—The Isley Brothers, “Who’s That Lady?”
Charles presses print and hears the printer wake up and begin spitting pages. He stretches and shakes himself. I think I’ve finally got it, he thinks. After numerous false starts he’s finally satisfied with his approach to the character of Jesus. Yah, he thinks, pulling a Marlboro from the nearby pack, this is just sacrilegious enough to make them think. Jesus, the son of a rich man! A man who made up stories about his origins because he knew no one would believe the soul of a rich man. It’s just what Chip and I were talking about the other day. Continue reading “4. Screw that lady”
Indigo Girls—Closer to Fine
Charles and Chip are sitting around Skip’s office on a Saturday. Chip had some paperwork he needed to finish, so he invited Charles to drop over once he was finished and maybe play some basketball. The two are drinking Bud Lights, sitting at either end of Chip’s office couch. They can hear a pickup basketball game on the church’s court next to Chip’s office. For while they just drink and listen to the young men slinging good-humored insults at each other as they play.
“Reminds me of when we met,” Charles says. “You remember?”
“Do you think I’m senile? Of course I do, it was only a year ago.” Continue reading “5. And I went to see the doctor of philosophy / With a poster of Rasputin and a beer down to his knee”
—Stephen Stills—Love the One You’re With
John Mittney, successful hedge fund manager, putative savior of the Olympics, and staunch Republican, put one booted foot up on the square prop hay bale and smiled at the small crowd. “Corporations are people my friend,” he said with a twinkle in his slate blue eyes.
“No, they’re not!” shouted several in the crowd.
“Of course, they are,” Mittney said. “Everything corporations earn ultimately goes to people. Where do you think it goes?”
“To the Mormon Church,” screamed one man.
John was taken aback by the outburst. In all the hundreds of political meetings he had attended in this campaign and the one four years ago, nobody had had the temerity to bring up his faith. While Mittney acknowledged that some Mormon beliefs were outside the general Christian mainstream, he was a Christian and had struggled to remove any whiff of scrutiny of his religion from his political life.
Continue reading “6. There’s a road and at this end love / Where the eagles fly when you’re done”
Fall Out Boy—Bang The Doldrums
Wow, thinks Charles, sitting at his keyboard. Wow, wow, wow!
Charles had been stuck for months on a single point in his latest attempt to start his novel: Who is the second witness to the Second Coming? He had relentlessly searched on Google to try to get a clue, from the Bible, from the Book of Mormon, from Mandaean scripture, from a host of other minor religions.
Continue reading “7. I believe in the rapture, below the waist”
Bob Dylan—She Belongs to Me
Edie rushes at Charles bearing a battle ax with a demonic look on her face. Charles ducks behind an armoire and Edie splinters it with a single blow. Charles crawls down the stairs on all fours. He can’t get his limbs to work fast enough to keep ahead of the huge, green, wriggling worms controlled by silver leashes bunched in Edie’s enormous grotesque fists. He falls through the landing into a swimming pool of blood. Edie surfaces and grabs him by the neck. “You never loved me!” she screams, exposing six-inch-long fangs. Her gaping mouth moves closer and closer despite Charles’s desperate attempts to fight her off. Just as her jaws close around his dick, Charles wakes with a shout, sitting bolt upright in his bed, shivering and sweating.
Continue reading “8. She’s got everything she needs, she’s an artist, she don’t look bad”
Destiny’s Child’s—Say My Name
Charles drives over to Chip’s house. He tries not to go there too often since Chip’s wife Trixie felt they had enough visitors, what with church folk constantly coming by to seek Chip’s advice, blessing, or to help him with various house and yard chores. The house is a low, long, cinder-block-walled, flat-roofed, typical south Florida home. It was painted, badly, an institutional lime green.
Charles knocks on the front door and Trixie lets him in. Charles can’t tell if she’s annoyed that he’s come over or just peeved to be interrupted.
“Hi, Charles. I was just stripping the kitchen floor. Damned ancient linoleum. Stupid church building committee won’t pry loose the money to replace it. Ruins my nails whenever I have to do this.”
“Wow, you never hear of anyone having to strip the wax off floors anymore. What a bummer.”
“To live is to suffer, my daddy used to say.” Continue reading “9. Say baby I love you / If you ain’t running gay”
Allanah Myles—Black Velvet
Aleister awoke to find his familiar, his wife Rose, at the foot of the bed. She had the faraway eyes that signified a possession. “What is the matter?” he said. He was worried, as she had recently said that she felt she was pregnant.
“There is something you must know,” Rose said. “A being of great power wishes to communicate with you.”
“Can’t he wait until after my breakfast?” Aleister pleaded.
“He comes now.” Rose fainted to the floor and a voice came into the room. To Aleister, it appeared to emanate from a corner of the bedroom. The voice was neither high nor low, but deep, musical and expressive, and spoke unaccented English. Taken aback, Aleister sat upright in bed and clutched the bedclothes to him.
Continue reading “10. A new religion that’ll bring you to your knees, like Velveeta Cheese”
Creedence Clearwater Revival—Down on the Corner
Chip and Charles are hanging around Chip’s basement man cave. Chip’s parsonage sat on the edge of a sinkhole and, because of the drop in grade, actually had a walkout basement, unlike the vast majority of Florida houses. The room opened out to a patio underneath the first-floor deck, and thus was partially lit with natural light. The two were sitting across from each other on parallel couches. Between them was a table Chip had made out of an ancient wooden high-tension wire spool upon which he had painted the red N of Nebraska football. On the table are a couple of beers, a basket of Doritos, and a bowl of melted Velveeta, Chip’s favorite snack food, which Charles can barely stomach. The modest flat panel TV is showing a NASCAR race with the sound off. Continue reading “9. Tell the devil you can freeze hell”
Chip and Charles are hanging around Chip’s basement man cave, each on his own couch as usual. On the table between the couches are a couple of beers, a basket of Doritos, and a bowl of melted Velveeta, Chip’s favorite snack food, which Charles can barely stomach. The modest flat panel TV is showing a NASCAR race with the sound off.
Charles has brought the first draft of his Aleister chapter and Chip is intently reading. As always, Chip doesn’t quite know what to do, so he starts wandering around the basement. Everything is Nebraska-themed: the Big Red N throw rug, the football posters and framed pictures of Chip in his lineman’s uniform, the cups and glasses on the dry bar in the corner, even the treads on the stairs to the first-floor feature red Ns.
Continue reading “11. You’ve got to change your underwear, baby, before I start loving you.”
Charles met Steve not long after meeting Edie. One evening Charles was walking by the Mary Reed Building and heard Mozart’s “Rondo alla Turca” being played faster than he had ever heard it before. Curious, he found the piano practice room and stood at the door watching Steve tearing up the keyboard. Steve finished the piece, looked around, and saw Charles watching.
“Wow,” Charles said. “You have some real chops!”
“Naw. I got short fingers and can barely span an octave.”
“Well, you make up for it with speed and fire.” Charles played bass in a jazz band on campus. He had thought their keyboardist was pretty talented, but Steve blew him away.
Continue reading “12. The piano sounds like a cannonball / And the microphone smells like a beard”