By Brian Wask
"I really believe that the pagans, and the abortionists, and the feminists, and the gays and the lesbians who are actively trying to make that an alternative lifestyle, the ACLU, People For the American Way, all of them who have tried to secularize America. I point the finger in their face and say 'you helped this happen.” –Jerry Falwell on The 700 Club, after the September 11 attacks.
Hell’s Kitchen, Night Time– The walls in Feo’s apartment tend to slouch after a certain hour. It’s happened during the day so I can’t be specific. But when they do slouch I prepare myself. The kettle was whistling by the time Paul arrived with a Bible under his arm. He placed it on the end table beside the window facing the fire escape. When Feo returned from removing the kettle his eyes flamed and I knew right away it was on. The following text transcribes the audio records capturing what happened next.
Feo: What are you doing with that Bible?
Paul: Reading it.
Paul: Why not?
Feo: It’s dangerous. What’s wrong with you?
Paul: Nothing. How?
Feo pushed a pile of newspapers and magazines from his couch and forced himself to sit as much as he wanted to stand. But at his age sometimes he has to sit. I went to the kitchen and pulled the light on. Cockroaches scurried for cover between cabinet creases and under stove-top burners. I grabbed three beers from the fridge and tossed one to both. Paul missed my toss and when he opened his it spewed like a geyser and coved his chin and spilled down his polo shirt.
Paul: Great. Now look at me. I have to drive home like this.
Feo: Look at you. It’s the same book that inspired bin Laden to attack New York and it’s the same book Bush referred to when he needed to justify his attack on Iraq. I don’t expect you to understand this. You’re an idiot. But that’s irony.
Paul: Take it easy Feo. I think I understand but I don’t agree. You sound like too many conspiracies. The Bible speaks the truth whether you like it or not. Whether I like it or not. That’s a good word right there. You got something better?
Feo: True or not, Abraham was a beast. A bigot. He destroyed Sodom for the same reasons Jerry Falwell insisted New York was attacked on 9/11. Tell me you’re okay with that. Tell me you’re okay with that and I’ll throw you and your good book out the window.
Paul: It wasn’t for the same reason. Those men in Sodom were raping other men. Tell me you agree with that. Besides, God destroyed Sodom, not Abraham. And he let the good people escape before he did so.
Feo: I don’t think so. I can’t talk to you. You sound like a fool. Are you? Look at the way you drink your beer. You think it’s poison. Why are you here? Your Bible killed more people than the Atomic Bomb. Both of them.
The Yankee game was the reason we three had gathered to begin with and it was now 4-4, bottom of the sixth, after an Angels homerun tied it up. I brought this to their attention.
Feo: God damn you look what you did. All that bullshit now see. Surprised you’re not rooting for the Angels.
Paul: You’re a douche. I read that book you gave me. NOTES FROM UNDERGROUND. Is that you’re theology? God, you must be happy. They should find a place for you to hide. I don’t think anybody would care.
Feo: I wouldn’t.
Feo used the arm of the couch to help him stand. He pulled his shirt down from where it rested on his herniated gut. His feet were bare and pale, his toenails sharp. His old man wiener spied from his boxers. He shook his head into the kitchen.
Paul: What’s his problem? We came to watch the game. He wants to talk about God instead. Can’t he help himself? Does he own a gun? Here he comes. I hope not.
Feo balanced three tea cups on a sliver platter. In his second hand he carried a revolver. He put the gun down next to the bible on the end table beside the window facing the fire escape. He served the tea to each of us.
Paul: Is it poison?
Feo: It could be. Drink it Osama bin Laden.
Paul: What is it?
Feo: Fungi. God made it.
The recorder lost power after this point. Part of me thinks that’s best.