Gentle Reader: The first chapter of this book sucks. It’s intended to. Please read on.
1. Fleas naughty dog/There’s fleas on your dad
José Feliciano, Feliz Navidad
The wind, unsettled and quarrelsome among dusty Bethlehem streets, blows down broken cobblestones as two hooded figures make their way. As they hurry, the taller whispers urgently to the other, who carries a small bundle. They turn down an alley, avoiding steaming piles of dung, toward the stable hewn into the rock behind an inn.
The pair step into the stable and the taller removes a cylinder from its pocket. It bends over the small bundle and sprays something from the cylinder. “There. Now he’s protected from the brain virus the Enforcers have infected this planet with. At least his intellect won’t be sapped, and he’ll have a better chance of surviving.”
Continue reading “1. Fleas naughty dog/There’s fleas on your dad”
—John F. Wade, c.1743, O Come All Ye Faithful
Charles Beaumont DeFries, aspiring novelist, ex-college-teacher, moderately successful technical writer, and newspaper columnist, pulls the last sheet of the chapter out of the printer, squints at it briefly through the bottoms of his bifocals, then crumples the whole manuscript and tosses it angrily into the trash can.
Christ, he says, what a bunch of crap! Man, that was a strange turn it took: brain virus to three wise guys. Shit! I’ll never get this goddamned book started.
Continue reading “2. O Come All Ye Fawfoo”
—The Beatles, Baby You’re a Rich Man
Stately, plump Jesús Christos came from the elevator, bearing a bowl of oranges upon which an iPad and a Wall Street Journal lay crossed. The billionaire scion of a Mexican pre-mixed concrete family crossed to the rampart on top of Christos Tower and surveyed his kingdom, laid out beneath him, through the haze of early smog. He cleared his throat and spat over the side; the sputum fell a few feet and then a gust caught it and threw it back in his face. Angered, he shifted the bowl into his left hand, wiped the spit off his face, and tried futilely to throw it back over the side of the hundred-story building. Continue reading “3. Baby you’re a rich fat, baby you’re a rich fat, baby you’re a rich fat Jew!”
—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 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 out 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. He 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”