Calypso’s altar

He had a dashboard Jesus who he named Calypso, and he doodled lines in ballpoint pen between the pleats of Calypso’s robe while he sat in traffic. He prayed that the cars in front of him would move, that the seemingly endless line of taillights and blinkers drawing to a point somewhere near his exit would suddenly go dark as everyone released their brakes to finally drive. He’d say he was a Christian, but the only time he worshiped was on the drive from work or when he stopped to buy a scratch ticket.

Calypso’s spring-loaded torso genuflected dumbly every time the car stopped and went again. A mocking sort of dance. A goofy little sermon underneath the spider’s web of cracking windshield, below a scanty constellation made from stones and glass colliding. He put a finger on Calypso’s molded plastic hair, blonde and long and wavy, to stop him from dancing. To himself he said, “Please just let me get home. Please just make the fucking traffic move.”

He slurped the fountain soda. Melting ice rattled against itself and plastic, pearls of condensation rained across his shirt and crotch and made a path of darker spots that led up to his chin. Calypso bobbed and curtseyed with the brakes and gas, a suction cup restricting his ballet just an inch. Again the driver prayed. He prayed that all the people in their goddamn cars weren’t such idiots. He prayed that they’d learn how to drive. Calypso dipped and nodded, but he didn’t acquiesce.

Behind him someone’s horn gave warning. His car jumped forward when they hit, collapsing the bumper of the minivan in front and scattering bits of tinted glass like marbles through the lanes. His nose was bleeding, but he seemed okay. “Jesus,” he thought, “why is it always me?” And Calypso nodded, ballpoint ink like pinstripes on his hollow plastic robe.
“Perhaps you pray a bit too well,” Calypso said. “Perhaps a lesser god would serve you better.” And the cars ahead moved forward just enough to let them pull over.

#melbourne #australia

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