IV. My Mouth Will Tell of Your Righteous Acts
THE GOD WE DESERVE IS JUST A MAN
by Mary Jetson
When I ask Gideon Dodd, 42, why he wants to be God, his eyes glaze over in that way many would assume means he’s staring straight through them, cooking up some diplomatic, sound bite-ready answer.
But after wandering the plains of the Serengeti with him for nearly a full day without sleep, food, or water, this reporter knows the good reverend. That empty look isn’t the sign of an artful political dodge, or of mistrust in the media. Dodd is searching inward, dissecting his very soul.
He hasn’t, in fact, given any thought to this quandary before.
And it’s in this ten-second pregnant pause that the writer decides she’s going to vote for Gideon Dodd, because there’s an honesty, a truth in that self-reflection. Dodd is impetuous. He’s bull-headed. He has a terrible sense of self-worth and more neuroses than you could ever count. He has irritable bowel syndrome and a fear of flying.
He is, in a word, human. Continue reading “The Man Who Ran for God (pt. 13)”
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)”
After binding my wrists with some hemp they took me to an enormous and grotesque white building, all sharp angles and mottled with pebbles and granite chunks. They called it “City Hall.” There was a ring of deep water around it full of piranha and the leftover bones of all their previous meals. The lawmen marched me down a never-ending and windowless corridor, lit only by flickering red torch flames. Just when I’d taken to thinking they really were leading me to the edge of the world, we reached a pair of massive, cherry wood doors, and Lamech and his partner each pushed one open then shoved me inside.
The coppers’ friendly nudge sent me spilling to my knees. Palms pressed against the stone floor, I looked up and around. In an inset nook on the far wall there roared a large fire. In front of that, the skin of a grizzly bear was spread across the ground. Adorning the black onyx walls were the severed heads of a variety of creatures – a lynx, a dire wolf, an eagle.
Just beneath the snarling visage of a decapitated lion was a big granite block covered in clay goblets full of steaming brown liquid, inked-up reeds and blank cuneiform tablets. Behind it was a wooden chair, and standing beyond that was a man with his back to us, dressed in a fancy maroon silk robe. He had his hands linked just above his rear-end, staring out the wide opening that looked onto the city.
If I’d been a sap, I’d have found all this inspiring. Continue reading “The Good-Bye Garden: Part Six”
“You horse’s arse!”
For the first time in two years this pretty little thing and I were standing face-to-face, and she wasted no time making with the insults. There wasn’t much delay, either, in the way her cupped hand drew back, like a reflex, and slapped holy hell out of my gob. Got me right in the tender spot, too, where my tooth had fallen out.
“Damn,” I said. “You been practicing that or what?”
“Yeah, smart-aleck,” she said, her sleek black hair drooping over one eye. “Every night before bed I’ve been smacking the snot out of a dumb, fat pig looks just like you. I can hardly tell the difference.” She reached back for another good wallop and I snatched her wrist just in time to stop it.
“Now, sweetheart,” I said, “I don’t think you really wanna do that.” Continue reading “The Good-Bye Garden: Part Four”