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Jesus likes a spot of fresh air when he works.

So you're Jesus.

The Savior was shorter than Jerry always imagined He would be, and not nearly as good looking as the Hollywood versions. He had brown skin, black eyes, and no beard. To Jerry's surprise the Lord wore no white robe, just something like tan striped pajamas, like they wear in Oman or Somalia. But His leather sandals were right out of the gospels. He was seated at a wooden desk near the Sacred Pool drinking wine and reviewing paperwork. But hearing Himself called by those two syllables made the Lord smile.

I am called Yeshua, but even that name, when it was given to Me, was changed somewhat from the old days in Canaan. Originally it was Hoshua, which just means 'salvation'. Please have a seat, Mr. Aspin.

Jerry settled in to a wide wicker chair in front of Jesus. Two armed female guards in green garb festooned with bird feathers stood behind Him, to his left and right, flashing thigh, but they made a point of ignoring Jerry with intense military bearing. Jerry had been in prison a long time and couldn't help but say, Both of you girls got pretty nice sticks.

Jesus continued his story, which Jerry figured He had probably told a thousand times before. The southern kingdom of Judah got to re-write history, and they called God Yahweh, so in the stories they cooked up in the Babylonian Captivity they said Moshe changed Hoshua's name to Yehoshua, which means 'Yahweh is salvation'. But languages drift. A thousand years later it was shortened to just Yeshua and that's when I was born.

On Christmas Day.

Leap Day, as it turns out! The name Yeshua was too girly for the Greeks so they added an 'S' on the end. Also the Greeks had no 'Y' sound in their alphabet, but they tried to approximate it the best they could, and they came up with 'Ee-ay-soos'. When it was translated to Latin, it came out I-E-S-U-S. Finally, in the Middle Ages in England, they started to use the letter 'J' because names that started with 'I' were too girly for them.

I never learned anything in a dream before. What are you reading?

I'm reading about the slow-motion train wreck that was the life of one Jerry Aspin. Oboe Man had, what, seventeen dollars in quarters?

I've paid my debt to society, Lord.

I'm a busy man, as you can imagine. Normally you get your outbrief from a close relative who preceded you. I only get the hardest of the hard cases. But they said to Me, 'here's another one like Robyn Lokken.'

And Jesus, reading the last page of Jerry's file, shuffled all the papers together and closed it up. Looking at Jerry with infinite sadness, He shook his head. It would do a great disservice to you were I to take a life like yours and extend it indefinitely.

Jerry just chuckled. Normally a final decision like that would set me to worrying a little bit, but this is all just a bad trip. I'm hallucinating all of this! I just have to wait until the drug wears off and goodbye to You. In fact, I can feel it wearing off already.

Ahhh . . . it's a drug. That explains what's going on. Clever! Binah told me you folks in the Twentieth would probably stumble on to something like this. We must craft an appropriate response.

Craft away, neither you nor your followers can stop me from doing this. And Jerry, shedding his white terry cloth robe, dove into the Sacred Pool and swam headfirst into darker waters, far away from the light.

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Strangers In Paradise