The Night Jesus Tried to Kiss Me (a true story!)
December 9, 2015 Metz, France
There is a legend that Metz was once inhabited by a dragon (or dragons, I'm not sure) called a graoully. Dragons roared and snakes spewed venom and the townsfolk quivered in terror until St. Clemens stepped in to kill the beasts and save the town. The tale has been told for nearly 2,000 years and is the foundation for a lot of the town's character. (You can read the story here if you're a details kind of person: https://en.m.wikipedia.org/wiki/Clement_of_Metz).
The graoully is represented all over town, from a colorful dragon suspended high above the city center to small signs and pieces of folk art.
My first day in France I set out to find a laundrymat. My host, Sacha, was chatting with one of his regulars, a chap of pleasant disposition named Jacques, who looked like he could have been sent by Central Casting to play the "Neighborhood French Dude." Jacques is in his late forties, a recovering post-punk skinhead-anarchist who gave it up, gradually, because living in an apartment with electricity and hot water requires a somewhat un-anarchist lifestyle.
Sacha was concerned about me wandering alone, knowing no French beyond "merci", "s'il vous plait" and "parlez vous," so he kindly asked Jacques if he might show me the way to the laundry.
Jacques spoke very good English and seemed to enjoy answering my questions about the city, country and life in France. He treated me to lunch while my clothes washed; he taught me French and we talked about wine. As I folded the last of my little load he offered to show me the city. I accepted, of course. We walked for hours and he told me old tales about the Roman towers and the graoully and the massive cathedral. It was a pleasant day and he was a pleasant man and I was pleasantly surprised at his vast and intricate knowledge. At dusk we said our goodbyes; he tipped his cap and we parted ways.
I was scheduled to start my set around 8:00; at 7:00 I started working the phones, touching bases with the few friends I had made that day, inviting them to hear me play. The two of us, me and Sacha, managed to dredge up a decent, if confused, crowd for the evening. I played American country songs they didn't know, and they drank thick coffee and vodka and clapped politely and probably wondered why the hell I was in France singing Johnny Cash songs.
Jacque approached me between sets. "Would you like to see the REAL graoully?" he asked. There was a glimmer and a bit of a dare in his eyes.
"You mean tonight?" I said. "OK, if it isn't too far."
"It is very close," he told me. "I will wait for you to finish."
We closed the bar at 10:00. I followed Jacques up the apartment-lined hill. "I have heard about the New Orleans witches," he said. "Do you know them?"
"I don't know, I know a few," I told him.
In the course of our chat I confessed that I'm a psychic medium. He stopped walking and looked at me for a long time without saying a word. When he finally spoke it was just above a whisper. "You can show me that?"
We continued our walk in silence. "I want to have sex with you," he suddenly blurted at me.
"I'm not having sex with you."
"Why not? I don't want anything from you, I just want to have sex with you!" He sounded truly confused by my blunt refusal, as if I had just broken some sacred social convention. "I want to have sex with you," he declared.
"Yeah...that's not happening, homes. Drop it or I'm turning around."
He dropped it, but he wasn't happy about it.
By the time we reached the graoully Jacques was visibly excited, almost too excited, more akin to a happiness-induced agitation. We were in front of an old building faced with a mosaic of large, colorful tiles. Evenly spaced along the lower portion of the wall were three special tiles, the focus of the wall. Each special tile was ornately crafted into the head of the graoully. Their mouths were in various states of menace; their eyes bulged from their heads in rage, straining against the constraints of their eyelids.
The more Jacques spoke about the graoully tiles the more he vibrated with enthusiastic agitation. When he turned away for a moment I took two large steps away from him. I was over him and the whole outing, but I didn't want to be rude. I just wanted to be done.
I sat on a low brick ledge next to the farthest graoully. "It's getting late. I'll do your reading now, then I need to head back to Sacha's."
His weird hyper energy left him as quickly as it came. His body went a bit slack. He silently settled into a spot on the sidewalk in front of me.
"I have a man here. Do you have a brother who has passed?" I asked.
I was seeing Dutch shoes. Dutch tiles. Dutch dresses. I didn't understand why. "He keeps showing me Dutch stuff." I snapped a bit as I said it. "What does that mean?" I demanded. "Why is he showing me Dutch stuff?"
"My mother," he whispered. "She was Dutch."
"Ahh. thank you. that makes sense." I relaxed a little.
It was time for me to get the hell out of there. I was only doing the reading to be polite. Mentally, I asked the dead brother how he had passed. I saw a strange black line in front of a boy. It was fuzzy. Then I heard the words, "Cut off."
"I don't know what that means," I told the brother in my mind.
He said it again. And again. "Cut off. Cut off. Cut off."
"Jacques, he's showing me this black cloud in front of his body. He says he was cut off." I made a slicing motion in front of my body with my hand. "What does that mean, he was cut off?"
His eyes narrowed. His stare was intense. Hard. Searching.
When he finally spoke it was a barely audible whisper. "When he was two he was eating in his high chair. He slipped down and got caught in the straps."
"I'm sorry," I said. "That's very sad."
Now his eyes were boring a hole in my skull. I could feel them burning through my brain like lasers. "You're a New Orleans witch," he said flatly, his voice part terrified, part awed. "You're a witch!" he yelled.
"No. I'm an angel." I was calm. It was the only thing I could think to say.
He took a step towards me. "You're a witch!" he shouted violently, the implied threat hanging in the cold air between us. He grabbed me by the shoulders and tried to plant a fat wet one one square on my lips. I shoved him away hard.
"What the fuck? Stop!" I yelled. I tried to turn away, but he grabbed me and tried to kiss me again. This time I threw my elbow into his ribs as hard as I could while twisting out of his grip. I speed walked down the hill. "I'm outta here you fucking weirdo! Don't touch me!"
"But Mee-leenda!!" he wailed, "I am Jesus Christ!"
That was the last thing I expected to come out of his mouth. How the fuck was I supposed to respond to that statement? I walked faster.
"You're a fucking wack job is what you are," the Lady Who Talks to Dead People hollered over her shoulder.
"I'm Jesus Christ! I swear! I will prove it to you!!" he pleaded. He fell in step behind me; I was very aware of the space between us.
I stopped walking and spun to face him, my feet planted in my best New Orleans thug stance, my left hand in a fist near my head ready to block blows. I extended my right arm straight in front of my body as if it was a weapon in it's own right. I pointed at his head.
He froze mid-step. "Are we gonna have a problem here?" I bellowed, "'Cause if we are then let's do it now so I can get on with my evening!"
His eyes hung huge and unblinking above his slack, open mouth. He moved his head, barely, from side to side. "No," he whispered.
I spun around and contiued my half-run to the bar. He still followed, but from a very safe distance. His pleading wail faded to a begging whimper. "But I'm Jesus Christ. Mee-leenda! I'm Jesus Christ. I'm Jesus Christ. I'm Jesus Christ." He kept repeating the words as if he was trying to convince himself.
Then it stopped. I couldn't hear his foot steps. And he was gone.