"Hell found me! Yessir! Tarnation and damnation! And tribulation. The place YOU don't want to be!"
The preacher stepped back from the podium. "Then I found Jesus," he proclaimed, looking straight up. "He came from up there."
The audience looked up.
"Look straight up," the preacher said. "Not halfway up."
They looked straight up.
"He came from up there and saved me. He will come again One Day, and he will come fast, so make sure you're looking up. He will most likely see your nostrils first, so make sure they're clean. AND that goes for the rest of your bodies, too. I CANNOT BELIEVE how many of you congregate here without wearing anti-perspirant," said the fiery preacher, who was perspiring. "I got a deal with a deodorant company, who says if I wear this," he held up a white stick, "and mention it once each Sunday--Schick--they will pay for our new Pre-School."
Wails of joy from the audience.
"This is God's place," came a small voice from the back -- an old lady. "How dare you."
"How dare me?" said the pastor. "Was that a question or a statement?"
"God isn't a game show," said the old lady defiantly. The audience was hushed.
"Isn't there a final prize, ma'am?" asked the preacher. He leaned forward to see her better.
"NO," said the old lady. "Heaven is not a prize."
The preacher cleared his throat. "It most certainly is, madam, and I intend on getting there, one way or another, as does everyone here. I don't know about you, but I'm saved, i.e., born-again, i.e., 'locked in.' Hallelujah, I'm going to Heaven as soon as this show is OVAH!"
Wails from the audience.
"But that doesn't mean," continued the pastor in his normal voice, "that I can't mention what a jewel it is from time to time, this 'Heaven'...this 'place' I covet, this place where I KNOW I'm going in the end. So I bring it up each week because I want the people to KNOW I AM BLESSED BY THE PRIZE!"
The crowd went crazy.
The old lady scurried out during the excitement. She was followed by a church member, who reported, via transmitter, that she did a sign-of-the-cross before exiting.
"That old bird was a Catholic, eh? What do you expect?" said the preacher to the flock. "Might as well been a Scientologist."
Gales from the audience.
"Catholics insist on eating during the service, did you ever notice that?" said the preacher. "Primitive people."
"Scientologists wouldn't know what to do with a bible if you handed it to them. Probably try to eat it."
Jack McElroy was in the back of the audience. He wasn't laughing. He was holding a gun in his pocket. It wasn't loaded--yet. If the pastor began cracking on Lutherans, he might load it.
In the meantime, the old lady circled the parking lot in her Buick. She was kicking up dust, trying to find the correct way out. She didn't know how to navigate the many rows of parking and the dust she was kicking up was thick, and nasty, and threatened to enter the church's double doors.
A freckle-faced boy was in the front row of the congregation. He was wearing a bow tie. He was 9-years-old, shy, and needed to use the bathroom badly.
Ten-thousand feet overhead, in a jet plane, a stewardess told everyone to put away their trays. They landed in 10 minutes, she said. One passenger, however, was going to parachute from the plane in less than a minute. He was next to the emergency door. The only thing that could possibly hamper his descent was landing on a steeple.
The preacher's wife was part of the choir. She kept glaring at the preacher during the sermon, giving him the evil eye. She had pushed the TV remote's "last" button the night before and discovered it was on MTV. She suspected her husband secretly watched TV porn.
Across the world in a Berlin nightclub, a plot was hatched to assassinate a prominent gay black American rap star named "The Almighty" (sometimes called "Almighty" for short) and start a culture war. If they couldn't assassinate him they planned on seducing him. Either way, he would lose.
The preacher's transmitter crackled again. He touched his ear lightly to hear it.
"Gimp Guy, second row, I think he'll remain standing if you shove him," said a voice.
"Okay, let's heal someone!" yelled the preacher.
The crowd roared.
"Who needs a little healing?" he asked, rhetorically. A few hands went up. "You," he said, pointing at the gimp. "Come up here in the name of Jesus."
"I can't," said the gimp guy. He pointed to his knee. "I'm lame."
"Can't? We'll see about that."
The preacher swooped down and gently grabbed the gimp guy's arm, then yanked him up on stage.
"The devil got your leg, brother?"
"Left side. Why is it always the left? I think the devil loves playing on the left, but that's just me being unscientific."
Laughter, and a couple of groans from the audience.
"Those aren't real groans I hope," said the preacher. "If so you'll be up here next."
The preacher put his hand on the man's left knee.
"Get out, Satan, you foul beast. Leave this man's leg alone ... be Healed!" He shoved the man for good measure. "Hallelujah!"
The man started to fall, but somehow regained his balance. He had a smile from ear to ear.
"Any better?" asked the preacher.
"I didn't fall. I'm blessed by God."
"Blessed by Jesus. Need to be more specific."
"Thank you, Jesus," said the former gimp. He was starting to lose his balance.
"Help this man to his seat. He's a little wobbly from all the excitement."
Then, a big plume of dust came up the aisle. Fits of coughing started everywhere.
The freckle-faced kid rushed to the bathroom.
The preacher's wife screamed when she saw the gimp fall and the preacher grabbed his ass to steady him.
Another scream was heard from the rooftop.
Jack McElroy loaded his pistol and fired at the rooftop, causing more screams (from the audience).
In Vegas, "The Almighty" was wrapping up his big show. He always did his best shows on Sunday mornings.
End of Pt. 1