‘Jesus disnae need a marketing consultant, an agent or whatever you are.’ Illeism. How has it come tae this? Mary Magdalene came back from the toilet and got herself between Jesus and another mouth-breather.
‘Every powerful man needs a marketing consultant,’ Willie said, ignoring the woman giving him the murderous stare.
‘Well, he disnae,’ Mary said. ‘He’s Jesus, fir Christ’s sake.’
Willie gave her a cursory glance. ‘Ah’m talking tae Jesus,’ he said, trying to put his grubby hand around the magnetic halo.
Mary pushed Willie away. ‘Don’t put your haun oan his aura,’ she said. ‘Ah don’t even let moths near that.’
‘Sorry. Ah was just …’
‘How did you even get intae Heaven?’ Jesus asked.
‘Aw, that was a technicality.’
‘Whit technicality?’ Mary asked.
‘They didnae specify.’
‘Right,’ Mary said. ‘You’re wan ae them.’
‘Ah know whit you’re thinking, but ah’m just daein whit ah need tae dae tae survive.’
‘You’re deid,’ Mary said. ‘You have eternal bliss. Act accordingly.’
‘But marketing is vocational,’ Willie said.
Jesus rolled his eyes and looked at Mary.
‘It’s always aboot cash wae people like you,’ Mary said. ‘Even Heaven’s no enough.’
‘Ah’m a flawed man. Ah won’t deny it. But think ae the possibilities. People wouldnae be able tae just use the likeness of Jesus for anything withoot running the risk of blowback. Your image is awready plastered ere everything: pink neon crosses, New Testamints …’
‘New Testamints?’ Mary asked.
‘They’re mints … for your breath.’
‘Ah know whit mints are,’ Mary said. ‘It’s just … is nothing scared doon there?’
‘You know whit they’re like, JC. You had tae die for their sins.’
‘Don’t call me JC. And don’t try tae separate yourself fae them. You’re no levitating above them. Well, technically, you are noo, but ah can easily download your file. The fact you only goat here due tae a technicality tells me you’re a bit suspect.’
‘But ah still got in.’
‘Don’t take your presence here as an endorsement,’ Mary said. ‘We’ve been lowering the threshold for thousands of years ever since Hell became an overpopulated superpower.’
‘Ah was nae angel. Ah’m no gonnae dispute it!’
‘Ah know you’re no gonnae dispute it,’ Mary said. ‘You’re trying tae butter Jesus up so you can make millions aff him. But whit are you gonnae dae wae these millions when you’re in Heaven awready?’
‘Ah was hoping tae get back tae Scotland tae help oot. A second coming, if you will.’ Willie thought about giving Jesus a friendly bro punch to the shoulder, but a subterranean sigh deterred him.
‘Why dae you think you can get back tae Scotland?’ Mary asked.
‘Ah’ve heard people get tae go back as ghosts, and some even get tae live another life.’
‘Who told you aw that?’
‘Hollywood,’ Willie lied.
‘Dae you think you’re dealing wae a couple of brain donors?’ Mary asked.
‘Well, people talk tae.’
‘Aye, they dae,’ Mary said. ‘It’s getting them tae shut up that’s the problem.’
‘Awright,’ Willie said, trying to sound vaguely reasonable. ‘Ah can see you’ve got a low tolerance for bullshit.’
‘She’s the wan speaking tae ye,’ Jesus said. ‘Stoap talking at me.’
‘Aye, ah think it’s time you bolted,’ Mary said. ‘This pub was nice and serene before you arrived and started this seemingly never-ending prelude tae your slimy pitch.’
‘Awright. Ah dae prattle on sometimes. That’s probably why ah was hideously murdered.’
‘Whit a surprise,’ Mary said. ‘Ah’m a pacifist and ah’ve awready thought of nine different reasons.’
‘Point taken, so ah’ll get tae it … Tennent’s Super is quite the delicacy in Scotland.’
‘Ah don’t think it is,’ Mary said.
‘Okay, but in Italy, it’s considered quite the drink. Restaurants stock it! No ironically either. And whit dae Italians love? Jesus!’
‘That’s a sweeping generalisation,’ Mary said. ‘But we dae get a lot of prayers fae there. No as much as we used tae aw the same.’
‘Exactly! So, who better tae market super lager than Jesus? And we can create oor ain wine tae. Just picture the possibilities! Get wasted! Aff! The blood of Christ!’
‘Use your indoor voice,’ Mary said. ‘And stoap aw that gesticulating, ya mad brass neck.’
‘Whit dae ye think, Jesus?’
‘Ah think ah need a shower,’ Jesus said. ‘And ah’m a hippie who works wae his hands, so kudos oan making me feel manky.’
‘Awright … bear wae me. Whit aboot this?’ Willie pulled the prototype from his Tesco bag. Jesus looked at a ripped, much whiter version of himself crucified on a red Tennent’s logo. It took a lot to flummox Jesus, but flummoxed he was. ‘This is Jesus Christ Super Lager!’ Willie turned the can to show a scantily clad woman on the other side. ‘We went a bit retro wae the can tae. They used tae have wummin oan the cans aw the time back in the day.’
‘And there’s a good reason why they don’t anymair,’ Mary said. ‘Did you live in ignorance aboot climate change as well? Jesus isnae interested in being a marketing tool for corporate profit or sharing a can wae an objectified wummin. You’re pishing against the tide, and you would’ve known that if you’d done the slightest bit of research.
‘Bear wae me …’
‘Ah’m no interested,’ Jesus said, having temple flashbacks. ‘In fact, ah’m offended that anyone could think ah would be swayed tae abandon everything ah stand for tae peddle this abomination.’
‘It’s only a prototype. The genuine article can be much mair classy.’
‘Ah don’t think you know whit class is.’
‘Please, Jesus. Think ae the money we could make!’
‘Ah’m no interested in marketing super lager. End of discussion.’
‘Look, ah pitched this idea before ah was killed. A new lager called Salvation will court the controversy if Tennent’s won’t. As they say, bad publicity’s still publicity.’
‘Whit if you pump a melon in a church and there’s a video ae it?’ Mary asked.
‘Bad publicity like that can ruin your career,’ Mary said.
‘Aye, granted. But that’s a very extreme, specific example.’
‘No really,’ Mary said. ‘It’s humans we’re talking about. They nailed Jesus tae wood, and he was trying tae help them.’
‘And he can still help them. We could have some ae JC’s famous quotes oan the side ae the can.’
‘Above or beneath the naked wummin?’ Mary asked.
‘Whatever you want.’
‘Ah wisnae being serious,’ Mary said. Willie laughed, but Jesus and Mary didn’t need an action replay to know that was a fake, obsequious attempt to get in their good graces. ‘You really are servile.’
‘Ah’m always willing tae serve! That’s the name ae the game.’
‘Right,’ Mary said. ‘It’s time tae leave … whit’s your name again?’
‘Well, at least your parents gave you a fitting name.’
‘C’mon, Jesus. Ah’d love tae get you doon there tae endorse it.’
‘He’s no goan back doon there,’ Mary said. ‘Humans are still putting up crosses.’
‘As a tribute.’
‘That’s mair ae a tribute tae that gammon-heided Roman who nailed Jesus tae the cross,’ Mary said. Jesus flinched.
‘There’ll be none ae that this time. People are desperate for the second coming.’
‘Everybody who preaches peace and understanding doon there ends up getting murdered,’ Mary said. ‘Add super lager intae the mix and Jesus will be lucky tae gie wan sermon.’
‘We’ll get you the best security. Presidential security!’
‘Aye, cos none ae them have never been murdered or maimed,’ Mary said.
‘No for a while they’ve no.’
‘Youse want another drink, Mary?’ Paula asked from behind the bar.
‘Aye, another pint of tap water.’
‘Tap water?’ Willie asked. ‘You aff the lager noo?’
‘He’s Jesus. He turns it intae lager.’
‘Does your pal want anything?’ Paula asked as she wiped the spillage from Mary’s pint.
‘Naw,’ Mary said. ‘He’s leaving unless he wants me tae baptise him in that urinal through there.’