Jesus was genuinely considering returning a second time this year for Easter. As in, on a semi-permanent basis. Had big plans to make his grand re-entrance into the realm in a year as momentous as 2020. Then he started to notice that, as usual, His Father had other intentions. Ones designed, as usual, to make Jesus look like a puppet. With no mind or will of his own. Just a vessel to be used for the pummeling and nailing. And the lacerating–oh the lacerating! He was suddenly triggered by sense memory long enough to realize that to want to return would be ludicrous. Even though everyone believed in him now and it was likely that only the Islamic extremists would try to hurt him in such a way if news of his resurrection redux were to spread, he still couldn’t bear the thought of going back despite having the resolve to do so only moments ago.
Yet, once more, God didn’t show himself to work in mysterious ways, so much as showboating ones. That’s what the pandemic was all about. Creating it out of thin air like that, letting the mortals believe that it was either 1) an unhappy accident or 2) a conspiracy of biological warfare on the part of some nefarious country like China or its true operator, Russia. No, God only wanted to remind his son not only of his power, but that Earth was still not ready, still not deserving of Jesus’ return. They still had so much to learn with regard to how they treated one another, though it appeared that, if this many centuries had gone by and they hadn’t yet, what were really the chances that they ever would? God did not say this question out loud to his son, who was openly decrying His Father’s cruel decision to inflict humans with another plague.
God rolled his eyes at Jesus’ softness. He wished his son wasn’t so bloody, well… human. It could make it impossible sometimes, especially when God found himself attempting to justify his actions to such a pea-brain. Someone who couldn’t understand the long-term–the big picture. For fuck’s sake, it was like Jesus was an American politician for all his “visionary” ability. God sighed thinking this as he tried his best to keep his calm while explaining, “They haven’t had a pandemic in a century. They’re due for one. Overdue, in fact. I should’ve wrought this in 2018.”
“But instead you chose to wait until I want to go back down there? You expect me to make my grand debut amid such filth?”
“What are you talking about? Filth is your bread and butter. It’s how you draw so many acolytes to you. They need to believe in you. That you can save them from their pathetic, disease-ridden lives.”
“I don’t want it to be like this. I was already going down during a fraught election year and now this just taints everything all the more. I won’t do it. I won’t be seen there. Caught dead there.”
“Haha. There’s that human sense of humor that occasionally amuses me.”
Jesus pouted. “Can’t you just make this go away?”
“Sorry son. My hands are nailed–you’ll pardon the expression. Maybe you’d prefer: the wheels are in motion.”
Jesus glared at him. “You could undo it. If you really wanted to.”
God shrugged. “Sure I could. But I do so enjoy watching them squirm. Testing the extent of their devoutness. I can count on you to understand that, I reckon.”
“The difference between you and me is that I am not a vengeful, wrathful deity.”
“No, the difference between you and me is that you are not a deity. Now why don’t you go run along and tell your wench of a mother your woes or something? I’m busy infecting–er, perfecting.”
Jesus sighed, thinking inwardly, I fucking hate you.
God responded, “But Jesus, you are meant to be full of love. Even for those you hate.”
Jesus grimaced. “Of course, Father. You’re right. I bear you no ill will.” And though he did, he suppressed every inch of it so that God could not read his true thoughts as he departed from the throne. It was no wonder so much of Earth’s rich and powerful resembled the selfish ways in which God acted. Jesus was meant to be a “checks and balances” sort of foil. But it backfired on God. For he did not really want to be controlled, or to think about things based on a “conscience”-driven level. All he wanted was his fun–under the guise of “testing devotion.” If Jesus didn’t know any better, he would say God was a Taurus, with that petty, dictatorial spirit of his. But alas, no, God (and gods) did not have a “birthday.” He simply was.
So it was that he went to Mary, his only source of comfort and understanding. She would advise him correctly, on what was best. Alas, when he floated over to her usual lounging spot, he was horrified to see that she was at it again with Joseph. This was at least the two thousandth time he had caught them in this state. And every time, he served as their form of “coitus interruptus” birth control. After all, he didn’t want any heavenly siblings to compete with. Not when his entire gig was based on being the “Only Son.” The holiest of sons. Only he wasn’t feeling so holy after this unwanted sight. How many times could he bear witness to his mother in the buff before starting to develop impure thoughts about her? The sight of Joseph’s nudity didn’t matter. He wasn’t his father. Just another vessel–in many ways, not unlike Jesus himself.
Mary pretended to not know she had been caught doing anything “wrong” when Jesus appeared and cleared his throat obnoxiously. She casually tossed her free-flowing robe back on and proceeded to pretend as though she was doing some exercises. “Oh hi darling. Just performing some of my daily stretches. Need to stay in shape if I want the Church to stop advertising such a voluptuous figure on my effigies.”
Jesus pressed his index finger to his temple and closed his eyes in exasperation before saying, “Mother, how many times have I told you that your image has long ago been immortalized? There’s no changing it in their minds now.”
Mary tittered. “Oh Jesus. It doesn’t hurt to try. One should always try. Even in death.”
Joseph balked. “I thought the motto was, ‘Try till you die.’ Shouldn’t we stop kidding ourselves now?”
Jesus was growing wary. He wanted Joseph out of the picture. What was it with his father figures annoying the shit out of him? Trying to undermine him at every turn? Did they want him to have a Peter Pan complex? To remain a helpless little boy his entire afterlife? He couldn’t stand it anymore. So it was that without even bothering to consult Mary for her advice, he made a choice: he would attempt to carry forth his long-awaited Second Coming. Which was, incidentally, the name of the sex shop he accidentally found himself awakening in after reentering Earth’s dimension. He hadn’t accounted for that.
He was trying to focus his energies on landing in a place of love, and apparently this is what was interpreted by the universe. What made it even stranger was the fact that it was closed. Darkened and disturbing–all those silhouettes of dildos somehow reminding Jesus of weapons that might again nail him to a cross. He was already feeling an anxiety attack coming on. Maybe this was a bad idea. A feeling that further sunk in as he walked out of Second Coming to find that it looked as though the rapture had already occurred without him having any hand in it.
God had not prepared him for this. When he pictured the word “pandemic” and how it might play out, he had imagined people dead on the streets, and those still living screaming out in combative agony. Not that they would all have disappeared into their homes to worship a new god called Streaming, cowering in fear of the disease as a result of the terror further stoked by their governments and media. Jesus rolled his eyes. This was already turning out to be a bust. Maybe he should have asked Mary beforehand. He was completely out of his depth. On the bright side, he had to note that the environment was truly shining in all of its glory from lack of pollution (at least fifty percent of which was a result of human farting).
He even stopped in the middle of the road to kneel and pet a passing deer. As though out of a storybook page, a bevy of butterflies soon fluttered around him in welcome, like they were saying, “We’ll allow you, just you, into our sanctum. No other humans allowed.” But alas, like most idyllic scenes, this one, too, was cut short by the sudden appearance of a gang of thugs. The sort who did not have a viable home to retreat to. They looked as though they had taken on the responsibility of “running” the entire block like a ragtag group of mafiosi. They had the weapons to back it up.
The deer and the butterflies quickly scattered, sensing imminent danger wherever humans were. Rightly so, Jesus thought. For even he had doubts about the interaction that might ensue should he choose not to run. Which was, indeed, a temptation he had to will himself not to give in to–for he could not bear the thought of God watching from above and once again billing him as a lily-livered Mama’s boy. He would have to stand firm against these brutes (all of God’s creatures are equal and valuable, he chanted to himself upon realizing he had called them that in his mind). In truth, trying to impress His Father was the only reason he ended up allowing himself to get nailed to a cross in the first place. All for the sake of proving his vigor to “dear” Dad. Now here he was again, about to be subjected to the same brutality and violence when, in theory, he should have been safe from persecution with everyone locked inside. Everyone except this lot, none of whom could seem to recognize him for the celestial being he was.
“You lost?” the ringleader demanded.
“Never,” Jesus returned cryptically.
The ringleader chortled. “Okay then. Run along. Unless you have some money in that little sheet you’re wearing.” One of his goons laughed at the description, adding, “He must want us to hang him out to dry, eh?”
The ringleader looked thoughtfully at Jesus. “I think you’re right. I think I know the perfect spot to let him… air.”
Jesus could feel himself perspiring, the trauma of the past “hanging” coming back to him in debilitating flashes that caused him to freeze in place as the gang carried him to a nearby alley where a stout wall bedecked with curlicued barbed wire awaited as the crucifix of the moment. Jesus regretted his return. Having not even been able to make contact with any true believers while here, his attempt at coming back felt like an utter waste. Perhaps His Father could sense that from on high, for, all at once, Jesus was zapped back into the heavens, evaporating from the thugs’ hands as they laughed gutturally at their “jest.” All at once, it was no longer funny. For they were forced to come to terms with the fact that they had beheld something genuinely divine here on this scumbag planet. And they had squandered it, just like everything else.
Jesus, meanwhile, found himself sobbing in the arms of God, who, for once in his miserable existence, found the compassion to hold his son wordlessly as the pandemic raged on. “Happy Easter,” was all God offered to Jesus in solemn deference, tacitly acceding all the anguish he had caused this fragile being in wielding him like a voodoo doll to absorb all the sins–all the foibles–of humanity. It was for this reason that God decided to bind Jesus from ever leaving the premises again, putting his own progeny in lockdown just like the rest of the hopeless souls on Earth.