Bless This Mess

Does God hang around casinos and Kenny G. shows?

Piano music from a portable CD player and the scent of burning candles filled the room. The masseuse swathed her hands in oil and started on my head with the superhuman fingers of a mother and a lover. She worked on my neck and shoulders, caressed my hands, pulled gently on my fingers, kneaded my chest, arms, thighs, calves, feet.

We talked for the first half-hour. She told me she was married to a pastor. I told her I dig Jesus, and that I think he was man of love, and that I couldn't care less what anyone else has turned him into. She offered nothing in response, but I surmised aloud that her massages surely go out into the world and have an impact on those beyond the recipient.

We got quiet. After 20 minutes of silence, as a coda, she sprinkled my skin with her fingertips. It was crazy sensual, and just as my flesh was rising to its peak, she crossed my back several times and softly said, "May the Lord Jesus Christ look and watch over you; in the name of the Father, Son, and Holy Spirit."

James O'Brien


The next night, I went to Mystic Lake Casino with my mother-in-law. It was Mother's Day, and I had promised her a date to see Kenny G. I had tried to scam a couple of freebies from the record company, but when I got to the box office 20 minutes before show time, there were no tickets for me. So I pulled out my credit card and put $110 worth of Kenny fucking G tickets on it.

Before we went in, I popped a Vicodin to ease the pain. It worked. I was entertained. I was only mildly creeped out by Kenny blowing his horn and raising his come-hither eyebrows at the roomful of mothers-in-law that make up his core demographic. And I was almost able to go numb when Kenny entertained a woman's shouted request to come backstage with the reply, "If you look like Halle Berry, you can!"

After the show, I was still bugged that I had actually paid to see Kenny G., so I parked my mother-in-law at a nickel slot and sat down at a five-dollar blackjack table. I got hot, and decided to stay until I'd won back all my money. Forty-five minutes later, I cashed out for $115, and we were gone. The weirdest part is that, as the other players sweated out each hand and hit, I felt such a sense of inner peace that the only thing I can think of is that it must've been the Vicodin.

Jim Walsh can be reached at 612.372.3775 or

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