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[Jeezus] Changed My Oil Today


Rae Bryant

Jesus. Not [hazoos] or [hǝzoos] or the Messiah. [Jeezus]. He wears blue rubber gloves and a matching Lube You shirt with a half sun on the left breast pocket. In his right hand, he carries an oil wand. With his left, he pops my hood, pumps refined amber clean into my oil receptacle. I don’t presume to know the exact name of my oil receptacle. It is a mystery too rich for me like knowing the rate the earth spins on its axis or how fast a hummingbird beats its wings, when exactly a soul leaves a sinner’s body as opposed to a saintly body or the body of a neighbor who has cut down your tree because its branches have grown on his side of the fence.  

Jesus is a rich-looking young man in a wise blood way. Civilizations behind his ethnicities and I can see the dark crown of his head in the thin space between my car hood and frame. He leans as if into me, checks my belts, tops my fluids, rattles my wiring. Jesus knows more about my workings than I ever could. He stretches to reach my plugs, my connectors, my popped off caps and it makes me hot, yes, it does, I will admit it, and I imagine he’s crawled up my wheels, burrowed himself inside me like an animal, a snoop inside my medicine chest, a young man searching for older things.

He has a line item checklist for each part of me: engine, brakes, kidneys, clitoris. Truly, a woman should have a mechanic for her clitoris and I fantasize that his oil wand has a tattoo with a rose and reads hallelujah. I whisper AMEN and my husband, who sits in the passenger seat—yes, poor guy—is not amused. He watches me peek between the hood and the frame. He listens as I hum “This Little Light of Mine” in an all too alluring way. He sighs and shakes his head.

Jesus is changing my oil, I say.

He turns, stares out the window.

Maybe you should go out and watch him. You might learn something.

A big pull of breath. An exhale.

When Jesus taps on my window glass, I push the down button with the grace of a Hepburn, Mae West, Jessica Rabbit.

Did ya’ find anything surprising under my hood? It’s pretty dirty under there.

Another sigh from the passenger seat.

That’ll be twenty-three, ninety-five, mam.

I can smell the oil and grease on his hands, the cologne he must have bathed in that morning and he is like a warm smoky blanket by a hot fire. How hard he must work at covering the scent of vehicles and fluids every day.

How long have you been a mechanic? I ask.

Just started.

You’re very good. Really. You are wonderful.

He reddens a little in the cheeks.

I’ve made Jesus blush, honey. Look at him.

My husband doesn’t apologize for me anymore.

Jesus takes my money, smiles, gives me the change, waves me on my way. Have a good one, he says, then turns to the next car in line, pops the next hood, pulls out his oil wand to service another and I imagine he’s cleansed my car saintly, extracted my sins and my guilt, my oily intentions like a drive-through confession.

Bless me Jesus for I have been a very dull girl. Silently I recite three Hail Marys, full of grace. Our Lord is with thee. I can’t remember the rest because I’ve never been Catholic, only periodically protestant with a constant lapse in agnosticism so I go to the mall to buy religion.

“Our father who art in heaven…” plays on the mall speakers or maybe it’s just in my head when I buy a necklace that looks a lot like a rosary. I hang it from the rearview mirror before draining Jesus’ oil into a sauce pan that I hide behind a stack of old Bibles and National Geographics. On the way to the Lube You, I memorize a list of sins I plan to commit later that week, confession on credit.

Jesus stands waiting for me, oil wand in hand. I slip him a twenty and tell him I missed him.

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Issue 21


September 22, 2017

Rae Bryant is the author of the short story collection, The Indefinite State of Imaginary Morals (Patasola Press). Her stories, essays, and poetry have appeared in print and online at The Paris Review, The Missouri Review, McSweeney’s, DIAGRAM, StoryQuarterly, Huffington Post, New World Writing, Gargoyle Magazine, and Redivider, among other publications. Her digital intermedia has exhibited in New York, DC, Baltimore and Florence, Italy. She has won prizes and fellowships from Johns Hopkins, Aspen Writers Foundation, VCCA and Whidbey Writers and has been nominated for the Pen/Hemingway, Pen Emerging Writers, The &NOW Award, Lorian Hemingway, and multiple times for the Pushcart award. Rae earned a Masters in Writing from Hopkins where she continues to teach new media, technology for writers and creative writing and is founding editor and designer of Eckleburg. She also teaches and lectures in the International Writing Program at The University of Iowa, The Eckleburg Workshops and American University where she is currently in the MFA program. She is represented by Jennifer Carlson with Dunow, Carlson & Lerner Literary Agency.

i dont feel like fininishing this website right now and i am sorry

I don't think they are

"literally" given money

for bad decisions.

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Issue 21

This writing was originally published in Opium Magazine, and is not listed in the archives.
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