Chai Latte had no reason to ring the bell when he got home; he had a key. But he might have forgotten his key, so the Lisping Barista thought it was Chai Latte, who rang the bell. His ringing the bell and her answering the door, definitely made it harder for her to hide behind the door and clobber him over the head with a baseball bat.
She unlocked the door, stood behind it, lifted the bat over her head, and said, “Come in. It’th open.”
The Geeky Guy expected that, when he rang the bell, there would be a fight before he could get in. He was ready for a fight, he had a gun; but hearing the Lisping Barista saying come in sounded like a trick. Nonetheless, he turned the knob, pushed the door, and let it swing open. He switched the safety off on his gun, and took a step, not so far as to pass the door; but just enough to block it.
This is the way we step into the future. This is how we receive the knock at the door. With pistols drawn and bats raised, on the defense, expecting the worse. This is how the future enters, how change appears.
Rabbi ! once said that, when God finally arrives to wipe away all your tears, you’ll shoot him in the chest. When the World to Come comes, you’ll clobber it with a bat. When God opens the prison door, you’ll assault Him before He takes two steps inside. You’ll bite the hand that removes your chains, kick the shins that brings you hope, squirm in the arms that carry you home. You’ll murder hope before it has a chance to speak. You’ll slay every dream you ever had. You’ll mistake perfection for deception, confuse what you’ve always wanted for what you’ve always got.
Rabbi ! had planned that sermon and tried it out on us in the Epiphany Cafe, but no one believed him. The Lisping Barista had been there. She heard it, but said it was far fetched. She was certain to recognize peace, love, and understanding when it finally arrived for good. The World to Come had already come for her, if only for a few minutes at a time. When it comes to stay, she’d welcome it with a scream of delight, just as she greets all the Spellbinding Fish Fry’s songs.
The Geeky Guy had been there as well. He heard Rabbi !’s sermon; but didn’t believe it any more than anyone else. He had always seen things differently; so, while everyone else mistook the World to Come for something else, he would see it for it was. He’d recognize it from the schematics, he knew the command language. It’s easy to identify perfection, there would be no error messages.
The Geeky Guy’s finger felt for the trigger. The Lisping Barista took another grip.
We gave Rabbi ! so much trouble for his prophecy that he never delivered it to his congregation; but he knew he was right.
Little Theresa knew this, too, that we murder deliverance. She had a little statue in her room, a crucifixion, mounted in dung, depicting that very thing. But Little Theresa was not one to give sermons, at least not the kind with words.
The Weather Beaten Man in a Cowboy Hat also knew this well, although he didn’t know that he knew it. He had killed off every promise that ever arrived. All those ghosts that spoke to him tried to bring him help, but he wouldn’t let them talk. He preferred his salvation packaged in a bottle, with a convenient twist-off top, and the promise of a nickel when returned.
In fact, this tendency to murder anything that comes to save us is so ubiquitous, so universal, so gosh darn predictable, that the only reason any wonderful thing has ever come is because we don’t have the ability to kill them all. Ineptitude may be the only thing that will save the Geeky Guy and the Lisping Barista from each other and from themselves.
Sweat beaded the brow the Geeky Guy. The Lisping Barista perceived her pulse in her temples.
That moment, in which the Geeky Guy and the Lisping Barista were preparing to kill one another, was a moment marinating in irony. It wasn’t a long moment, although it seemed eternal. It was a tableau of the human condition, a representative scene in which a person, any person, every person, will exterminate the very thing they most need. It was also a moment long enough for the Geeky Guy to prepare a plan.
The plan was for the Geeky Guy to place his hand on the door and swiftly swing it closed as he pivoted in that direction and pointed his pistol at Chai Latte’s chest. It would only take a second. In the next second he’d pull the trigger. In two seconds it would all be over; but first he’d have to get through this eternal moment.
The Lisping Barista had a plan, too, although it was the same plan she had from the beginning. She’d clobber this man, who she believed was Chai Latte, over the head. Then, she’d walk out the door, free, without worry that he would follow. She knew that she only had one swing, so she’d better get it right. If she missed, then Chai would take the bat away and use it on her. In the next few moments she would either be free or dead, both outcomes equally desirable.
The Geeky Guy straightened his spine. The Lisping Barista shifted her weight.
The next move had to belong to the Geeky Guy. His plan, to place his hand on the door and swing it closed, was a simple operation; but even simple operations can be screwed up. The Geeky Guy was not experienced in home invasion. If he had been, or if he had taken the time during the eternal moment to plan thoroughly, he would’ve known to place his hand on the doorknob, out of view of the person behind the door. As it was, he inexpertly placed his hand over the edge of the door, revealing his plan to swing it closed half a second before he could execute it.
This half a second was long enough for the Lisping Barista to spot the hand, predict what was about to happen, and recognize that the hand did not belong to Chai Latte. Chai Latte’s hand had a lot of rings. She knew these rings because, when he would strike her in the face, it was his rings that did the striking. His rings made quite an impression on her. This hand had no rings. It was the hand of the Geeky Guy.
The Lisping Barista knew how to swing a bat. She had played softball. She knew that she had to start early, react quickly, and not think too much about what she was doing. The half second was long enough for her to start her swing; but, after seeing the hand did not belong to Chai Latte, it was not long enough for her to stop it.
The Geeky Guy, for his part, swung the door open and pulled the trigger of the gun before fully completing his pivot. He was not as experienced in shooting a handgun as the Lisping Barista was in swinging a bat, but it was such close range, he couldn’t miss.
Although the Lisping Barista was not able to check her swing, she was able to swerve enough to miss the top of the Geeky Guy’s head, in much the same way that she might adjust to hit a curve. The bat glanced off his shoulder, but the top of his head was fine.
The very next moment, as the echoes of the shot reverberated through the neighborhood, before the blood began to flow, before the pain set in, was spent with the Geeky Guy and the Lisping Barista looking at one another, taking in the moment with all its delicious irony. They needed some time to catch up to the rest of us, to know what we’ve known all along. Perhaps they remembered Rabbi !’s sermon and how he prophesied the event, how we try to kill whomever or whatever tries to save us.
If the moment before had been a tableau, depicting human resistance to change, the next moment was a second scene that followed the first. The second one illustrated the uncertain moment when two lovers realize they’ve wounded one another, as lovers are apt to do.
They both gasped.
Then pain set in and blood began to flow.