The Writing of Cloud Buchholz

It's a late afternoon in April. The sky is clear and a light breeze blows in from the coast. Keith is kneeled in front of his 1987 Toyota Forerunner. He's scraping bugs from the front grill. He leans into the metal with all his weight, scrubbing viciously. He pulls back his arm and examines the spot. The bug smudge is not going away, ruining the perfection of his truck.

He never meant to kill all these bugs. He's sure they never saw it coming. They were just living their lives, floating from one day to the next, happily, minding their own business, and then BAM they're plastered to the front grill of a 1987 Toyota Forerunner with their guts turned inside out. Keith feels a pain in his chest. He doesn't want to call himself a murderer. He wipes a tear from his eye. I'm no better than Ted Bundy or John Wayne Gacy he thinks. Suddenly Keith is struck by the brevity of life. He drops the scrub brush.

We could die at any moment. He could die at any moment. What if he did die? People would be rummaging through his things, judging him. What would they think of him? He stands up. There were more important things to do than cleaning bugs from a truck grill. He decides he must destroy his porn collection before he dies. He would have to skip Bible study.

Two minutes after Bible study begins, Kendra starts to worry. Where's Keith she wonders. She really wanted to talk with him about slowing down their relationship. They were already starting to hold hands, and she wasn't sure if they should move beyond side hugs. She knew he was a great guy, but three months was hardly enough time for a relationship to truly blossom. She asks herself, what would Jesus do?

"Today I thought we could talk about love, the kind of love that Jesus mentions when he tells us to love our neighbors." Kendra says, sitting at the head of the circle. "Why don't we start with a group discussion?" She feels a strange urge when she says the words Jesus and love so close together.

Keith stares at the cardboard box of porn he's collected. He's having a hard time disposing of it. He can't just throw it away. What if the garbage man finds it and links it to him. There'd be plenty of DNA evidence. He would have to burn it. He takes a heavy metal bin from the garage and carries it to the backyard. He tosses the porn in, squirts it with kerosene, and lights it. The flame erupts and then simmers.

"Hey, what are you doing?"

Keith turns abrupt and panicked. Kendra looks innocently at him and the fire. He swallows hard. He's not good at lying.

"Is that a bon fire?! That's a great idea." She smirks. "And all this time I thought you were slouching your responsibilities as Bible leader."

He laughs nervously. "Yeah."

"Have you called everyone yet? Don't worry, I'll do it." She pulls out her phone and dials before he can stop her.

He feels a little warm. He steps away from the fire. All my church friends are coming over to dance and drink around my burning porn. "Oh God," he says as a little prayer. He drops to his knees, rummaging through the cabinet by the grill. "I need more kerosene," he whispers.

"They'll be here in ten minutes." Kendra says smiling. She walks to the fire, seduced by its glow. The heat draws the blood to her cheeks. She imagines seeing naked bodies rubbing and pulsing against one another in the flames. She steps back.

It can't be real.

She looks closer. Is this a divine vision of hell, and those are the lost souls screaming for redemption? They need to be saved.

She thinks of Jesus, His strong and perfect spirit, His calm and soothing hands, His nearly naked body strewn and pinned down for her...for her redemption.

She feels warm. A burst of heat pulses up from the bottom of her spine. The familiar urge rises up in her again. She pushes it back down, but the heat. She feels hot. She steps away from the metal bin. She's almost dizzy.

Keith slinks toward her with a larger can of kerosene. "We need more fire," he says. "More fire!" He douses the flames and watches them grow.

Kendra takes another step back.

"Uhm...I...I need to sit down," she says, wobbling to the sliding glass door. Her knees feel weak.

Keith empties the can of kerosene and tosses it aside. That's a great idea, he thinks. Keep them inside. He hurries behind her and reaches around in front of her to open the door. He pushes himself against her, ushering her in.

She imagines Jesus ushering her into heaven, wrapping both his arms completely around her and how hard he might hold her. She shutters and again feels the heat.

Keith locks the door, hoping it will be enough to sustain his earthly legacy. "Let's get the ch-"

He feels her lips against his as her hands grab at his unmentionables. She thrusts him against the glass and unbuttons his pants.

"Oh God," he says as a little prayer.

She pins him to the glass and stretches out his arms like a cross. She strokes his face. "I wish you had a beard," she says, breathing hard.


"A beard," she says. "You would look more..." She rips the buttons from her shirt as she pulls it off. "More divine."

She kisses him again.

He looks out the back window. The fire is still long as the fire is still going. He sighs between the suction of her lips.

There's a sound in the hall. She doesn't hear it. Her jeans are caught at her hips as she wrangles them down. She's very focused.

Her pants drop to her ankles, revealing her John 3:16 panties. She shakes her left leg free and looks to him with satisfaction. He's wide-eyed with every pang and wrinkle of shock in his face. He's looking past her.

She turns.

There's a moment of silence.

The Bible thumping church-goers are completely transfixed. They see her half naked and splayed out. They stagger and stubble back to the front door, leaving as awkwardly and quickly as possible.

"No, wait!" Kendra shouts. "It's not what you think. I love Jesus. I really do." Kendra trips on the blue jeans nestled around her right ankle. "You can't imagine how much I love Jesus." She hurries after them, clothing herself as she goes.

Keith watches the words "He gaveth His only son" bounce on the backend of Kendra's tight little panties as she gracelessly runs in pursuit.

That was close he thinks. He looks out at the metal bin and the fire. I can die knowing my transgressions have been completely erased, he thinks. I'll still be loved and respected even after my death. He smiles and sighs with relief.

A faint woman's voice echoes in the distance, "I love Jesus."