By Joel Vaughn
Thom woke to the sound of a car alarm. He laid staring at the ceiling for a good while. He stood staring into the bathroom mirror for a good while. He sat staring out the car windshield for a good while.
Thom didn’t see anything.
The sun sat hugging the dewy morning horizon. Half of the world was a blinding white light obscuring the cracking highway as it disappeared beneath Thom’s cruising car. Commuters had congested on the roundabout. The radio said a renegade cruiser had made donuts on the roundabout before meeting Jesus.
Lily’s old Jeep sputtered. Thom decelerated into the parking lot and the nail bitten steering wheel shook. The burden of Simone’s OPEN 24 HRS sign flickered in neon.
A gang of men in their Sunday best circulated their pamphlets amongst the early morning patrons of Poor Richard’s Cocktails. Thom watched from behind Grandma Lily’s steering wheel.
Dad parked Lily’s Jeep. Dad parked in the usher’s spot. Dad parked all their cars behind the church steeple.
Thom stood at the end of the pews. They stood in line. Thom said good morning. They said “god bless.” Thom handed out pamphlets. They handed him tithes.
Dad brewed the coffee, the pastor left out the donuts.
Thom sat down. They sang and prayed.
Jesus says the bread is my body, the drink, my blood.
Pastor said eat and take drink.
Thom runs away.
Pastor said you have to serve.
Father said you don’t get to play.
Thom stepped out of the car. The gang of Sunday best cyclist’s greased and parted hair shone in the morning sun.
Do you have a moment for the good news, they ask. Thom just kept walking past.
Simone’s shines blinding white, Thom stood with them in the bright early morning light. I’ll have a coffee and a donut, we all said one by one. Traffic hummed on through the side door, more customers filter in, the woman behind the counter picks up her pace.
Thom sat facing the wall, the open sun at his back and a wall-sized collage of Polaroid photos fading in the light.
Thom pulled the glazed donut, sending shards of donut glazing scattering across the table’s ocean blue.
The blue TV light reflected off Lily’s oxygen tank. A tape went bad in the VHS slot. Scanlines crashed like waves over the blue screen. Thom cracked the door and stepped into the dark room. The blue projected itself onto his Sunday best.
An open box of donuts sat on her night stand.
Shhhh, went the oxygen machine as if to hush Thom’s voice.
Thom, Lily called, Thom. She held out her hand limply, flakes of donut glaze clung to the ends of fingers. Put on another tape, was her request.
Thom worked the VHS out of the TV and the tangled memories on its cellophane tape. Thom dug through a stack of Focus on the Family tapes. Dad bought the tapes after cutting the cable. Dad cut off the cable after pastor told him to. Dad cut Lily’s cable after god told him to.
Thom stared at the flakes of donut glaze clung to his hand.