Jesus Rust

The reason their mailbox was down is that it developed a rust spot on the back, right where the pressed metal says Steel City Mfg, Youngstown, O.
            Francine didn’t want it to rust anymore because she saw the face of Jesus in it, and, oxidation being unpredictable, it might turn into something else.
            “Yeah,” said Rex, from the recliner. “It might spread and be Richard Nixon or something, and how would you get on Good Morning America with that?”
            “I don’t want to be on Good Morning America, smartass. Have you taken a good look at this?” She held it in front of his face.
            “I’ll look at it after the game, Francine. Get the damn thing down out of my face. Aww, look, I missed the play.”
            “They’ll show it again,” she said.
            “It’s not the same as seeing it when it happens.”
            Francine went outside to wait for the postlady. If she wasn’t right there, now the mailbox was down, she’d pass them up. Francine glanced up at the sky. Looked like snow again. Tiffany, the postlady, drove up in her Jeep Cherokee with the steering wheel thing on the right.
            “Hi, Francine. You’ll have to get a proper mailbox up or come get your mail at the post office. They won’t let me bring it anymore after today.” She handed Francine a couple of bills, a Land’s End catalog and the Rolling Stone.
            “I’ll get a new one today, Tiffany. Thanks.”
            “Walmart has ’em. Can I see the old one? I heard about it.”
            “Sure, pull in the drive. I’ll run and get it.”
            Inside the house, Rex held the box, studying it. “This blob is Jesus?”
            “Everyone else can see it. Here, I want to show it to Tiffany.” She took it from him and started toward the door.
            “Could be they’re just being nice, Francine. They might think you’ve lost it.”
            “Could be you’re an unbeliever, Rex.”
            “Graven images. Mailbox worship. Not my deal.” He turned the sound up on the game.
            Outside, Francine held the box so Tiffany could see it, and watched her face for the recognition. It didn’t come. Francine held the box sideways, pointed to the eyes. “This is the eyes? See? Here’s the beard.”
            “Oh, now I see it; you’ve got to look at it awhile, like those puzzle pictures. Wow. Yes. Well, got to run, hon, mail to deliver.” The Jeep made a knocking noise as it took off. Francine looked at the rust spot. It hadn’t changed, but it was not as convincing as before, when the sun shone on it and she’d seen it in a dizzying moment of exaltation.
            The pastor called it pareidolia and had to print it out for her. “It’s the tendency to see faces or objects in indistinct shapes. I should think a good many artists have this affliction. Well, maybe just an unusual way to see things.” Then he talked about the grilled cheese sandwich on eBay that looked like the Virgin Mary.
            “So you think I should eBay this?”
            He laughed. “Sure—or reinstall it so you can get mail.”
            Francine decided to tell no one about the baking potato that was the spitting image of Jay Leno. Fuck it. Their loss, not mine.
Guinotte Wise has been a creative director in advertising most of his working life. In his youth, he put forth effort as a bull rider, ironworker, laborer, funeral home pick-up person, bartender, truck driver, postal worker, ice-house worker, paving-field engineer. Of course, he took up writing fiction. He has been published in numerous literary journals and his latest books, a novel, Ruined Days, and a short story collection, Resume Speed, will be published in 2015. You can visit the author on the web at