OK, I wrote the first couple of of pages of Jesus Chris. Here they are:
Penny and I live in an apartment looking down on the supermarket and its parking lot. You see people coming and going. You look down on women with no hair, or stubble, and scarves on their heads. These are the ones with cancer. You see other women stuffing food in their mouths, the ones who at home are on 'diets' and just need a little something, a cheat, when they go grocery shopping. You see men and women who hang their cigarette out of the car window, hoping that the smoke smell won't get in the car. You see the dad struggling with the car seat and then driving away, abandoning a big, poop-filled diaper in the parking space. Sometimes you see shoplifters. They'll slide the big pack of sirloin steak onto the ground, underneath their car, while they load the legitimate groceries. This is in case the store personnel, or the police, confront them: "Hey, I don't know where that came from! I must have parked right on it!" The last thing they do, as they back out, is pop a door and reach down and pick up the stolen item.
I see everything, all sorts of humanity, from up here. Penny teases me about it. "What are you, an angel, watching over them?" she said today when she came back from the bookstore, and caught me at the window.
"Dunno," I said. "I guess, people are interesting to me."
""I saw some of those vegetable crates by the dumpster, the ones you want to make furniture out of."
I was pysched. "Great! I'll go down and get them now. Maybe I can glue them up before I go to work."
The vegetable crates were like drawers, but made out of thin, disposable wood. I tore the front flap off of them and stacked some upside down on the others. This created larger spaces, shelves. It was like a book case. I applied the glue.
Penny came and admired them. "Nice," she said, "You're cheap."
"'Frugal', I like to say," I said.
By the time I got back from night editing at the campus paper, the glue looked dry. I picked the whole assembly up from the top and it held together. We had sex and the condom broke. It was like a cartoon equipment failure, saw-tooth ragged popped balloon edges.
"Oops!" Penny said.
"I should have known," I said. "I could tell something had changed."
"Happens all the time," she said, trying to sound casual and forgiving.
The next morning Penny went to work at the bookstore and I went to the paper to work on a story. There were more of those crazy notes in my mail slot. There are several pink slips for phone messages. The top one said:
"September 12, 1985
The box for "Callback requested" was checked. No phone number was given. The other four were similar, and I flipped through them and crumpled them into the trash.
"Still didn't see anyone, eh?" I said to the receptionist.
"Didn't see anyone," he affirmed.
This has been going on for months now. It's some kind of prank. The handwriting doesn't match anyone who works at the paper. And no matter how often I spy on the mail slot, or ask other people to keep an eye peeled for suspicious behavior, we've never caught the perpetrator.
It bugs me.
Then there are the letters. Usually it's biblical passages. The return address will be "Heaven" or "God" or "Love." Once it was "Within."
I sat down at one of the desks and inserted my floppy disk into the Kapro. I opened my story draft and started typing: "University policy prohibits employees from buying excess equipment from their own department, but the second-in-command at Campus Transportation in May purchased a car with a $3,000 blue book value -- for $1,000."
"Chris, line one!" the receptionist declared. I picked it up.
"Want a hot tip?" the voice said. It was a brother.
"Who's calling?" I said, annoyed. People who approach reporters with "hot tips" are usually worthless weirdos.
"God is love," he said. "Maybe you should put that in your next story."
Maybe this was the freak who'd been leaving me all the mystery messages? Some member of Campus Crusade for Christ?
"Maybe you can come down to the paper and explain it to me in person." I said. I wanted to have one of the photographers get a picture of this guy, to show to folks as a warning. And to ask if anyone had seen him on the premises.
"OK. See you soon," he said, and disconnected without talking about calendars. It almost seemed like a threat.
Then the really freaky thing happened. I went back to work on my story and the cursor was blinking at the end of "GOD IS LOVE."
I had no memory of typing any such thing. I wondered if I had somehow done it subconsciously during the call from the weirdo.
I held down the backspace key and the letters would not erase. I've fixed a lot of computer problems for people here at the paper, but this was not something I'd seen before. I started to worry, but then I realized that the keyboard was probably malfunctioning. The delete key was broken, or the whole keyboard.
The arrow keys worked, though, and when I used the delete key on my byline, it worked fine. I arrowed down to GOD IS LOVE and tried the delete key again. No luck.
"Jim! Come over here!" I said. Jim came over, amiable and stubbly, pug faced. "Ever seen this?" I said, pressing the delete key demonstrably. He rubbed his chin.
"Those words! The god part. It doesn't delete!"
He thought I was joking. "Boy, what are you smoking?" he said.
"I'm serious! Don't you see it?" I said.
"'GOD IS LOVE!' It says so, right there."
He still thought I was joking. "Well, if you say so, Jesus," he joked.
"No, really!" I protested. "Rachel! Get over here!"
She came over, and then a small crowd. None of them could see it. Then I began to wonder if I were having some kind of hallucination, a mental breakdown.
"All right! All right!" I said. "Get a photog in here."
Dave was drafted, and he was willing to take a picture of the screen. The paper pays for the film. I put my thumb on the edge of the screen so that the picture would be unique.
He developed it within 10 minutes and there it was in black and white, my thumb on a screen that said only:
University policy prohibits employees from buying excess equipment from their own department, but the second-in-command at Campus Transportation in May purchased a car with a $3,000 blue book value -- for $1,000.
Nothing about god.