III. Weep Bitterly for Her Who Goes Away
Six days after Gideon Dodd’s sermon about Truth — and about his wife Tamera’s infamous interview with Maria Gutierrez (not yet Stenson) — he returned home late from an elders’ meeting.
He was hungry. He was thinking about playing catch with his boy, maybe, after dinner. (Not that James had yet caught anything, or thrown much.)
Humming a hymn, he opened the door on an empty house. In houses as big as Gideon Dodd’s, emptiness like that can almost be a punch in the gut.
There was a note. Continue reading “The Man Who Ran for God (pt. 9)”
There is a stomp, a shattering of glass, and blood.
The bridegroom collapses into a heap upon the bunched train of his newly-minted wife’s gown. Flat red flowers bloom on the white of her dress from under her man’s heel, where shards of a wine vessel sparkle in sunlight from the dirt — and from their jutting positions in the sole of his foot.
“Oy, I’m dying! I’m bleeding out!”
The bride turns to her mentor, her hero, who stands with hands clasped over the Torah at his crotch, stone-faced. Continue reading “The Man Who Ran for God (pt. 8)”
“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)”