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Previous Challenge Entry (Level 3 – Advanced)
Topic: Bon Voyage (09/05/05)

TITLE: Rod of God
By Lisa McMillion


The postcard read enthusiastically, “Yes, I want to party like it’s 1969,” but the truth was that Gary didn’t. He’d responded because he was a man now, one who could hear his own heart beating in his ears. Seeing the nametag on the welcome table marked “Rod of God” teleported him like a Star Trek significant back to planet Gymnasium, where life was rarely friendly and, very often, an impromptu stage. No doubt the reticent mascot of the Class of 1969, Rod of God, had a tag waiting on him at every Claytor-Hawkins High reunion since the end of the Vietnam War, whether he replied or not.

Unable to find his tag, Gary snatched a black Sharpie, with which he labeled himself G. Stanley and made his way through the esophageal halls, into the belly of the whale.

Their gatherings were themed after the fateful prom where Rod had been paraded around on the backs of the football team, unrepentant boys in men’s bodies who through grace and impediments like asthma had narrowly escaped fighting in jungles. An excellent mock-up of the original Bon Voyage! sign hung over the stage where they ignored democracy and pushed the newly-elected King Neptune and his Queen aside to force Rod up front. “Rod of God! Rod of God! Rod of God!” still echoed to Gary from the gymnasium walls, blue-papered to imply that being trapped in an undersea “fantasy” was completely unlike drowning itself.

“Could you believe that guy? God told him while he was down there that he was sent to save us!” Upon hearing a voice from the table nearest the stage, Gary felt much like he had decades ago when he said nothing as they shouted, “Prophesy! Save us, Rod of God!” at his brother. His prom-date, carefully chosen from another school, had inquired about the poor soul, and Gary responded, “Some guy, I don’t know. Let’s get out of here.” They were words that would haunt him the rest of his life, bringing him to this moment of absolution.

“What do you expect from a person who gets moved to twelfth, and then falls into a well? He cracked!” The word cracked escaped the senior turning senior’s lips in a raucous fit of coughing. He pounded his chest into submission. “Gerd,” he called her, like a nagging but familiar lover.

“My brother was the EMT who helped get him. Down there six weeks. Collected dew on trash. For three days when they brought him up he’d cry: ‘God loves us all so much!’”

As Gary climbed the stairs, it seemed surreal: The thirty-six year old local news broadcast of Rod admitting his visitation. His denial of Rod and, later, the surgery that saved his own life.

“I have a message here from Rod of God.” With those words, no one cared to ask why a man was on stage. All eyes were fixed on Gary as he opened the DVD player he fit inside his jacket, holding up the microphone. A face appeared on the screen and, in a voice an octave lower than when they had last heard it, said: “Hello, Class of 1969! It’s Dr. Rodney Stanley. I just wanted to explain what I tried to almost four decades ago. I had a vision of a mechanism. I didn’t know what it was … just a tube with channels and I kept seeing a heart and hearing the words, “I’m with you. I’ll show you how to save them.”

“After years of prayer and research, I discovered there was a way to implant a device, smaller than a grain of rice and thinner than a human hair, into the wall of an artery. It would eliminate the contents of vulnerable lesions into itself through microscopic projections where the inflammatory response you know as a heart attack could be averted, the by-products sent back into the bloodstream for ultimate filtration. In short, R2X29 or “Rod of God” will lengthen many of your lives by up to thirty years. We’ve monitored my brother Gary and his devices have defused six major threats. I hope you spend all that extra time getting to know the God who constructed you. He really does love us.” The distinguished face looked blindly over the crowd, the screen’s resolution unable to hide a few tears streaming downward.

As Gary closed the DVD player and made his way off stage, he couldn’t tell if he was hearing applause or, again, the beating of his heart.

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Member Comments
Member Date
Jan Ackerson 09/13/05
I don't understand this story, even after 3 readings. I wish I knew what you were ging for here; I see a very interesting story struggling to get out.
Maxx .09/17/05
Certainly good use of the language. Also, polished in presentation. But, alas, I got lost in too many jumps of the story. Of course, I'm not as competant as I should be! rofl!