display | more...

I'm walking downtown during lunch. It's a hot, summer day and the sky is bright blue behind tall buildings. The wind blows through the static corridors, flicking dust and throwing papers and lifting skirts. It is a playful child with mirrors on its shoes and grubby, pigtail pulling fingers.

We stroll the block or so to have Chinese food and I get a large order of Siam Noodles in a Styrofoam to-go box. They know me there so they pack the clamshell with so many curry noodles that I can barely close it. The plastic bag around it sags low and the tied handles pull tight in my fingers.

We move around the corner, you and I, we've walked this route so many fucking times that I can't count them now. The smell of diesel bus exhaust billows among the derelicts and businessmen standing in the sunshine.

I see him in the distance, a lone figure in beige pants, black shoes and belt, and a white shirt with a long black tie. He paces back and forth, a black square in his hand and he beats upon it with his fist. He looks like a tiger tracing circles in a cage, the sun brightens his white hair but there is no halo.

We approach him slowly and I can feel your eyes on me- you know what I'm thinking.

You're right.

When I turn to look at you I can see your anxiety. You've heard the bile I can spew and you know that I want turn his words around on him. You know I'm fucked up enough to try and argue down a crazy man with a Bible.

His voice carries above the sound of traffic and people. He repeats damnation, damnation, damnationthe end of the world is coming.

"The preacher man says it's the end of time, says that America's rivers are going dry, the interest is up, the stock market's down… "

I slow down as we pass him, he yells and screams. He talks about the end of the world, he talks about the end of time, and he talks about the end of the family.

He holds up his book and slings it around him like a sword - "The sword of God!" He holds it above his head. "God shall smite us with his wrath unless we repent! The Lord shall come down upon us and take his children like a thief in the night." Breath. "Will you be here when the mighty trumpet sounds?"

I slow down and you push me forward, I feel the tips of your fingers in the small of my back as gentle pressure.

"God has turned his back on us! We are a nation of baby killers and drug addicts, child molesters and homosexuals!" He turns and faces the street and I notice that the people around him have turned their backs.

They do not want to catch his eye, they do not want to gain his interest, they do not want this crazy man in their midst. Everyone is fearful of him- not for his message- his manic pacing and yelling. They see him as a festering sore on the sidewalk, worse than a beggar seeking change. If he was a beggar he might go away.

I wonder, has he ever won a single soul for Christ, yelling like this? I wonder, has he ever done more than stand on the street corner so that others can see just that he is a "holy man". Does this notoriety help him to sleep at night? Does he have any friends?

Your fingers push me on. I look at the preacher man now as he speaks the "words of God".

I don't think he understands anything at all he says. I look at the preacher man, I look at the preacher man, I look at the preacher man         I look!

But he doesn't look back.

"The preacher man says it's the end of the world…"

We walk towards the State Capitol Building to have a quiet lunch on the steps. Behind us the man's voice fades into the rush of traffic.

"The preacher man says it's the end of the world…"

I open my box of noodles and they spill out like bliss...  I wonder if he ever opens that book in his hand.

"The preacher man says it's the end of the world…"

Log in or register to write something here or to contact authors.