Raquan’s orange Gideon Bible is hidden behind his 8th grade school portrait in my living room. I placed it there several years ago so the cats wouldn’t shred the thin pieces of paper on which the books of Psalms and Proverbs have been published next to the complete New Testament collection. Why he brought his palm-pilot like Bible to our house several years ago is a great mystery to his brother Bradley and me. Raquan’s mom went off to Atlantic City one weekend and we had to baby sit Raquan and his little brother Arden. The kids came over with their usual backpack full of clothing. Raquan pulled out his little Bible and showed it to me.
“Oh, I had one of these when I was in the Army,” I said to him. “This is nice.”
Bradley just rolled his eyes. Bradley hates anything to do with religion, especially after his older sister married a Muslim and now dresses the part, covering herself with garments like that of a nun.
“He’s going to a Catholic Church now,” Bradley explained. “Mom said he went there on his own. It’s right down the street from their house and he was lured in there by a summer camp they have every summer.”
“There’s nothing wrong with that,” I said to Bradley so that Raquan could here me.
Months later, we learned the real reason why Raquan was going to Catholic Mass. He had a crush on a Catholic girl and used the church’s summer camp as an excuse to get to know her. He picked up the Bible in a strategic love gesture, I imagined.
He left that Bible at our place purposely. He placed it on the bookcase next to my camelback sofa alongside my complete version of the Holy Bible and went home for the weekend. I thought nothing of it. The kids leave stuff at our house all the time.
“Why did Raquan bring his Bible over here?” Bradley asked. “I don’t want to look at it. That book is filled with so many lies and I don’t want my little brother led astray by the Catholic Church. Aren’t they the people who walk around with ashes on their faces?”
“Yes. And they pray on little boys,” I reminded him. “Be glad that Bible is over here and not in his hands,” I replied coldly to my lover. Bradley wanted to throw the little Bible in the trash. He didn’t seem to mind when our cat Link carried around the orange little book in his mouth as if he had caught a mouse from a toxic dump. I quickly saved Raquan’s Gideon Bible from the mouth of our cat and put it behind his school portrait. I forgot it was there until this past weekend when I decided to do some dusting. Had it really been three years since I last dusted?
The picture frame that housed his school photograph and hid the Gideon Bible was from Bed, Bath & Beyond. It was a high-tech picture frame and has a tiny electronic contraption on the back that can be used to record voices. Suddenly I remembered the weekend when the kids were over and they were recording their voices into the picture frame. I wondered if the batteries were still good.
I pressed the button on Raquan’s picture frame. Already his voice has deepened. His childhood voice echoed from the dusty shelf, reminding both Bradley and me of how innocent he once was—
“Fuck you. Fuck you. Fuck you,” the childhood voice of Raquan echoed over and over again.
I made the sign of the cross and quickly returned the undusted frame and Bible to their proper burial location.