Jesus on his back 


No matter what you might have heard on TV, there was nothing fancy about it. In fact, the only Jesus-y thing I can think of about that night is that my boyfriend, Honey Patterson, has this lighted statue of the Virgin Mary hot glued to the dashboard of his Chevelle. Somehow, he's got her wired into the speakers, so when the radio gets going on a song with a strong bass line in it ? BOOM! BOOM! BOOM! ? she blinks. Honey's Catholic, or at least his people are, and for some reason he thinks that's funny as hell.

Even though I'm Baptist with some Pentecostal on my Daddy's side, doing the things me and Honey did in front of the Virgin Mary can really tear you up in hindsight, especially given how it all turned out. Personally, I believe that any woman who could go through being knocked up by God deserves some respect. It's hard enough when the father is in jail halfway across the county, so I can only imagine what it's like being pregnant by God, Him off somewhere, taking care of all the fish in the sea and all the birds in the blue sky and everything that creepeth and runneth and swimmeth.

But, to get to my point: Contrary to what has been said, I can wholeheartedly attest to the fact that my baby Jimmy was made just like every other baby all the way back to the beginning of time, which is to say: The Old Fashioned Way. Same thing with how he was born. When Jimmy came out, he was screaming to beat the band, and looked just like any other baby. You couldn't tell there was anything different about him until they rolled him over.

It's one of those trick-of-the-eye things, you know?

At first, it looks like a big birthmark ? which is, they tell me, exactly what it is. It's almost like it doesn't want to be seen. But when you hold him out at arm's length, and turn your head just right, it falls together, and there, before you ? right in the middle of his back but a little off-center, from his shoulder down to the top of his butt ? is the prettiest picture of Jesus you ever seen. And not some Andy Gibb-looking Jesus, either. This is him looking the way you know he had to look coming from where he did in the world, with a wide, soft face and eyes dark as the bottom of a well. The first one to see it was an El Salvadorian nurse who was hosing Jimmy off in a sink. Her face went pale and her eyes went wide, and then she backed away, crossing herself and mumbling in Spanish, until her ass hit a tray of instruments and they went into the floor with a clatter like the end of the world.


You know that if twenty-five thousand people will go up to Minnesota to look at a cross that formed on a diner griddle, they were going to come out for this. The day after Jimmy was born, somebody snuck a camera into the nursery and then posted the pictures on the Internet. Soon, the whole world knew. My doctor kept us in the hospital for a couple days while the deep thinkers checked out the birthmark to make sure it wasn't cancerous or something. On Wednesday, though, they said we could go.

The nurses up on the maternity floor hadn't let me look out the window or watch the TV, and they told Momma not to say anything to upset me, so the first I heard about the hubbub was when we got ready to leave, me in a wheelchair and Momma beside me, Jimmy sleeping sound as a rock, wrapped up in a blanket and a little knitted hat they gave him in the nursery. When the doors to the hospital opened, the parking lot was full of people. More people than I've ever seen in one place in my life. People everywhere, screaming, praying, jumping up and down on the top of their cars, passing out and getting laid down on the cold December asphalt. I thought there had been some kind of horrible disaster, that all of them were waiting to get IN the hospital. But then they all sorta came at us at once. A herd of State Troopers were waiting on the sidewalk when we came out, and they got around us and buffaloed us through to a cop car. The whole time, I was having to lean over and cover the baby with my body, from all the flowers and roses and little pieces of paper and everything else they were throwing over the heads of the cops.



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