ZAFTIG #12 - Pilgrimage

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issue october 2014 october 2014

editor, design - jacob sanders @jacobsandersar t writing director - jason melton @captainjmoses

contributors dadu shin cover

jacob sanders p4-5 brandon ogborn p6-9 jardley jean-louis p10-11

@dadushin @jacobsandersart @brandonogborn @jardster

@conraaad conrad javier p12-13 ted white @theodoreblanco p14-16 narciso espiritu p17 @narcisoespiritu

Jacob Sanders

I was lying in the sand when I heard the screams in the water. “Help! Help!” I sat up and my eyes adjusted to the bright ocean. Four massive men, hands waving as a limp body was lifted and dropped back into the waves. I shot a glance to the lifeguard station, where a lithe blonde boy in red shorts gazed off the balcony with indifference. I thought, “I guess it’s all okay. Lifeguard Boy is just hanging out. Maybe it’s a game.” But as more beachgoers stood up to look at the scene, it dawned that this was real. I hopped up from my towel, dashed out into the swell of waves, pausing briefly to see if I had left my phone on me. Thank God, I thought, I really didn’t want to get my phone wet. It’s one of the new ones. All the brawn between the giants was futile in the aftermath of a storm. As they pulled the drowned man up by his feet and hands, he kept slipping back under the shallow water. “The middle! Get the middle,” I yelled. No one seemed to understand this, so I wrapped my arms under the body and pulled it against me, his chest collapsing into


mine, his head draped over my shoulder. I began to crabwalk him out of the shoreline while the others held his feet and hands. Another kept his head steady – the neck broken, sea foam from his lungs gurgling out and down my back. “Get him to the shore, get him to the shore!” We hobbled the body clumsily while the waves kept trying to knock us down. Five drunk babies carrying a limp dog. From a distance, we must’ve looked like French comedians pretending to be a Seal Team. As we arrived at the shore, a dozen lifeguards rushed up by foot and Jeep, barking verbiage like auctioneers. I could only think of how goddamn attractive they were, how there are no ugly lifeguards in Southern California. This was a day after a Mexican hurricane, named Marie - a nice girl, became a tropical storm, making the biggest southern swells in 18 years. She exploded shipping containers of Walmart wear and old tires, soda bottles and baby backpacks up along the SoCal coast. And now, as she drifted off into the silence of a cloud, she left remnant waves for tourists to die in. Business was booming for these Boy Scouts in Speedos. I was a just an abeyant pedestrian now, gazing in idle tension with the lumpy tourists, board-shorted toe heads, beach bums and the 9/11 conspiracy theorists of Venice Beach. CPR began its administration. More lifeguards arrived, and most stood dormant while the team leader breathed and pumped away on the body. I was certain this guy was chosen by virility and looks because the motherfucker was a dead-ringer for Eddie Redmayne. This went on, “No pulse! No pulse! Clear! Again! 1-2-3-4-5-6!” A board was pulled from atop a yellow Jeep and they lifted the swollen body atop it to make a flat surface for their work. “Again! 1-2-3-4-5!” Nothing. Two dumpy girls in black bikinis stood nearby, whimpering, “Oh my God,” and taking turns holding each other in a theater of grief. I wanted to tell them, It’s okay. He’s free now. When I carried him in, his neck was snapped and I felt his spirit floating above his body. But then I figured, might be a bit much for basic bitches. A yellow pickup truck that’d been fashioned into a giant beach rescue Lego toy, kicked up sand like a kid. Men jumped out and seamlessly hooked an oxygen tank around the drowner’s face. The board he laid on was hurriedly walked toward the back of the truck


with such clumsy abandon they nearly broke his dangling arm against the edge of the bumper. They peeled out and off, six lifeguards over the body in the back of the truck. Eddie Redmayne the squad leader, disappeared to the horizon. I pictured him later that night, all sexy and sad, in some dreamlike Tiki bar, parlaying the heroic sob story of his day into a blowjob from a girl in marketing. We were all alone now on the beach, leftovers at a party with no music to dance to. I got some ice cream. My phone. My sweet, sweet phone. I texted a few folks the generals. “Yeah,” I typed at their disbelief. “It was real as fuck. Dead dude puke on me.” The rest of my day was intensely present, focused. I could hear more sounds in the air and see further. I felt stronger, bigger. I wanted someone to come up with a switchblade and try to take my wallet. I wanted a bus to try to run me down so I could hold out my hand and feel the entire mass of it fold around me like foil. Condolences came in calls and texts. “I heard you pulled a guy from the water! WTF!” And, “You okay, bro? Heard you had a heavy day.” I was fine, but yes, I did have a heavy day. I’d brushed with death, faced it head on. I was deserving of the well wishes and attaboys. I was a sixth grade girl at her locker, crying about the great-grandma she met once. My girlfriends all holding me as we passed sniffles and blubbers around. “I love you, Stacy. I’m so sorry,” as the cute boys walked past us, tilting their heads to see what was wrong with me. “Nothing, Darren,” my bff says to him, “Stacy’s gramma died.” Darren looks at me, he’s in love with me. “I’m sorry Stace.” The next day, I played it all back. The body in my arms, his limp neck. Fifteen minutes of CPR. I’d seen TV shows. If he’s not alive in 3 minutes, it’s time for a commercial. “We lost him, doctor. Go home to your wife.” But something tugged at me. Google it. I typed in the keywords. Venice Beach, drowning. It popped up. NBC Los Angeles. “Chicago Man In Grave Condition After Nearly Drowning At Venice Beach.” Wait. NEARLY? Fuck, he’s alive? Maybe in a coma, maybe they’re harvesting him by Friday, but he’s alive. My, “I pulled a Dead Dude/Dead Guy Puke” story was now a lie. I was a fraud. Stacy’s great-grandmother wasn’t dead, she had the tubes in at the hospital.


Stacy was a liar and everyone was going to find out. A ding came from my phone. Sam. “Dude - heard you pulled a dead guy from the ocean. Sorry, man. Intense. U ok?” I sat with a bottle in my hand. Stella. Was I okay? Of course he was from Chicago. I’d just moved from there. I was starting over. I killed my old self and just held the buttery body in my arms. It was written in the old and new testament, the killing of self and rebirth. I became a symbol, I was living proof. Metaphor, motherfuckers. I knew the dash-dash dots were flickering on the other end of the phone at Sam. He wanted the conclusion. I weighed the truth against the story. I could continue the lie. Yes, yes I did pull a dead dude from Chicago from the California Ocean. I could let my tale grow tall and full and envelop the story of my own life that I was writing, sharing into the sphere of Facebook. I sipped the beer and clicked it out with a sigh. “Actually, he survived.” The power of the Chicago Tourist fell away. His death became fiction. I was in the Army but never saw active duty, no combat, no shit. I was just a normal person, a beach snoozer in wet khakis with a warm beer. Sam typed back without a beat. “He survived? Holy shit. You saved his life. You’re a hero!” I felt it well up inside me, bright and tickling in my stomach, fanning out through my arms. I saved his life. I shared the NBC article with all of them, that bright flickering world. “He lived.” The love and adoration came back to me all over again in dings and chimes. This time bigger, more validating. My phone survived and so did he. I wasn’t a normal person anymore. I was a fucking hero. THE END. Brandon Ogborn is a writer-performer who recently relocated from Chicago to Los Angeles. He co-created the acclaimed series, Young Couple


Jardley Jean-Louis

Conrad Javier

disability is. I know she had a seizure when she was very young. She still has seizures some She was standing in an empty cave. She had come to say her final goodbye, but times. She has trouble walking. She has trouble with a lot things.

his body had been taken from the tomb. The limestone altar echoed with his absence. She felt the hot tearsbut well up for in her She was tooChicago late! Mary Magdalene knelt beShe watches the news only the eyes. weather. She likes sports, watching the weather fore the altar where the body had been, put her head in her hands, on news, and collecting stuffed bears. andthe wept. “Hello, Mary.” A familiar voice Sometimes she says mister!” echoed through the“hey tomb. It sounded clear and sweet. And she is expressing disapproval. But I like She looked up over her it. shoulder to see. Her vision “Hey mister!”from the tears, was blurred but she, it couldn’t be... Same over was and over. Jesusshit Christ standing in the entryway to the cave. He was wearing a simple linen robe, and looked serene. He didn’t Anyway, explaining thistortured to that very cute girl. Shedays has aprior. good memory. By the way, look like aI am man that hadall been to death three her name is Fiona I’mShe explaining cursed by God, and her. that’s a “You died.” SheApple. sniffled. reachedthat outJay-Z to histhinks handheasishe walked towards terrible thing to think because Jay-Z is a very old man. “I did.” He said. “You’re not real.” Mary said, a tear streaming down her cheek. I think that it makes the situation much worse that Jay-Z is a very old man. To believe in God Jesus smiled and sat down next to Mary and put his arm around her. She could feel and think he hates you. All while preparing for him to knock on the door to your coffin. the warmth of his body against the robe he was wearing. He wasn’t an apparition. She embraced and her head into his chest. sobs came harder than Fiona Applehim gave meburied a pinwheel. For distraction. It wasThe colorful and reflective, even before. in the “I thought had-had dim red lightIof the bar.lost you...” She said with her arms around his chest. “How...How is this possible?” Tears were streaming down her face. *** don’t know.”to Jesus kindly. It“Iwas supposed be thatsmiled, when Jay-Z dies, Lil Kim would take care of Missy Elliott. Missy She was sotohappy he care was of, alive, theisquestion tothat thehates forefront Elliott needs be taken andbut Jay-Z preparingoftohow meetsprang the God him. of Buther suddenly, Lil Kim died. Lilhad Kimrisen was Missy Elliott’s Jay-Z’s other daughter. My aunt. mind. Jesus of Nazareth from the dead.sister. He had been crucified, stabbed and brutalized. He was placed in a tomb with a boulder sealing the entrance, and here he And it was very sad for all of us. was looking healthy. Mary pressed herself up from Jesus’ chest and looked up at his face. He brushed his Sudden death from a kidney infection. thumb under her eye to wipe away a tear. “What happened...when...when you...were dead?” Her eyes were red, but they still shone with intelligence. Who will take care of Missy Elliott when Jay-Z is dead. Jesus’ smile faded a little. He looked off at the entryway. “I don’t know.” Mary sniffed and wiped a tear away from her cheek. This was different. Jesus was always so sure of Does God control who lives and dies?

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Godher could have given kidney infection. didn’t need Hitler take care of my aunt, had own ideas of Hitler an AllaPowerful God thatWe lived forever, but it to was Jesus’ message of ya know? peace and love regardless of station that drew her to him. But this Jesus that was back from the dead seemed chastened somehow. Still, he had to remember something. These things happened. And it couldThere be because curse from God. “What you remember? must of bethe something you re-Ya know do what I mean? member.” Mary put her hand on his back and I really think Jay-Z is cursed by God. leaned*** forward to look into his eyes. She Although, my her grandpa sniffed and wiped nose(Jay-Z) with a may have stopped believing that he linen. Her hadsays stopped. is cursed bycrying God. He things,Jesus’ now, that don’t make “Nothing.” previously much sense. He asks the same questions over and had over.cooled. warm demeanor Jesus touched his hands where On Thanksgiving, he couldn’t rethewhy nails werewere hammered. member people visiting. They were still fresh, just barely clotted over. “I redying, of and then nothing, then I was standing We were member visiting because Thanksgiving. outside this tomb. The lack of memory seems to span a lifetime. How long was ISame gone?” looked so lost. This was unnerving. shit He over and over. Mary looked at the entryway where the boulder had been. It had taken four *** centurions to move that massive piece of God. rock to sealask theFiona entrance. Had he moved that I wonder if you can completely forget about I will Apple tomorrow. boulder and not remembered? What would happen if you “Three days.” Mary said.completely forgot about God. Jesus smiled ruefully. He placed his thumb on the wound on his palm, pensive. His And someone said “God be withhis you.” silence resonated throughout tomb. They sat quietly for a few moments. “What are you going to do now?” She said, softly. And you would like, “Oh yeah. His God.eyes I forgot about Him.” Before his death they were “Now?” Jesusbe looked at Mary. looked different. wide and full of kindness. A sort of quiet wisdom that didn’t judge or condemn. His In between now and then, maybe Fiona Apple will pray for me and Jay-Z. eyes were full of love for all. Sitting here in this cave, the same warm kindness was there, butwill something different too.UhSomething And God say “Uh huh. Uh huh. huh. Okay.darker. Uh huh. Uh huh.” “You died at the behest of your Father, and now you’re back on Earth. Have you spoken *** with Peter?” Mary asked. Jesus had always enjoyed the company of the apostles, but Mary knew that she and Christ shared a special bond. Almost as if they were equals, if not spiritually, at least intellectually. This had always generated ire from Peter and the apostles. They wouldn’t dare speak up in Jesus’ presence, but she knew it was no accident that none of the apostles had reached out to her after Jesus’ death.

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“Oh, I’ll speak with the apostles eventually. I have plans for them about the future of my church.” He said. Of course. Mary knew that Jesus’ resurrection would inspire people for generations to come, she could only imagine the good that would come if his message of peace and love for one another spread across the Empire. Jesus’ church would change the world. “When will you start?” Mary Magdalene was sitting up, her hand on Christ’s back. She saw that same slight twinge of darkness in his eyes again. Jesus’ jaw was set. “I’ll leave the church to Peter. He’ll do well enough.” This was different. Now Mary was even more perplexed. “Peter will do fine, but he’s not t he most inspiring leader.” Mary said. “You came back from death. Don’t you think you should be the one to begin this church?” Unless... “Wait, you, what are you going to do?” “He left me there to die.” Jesus said quietly. “My Almighty Father. I begged Him for mercy, I did everything He asked.” Mary drew her hand away from Jesus. “And how does He repay this unconditional obedience from me, his only son? He allows these barbarians to parade me through Jerusalem with a cross on my back, to be tortured to death.” He was no longer looking into her eyes, instead at the entrance to the tomb again. The cave was pulsing with energy. Jesus looked vengeful. “And for what? To come back to the same people that murdered me in the first place? I will not be tortured to death again and again to spread the ‘glory’ of ‘His name’.” Mary was agape. Even when being led to his death, Jesus was calm and collected. Up to his last moment, he begged God to forgive those who executed him. She leaned away from him, her eyes wide. “For thousands of years, humanity has cowered under the thumb of my Father. Worshipping him and fearing his wrath. It is time for you to be free from the whims of your creator.” Silence vibrated through the cave. Mary spoke. “What are you going to do?” Mary asked quietly.. “I will go to Heaven and I’ll have words with my Father.” Jesus looked at her, his eyes cold. “And then, I’m going to kill Him.”

Ted White is a performer/writer/jack of all trades residing in Brooklyn. He performs regularly with Story Pirates.

Jacob Sanders

Narciso Espiritu

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