The Vintner Christ

December 25, 2015

I spent the night in dreams, half awake and stroking the cat. At some point I got up and walked outside. Barred owls were calling from the trees across the cornfield. A line of animals padded across the field: coyote teenagers with changing voices. A shirtless runner jogged east on the highway. It felt like spring, and the blooming forsythia confirmed it.

I saw Jesus sitting on my limestone bench, his corkscrew hair ruffling in the breeze. I smiled at him and he nodded and smiled back and gestured to my empty wine glass, and I held it out, and he waved his fingers, and my glass slowly filled with dry red wine, and we toasted the Vintner Christ.

By false dawn, I was back in bed, my healing and bruised neck throbbing. I meditated: A vision of a cenotes in Mexico filled with blue water, in my mind, the long shaft of it decorated with skulls, and vertical swimming children diving up, diving down and a naked girl perching on a ledge and playing five notes on a bone flute, over and over, and this became ocean waves on a shore and this became breath and this became sleep.

Then in my right ear, as though the speaker was kneeling next to the bed, came these words: “I have a story to tell.”

I started awake, thinking an intruder had entered the house. My head was pinned to the pillow by the cat, by the weight of the cat on the left side of my face, her belly fur carefully placed on the scar of my neck, her front paws gently kneading my shoulder.

Who had spoken to me? Was the cat asking me to write her biography, sweetening her story pitch with gentle paw pulses? Was it Jesus? But his story had been told, albeit by melodramatic, superstitious men ignorant of science, men who supposed that thunder was God’s voice and rain was God’s tears, men who inserted a prostitute into the story, as all good, men-driven, redemption stories of the time must have sinning women, prostitutes and the like.

No: this man had a low voice, a steady voice, a calming, sweet voice. “I have a story to tell.”

The haunting was familiar, welcome to me. I have stood in fields and watched ancient Indians walk routes through the forest, and then I followed those trails and found stone artifacts of their journeys. My long dead great-aunt Georgia walks this house and calls me “Blue Gene,” and pets my face. And the Vintner of Christ tends bar.

I don’t believe in ghosts. I know that souls in parallel universes reach through dimensions and touch us, their fingers like delicate strings playing the instruments of our bodies.

The cat and I fell into more fitful sleep. We had stories to tell.

About Eugene Jones Baldwin

I am a writer: non-fiction, fiction, journalism (Alton Telegraph), essays (The Genehouse Chronicles) and have a website: I've published a couple dozen short stories and had eleven plays produced. Current projects: "Brother of the Stones" (available on Kindle), a book of short stories; "The Faithful Husband of the Rain, short stories"; "A Black Soldier's Letters Home, WWII,;" "There is No Color in Justice," a commentary on racism; "Ratkillers," a new play. I am an avocational archaeologist and I take parts of my collection of several thousand Indian artifacts (personal finds) to schools, nature centers, libraries etc. and talk about the 20,000 year history of The First people in Illinois. (See link to website) I'm also a playwright (eleven plays produced), musician, historian (authority on the Underground Railroad in Illinois, the Tuskegee Airmen) and teacher.
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