Ever since his dream, Derrick could picture what the little dude inside of him looked like. Whenever he talked to him, Derrick imagined sitting next to him on a little couch in the little control room in Derrick’s chest. The two of them controlled everything Derrick’s body did from there.
But it was a constant battle, because both the little Derrick and the other little dude wanted to drive.
As Derrick was waking up one morning he told the little man, “Yo, J-dog, I think I got it covered, today. I’ll let you know if i need some help.”
Jesus was sitting pensively on the back of the little couch somewhere near the big-Derrick’s beating heart. He watched the little Derrick rouse from the couch and sit down at the little stool in front of the control panel behind the gigantic eye-shaped holes they used as a windshield of the big walking machine that was big-Derrick’s body.
“This is a big day for you, Derrick, for sure.” Jesus took a breath and watched Derrick situate himself. “What do you think about taking a moment to–”
“It’s cool,” little Derrick interrupted. “I think I got it under control today.” He concentrated on his control panel. He wrote down everything he needed to do today on a little dry erase board with one hand, as he moved the big levers, making big Derrick’s body put on his clothes.
“Nice game, Derrick.” a cute girl smiled down at him as she walked by. “And congratulations on being homecoming king. Save a dance for me.” She waved her fingers at him as she walked away.
Derrick smiled up at her as he put his basketball shoes into his bag. He thought, “I can’t believe Candace Walters just said that to me.” He couldn’t stop smiling.
Jesus put his hand on little Derrick’s back in the little control room of his soul. “I’m so happy that you’re so happy, Derrick.”
“Oh yeah, thanks Jesus. This has been the most amazing day of my life. You’re so good to me, man.”
“You’re welcome, D-rock. You tore them apart tonight with them three pointers. But, dude remember we have to stay humble. The game isn’t about worldly points, remember? I gave you those as gifts for you to enjoy but it’s about you and me, man. Don’t let the gifts I give you take you away from me.”
As Derrick made his body stand up a couple of the basketball players put their arms over him. “D-rock, you coming to our party?”
He glanced at them quickly. They were the coolest guys on the team. “Um, yeah, sure, when is it?”
“It’s like right now. We’re going to the park. We have some beers in my trunk.”
Derrick felt like he needed a powow with J-dog in his heart and he stuttered it out, “Um, yeah. I have to go my locker and stuff and I think I’ll be there.”
“Are you sure it’s ok, man? I thought you were against alcohol and stuff.”
“No,” Derrick stuttered, “I’m not against alcohol. . .” He tried to think of something clever to say but they beat him to it.
“Alright, see ya soon, your highness.” The one who was captain of the team punched him in the arm like they were suddenly long-time comrades and the boys rambled out to their cars.
As Derrick turned the dial on his locker, he prayed, “Is this ok, Jesus? I really want to go. Are you against alcohol?”
“No way, man! Jesus replied. “the best parties in heaven have some pretty wicked wine. But you do have to be careful because you’re too young, big guy. You know?”
“Yeah,” derrick whispered to himself as he thought about if he still wanted to obey him or not.
Jesus got an idea and said, “Hey, you know what you should do? You should go and see if you can help anybody there. Sometimes it’s at those parties where people are the most desperately lonely.”
“Hmm, yeah, maybe i could bring a unique, cool drink instead of beer too.”
“Dude, it’s brilliant. Do it.” Jesus was proud of Derrick.
Then a boy approaching Derrick’s locker said, “Hey, Derrick. How are ya?” It was Chad. A tall, lanky clumsy kid with a big nose who always spoke a little too loudly and was a little behind on all the jokes. Derrick had told him on Monday that maybe he’d be free on Friday. . . and it was Friday. Chad continued, “Hey, I was wondering if maybe you still wanna hang out tonight? If not that’s ok. I know the homecoming king thing kind of changes stuff.”
“Hey Chad. Yeah, man. . . um, I just told some guys I’d meet up with them in a few minutes. . . ”
“Ok, that’s ok, man.” Chad started to turn around and walk away, and Derrick hesitated to say anything. this could be his easy way out.
Jesus whispered into little-Derrick’s ear, “Now! Derrick! This is the moment,” and it traveled up through Derrick’s body and consumed his heart and came out of his hands and mouth like invisible spiritual fireballs. He opened his mouth as he touched Chad on the shoulder. “No, Chad, come with me man. It’ll be fun.”
Chad turned around and tried to hide his smile, as he spoke a little too loudly. “Ok, that’s cool man. I’m free tonight.”
Jesus did a fist pump and quietly said, “Now we’re talking. . . Game on.”
When they got to the party at the park, a lot of people were there. Not all of them were drinking but as soon as Derrick pulled up, the basketball guys came up to his car, a beer waiting in their hands for him.
But Chad stepped out too. Someone said, “Who invited him?”
“I did.” Derrick said quietly.
Someone said, “Dangit. that kid is such a goofball.”
Derrick laughed and replied, “Hey, every king has a jester.” they all laughed. Derrick tried to smile a lighthearted grin at chad. Both of them satisfied that he had sufficiently diffused the situation.
Derrick and Chad drank their Henry Weinhart’s cream soda they had brought, and in fact that was a bigger hit with the other kids than a lot of the beer. Everyone wanted a bottle.
Things were going well until about midnight when one of the drunk dudes started a fight with Chad. Derrick turned around to see Chad stumbling backwards, and the guy that had pushed him was telling him off. Derrick ran over there and when the guy saw him he told Derrick, loud enough for everyone to hear, “Dude that kid copped a feel on Candace!”
Candace looked up at Derrick, a little caught off guard by the boy’s claim. the guy told her, “It’s ok, we’ll take care of this kid, Candace. he doesn’t belong here.”
Derrick looked at Chad who gasped, “I tried to give her one of our cream sodas!” Chad still had two cream soda bottles in his hands and could not have touched Candace like the guys was accusing him.
“Yeah, that kid doesn’t belong here. Who invited him?” Candace had decided to join in the trash talking and looked up at Derrick to include him as well.
There was silence. Derrick looked at the ground. A couple people who knew who had invited him looked at Derrick. Chad saw Derrick hesitate, so he turned around sadly. “It’s ok, I’ll just leave. I gotta get home now I guess. It’s ok, I’ll walk.”
Derrick closed his eyes. He knew exactly what was at stake. Everything his physical body had hoped for for so long would be lost if he stood up for Chad right now.
It seemed like time stopped, but it didn’t take long. As soon as Derrick had thrown himself onto the couch next to Jesus crying, “What do I do!? I can’t lose everything I’ve worked for!” he heard the calm voice say, “Do you want to be like you were before?”
Derrick remembered how he used to do everything for himself. He used to be nice to retarded people because it would make him look nicer to others. He used to try to get the hottest girl in the school because he had believed that would prove he was good enough. But ever since the dream, Derrick knew that wasn’t the way to play the game.
The inventor of life did not design the game to be played for popularity or looking good. The creator of the game was the one who created the purpose for it, and was sitting on the little couch next to Derrick in his soul. The purpose was not to win by looking good to others, it was only won by being cool with the man on the little couch next to him, the creator of the game and the creator of Derrick himself.
“Now! Derrick. You know what to do, D-rock. You can do it.” Jesus whispered. And that is when the life poured out of Derrick again. He couldn’t tell if it was good life or bad life at the time, but something was definitely happening.
“Wait!” Derrick called after Chad. “I’ll give you a ride, man. I think I should probably go too.”
He shook a couple hands on his abrupt walk to the car, and waved to the rest of them. But there were those faces in the crowd that smirked at Derrick for the social suicide he had just committed. Among them was the captain of the basketball team, and also the face of the beautiful Candace Walters.
When Derrick got home that night, he threw himself onto his bed. He yelled into his pillow, “You’re so stupid! why did you make me do that! I try to be nice and look what it gets me. You suck! You suck! You suck, Jesus. You ruined everything for me.”
Little Derrick looked up and Jesus was sitting with him on the floor, by the little couch in his soul. He was crying too. “I’m sorry, D-Rock.”
“Don’t call me that! We are not cool.”
Jesus whispered, “You did so well, tonight, buddy. You did so, so well.” Jesus could barely put his words together, his lips were quivering, on the verge of tears himself.
“I don’t know what you’re talking about, dude. I tried to do what you said I should do, and look what it got me. I’ll never have a chance with Candace. I’ll never be cool with the basketball players. This is ridiculous. I should have never listened to you.”
Jesus was silent. Finally Derrick looked up from the wet spot on the little couch and saw Jesus looking down at him compassionately. “You did it so well. You still think it’s about the points and looking good to other people but it’s not.”
“What else is there? I really wanted a date with Candace. I’ve tried so hard to get cool friends . . . but now. . .” Derrick buried his face in the couch and growled his frustration.”
“Check your facebook, Derrick.”
“Check your facebook.” Jesus said quietly.
Derrick slowly, suspiciously got up, and pushed the levers to make his body roll over in his bed and pull his iPhone out of his pocket. he opened the facebook app and checked his latest messages.
There was a message from Chad.
It said, “Dude, Derrick. Thank you so much for inviting me tonight and standing up for me. I’m really sorry I made you look uncool. But i just want to let you know that I’ve been thinking about becoming a Christian too. I just didn’t know if it was for real. But no one would have done what you did for me tonight unless Jesus were really, truly real to them. I want to let you know, that I prayed that I could know Jesus like you do. And it’s weird. It’s like all of a sudden I’m sitting down with him in my room and we can just talk about things. And it’s so weird, it’s like I’m not alone anymore. I used to feel so alone. Anyway, thanks for inviting me tonight but even more so for introducing me to my new friend, whether you knew it or not. Your friend, Chad.”
Derrick turned over in his bed and dropped his phone onto the covers. He sighed. He saw himself on the couch with Jesus and remembered that everything in the world would roar around him, but the only thing that mattered was if he was cool with the little man sitting next to him on the little couch on his soul.
Jesus was smiling at him. Derrick crawled over to him and Derrick seemed to shrink down like a baby. Jesus took him and cradled him in his big arms and rubbed his back. All of Derrick’s stresses left him. He whispered, “I’m sorry I sometimes forget you are more real than anything that happens out there.
And as he fell into deep peaceful sleep the last words on his lips were, “I love you Jesus. I’m so sorry. thank you. . . thank you.”