Hardy Jones

Marriage Parable

     Blackie Broussard never was a regular church-goer, but he did believe in one holy place: his wife Kayla, and in one spiritual act: making love to Kayla.      While he served his tour in Iraq, Blackie recalled her parables and pondered them as a way to keep his mind off IEDs, insurgent attacks, and he longed for the day to return to his place of worship.      Kayla had almost entered a convent prior to their marriage, and a childhood spent in Catholic schools had exposed her to virtually all of the Church’s stories, and her favorites were Jesus’ parables. While at work in the beauty shop, Kayla developed her own parables, which she told to Blackie at night in bed. But he rarely understood…       …and then there was Kayla’s parable the night he returned home:      “Mrs. Pagone came in today for her weekly visit,” Kayla said.      “Really,” he said, rolling to his side of the bed.      “She told me a story today about a friend of hers who was in New York City when the Pope was there and said Mass in Central Park.”      “That’s nice.”      “No, wait. The strange part is that her friend had wanted to see the Pope her entire life. But at the Mass, when the Pope handed her the wafer, she didn’t put it in her mouth. Her friend said something came over her when she watched the Pope hand her the wafer. She knew she couldn’t consume it. Instead, she wrapped it in a tissue and stuck it in her purse. It’s in her freezer right now in a Ziploc bag.”      “Why didn’t she eat the wafer?”      “Mrs. Pagone’s friend said that on her way to Central Park she walked by a one-legged man on the street who was holding out his hand asking for change. The man was filthy and haggard, she said. But in her rush to attend the Mass, she bumped in to him, knocked him down, and just kept on going. Mrs. Pagone’s friend admitted that she could have stopped and given him some change, or even a dollar or two and helped him up. But she didn’t want to miss the Pope’s Mass. The guilt that she hadn’t helped the one-legged man stayed with her throughout the Mass, and that’s why she couldn’t consume the wafer, especially since it was handed to her by the Pope. If it had been just a priest, she could have taken it. But not coming from the Pope.”      Kayla ran her hand slowly across Blackie’s chest before rolling on her side and hugging the edge of the bed.      Blackie stared at the ceiling; his shrine no longer holy.

Hardy Jones’ novel Every Bitter Thing was published by Black Lawrence Press in 2010, and his memoir People of the Good God is forthcoming from Mongrel Empire Press. His short stories have been anthologized in the 2009 Dogzplot Flash Fiction Anthology, The Best of Clapboard House Literary Journal, and Southern Gothic: New Tales of the South. He is the Executive Editor of the online journal Cybersoleil. He is an Associate Professor of English and the Director of Creative Writing at Cameron University.  Hardy Jones