I’m no missionary, I don’t even believe in Jeebus! … Save me, Jeebus!
– HOMER SIMPSON
(The Simpsons – Episode 15, Season 11, “Missionary:Impossible”)
Jeebus – Variation of “Jesus” first invented by Duke Ellington so as not to be beaten by nuns. Borrowed by Frank Zappa and, from there, by Matt Groening.
(UrbanDictionary.com – Comment by “mavi”, August 30, 2007)
I met Anthony “Jeebus” Morelli when we both showed up in Mrs. Allenby’s Junior High Sunday School class the first Sunday after my old man moved my mother and me to Seattle from Boise, Idaho, when he landed a gig as manager of Svensson and Svensson Insurance, in Ballard, Seattle’s lutefisk swilling Scandahoovian neighborhood.
My father, Daxon Levine, Jr., (myself being Daxon “Dax” Levine, III) is Jewish, and about as religious as Groucho Marx, or maybe I’m thinking of Karl Marx, but Pops knew a big church like Green Lake Lutheran would be a fountainhead of business from parishioners wanting to backstop their heavenly afterlife insurance with more prosaic, cash value life insurance. In Boise we’d been Episcopalians, because that’s where the money was, he said, plus Episcopalians aligned more with his politics than did the Baptists or the Catholics.
I had barely introduced myself to Anthony when he instructed me to call him Jeebus and suggested that we do an improvised re-enactment of the week’s Bible study, which featured the time Jesus Rambo’d into the temple and blew up the scam the temple moneychangers were using to rob the poor schmucks who needed exact change to buy a pigeon to sacrifice to Yahweh.
We hashed out the details over apple juice and soda crackers, served up by Mrs. Allenby to keep us occupied while she lined up her cast of cloth cut-out characters who would be moved around her flannel-covered board to depict the temple rumpus.
Mrs. Allenby always passed around a ceramic “piggy bank”, though I use that term provisionally. It was not porcine in any way, rather it was in the form of a backwoods country church, its glazed walls smeared by decades of sticky fingers. It did have a pig, a horse, and a cow, hand-painted on one side by a precocious pre-schooler, which is what made it a “country church” and also gives the lie to my earlier statement. There was a porcine element. I hope I am not turning into one of those “unreliable narrators.”
The plan was that I would volunteer to pass the bank around, doing my best to impersonate a moneychanger. We talked about some alternative line readings and finally settled on:
“Hey, hey, hey, two dimes for a quarter, three quarters for a dollar.”
Which was half ridiculous. Only Hadley Hanover’s parents gave their kids more than a quarter for the little bank. Still, it was better than:
“Get your sins forgiven! Give the priest the bird! Get your exact change right here.”
We liked this one, but we weren’t looking to have our parents summoned so we could have our ears twisted. Plus, Lutherans don’t have priests. Martin Luther had pretty much had a gutful of priests when he gave the Pope the bird and went solo.
Then, Jeebus was to come flying out of his seat and tackle me, yelling, “It is written, my house shall be called the house of prayer; but ye have made it a den of thieves.”
It would have worked, except I blew the joke and went right to “Give the priest the bird … etc.” Then Jeebus went rogue and improvised “. . . but ye have made it a den of whoremongers and thieves.”
I was more shocked than Mrs. Allenby. I didn’t know what a whoremonger was, and I wondered how Jeebus knew. We were banished to the empty Sunday School room that served as solitary confinement, where Jeebus explained what a whore was and I pondered how long it would take me to save up enough to become a whoremonger.
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This is a work-in-progress which I hope will be published in the Summer of 2018. Thanks for stopping by to have a look.
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Years ago I published my only other feature-length fiction. It opened to mixed reviews, all two of ’em. It deserves a re-write or three. I should ask Jeebus what he would do. I’m still proud that I finished it.