Second Coming: Chapter 12
Agent Barth followed me up the stairs and to the guest room. As I opened up my laptop, I noticed the agent closing the door behind us. “We’re… they’re going to think something is up… something strange is going on if it’s just us two closed away.”
Barth shut the door with the handle twisted, making sure not to make a sound. He took a step in, his black socks with toe-holes sliding silently across the carpet. He whispered, hands in pockets, ”something is up.”
“Well, no doubt about that,” I said lowly with a shrug, pulling open the old file. “At least you’re admitting it now too.”
Barth let out a low grumble and cross his arms. “I’ve said too much. Just let me see it.”
I glanced at him, then to the play button on the video. It was the same as I had seen plenty of times, and the same that had been cut down to go on the social media sites. I kept taking a few glances out of the corner of my eye at the agent, who’s eyes were locked to the screen. After it played all the way through and began to loop, Barth stood back up. “So, that wasn’t edited, the videos you put up.”
“Just… to make it shorter. Size limit on some sites, you know…”
Barth let out a grunt. “I see. That’s all I needed to know. If you are heading on the road tomorrow, drive safe.”
“Of… of course.” I blabbered, watching as the agent awkwardly slithered back out of the room, checking the second-floor hallway for the family members.
The next morning, after allowing a slight bit of time to sleep in, I was given the keys to the teenage girl’s car and a blessing for safety on my journey, not to mention a personal check from Joseph himself, calling it my earned pay. The amount certainly wasn’t anything to scoff at.
The bug was pistachio green as described, and just barely big enough for myself and my suitcase of belongings. Just before noon I pulled down the driveway and out the gate to a farewell of waves and stares from Secret Service agents. The little round vehicle was squirrelly- an adjective I had always heard from my father’s mouth- but well maintained and smooth driving. Just as small as the car was, so seemed was its gas tank. About half-way home, I had to pull into a gas station to fill up. At that point, I decided to call home just to warn my parents about my return.
“Yello?” My father’s voice came through from the home’s landline.
“Hey, I’m on my way back to Tallahassee.”
“Jude?” His voice instantly brightened, and he shouted away from the speaker. “Hey, momma, it’s Jude, on his way back. Hey, boy, you haven’t gotten fired?” he added, voice low.
“No… just getting some time off.”
Somewhere from one of their other handsets about their house, my mom picked up. “Jude, honey, we’ve been looking on TV, every one of the rallies, for you.”
I sighed and listened to the gas pump click as it topped off the minuscule tank. “Well, I’ve been working behind the scenes. Hey, I just wanted to say I’ll be stopping by to pick up my mail key again, so you won’t have to worry about my rent for the end of the month here.”
“Oh, speakin’ of that.” My mom spoke up. “Last time I was there, there was a guy- Asian fella- looking about the front of your complex.”
“For me, specifically?”
My father clicked his tongue. “I said I didn’t trust him.”
My mother sighed. “Said he was looking for the man working for The Pastor.”
“I see…” I hummed, putting away the gas nozzle. “And did you tell him anything?”
“Well, no, but…” My mother muttered. “He was there the second time I was back.”
“Hum…” I concluded. “Well, you won’t need to go back to my place and worry about him.”
I heard a grunt as if my father was sitting up from his old lazy-boy. “If he is there… well, there are plenty of ways to deal with crazies.”
“I know, pops.”
When I finally arrived back in Tallahassee, I had a quick meet with my parents but was only looking forward to seeing my own place and using my own facilities again for the first time in several weeks. By the time I was pulling into the parking spot, I had forgotten about the man my parents had spoken of on the phone.
Not a second that I had my foot through the door, I heard a call. The voice was from an Asian man about my age- short, uncombed hair, wearing glasses. “Hey, you, gimme a second, okay?”
I tossed down my suitcase inside the door before shutting it back up. “Can I help you with something?” I asked, putting on the most unwelcoming image I could conjure.
“You’re back, huh?” He said, approaching, eyes moving back and forth about the other doors of the apartment complex.
“I don’t know who you are, or how you can assume how long I’ve been gone.”
“You’re the guy working for Joseph Cummings, aren’t you?” He said, flashing a grin between heavy breaths of excitement or possibly exhaustion.
“And what if I told you that I was?”
“That guy isn’t who you think it is.”
I repeated the young man’s words in my head a few times. “You’re talking about… Joseph… or?”
“Nah, he’s legit, as legit you want to call anyone trying to preach about make-believe nonsense.”
I frowned and sighed, but the young man seemed unable to read my body language. “Okay, well, I just got home, and…”
“It’s that Jesus guy!” He said, waving his hands in the air with an energy I didn’t expect from someone of his comportment. “I mean you can believe what you want… but think about it… there’s no way!”
“No way what?”
“I can explain, of course. Can I come in?”
The Asian man pouted his lips, showing off tiny wisps of dark facial hair. “I was flying a drone that day, near the plaza. Took some pretty good footage. If you don’t want me to go public with it, and destroy your campaign, you’ll need to pay me… in excess of… a thousand dollars.”
“A drone, as in one of those remote-controlled helicopter-bladed things that buzz around in the air?”
“You won’t believe what you’ll see,” He said with a teasing tone. “I can show you and the whole world that your Jesus is none other than a fake!”
I yanked the door back open and waved a hand for him to head inside. “Believe me, I’ve been thinking the same thing for a long time, brother. If you’ve got something good, I want to see it.”
The Asian man blinked at me a few times but headed inside without any other suspicion.