http://www.albany.edu/offcourse
 http://offcourse.org
 ISSN 1556-4975

   

Since 1998, a journal for poetry, criticism, reviews, stories and essays edited by Ricardo Nirenberg.


 

"Transubstantiation," a story by John P. Kristofco.

He stood on his porch as if he’d been anointed, Bernadette at Lourdes, Padre Pio, Lenny Bruce.  He didn’t think they’d come.

But they did.  Rode up in their red and white van, black satin jackets with Eyewitness News on the back, blinkless eye on front, Channel 16 over the heart. Videographer and ‘Suburban Reporter’ Jennifer Jackson in heels and the anchor-on-the- rise outfit she bought just last week at Nordstrom’s.  Just enough of everything with a journalist’s degree behind her questions and demeanor, serious as a market crash, assassination, dead air for news at six.          

Joseph Lukowinski, in jeans and flannel shirt, ballcap, white plate in his hand, sacramental clean white napkin, the biscuit from KFC yesterday (three-piece original recipe with slaw and mashed potatoes), held out beneath the light as Jennifer Jackson and the lens came closer.

“What do you see there, Joseph?”

“It is the face of Jesus.” He lifted up the plate.  The woman nodded solemnly.

“I don’t see it,” said the cameraman. 

Joseph extended his finger like Michelangelo’s Creation.  “See, there are the eyes, the beard, the gentle smile,” he said, tracing.

“Oh yes, now I see,” the man assented  like Thomas in the upper room.  “I see the face now.”

“And what do you think this means?” Jennifer Jackson asked.

“I don’t know,” he said. “Maybe to remind us that he’s with us every day.”

“What will you do with it?  Freeze it?  Preserve it in some way?”

“I think I’ll freeze it for now—until I decide— maybe lacquer it, seal it up in glass, keep it as an heirloom for the family.”

“Maybe sell it on E-bay?”

A moment of quiet.  The light grew warmer.  Traffic rolled along the street behind his house. Spring leaves fluttered in the breeze.

“I hadn’t thought of that,” he managed slowly.  “Well maybe….I might. Do you suppose I could?”

“Of course you could,” she said. “It’s not every day that the face of Jesus shows up with your chicken legs and slaw.”

He stared down at the Jesus biscuit and slowly shook his head, amazed again.

“And that’s the suburban story here in Torry Heights.  The face of Jesus in a dinner biscuit,” Jennifer Jackson said to the camera, and the light clicked off.

Her stiletto heels clacked along the sidewalk as she strode back to the van, saying nothing more to Joseph. She hadn’t seemed too thrilled to be there when she first walked up, and her ardor hadn’t grown any in the five minutes since.

 

Doors slammed shut, and the red and white vehicle pulled from the curb.  The neighbors stayed on.

“It’s a miracle, Joe,” Joyce from across the street said, still breathless from the visitation.

“This must really mean something special,” Dennis from next door offered. “God bless you, Joe.”

Lukowinski nodded like a knowing nun.

“Oh, go on with yourself!” Helen from the other side muttered, “send the damn thing down to Haiti, for Christ sake. They could use it.”  She turned and walked away, shaking her head. “Jesus in a biscuit!”

Soon there was only Joseph standing in the dark of his front porch.  He could barely see the biscuit on the plate, so he went back in to where he lived alone.                   

He watched television, as he always did, up to the news at 10:00, and there he saw the image on his plate bathed in glare light of the video, his face, his finger pointing for the world to see, his miracle, until he fell asleep before the flicker on his eyes, the stubble of his beard, his peaceful slumber smile touched gently by the late show and its ads for Cialis and vacations on a boat.

He dreamt he was on Letterman, holding up the biscuit on the pure white plate, a sea of skinny children stared silent in the audience. All at once voices from the crowd began to call out bids: ten, fifty, one-hundred thousand dollars. Joseph sat and glowed beside the smiling, gap-toothed host.

Carefully covered with wax paper, the Jesus biscuit chilled with all the other things inside Joseph's noisy old refrigerator. The milk was three days past its ‘consume by’ date;  beside it, left over fish, wrapped in aluminum foil, sat forgotten beside the loaf of Wonder Bread that he would use for toast, smeared with butter and strawberry jam, when the sun rose the next morning.

 


John P. Kristofco lives in Ohio, just outside Cleveland. Over the last twenty years his poems, short stories and essays have appeared in more that one hundred different publications, including: The Cape Rock, Folio, Blueline, The Rockford Review, The Cimarron Review, Rattle, The Rockhurst Review, The Chaffin Journal and The Storyteller.
This is his first appearance in Offcourse.



Return to Offcourse Index.