SALVATION

James Moats - 01/05/2002


paul, thinking there must be a thousand things he would rather be doing, smiled at the shoppers as they passed. one by one, each with a thousand things they, too would rather be doing. christmas time. 'tis the season for hustling, bustling, worrying about money, being rude as all hell, and togetherness. then there, of course, is the 'happy birthday, baby jesus' side of it all. what a bunch of shit. look at this miserable bitch, paul thought. she's got a cigarette lit before clearing the double doors, with nineteen more where that one came from... the smoke coming from her mouth and nostrils might appear to be from the cigarette. quite possibly it could have been her breath in the bitter cold air, but more realistically, the smoke would be attributed to the screaming three-year-old whose feet were, at that moment, dangling well over a foot above the ground. that can't be good for the little bastard's shoulder socket, he thought and snickered. that probably accounts for the lack of plastic bags in her hands, too. if i could hear myself think, what would i possibly be thinking at this very moment... in a different world. a different life. her life. if only this season would pass. sunshine. that's not too much to ask. every joint in my body seems to be, at random intervals, freezing up and grinding together. this weather, he thought. it's all about the individual attention, he smiled at a passing teenager, who would have refused to acknowledge him under the most extraneous circumstances. he subconsciously traced his current misery back to a time that resembles this moment in ways he cared not to ponder. a year? outside. cold, strike that. freezing. standing. alone. surrounded by humans. fight the urge to spit. see things as they are. it does no one a bit of good to write such terrible things.

TODAY

he thought.

"thank you, ma'am. god bless." serving the community. an interesting punishment. this, of course, was the short of it. the punishment portion, though, resembled this as well. how about going to chapel once or twice a week to gain favor with the county shrink, who, considering the minuscule salary and polyester suit, wielded the ridiculous power of the gods, in the eyes of most county controlled obedients nationwide. show me something, he thought. did i just say that out loud? was that out loud?

"i'm losing my mind,"

he said aloud, chuckled, and then realization... no one heard.

"even if they did" again, aloud... fuck 'em, he thought.

"What's that?" a fat guy sporting a richard simmons perm, tony robbins smile, and weeble-wobble arms stared intently as paul tried to shake it all off.
ring the fucking bell, he thought.

and smile.


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