He could see them. Door to door they went wearing their crisp white shirts and black dress pants. Each of them wore a black backpack. They didn’t stay at any house for too long because people turned them away quickly or didn’t answer their doors.
Every time he saw them it brought back memories of his own church-going days as a child. It hadn’t been a wholly unpleasant experience. There was always hot cocoa and doughnuts in the social room after the services. That alone made it worth sitting through a sermon lasting an hour or two. Most of the time the sermons were all about how not to be an asshole. Those days were long gone. He hadn’t been to church in years, mostly because he didn’t have the patience to sit and listen because he’d already learned how not to be an asshole, and didn’t need further instruction.
Now retired, he spent his mornings in the garden, his days pursuing hobbies, and his nights enjoying the cool summer breeze on the front porch.
The missionaries were closer now. They crossed to his side of the street, four houses down. Sometimes they’d get lucky and someone would talk to them for a few minutes before politely turning them away.
What a bizarre thing, he thought, to think that everyone would want to hear about one’s personal relationship to the divine. Of course it was a missionary’s goal to convert people. They said it was to spread “the Word“, but the reality was it was to convert. He knew better. This wasn’t his first rodeo.
In his head, he rehearsed how the conversation would go once they reached his doorstep. Would he be polite and turn them away? Or would he invite them to sit down and chat for awhile? He hadn’t decided yet. The former would be to engage his early childhood indoctrination by practicing how to not be an asshole. The latter would provide more amusement. He had three houses to decide.
Now that they were closer he could see their young, naive faces, so smooth and untouched by the harsh realities of the world. He guessed both young men were likely around eighteen. That’s usually when the churches sent them out.
They were one door over now. The shorter one looked like he’d just started growing a beard, whereas the taller young man was clean shaven and had features almost feminine. He wondered if either of these kids would leave the church one day and rebel, much to their parents’ shame.
The neighbor, Frank Andrews, didn’t answer the door even though he was certainly home as evidenced by his white pickup in the driveway. Coward.
The missionaries carefully made their way to his house now, glancing up at him as if knowing they were going to be rejected.
As they ascended the driveway the tall kid smiled and inquired, “Sir, do you have a moment to talk about our Lord and Savior today?”
The man felt a sly smile, unbidden, make its way across his face. He pretended not to hear the young man. “I’m sorry?”
“Satan, our Lord and Savior Satan. Would you like to talk about Him?” the kid asked.
He felt his eyes go wide as his heart filled with intense warmth. He motioned them to take a seat on the porch bench across from him.
“It’s about time,” he said.
[ Ash Tree ]