Shirtless and covered in blood, I walked into the Hooters.
John Donne said, God is an angel in an angel, and a stone in a stone, and a straw in a straw.
God is a bloody, shirtless man in a Hooters in a bloody, shirtless man in a Hooters.
I’d fallen on glass. I was drunk. My sister worked there. I needed a ride to the hospital.
They said, Dumb-ass, wait outside.
I waited outside, bleeding.
I didn’t know she wasn’t working. It was her day off.
I went to the front window, smeared blood on my face, just to make the point. I kept standing there, staring in. I’m sure a customer complained, because the manager came out and told me to go away.
I said I needed a ride.
Layla came out.
She’s every ethnicity on the globe. She comes from every country. She’s six foot three, Indonesian and Bangladeshi and Ethiopian and Congoan and Burmese and Tanzanian. (I could keep going.) She’s also my sister’s ex-friend. Or friend. It keeps changing.
She asks what happened.
I tell her I came to the beach with Lar. He’s a Navy Seal. He disappeared. We were drinking. He was gone. I kept drinking. I got in a fistfight with a lifeguard. I got in a fistfight with a security guard. I ran. I got in a fight with some beach sand. I ran. She tells me to shut up. She says to get in the back of her truck. She says if she didn’t have a truck she would let me die.
I get in back.
She yells that if they fire her, I owe her rent.
She asks what hospital I want to go to.
I tell her I don’t have money for a hospital. I tell her to take me to my cousin’s because she’s a med school dropped out. She’ll be good enough. I say the neighborhood.
She drives. Her breasts are framed in orange. They are art.
A faint Florida rain starts. I’m paralyzed in the truck bed as I look up at the clouds. They look like gentle housewives. They look like they’re shopping, taking their time. Sad, divorced, recently remarried, gray.
I put my arms out like Jesus, a lazy Jesus. And I pray to God, in the way I saw on those Christian TV shows, all the stuff you’re supposed to say about letting him into your heart. But my heart is waterlogged, filled with booze. Jesus keeps telling me he can’t get in there, that he’ll have to rest in my gallbladder for now. I tell Jesus that’s fine with me. I’m getting chauffeured by a goddess. And God is in my storage of bile. And I realize, a loud thrum-thrum Zen understanding in my brain: Grace is everywhere.