map God’s Brother

by Allison Rose Levy

Published in Issue No. 285 ~ February, 2021

Not long ago I met one of God’s brothers and he told me that God is real but a habitual liar. Every time is a good time to come down from a solipsistic haze, he said with great care. I thanked him kindly.

A few days prior to this I had been following a story on the news about a woman from Texas who survived a hurricane by barricading herself and her dog in a warehouse to wait out the wind. The dog kept her warm and vice versa. It reminded me of how much I did not like a coworker of mine who was from Texas, whose father was an oil tycoon, which got me back to thinking about storms and how the word tycoon sounds awfully similar to the word typhoon and how, in a way, that was the opposite of ironic. I did not look up the Greek or Latin origins of either word for fear of ruining the magic.

In those times, I’d walk downtown through Midtown and watch amicable drug deals come to fruition. I’d see a frail Spider-Man limping down 43rd and 7th, and then to my left I’d hear, Be careful with this shit, it’s pretty strong—okay now, you have a good one man, stay safe. And I would never forget not to make eye contact. Like the spidermen working the dark neon corners of Times Square—hustling. And once on a walk near the farmer’s market, I heard someone say, What do you do if your blueberries aren’t sweet enough? Do you just kill yourself? The red fur on the costumes of Elmos is mangy and sour.

The gentleman who was God’s brother had been skateboarding along the fat yellow line of a Metro-North platform and putting me on edge. There was also a child blowing glowy bubbles through a wand at the station. The bubbles would land, and die, on the yellow.

I thought: in another lifetime, in a different timeline, I would have been a career child had anyone allowed it. If God were to say, Hey everyone, let’s cut scene and take a five, I would see what it’s like to be a five-minute child blowing bubbles near train tracks. I would not opt into the life of a professional American, selling myself and selling myself short.

I lived in Hell’s Kitchen and ate oranges for breakfast when I could get my hands on them. This is why I found myself in Times Square more often than I would have preferred. I sat out one and a half hurricanes.

Hell’s Kitchen—there are locusts all over, and my god’s omniscient. Like a newspaper, He’s red and red and red all over. He’s behind you, red. At the market, red. In the shadows, red. In the bathroom, red, while you’re sat on the toilet. In Hell’s Kitchen, there are preachers on the street and bugs on the ceiling, and I, myself, a big, stinking bug, thrashing in sheets which, against one another, sound like gale-force waves when they break on a street.

Excuse me, which way is Lex? If you go South, you’ve gone too far is what I kept telling people who asked for directions. I can lend you my compass. If the gravity’s off, place it down on the sidewalk.

I was tired. There was a point where—pretty much following all that—a point where I was in a church with an assortment of drunks trying not to be drunks and a woman speaking had just found out about her mother—she was dying, she’s really gonna die, isn’t she, said the woman, but it wasn’t a Q&A, so none of us could answer, though we all wanted to answer more than anything in the world. God was presumed to have played a role in all this, though I could not tell you which, or why. And I think I saw his brother in the room, in an orange hat. I recognized him from the train tracks.

And there were all these hurricanes happening. I brought this up the second time I ran into the man who was one of God’s brothers because, at that point, I valued his input. Then I said, Also, I met you the other day, and you said you were God’s brother. Did you mean that literally, or in the abstract sense that we all are? And he said, Sure.

I am beginning to dislike crowds and blueberries and encountering fictional characters on my daily commute. They’re aggressive—the spidermen are aggressive. They will bodyslam Sesame Street residents over matters of territory.

Once I’m out of the city I’ll go as North as I please. I will hit arctic ice and discover a yeti. I’ll open a toy store on the Bering Strait and watch the sun turn red, read and blow bubbles until my lungs run out of happy oxygen. I’ll meet the rest of God’s family. I’ll probably do it in rooms.