Third Place: "Jesus Stalks" 

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I could tell right away my dad didn't like Jesus. Behind his back over the next few days my dad refereed to him as "that long-haired freak" or he'd ask him "What do you think you're trying to prove?" Jesus would smile gently, rest his hand on my father's arm and tell him that everything was all right, and my dad would calm down. That's when I really fell for Jesus. It just seemed like he had a way of making things work out.

After two days of Jesus flooding my work voice mailbox with "Take Me As I Am" and "Wade in the Water" he sends me a bouquet of flowers. I have to go up to the reception desk to collect the flowers. The note is slightly threatening. It says, "Love never fails. But where there are prophecies, they will cease; where there are tongues, they will be stilled; where there is knowledge, it will pass away"

Well that's just creepy! And what does it mean? That if I don't get back together with him he's going to end it for us all? I crumple the card up and throw it in the trash.

"Are they from Jesus?" Melina the receptionist asks.

I tell Melina that if Jesus phones again she absolutely should not put the calls through, that under no circumstances do I want to talk to him.

"But he's such a nice guy," Melina says. "Did you two really break up?"

It is easy for Melina to say that. Everyone knows that Melina's boyfriend used to beat her up. That all stopped when Jesus saw Melina with a black eye when he came by to pick me up from work. Like most of Jesus' "talking to's" Melina's boyfriend ended up in the hospital, and that gave her a chance to leave. But Melina doesn't know Jesus was responsible and I have a feeling if I tell her now it will only make her love him all the more. And if there's one thing I can't stand is hearing people go on and on about how much Jesus has done for them. This is the same Jesus who can't be bothered to change the toilet paper in the bathroom when he's done, just leaves a new roll on the back of the toilet like spring-hinged toilet paper holders are too complex to figure out, but who am I to burst anyone's bubble, to remind them, that Jesus is actually just a man. An immature one at that if you ask me, but no one ever does.

"It's complicated between me and Jesus." I tell Melina.

"But he was so much fun at the Christmas party last year. The whole water into wine thing went over like gangbusters with corporate, I suspect it was the reason you got promoted."

"I got promoted on my own merits" I say. "Jesus had nothing to with it."

"I don't know," she says shrugging her shoulders. "I know I'd like to meet a nice guy like Jesus."

This is the problem. My mother, my friends, everyone thinks Jesus is the best thing to ever happen to me. Even Jesus thinks that. Here is how we broke up. We'd been together nine months and one night we were having dinner. I wanted to go to a chain restaurant. One where they had deep fried pork chops with a blue cheese dressing. But Jesus couldn't bear it. "Pork," he said shaking his head. "I don't think so."

So we walked up and down the length of the inner harbor twice, with Jesus calling everyone tourists, until he finally picked a small place down a side street.

"This place?" I said, wrinkling my nose. "This doesn't look very good."

"Well at least here I can promise you no one will be spitting in your food."

Jesus was always insisting that someone somewhere was spitting in food.

"What makes this place so different?"

"They had a health inspection last week."

We sat at a little table in the back, and when I try to remember the evening now, I supposed that we talked about the things that we always talked about: the economy, Darfur, "American Idol." Jesus could not get enough of "American Idol." I thought it was just OK, but told him that it was kind of cheesy. This usually resulted in Jesus calling me "caustic" or accusing me of not being open to new things. So in all respects it was a pretty typical evening.

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