Redemption Story

Forlorn in the feeling his god forsook him,
Paul sprints through four beers,
then muddles through five more.

He keeps his eye on the bathroom door
as if his god will return from taking a piss
and sidle up next to him, suggest a game of foosball.

Paul looks through the window to old glory across the street.
At this hour, in a rain storm, the flag looks much bedraggled.
So much so, god’s will seems to have abandoned it.

He exits. He sits on the street curb between parked cars.
The gutter water washes a drugstore bag to his feet.
Toothbrush, toothpaste, shampoo, soap.

Paul strips. He starts washing with gutter water.
The rainwater rinses his body. He raises his head,
mouth open for the rainwater to rinse his mouth.

The energy to replace his clothes on his body is absent.
He sits on the curb between two parked cars.

A commotion in the bar’s alley jumps him.
He stands and sparks to the brick building corner
and peers down the sodden alley.

Three men attack a woman and rip her clothes.
Her teeth gleam in the narrow light.
The street lamp bends around the corner into the alley.

Stark naked, Paul stands in the alley.
He jumps up and down screaming, splashing a puddle.
He makes ape sounds. He makes elephant sounds.

In his loudest voice, he trumpets I Sing the Body Electric.
A flash blinds everyone in the alley.
An instantaneous boom deafens everyone in the alley.

Some bricks fall from the top of the building.
Paul feels his god has his back.
He picks up a fallen brick and advances on the three men.

The stunned men exit stage right,
leave the woman behind scared, but unharmed,
though soaked through to the gooseflesh skin.

Paul returns to his clothes at the curb, retrieves them.
The rain splashes his naked walk home. The woman
authors a cursive signature on his back with her eyes.

copyright © 2019 Kenneth P. Gurney

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