“Play me a song,” he said, seeing us leave the restaurant with our guitars.
“We don’t have the chords,” M said.
“Play it anyway,” he replied.
And so we started, roughly. The chords came, but the words didn’t. The words came, but the chords didn’t. Eventually, both aligned. Then, we sang together the songs that stuck with us, the ones deep down. Always a surprise to see what sticks.
“Play ‘Jesus Loves Me,'” he said.
And we did. The simple, fleeting words resounded through the parking lot and into the night sky.
Soon, we were all out of songs. They thanked us. His buddy, he told me stories about Vietnam while the others mused over M’s dreadlocks.
“My leg’s all tore up. Not a leg no more,” the veteran said, “Got two purple hearts out of it, though. I have trouble sleeping sometimes. All times. God forgive me.”
And he wiped his face with a dirty napkin.
I ran into the car and pulled out the McDonalds napkins I had stored there, you know, for emergencies.
“Here,” I said.
“Thanks,” he said while using the napkin, “for listening.”
M nodded me forward and we walked together to the nearest convenience store, picking up hot dogs and beer for the guys.
“Do you have a Bible?” said the first guy. I handed him mine, “what’s the shortest verse in the Bible?”
“‘Jesus wept,'” I said.
“And where is it?” he said, “What verse?”
I told him I didn’t know. he flipped right to it.
“Saint John eleven thirty-five,” he said.
I nodded in amazement.
We all hugged. M and I went to our respective way.
“I’m glad you didn’t die,” M’s girlfriend told her, later.
For us, it’s just another day.