Tuesday, July 23, 2013

The Goodliness Intervention

It was one of those Satan moments I suppose, when the little angel on your right shoulder telling you calmly to be a good boy is shouted down by the devil on the left hollering "DOIT DOIT DOIT!!!!" Perhaps there's some profound justification for all things bad to be found in the fact that the word "good", is one more letter than God, and how can you surpass God for God's sake even if it's only by one letter?

My first wife and I lived in an old victorian mini mansion. It had been cut into a couple apartments, but the owner had not bothered with simple amenities like multiple mailboxes and doorbells. As in all good neighbor situations, we were responsible for each other in certain ways, like, if the doorbell rang, we had to answer it for the building.


We didn't have many visitors that didn't simply walk in or even climb through a window as hippies and bikers were known to do, so when the bell rang I was a bit confused. We were on the cusp of the poor neighborhood where blacks and whites shot each other over their share of a summer's Popsicle, so door to door salesmen generally stayed clear; unless they happened to be the most heinous Alpha dogs who would attach a single mother's welfare check to a monthly payment book, 200 installments for a 400 dollar vacuum cleaner complete with meat grinding and Margarita shaker attachments.

So I couldn't imagine who would be persistently ring/knocking in the middle of the afternoon when normal people would be working. But as I was just hanging out watching traffic from an open window, I decided to answer rather than ignore.

It was my first experience with Jehovah's Witness missionaries and before I continue let me assure you that I have no animosity toward anyone's religion. I'd just as soon they leave me alone, but I can't even get Viagra salesmen to do that, so a once every few year visit from neighborhood saviors is hardly a chore. That said...

Being new to the routine I took the paper they gleefully handed me and gazed into their lovely, well scrubbed faces. Contrary to the families I would receive later in life at my home in the boondocks, (the young men helping gramma to my door as their ploy, gramma who is too weak to stand on her own thus making her turnaway a true "guilty pleasure",) these two were young, one boy-one girl, probably divinity students and quite attractive as I remember; always a great ice breaker in the God sales business.

They asked if I was a Christian and what did I think about so and so, inferring the moment I reluctantly answered yes to the Christian thing that while they agreed to a point with my dogma whatever it was and that I was certainly in no danger of having the earth open at my feet while Satan's tail snapped about my legs and dragged me off to hell, they had a series of wonderful adaptations to bless me with if only I'd open my soon to be "formerly" black heart.

I quickly grew tired of the speech; even Joan of Arcadia on my stoop couldn't have made me sit through much more of what they were feeding me and I had a celebrity crush on her, but I was just too damned nice to stop them or slam the door as my wife has done once or twice in our life together.

They had the good angel, better angel thing down, rattling off verse after verse, jumping on each others last words on cue as if there was a teleprompter in the Balsam fir that sat next to my doorway. I stood there slumping, being hammered by God's personal representatives who'd hoped to find the chink that under pressure would break my resistance into so many tiny pieces of apology for being stubborn, followed by a round of "hallelujah I'm saved!"s.

And then they said the phrase that pays. "Do you mind if we come inside and compare bibles?"

My shoulder angel was shocked; I could hear her sighing heavily like a recently grounded teenager. My shoulder devil on the other hand knew just what to do.

I did invite them inside (as they were so insistent I didn't want to suffer a random black mark on my soul for refusing) and led them into my red and blue laboratory where I sat them on my black naugahide couch still faintly smelling of last night's sex, a minor point of likely uncomfortability that I still can't gauge as to its effectiveness. (Do Witness missionaries have sex? I suppose they do; but do they know that non Witness' do too? And once confronted with evidence that they are not alone in the universe, does it make them squirm? Or kinda turn them on like it does for most of the rest of us...I'm just sayin...)

I begged them to wait a moment while I poured each of us a paper Dixie cup of cherry Kool-Aid. I was being as gracious as I could be what with my being a biker/taxi driver/pot smoker/alcoholic and all. I was unaccustomed to having actual guests in my house; guests that had the respect to dress accordingly for a possible audience with the likes of me. The last time I'd been in someone's living room with a man in a suit was at my grandfather's Irish wake, and that wouldn't have been much fun without refreshments either.

Once gathering my reference book from my makeshift library in the dining room hutch, I gave them their drinks and pulled up a chair directly in front of them; my back to the wall converted to black mirror tile pool so that my form would be encircled by red shag carpet tiles as a frame, and my body laid into ebony mirror as if I were a thing of fantasy, cut from a book and glued, then airbrushed into a new surrounding. Always form over function I am.

They smiled and pulled from their briefcases the New World Translation version of King James, the Watchtower Society Wonder as it were. And then they asked what book I might be comparing that they might know its contents and be able to shout page numbers for easier perusal and eventual disavowment.

I didn't have a King James, or anything like it in fact. Sure I'd read it, I just didn't own a copy. Us poor people don't have much "stuff" ya know. But I did have a book bought at a local occult Shoppe, written by a geek named Anton Szandor LaVay; a man that called himself the "Black Pope" and had written a piece of secular humanist tripe, tagged a few "spells" and dogmatic rituals at the end as an all but admitted ruse to sell more copies and so, created a working manual for his very own faux church.

I said nothing, as nothing needed saying really. I simply turned the cover toward them, the black glossy stock glaring in the afternoon sun, the embossed pentagram in blood red plainly visible to even the most severely afflicted narcissist whose every thought was pre-creating the next thought, and the next.

"The Satanic Bible" it said in bold block lettering that must have seemed as tall as the pillars of salt that served as advertising kiosks for the wonderful retirement benefits to be had once employed by the cities of Sodom and Gomorra.

They said nothing...as nothing needed saying really. The girl choked, followed by a coughing fit, during which in an attempt to re-swallow her heart she spilled cherry Kool-Aid on her pretty dress. He gave me the customary harrumph that pretenders to the Kingdom are known to hurl when desirous of vulgarity, but unable to use it without risking eternal damnation.

And so the little bit country and the little bit rock and roll walked purposely toward the exit, and without so much as a thanks for the sugar water, they left the infernal darkness and burst forth into the blessed light of day; intent on reaching their vehicle before my imps and underghouls could capture them and drag their silly carcasses back into my lair.

It was a hoot, but I paid a price. For my sins, my self imposed penance was to ignore Satan for a few years and be a good boy for my little angel. But it was worth it; Even Satan had to agree.

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