God is Love – a short story by John Ian Bush

Part One

Joey Mullins and I walked together, high on pot in the cold of a  January evening, across the levee. We were heading to a fast food place down town, a place I had a gift card for. He was wearing the red and black flannel we gave him for Christmas and a pair of my jeans, no coat.

“God is love,” Mullins told me; Mullins was always trying to convince me to turn to God when we got high. “God is love. I realized today that I haven’t been able to count on anybody besides God my whole life. God is love, man.”

I took his hand and I told him, “I love you.” He told me the same.

“Everybody loves you, Tom, you know why?” he said. “It’s because you’re the kind that takes in strays like me.”

We got to the fast food place, the girl at the counter took  our order. We were still stoned, so we kept stammering and laughing and forgetting if we like horse radish on roast beef or not. We got our food, finally, and took a seat at the table and started eating.

“I’m going to join the Navy!” Mullins said, loudly, almost shouting, excited.

“You can’t join the damn Navy,” I said just as loud. “You can’t even swim, for Christ sakes!”

“You can work around that,” he said.

The girl at counter came out and asked us to leave, because we were pissing off the other customers, so we started

for the door with our tray, but before we did, Mullins tried hitting on the her. He told her that he didn’t have a job or any money or prospects, but he’s considering a career in the Navy and he’s actively seeking a relationship with God. We left without her name or number.

We started across the highway. I took off my coat and put it over his shoulders. I told him it was his turn to be warm. Mullins turned towards me, he smiled and said with earnest, “Man, but seriously, though, God is love.”

Part Two

Joey and I sat under a big gray barked tree in the park, we had just smoked a fat joint of wet marijuana behind a bar off of ninth street. We were sharing a Pepsi bottle full of cheap grape wine I took from my grandma’s refrigerator, we were celebrating.

We were celebrating springtime; we both shared the feeling that, with spring, everything was somehow becoming brand new and exciting; the two of us, high, smiling, exciting, horny, happy, full of shit and now alcohol, were somehow, with spring, brand new and excited.

I laid my head down on the green spring grass and looked up to the sky, the sun was setting.

The sky was big, pink and gorgeous, and it was staring down at Mullins and me.

Mullins took a healthy drink, wiped off his mouth with his sleeve, the corner of his lips and the skin under his nose was stained red. He looked at me, handed me the bottle and said, “That’s God’s sunset, you know.”

I took my drink, a few drops ran down my chin and spotted my new white shirt. “Is that right?” I said.

“Tom, I’m tellin’ ya,” he said, “that’s God’s sunset. Just look at it, big and pure and beautiful, that’s God. That’s got God written all over it.”

“Well,” I said, standing up, “I’ll WORSHIP that sunset!” I took off my shoes, shirt and my socks, took another drink and started dancing around the gray tree and I laughed, raising my hands high to my wide pink God. “Oh, holy sunset, Hollow be thy name!” I fell to my knees and looked  up at Mullins and said, “St. Joey, you’re a modern damn prophet of the one true God!”

He said, “No, I’m just a humble servant.

I took his hands and looked him right in the eyes and said, “You are a man among men! The Messiah of the broke and stoned!”

He laughed and said, “You fuck around all you want, man, but God is love.”

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jianbush

Modernist writer and poet.

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