International Writers Magazine: Dreamscapes
arrived at the church still drunk from the night before. With
some struggle and less semblance, Chuck climbed over the few people
next to her and slid down. Felicity, never one of his strong points;
he had disrupted the service.
The pastor eyed
his disdainfully from the pulpit with mouth open in mid sentence and
hand in mid-gesture but said nothing. He did not acknowledge the man
who, last year, donated the parish the most monetary gain of that year
and the man whom he had called at that time, a God-fearing Christian
from that very pulpit. Everyone knew it was a lie. The priest knew it
but also knew all too well that faith was a business like any else;
the only difference being it was tax-free. Instead of making a prime
point of the abuses of excess, his sermon that morning, he chose to
turn the other double-faced cheek.
Chuck began to berate and curse those around him. He then eyed the main
guy. Who is that asshole up there?
Lisa shot him a petulant eye. She wasnt sure if her husband was
speaking about the priest or being evilly blasphemous. People gasped
around him, but Lisa did not show any emotion nor did she answer him,
instead choosing to try and concentrate on the sermon.
Chuck continued his assault before being shh-shhed by those
around him. He glared at them. They were all hypocrites, sticking their
holier than thou noses where they didnt belong.
Why dont you listen to the sermon? Someone leaned
towards him from the row behind him. It might help.
He muttered a vague obscenity to his left and the person sat back and
shook their head. He continued to verbally abuse his wife, those around
him and the priest until the sermon was half over. The person whom the
temperance lecture was really aimed at had passed out cold.
It was of little consequence that Chuck and Lisa had been married only
a year. The repercussion came in the fact that his wife had recently
delivered a stillborn son. His faith shaken, he didnt like coming
to church any more, nor did he pay much attention to Lisa after that.
He chose the bottle as his sole companion. It suited him. Hell, he said,
he didnt like getting up on Sunday mornings, anyway.
When the services came to an end, Lisa, with the aid of the few fellow
parishioners he had not yet alienated helped her get him to their car.
He came to as if never having been drunk and calmly turned to his wife.
Lees? He murmured. Thats the last Sunday I spend
in church. Im through. I just dont believe anymore.
What do you mean? Lisa asked, alarmed. You have to
go, were both Christians. Doesnt that mean anything to you?
Nope. He said as he took the keys away from her got into
Whatre you doing, Chuck?! She looked around nervously.
You cant drive! Youre still three sheets to the wind!
Give me the keys, honey. There was no one around to help her.
The priest was closing the doors and everyone else was driving away.
Too what? He stopped her dead in her tracks. Get in
or walk. He said as he turned the key. Lisa reluctantly got into
the car and slammed the door.
It was the last thing that Chuck would remember for months.
The police report said that the accident was possibly the worst they
had ever seen in Calabasas County. Worst of all, Chuck had swerved into
the other lane in order to miss hitting a small animal, thereby crashing
head on into a mother and infant driving northbound, killing both instantly.
Out of the twisted wreckage, they pulled Lisa. She sustained little
in the way of injury. A broken arm, a busted leg, a sprained back and
that was the extent of it. Chuck, on the other hand, had to be wrenched
out of the wreckage by the Jaws of Life and air evacuated to the nearest
trauma center. There, he was given a 50% chance of survival. He had
a grievous subdural hematoma and lapsed into a coma for seven weeks.
In addition to this, he suffered a broken neck and his spleen had to
be removed. His face and body were covered with first and second degree
burns. The prognosis was not good.
He survived and when he was released, he went straight to jail. His
blood alcohol level had been twice the legal limit. Doctors said he
should have been dead already. But through intensive physical therapy,
guilt and a near deathbed conversion while in the hospital and visits
from a local priest in the joint, Chuck became a new man. He began to
spend much of his time reading the Bible, power lifting and reading
and listening to public speaking courses in prison. He had found the
Lord. Almost as importantly, he had found his purpose in life, his ministry,
as he called it.
Upon his release from prison, he started to attend anti-abortion rallies
and quickly became involved in their programs and platforms. Soon, he
became their most noticeable spokesman. His skills as an orator increased
in each new town he spoke. He was charismatic, fearless and played the
part extremely well. His suits went from trash to flash. Suffer
the children became his battle cry.
Lisa knew full well that people who had suffered blunt head trauma often
went through psychological changes. She had even read where some develop
completely different personalities altogether. He lost his temper more
frequently. He was prone to violent outbursts towards her or anything
he deemed as insubordinate. Lisa was not sure if it was the drugs he
was taking, the steroids or the guilt phases he was going through. She
also knew that the only way her husband could forgive himself for taking
two innocent lives was to develop a God complex.
Initially, Lisa resisted this new side to her husband. The stranger
next to her in bed at night frightened her, spewing Gospel texts in
his sleep and asking her religious questions at all times of the morning.
Their marriage began to drift apart until Lisa found out she was pregnant
after so many years. Now a mother-to-be she desperately wanted to save
her marriage. At Chucks insistence, she began to attend the very
same rallies, even if she secretly believed in a pro-choice
The media picked up the inspiring story of the man who had turned his
life around. In the religious arena, he was fast gaining ground as the
poster child for zealots everywhere who preached a zero tolerance
approach to abortion. Chuck was earning good money as a key speaker
at churches, auditoriums and televised gospel shows. He and Lisa were
becoming the quintessential couple in the fight against abortion clinics.
Lisa learned to smile through out their appearances. She was even asked
to speak at some engagements. Chuck said she would give a voice
to those who had no voice. It was after one particularly extremist
rally in Atlanta that Lisa had finally had enough.
Chuck? Lisa asked as they got off stage and towards their car.
Yes? He said as he walked through a throng of people, some
offering their babies for him to kiss.
I need to speak to you.
I dont think I can do this anymore.
Why? He asked, alarmed. Is it the baby? Are you getting
too fatigued from being on the road? We can always work something else
out, maybe videotape your spots.
No. Its not the baby. I cant do this anymore.
As they walked through the crowd and towards their car he turned to
her. Cant do what anymore?
This, this whole act.
What whole act? The Lords work is not an act. He said
and grabbed her arm and pulled her towards their car. Blessed
Chuck, its not your baby. She cut him dead.
Whose is it? He demanded after an interminable silence.
Thats not important.
I said whose is it? He growled at her and smacked her. Get
in the car.
Stunned, she got into the car. I cant do this anymore.
Well, I must say your timing is impeccable. You picked a hell
of a time to bring scandal and ruin to my house! Just when Im
starting to make a name for us, make good money for us, you tell me
you cant do this anymore and if that isnt bad enough, you
tell me that it isnt even my baby! He screamed at her. Whose
little bastard is it? I demand you tell me! He gunned the car
out of the parking lot.
Its no one you know. We werent getting along at the
time. She could not ever admit that it was another spiritual leader
who came to comfort her while Chuck had been away in prison;
someone he knew.
Thats of no consequence to me.
Besides its over now.
I dont give a good gosh-damned if its still going
on, you behave like the whore of Sodom and you expect me to care that
its over? He grumbled. Thats supposed to make
Chuck, I want to keep the baby. All that we do here now makes
sense. She lied to him. And we can finally have that baby
we always wanted. Just think a little innocent baby we can raise as
our own, we dont have to tell anyone. Its just that I cant
be up there speaking, being a hypocrite. I cant do that anymore.
You mean a whore-a-crite. He stung back. Ohhh, no,
no, no! He spat. Im not keeping any baby that isnt
I want to keep this baby, Chuck. She said firmly.
No way in hell are you keeping a souvenir from your whoring around.
He belittled her.
Then well give it up for adoption.
There will be no record of this child. Period. He told her.
You have no say in the matter. Well get it taken care of
at a clinic. His agitation almost made him veer off the road.
Watch where youre going! She yelled.
I dont care.
But what about Mr. Big Anti-Abortion and all of that? She
called him on it.
Thats other peoples children and other peoples
wives and girlfriends. When it comes to us, its different. I will
take you to a contact I know of who helps people in our line of work
and he will get this taken care of for me. I cannot afford to have any
disgrace ruin my mission.
Mission. She mocked.
Dont you dare start. Youve already done enough.
I want the baby Chuck. Ive decided to keep it.
Over my dead body. I am the man and you will do as I say.
He smacked her again, only this time it drew blood from her lip. I
will not let you destroy everything Ive worked for, weve
worked for because of one fling. Yea, I say unto thee, the flesh is
weak.. He started to quote.
Dont start going biblical on me.
The Bible is what you need. He corrected her.
Get real. She shook her head. Our marriage was in
trouble. You were never at home.
I was making a living. You didnt seem to mind it once I
started to bankroll you from the two room in Calabasas to the six room
we have now off Toluca Lake. You certainly spent enough of my ministry.
I didnt hear you complain then.
You didnt pay any attention to me, just your Bible.
If you would have stuck to my Bible, you would have known not
to stray and keep your legs closed. A wife is supposed to cleave unto
her husband not every Toms dick and hairy. He said, using
a course joke she hated.
Go to hell. She said sarcastically. Oh and by the
way, the Bible doesnt have all the answers.
What did you just say? He glared at her, his mouth twitching.
You will suffer the eternal damnation if you harden your heart.
I will save you even if I must make you suffer here first.
I said nothing. She cowered. His temper was razor thin with
all of the meds he took. Lisa knew full well that if she continued,
he would beat her to a bloody pulp. He would do it in the name of salvation
he would say as he did so.
Now, you will get this problem taken care of, as much as it kills
me and we will rid ourselves of this mess once and for all. Vengeance
is mine, so sayeth the lord.
Sure. She said as tears blurred her vision. Whatever
You will continue to accompany me after this is over. We will
just tell everyone that you lost the baby. You will continue to smile
and speak when youre spoken to on the podium and play the loving,
supportive wife or so help me God I will beat the unholy sin out of
Whatever you say.
© Joeseph Grant
Stories about life in Dreamscapes
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