That day when I accepted Jesus as my Savior (to my mom’s great relief), and after church, in the reception line, welcoming handshakes and smiles. And to Rev. Brown one less soul to worry about and most members of the congregation understood the significance of my decision, and most rejoiced.
There were a few who didn’t, like A.J., who didn’t congratulate me. What was the matter with him? He acted as if he’d lost his best friend.
Though we were never close friends.
Always got on each other’s nerves, even when we didn’t mean to.
Sometimes not really meaning to we’d steal each other’s thunder, or say something nasty to each other, or pull a prank, or intentionally embarrass the other person, in particular A.J.’s habit of just being a pain in the ass. Just wouldn’t give each other an inch. “Why you! It’s you again! Why don’t you crawl into a hole?” Automatically there was friction, which more often than not would turn into aggression.
Yes and sparks might fly and ruin a perfect day, or we’d be punished for something the other did, but A.J. never as often as I was. His inside connection helped him, but not always.
Some Sunday mornings, you’d hardly guess he was a preacher’s kid.
Rev. Brown would remind us that we were all sinners. He knew how I was. I needed to be reminded each week.
And about A.J..
Can’t say. Because I can’t. If I could, I would.
Playing with me. His idea of fun. So predictable. That he, A.J., more conniving than I was, had power over me. Set traps. Knew I’d lose my temper. He’d set me up. Set up by a mean asshole.
Strutted down the aisle like a big shot at the beginning of the altar call. His big round mug, jubilant smile and slicked-back hair. It was the last thing that I expected, particularly from A.J. but then…he could’ve heard the call just as I had. In front of the whole congregation and strutting like a big shot. Rededicating his life to Christ, A.J. even I was impressed but skeptical too, I thought I knew him having been a victim of his pranks and seen how wild he could get. My impression wasn’t exactly unbiased because I’d seen him showoff. He’d been drinking and was ready to party. And I could swear he was drunk. It wasn’t on a Sunday, and I swear he came to the party drunk. He hadn’t been exactly invited, so I guess he had to prove himself by getting drunk. Drinking beer and straight vodka, A.J. had a reputation to keep, so he tried to prove himself by drinking more than anyone else did. And then shortly after that to have him rededicate his life to Christ.
Yet almost everyone except me believed him sincere. How could he be? I know we’re not suppose to judge other people, but sometimes it’s impossible not to.
Urging him to drink just so they could make a fool of him, the more he drank the bigger fool he became, and his face turn bright red from all of the drinking, he was so drunk and so happy! (But wait: could this be the reason he rededicated his life to Christ? Who knows!) A.J. knew that he’d get in trouble if he wasn’t home by midnight, which was his curfew, knew his father would be waiting up for him (he had a dilemma: whether to break curfew or go home drunk) and kept hovering over the toilet and throwing up where it would’ve been fine if he had only drank a beer or two. One of the boys at the party volunteered to drive him home, and A.J. stammered for a while. He said he didn’t want to go home but would have to. If you saw him right then you’d think that you were looking at someone who was about to face a firing squad. I actually felt sorry for him. At the party A.J. drank beer and straight vodka, and he became stinking drunk. He was sweating by then. His breath smelled of alcohol, like any drunk’s would, and it would’ve been hard to cover it up. I spent most of the time talking to my friends, as A.J. drank and made a fool of himself. And of course I couldn’t see him going home until he sobered up and didn’t think he could get away with staying out all night, though breaking curfew seemed like a better option to me than going home drunk.