J. O. Barrett
Ben and God (Part 1)
As human beings we pretty much expect our daily lives to be predictable. Not unlike the animal world in some respects. A dog or a cat, for instance, wakes up in the morning and expects a day like any other. Whilst the Human animal’s horizon of expectation may be somewhat broader than aLabrador’s, experience and rationality tells us that nothing extraordinary or supernatural should be feared or hoped for in the course of our daily lives.
Ben and God walked shoulder to shoulder up Broad Street towards a collection of bars known locally as ‘The Strip’. Ben walked silently with his head down as they made their way through the drunken merriment of the late-night revellers. The awkwardness of the silence was felt solely by Ben. God sauntered through the crowd dodging litter and rowdy stumbling youths with a composure that suggested he had done this many times before. Ben moved in a stop-start manner, clumsily trying to navigate through the annoying crowd and having to hurry his step in order to keep up with God. ‘Fucking move’, thought Ben angrily as he pushed his way through a gang of half dressed teenagers, all dressed in sparkly pink. On a normal night in the city Ben would not have been in such an irritable mood, and would consciously conduct himself in a civilised manner amongst his fellow partygoers (often to impress the more sophisticated females) - but tonight of course, was not a normal night. Tonight Ben was out with God, and ironically, it had bought out the worst in him. His dark mood, short temper and ambiguous sense of embarrassment were all due to the company he was keeping.
But what did Ben have to be embarrassed about? Perhaps understandably Ben was constantly aware of the debauchery and shamelessness that was all around them. The drunkenness, flesh, sex and moral poverty was not something he felt personal shame or responsibility for but with God as his guest (so to speak) he was uncomfortable to say the least. It was as if he had received unwanted visitors when his house was at its untidiest and most filthy; the shit he had been living in had been exposed to those he had most wanted to impress. Whilst Ben could forgive himself this embarrassment (after all, these people were not his family and this place was not his house) there was another troubling feeling that couldn’t be so easily dismissed- Ben was embarrassed by God.
The last thing Ben wanted was to lose sight of God in the midst of all of the debauchery on the streets of the city, and in his haste to keep up with God; Ben knocked the last of the ‘pink’ girls into a young lad who was leaning up against a bus shelter. ‘You fucking prick’, spluttered the bimbo as she drunkenly bent down to pick up the half empty bottle of lager she had been swigging. ‘Watch where you’re fucking going’. Ben offered an unfelt apology as he stretched his neck looking over the crowd hoping to spot God. He caught a glimpse of Him about fifteen yards ahead and jogged along on the road so as to avoid the pedestrians in his way. As Ben fell into step with God; God gave him a brief nod and the shadow of a smile to acknowledge his return. Ben remained silent and returned his attention to the way ahead.
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