“Oh, please Jesus! Please!” Sister Cheryl cried out, and the rest of the flock started a new round of desperate pleas, the pastor switching to some language I’d never heard—like Father David’s secret God-speak but more angry and full of life—fixing on a single phrase he repeated forcefully as he thrust the young lady’s head back and forth until suddenly stopping and shouting out, “Satan! I command you to release this woman’s soul back into the bosom of Christ!”
Sister Alice let out a monstrous wail like a wildebeest falling to a pride of lions, her little red book flying across the room as she flung herself into the ample arms of the shepherd who leaned down and whispered a few more rounds of his cryptic chant into her ear.
Then, as if for the first time, she opened her eyes, and everyone sighed as many “Praise the Lords” and “Amens” as it took to bring themselves back down to earth on their way back to their seats.
The pastor then led us in a much more tranquil closing prayer, after which everyone stood up and shook hands gladly, smiling like we hadn’t just witnessed the real live version of that crazy movie where the rabid teenage girl spins her head in a circle and pukes on those two priests.
Except these weren't my crude, older cousins at some sleepover. These were grown-ups. And they were white.
* * *
The next thing I remember, Dad took my hand and we joined the people walking up to the stage where I unwittingly took my first communion—a quarter piece of Wonder bread given by the pastor and a small paper cup of grape juice given by his pretty wife who smelled as nice as she sounded. Throw in a bag of hot popcorn, a cold can of RC and a thriller about the end of the world and you've got yourself a new little foot soldier in what the news anchor from the movie called A holy war between the Son of God and the Prince of Darkness.
The Prince, the flesh and blood son of Satan, was a dark but charming man from the East who wore a turban. He came bearing the banner of peace that lulled most of God’s children into a false sense of security, then fired giant missiles at us, like the Russian ones we still had drills for in school, as if a wooden desk could stop your skin from melting off your bones.
There was footage of more than a few mushroom clouds and the Japanese hellscapes that had followed such unspeakable acts, the news man went on to tell us that all those who had yet to give their souls to the “King of Kings” would surely reap the wrath of the Four horsemen of the Apocalypse, sent by God himself to unleash plague and devastation on all the world’s unrepentant sinners.
On the other hand, those who had obeyed His Word would be secretly airlifted to a wondrous place in the clouds with streets paved with gold and castles made of ivory.