Brig awoke early to study his Chinese characters. It had been days since he had incorrectly identified one of the two thousand flashcards he had memorized, but he wanted to give himself every advantage for passing the upcoming exam. The Buddha, who had only seven more days left on his mission, slept as Brig studied. At around 9 a.m. Brig was getting antsy. Buddha was a heavy sleeper, and when banging pots and pans didn’t work, Brig went into the bedroom to try a more direct approach.
It was getting cold, and the Buddha’s thick body lay under a thick blanket. “Hey, you beached whale, get up!” Buddha’s light snoring continued. “Come on Elder. You gotta get up. I don’t want to be late for my exam.” Still no response. Brig looked around for something to poke the Buddha with. When he came up empty, Brig stood on the bottom bunk, preparing to nudge the Buddha’s shoulder, when he heard something vibrating, like a cell phone.
Brig shook the Buddha’s shoulder hard, no longer concerned about pissing him off. “Come on, wake up.”
The Buddha jolted awake and sat up in his bed as if shot out of a cannon. He looked at Brig and blinked his eyes, his brain trying to recalibrate. Whatever was vibrating continued, and when the Buddha realized the vibration was coming from underneath his covers, he threw them off in a panic. Buddha quickly found the source of the vibration: a cellular phone. A banned luxury item for Hong Kong missionaries. Without addressing the Prophet, Buddha flipped open the clamshell cover and answered “Wei,” as if he were expecting the call.
Buddha didn’t say much after that. A series of grunts, and “OKs” as he rubbed the sleep from his eyes. Less than a minute later, Buddha closed the cover on his phone and smiled down at Brig from the top bunk. Brig leered back in righteous indignation, finding it challenging to be indignant from a lower position. Buddha slid down, off of his bed, feet first and on his stomach, his garment covered ass facing an outraged Brig. When Buddha’s feet hit the floor, he waddled off in the direction of the bathroom, pinching and pulling his underwear out from between his butt cheeks.
“Elder, get ready! We have to get going!” the Buddha yelled as he turned the corner to enter the bathroom.
“Yeah. I know. I’ve been trying to wake you up for the last fifteen minutes. I have an appointment at noon to take the character test. Remember?” Brig yelled back over the sound of the Buddha urinating.
“Oh yeah. That’s right. I remember now,” the Buddha responded as he urinated. The sound of his stream lessened, and the toilet flushed. Buddha jogged out of the bathroom, smiled at Brig, and wiped his hands down Brig’s clean white shirt.
“Dude! That’s nasty! You didn’t even wash your hands.”
“It’s for good luck! The Buddha blesses you. Amen,” the Buddha said as he made the sign of the cross in the air, and asked, “Are you ready for your test?”
Re-entering the bedroom, Buddha dressed quickly. Seeing the Buddha moving, Brig could finally relax.
“I was born ready. I could take a five thousand character test and pass it. This is just a formality,” Brig said with confidence as he knotted his tie and looked up at the clock. “In less than five hours, you will be the companion of the new Hong Kong mission record holder for the fastest missionary to learn two thousand characters.”
“Sheee-iiit! I knew two thousand characters before I was ten!”
Brig laughed. “I want to stop at the McDonald’s in the Kowloon Tong Mall before we head up to the mission home.”
“Um…Sure. No problem. But we have to make one other stop before that.”
Brig’s face fell. “No way Elder. I can’t be late. Elder Mather warned that if I was even one minute late that we would need to reschedule for next month and I would lose my chance at breaking the record.”
“Elder Mather is a douchebag. We won’t be late if you would hurry!” The Buddha grabbed his bag and held the front door for Brig.
Brig picked up his bag and stopped at the door’s threshold. Moving his face to within inches of the Buddha’s, Brig warned, “If I’m late Elder, I will hunt you down. Kill you. And make sure you’re never resurrected.”