by Dennis Hiatt


     When I was nine, I unknowingly touched the face of God.
I was a Cub Scout, and the face of God was a joke that was
told to my little pack. The joke went as thus:
     There was a fly that flew through a kitchen window and
landed on a pound of baloney. When the fly had stuffed
itself, it flew into the back yard and perched on the handle
of a lawn mower. When the father of the family reached for
the lawn mower, the fly flew off and dropped dead.
     The moral of the story: don't fly off the handle when
you're full of baloney.
     Yes at nine, I too was seduced by the joke's cleverness
and missed the main point. The hand of god point. Ten years
later and eight thousand miles away, I lay in the dark, in
the tall grass, holding a tourniquet tight around my left
knee and listened to my friends scream as the  North
Vietnamese stuck knives into their bellies. They didn't find
me and the next morning what was left of my company stumbled
across me and my fly-covered hamburger of a left leg.
     The face of God had showed itself again, and, again, I
misread it.
     Wooden legs aren't so bad once you're used to them and
they're better for picking up girls than a happy, fat puppy
on a rope. I even took karate. I had to kick with my left leg
because one needs an ankle to pivot, and many kicks require
     College, karate and cunts would describe my life in the
late sixties and early seventies.  God, as always, moved with
me, I doing his bidding, and he, mine.  I could have found
him in U S History 203 or perhaps in Black Literature if I'd
     I could have found him in the math I loved or the young
women I used. There was one day in particular when Sharr and
I were at the museum when he flicked the head of my dick.
     Sharr was an art major, slim as a daisy, and when she
painted, she wore her long blonde hair in a French braid.
She called me her blonde Vulcan, her racially pure angel.
She painted me nude, sitting on a wooden kitchen chair,
rubbing my stump. She got two hundred dollars for that oil
and we blew it on coke and good grass and cheap, red wine.
     One hot August afternoon, we went to see a Post-
Modernist exhibit.  We were standing in front of a piece
called BILL'S RED HAIR.  There was a fly circling
the huge shadow-and-shit painting.  The fly landed on it. I,
still the fool, still the hurt, angry boy, thought the fly
was an improvement, and said so.  Sharr laughed and took my
hand in her long slim fingers.  Our hands were soft. Our
palms were wet--and God's cute little message slipped right
between my stoned fingers.
     Priest, politician or pimp were jobs I was well-suited
for. Insurance salesman was what I tried my hand at.  And my
hand was quite good. Oh, many the poor Mexican I showed my
wooden leg and pointed to his fat children and small, brown
wife. Dish-washers and bean-pickers signed up before my
crippled onslaught. Rows of sympathetic housewives gushed and
insured their husbands. Grandmothers and boys fresh out of
high school built my first house.
     This temporary job froze hard. Ten years in sales and I
burned out and moved up into claims adjusting. God's will,
God's work, God's face staring straight at me.  I was five
years on this job before God got in my face.
     It was a cool, clear morning in late September. I was on
my way to see a claimant. Bad Back she was, and I was going
to give her the old we'll-keep-you-in-court-until-you're-
fifty if you don't settle for a tenth of what you want. Was
Mrs. Sharon Ann Chester a fake? She fit the profile like a
fish fits  a swim, but that was neither here nor was it
there. My job was my job, and it was not to be her friend.
     She was living in a by-the-day-week-month hotel on North
McDowell Street. She'd been hit-and-run two blocks from
there.  Two blocks deeper into what might have been called a
bohemian neighborhood. A Korean grocery named Glen's Market
was next to the hotel, and cheek-and-jowls with it's bright
walls was The Lost Planet Tavern.
     Rusting cars lined the street, waiting perhaps for the
gray people to drive them to small jobs or the welfare
office.  Door stoops housed winos and a fat, young street
preacher with a slight stutter and polyglot clothes was
waving a Bible and grunting forth the good news to a lone
drunk who had what had to be an AID's ravaged face.
     I put my "NO RADIO" sign in the window and locked my
car.  Briefcase in hand, I limped across the street. The fat
boy slowed and paused as I drew near. As I came abreast of
the wino, he sighed and said in a clear, educated voice,
"Finding greatness in that book is as likely as finding good
body and a pleasant bouquet in Kool Aid."
     I didn't slow my limping to hear the preacher's reply
if, indeed, he had any. It was seven AM and up the three
flights of badly-lit stairs, she was waiting for me. Oh
Sharon A didn't know she waited for me, and I rather hoped to
find her asleep; cuddled in her hope and soiled blankets.
     I hammer the door like a cop, "SHARON ANN CHESTER? OPEN
     I could hear her moving about the room like a corpse
sliding around in its coffin.  The door opened a crack. I
held my claims adjuster badge in front of my pin-striped
suit. She read, looked up to my face with an expression as
smooth and blank as a private beach. The door fell half-open
of it own accord.
     I could see deep shadows in a piss-flop room. A window
over the street was open, and from it the voices of the fat
preacher and AIDs Face rose in disharmony. The pig-fat
middle-aged blonde stared at me with squinting, China White
eyes.  Her narrow eyes widened as the voices in the street
rose to a scream, "Michael? Michael Smith?"
     I blinked, nodded and wondered what traitor in my office
had warned this human sewage of my coming. Her fat bulged
into a smile. "You haven't aged a day in fifteen years." She
shook her head as if to shake off the heavy years.
     "Sharr?" Horror dawned gray on my face and the
stuttering preacher's voice thundered from the street:
     I dodged past her, and slammed the window shut. (No,
still, I did not get it, but the knowledge was coming and it
was near, very near.) When I turned she'd shut the door and
let her house dress fall from her huge, white body. Sharr was
crying.  We had sex on the yellow bed for three hours.
     Yes, I approved her fake claim. How often does a fly on
shit see it turn to hamburger?
     Do not ask God why the family of four is slaughtered
in their sleeping bags in a state park. Do not question why
dictators of vast horror live well in France. Ask him instead
how long eternity stretches before and beyond your life time
on earth.
     Picture one atom of your DNA, a white atom. In front and
in back are the black atoms of the rest of the goddamn
universe.  Not the moon river you thought it was, is it? (And
yet God is busy watching, a truly interesting beast, the
sparrow fall.)
     Where is His Face? Where is His Hand? (I know! I know!)
It's like this: when I returned to the office that afternoon,
I found that I had been promoted to department supervisor.
I was to keep cost down. I picked a file at random. A woman
with breast cancer. I dropped her policy. That would cover
Sharr's ten grand.
     God's pimp, fate's politician, office priest, my
college-educated mind sliced cost like karate cuts with the
vigor I'd screwed Sharr's love.  Let the claimants scream in
the night or tourniquet their wounds--let them pray to
sparrows.  Remember the fly that was full of baloney? No you
don't. It was a kid's joke. There was no fly. There was no
baloney and even if there had been a f-f-fly and if the f-fly
had died, it would have d-d-died just because it d-did.
     God moves in mysterious ways.  I move like God. We
mortals see his plan and we name it...RANDOM.