Chapter 34

“Well it wasn’t something that I wanted to happen today.”  James said sounding a little embarrassed.  “I’d planned it for sometime much more into the future.”

Dustin lifted his hands from the steering wheel.  “Okay, slow down.”  He said turning to look directly at the artist.  “First off why is this happening and secondly, what do you mean that you planned it.” 

James gave a self-conscious smile.  “I sort of designed the project to preach the end of days.”  He said looking down.  “I figured that if the city lost power for more than three weeks then things would have really gotten bad in the world.  I put a wake-up call to mankind in there and I didn’t tell anyone.” 

Alexis shook her head.  “It’s true.”  She assured them all.  “I didn’t even know.”

Her husband gave a short laugh and continued.  “Yeah, I didn’t want to involve anyone else so I filmed myself late one night dressed as Jesus walking on our treadmill and then I used some stock footage of a lake and superimposed me on top of it.  The effect is really great.  I was actually surprised at how well it ended up looking.” 

Taking one of her hands off the fishbowl, Alexis gently patted his leg.  “You should have told me you knucklehead.” 

“I know.”  James blushed.  “I never really thought that anyone would see it.  I just wanted the sculpture to be more than simply another pretty piece of corporate artwork.  When it was working right, I wanted it to remind people of God’s glory and when things broke down, I wanted it to force people to consider His divine wrath.  I just copied the text from Revelations out of an online Bible that I found on the internet.”

“Jesus.”  Kitten Kennedy said looking over at him in shock.  “I thought that ugly thing was spooky enough as it was.”

The artist smiled.  “Some people like it.”  He said absently.

Dustin’s slowly let his hands drop back to the wheel.  “Okay,”  He replied.  “I guess that answers the question as to why everyone thinks that you’re Jesus but I don’t get why this is happening now.”

James shrugged.  “I don’t get it either!”  He admitted.  “I guess that the quake must have messed up the internal timer that I had set up to count down the days that it was operating without power.  It’s not supposed to happen right now.  I’m sure that everyone will think it’s silly when they figure it all out.  My message will just get poo-pooed and forgotten about and people will just go on being mean to one another.  This isn’t a bad enough situation to make everyone change their ways for the sake of the Lord.”

Dustin shifted in his seat.  “How is it even operating without power?”  He asked growing more frustrated and confused with the situation the more James tried to explain it. 

“That’s easy!”  His neighbor said excitedly.  Putting up one hand to represent the sculpture he started drawing lines around it with the other.  “The wind goes in circles around the courtyard where it stands.  The buildings push it into some sort of weak vortex or something that I don’t really understand but anyway I noticed it right away and figured that I could take advantage of it while I was planning the installment.” 

“You lost me.”  Dustin spat back. 

 “Sorry.”  James said letting his eyes drop.  “What I’m trying to say is that I used the wind when I was figuring out how to balance the arms.  It doesn’t take much breeze for them to spin on their own.  They create their own internal power source.” 

There was a long pause before any of them spoke.  Finally, Kitten Kennedy broke the silence.  “Well I guess that demystifies it.”  She said slapping her thighs with some finality.  “Still, I think it’s the most terrifying thing that I’ve ever seen in my entire life.”

Once again James shrugged.  “I’m sorry.  That wasn’t my intention.”  Then, changing the subject he mused. “The thing that gets me is that I just don’t know how the reporters tracked us down so fast.  I mean, gee-whiz!  Alexis got a call on her cell phone from someone at the paper wanting to ask me a question about it and then, the next thing we know, there’s tons of men and women from all the news channels banging on the front door of her mom’s church.”

Alexis patted him on the leg again.  “It’s okay.”  She smiled.  “Mom will be fine.”

Dustin sighed.  “Well, before we go to wherever you need me to take you, we’re going to have to make sure that Miss Kennedy’s dad is secure back there.”  He muttered as he opened the door and began stepping around to the rear of the hearse. 

James came out on his side and followed him.  Their footfalls made a satisfying crunching sound on the loose gravel of the road as they walked.   

“I’ll help!”  The artist said eagerly as they met at the hearses tailgate.  “What about the birds?  Do you want me to hold them up front?” 

“No.”  Dustin replied, shaking his head.  “Let’s just set them free right here.” 

James seemed surprised.  “You’re letting them go?”  He asked.  “Don’t they belong to someone from that building that’s across the street?” 

“That building isn’t there anymore.”  Dustin shot back despairingly.  “I don’t think I’m going to go back and look for their owner.  Do you want to keep them and give them back to him?” 

James nodded.  “You bet!”  He said.  “I’ll bet whoever lost these would be thrilled to find out that they were okay.”

“Fine.”  Dustin replied.  “Then you can ride up front with them.”  

“Where are you taking this coffin?”  James asked as he watched Dustin open the back door hatch and remove the cage. 

“We’re taking it to be cremated.”  Dustin answered setting the cage at his feet.  “Mr. Kennedy came out of the ground during the quake and his daughter, that girl riding with me up front with me, doesn’t want to have to worry about him anymore.” 

“That’s sad.”  His neighbor quipped.  Together, they wrestled the casket straight in the cargo hold.  “You’re very kind to be doing these favors for all of us.” 

Dustin stood and looked at James.  “That’s the problem.”  He said bitterly.  “That’s why I keep getting myself into these situations.” 

“Situations?”  The artist asked, a bewildered expression washing across his face.  “What types of situations?” 

“Helping out kinds of situations.”  Dustin spat back picking up the birdcage and pushing it in his direction.  “I always help out.  I don’t even consider the personal entanglements that, that sort of thing brings along with it.” 

“You mean friendship?”  James asked. 

“It’s not friendship.”  Dustin answered still holding the cage out for his neighbor to take.  “It’s not even like a friendship.  It’s a one way road.”

James flashed him a knowing smile.  “All friendships are one way roads.”  He said as he reached out to grab the birds.  “It’s just that the road travels in different directions at different times.”

“Not for me.”  Dustin argued slamming shut the cargo door.  His phone began to ring.  Looking at it, he could see that the call was from Steve.

The End

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