Most of my youth group recently accepted Jesus into their hearts as their personal
lords and saviors. I didn’t, mainly because Jesus and his friends the apostles
dressed like fucking queers. I told Pastor Johnson that and before he said he’d
pray for me, and put his hand on my head, one corner of his mouth started to
By that point most of the church ladies had stopped talking to me, and Pastor
Johnson said it was probably all right that I didn’t go to youth group
anymore, since Mrs. Hayner preferred not to answer my questions or have me participate.
She said “milk” like “miwk,“ and she would never let
me show her what I was talking about in her Bible. She’d snap it closed
when my fingers got by it, Sit down!, and then her little miwk mouth would fold
up with white wrinkles while she found her place again. I remember she’d
never heard of the giants before the flood, the heroes of men, and she really
snapped her Bible at my hand when I wanted to show her where Noah got drunk and
boinked his son. The room we were in was one of the little-kid Sunday School
rooms and the walls were painted with the Ark and rainbows and animals marching
two-by-two, and Noah in his fag dress. We’d blown through from the creation
to the flood in about three weeks, and I asked if we were going all the way through
Genesis, cause there’s good shit in that one later on.
She asked if there
was a particular story I’d like to discuss. I said the one about Judah
and his sons. She kind of opened her hands, like “Tell it.” Here
Once upon a time there was Judah, who was a pretty good guy up until now. He
married off one of his sons to a chick but the son died cause he was wicked.
So Judah told his other son to boink her, but that son kept pulling out and jizzing
on the floor to keep her from getting pregnant. So Judah killed him. He only
had one son left and that one was too young to do any boinking, so everything
was fine for a while. But then one day Judah picked up a hooker that was really
the chick in disguise. He went to kill her too, when he found out it was really
her, but she said she was finally pregnant. He didn’t kill her, she had
twins, boys, and the one named Perez was the great-great-whatever grandfather
That’s a good story. She didn’t stop me telling it, just sat there
and looked at me. I left at the bathroom break. That was when Pastor Johnson
said it was all right if I didn’t go to youth group anymore. I could just
keep coming to his office whenever I wanted to discuss shit like that.
He has two offices, sort of. There’s a big outer one that opens onto the
big room between the front doors and the sanctuary, and through a door at the
back of the big office is a smaller one with the door always shut. It’s
pretty slick. There’s a little window in the door and through it you can
see the desk and Pastor Johnson at it, but you can’t see the chair across
the desk from him. For privacy. That night when I wanted to talk about Judah
I was in the chair across from Pastor Johnson and he was telling me about seashells.
Someone knocked on the door. Pastor Johnson opened the door and I heard Mrs.
Hayner’s voice. He talked quietly and kept cutting her off. I heard her
say my name, then Pastor Johnson said, “I have him in here.” He said
sorry to me, and I told him to just tell her to pray for me or whatever.
The shells he was talking about he said are on mountains all around the world.
Seashells from the flood. He said yes, he knew that Noah maybe boinked his son.
I remembered I was wondering but didn’t ask if Noah had another guy he
was boinking before the flood that died out there. I could imagine Noah standing
on the deck leaning on the rail looking out at the corpses floating, looking
for the guy. I suppose he’d’ve only done that for a day or two, ’cause
by then the bodies would be puffy and there’d be sharks and shit, little
fish eating them. Or maybe it was a one-time thing with his kid. Either way me
and Jesus come from this guy, too. We all come from a queer.
One thing I don’t want you to think is that I’m a queer,
won’t see me talking to girls much, but boys for sure don’t interest
me either. The other youth guys that accepted Jesus into their hearts spend half
their time flirting with the youth girls, trying to get in good with them, and
the other half staring at them and talking about them. “Out of the mouths
of babes,” they say. Then: “Into the mouths of babes. Into the mouths.
Out of the mouths.” Yeah. Gimme five. None of those guys will ever boink
anything. Not for real. And the girls laugh when they hear them say this shit.
“Have you ever gagged on a dick?” I asked one of the girls. “That
shit’s not really funny.” That girl’s mother said in our little
meeting in the big office that I should leave and never come back. “This
is where I’m supposed to get fucking better,” I told her. I don’t
think I really need to get better—maybe I didn’t need to say “fuck” at
the mom—but I know how church ladies’ minds work. She backed off
and Pastor Johnson calmed her down. Whatever. When I need to whack one off I
don’t sit and think about these girls, that’s for sure. I go online.
That’s where I saw the girl gag on a dick, some black dude’s “monster
cock.” The cameraman was laughing at her. I didn’t go back to that
site. There was another one with a van. These guys would drive around and talk
girls into getting in, then drive around with them until they boinked them, then
dump them off wherever. The guy that did the boinking would get out with the
girl to pee, and when she was hunched down with her pants down the guy would
push her over and run back to the van. While they drove off they’d throw
out her purse or backpack or whatever, and some money. That kept me off the Internet
for a while, but now I have some better ones bookmarked. Sites where the girls
have a real whorey look in their eyes and you know they were wrecked before,
and you don’t feel like you’re doing any more damage watching them
That’s kind of why I like Judah’s story. He gets it. You can’t
wreck a hooker.
This morning during the offering I held up the plate a little while I dug in
my coat pockets. It’s not my normal coat. It was one of my mom’s
boyfriend’s, and I wore it ’cause it’s long and covers my pants-pockets.
My mom saw me in it before I left home and she must’ve thought it was a
father-figure thing ’cause she said, “I’m gonna throw that
thing out when you get back.”
What I was digging for was the last page of my prayer-journal, that I’d
copied out for Pastor Johnson. I wasn’t planning at first on putting it
in the offering. I meant to have it in my pocket when the cops got there. I meant
to be dancing in the room between the sanctuary and the front doors, maybe naked,
maybe not, but with that paper on me so I wouldn’t have to talk.
I write the prayer-journal to God, not Jesus. It was Pastor Johnson’s idea,
of course. He said I could write anything in there that I didn’t think
I could tell him. I said there wasn’t really anything I couldn’t
tell him, just a lot of shit that he probably didn’t want to hear. But
I write it down. I told my mom that I write it to God instead of Jesus like Pastor
Johnson said, that I don’t really care for Jesus and his friends and she
said it’s only Jews that talk to God and don’t bother with Jesus,
that if you go to a Christian church—Christ-ian, dumbass—you have to
like Jesus. Pastor Johnson said I can write to whichever one I want, or the Holy
Spirit, though I didn’t really get what the Spirit was or why I’d
want to talk to it. He said that if I talked to one I kind of talked to all three.
I said if I couldn’t just talk to God and leave the other two out of it
I’d rather just accept Judah into my heart and talk to him. Or King David.
He’s good shit, too. He was a hardass from his youth and killed tons of
people—he had someone killed for pussy, even—and after a battle once
he got naked and danced for days for God—that was before Jesus, so it was
just for God. I would accept him into my heart, either of them, but Pastor Johnson
says only Catholics talk to dead saints and heroes and shit. We’re stuck
with just Jesus and God and the Spirit.
Anyway I put the page in the offering in case the cops shot me up or I got too
covered in blood. I wanted it to be readable. And I was kind of stalling—the
first time I put my hand in my pants-pocket on the gun something weird had happened.
It’s a pretty gun. It’s a Springfield Armory replica of a 1911 model
Colt. On each side of the handle are two wood decorations with diamond-shaped
flat faces for grip. I swung back my coat—this was during the first hymn—and
reached in my other pocket. I had four full clips in that pocket, stuffed in
two balled-up pairs of socks to stop the clicking. I wormed my fingers into one
of the pairs of socks. I worried for a second that I’d put the clips in
upside down in the socks, but when I got my fingers in there I could feel the
rounds at the tops. I didn’t want to have to fiddle with the clips. I’d
practiced and I knew I could change them out fast if they faced the right way.
The clips even slid pretty easy out of the socks. I’d practiced shooting
some, too, and I was pretty sure I could hit Pastor Johnson in the chest if not
the head. I had to do it from pretty much the back row, I knew, so I could cover
the main exit.
Another thing I don’t want you to think is that I wanted to shoot Pastor
Johnson. That was part of the deal. I figured I should shoot him because I didn’t
want to. It’s no trick to shoot people you don’t like. No one would
give that any thought.
Let me back up a second. The gun was my mom’s boyfriend’s. Not the
same one as the coat. That one was Nick, the gun was Jay. Jay was an asshole.
After I took the gun I wanted to shoot him. Back up farther. He knew it was me
that took the gun because he had just showed me the gun a few days ago. He had
to pick me up from detention when my mom was at work and I saw the case under
my seat. It was kind of poking out between my feet. I asked him what it was and
he said, “Open it up.” I did and he told me about it. He said it
just like that: “A Springfield Armory replica of a 1911 model Colt.” A
gun that was used in both World Wars and so forth.
It was that Saturday that I took the gun. My mom and Jay were arguing about something
and I just walked out and took the whole case out of his truck and brought it
in. I figured I’d shoot him right then, but they wrapped it up pretty quick.
A few days later I heard them arguing on the phone in the morning about it and
then he came over later and fucked up my room. My mom’s not very good at
looking for things—usually I can always tell cause a few things aren’t
where I left them—but that day I knew it was Jay come over on his lunch
break. My room was trashed. My clothes were all out of my dresser, my bed was
moved out from the wall, and it looked like my closet had just moved out to the
middle of my floor. All I’d done I had put the case right under her bed.
She’s no good at finding stuff. Or at hiding it. A few months ago I found
some pictures under the bed, of her and Jay, and I put the gun in the same place
I’d found those pictures. Anyway, Jay came over that night and he came
up to me and said, “Where’s it at?” I’d seen my room
already and I told him it probably wasn’t in there. He stiff-armed me into
the wall and then he was right in my face with a finger in my belly. “Where’s
my fucking Springfield?” I thought for a second I’d go get it for
him and peg him, but only one clip was loaded and I didn’t think nine bullets
was enough for him. And I was waiting for him to grab my neck.
Back when he’d caught me looking at the pictures I found, he said, “You
think this shit is nasty?” He showed me the site with the van. He held
my neck to keep my head aimed at the screen. And he said if I told my mom I found
the pictures he’d do that to her, or, click, that. When I was against the
wall and he wanted the gun I thought I would just stand there unless he grabbed
my neck like that. Then I’d have to get away and shoot him, and maybe hold
my mom’s neck and have her watch. Even Pastor Johnson I can’t have
touch my neck like that. That, and the praying, is why he puts his hand on my
head instead. I can’t have people touch my neck.
When I was against the wall my mom told him to leave me alone, he’d already
trashed my room. He swung a blind arm and knocked her sideways into the table.
He was looking at me the whole time. He said, “Answer me.” I said
I didn’t have to answer him shit, he wasn’t my father. He pushed
that finger into my belly and he said, “You know who your father is? I
bet you don’t. He was a fucking queer, just like you, you little faggot.” And
then he left. That was that, and after my mom had a few and was crying and bitching
on the phone to Molly I took the case back into my room and loaded the other
That’s kind of what got me thinking about shooting Pastor Johnson and some
of the rest of the church. Reading about David and Joshua and the Judges and
shit it seems like you’re not necessarily supposed to kill just people
you don’t like.
But that first time I reached in my pocket for the gun something weird happened.
As I said it was during the first hymn and we were of course all standing, me
in pretty much the back row with no one really behind me. I had decided that
I had to shoot Pastor Johnson first both because he was facing me and would see
what I was doing if I shot someone else, and also ’cause I didn’t
really want him watching me shoot other people. I thought of the other youth
people, but they were kind of scattered throughout. I decided I’d just
shoot kind of randomly, accurate, but random in who was who in what order. So
I pulled back the coat and got hold of a clip and reached in the other pocket
for the gun. I described the handle to you. I felt the diamonds against my skin,
the hammer, then the trigger guard and the slide release against my thumb. My
arm felt cold. I went to pull the gun out and the cold went right up my back
and through me into my chest and my other arm and my legs. I felt cold and sharp
in my hair, which was sweat. I sat down. The feeling stayed. It felt like when
I watched the first girl pushed down in her own pee.
I sat there for the rest of the hymn and right on until Pastor Johnson got up
to pray before his sermon. While he was starting the prayer I got up and left.
He saw me going—he always prays with his eyes open—and kind of nodded
at me. Like “See you later.” I went out into the big room and stood
for a minute. Then I had a good idea. I don’t know why I didn’t think
of it at first. I went up the stairs to the loft. It’s not really a choir
loft, but you could fit a big choir there. It’s above the Sunday School
rooms and looks down from the back of the sanctuary. I figured from there I could
cover the whole sanctuary and the exits, and shoot over people to fire more evenly
across the room. I remember I was trying to figure out what I felt when I went
to pull the gun out. I hadn’t expected to feel much of anything. Maybe
sad for Pastor Johnson, but that was why I was going to shoot him first. The
stairs had green carpeting. The railing was one long dowel and I could feel the
grain all the way up. The floor of the loft was sloped down and it felt weird
on my ankles. I didn’t duck or anything. I just walked right up to the
rail and leaned out and looked at them. My first thought was they wouldn’t
stay there long enough to get puffy, the ambulance people and the cops would
clean them up. My second thought was of the shells. This is how he said they work.
When the water from the flood went down there were like tide pools in all the
low spots, full of shells and seaweed and the little fish and maybe sharks.
But in a real tide pool that works, the water comes back and keeps things going.
In these the water just went away and the fish and shells piled up on each other
and got buried in mud and shit and died and turned to rock. And now we have them.
That thought did me pretty well and I reached in my pocket again for the gun.
I had the feeling again. My whole body was cold and I was almost shaking. I tried
to imagine shooting like when I practiced, but I kept coming back to the girl
getting up out of her pee and whatever else was on her and walking up to the
road to get her purse and decide whether to pick up the money. And my sister—I
have a sister, I know I haven’t told you about her. There’s been
a lot going on in my head while I’ve been telling you this that hasn’t
gone in here, shit that you don’t want to hear, and I wasn’t going
to talk about her. But she came into my head, too. In our basement a few months
ago, she was getting ready to go out—she’s never really there except
for clothes and to get ready or eat some cereal—and she had on a white
shirt and a black foldy skirt that just covered her butt, and long diamond-pattern
socks and black platform shoes. She was lining her eyes and said, “Are
you looking at my ass, you little pervert?” She stopped with her makeup
for a second and looked at me in the mirror. Then she leaned back in to keep
going with her eyes but she reached down and flipped up the skirt and I saw for
a second her whole butt and the black curves of underwear coming out the top.
And before she flipped it up, in the mirror she had that whorey glint for a second.
I told Pastor Johnson that. And that if I saw that look on her face again I wouldn’t
be able to even look at those sites I have bookmarked. He said that would probably
be all right, if I didn’t look at them again. I said I wouldn’t be
able to look because my sister would be one of them and I couldn’t look
at any girls then because there wouldn’t be any left that I could go back
to, that I cared if they lived or got fucked in the ass and died. He said you
can always care. Always care. All of a sudden I felt bad for him. I think if
you know anyone for long enough you can’t do anything but feel bad for
them. And if that’s caring I’m fucking out. Out.
I looked back out at the people and I thought again of the shells and how I knew
that these people would be preserved like that in this story, I knew that I’d
have to tell this story to you or the cops and that if I didn’t shoot anyone
they’d just be preserved like the shells from the flood, buried in shit
and saved forever, and I didn’t want these people to be saved. I tried
to take the gun out, I tried. But this time I thought I’d puke right over
the rail like Noah looking out at the bodies for his boyfriend, a giant’s
monster cock, anal vids, I felt like the cameraman was laughing at me. Then I
looked at Pastor Johnson. He spotted me up there. He was just revving up for
his sermon and he looked up at me and the corner of his mouth started to smile.
Hey, you didn’t leave.
Now I’m sitting in the big office. My pants pockets are bulging out, and
everyone went home an hour ago. The only other time I’ve sat in this office
alone was when my mother came to bitch at Pastor Johnson ‘cause I was talking
about the Nephilim—the giants—and Noah and Judah. They were in there
a while and that’s when I mashed my face into the door to the small office
and I could see him, but I couldn’t see my mother in there. It didn’t
do any good. It’d been her idea that I come in the first place—“What
are you doing sitting there. Go do something. Go make a friend. Go to church.
People have to like you at church.”—but when she left she just walked
out and Pastor Johnson drove me home later.
The door to the small office is locked. Every week after the service a deacon
counts the offering and stacks the intercessory prayer requests and puts them
on Pastor Johnson’s desk and locks the door. When Pastor Johnson is done
doing whatever after the service he goes in and writes down the requests in his
own handwriting and shreds the originals. For privacy. Then he takes the money
to the bank. My page from my prayer-journal is in there. I want it back, so it
doesn’t get out, so I don’t have to tell you about it. “Please
help me pull the trigger when it’s time.” That’s how it ends.
But there’s other shit in there too.
Every time I hear steps outside the office I reach in for the gun. Every time
my whole body goes cold and I get shaky. I haven’t done anything wrong,
yet. And I wonder if this coldness is Jesus coming into my heart.
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