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The Sinner Sunday Brunch

By Nicholas Gagarin

THEY ARE serving brunch in Quincy House, so at a little after noon when I walk over to the dining room. I have read all of the Times except the Book Review and the Theatre section. Those two are under my arm. There is a review of a book about Namath in the Book Review section. I will read that first.

It is a beautiful brunch. I decide to have scrambled eggs instead of fried. I put a lot of cream in my coffee, and I take a lot of butter for my blueberry muffin. A beautiful brunch. I sit down by myself, take a sip of my coffee, and turn to the article about Namath. It's by a woman, and she starts off talking about the new book by Jerry Kramer. What do women know about football?

I have been there about 90 seconds when a guy sits down opposite me. I look up. He's a young guy, maybe a sophomore. I turn back to the magazine. The guy introduces himself. I'm not even looking at him, I'm reading about Jerry Kramer, but he introduced himself anyway. I look up. He's probably a sophomore and doesn't have any friends in the House. I think to myself. He's probably a nice guy. I tell him my name.

"Do you write for the CRIMSON?" the guy says.

"Yea." I'm flattered. Maybe the guy is all right. I look back at the magazine, but he keeps right on going.

"What are you going to do with your life?" the guy says.

I mutter something profound. What's anybody going to do with his life? The guy nods. He seems very sincere.

"A lot of people don't even know what direction they're going in," the guy says. I wait for him to continue. "They don't realize that God has a plan and that there's a role for each one of us in His plan."

I stuff my napkin in my mouth to try to keep from laughing. The guy goes on. Men are sinners, he says. They have cut themselves off from God's will. The guy used to be a sinner, too, he says. That was before Jesus Christ entered him.

"Jesus Christ," I think to myself. I look at the guy and notice he's wearing a white shirt with a starched collar.

"What are you looking at?" he says. I realize I'm staring.

"I'm wondering if you're on drugs or if you're for real," I say.

"Are you for real?" he asks.

"Yes," I say. At least I know that.

"You are a sinner," the guy says, "You have cut yourself off from the will of God."

"You're a pretty fucked up guy," I say. I turn back to the Book Review section, but I can't concentrate. I look back at the guy. We stare at each other for about 30 seconds. "Are you happy?" I ask.

"Yes," he says. "Because Jesus Christ is in me."

"He's in me, too," I say, not wanting to feel left out. "And on the days when I feel lousy. I know Jesus Christ is suffering with me." I like that idea. I haven't said anything that religious since my days at St. Paul's.

The guy repeats that I am a sinner. I look at my plate and eat a forkful of scrambled eggs. The eggs are cold. I start to feel uncomfortable. I want the guy to leave.

After a while he stands up to go. He is looking at me with a strange half-smile on his face. "Are you proud of what you are?" I say as a parting shot. I am mad at the guy. He has ruined my brunch.

"No," the guy says. "Without Jesus Christ I am nothing. Without Him I am a miserable wretch." The guy leaves.

I am shaken up. I go back to my room to finish the article about Namath, but I still can't concentrate. I'm restless. I put on my dark glasses and go outside. I walk down to the river and sit on the footbridge, watching the dark, timeless water flowing beneath me. There is a girl about 20 yeards away. Maybe I should go talk to her, I think. Maybe she is a sinner, too. I start to fell better.

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