A Joke But Not a Joke
Jason parked at the brook and started his last beer of the day. He thought of all the needy people in the world, then of the the lucky ones like himself, who had beer to drink and a truck to sleep in and friends to work for. Moonlight rippled on the brook. Saint Francis would have received the stigmata on a night like this. Jason shut his eyes and saw the saint in his humble cassock, the back of his head shaved, hands raised to a hologram of the crucifix. Surely he’d been praying for the downtrodden and hadn’t sought his own glory. Jason finished the beer and slid down from the truck. He knelt on the ground. He whispered, Let me be like you, Saint Francis. This wasn’t funny. The tiniest sign, a scratch, even some discoloration, would have presented an overwhelming challenge. He raised his hands to the sky, palms out to receive. He dared himself. Maybe just one of the five? One from the four nails driven through hands and feet, one from the lance cut between the ribs? Another bad joke. The stigmata were bestowed upon the devout, not the half-hearted, not the deluded or deranged who starved their way into visions and willed or faked the wounds. Inside the truck cap he inspected his hands under the dome light. Nothing, naturally.