My Ride Part 4

For the first time this blog introduces a work of fiction. This short story, my attempt at a modern day parable, grew out of an assignment from my spiritual director. Due to its length, this will run over the next few weeks. Explanations of the symbolism involved will be given at the end of the series.
Part 1 published on May 3, 2009

From My Ride –Part 3…

The gremlin is far too strong and it just laughs as I struggle in vain to break its death grip.

“Oh God! Help me!”

My Ride — Part 4

The white flash is blinding. Instantly, the gremlin’s grip is broken and it screeches in anger, retreating to the smoking remains of my car. Hissing and snarling from its black twisted throne, it makes no move to come any closer.

As it let go, I fell face down in the dirt. Now laying there with my head on the ground just trying to breathe, I slowly open my eyes, hoping this impossible scene is going to vanish like so many other nightmares have in the past. I see sandals and look up into the face of a total stranger. Yet when our eyes meet, he seems so familiar, like I’ve met him somewhere before but can’t remember where. Tears immediately spring up from somewhere deep inside and pour freely down my dirty, bloodied face. This insanity is destroying me. How long will it last? I just want to go home or wake up or die, if I’m not already dead.

“Why didn’t you help me? You were going to let that thing drag me off to God knows where? Why? How could you?” The words catch in my throat. Sobbing, I lay my head on his feet and weep. Pain rips into my heart as the sobs rack my already battered body.

“Ooooh how could you? Save me!” mocks the gremlin from the remnants of my once beautiful car. “Come on Miss Bad Ass – you don’t need him. Save yourself. All you gotta do is get past me and I’m just a – what was it again? – an illusion?” Still cackling, it produces another of my cigarettes, lighting it off the still smoldering hulk that had been my two-year labor of love. It sits there sneering and blowing smoke rings, slashing them with its claws. It’s watching closely but shows no signs of leaving its perch.

The anger begins to well up in me again. As I stare at this somehow familiar stranger, my heart desperately wants to believe this guy with shoulder length brown hair, brown eyes, and Middle Eastern complexion could somehow be Jesus Christ, or at least some kind of angel. Logically, if the evil gremlin is real then some force of good could also be real, I thought. And yet, my mind is not buying this crazy fantasy world. This is some nut dressed up with the whole “white robes and sandals” bit but he’s clean-shaven. Stuff like that doesn’t happen to people like me anyway. Divine apparitions happen to pious saints at holy moments of great conversion, not after a car accident caused by an attack of recurring stupidity. There’s kindness in the stranger’s face but this certainly doesn’t look like any image of Jesus I’d ever seen. This was just some wacko out walking in the woods. But what if…?

“Why didn’t you help me before? What the hell took you so long? What’s wrong with you?”

“You didn’t ask and you seemed to have things under control.” His answer was so calm as though I’d commented on what a lovely day it was to stroll through the woods.

“Under control?! UNDER CONTROL?!” The anger and hysteria were making my voice nearly as screechy as the gremlin’s. “In what dreamland do you dwell? Didn’t you see the car crash? Didn’t you see that, that, that gremlin, demon thing blow up my car? And that thing isn’t supposed to be real. I MADE HIM UP! He’s a figment of my imagination!” I pause to take a deep not-so-cleansing breath before continuing. “I’m sorry. My sanity seems to be wearing just a wee bit thin here.” I begin to pace, trying to breathe and get a grip on the bizarre reality of this whole mess. “Damn you! You’re unreal dude.”

He seems unperturbed by my ranting. “Why unreal? If this creature is real, than why am I not real?”

I stop dead in my tracks, eyeing him suspiciously. Yes, even my baffled mind realized he was making a very logical point. Then again, on some level it’s starting to occur to me that if I’m dead, I probably shouldn’t be mouthing off to the guy who may well be the Savior Of The World while some demonic gremlin is waiting in the wings to drag me off to Hell at the first opportunity. The hysteria is starting to dissipate slowly and in it’s place, questions are starting to pop up. My mind is racing in a 100 different directions at once, all at 1000 miles an hour.

“Who are you?” I demand staying just out his arm’s reach. No sense in getting too close. He could be just as dangerous as the gremlin or worse.

“Beloved, you know who I am,” he says softly.

This just can’t be happening. These things don’t happen in the real world. Jesus doesn’t just show up like this. I tried all that cryptic meditative prayer, scripture reading, and Eucharistic adoration surrounded by little old ladies, with their rosary beads clicking as they prayed their never-ending novenas. I’d waited desperately, hoping for some whisper, some feeling, something, anything, and always I’d ended up with nothing. Nothing but silence, and the soft, mocking snickering of that blasted gremlin.

Resuming my pacing, I’m trying desperately to find logic in the illogical. I’m beginning to understand how Spock must’ve felt when dealing with Earthlings. “So, he’s real? You’re real? This whole crazy thing is real? Where are we? Am I dead? I can’t be dead. I hurt and I’m bleeding. Dead people don’t bleed. How do I get out of here? Or do I? And why am I here with you and that evil beast in the first place? Do you show up at every car wreck or I am just so friggin’ special that you thought you’d drop in for a chat? Wait, wait a minute – if that thing is real now, that means he can really hurt me. Why would you allow that? How could you let that thing anywhere near me? This is so insane! This can’t be real. I’m brain dead in some hospital somewhere on a morphine drip just waiting for someone to locate my living will and just pull the godforsaken plug already. I’m outta here!” Throwing up my hands in frustration, I turn around and start walking away from both the weirdo in white and the nightmarish black gremlin, heading upstream and back towards the road. I’ve had my fill of mythical creatures and schizo hallucinations for one day. I make it about six feet and the gremlin lunges directly into my path. I freeze but don’t run. I’m determined to hold my ground and prove that this whole scene is just a bad dream, or more likely hallucinations brought on by severe head trauma.

But then I smell the smoke of another one of my cigarettes…

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