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Jehovah Joint

Stephen V. Ramey

    Witnesses scoured the land with their droning promises of eternal salve. From a peephole that made the world outside even smaller, Jeremiah Wilson, retired college professor and disciple of the hemp, watched a pair of them stride up the stoned walkway to his porch. He undid the security chain and turned the knob lock. He opened the door.
    “We bring the good news of the Kingdom to your doorstep, neighbor.” The speaker was tall and elegant, a man with bright green eyes and thin lips. His suit was recently pressed and seemed to faintly glitter. “Are you familiar with Jehovah’s undeserved kindness and the Kingdom of hope?”
    “Want a brownie?” Wilson said, offering a ceramic plate through the doorway. An aura of sweet marijuana smoke hovered around him.
    The speaker frowned. “The plate is empty, neighbor.”
    Wilson chuckled. “Did I say it wasn’t?”
    “You mean to tempt us with an empty plate?”
    Wilson winked. “Takes one to know one.” He withdrew the offer. “If you’d come a few minutes earlier it wouldn’t have been empty. I guess I got tired of waiting for salvation.”
    The second man quoted: “If we stop actively supporting Jehovah’s work, then we start following Satan. There is no middle ground.”
    Wilson nodded. “Can Jesus microwave a burrito so hot that he himself cannot eat it?”
    “What?” the speaker said.
    The quoter’s brow furrowed. “The path of the righteous ones is like the bright light that is getting lighter and lighter until the day is firmly established.”
    Wilson flicked a burning joint onto the porch. It smoldered lazily, the smoke flowing along the quoter’s pant leg. The speaker licked his lower lip, a reflex action, no doubt. He had partaken of the weed. Wilson watched him watching the younger man. Would he stand firm or step back?
    The quoter performed an interesting compromise, maintaining his lead foot while withdrawing the other until he looked something like a sprinter preparing to take his starting stance.
    “This one is lost in Satan’s grasp,” he said.
    Wilson shook his head. “You don’t believe that or you wouldn’t be here.” He cleared his throat. “Let’s see, now, John 16:13 as I recall: When the spirit of the truth arrives, he will guide you into truth, for he will not speak of his own impulse, but what he hears he will say, and he will declare to you the things coming.”
    The speaker looked thoughtful. “You have studied the page, but do you understand its meaning, Mr...?”
    “Name’s Jeremiah,” Wilson said. “And, yes, I have a passable understanding, though we should both admit that some meanings come from inside the head and others do not.”
    The speaker blinked.
    Wilson stepped aside. “Come on in. Don’t mind the clutter. My cleaning man is incapacitated.” He indicated a man snoring on the couch, a shock of white hair protruding from his scalp.
    “We abhor clutter,” the quoter said. “It is our duty to sweep clear the heads of those who would be saved.”
    Wilson pressed a broom into the man’s hands. “Have at it. Might I suggest you begin with those cobwebs?” He pointed to a mass of dusty web that would have made the most extravagant haunted house jealous.
    The quoter stabbed tentatively as if expecting spiders to pour forth. Wilson led the speaker into a kitchen layered in flour dust. Someone had been baking recently and it had not gone well. A table leaned into the wall on three legs, the surface smeared with a brownish substance.
    “Sit,” Wilson said. He set the plate on a counter.
    “There’s only one chair,” the speaker said.
    “You are my guest,” Wilson said. He lifted a plastic bowl and wiped a finger along its brim. He extended it toward Speaker. “Batter?”
    “No,” the speaker said. He sat. The chair tilted, nearly dumping him. “Might I offer you Jehovah’s bread in place of that dark substance?”
    “Sure,” Wilson said. “I’m up for anything.”
    The speaker steepled his fingers. “For us to be acceptable to God, our sincere beliefs must be based on accurate information. I will be happy to assist you in examining what is involved in serving God with sincerity and truth.”
    Wilson laughed. “Didn’t you people predict the Second Coming, like a thousand times?”
    The speaker withdrew his arms from the table. His sleeves pulled reluctantly from a tarry substance.
    “Even the Apostles made mistakes,” he said. “This does not excuse us trying to understand Jehovah’s will, to seek his spirit and draw it close about us.”
    “I like that,” Wilson said. “Cloak of the Christ, plus 5 versus demons.”
    “I don’t understand your reference.”
    “Now you know how I feel when you show up at my door.”
    “I doubt that,” the speaker said. “My purpose is clear, my reasoning sharp. Your thoughts are muddied by the drugs you consume.”
    “Or maybe it’s the other way around.” Wilson produced a wadded joint from his pocket and pressed it carefully to his lips. The speaker’s expression showed disdain. His eyes did not.
    Wilson spoke carefully, lips doing gymnastics around the stub: “That’s how it is with weed, neighbor. The fuzziness clarifies the longer you hold it in you. Soon enough it’s the sharpest logic.” He flicked a lighter. He lit up and inhaled, taking the smoke deep inside.
    The speaker’s lips puckered subtly.
    “You want a hit?” Wilson said, voice gone high in his attempt to minimize his lungs’ loss.
    The speaker glanced through the doorway. In the living room his companion was leaping up and down, broom extended. The speaker looked back, lips ticking into a smile that, surprisingly, did not shatter his elegant face.
    He reached.

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