“Get down from there, Boogie.”
Somewhere in Utah a budgie perches upon a shower curtain rod, shrouded in the vapor clouds swirling above a bathtub full of water, lavender, and sixty-eight year-old, white male flesh.
The man in the tub repeats himself, stern and authoritative:
“C’mon down, Boogie-Man. Sit on Pappy’s shoulder?”
The budgie does not budge.
“Fine. Be that way.” Continue reading “The Man Who Ran for God (pt. 6)”
VIII. A Vain Man through Pride Causeth Debate
It was small, this little playhouse stage. Big enough to put on Our Town but certainly not The King and I. Two podiums were on either side, flanked by the drawn and roped curtains.
Dodd looked around, heart pounding, forehead damp and chilly.
But no one else was out here yet.
A light smattering of applause greeted him. About a dozen people occupied some of the seats in the first few rows. One guy hung around in the back, sleeping or maybe dead.
Onstage cameras stood on tripods angled toward the podiums; a few more were scattered throughout the house.
In the middle of the front row was a small woman with curled white hair and a flowery dress divvied up by the thick belt around her waist. There was a foldout card table before her, a little cheapie microphone and stand wobbling on its warped surface. A stack of papers lay beneath her folded hands.
Concentrating on the microphone, apparently vexed by it, she tapped the mouthpiece and screwed up her pruny lips. Continue reading “The Man Who Ran for God (pt. 5)”
IV. I Will Spue Thee out of My Mouth
They met not at any Waffle House but an Arby’s where two highways crossed. Dodd went alone, driving a rental car. He put on a red baseball cap and sunglasses before he went in. Now was not a good time to stop for selfies with his fans or — worse — have the press show up again. He stuffed his hands in his pockets and kept his head down, opening the glass doors to the restaurant with a push of the shoulder.
He went inside.
Ding, ding! Bong, bong!
Dodd yelped. This loud, incessant clanging struck up the moment his first toe touched the grimy tile. Like a dinner bell on a farm.
“Look who it is!” someone shouted. Continue reading “The Man Who Ran for God (pt. 4)”
In an office bigger than many men’s own homes sits a withering human being — white, male, hairless with crepe paper for skin. Fingers like rotting twigs press a button near his lap. There is a resulting buzz which summons another ancient man. They are both dressed in couture out of time — sweeping, shimmering robes.
“Yes, Your Holiness?” says the second man, just as papery and just as bald.
The man behind the massive cherry wood desk has a copy of The New York Times spread before him. Peering through glass lenses an inch thick he still can’t quite make heads or tails of the headline there, English not being his preferred manner of communication.
“The Father from America,” says the Pontiff in his native Italian. “He will arrive tomorrow with more information on this non-denominational Protestant from the television.”
“The one they call Dodd,” says the Cardinal. Continue reading “The Man Who Ran for God (pt. 3)”
I. In the Beginning
Gideon Dodd, he was a preacher man.
And during the first quarter of the twenty-first century in America, a preacher man with the gumption, charisma, booming voice, and winning smile of Gideon Dodd’s caliber could make a lucrative go of it. At forty-seven years old Dodd had long since been hosting the top-rated religious program on television. His radio show was syndicated worldwide, his brand of communion wine sold by the crate at Costco stores across the nation, and he’d written fourteen best sellers — a third of them cook books, the rest of a more expected theological bent.
If there was proof of a God, it was that men like Gideon Dodd could make good on nothing but their own fortitude and elbow grease — could grow up in a Baltimore housing project and, some forty years later, come to wake up every day in an Upper Manhattan townhome replete with an antique gun collection and marble sinks in the bathrooms. That he could replace his Armani suit with a Brioni when the congregation laid one too many clammy hands on him during altar call.
A good Christian man, a successful man, an articulate and family-focused man with teeth so white the makeup guys had to dull them down before airtime every Sunday morning: That was Gideon Dodd.
Continue reading “The Man Who Ran for God (pt. 1)”