Enter Veeza. Almost.

His apartment was on the second floor of a beat-up building in an old neighborhood. Like me, Jesus liked a "lived-in" feel to his home. Later, when He bought a house, it had that same quality of musty history.

He loved junk stores, too. When we were together, a Saturday almost always began with breakfast at the same bar we'd been to the night before and that was followed by trips around town to the junk stores. Abe's Attic, Lincoln's Lost and Found, and Honest Heirlooms were just a few of the double-wide trailers that had been in business out in the country around Springfield. Jesus went to all of them and all of them knew Jesus as a picky but steady customer.

One time, at Honest Heirlooms, Jesus found a Juice Man.

His two weeks of healthy living were both wrapped into the time directly following the Juice Man's arrival in His apartment. It even had the video, which we watched diligently, before we jiced anything. He set the Juice Man up in His crowded kitchen, where it stood out like a sore thumb, surrounded by the fingers of 1940s AM radios and their cords. That kitchen had at least 7 radios from the 40s and 50s. It had tools from the 30s... I mean, not just tools. It had farm implements. There were pieces of plow in His sink.

So the Juice Man? It stood out.

Jesus and I juiced everything. We'd go to the grocery store and buy huge bags of apples and carrots. We had a daily date with the produce aisle. It was fun at first. We made every combination of fruits and vegetable that you can think of and we were normal people for those two weeks. We weren't fighting and we weren't whispering desperate "I love you's" in haunting dreams during that time. You know, the "I love you's" that come out of a tight throat and a wish to hold on. Maybe it was the healthy living but the Juice Man made both of us a little bit happier with the other one. Or One, depending on your point of view in the whole thing.

I think I lost the thrill of juicing when I realized that juicing is kind of wasteful. I pointed to the trashcan full of dead fruit and vegetable bodies that was quickly filling in the center of Jesus' kitchen. Jesus laughed at me. "Baby, who cares? This shit grows on trees!", He'd say.
I think the real end of juicing came when I juiced a kiwi fruit. If you're thinking about doing that, don't. Kiwi should be peeled first if you juice it. Otherwise, you end up with all these little cuts in your mouth from the roughness of its skin.
And when Jesus laughed at me for that, the Juice Man weirdly fell off of the counter. From behind the 1952 date-stamped axe-head, it fell to the floor and when He bought a house and moved from the dumpy apartment, the Juice Man was left in the back of a bottem cabinet

I knew He was home. The Altima that His parents gave Him when they got the new Accord was sitting out on the street. A white Mustang was parked there, too, I noticed as I looked back over my shoulder.
I could hear Sting blaring.
I've mentioned that Jesus loved music before but maybe I should explain just a little. Jesus loved the music that took Him to High School. Duran Duran, the Police… in His quest to save mankind, this was His soundtrack.

Just as I was about to knock louder so that Jesus could hear me over Sting's fortress around someone's heart: "Oh nuh uh. That's Veeza Buchnell's car." I couldn't help saying it out loud and I also couldn't help ducking for cover, so low, that I might as well have put my hands down and crawled back to my Escort. Once inside the relative safety of the Fab Ford, I didn't close the door all the way, put it in neutral and rolled to the end of the street where I started the car with a mission to Chelsea's house not far away.

I could smell Chelsea's coffee pot brewing an afternoon snack. "Cheeeel-Seeeea", I called. "Open this door! I'm freezing! I'm Debby Desperate out here! Come on - hurrry! Cheeel----"
"God. Shut-up. It's not funny. I have neighbors."
"Dude. Here's what's not funny. Veeza Buchnell's car? It's at Jesus' house."
"No. What were you doing at Jesus' house?"
"Chels…. "
"Uh uh. No. No way. I told you the night that you met Him that you were not allowed to date Him. I have listened to you for three years. No. This is not happening. No way. Drop it."
"Okay here's the---"
"Drop it"
"I just.."
"Drop it."
"Can I…"
"Drop it."
"Dude! I am not your dog. Hear me out."
She sat down at her kitchen table and looked at me standing, still in her doorway.
She kept not saying anything, so I slide into my own seat at the table and gently closed the door in one soft motion.
"Of course I still love Jesus. Of course I miss Him. Last night, while he was singing? I just…. I dunno. I woke up at John's, on the floor, it's all kind of a mess and," sighing, "I really do miss Him. A lot." A tear spilled over.
She looked down briefly before she said, "I know."
Ah- Ha! Exactly what I needed first in order to get Jesus back: Best Friend Approval. All I needed was for her to agree with me that I wasn't over Him. Pretty simple, right? One single concurrance from my best friend was all I needed to approve of my back-peddling into the arms of Jesus. Which, given Veeza's car at his house on a Saturday afternoon, was maybe not going to be as simple of an operation as it would have been a couple of weeks ago when all I needed to do to get Him back would have been to answer the phone and be nice. There was no bigger rivalry that the one between me and Veeza. She was Jesus' age and had been... intimate with Him. She was one of those Northender girls who was jealous because someone younger and without children was on what she thought of as her turf. You know. Like Jesus is a city block or something, to be warred over by girl gangs.

But I digress. So sheltered, so self-centered, and so young, I only heard what I wanted to hear from Chelsea: "I know you miss Him."
"And it's not just Him that I miss. I want to be back in the fold of all of His friends and stuff. It was awesome to be around them - they're grown-ups mostly," I justified, ignoring the loose feeling in my bowels as I said it. "I miss Matthew and Mark, you know? I mean… you're moving to Chicago and there won't really be anyone else for me so besides the fact that I still love Jesus, this is good." I ignored the choking feeling that I got as I said, "I still love Jesus."
"I can't hang out with Astrid and Jenna anymore - I never liked them that much, they were more your friends and they are still slutting around like it's 1996. Terry Tyler isn't speaking to me because of John the Hot Baptist and I totally don't get that because, like, she's with Peter now, you know? I didn't think it would matter now she's like, Mrs. Apostle."
"I hate her."
"I know you do. But look at the facts, Chels. Once you leave, it's me, Terry Tyler, and Jesus."
that sucks."

Neither of us said anything for awhile.
It was sadly true. Our town was so small that having already established our social placements sometime around 4th grade, there weren’t new friends that could be made and there weren't really other people with whom Jesus wasn't at least acquainted, if not an influential part of weekend life. In that town, there was only one choice for me: Jesus. In the thick of being what I thought of as impetuous and passionate, it never occurred to me to move. Or to be myself.
The only thing I was sure of was that Jesus was the best thing that had ever happened, in terms of making me normal in the eyes of my friends and family. I couldn't keep Him thrown out forever. I couldn't do it back then.

"So here's the thing. Veeza. What do we do?"
"Well… I guess we make her see the Truth the Light and the Way is all about you, Sarah." Even Chelsea, who was moving away at the beginning of the next school term, could only see what I saw: Limited options.
"Yeah," I thought, "Yeah."

arizonasarah at 10:50 a.m.

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