This is from the book I'm just finishing--I've got some last edits and then off it goes to my poor editor, who will have to pretend it's not a godawful mess. But to give you some background, this is a random chapter from YOU AND I, ME AND YOU, the last book in my FBI trilogy. It's not spoiler-ey, but to give some background to those not familiar with the BOFFO books (Bureau Of False Flag Ops), the heroine(s), Cadence Jones, is an FBI agent and a multiple personality. She's tagging along on a routine arrest with two colleagues: Emma Jan Thyme and her partner, George Pinkman. Emma Jan suffers from mirrored misidentification syndrome (when you see your reflection and think it's an actual person following you around trying to kill you) and George is a sociopath. They're taking a break from tracking a serial killer to arrest Jesus Christ.
* * *
Luckily, Jesus was home.
“Agent Thyme!” the son of God said, delighted. He instantly threw the door open wide and stepped back to usher us in. He was shirtless and wearing olive cargo pants. No socks; no shoes. A bold choice in December. Maybe Friday was Jesus’ laundry day. “I knew you were coming. ”'When ye come to appear before me, who hath required this at your hand, to tread my courts?’ You guys want a Pepsi or some hot chocolate or something?”
“No, thank you.” Emma Jan checked for mirrors—she’d been to Jesus’ apartment before, so had a good idea of the interior—and came in; George and I were right behind her. “The time has come, Jesus.”
“As I also knew. I told you, didn’t I?”
“You did,” Emma Jan allowed. “You also told me your ex-wife, Trixie, murdered two of your apostles, dismembered their bodies in her bathtub, then poured lye over the whole mess and sent them...ah...” She pulled out her notebook. “’...howling and bubbling to Hell via the City of Minneapolis’s sewer system.’”
Jesus beamed. “Yes, I did tell you that. And much more. No one wants a Pepsi?”
“Remind me to steal her notebook,” George muttered in my ear. “I’ve gotta catch up on her reading.”
Jesus’ apartment, a studio on Hennepin Avenue, walking distance to BOFFO’s building, in fact, was a case of what you see is what you get. We could see nearly every inch of living space. Emma Jan had had dealings there before, so the three of us were confident we could arrest and detain Jesus without much trouble.
“Yes, well, the thing is, Jesus, they’re alive. Your apostles, uh...” Flip, flip through the notebook. “Floyd and Dabney. They’re totally fine. I got done interviewing them and confirming their identities a couple of hours ago.”
“Exactly!” Jesus was beaming and—I’m sure it was a coincidence—at that moment a slash of sunlight fell into the apartment from the living room windows, right across his head, lighting up his dark blonde hair and making his almond eyes gleam. “I brought them back to life! Did I not say unto thee, Agent Thyme, ‘Floyd and Dabney are not dead, their sickness will not end in death, for I am the resurrection and the life, so don’t worry about a thing’?”
“Anyway, they’re alive, and this isn’t the first time you’ve accused your ex of murders that never happened. Once under oath last month, during your divorce trial.”
“They did happen. That skanky Jezebel is killing every bud of mine she can find. ‘The Son quickeneth whom He will.’ So you folks investigating murder can take a few years off. I’ve got this. I’ll just keep bringing ‘em back to life.”
“And as we discussed earlier—“ Emma Jan continued with admirable doggedness.
“Oh, now it comes!” Jesus said gleefully.
“—you called the FBI and knowingly made false statements—”
Either that or he’s a loon. Still, Jesus seemed like a nice guy, kind but not arrogant, firm in his convictions but not mega-pissy, secure in his divinity but not judgmental. Kind of how I’d want Jesus to really be, come to think of it. And his apartment was beautiful, all gleaming wood floors and big windows and ferns and futons and quilts.
“—which is a crime and punishable by fine and/or imprisonment.” She took a breath. “Which is why we’re here.”
“Worry not, Agent Thyme. I shall ask my Father to forgive you, for you know not what you do.”
“I do know, actually.” Emma Jan was a tower of patience; it was pretty inspiring. Meanwhile, George was watching the scene like it was a play staged for his benefit, and I was starting to feel a little guilty about throwing Jesus in the clink. “And now we’ve got to place you under arrest.”
“Ha! ‘I never knew you, depart from me, you workers of lawlessness.’ And don’t let the door hit you in the ass on the way out.”
“Now, Jesus, I know you don’t mean that.”
“It’s true,” Jesus admitted. “And even if it wasn’t, it was disrespectful and I’m sorry. ‘He that is without sin among you’, and all that. I want to go. I have things to tell people. All people. I can’t do it from in here.” He looked around his small, neat studio apartment, full of sunshine and cuddly quilts and issues of InStyle and Food Network Magazine. The place smelled like toast. “It’s getting harder to leave.”
“I’ll help you. And I’ve found some special people for you to talk to,” she continued gently. “I think they can help you with your work.”
“Well then! ‘Straighten up and raise your heads, because your redemption is drawing near’, Agent Thyme. I knew you’d want to hear the good news straight from me.” He glanced at George and me. “Oh, but I’m being rude! Hello. You work with Agent Thyme? I notice you’re not wearing white coats and carrying hypos.” He turned back to her. “I know what ‘special people’ is code for, Agent Thyme. I’m not crazy, but it’s okay if you think I am. ‘The end of all things is at hand; therefore be self-controlled and sober-minded for the sake of your prayers.’”
“’Above all, keep loving one another earnestly,” George added, ‘since love covers a multitude of sins.’” He met my gape with a glare. “What? I read.”
“I—I—I—“ Shiro’s gonna be so furious to have missed this! “I—George—you—?“
“Oh, shut up, Cadence.”
“Now, now,” Jesus scolded. “Love your neighbor as yourself. Right now, young man.”
‘Young man’ was interesting; Jesus didn’t look to be even ten years older than we were, maybe mid-thirties? Wasn’t he 33 when he died on the cross? Uh-oh.
Emma Jan had been mentioning the case to us for the last few days; she didn’t know how old he was because he had no birth certificate on file. No nothing on file. Jesus was off the grid.
He had blonde hair but almond-shaped eyes. His skin was a beautiful golden brown, and his hair tried to fluff itself into an Afro though it grew past his collar. He was a glorious mix of races, and obviously pretty intelligent. In the right environment, with the right—or wrong—brain chemistry, I could see how he could come to believe he was Jesus returned. I always figured Jesus would get his own reality show in order to put the good word out to the masses, but this was an interesting way to go, too. False statements on purpose? Deliberately bringing down federal heat? Was he trying for federal lock-up without the murder, theft, and/or terrorism that usually led to such accommodations?
Who are you?
“I am a thief,” he replied, startling me since I was 90% sure I hadn’t said that out loud. “I’m a liar. I am...an inveterate trouble-maker. I’m all of those and none of those. You know, like Mudd on Star Trek. He never tells the truth, so when he said he was lying, the android had a nervous breakdown. One of my favorite eps.”
“I don’t know what inveterate means,” I confessed.
“Oh. I didn’t say ‘who are you’ out loud, right? Right.”
He smiled at me; I could not recall ever seeing a kinder expression on a human face. “’A sword shall pierce through thy own soul also, that the thoughts of many hearts may be revealed’, my daughter. And you have many hearts. Don’t you?”
“Um, okay,” I replied. If not for the smile, I would have decided to get extremely terrified. “Thanks, I guess.”
“Fear not for me, my child. My father watcheth over me.” He held out his arms (Christ-like! All he needed was a cross.) and slowly turned until his back was to us.
His entire back, from the nape of his neck all the way to the waistband of his pants, was covered with a tattoo of a stern-yet-loving God, complete with long white robe, long white hair and beard, and kind-yet-stern eyes.
“God!” I exclaimed, as weirded out as I was dazzled. It was a beautiful tattoo. And...were God’s eyes following me? It seemed like they were following me. “That’s...God.”
“He’s got your back?” George guessed.
“He’s absolutely got my back.”
“So what’s it like, being insane?”
“It’s working for me,” Jesus replied comfortably.
“You’re one to talk,” I muttered, but George only shrugged, dazzled.
After that there wasn’t much to do but read Jesus his rights and arrest him. He gave us no trouble, as we’d guessed; Jesus was delighted to be persecuted. “Now I can get on with my work,” he sighed happily as the cuffs clicked home.
Once the son of God had been safety tucked into the system, George was so exuberant he hugged me, which was as loathsome as I always imagined it would be. “We have the fucking greatest jobs ever!”