S&R Fiction

S&R Fiction: "Prayers" by Madeline Weinland

The clean-shaven man entered the church after the sermon had already begun. He took a seat next to an elderly woman in pink tweed, clutching her own underlined Bible with one hand while fingering her wooden rosary with the other. She looked over at the man with contempt as he sat down. He gave the sign of the cross and winked at her.

The deacon’s voice echoed through the half-filled church.

“I reminded my son of this as he headed to his soccer game. I told him, don’t you forget why you’re here on this earth.” The clean-shaven man put his head down in his hands, his thoughts pushing the deacon’s sermon back out into the holy air around him.

God, I know you may not recognize my voice, it’s been a long time. I haven’t been to confession since my confirmation, probably. I know that’s a sin. It’s probably a sin that I’m not listening to the deacon either. What’s his name? Thomas? Luke? Henry? Whatever. I’m sorry for not listening to what’s-his-name up there.

“Jesus was the one who made you for this world, my son. There will be people on your soccer team who will try to tell you things that go against the word of the Lord. They aren’t bad people, but they’ve been led astray.”

Anyways, I did a bad thing and I can’t tell anyone but I’m busting up inside I gotta tell someone so bad.  It started the night in December that Ann was pissed at me for something I did. What I did was tell Misty that we’d get her a puppy. Ann and I had talked and decided she wasn’t old enough for a puppy but Misty kept asking me so I told her she could get one. Anyways, Ann was screaming at me and Misty was hiding up in her room and I told Ann to shut the fuck up so the kid doesn’t hear. And she told me to get the fuck out before she keeps on yelling. So I did. Now, I was pissed, you know? Real pissed. Ann would yell at me all the time, always for stupid shit. I just wanted to get away from the house for a while so I headed to the club that my boys took me to for my bachelor party. You know the one, Diamonds, or some shit like that. I was just having a few beers and this girl comes up to me and asks me for a lap dance. I’ve never been one for strippers, but I looked up at this girl and damn, you know when things just hit you? This girl had something, I don’t know what, you know, but she just had something. She had these big green eyes and blonde hair and I thought to myself, ‘I need to get her out of here.’ I also thought that she needed to wash her hair, it was looking kinda stringy from being in this hot bar all night. I told her I didn’t need a lap dance, what I could use was a new wife. She started laughing and I swear it was angelic. You’d know better than me, you probably hear those angel bitches laugh all the time, and I swear she laughed how angels would. She sat down and we talked for an hour or so and when the club closed she asked if I wanted to continue the conversation in her apartment. Turns out, she lives upstairs, right above the fucking club. She had this tiny little apartment and her shower was pitiful but I told her I thought we should shower. She laughed that angel laugh and we went into the shower and she told me she was a virgin. A fucking virgin! Now I knew I had to be the first guy to bust this chick open. A virgin! That’s your speciality, right God? I’m fucking with you, man, but I know you like those pure chicks, like Mary.

“I told him, there will be things on your television shows that are not the way of the Lord. There will be things heard on the playground that will not be the way of the Lord. There will be things said by our own President of the United States that will not be the way of the Lord. What we have to do is find these lies and turn against them. We have to turn away from the ways of the devil.”

A woman in the middle of the church stood up and raised her hand.

“Are you saying the kids at school are the devil?”

“No, ma’am, but the devil is tempting them, the devil is teaching our kids bad things.”

A man in a blue suit at the end of the woman’s row stood up.

“So their teachers are the devil?”

“No, no, no, I mean the devil is everywhere, trying to teach our youth the ways of temptation and lead them away from the Lord. Don’t let the devil take your children away from the Lord’s truth!”

The clean-shaven man didn’t hear any of this exchange. His eyes were closed and he was smiling to himself as he shared his story with the Lord.

So a few weeks go by and I’m in and out of this chick four times a week. We’re having our fun and all, and Ann doesn’t know a damn thing. In fact, I think she’s happier because I’m usually in a better mood after I’ve popped one off and I come home and give her a big kiss on the lips and smack her ass the way I used to when we were teenagers. OK, so here comes the bad thing I did.

“The devil is everywhere? Trying to take my children?!” A hysterical voice shouted out in the church. A murmur rippled through the congregation, people beginning to realize their children were in danger of a demonic abduction. The deacon waved his arms to try to get their attention back.

“No, my people! The devil isn’t literally trying to take your children. I’m saying that the devil spreads his words in evil forums, trying to take away the truth from the Lord and tempt people into believing his lies. We have to remember the Lord’s truth in order to not be lead into the path of darkness.”

“My son’s baseball team is the Little Devils! They’re trying to take my son into the darkness!” A woman cried before running down the aisle and out the door.

So one night I get to Tanya’s apartment, oh yeah Tanya’s the stripper’s name, and there’s a fucking little boy there. I’m like who’s this kid, and she admits he’s her son. So at first I just think to myself, no way I’m going to help raise this kid. Then it hits me, she’s no virgin! She lied to me, so I’m getting all pissed. The next thing she says that is that she’s pregnant and it’s mine. Tanya must be the most fertile woman in the world, God, because we used a condom every time. So I’m thinking to myself, I’ve gotten myself involved with a liar! There’s no way I can stay with a liar. That is something I just cannot do. So I know I gotta cut ties with Tanya now, but there’s the problem of her being pregnant, so I tell her we gotta get it taken care of. She starts crying, and it’s even cute when she cries because her voice gets all hoarse, but I’m too pissed at her to forgive her so I tell her to grab her son and get in the car. So we drive to the nearest clinic, and we go inside, and I hold her son in my lap while she gets the pill that takes care of it. The whole time we’re there we hear the protesters outside. They were shouting things like “Abortions give you breast cancer” and “God hates killers” and I know that’s not true about the cancer but it made me think about my own daughter. When she came out she had big streaks of mascara on her cheeks and her little boy had marker on his hands because I wasn’t paying attention while he was coloring. I took them home, and on my way home I stop at the pet store and I got a dog for Misty. I was feeling all angry and confused after going to that clinic and I knew it would piss Ann off, but I did it anyways. So that’s my bad thing, Lord, I got the dog anyways, even though my wife didn’t want me to. I knew she didn’t want it and I did it anyways. Cute dog though. I think we’ll name him Bart.

The church was in chaos now, people rushing through the doors to get their children who were sitting safely in Bible School or in the baby room. The children that were old enough to be in the pews with their parents were lifted from the ground and held tightly by their mothers who sobbed that the devil wouldn’t get them. The deacon and priest at the front of the church were yelling for control, but within a few minutes the frantic congregation had left the church empty except for one clean-shaven man seated near the back.

The deacon walked over and put his hand on the man’s shoulder.

“Thank God we have one man who understands the word of the Lord.”

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