The man lied in the ditch. It was an uneven ditch. I was lying in there too as it rained. The hour was ungodly and so was the cold. My ears were ringing from the rattling and crashing and screams. But there was nothing to do besides lie there and wait and hope or whatever coping mechanism came natural.
The man did not just hope. The man prayed. The whole time in the ditch he was crouched and praying. I must've heard Jesus a hundred thousand times. I clasped his shoulder and the praying paused.
“What's so special about this Jesus?” I asked.
“He is our savior. He is the way, the light, the shepherd.”
“He's saved you before?”
“Oh yes. Many times before.”
“He will save you now?”
“Yes. Even in death he will save us.”
“Oh,” I said and he seemed to calm down.
Then one came close. A little too close and he let loose again. This time with more urgency. He started crying and begging. He wanted to see his wife and his children and his mother and his father, back in New Jersey, huddled up beside a fire. He was shivering and the smell of urine wafted up into my face.
I thought about all this praying business. Even in the ditch I hadn't gotten the urge. But then again I had never needed to be saved before. This man beside me must've lied in many a ditch. This was my first ditch. Maybe I should pray, I thought. But then I thought, I don't want to make this my business–lying in ditches. So I didn't pray. I just lied there and waited. Soon I realized it was quiet. I turned over to the man to check on him. His face was blown to bits.
Sometime later I remembered the ditch. It was when I was walking to a subway stop and passed a group of pamphleteers along the way. One of them said, “Jesus saves.”
I walked by, thinking, I'm not so sure about that.
Then I wondered why Jesus blew the man's face off when he asked him to keep him alive and why, when I didn't ask a damn thing, I ended up walking away unscathed. Maybe Jesus kept me alive to tell this story. Another of the pamphleteers said The Lord works in mysterious ways. That one, I nodded an amen.
Kelly Kusumoto has been featured on the Story Shack, Bougainvillea Road Lit Mag, Linguistic Erosion, Speed and a few other literary sites. He is also editor of Cicatrix Publishing and is currently writing for an independent video game studio.