Jesus got off the flying disc. It was, after all, the only flying disc in existence, given to him by his father, Godfrey Cunningham — God for short. He checked his watch. It was 12:22 PM. His father had given him the watch, too. He had a lot of gifts from his father. Jesus often wondered why he didn’t see much of His Father. God had given a lot of presents to Jesus over the years but Jesus often wondered why God, being his Father and all, didn’t just hang out with him every once in a while. That’s all Jesus wanted. Just some recognition that he was God’s son and that he was doing a good job. That’s all anyone wants really, Jesus thought to himself. He was mostly right.
Jesus was the VP of marketing for GodCo™ — a job that God gave him on his 33rd birthday party. There’d been an unfortunate misunderstanding with the Romans after God had sent Jesus down there to “spread the word about GodCoTM” and Jesus had been crucified, both literally and figuratively, and God had pitied him and given him a cush marketing job. Jesus had an office and a secretary and a company cloud. There had been a party for Jesus when he joined GodCo™, and God had shown up. Jesus was elated to see him, yet God had shown up for just 15 minutes before being called away, back to work, back to wherever God was when he wasn’t in front of Jesus. Jesus had no way of knowing if God even existed if he couldn’t actually see him. God wasn’t really a man of words. You get about 15 minutes with God every 500 years or so, he thought to himself.
Jesus was at the Vatican because it was a slow day at work and he hadn’t visited Earth since getting crucified, so what the heck, he thought. There’d been word in Heaven that things were getting out of control on Earth — that someone named The Pope was taking some company money. Jesus looked at the printout on this Pope fellow. There’d been many over the years. A lot of them were old white men. This one in particular had eyes like pissholes in the snow and a nose like someone had had a disagreement with a ball of clay.
Jesus picked up the flying disc and was about to put it in his robe’s pocket when he noticed that he was in the middle of a lot of people and they were all taking pictures of him. A group closest to him had taken to bowing while some grabbed at his garment.
“Hey, don’t, ok? This is Ralph Lauren,” said Jesus accusingly, pulling his own robe away from the woman. People continued to take pictures. This unnerved Jesus. He was used to strange looks because of the beard and the long hair — God had called it “unprofessional” for the workplace — but Jesus noticed there were hundred taking his picture.
“Do you mind?” he said, and that’s when he noticed a little gold pendant around the neck of a woman. It was two lines, one shorter than the other, arranged like a lower case ‘t’. Jesus winced. It was the crucifix.
“Why are you wearing that?” he asked the woman. She started to cry. “Because you died for our sins,” she said, weeping.
“You died,” she wept, “For our sins.”
“I died because you guys hadn’t invented socialized healthcare yet,” said Jesus, “What sins are you talking about?”
“All of them,” said a man. He too was wearing the cross.
“All of them?”
“Yes, my Lord.”
Jesus shook his head. He remembered what people of Earth were like. Most people on Earth, he remembered, reacted to nearly every situation like a particularly intelligent dog being shown how to operate heavy machinery. People of Earth didn’t have a clue what they were doing but they sure looked like they were trying hard.
“OK, one, I didn’t die for anything. I died. It happened. Two, do you really think I’d want to see that crucifix again? That thing hurt,” said Jesus.
“But you died on the cross for our sins!” spoke a frail older woman a few people back. Jesus remembered how much people on Earth loved metaphors.
“Look — I hate to break it to you, but I only really came here to tell you about my Dad and how great his self-improvement/landscaping business is,” he said.
“But what about the Bible?” said another man.
“The what now?”
“The B-B-Bible,” said the man.
“What the fuck is a Bible,” said Jesus.
“It’s the Good Book,” said the eldery lady.
“You mean like Slaughterhouse Five? That kind of a good book?” said Jesus. Somebody thrust a big black leather bastard of a book into Jesus’s hands. He took a look at the cover. The Bible. He flipped through it.
“What the hell is this,” said Jesus.
“It is the word of God,” said someone in the crowd.
“It isn’t,” said Jesus, “The word of God is only four words long: Don’t Be An Asshole. He says that to everybody. It’s the only true rule of marketing.”
“You mean religion is nothing but marketing?” said a young man in a Black Flag t-shirt. Jesus hadn’t cared for Black Flag after Rollins had joined.
“Pretty much,” said Jesus, “I mean I’m glad there’s some brand recognition but I think you guys took some of this a little too far.”
“Jesus, can you heal my daughter?” said a fat man, holding up his coughing daughter to Jesus.
“Dude, get that shit away from me,” said Jesus, “I’m telling you. Healthcare. OK. Can someone show me where the Pope is?”
The crowd groaned and reeled with excitement but nobody gave Jesus an answer. “Literally. One person,” said Jesus.
A child pointed to a giant building. Jesus walked towards it.
Jesus knocked on the Pope’s door. He heard some rustling of papers and what sounded like someone trying to hide their footsteps.
“Just a second!” said The Pope.
“C’mon, Pope,” said Jesus, “I know you’re in there.”
“I lost my hat,” said The Pope, “I can’t be seen without my hat.”
“I’m going to count to 10,” said Jesus.
“Ok, ok, ok,” said The Pope. Jesus heard what sounded like a paper shredder.
“Are you shredding documents?” said Jesus.
“It sure sounds like you are.”
“I’m just making wheatgrass,” said The Pope. Jesus tried the doorknob.
The Pope opened the door before Jesus could sound out the ‘n’ in ‘nine’ which was a good thing because Jesus hated having to give people ultimatums. It was something that he hated about his job — making those kinds of decisions for people, the ‘if you don’t do this then this will happen to you’ kind of thing was best left up to people’s mothers and fathers — it wasn’t his job to tell people what to do.
The Pope was sweaty and a lot older than his picture and this caused Jesus to give The Pope a double take.
“Come in! Have a seat,” said The Pope. Jesus looked around his office. The place was covered in gold and jewels. Framed photographs of world leaders and celebrities lined the wall. The Pope had been living pretty large, it seemed.
“What is this shit?” said Jesus, incredulously.
“W-w-what do you mean?” said The Pope.
“How much money have you been taking from people?” Jesus asked.
“We have a billion members, My Lord!”
“Call me Jesus,” said Jesus.
“Yes, Jesus Christ,” said The Pope. He made the sign of the cross on his chest.
“It’s Chris, first of all. Jesus Chris Cunningham. No idea where the extra ‘t’ came from. And there you people go with the cross thing again!” said Jesus, “Do you think I want to keep seeing that? Would you go up to James Dean with a pendant of a wrecked 1955 Spyder?”
“I… I guess not,” said The Pope, “I hadn’t really thought of it that way.”
Jesus picked up a gold sceptre that had just been laying around the Pope’s office. It was covered in rubies. “You know there’s people starving, right? People are dying out there because you’ve been spending all your money on things like this, and hanging out with…” Jesus looked at a photograph on the wall, “… Bono. Well done. So I leave you in charge of GodCo™, Earth Division, and you hang out with the singer from U2? What have you actually done for people?”
The Pope looked at the floor. Jesus noticed a stack of papers on his desk.
“Please,” said The Pope, “Don’t touch those.”
Jesus looked at the piece of paper on top. Something something children being raped by priests. Something something Catholic church cover-up.
“So you’ve been banging little boys and hanging out with Bono,” said Jesus.
“I guess so,” said The Pope, sheepishly.
“OK, well, you’re going to die soon,” said Jesus, “That’s a fact. I have your file. Can you stop your people banging little boys?”
“Perhaps, Jesus,” said The Pope.
“I will try!” cried The Pope.
“How hard is it to not fuck a kid?” said Jesus.
“We practice celibacy,” said The Pope, “It is difficult, you see, to not get tempted.” “Dude, you have the internet. Go to YouPorn or something. I don’t care. Just stop fucking children. Besides,” said Jesus, “Celibacy? How much of this Bible stuff did you guys take literally? I’ve had it for forty-five minutes, read it three times, and I can tell you that 98% of this is all bullshit. You guys wrote most of this after I died and filled in the rest. Of course, it’s all a bunch of metaphors. What is it with you people and metaphors?”
“They’re an easy storytelling device,” quivered The Pope.
Jesus shook his head.
“As the Vice-President of Marketing for GodCo™ Industries, I’m going to have to relinquish you of your duties,” he said.
The Pope began to sob.
“I’m so sorry,” The Pope said. Tears began to roll down his cheek.
“You should have thought of that before you began buggering children,” said Jesus, “It really isn’t difficult. Oh look. There’s a kid. Oh look. There’s me not fucking it. See? It’s that easy. Also, this is a non-profit. You can’t skim billions upon billions of dollars off of the top. How much of this is going towards people dying in Africa?” “We tell them not to use condoms,” said The Pope.
“Why would you tell people not to use condoms in a place where AIDS is especially prevalent?” said Jesus, “That just seems backwards. GodCo™ invented those things for a reason. That and abortion.”
Jesus left The Pope’s office a few minutes later after making The Pope begrudgingly sign a small piece of paper relinquishing him of his duties. Jesus wondered who the hell would elect an ex-Nazi to be the leader of a non-profit and then reminded himself that human beings were especially prone to taking direction. One day, he thought, they might get the whole “free will” thing he had talked about last time he was down here. He stepped outside.
“Are you guys going to be good?” he said to the crowd of people. The crowd was silent.
“I said,” he sighed, “Are you guys going to be good?”
The crowd was silent again. Jesus put his palm to his face.
“Tell us, O Lord!” said a voice.
“Yes, tell us!” said another.
“Dad-dammit,” said Jesus, “Just don’t be dicks to eachother, OK?”
Jesus stepped back on his flying disc. He checked his watch. It was 1:30 PM.
“Please, for the love of Dad, be good to eachother,” he said. He put in his earbuds and pressed play on his iPhone. The sounds of the Beach Boys filled his celestial ears. At least Brian Wilson had gotten it half-right, he thought, and flew up into the sky.