Our flight from the plaza began as the crowd came about to what had happened, or supposedly happened, as I was still in disbelief from what had just appeared in front of my eyes. As the phones came out and the news cameras readjusted, I tugged on Joseph’s sleeve, prompting as well the attention of the freshly descended man, “We need to leave. Now.”
While Mayor Malcolm was left to calm the rabble, Joseph and his family, plus the man, departed in the car, with me shortly after them in my own. When I returned to the RV in the parking lot of the department store, they had already unloaded and headed inside. I was calling the pastor’s name as I pushed my way inside, but something was already afoot. In the cramped aisle of the long vehicle, the long-haired and bearded and cloth-draped man was already scanning the family one by one. “Joseph…” I heard his voice for the first time, calm, deep, refreshing, and somehow unsettling. “Sharon… Jess…” He continued.
“And my campaign manager, Jude.” Joseph spoke up. “Join us for this divine meeting, my good man.”
The man looked to me, and I felt the urge to push myself up against the counter. “Campaign Manager Jude.” His eyes met mine, gazing, studying, and I felt both great unease and lightness.
“It’s a pleasure-” I blurted out, nodding the man out of my vision. “Joseph, I don’t think… I’m pretty sure we ought to make a move here.”
Joseph’s temporary aura of serenity broke. “What for?” He said with a tilting of his head.
“I’d suppose… we just drew more attention that just about anyone could have hoped for.”
“Is that such a bad thing?”
I rubbed my hands back and forth, peering over my shoulder at the busy road next to us. A few cars began to pull into the parking lot, heading for an unknown destination. I held my breath and turned back to Joseph, catching sight briefly of the man still standing uncomfortably close. “I have no doubt as to… the divinity we’ve just witnessed, but you know as good as anyone… that others will seek it out.”
Joseph hummed, hand to his chin. “Rightfully so.”
“We’ve had the RV here for a week… Those who wish to come for it…”
“Campaign Manager Jude speaks words of wisdom.” The man interjected with great peace in his voice. “As I have just set foot upon this land once again as a man, I find myself restrained to the adequacies of mortality. My father’s divinity will take time to flow within me once again.”
Joseph dropped his head and took a long stride to kneel before the man, taking the stranger’s hand within his own grasp and touching it to his lips. “My deepest apologies, your holiness.”
I pulled myself away from the scene and stepped down the steps to the door. Outside was a mat of fake grass, a collection of plastic folding chairs, and other cheap remnants of urban camping. “We’d best clean up and move out. Sooner than later.”
Sharon stepped down after me. “That’s no problem, but where do we go?”
I sighed and pondered, looking out again to the parking lot. “There’s a bit of a lot near my apartment complex…”
The RV was no less conspicuous in its new spot, but at the very least, it was away from its previous location at the front of a busy road. My apartment was far from clean, but somehow doing anything short of inviting the family and the man in felt blasphemous. My couch was far too small for the entire family to sit, but it seemed that the man was completely happy standing and staring at my various pieces of furniture and electronics. “I can make coffee… no decaf I’m afraid… tea?” I spoke up, attempting to break the silence.
Sharon pushed herself up, out from between her daughter and Joseph. “Oh, let me help you with that! You’ve already offered up your place for us!”
“I’m just going to boil some…”
“Nonsense.” She interrupted, nearly shoving her way past me into my tight kitchen.
I joined her around the corner. “I don’t really have a kettle, so any of those pans down there will have to do…” I said, pointing to a lower cabinet. “Uh… all I’ve got is tap water, too. Let’s see… green tea? Where was that…?”
I turned to search the high reaches of one of the upper cupboards while Sharon clattered around down below. “This is it, isn’t it?” She said with a low, heavy breath.
“Oh, well any one of those should be fine…” I said, not caring to look.
“No, not the pan-” She whispered, tugging at my shoulder. She huffed anxiously, panhandle dangling in her opposite hand. “This is how we get to Washington. We have been blessed this day by heaven’s grace itself.”
I bit my lip and nodded before returning to my search for the ancient teabags somewhere back in my storage. “Something quite unique has befallen us today, you’re correct.”
It was just past noon when the call arrived from my parent’s landline, interrupting a silent hands-held-in-a-ring prayer between the family and the strange man. I pulled myself away from the situation to answer. “Hello?”
“Jude, boy, you gotta turn on the news.” My mother spoke frantically to me.
“You know I don’t have cable here…”
“Oh, you mussa’ been there, at the plaza this morning…”
“I know exactly where this is going.”
I caught Joseph staring at me from across the room, having pulled himself away from his inner monologue. “Jude, is there something we should know about?”
I held the phone away from my ear and hovered my finger over the microphone button. “Mom, I’m putting you on speaker. The Pastor and his family are here with me.”
“Good day to you Mrs. Jackson.” Sharon spoke up.
“Oh lord, you folks. The news is saying some crazy things, ya’ll,” My mother huffed. In the background, I could hear the reporter spouting out a haughty description of the events at the Plaza. “They are sayin’… Jesus Christ himself descended upon us… descended upon you. The cameras an’ all… I’ve seen the light, I’ve seen the light y’all. Pray to God they aren’t taking us for fools.”
Joseph cleared his throat and lowered his head near the speaker of my phone. “No, Ma’am, what you see and hear is the truth, just as true as the scriptures themselves. The lord has presented for us, for the Cummings family, and for America herself… his own flesh and blood.”
I glanced at the stranger, who was standing quite still, eyes closed and listening intently. A heavy breathing came through the phone, followed by my father’s voice. “Jude? Jude, and Joe, you too… well, you don’t need no blessin’, do ya’? Listen ya’ll, we gotta get the word out.”
“Dad, believe me, the word is out-”
“Promise me…” My mother spoke up again, her breath heavy. “I’ll get a seat at the inauguration.”
“You bet’cha, Ma’am.” Joseph hummed, straightening his back.
I looked to the window, double-checking nobody had somehow tracked us. I looked to my phone again, which was still connected and broadcasting the sound of the television at the opposite end of the line. “Mom, I might be heading out of town for a bit. I’ll leave you the mail key so you can pick up my bills- I’ll leave a check too, for the landlord if I’m not back by the end of the month. I’ve got to go-”
Joseph tilted his head at me while I hung up. “We’d best be getting out of town, then, huh?”
I shoved the phone in my pocket and bit my lip, deciding on how to ask the question in my mind. “I… wouldn’t suppose your place back home could accommodate a few people? At least your Campaign Manager, that is?”