Preacher - Madison Faye
“And LO! The wrath of the lord was vicious and terrible upon the wicked sinners! Ye, tho thou ist humble before me, thy tithes will ascend you into the Kingdom of Heaven!”
The timing is fucking perfect, too. I pound my fist hard on the pulpit just as the taped organ music hits it’s crescendo, blasting through the tinny speakers on the side of the Winnebago. For extra flourish, I splash a handful of the water mixed with glitter and bubble soap from the bowl next to me up into the air. The light catches it and it shimmers around me as it falls back to the ground, and the gathered crowd gasps and ooo’s and aaah’s.
They eat it the fuck up. Of course they do, and I knew they would, just like I know every crowd that gathers around my Winnebago or under my tent is going to cream their pants for my especially dramatic brand of fire and brimstone sermons.
“Ye! Banish the wicked from thy midsts and bestow thy gifts and tithes upon the steps of the temple!”
The trick is to suggest, not ask. You suggest that they empty their fucking pockets into the bucket at the foot of the pulpit. You suggest that the money in their pocket, or purse, or under their mattress back home is their one-way ticket to the land of salvation, endless summers, warm smiles, playing shuffleboard with the one and only Jesus Christ, or whatever the fuck it is people think is waiting on the other side.
Fuck it, if it’s doing lines of blow off Mary Magdalene’s tight little ass with Paul and Matthew, that’s what I’m giving them. That’s what I’m selling them, for the low, low price of whatever I can get them to cough up, and my shame. But, shit, that stock ran out years and miles ago.
“The mighty shall triumph over the wicked! For YE, I am the LORD! And I shall smite the heathen amongst you! Bring tithes upon my church, and my light shall guide you home! Can I GET a hallelujah!”
Ooooh there it is. Like music to my fucking ears. No, not the chorus of hallelujahs that gets called back at me, or the fervently screamed amens. I mean the sound of money hitting the bottom of that collections bucket. I grin and smile down from my perch behind the pulpit at the first customer—a frail old thing clutching a coin purse from the last century. But damn if that purse doesn’t seem to have no bottom. She just keeps digging in deep and pulling out fistfuls of coins and wadded up bills and tossing them right in.
“Bless you, preacher!” She crows, beaming up at me as she turns the fucking thing upside and empties it into the bucket.
“No, dear,” I smile broadly and piously. “Bless you.”
After that, it’s like a script playing out. Once the first one starts feeling charitable, the rest of them will follow. They always do, and they sure do here and now. No one wants to get outdone in front of Jesus. No one wants to get stuck with the last seat next to the bathrooms on the bus up to heaven.
One by one, and then in hordes, the gathered crowd brings me their hard-earned cash and dumps it in the donations bucket. If I still had a soul, I might feel a twinge of guilt over this. Luckily, I ditched that pesky fucker years ago.
“Behold! My kingdom opens unto you! For thou shalt cast aside the sinners and the heathens and trample them into the dust when you come forth to bring tithes upon my heavenly gates!”
Fuckin’ none of this is from the Bible. I mean, not even fucking close. But you throw in some “ye’s” and some “thou shalt’s” and a whole bunch of shit about the wicked and the damned, and no one bats an eye. They don’t care. Some of them might even know it, but none of them pay it any mind. My customers are the low and humble. They’re the lost, desperately looking for answers and salvation. You might say I’m slinging bullshit, or call me a fraud, or a charlatan. I’ve been called a con man, grifter, huckster, rat-bastard, and far, far worse. But you know what? I own it. Sticks and stones will not break these bones, and words are just fucking words. Words are a sales pitch, and I’m the best fucking salesman any of these yokels has ever seen.
At least, I