Palm Sunday with Kurt Vonnegut
The dog sat beside me, his front paws hanging over the edge of his chair. He had just managed to squeeze his huge form into the seat which was bucket-shaped. His tail slipped over the edge and he pulled it back onto the seat as though aware of the disorder, seeking symmetry.
The place was beginning to fill up now, more people than had been expected. More chairs were being brought in and the latecomers seated closer to the stage, like royalty. The stage had a kitchen on it, complete with everything a kitchen usually holds plus a few idiosyncrasies. The priest fumbled under his chasuble for a match. After three tries the wick took the flame and the sermon was started.
This place was a church; the kitchen a setting for the current play the church was staging. I had recently been in a theater, the stage setting of which had been a church.
The dog shifted in his seat and looked up at me guiltily.
The sermon was given by Kurt Vonnegut who said he didn't believe in God but felt surely there must be something. He amused us and we some of us touched him afterwards-a handshake, an accidental brush as we filed out closely, clutching branches of palm and marching behind the priest with his magician's apparatus and the trumpeter who played his horn badly.
We stopped at a playground where slim boys played ball or exchanged money for white powder that could alter the world, or shouted things in Spanish, or skated into our crowd, then stopped and looked serious or sad or interrupted. The priest raised the wine to heaven in a pottery cup. The wine came from a bottle you could buy in a regular liquor store and stood now half full on the bench behind him.
The bread was broken and distributed amongst us and the boy next to me still on his skates was named Jose; I heard his friends with the powder call him. He took some bread from the basket, then passed it to me and the bread was flavorless, it tasted of nothing. But the dog beside me begged for it. I surrendered and he tore at it ferociously.
The sky began to cloud and two Spanish women who had joined us out of curiosity stepped back and made faces when the bread was offered to them. A few drops fell. The bread was passed on to a young girl standing intently, eyes looking down, and braiding her branch of palm tightly.
The boys with the powder were hitting a ball against a wall now, slamming at it with their bare hands. They were a match for each other and so it was a while before the ball stopped. It hit against the wall almost rhythmically, almost rhythmically, cheating only every once in a while the way a clock will if you listen to it closely. Hit, then off the wall, bounce hit, bounce, hit, bounce, hit bounce. Hit.
More rain. I walked on, toward home, quickly. And Vonnegut went home too and put his sermon in a book of short pieces and called it Palm Sunday.
About the author:
Claudia Fletcher is the Editor of The Kit-Cat Review.