The Good One


Johnny Jacklin (Monte Dutton sketch)
Johnny Jacklin (Monte Dutton sketch)

             This is a continuation of “A Jogging Contradiction”:

Seldom did anyone at Forgiveness, Inc., talk about Johnny Jacklin. He was the missing son. What little talk there was dwelled not on Johnny but on his absence. He was a myth instead of a man.

The myth was sitting in Eliza Evermore’s office and didn’t disappoint. She’d never quite thought of Junior as demonic unstill she saw that his younger brother was angelic. He played serene to Junior’s manic, romantic to his pragmatic, empathic to his fanatical. All this was instantly apparent from the extraordinarily blue eyes. Eliza sensed those eyes told him all about her he wanted to know. It was unnerving. He took her breath away.

“I understand it’s you who keeps this ministry going,” he said, smiling. “I know it’s not my brother. He’s just a show-off.”

Eliza didn’t know what to say. She stared at him, lips parted, wondering what manner of man was this.

“Hi. I’m Eliza Evermore. It’s a pleasure to make your acquaintance.”

He was in no hurry. He continued to look at her, wearing the expression of a doctor considering an x-ray. It led inevitably to her studying his features, as well. He was dressed informally — a long-sleeved pullover, khakis, sneakers – and held a gray jacket that bore the apparent insignia of a sports team Eliza didn’t recognize. Johnny Jacklin was a missionary, not an evangelist. The word was that he’d no use for the part of the ministry that involved the raising and spending of money, which was virtually all of it. Eliza didn’t know where he was until he was sitting front of her. She’d heard references to Sarajevo, Mumbai, and Bangkok.

Anywhere, it seemed, but here.

“Where are you?” she asked, and when she saw his expression, she thought, Why, he’s here, stupid. “I mean, where is … your ministry? Your … mission.”

“Right now, I guess, I’m between assignments.”

“Who assigns?”

“Well, actually, I do.”

“Oh.” Eliza smiled. She felt incapable of uttering anything mildly intelligent. She wrestled her eyes off him and looked through the plate glass. Everyone was staring. They looked as hypnotized as she must, and they couldn’t even see his eyes.

“Could I, uh, take you to lunch?” Johnny asked.

The question awakened the worldly realm. Were his intentions romantic? They couldn’t possibly be carnal. Yet he was Junior’s brother. All the brothers had in common was that they were easy to read. Junior slithered like a snake. Johnny lorded serenely over his domain. He had the bearing of a lion, not to mention the mane. Johnny could have been a movie star. Junior was just an actor.

All this she knew of him instantly.

“Why, yes, sure, I think so,” Eliza mumbled.

“Great,” he said, getting up. “You know, I can’t remember the last time I had a good, old Wendy’s burger. Do you mind?”

              My books, including the novels The Intangibles and The Audacity of Dope, are available here:


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