Last night I asked God for help, and today I crashed my motorbike. I’m getting the message.
I heard the taxi coming up a side street pretty fast but knew the driver would brake before he got to my intersection. He didn’t brake. He was making a dumb bet this was going to be the first road in Vietnamese history to be clear of traffic. So there I was, and there he was too. I rammed his door at a cool thirty-five km/h. Which is not fast if you’re trying to get anywhere, but if you’re making contact with an immovable object, then it’s lightspeed.
I bounced off the taxi and then I was on the ground. Kept moving, skidding, felt the bike grinding my leg and arm into the pavement. Then it was over and the Vietnamese just puttered around me on their own bikes. A man laid out on the street is a thing avoided, not paused for. Young expats in sunglasses gave me blank glances, then kept scuffing along on their way to brunch. No one asked hey are you OK, is anything broken. I had a strong hunch that I was inconsequential. But I didn’t need the confirmation.
The bike’s pegs and mirrors were twisted but the thing was still drivable. I pushed it off me and got up. My wounds were so red they glowed. Black gravel was mixed in with the blood. The damage felt deep but it wasn’t, I’d only lost the top two layers of skin. Just a few bubbles of blood. Just God jabbing at me. Not enough of an injury to even glean some sympathy from.
Come on, man. Right after I pray to you. Ask politely and fearfully for just one thing to break in my favor, because it’s been a while. Your response was to send a kamikaze at me. Mysterious ways.
I rode out to the bike shop to get fixed up. Pure sunlight along the way, like you get in fantasies. Lots of shade where I was driving. Lots of fun, high-attendance Facebook events in progress nearby. You could hear the laughter from the beer fest and this big pool party. You could hear a DJ on the megaspeakers chanting let me hear you say: fuck Fred Colton! and the crowd going insane. I used to have too much fun, and do whatever I wanted, and so I hurt people. Now, I atone. Beg God for scraps.
Soon. Statistically, something is bound to work out soon. If I can’t depend on divine mercy then at least I can fall back on mathematical certainties.
Well I got a job. Part-time. Just a band-aid for my wallet. Now I have a schedule again, and enough drudgery to give the rest of my life some perspective…
Wait, no. I only sort of have a job. I’ve already worked. But what happened was: they hired me. Then they asked for my original university degree so I could remain employed.
What about a copy, I asked.
No, the original, they told me.
I said: It’s in a storage unit in America.
We understand, they told me. Can you please get it so we can see it.
You Vietnamese are getting too big for your britches. Stressing me out. I’m gonna go find that taxi again. Hey, remember me. Aim better this time. Steer right at my knees.
This I know: The reason God ignores your prayers and permits genocide and child sex slaves is because he is too busy annoying me to do any good in the world. But then again, what a relief it is to know that this is all someone else’s fault.