Passion of the Priest Ch. 01byJ.B.Shelton©
The first time I saw Nineveh, I had cotton balls in my ears. And I was drunk. I once considered that to be the worst of my sins.
I was in a coffeehouse I'd never been in before, writing a review for a band I'd never heard of and was certain I'd probably never see again. The smoke choked me, and I sat near the door for quick escapes into the fresh air and away from the toxicity of screaming guitar riffs.
"It's called Alternative music," Sharkey told me. Alternative music, I wrote in my notebook. Alternative to what? Two metal trash cans rolling down a rocky cliff? Two 18-wheelers smashing into each other at 80 mph on the freeway?
I guess I'd had three or four beers. It didn't take me much to get drunk back then. I must've had at least two, cause that's how many it took me to drown out the voice of my mother in my head.
"Ministers don't drink," she'd been telling me since high school. "Ministers' children don't drink, either." To avoid argument, I always agreed with her, keeping my strange and sinister thoughts, and my beer, to myself.
Mother was still alive, although she'd had a few rough years. A heart attack followed by the diagnosis of Alzheimer's disease left her and my father in their own worlds, unable to bridge the gap suddenly formed between them. I didn't even try. I went to classes, studied my scripture, passed through seminary, and took over Dad's church. No one forgot them, as they sat in the front pew every Sunday morning, watching their son live out their dreams for them. Yet, they were slipping farther and farther away, if not from the congregation, at least from my self, and each other.
I know I couldn't have heard Nineveh when she'd entered. In spite of the cotton seclusion, the deep-throat vibrato of an untrained tenor still crept in, accompanied by fuzzy chord progressions I imagined would still be fuzzy without the benefit of the fluff in my ears.
I must have felt her, sensed her presence. I turned my head in slow motion, visual images swimming past in a feverish sort of blur. She was wearing a brown leather duster tied at the waist, caked in dirt and smelling like puke and booze. Her hair was bottle black, that blue black color little old ladies are so fond of, the one that goes well with whore-red lipstick. Nineveh wore no lipstick, no makeup at all, just a look of shock and surprise.
I stared until she passed me, then continued to stare at her back, as she ordered a coffee from the counter. She has no eyebrows, I thought to myself. That's the strangeness of it. Then scolded myself. Ministers aren't judgmental, Mother said, sitting across the table from me, clucking her tongue in that way I hated. I hung my head, officially reprimanded and feeling sorry for my state in life.
Her fist pounded the table, sending my beer whirling around on the edge of its base, and I was so hypnotised by it, I almost didn't catch it in time. I looked up, and she stood there before me, her eyes staring down deep into mine. I then realized, She's albino.
It was a shock to the system to look at her. Her face was sheer porcelain beauty, soft and luscious lips, high cheekbones sculpted to perfection, and her eyes - they were magnets sucking me in to her soul. I watched her mouth form silently juicy words, several which I discerned as "fuck". I shook my head, pointed at my ears, sort of shrugged beneath a stupid grin.
She turned and began to walk away. Her hips swung from side to side, and, even underneath the disguise of the coat, I could tell her body was as amazing as her lips. She untied her jacket with one hand, raised the coffee to her face with the other. Then, as if sensing my eyes still tracing her form, she turned and gave me the finger. It was then that I saw her shirt. I AM GOD.
Two days later, guilty from lust and liquor, still nursing a hangover, I sat and prayed for my soul and for the sermon I needed to write. But I couldn't seem to get past that t-shirt, and the powerful message with which it taunted me. I AM GOD.
Surely, this strange and dirty young woman did not believe she was God. She would go to hell. I must pray for her soul. I closed my eyes again, rested my head on my desk in front of the computer, and conjured up an image of this creature in my mind's eye.
How dangerous she is, I thought. How rare. How tempting. I lifted my head, my eyes wide. She was Satan. She had to be. That was the only conclusion for why I was so tempted. She was Satan tempting me away from my rightful purpose of writing this sermon. She's trying to destroy you, Stephen, I told myself, to ruin your concentration, to take away what you've worked so hard for, what you've always wanted.
There was the crux of the biscuit, though, as Frank Zappa says. Was it really what I wanted? If I wanted to be a minister more than anything, if I'd wanted to devote my life, my soul, my body even, to God, then why was I sitting in that coffeehouse/bar drinking beers and writing some shit-ass review of some shit-ass band for some literary disaster of a local rag?
My heart was racing, and I ran into the kitchen and opened the freezer to stare at the bottle of Absolut inside. I took it out, the bottle frosty and cool in my hand, and I tilted it back and forth, watching the thickness of a quiet mind slosh lazily around inside. No, you can't keep doing this, Stephen. It's not the answer. It's not the way.
What is the way?
* * *
I awoke in a frenzied state of sweatiness and arousal, my erection poking the blanket up into a mouse tent. I gasped for two or three minutes, it seemed, before being able to rise and make it to the bathroom. I looked at myself in the mirror, at the blackness forming under my eyes. My hair needed cutting, my face shaving. I needed a shower. I turned the water on cold and let it run while I stood in front of the toilet until my excitement had dissipated enough to let me piss.
In the shower, though, she was there, that satanic slut, just as she'd been in my dream, naked with amazing perk tits, white and soft, with dark, hard nipples that tasted like red hots. She pressed against me, and I begged her to go, to leave me, Get thee back, Satan. But I wanted her, and that I couldn't deny. I wrapped my hand around my cock and stroked until I once again could think clearly. I could live with the guilt of sin one more day.