Recession Reverend – By K.J. Hays
Passing his hand over the masses from his height to hush them, he stood firm beneath a stone that will never roll away. A rock that will never move under a miraculous glow leaving a reformed whore to say: “Jesus.” The man of the collar projected his sermons lavishly to the huddled masses that reached up to him with hands blooming with blisters and puckered their lips for blessed rains and burnished idols of tiny gold things they worship in hope that he might lend them more symbolic clout. In unison the teeming grassland of filthy fingers below him seemed to murmur in a droning tone the one evident mantra that they all showed in their empty cups: “Save us. Save us. Save us.” He held up his hands and opened them so that they might see the Truth. He wanted them to know he had nothing and had nothing to hide. Then he gave a sermon on the suffering of Job full of pretty, pink words so that even a flirtatious sophist would lament the momentary death of Reason at the furtive hand of Aesthetics. When he finished the sermon he had them take meditation. Crows overhead scrambled through the air for perches and tucked their heads into their wings in reverence, or maybe they were tired. At the end of the pause he had them pray. A litany of empty wishes left their bandaged, dirt-laden heads. Perhaps their wishes went down, up, or sideways. Even a lost god on the cross would have changed his mind about man knowing not what he does upon hearing such pithy, grim needs manifest in the collective conscience of an arthritic rabble aching for a flood to come nourish their land or clean them from the skin of the earth. Then the prophet said: Amen. They said nothing, and leaned on each other wanting more. He promised them more fleshy gospel on the Sabbath. Before he took leave of them he reached into his robe and produced a brown, divine, bulbous loaf of bread and cast it down to them. They could not afford the cost of sharing. They fought.
On the following Sabbath the minister returned to them to give a sermon on turning the other cheek. They remained below him agog and agape at his insight into their greedy condition. After prayer he threw no bread. Some followers wept in secret to their tiny, gold trifles. At night the prophet thought to himself of their foolishness and drank the blood of the Lamb. In the morning he awoke, and while grooming his coiffure he found a growth on his scalp. He ignored it and gave a jeremiad about the book of Revelation to the hoi polloi who came to him bearing cups because a famine struck the land and he wanted them to look to their own sinful ways. At the end he threw no bread. His message was not received. The masses looked at their empty cups with desiccated, wiry, sour faces, and made round, black holes of confusion with their mouths. They knew he ate better. He asked them to pray. While all stood silent with the prophet one of their number let his frustration ring out the truth they all felt in their hollow stomachs: He hurled his wooden cup at the prophet, and the cup struck him in the rib. A woman threw a cup out of frustration for the child she buried in the sand that night. The cup struck the prophet on the crown of his head. Soon cupboards of cups clattered at the feet of the prophet as the desperate people whipped cup after cup at him until the prophet’s cup ran over with cups. Then in unison they all focused their eyes on the vicar and puffed out a tired: Amen. The prophet went home and felt the growth on his head. It had grown larger. He took communion over and over and over again. He righted himself and gathered the bread from the store in his house and threw it out into the street and shouted to the dark: “Take and Eat.” Then he sat down to take one final sacrament. His face turned pink with the blood of the Lamb. While he drank, a small boy who still cared for him came and told him that a rumor had started amongst the followers about his tumor. He told the child to go in peace with fewer letters. Then he lied on the floor of his dining room singing hymns till he fell asleep. Ho-ly. Ho-ly. Halleluja…zzz…zzz.