My name is Andrew Joyce, and for those of you who keep up with the adventures of Danny the Dog, I’m his human and he’s my dog. He’s always writing about me, telling you nice people what an idiot I am and that I drink too much. But I want you to know right here and right now that I am not an idiot.
It’s that time of year again, and, as you all know, this is when Danny takes his vacation.
When we first hooked up, Danny insisted we sign a contract so we’d both know what was expected from the other. He got his attorney to draw one up, and because at the time I could not afford a lawyer, I signed what was put in front of me without reading it. Well, imagine my surprise a few months later when January rolled around and Danny told me he was taking his contractually-mandated vacation. It seems that on January 1st of every year, Danny takes a week off. Then he gets another two weeks in August. If you can believe it!
This year he’s in the South of France cavorting with the Beautiful People. He has sent me a few emails (when he’s not too busy) and lots of pictures. I think he’s trying to rub it in that I’m stuck here in Florida with no one for company except hordes of mosquitoes. I wonder if they have mosquitoes in France. I really hope they do.
Anyway, because Danny’s not here, his writing duties have fallen to me. I tried to get out of it, but that was in the contract too. I was threatened with a lawsuit if Danny’s story was not completed in plenty of time for this week’s blog post.
So, without further bitching, here’s my humble substitute for Danny’s great writing:
I saw Jesus the day before he died, the day before they made him haul that damn cross up the hill. I ran into him outside that little bakery, the one across from the wine shop on the main street. He was sitting on the stoop, talking to a gaggle of children. He always did love the kids.
“Hey, Jesus. What’s happening?”
“Hello, Andrew. I’m just hangin’ with my little buddies.”
“If you can tear yourself away, how about I buy you a cup of wine at that shop over there? We can sit and talk and catch up. I haven’t seen you since forever.”
He smiled that smile of his. “I’d like nothing better, my friend.”
He stood, patted one or two of the kids on the head, and whispered into one little girl’s ear. She looked up at him and smiled a thousand-watt smile.
“What did you say to the kid?” I asked.
“Nothing you’d understand, you old fart. Let’s have that wine.”
Of course, I had to buy. I never knew Jesus to have a dime to his name. In the old days, I used to see him on the street with a bowl in his hand, begging for food. I would always tell him he didn’t have to do that. I’d be more than happy to buy him a meal. And he always said the same thing: “There are many hungry people in this city. Feed them and you will have fed me.” I never understood what he meant, but then, Jesus always was an odd duck.
With wine in hand, we sat at a table overlooking the street. It hadn’t rained in a while and there was a bit of dust in the air, but we didn’t mind none.
“So, Jesus, what have you been up to?”
“Just walking the streets, talkin’ of love. What have you been up to?”
“Never mind me. What do you mean you’re walking the streets talking of love? You’re in your mid-thirties. You should have married long ago. When I knew you back in Nazareth, you had a thriving business going with your old man. Then you gave it all up. I worry about you, brother.”
He supped from his cup and smiled. “I thank you for your concern. But do not worry for me, I’m just passing through … as we all are. My needs are few. And come tomorrow, they’ll be fewer still.”
“What are you talking about, pal?”
“It’s not important, Andrew. What’s important is that you live your life in love and not in fear.”
“Whatever. How about meeting up tomorrow? Lunch is on me.”
“Sorry, my friend. I have an appointment with the Governor. I’ll catch up with you in the next life.”
Jesus was always kidding. He had one wicked sense of humor. So, I paid no mind to what he said. Later, I wished I had.
I was with Honest Abe just before he died. He had lost a lot of weight. And he had more lines on his face than I remembered. He smiled at me as I walked into the room. “Well, well, Andrew, it is good to see you. How have you been?”
“I’m cool, Abe. That was some war you just won. I loved how you had the band play Dixie right after Lee surrendered. You got class, my friend.”
He did an aw-shucks gesture and asked me to sit down.
“So, Abe, tell me. What are you gonna do with all those traitors, all those rebels, now that you beat the hell out of ’em?”
Abe stroked his beard and looked to the ceiling before answering. “I’m gonna treat them like I’d want to be treated. I’m gonna treat ’em like any human being would want to be treated. I’m gonna treat ’em with love.”
“So, what’s your plan, Abe?”
“Stop by tomorrow and I’ll tell you all about it. I’m gonna heal this country, by gob. I have a plan to bring the South back into the fold. But right now I have to get ready for the theater. There’s a play Missus Lincoln wants to see. But remember this, Andrew. Approach your adversaries with love and there’s no way you can fail. I’ll leave word with my secretary that I’ll be having lunch with you tomorrow. Till then, my friend, pray for me. I have a big job to do in the next four years.”
I was with Martin King, Jr. the night before he died.
“So, Marty. What’s shaking?”
“Please don’t call me Marty. You know I don’t like it.”
“I’m just messing with you, Martin. You’re finally getting there. You’re about to bring your people into the Promised Land. And it’s about fuckin’ time as far as I’m concerned.”
“One thing at a time, Andrew. Yes, we’ve gotten to the mountain top, but it’s a long way down to the fertile valley below.”
“At least it’s all downhill now. I remember when you were jammed up in the Birmingham jail. Things looked pretty bleak back then.”
Martin smiled a sad smile.
“I don’t think I’ll make it to that valley,” said he. “I think it’s an illusion. There are so many more miles to travel and I’m running out of steam. But I can say with pride that I got the ball rolling. So, let’s not think about it now. How about a drink?”
We toasted with bourbon and branch water. We laughed and talked of old times. We hugged at the door as I said goodnight. The last thing he said to me was, “Go gently into the future. Go with love. You can never have enough love. Leave your fears at home. Go with Jesus.”
I saw Jesus the day before he died. I saw him in Abe and I saw him in Martin. I’m still waiting to see him in me.