one armed Jesus

“Whatcha got there, baby? Is so tiny.” She rasped and coughed through dried saliva crusted lips puckering in and out from an oval mahogany hole.

“It’s a little Jesus, but his left arm broke off, see? He kinda looks like a gun.” I responded looking at the damaged Son,  offering her a peek.

“Oh, how that happen, baby?” She said licking her wide mouth and wiping the sour spit from the black corners.

“I’m not sure, maam. But I’ve had this Jesus for many years and He kinda never gets lost.” I answered gripping the tiny maimed Savior from His remaining arm while aiming it listlessly at a pigeon flopping in the rancid gutter water beneath our feet.

I turned to look at my companion as she swooshed some bottles around a grimy old Vons plastic bag. The rude lilac and blue back drop lighting from the 99₵ Store illuminated her matted gray hair and her red sweat suit varnished hard with the filth of the streets.

It was around 11:47 p.m. on a Wednesday that I found myself sitting on a graffitied bus bench in Hollywood. The street was dense with foreign cars, bleak in their ashy paint and dime sized nicks and dings. In the midst of the piss scented early spring drifts of night air she told me her name was Martha. I offered my hand and Martha declined politely by turning her face to the west. I looked at my hand, maybe it was dirty, but I couldn’t see much.

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