Language warning for the faint of heart...
The Second Comers
“Jesus, King Arthur, Krishna and the Maitreya-Bhudda all walk into a bar-”
“Oh fuck me, Dan, not another one of your bloody jokes”
“No no, you'll like this one, its got frogs in it!”
“Fuck your frogs, and fuck your bloody jokes, just pour me a damn beer and take my damn money”
“Rough day then Jimmy?”
“Fuck you, Dan!”
Dan just grinned over the bar at me as he pulled the pint. Unflappable sod, I could have cussed him far more blue than that, and he would have stood there, grinning his stupid, perfect bloody grin and pulling his stupid, perfect bloody pints. Hell, I had cussed him more blue than that, and more frequently than he deserved, probably. Still, alright bloke at the end of the day, even if he was a bloody Aussie.
“C'mon then Jimmy, what is it?” Dan asked, still trying to draw me out as he passed the pint over.
I dumped the fiver on the sopping bar and scowled at him.
“That Scottish bird again?” Still unflappable as he scooped up the fiver and swiped at the puddle of ale on the aged wood. “No? Landlord still giving you the runaround then?”
I just snorted into my beer as I took a swig. Yep, perfect bloody pint. Git.
“Ah.. the new job then, mate?” drops the grin for a moment as he levels a serious look my way, running the sale through the till and fumbling for the change.
“Fuck off..” No heart to it though, because the sod was right.
“Don't want to talk about it, 'ay?” Dan dropped the change into my hand and grinned at me again.
I sighed and slumped down a little further on the stool. “Nah, its just another bloody support group. Way my boss was talking it up, sounded like I was counselling for bloody royalty or something.”
I snorted a laugh as I took another swig of ale. “Actually, maybe I am. One of the geezers – asian bloke, reckons he's some king, come back to lead his people back to the path of bleedin' righteousness or somesuch claptrap.”
“Ah, that'd be King Gesar then” Dan nodded knowingly, his eye on the telly as he rolled some cutlery into a napkin.
I froze, pint half-raised to my lips, and looked at him incredulously “Oi, hang a tic.. How'd you know his name?”
Dan raised a brow and looked at me quizzically. “Er.. well, in Tibetan mythology, Gesar was a kind of King Arthur figure…”
“Well, that’d explain that then. The chap’s parents must have named after their hero or something.”
Satisfied, I finished my pint and set it down on the counter, to a rousing chorus of cheers from the sports bar. I looked up at the television in time to see our lads take the last Aussie wicket.
“What’ll it be mate?” Dan flipped a glass over his shoulder and caught it behind his back as a portly bloke approached the bar. The gentleman ordered a pint of Old’s Special, and Dan started pulling the pint.
“Hey, so Jesus, King Arthur, Krishna and the Maitreya-Bhudda all walk into a bar…”
Bloody Aussies. Fuck him. We got the Ashes.
I flipped over another page on my notebook, and looked around the room. Beige walls, beige fittings, tarnished chrome. The only splashes of colour were provided by the inhabitants, and the contrast only served to emphasise the institutional sterility of the room.
“Gentlemen!” I began, casting my eyes over said inhabitants. They responded with a chorus of coughs, sniffles, nervous fidgeting and one displeased glare.
“Well, we’ll be getting nowhere if we don’t start talking. How about we introduce each other, hmm?” I hated this jovial, ‘lets-all-get-along’ ploy. It rarely worked, and I always felt like a giant pillock. Four years of college to act like my uncle Ulysses at an awkward family gathering. Which was all of them.
“OK, how about I start us off then?” I looked around again, still to a restless avoidance of anything that might mark them out as a ‘volunteer’. “Right, well. My name is Jim, and I’ve been a counsellor for chaps like you for about 6 years now. Um, I live in Dorchester, with my cat, Mithras-”
“Ha! Mithras was a cheap warmonger!” This outburst from the grungy-looking bloke two seats around the circle to my left. Could mistake him for some wannabe rocker until he opened his mouth. All rounded vowels and culture. Upper crust education there.
“Well, I’m sure that’s entirely possible, Jes-” I began, only to be cut off by the man directly across from me. Tall, impressively moustachioed, with almost painfully upright posture. I had him pegged as a military man.
“Some of us didn’t have the luxury of a peaceful ministry, Jessie” Mr. Mustache – my notes had him down as Arthur Regis, Mr., of Glastonbury – spat with not a little venom.
I shifted slightly in my seat and coughed. “Arthur, is it? How are we feeling toda-?”
“Funny goddamn definition of peaceful you must have,” this from Jessie – Jesus David Baruch, Viscount Goschen, if you can believe that mouthful. “I don’t seem to remember much in the way of peace at all!”
“OK, talking is good, but it’s important to give the dialogue direct-” I made an attempt to assert some measure of control.
“ ‘twas a hell of a lot more peaceful than my interregnum! How many armies did you lead onto the field of battle?” Arthur spat, a gleam of defiance in his eyes. Jessie half-stood, finger upraised when the large, jolly-looking fellow to my right harrumphed, and waved a languid hand.
“Please brothers, you’re upsetting our guest..” Speaking mildly, but with a look of disgust twisting his usually placid features, was Edward Guatama (Almost morbidly obese, bald as a…really bald thing.)
Jessie slumped back down in his seat, attitude pouring off in waves. Edward turned to me and smiled looking for all the world like a Buddha statue come to life.
“Continue, if you will Mr. Cole” his hand waving towards the centre of the circle.
I stared at the living Buddha, whose smile only grew broader as he sat waiting patiently.
“Right, of course. Well, as I was saying, dialogue is good, but it’s important to give it direction,” I shook my head and met the eyes of the last, and thus far silent, man in the circle. “How about you, Mr uh…” I looked down at the clipchart in my hand, finally having to come to the grips with the name attached to this man. I read the name to myself once more, opened my mouth, closed it, looked at the name again and then, weakly, cowardly: “…Kris?”
“Hah, Kris? I like that, novel way of dealing with that elephant in the room, eh Art?” Jessie again, leaning over to elbow Arthur in the ribs. Edward sent another grimace Jessie’s way, then turned that wonderful Bhudda smile my way.
“Mr ‘Kris’ prefers not to speak, Mr Cole. He has...” his meaty hands pawing at the air, searching for the words. “He has religious constraints.” Another smile, but this one with a glint of steel. I took the hint and almost thankfully (cowardly) turned the conversation to the mundane – meds, feelings, art class.
As the session wound to a close I looked down once more at that name, giving a grimace of my own.
Subject 4: His Holiness, the Lord Krishna, Avatar of Vishnu, Svayam Bhagavan.