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  • The tire swing thrills have slowed to a soft sway now, leaving me eye-level with the still-undone buttons on his shorts. The rain has slowed too, leaving the sand moist but the cement dry because it's July in Arizona and everything is thirsty.

    “He works in mysterious ways, but He can sure work quick,” he says to our new friend, an autistic young man who carries a Bible and can’t talk about anything other than Jesus for more than 30 seconds at a time.

    Maybe he’s really as religious as he sounds right now, and everything he told me before was a lie. All this Jesus talk sure flows easily from his mouth. Or maybe he’s just bullshitting his way through another interaction, saying all the right things to please this stranger (the same way that he said different right things to please me).

    He could be a believer. He could be a chameleon. He could just be really, really nice.

    I couldn't be more uncomfortable.

    It's not my place to judge, but eventually, for both our sakes, it will be my place to assess. And uninterrupted tire swing rides are a whole lot easier to assess than half-truths and maybe-lies. I just spent summer’s best monsoon yet with him. We got soaked in the cold rain and then dry in my warm car, and on second thought-- maybe it was my life's best monsoon yet.

    I look away from their faces and at the blinking red lights of the railroad arm in the distance. Sometimes, you expect the truth to be raucous and brazen, like the sudden unapologetic presence of a train behind the tire swing park. But usually, it's quick and elusive, like a summer storm fleeing the desert before it even arrives.
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