Wednesday, May 4, 2011

A Lift Home

Bruce wasn't used to having passengers in his car. It took him a minute to gather up the fast-food wrappers, coffee cups and CDs from the front seat so that Danny could get in. Danny had some sort of job with the prep plant, though Bruce wasn't sure what they did over there. Bruce threw it all on the back seat and mumbled, “Sorry about that.”

“No worries at all,” said Danny as he got in. Once Bruce was in his seat, Danny added, “It's your car. I'm just glad for the ride.

Bruce drove carefully out of the car park. Soon they were on the open road. Danny tried to start a conversation a few times, and Bruce tried hard to keep his end up, but without much joy. Bruce wasn't good at talking to people he didn't know. He almost never started a conversation. He hated that about himself, but found it hard to change.

Danny said, “You mind if we turn the radio on?”

“Sorry,” said Bruce. “No aerial.”

Danny shrugged. “You got CDs?”

Bruce coughed. “They're not really what you probably want to listen to.”

“I've got pretty broad tastes.”

“My stuff is a whole new level.”

“Wow,” said Danny. “You got me curious now. Is it very offensive?”

Bruce thought for a moment. “Not to me,” he said. “But it is to a lot of people.”

“Try me.”

Bruce tried to laugh, but it came out as a kind of squeak. He reached down turn on the car stereo.

After a moment, a man's voice began to speak. “Whoever believes in the Son has eternal life; whoever does not obey the Son shall not see life, but the wrath of God remains on him.” Then, after a pause, the voice said, “Chapter four.”

“What the -?” said Danny, turning in his seat to face Bruce. “What is that?”

Bruce reached over, and pressed the power button again. He sighed. “That,” he said, “is a man reading the Bible. I'm up to the gospel of John.”


“It comes after Luke.”

Danny shook his head and scratched his hair. It looked to Bruce like he was considering jumping out of the car. Bruce wondered if he should slow down a bit.

Danny said “I meant, why do you listen to that stuff?”

“I can read a lot more by listening when I'm driving then I can find time for at home.”

“You listen to a man read the bible over and over?”

“Well, not exactly. I sometimes skip to different bits. And, I've got one version of a woman reading too. She's got a nice voice.”

Danny didn't say anything.

“I listen to a lot of other things too,” said Bruce. “I've got a stack of audio-books, and I download a lot of talks, lectures and sermons from the internet.”

“You don't like music?”

“I love music, but I listen to my music at home. And at my desk at work. Car-time is my daily bible-study time.”

“It doesn't make you fall asleep?”

“You kidding?” Bruce laughed. “Nothing is more interesting, or important.”

Danny was quiet a moment. Then he said, “You know what I think's the biggest problem with you Christians?”

Bruce glanced over at Danny. He looked tense. “Not at all.”

“You're always trying to ram it down everyone's throat. All the time.”

They drove in silence until they got to town.

This story was first published in Issue 105 of Shift Miner Magazine.


Sulci Collective said...

Ha very nice payoff.

Do we deduce anything that a man of faith finds it hard to talk to other human beings?

Marc Nash

Bernard S. Jansen said...

@Marc: Thanks for stopping by, and for your comment. The characters in this piece certainly represents types of people out there, however they're not meant to represent such broad groups as "men of faith" and "others".

There are closed minded people everywhere.

John Wiswell said...

“That,” he said, “is a man reading the Bible. I'm up to the gospel of John.”


“It comes after Luke.”

That got a very legitimate smile out of me. Love those left turn/right turn dialogue jokes.

I think it's less that a religious man can't talk to other human beings, and more that there is an uncomfortability about religious discourse in our society. It's more popular to simply hold to a dogma and bash all others, including those of the secular dogmas. Religion came up last night in a four-hour chat I had with some friends and everyone went awkwardly quiet. It's the sort of thing that might make a driver hesitate to throw on his Bible CD.

Bernard S. Jansen said...

@John: you're exactly right: people are very uncomfortable talking about religion or spirituality. Funnily, we're all happy enough to convince others to take our point of view about the best types and brands of cars, tv's, and music players; and, we expect others to do this, and even appreciate it.

Steve Green said...

A very clever piece of writing is this, Danny more or less badgers Bruce into playing his stuff, then accuses him of force-feeding it to him.

The humour of the situation was not lost on me either.

Bernard S. Jansen said...

Thanks Steve; I'm glad you got it. This piece was a risk.

Alan W. Davidson said...

Nice to see you back in the circuit, Bernard (I haven't written a #fridayflash in months).

Enjoyed the story. I'm reminded of my best friend growing up. He always played Christian Rock music in his car. You're right, there's a 'broad group' of others out there. Some ram it down people's throats, others don't. Some are more tollerant of those who do, others are not.

Chuck Allen said...

Ha ha! I enjoyed the humor sprinkled throughout but the ending sealed it. Great job.. I like the characters you've created here.

Bernard S. Jansen said...

Thanks, Alan; I have been a bit anti-social.

@Chuck: Thanks for your kind comment.