Hunter’s days consisted of tuning up his microscopic jet pack, reading the reports on all the needs of the people he would see that day, calibrating his healing tazer, and then landing on people’s shoulders to whisper to them how they could help each other.
It was so frustrating because even though he knew all the things about each person, they almost never trusted him. For example last night he knew this girl Tara was missing her Pit Bull because she had just had to give him away. (The dog’s latent instinct to destroy teddy bears had been awakened, and Tara had inherited her grandmother’s antique collection of them). And Hunter also knew that Tara’s coworker, Jason, had a dog who had just had Golden Retriever puppies. Hunter had flown back and forth to each of their desks all day, practically screaming his tiny microscopic megaphone in their ears telling them to just go up and say, “Hey, what’s new?” What was so hard about that?! Why on earth wouldn’t you just do that stuff with each other anyway!? He just didn’t understand big humans. But both Tara and Jason just kept shaking their heads whenever he tried to tell them, and they just kept looking confused as if Hunter’s message were just a really weird thought that kept coming out of nowhere.
His boss didn’t get as frustrated with them as Hunter did. God had given Hunter (and the other members in the jetpack-megaphone crew) the mission to simply make beauty in this world. They did this by connecting needy hearts, bringing forgiveness, healing the sick, and being the architects of serendipity. But still the people rarely listened to him.
This morning hunter had been assigned to a coffee shop where his first client had just arrived. This guy, Jerome was supposed to be a man who listened to God. But we’ll see, Hunter thought. It would sure be refreshing if one of his clients actually did what he asked. He’d been in a slump for almost the past millenium. It seemed like Hunter’s coworkers got all the good ones. People who were willing to say the beautiful words at just the right time. And they even had people giving permission to be tazed with the healing gun. All sorts of beautiful stuff. That was what heaven was going to look like.
But Hunter just got a bunch of self-conscious, people-pleasing duds. Well that was unfair. He mostly got that type.
Hunter maneuvered his thrusters so he arched around the brim of Jerome’s hat and landed carefully onto his shoulder. Hunter glanced at the digital report on his standard issue Crabapple Watch. He glanced at the barista behind the counter. Then he looked up at Jerome’s ear. This was a bold move but Hunter flew up and landed ever so lightly in his ear canal. He really needed this job to work. The barista behind the counter was planning to commit suicide that night. Hunter glanced one last time at his watch for the info and then turned up his megaphone.
“Ask her about her tattoo. Ask her about her tattoo. Ask her about her tattoo.” Hunter braced himself for the head shake. That’s all he seemed to get these days. But it didn’t yet happen. Things were looking good. He felt Jerome step forward and start to order. “I’d like just a basic tall coffee please.” At least his voice sounded tender and kind. It was time to tell him again, “Ask her about HER TATTOO!!!”
He felt Jerome tilt his head, maybe he was looking for her tattoo.
“That’s $2.09.” The barista’s voice already seemed so life-less. There was money changing hands, and then “Here’s 91 cents and your receipt.”
Hunter blasted one more time, this was the moment. “Ask her about–”
But then suddenly there was a jolt- He fell over and almost tumbled out of his ear. What was happening?! Hunter revved his thrusters and shot out of his ear to see. Jerome had clutched onto the finger of the girl when she had given him his change. Jerome was looking down frantically for a tattoo, on her arm, anywhere, knowing that it was awkward. The Barista tugged on her hand, withdrawing it and looking weirded out.
“Sorry,” Jerome said humbly, “that was weird. I thought I had seen a really interesting tattoo. . . somewhere. I have a thing for tattoos. . . I guess.”
The barista gave him a weird look, and held it for a moment too long, as if to say, how did you know about my tattoo. But she only said dismissively, “I don’t have any tattoos.”
“Oh, okay, I’m sorry.” Jerome fumbled, “I just wanted to…” He mumbled off and stepped away from the counter. She was looking at the next customer. Hunter looked frantically at his watch which said very clearly she had a tattoo of her deceased husband’s name on her. . . DANGIT! He had missed that part. It was on the inside of her lip. WHO GETS A TATTOO OF SOMEONE INSIDE THEIR LIP!
Hunter frantically zoomed back and forth, trying to think of what to do. He was at a loss. He had made a huge mistake. Poor Jerome probably felt so dumb he’d never listen to their standard issue megaphones every again!
But then suddenly Jerome stepped back toward the counter (his face colliding with Hunter). A hair in Jerome’s thick sideburn hit Hunter in the head and knocked him sideways. His thrusters shot him into the hair of the woman next to him. In a moment he was hopelessly tangled.
But, he heard Jerome interrupt the barista’s next transaction. “I’m sorry. I’m trying to listen to God better and even though I’m probably wrong, I just felt like I was supposed to encourage you somehow. If you need to talk I’d love to talk. If you want to come sit with me on your break or something, whatever. No pressure. I just want to help… if you need anything.”
There was silence all the way five people back in line. They were all attentive and ready to judge the aberration in expected flow of normal life. People always were. Jerome was so brave.
Hunter could hear Jerome’s voice. It was so humble and kind. This guy was amazing.
Finally the barista responded. As if pushing through a knot in her throat. “Yeah, okay. Umm… Thanks. Yeah. . . I can probably take a break in half an hour.”
Hunter untangled himself just enough at that moment to get his head out from the jungle of blonde hair to look at the barista. She paused a moment and then pulled her bottom lip down so the inside showed. There on the inside was a tattoo in bold letters that said “DANNY’S LIPS” on the soft inside flesh of her lip.
Jerome nodded and smiled kindly. “Okay, I’d love to hear about what happened.”
The girl’s eyes welled with tears as she nodded and put her head back to her work to hide it. She finished the next transaction silently as Jerome went and found a seat. Hunter didn’t even try to untangle himself as he watched Jerome walking toward a seat. He could tell Jerome’s heart was beating hard. Hunter was so proud. This young man was so brave.
Hunter could report to his boss that his work was done today, but by no skill of his own. But that is what the boss liked to hear. He would just smile and tell Hunter how all he needed to bring his beautiful kingdom to Earth was a willing heart. He meant to use all of our weakness to make the story more beautiful.
He always said stuff like that.
Raw Spoon, 5-4-16