B made a god. He found it in the basement of the Ivy House and carried it around with him wherever he went. No one knew how it got to be down in the basement originally, but that wasn't really surprising since there was all sorts of stuff down there.In the basement, you could find couches, boxes of Christmas supplies, books, clothes, costumes, broken furniture, art, and inexplicable and unnameable Things.
So, the god was not impressive. Actually, it looked like the kind of brass figurine you could pick up for five dollars at any new age shop. That didn't concern B. He was determined to have something, if not more reliable, then at least more concrete than his potluck Christian upbringing.
For weeks he created myth, mystery, and ritual around the cheap metallic half-man-half-fox-thing -- Cantori, he called it. Cantori was born at the end of the Universe and never existed in our time and so was more of an avatar than a god. He was beyond all this Newtonian physics and capitalism nonesense. He projected reassurance back from the future that it would be all right. In his own little way, Cantori was helping out. All this, B created in his spare time between working hellish hours at Walmart to pay off student loans.
"So, he's not all powerful?" I asked B one day when we were sitting on the floor of the Ivy House living room in the bare spot between crumpled blankets, books, yarn, buttons, carpentry tools, match books, candles, lost game pieces, and so much discarded change.
"Of course not," B said, shaking his head in quick jerks. "I gave up an all-powerful god for a personal one."
"Seems weak," I said.
"But ultimately more pragmatic."
It was early summer and we were both sweating. There was air conditioning in the house, but it only seemed to take the edge off the heat. This was before the flood and it was the humidity that was really troubling.
"Think about it," B said, standing up and taking unsteady steps over to the porch door. "An almighty god has great concerns. How could I, in all seriousness, ask for help getting through an eight hour shift to an omnipotent being?"
We stepped out onto the porch. The heat was incredible and for a moment it was difficult to breathe, but B lit up and continued on his monologue without missing a beat. We sweated more and sat down on the couch that smelled like ash and an antique shop. Vintage.
"But, a local god..." B held Cantori up and then set him down on the glass table top. There Cantori rattled, wobbled, and came to rest. While he spoke, B lit two cigarettes, put one in his mouth and left the other burning down slowly on the ash tray. "A local god, on the other hand... you don't have to feel bad about asking a local god for things. And it's more like a business relationship. I make him offerings," B gestured at the burning cigarette, "and he gives me a little edge when and how he can."
"You're going to spend twice as much on cigarettes," I pointed out.
"That's not all he'll accept," B said. "I can burn all sorts of things that will sustain his avatar in what, for him, is the impossibly distant past. You see, the more he changes Now, the more powerful he becomes in his Now."
"So, you're his pawn?" I asked.
"I work at Walmart, Sam. We're all somebody's pawn."
B lost his god one day. It's difficult having a physically manifested deity, because if you lose it, it's gone. We were at one of the last parties at the Ivy House and B confessed his sin to me. "I wasn't a faithful worshiper " B said, sitting down on the stoop outside. The night was illuminated by fireflies and alive with the ruckus of cicadas.
"I'm sorry to hear that," I said. "What will you do now?"
"Well, I could follow the majority and go back to Lutheranism," B said, slouching forward and unknowingly striking the pose of the Thinker. "I thought about becoming a minister, actually. The job has always appealed to me."
"Didn't you just, you know, break one of the Commandments?"
"Omnibenevolence, my friend. God forgives all. And, when you think about it, seminary seems like a better, more pragmatic option than completing my English degree."
"This may be true," I conceded.
After that, we went back inside and discussed religion and finding a good Flock. B came back to help me clean up the Ivy House and we found Cantori under one of the couches, but by then B was working a better job and was making good progress on his loans. He was preparing to make investments and maybe buy a house, a very practical thing to do in his twenties.