January 2013
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Mock protection



She considered, “Eggs-in-a-hole? Yeah, I guess I could make that. I haven’t made eggs-in-a-hole since we were kids.”

He settled himself happily at the kitchen table, “Did I tell you I’m hearing voices now?”

Ellen searched through the cupboard for the proper smallish drinking glass, “You mean like you were deaf for a while and now you are not?”

He pushed his chair back and swung his long legs up, resting his dirty socked feet on the table as he pushed a few buttons on his phone, “No, like voices no one else hears.”

“Well, isn’t that special?” She found the glass she wanted and moved to the counter, laid out two pieces of bread, “Take your feet off the table.”

He did not take his feet off of the table, “Well, actually only one voice.”

“David, get your feet off of the table.”

“One voice, a man’s voice. He advises me.”

Ellen walked to stare down at her brother, “Any chance the voice you are hearing is advising you about removing your damn feet from the table?” He looked up, and she reached to shove his legs sideways and away, “Seriously, David. Not OK. Make a note . . . not OK.”

Resting his phone down on the table, he glanced up at her, “Making a mental note . . . I’ll just give it to Jesus.”

“Yeah, you do that.” Ellen pressed the inverted drinking glass down into the middles of the slices of bread, one after the other, pulling out the bread circle after each slice, “You’re religious now? This should be fun.”

His eyebrows danced skyward, “Who said anything about religion?”

“Fine.” Too late, Ellen realized she should have buttered the bread first, “You just hand things over to your friend Jesus who is in no way related to JESUS because having the same first name does not make them the same person. My bad.” She thought for a moment about getting out two new slices of bread, but then settled down to the task of buttering the small bread circles and their empty bread frames . . . first one side and then the other.

“That’s not how Mom used to do it,” he observed.

“Yeah, well . . . you distracted me with Jesus.”

David sighed, “Think about what it’s like for me.”

Ellen fished out a frying pan and walked to grab two eggs from the refrigerator, “David, it would be good if you tried harder to make sense.”

“I told you I was hearing a voice.” He cocked his head thoughtfully, “You ever notice that’s not what people say? People always say, if they have occasion to utter such a sentence, that they are hearing voices, not a single voice. Makes me wonder if I’m doing it wrong.” He tapped at his upper lip a few times with an index finger, “Or maybe Jesus speaks for many, but to simplify things, he uses just the one voice.”

She lit the burner and set the pan down on the flames, “David, you are so full of shit.”

He leaned back, crossed his arms across his chest, “Jesus doesn’t think so. Jesus loves me.”

“Jesus loves you?” Ellen tossed the two buttered frames of bread into the pan and cracked an egg into each sizzling circled hole, rummaging in the utensil drawer for a spatula, “David, if you want to go around saying that Jesus speaks to you and that he loves you, you go right ahead, but leave me out of it.” She squeezed the two bread circles into the pan to toast them, “You are full of shit and also disappointingly boring. Jesus? You hear the voice of Jesus? Could you be any more trite and lame in your mental illness?”

“Whatever. Jesus said you wouldn’t understand. That’s why he told me to wear these pants today, to guard against your cynicism.”

Leaning to inspect his outfit, Ellen snorted, “Carpenter pants? Jesus told you to wear carpenter pants?”

He plucked at the collar of his shirt, “Jesus also told me to wear this shirt. Jesus knows you, and he knows how to protect me.”

Ellen was puzzled, “OK, help me out. How is that shirt protecting you? I get the carpenter pants . . . maybe. What’s the deal on the shirt?”

“Mock turtleneck.”

Shaking her head, Ellen scooted the spatula beneath the egg-filled bread slices and flipped them over, “Let me guess . . . mock turtlenecks repel mocking?”

“Jesus says your harsh words are like blunted hand-slung arrows if I wear this shirt. Jesus says I am a carpenter. Jesus says he’s going to help me build a tree-house.”

“Yeah, I hope you bought a lot of those shirts. You’re going to need them.”

“Jesus says I need a hammer.”

“Yeah, well . . . Ellen says if you and Jesus come anywhere near her with a hammer, she’s going to poke your eyes out with a tuning fork.”

“That’s an oddly specific threat.” David stood to peer into the frying pan, “Jesus says to tell you he doesn’t like his eggs runny.”

“These are oddly specific times. Also? I don’t give a shit how Jesus wants his eggs cooked. What does David want?”

“Jesus says he would like some pepper.”

Ellen stared at her brother, “Fuck Jesus.”

“Jesus says first?  Rude.  And second?  He says to tell you he’s impotent.”

“Literally or metaphorically?”

“Jesus says to stop being so annoying.”

“Fine. Jesus is impotent.  Fuck Jesus in the ass, then.”

David spoke with exaggerated patience, “Jesus is going to be a part of things for as long as he decides to speak to me and through me. The quicker you accept that, the better.”

Through gritted teeth, Ellen muttered, “I’m not cooking for Jesus and I’m not talking to Jesus. How do you want your eggs cooked?”

“Jesus doesn’t like his eggs runny.”

With a single smooth movement, Ellen swung the frying pan from the stove-top to the sink and dumped the contents. She flipped on the garbage disposal and stared at David in challenge as the motor ground the food into mulch. She swiped her hands together to punctuate her next words, “Fuck . . . that . . . shit.”

“Jesus says a temper is better tempered.”

Hands now on her hips, Ellen addressed her brother, “Listen. You have issues. I have issues. Whatever. You drive me insane. You always drive me insane, but you are my brother, and so I take that fucking ride. But I draw the line here . . . you may not speak to me of Jesus. I don’t care if the Jesus who is yours is the son of God or the guy who works at the grocery store . . . I don’t give a shit. You may not speak to me of him. You may not.”

He glared at her, a petulant child, “You are not the boss of Jesus.”

“Oh for fuck’s sake. Say the name Jesus again and see if I don’t hit you with this frying pan. You may not speak to me of your imaginary fucking friend Jesus. Do you understand?”

“Fine. I’ll hold him within me.”

“Do that. Hold him close as a lover, but shut the fuck up about him.”

“He is not gay, just so you know.”

“Yeah, sure he’s not. You just hold him within you and shut the fuck up.”

David shook his head mournfully, “Mom said you wouldn’t understand.”

“You should listen to Mom more.”

“Mom understands.”

“Mom lies.”

He nodded, “That’s true.”

They stared at each for a moment, and then Ellen sighed, “You want a peanut butter and jelly sandwich?”

David paused before responding, “How about if I refer to him as Duncan?”

“David, you exhaust me. Fine.”

“OK, well . . . the thing is? Duncan has a peanut allergy.”

“Of course he does.”  She held out the partial loaf of bread, “OK, well . . . I’ve got bread and jelly. Knock yourself out.”

He reached for a slice, “Jes . . . I mean Duncan . . . he doesn’t like strawberry jelly. It gets smeared on his hands and reminds him of blood.”


“Duncan is giggling.”


“Duncan says the bread makes him think of a party he once attended.”

“Please stop talking, David.”

“Duncan says . . .”


They stood together in silence for a few minutes, and then David spoke again, “Ellen, Mom says this is no big deal. Mom says people talk to Jesus-Duncan all the time. Mom says Jesus and me can build a tree-house in her back yard and be safe.  Mom says it will be alright.  Mom says this is entirely normal.”

“David, Mom lies.”

He took another bite of bread, nodded his head, “Yeah, that’s true.”

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