Story-time with Aaron: Part 5

Tuesday April 20, 2010

(Part 4) (Part 6)


Having decided to detonate a nuclear device in Jerusalem and thereby resolve all disputes in the Middle East, the only thing that remains is the implementation and execution of the plan.

"You have to meet Jesus," says Lily.

Go get in Lily's car. Aaron and Death argue for a bit about who will sit in the front seat. Eventually they agree to settle it by a game of chance. Aaron throws rock, and Death throws paper. So Death wins, but Aaron jumps in the front seat anyway.

"Stupid way to settle things, isn't it?" says Aaron. "Get in the back."

Jesus is a student at the local community college, an acquaintance of Lily's younger brother. Lily knows he is studying some sort of engineering, so she thinks he will be the best person to ask about nuclear technology. Really, Jesus mostly works on cars.

Jesus is asleep in the small, antiquated library of the community college. He is slumped down in a straight-back chair. The only things on the table are his head and an old issue of Red Book Magazine.

"Jesus, wake up!" says Lily, grabbing his shoulder. "I want you to meet my friends."

Jesus is only slightly groggy-eyed. He looks up. "Hello," he says. "I'm Jesus. It's pronounced the Spanish way. People always think it's a funny name, around here. But it's just that I was adopted and it's the name my birth parents gave me in Mexico."

People do think it's a strange name. But Jesus is also the only Mexican in town, and a more common response people have when they first meet Jesus is to listen very hard for any trace of a Spanish accent.

Jesus was adopted as an infant, well before he spoke a word of anything. He never spoke Spanish. There is not a tinge of Spanish audible when he speaks. Nonetheless, easily two in five people in town hear a Spanish accent when Jesus speaks. He speaks in tongues.

Jesus doesn't know it himself, but he was never officially adopted. When his parents decided to adopt, they quickly realized that the proper channels were hopelessly complex and just really annoying. So his parents took a road trip to Mexico one fall, found an appropriately destitute neighborhood, and worked things out for themselves. It's never been a problem.

"Nuclear weapons? Gosh, I don't know," says Jesus. "I mostly just work on cars, you know, at my dad's dealership... Just exteriors, really."

"We just need like one bomb," says Aaron. "Where do you think we can get a bomb?"

"Oh man," says Jesus. "This is just like a book I was reading, The Genocidal Hobbyist. Or maybe like The Road, you know, everybody was just dead and they were eating like people's legs and arms and stuff."

"You shouldn't spend your whole life in books like that. I used to be the same way. I just read all the time. Eventually, you have to live your life!" This is Lily's story.

"But I really like reading," says Jesus. "And isn't it part of life, listening to other people's stories? Should I just ignore everything and randomly jump around?"

"Look, are you going to help us or not?" says Lily.

"And what about textbooks and stuff? Can I read them?" Jesus has gotten a bit stuck on the topic, and Death follows.

"You know, I think he's got a point," says Death. "And not just for textbooks. Learning in general. I think sometimes the best way to learn something is by reading a story. It might never explicitly say what you're learning. It might be that you can't learn some things if you know you're learning them. I wonder if anybody's ever thought about that."

Nobody says anything.

Death continues. "Like for example, what did you learn from that Red Book Magazine, before you fell asleep?"

Jesus was not really paying attention. "I just like reading is all," he says. "And that isn't my magazine."

"Look, anyway, how are we going to get a nuke?" Aaron is getting hungry and wants to go.

Jesus is ready to go too. "Aren't there some in Israel already? It'd probably be easier to just find one there, rather than find one and get it into the country somehow."

"Okay," says Aaron. "I'm hungry. Let's go eat."

Walk all together out of the library, toward the parking lot, through excessively wide, empty, once-upon-a-time clean halls.

"Was the title of that book really The Genocidal Hobbyist? Shouldn't it be... Huh. What do you call the perpetrator of genocide? A genocidist?"

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