512 Words


M. Stanley Bubien

The fight only lasted a minute, two on the outside. And over what? Unbelievable!

"Basically it comes down to this," Rob had said. Typical, his reducing things to their basics. Funny thing was, every time we argued about God, those basics changed!

"What's it gonna be today?" I mumbled, one foot in the doorway, the other on my porch. This used to drive Ellen crazy: us up at all hours, philosophizing at the top of our lungs---keeping her awake. Oh, I blinked and swallowed, how much harder these conversations have become---

"Huh?" I asked, realizing Rob had spoken.

He smirked, "Nice try. But you can't ignore me!" His laugh burst like a cannon, and he grabbed me by the shoulders and squeezed; it was like getting a massage from the Incredible Hulk.

"Boy, you're tense," he said.

I rubbed my neck and glanced upstairs toward our---my---empty bedroom. "Go on," I told him, but, with sudden foresight, added, "Be careful though."

"Okay," he pinched his lips together. "It's like, well, Christians can be so... so... weak minded..."

With that, I knew what was coming. My vision blurred, and I ground my teeth together.

"It's mainly... you know... a crutch. Um, cliche as that sounds," he shrugged with open hands.

Both fists clenched, I raised them and exploded, "Crutch!?! God damn you!"

I leapt from the porch and pounded him in the face. He stumbled, and another blow sent him to the cement. I kicked him in the ribs twice, though the second missed completely as he rolled aside. He jumped up, swung, and landed one in my chest.

Stepping back for footing, I caught a sprinkler at the very moment his left hook connected. I heard the femur crack, but my head slamming the cement erased all other memory away.

Even now, laying with gauze wrapped around my brow, leg hanging in traction, I had no idea how I'd gotten to the hospital.

"I, um, brought you in," Rob said, stepping into my room and setting a wrapped gift---strangely long---beside my bed. I noticed his bruised cheek and swollen lip.

Heaving a sigh, I lifted a hand to my forehead, but jerked as I touched the wound. "Ow!"

His eyes darted about as he tried not to smile. But his expression soon melted. "Look," he said. "I should've known. I mean, you've been having a rough time since Ellen's death..." His voice trailed off.

I remained quiet, not sure how to respond. I mean, he didn't believe in God, how could he understand? But I figured, oh well, and said, "Yeah, God's---uh, I'm like abandoned, alone. That's been..." my throat constricted, and I finished quickly, "yeah, rough." I stared at the sheets.

After a pause, Rob reached down and produced his gift. "No hard feelings."

I tore the paper away.

"You know," he touched his lip. "That was the best argument for God you ever gave."

I clenched the brand new crutch with both hands, and our laughter grew so loud, it echoed into the hall.

Copyright ©2000 M. Stanley Bubien. All Rights Reserved.

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November, 2000
Issue #55

512 Words