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)”
VI. Their Rims Were Tall and Awesome
“It should be you.”
In his study, Dodd, a block of pine on his knee, uncapped a bottle of industrial-strength wood varnish. At the window, his press agent Raymond Wachstetter reached on tip-toes to open the blinds and let some sunshine in. The squat man sniffed. With his long nose and the cottony tufts of his only hair wisping over his ears, he looked more or less like a penguin offended. He opened the window a crack, letting in cold air.
“What’s that?” Dodd asked. He daubed some varnish onto a rag and wiped down the pine.
“I’m looking at the list of best-sellers in Moldova,” said Wachstetter. “It’s showing here that the Springsteen autobiography’s topping the list there, but that can’t be right. It should be God Don’t Care. It should be you.” Continue reading “The Man Who Ran for God (pt. 2)”
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)”