I Got Invited To A Lecture About Jesus

I just got invited to a lecture about Jesus. "The greatest man the world has ever known." That’s what the woman said at the door when she handed me the full-color flyer. “The address is on the back,” she said. She was smiling the whole time. About thirty seconds was what I allotted her. Door time. Her friend was smiling, too. She was standing a few feet away out on my sidewalk. It was ten o’clock in the morning.

I smiled and said ‘okay’ in a big voice. They smiled. She had blonde hair and was about sixty years old, I think. She wore lipstick. I wondered if they were out in force today in the neighborhood, leafleting the folks who need some morning inspiration. I need some morning inspiration, too. How did she know? I’m not knocking Jesus. He seems to be coming at me from different places.

Yesterday my friend Jim and I had lunch and he told me he thought I might like a book. He took it from the trunk of his car and gave it to me. “How the Catholic Church Built Western Civilization.” For a moment we stood in the parking lot at Coco’s next to the Home Depot talking about Galileo and whether or not it was a good idea to put him in jail for agreeing with Copernicus that the earth wasn’t the center of the universe.

Earlier in the morning I’d forwarded an email from Father Mike and his television show to Gene. Gene had emailed back asking me to stop sending him stuff like that. He doesn’t think he can be saved. It would be a challenge, I agreed.

There are a couple of really nice churches in the neighborhood where I live. I met a man at the deli counter last week. I started talking to him. He said he was really enjoying life, retired now. He was a retired minister at the First Church of Christ. I told him that my mother’s new minister had been from the area and he seemed interested in talking to me until the counter guy gave him his sandwich and then he said good bye it was nice talking to you and he disappeared.

You never know who it is when the doorbell rings at ten o’clock in the morning. Usually it’s a neighbor, or one of the landscape guys or a handyman that’s coming over to look at your garage or your ceiling to make an estimate on what it costs to repair it because the deck leaks. Sometimes Maury comes over. He’s on the home owner’s board and knows all kinds of stuff and likes to keep up on the repairs in the neighborhood. Usually he rings the doorbell and then he knocks real loud. I try and stay upstairs when I hear that.

I talked with my editor yesterday. She has some good suggestions for my novel. There’s a lot of work to do. She’s positive about the project without giving away any false hope. Second drafts are like the early rounds of the NCAA tournament. Anyone can get a last second shot at the buzzer and post a victory. It’s the later rounds where the pressure starts to build and the little schools with the big hopes and out of reach dreams and the clean white cheerleaders go up against the big boys, the Duke’s and UCLA's and find out what it’s really like under the boards where they pound you. My story is good and the characters resonant and now I have to really clean things up and rocket this thing on until it is ready to try and sell.

I finished up ‘Ham on Rye’ by Charles Bukowski last night. The alter ego character Henry Chinanski pummels his way through a rough childhood into young adulthood with a swagger and a fear and the knowledge that beneath it all he just wanted to be left alone in a room somewhere. It was chilling and brave. The front cover is one of the best that I’ve seen, done by a guy named Milan Bozic. It’s just a guy in big red gym trunks in a fighting pose. Perfect. The kid taking on the world.

Duane over at ‘Magic Door’ says two writers sell out in his used book shop. Same two writers who have always been hard to keep, he says, in all the shops he’s had. Bukowski, and Hunter S Thompson. Just can’t keep ‘em in stock, he says. He calls those guys his top drawer or something like that. Top of the line. Sure fire, big sellers. His ‘A’ list writers he sells too, right under the top drawer guys. Hemingway, Steinbeck. They sell. Not like the top of the line guys. So I’m reading Bukowski. Trying to figure out how he does it.

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