

Jesus looked to the west again, trying to pull an answer out of the fetid air. Then he knew it, what to say…better late than never, as his old lady used to say, far too often.

 

“Well, so, happy last Easter, then, and happy next Easter, too, Wanda. I hope all your Easters are happy.”

 

A gassy burp erupted from Wanda.

 

 

 

 

 

 

Sarah Ito

I am a novelist (GROWING UP GREENWICH, Outskirts Press), blogger and essayist, and occasional poet.

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