The Art of Tetman Callis The Last Supper

The Last Supper

First published in COVER, Winter 2020. Copyright 2020 by Tetman Callis.

          The precinct captain invited the ward heelers to his house for dinner, a big barbecue in the back yard, tubs of ice-cold bottled beer and bowls of fresh potato salad. Theirs was the marginal party, always losing and never giving up, they had no sense. Compensation they found in each other, clustering like a patch of weeds under a railroad bridge, half in shadow and half in light: a part-time substitute school teacher; a sex worker whose reputation preceded her wherever she went; a day laborer; others whose livings and identities were more marginal still.

          One had too much beer to drink, took off his shirt and rubbed barbecued pork on his chest, stood on a picnic table and screamed, You are all forgiven! It’s not your fault you’re such a pack of losers! You, you, you, you, he pointed at each of his fellows in turn, and you, and you, and you! And stumbling, he half fell and half jumped from the table, collapsing in the grass and passing out, wetting his pants as he lay there.

          The sex worker hated to see him like this, they had campaigned together, canvassing seemingly endless suburban streets the hot summer before the election. She had grown fond of him. She bent over him to make sure he was all right, pulling her long hair out of the way so it wouldn’t fall into the mess he had made of himself.

          Someone help me with him, please, she said, and the substitute school teacher and the day laborer picked him up and carried him inside. Bathroom’s down the hall, the precinct captain said. There the sex worker took a large, soft washcloth, wet it with warm water and a gentle, fragrant soap, and set to cleaning the drunken one, who was now again awake.

          Forgive me, he said, I don’t know what gets into me sometimes.