“You really think he’s Jesus?”
“Of course not, Jesus doesn’t drink Tesco Value Lager on the night bus. Wouldn’t be right, besides, the son of God would be more of a wine man I reckon, although how that fits with the blood of Christ thing I’ve no idea.”
“You’ve got to admit though, that bit where he turned that woman’s sick back into a doner kebab was pretty impressive. Don’t often see that on the night bus.”
Barrington nodded, it was true, you didn’t often see that on the night bus.
“Still though, why would the Messiah be headed to Penge, caned on cheap lager and singing ‘South London is Wonderful’ in between sermons? Shouldn’t there be angels and stuff? Heavenly trumpets? That kid in the back with Drum and Bass on his phone doesn’t really fit does it?”
Jay didn’t have an answer for that so he just sat staring at the other worldly figure swaying precariously at the front of the bus, wiping away a dribble of beer from his chin in preparation for another speech to the unbelievers.
“Now you see God doesn’t want you to worship him. I mean, you should like him and all, he’s a great fella my dad, heart of gold, would give you the shirt off his back. Well, would do if his back wasn’t more of a theological concept than an actual, you know, back. He doesn’t need all the churches and temples and mosques though, I mean what the fuck’s he going to do with them? He’s a being of pure energy, encompassing all life and matter, what, is going to use it as a holiday home then? Nah, better off building yourselves something useful like a pub, or a cinema. He likes The Fast and the Furious though you know, big fan, more of that’d be good. Fuckit, I know he’ll get a kick out of this – Vin Diesel is now, officially, a Saint.”
“You think he can do that?”
Barrington thought on that for a moment, trawling through half forgotten memories of slow Sunday mornings spent being shouted at by a priest who thought everything done by everyone everywhere was probably a sin of some sort. Given the current company that made him an authority, Jay had spent his Sundays on the Playstation.
“I suppose so, not that he’s Jesus or anything, but if he was then why not? Saint Vin Diesel, don’t see what the Pope could do to stop it.”
“And another thing” the drunken Christ went on “my dad is not a big bearded white bloke. I mean, I say ‘dad’ but even that’s a stretch, he’s everything, all life, all matter, all space, the lot. You might be confusing him with Santa Claus and take my word for it, that guy’s a prick.”
As the bus turned a corner the Messiah staggered to the right and fell into the lap of a dozing nurse who’d sat up front, which left the rest of the top deck gasping as a flock of doves randomly appeared in the air and started flapping about in mad panic.
“That’s a lot more like it” Jay said, hands up to wave off a particularly terrified bird “doves are in the Bible right? That’s proper miracle stuff there.”
Barrington was too busy picking feathers out of his hair to reply.
“SIT DOWN ON THE TOP DECK! I have to tell you one more time and I’m stoppin’ the bus.”
It took a minute for things to settle down but still the drunken miracle worker got back to his feet, ignoring the drivers order to sit down.
“Anyway, I’m back now. Been a long time eh? I’ve kept an eye on you lot but to be honest it’s all a repeat down here. You fight each other, you feel bad about it, you fight each other again. And the sinning, all the sinning, I tell you, I’m very disappointed in you all, terrible stuff, you should be ashamed.”
Both Barrington and Jay found tears in their eyes now, each wiping them away with as much dignity as they could maintain as the intoxicated preacher’s words slipped under their skin, carrying far more weight than they should.
“I forgive you though. I do, really. When the big man created you he wasn’t at his best, not that that’s an excuse, but it is a reason. You wouldn’t think it really, that your omnipotent, omnipresent cosmic deity could have a bit of an off day but there you go. Tricky stuff creating life, no matter who, or what, you are. Anyway, you’re all forgiven and now I think we’re in Penge. Have a good one.”
“Last stop, this is Penge, your last stop.”
It took a few minutes to everyone to file off of the bus, to the driver’s dismay, his shift was over and the weepy, stunned looking people staggering down from the top deck were holding him up. Something to do with that fucking drunk, no doubt, but then there was always one. Last week it had been a bloke claiming to be the Hidden Imam, that hadn’t been his problem though as he’d just dropped him off at Tottenham Court Road where he’d gone off with a dozen dazed followers to ‘bring peace and justice to the world’. Good luck with that in Leicester Square on a Saturday night.
Standing on the pavement in the drizzling rain Jay looked at Barrington and Barrington looked at Jay.
“That was something, wasn’t it? That forgiveness thing, I feel a lot better for that you know.”
“Yeah” Barrington scratched his head “was definitely something…”
“Not sure I like being called a sinner though, not perfect or anything, but still.”
“Yeah, was a bit out of order wasn’t it? And did you see that beard? Fucking Hipster.”
“Right, fuck him. Offy and home then?”
“Sounds good. Night bus innit, always one on there.”
Fading in the distance the voice of Jesus rang out in the cold night air.
“Oh South London,
Oh South London is WONDERFUL!”
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