A Case of More Demonic Possession

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Status: In Progress  |  Genre: Fantasy  |  House: Booksie Classic


This is the second chapter in "A Case of Demonic Possession". If you're unfamiliar with that short story, you might read it first. It gives some background for this part of the story. It's in my
portfolio on this site.


A Change in Career

It was about nine AM when I left my chambers and made my way to the commercial kitchen behind the main dining area of our house. I loved the efficiency of the setup, with the huge stainless steel pots and cooking utensils hung from the ceiling, all within easy reach. The bright lights, the gleaming stainless steel counters and bright, white linoleum floors.

Marie, our head cook was busy with the huge gas stove and griddle. Exiting the walk-in with a stainless steel bowl of batter sealed with with plastic wrap she said, “I'll get you some coffee ma'am. And would like some breakfast? We have eggs Benedict, pancakes, scrambled eggs and bacon or sausage.”

“Just coffee and a bagel”, I replied. “Oh, and a packet of cream cheese.”

We had 22 members of an Interfaith Council staying over. A pack of old, boring pikers if there ever was one, and I'd be expected to eat with them if I took a full breakfast. That was the problem with having help, the word of what you did always got out. It was really hard to sneak around.

I crossed the entertaining area and frowned at Rollo's new television. It covered an entire wall and it very much clashed with the Victorian pieces I had carefully selected for the room. Sort of like Star Wars meets Masterpiece Theater.

I climbed the steps to Rollo's chambers. A hallway allowed me to access his deck without entering his living space. Rollo was seated at a small table facing the ocean. His laptop open to a French shoe and boot outfit, Salamander of Paris.

Still peeved about his gigantic new TV, I said without preamble, “Why are you looking at boots? They won't fit those rooster feet of yours”. He did have very avian legs and feet.

“Those are owl feet and legs”, he huffed back. “And Salamander does one off. I just have to pick the style and color.”

Not wanting an argument, I replied, “Well, they would look nice. Especially those desert boot looking ones. Casual but still elegant.”

“Exactly”, he replied, deciding to follow my lead.

The shoe catalog went down and a schedule came up on the laptop. Rollo continued, “Remember that you're saving souls on the Sunday Club this Sunday morning. They start shooting at 8:00 AM and air the segment at noon. So it's really tight. Not much time for do over. And we still need to make sure the hair and make-up people are available. I don't want a Sunday morning Chinese fire drill because someone's gone on vacation.”

“Costuming?” I asked.

“Nordstroms is sending over a selection of gowns and shoes. They should be here about noon. And be sure to get two of whatever you pick out. We need backup in case some moron runs into you just before airtime with a cup of coffee. No, not two, get three. And let the Angelic Chorus pick out their own stuff with the shopper. But review it in case they do something crazy.”

“This is Tuesday, we've only got three days to write the sermon and two days to rehearse”, I noted.

“Yup, we're starting this afternoon. But I think the sermon's already written. We just have to adapt it. I found an old one that we haven't used that should do nicely. Really good stuff. Talks about the advantages of a simple, pure life.”

“Simple Gifts!” I said. “I remember that one. I always loved it.”

“Good”, replied Rollo, “then you should be able to honk it out big time”.

I returned to my chambers, pulled up “Simple Gifts” from the data base and printed it. I spent the rest of the morning memorizing and and vocalizing it.

Nordstroms arrived a little after noon and I selected the gown and shoes. A number of accessories as well. I told Nordie that we needed three of each and that we needed them by tomorrow. Afterwards, the personal shopper went downstairs to meet with Steve, the director of the Angelic Chorus.

Rollo and I then retired to the studio to work on “Simple Gifts” in earnest. The first tapes just didn't grab us, but this was usual. Rollo then had the make-up artist darken my eyes to give me a hungry, aesthetic look. He told me how downtrodden I was, but that I was grateful for the few simple good things in my life, and that this was a great source of strength to me. I was inspired and the next tape showed an adorable waif counting her blessings. We ran it several times over to make sure it could be reproduced and then Rollo and I exchanged high fives. Each day thereafter, the sermon improved.

On Saturday, I again visited Rollo on his deck. He was on the phone with his back turned and didn't notice me. “No”, he said, “she doesn't care about the money. Her mission is to uplift people and set them on a proper course. She doesn't care about herself, and you don't get someone like that for a stinking hundred K. Get real.” He hung up.

“Rollo”, I said, “do you have a minute?”

“For you, I got lots of minutes. What's up.”

“Rollo, I've had a vision. And we are in error. In our current capacity we limit ourselves to private donors, from the people who attend our church services or watch our television programs. But if we were to enter politics, we could continue our current Evangelical mission, and we could also get corporate donors. Being in elected office would give a whole new aspect to our service of mankind. We could become Republicans.”

Rollo just looked at me and scratched his head. A look of wonderment then came over him and he said, “Shit”.

He added, “We damn sure could ! OK, we knock out the Sunday Club this Sunday and then start first thing Monday morning.”

Rollo actually began his study on Sunday, immediately after the Sunday Club taping. By Monday morning he had a rudimentary plan, one that the would still need refining, but it was a start.

He sat me down on his deck and began, “There are two kinds of Republicans, rich fat cats and ignorant hicks. The fat cats are pretty straight forward, they'll tell you what they want and they expect you to deliver. Be careful about making unrealistic promises to them though, they'll see through you. The hicks don't know what they want and mostly they're happy if you just hate the same people they do. You don't have to promise them anything and you certainly don't have to deliver. Just rattle on about how horrible gays, Democrats, black people and college educated guys are. Also note that all of these types are coming to take their guns away.”

“OK”, I responded. I'd seen some of this, but never looked at it closely.

“Now, you never talk to the fat cats in a speech. There are private dinners and receptions for doing that. All your speeches are directed at the hicks. And the fat cats will understand. The know there aren't enough of them to elect a dog catcher, and they know you have to pull in large numbers of of these dumb rubes to win.”

I nodded in response.

“There's a lot more”, Rollo continued, “but that's the gist of it. But the take away is that you're going to need two images. One for dinner with the fat cats and one for the podium in front of the rubes. The fat cats shouldn't be any problem. Pretty much dress up like you do when you're going out to a party now. Just nice formal clothing. But we should get some Burberry outfits as they're very Republican. Pat Nixon's plain cloth coat and all that. You're also going to need some big, black framed glasses to make you look smart and Ivy League. ”

“But I don't wear glasses”, I objected.

“We'll get plain lenses. They're not for seeing, they're for your image. You need to look like a sharp, hick hustling wonk for the fat cats. And what about crosses. What do you have?”

“I have hundreds, I answered, “I always wear one when I give a sermon”.

“Nah, not those big showy ones. And nothing with blinking LED's on it. Do you have some nice, small gold understated crosses? The fact cats expect you to be just the right amount of religious. Holy enough to sucker the rubes, but not too holy to steal for them.”

“I can get some”, I answered, “I'll have Nordstrom's bring a few by tomorrow”.

“OK, good”, Rollo replied. “Like I said, the fat cats are the easy part, and we can work on that image as we go along. The real challenge is appealing to the rubes. And like I said, this is important because it's the rubes who elect you. And the rubes like insanely religious dumb people who enjoy killing animals.”

“I think I can manage that”, I replied.

“I know you can. That's why we're a team. Let's go down stairs to the studio and tape some rough ideas. We won't get it today, but we can start.”

The studio guys had already set up a back drop showing some kind of vegetable field with a green tractor sitting in the middle of it. The make-up people dressed me in a pair of worn overalls, clod hopper boots and a red checkered flannel shirt. I wore a red baseball cap with “Merriam” across the front in white letters. I was clumsy with the language on the first take:

“Hi, I'm Merrian Henderson and I'm a runnin' for for Congress in yor district. Now most of y'all know me as that fancy preacher gal on TV, but that's jus' me lookin' mah best for the Lord. Here at home I'm just regular folk like y'all. Ah work hard on the farm here and ah shoot lots of coyotes and deer. If y'all vote for me then y'all won't be a worrying about them college types a comin' to take your guns away. An' if we take any guns, it's gonna be from those folks that y'all caint see sneakin' up on ya in the dark.”

“Cut”, Rollo cried. “It's a good start, but we have some work to do. I want to get a language coach in on this. That accent has to be 100% real. Merriam, let's take the tape up to the main room and watch it. See if we can come up with some ideas.”

So we sat on my lovely, reconditioned Victorian sofa and watched our work over and over. My accent did sound clumsy and I agreed that a language coach would be helpful.

“Freckles”, Rollo exclaimed. “Next time we'll have make-up put freckles on you. At least for the farm scenes.”

“You mean there are scenes besides that farm scene?”

“Probably”, said Rollo, “I see you as a part time farmer, a part time minister and a part time factory worker who is about to lose her job to an illegal alien.”

“And I'm running for Congress?” I asked.

“Probably, I'm still looking for a district for you. And when I find it, we'll have to establish residency.”

We did fat cats the next day. We held a luncheon for the members of the Interfaith Council staying with us and I moved among them asking their opinions, pretending they were millionaire fat cats. Make-up had done a great job of dressing me in low heels, a black party dress, pearls, diamond studs, a Rolex watch and wonderful hair and make-up. In addition to the pearls, I wore a tiny gold cross around my neck. I was wearing the second floor chamber maid's black framed reading glasses. 2.5's at least, so I couldn't see much.

The next day, Rollo and I had breakfast on my deck. By way of the blabber mouthed help, the Interfaith Council was told that I was a little under the weather and couldn't dine with them.

It was a wonderful morning. I could see details on Anacapa Island and the ocean was a deep blue with white caps. We watched a cattle boat head down towards Catalina. I watched for whales, but it wasn't really the season to see them breech. I could smell the goletas.

“I've found us a district”, said Rollo. “The California 22nd. It's perfect. Lots of dumb goobers and some strong fossil fuel and commercial farming fat cats. We need to start establishing residency.”

“Where is it?” I asked.

“Just south of Fresno, against the Sierras. Towns of Visalia, Clovis and some shitty little one stoplight places.”

“Oh God, we don't have to live there do we?”

“Oh hell no”, replied Rollo. “We just need to buy a house, register to vote, get a library card and that kind of stuff. Register a couple of our cars there and whatever. We can have more than one residence.”

“Ok, you scared the devil out of me.”

“Don't talk like that”, Rollo admonished.

“Oops, excuse me.”

That Saturday we made a pilgrimage up to the 22nd District, the one we hoped to represent. Rollo had just ordered a new Lexus and had extensions installed on the brake and gas so that he could sit on a box and drive it. He insisted on driving the Lexus to Visalia and I forgot that he was normally invisible to everyone but me. We were lucky until we hit Bakersfield when two cops pulled us over.

The first cop leaned in the passenger seat window and shouted in my face, “What the Sam Hell are you doing?” He asked that even before he asked for my license and registration.

My mind racing, I offered the only thing I could think of on the spur of the moment, “Nothing”.

“You drive your damn car from the passenger seat?” Asked the second cop.

“Self driving car”, said Rollo from the driver's seat.

“Officer, it's a self driving car”, I blurted.

“Yeah, right.”

“No, it is”, I said. “Look, I'm not trying to get away, but let me show you. Car, put it in drive and but hold the brake.”

The car bumped as it shifted to drive and the break pedal went down.

“Car, put it in park.”

And the Lexus shifted back to park and the brake pedal came up.

“Left turn signal”, I said, and was rewarded with a blink, blink, blink. “Look, like I said, I'm not trying to get away, but let me get this car out of the road. Car, parallel park behind the cop car!”

The car shifted into reverse, backed up around the police car and then backed into the curb. Once there, the car pulled forward to narrow the gap between it's front bumper and the police car. The two cops walked back to the passenger window.

“Hell, I've heard about these but this is the first time I've ever seen one.”

“Yeah, this is amazing”, said the other cop. “I heard they're going to be common soon. Can't wait.”

“We see what's happening, but let us check your license and registration.”

The cops were kabitzing in their police car for a really long time. They finally returned and handed me my papers.

“Look, you're going to have to drive this thing yourself. The office says they're not really legal on the road. Just special test vehicles.”

“Ok”, I said, “I was just testing it out to see how it worked anyway. You can probably tell, I just bought the car.”

“Well, good luck to you.” The cops seemed very happy to have a weird story to tell down at the station when the got off.

Rollo got up and walked over me with his owl feet as I slid to the drivers side. I moved the box and put the car in gear.

We arrived in Visalia about noon. Our first stop was a real estate office where we purchased a house. A tract home that the Realtor said was a steal. Houses in Visalia weren't expensive and I bought the house sight unseen, and put it on my debit card. I could tell the real estate lady was impressed. I had to sign a lot of papers and then we were out of there.

Next came a library card, voter registration, utilities and car registration. Rollo didn't want a Visalia license plate on his Lexus and I told him that he should have driven another car if he felt that way. He had plenty. Besides, it was California and license plates were not that obvious.

We got the best hotel we could find and settled in for Sunday morning. We planned to make our rounds to the churches and introduce ourselves. We would attend services at the biggest one, The Valley Fellowship of the Lord.

The next morning, after making a few courtesy stops at lesser churches, we entered The Valley Fellowship of the Lord. A church very much like one of ours, but on a much lesser scale, and with fewer amenities. The did have a coffee shop and a bowling alley, but that was about it besides the church proper.

The minister, who reminded me of an illustration of Toad from my old copy of “Wind in the Willows”, greeted me as a climbed the steps to the main entrance.

“Hello, lovely young lady, is this your first time with us?”

“It is”, I replied.

“And what might your name be?” He boomed.

“Merriam Henderson”, I replied, with a small bow.

He gave me a puzzled look for a moment, then smiled broadly, and then got all slobbery and obsequious.

“Oh, my lord”, he cried, “It is you. You indeed. Oh, I am so, so sorry I didn't recognize you. I'm one of your biggest fans.”

“Everyone you see on television looks different in real life”, I said. “People rarely recognize me.”

“Oh, my lord, oh, my lord.” He was dancing from one foot to the other. I could see he was confused. He finally broke and said, “You must come into the office and have a cup of coffee. I've always wanted to meet you.”

We sat and I made a place for Rollo. “For my spirit who always follows me”, I explained.

“What a lovely gesture.” He clapped his hands. “Will you be attending our church on a regular basis?”

“Yes, I suspect so. At least when I'm in town. I've purchased a house here, and plan to make this my home, but I do travel a lot.”

“Of course”, he replied. “I cannot imagine how busy you must be. But why Visalia?”

“Peaceful farm country. And a relatively sparsely populated area that I can help build up into a model community. I'll let you in on a little secret if you promise not to tell.”

“My lips are sealed”, he replied.

“I'm actually thinking of running for Congress. I've felt a call to both administer to a group's spiritual needs and to assist them as their representative in Washington.”

“What a fantastic idea”, he gasped.

I looked down as demurely as I could, “It wasn't totally my idea. My spirit friends helped me.” Hearing this, Rollo invisibly pumped his fist in the air.

“Could I ask a huge favor of you? Could I get you to speak to the congregation this morning? Most are great fans of yours and they would be so thrilled.”

“Of course”, I replied. “How long shall I speak?”

“Could you deliver the sermon?”

“I could.”

“Then I'll call you up then. I'll introduce you and then just let you go.”

Reverend Jackson, that was his name, insisted that we, or rather I, sit in the very back of the large church. He felt that it would be that much dramatic when I made my way up the center aisle after he introduced me and called me forward.

“What's the sermon?” Rollo asked.

“I think 'Purging Pride'”, I replied. “I think we've only done it live, so it's not like anyone here will remember it from TV. And I'm pretty sure I remember all of it.”

“Good”, said Rollo, “humble and sweet. They'll lap it up with a spoon.”

Midway through the service, Reverend Jackson mounted the podium and smiled at the crowd. “I bet you people all thought I was going to bore you with another ordinary old sermon of mine today. Right?”

A few titters from the congregation.

“Nope!, he boomed, “I've got a real special treat lined up for you this morning. One that I can't even believe myself. I want you all to greet that very spiritual young lady Merriam Henderson. I'm sure you've all seen her on the Sunday Club. Merriam, come up here and join me!”

I stood, and the crowd turned around to look and went wild. I tried my best to make eye contact and smile at everyone coming up the aisle to the podium. Reverend Jackson put his arm around me, beamed at me, happy as a damn clam, and whispered, “How ya' doin'?”.

“I feel great this morning!” I said it loud enough to be picked up on the mic at the podium. The crowd loved it. “I'm ready to do what the Lord asks!”

“Well before she begins”, said the Rev, “I've got one more announcement. Merriam will be living in Visalia, and guess what?”

The room got quiet.

“Merriam will be running for Congress. Right here in the 22nd district!”

The crow sucked in it's collective breath and I stepped to the podium. “But no politics this morning”, I hollered, “this is the Lord's morning!” The crowd went nuts again.

“Y'all are giving me a big head with that cheering. And that's something I got to fight. When you're on TV, it's awful easy to be proud and vain. Awful easy. And I'm weak and prone to sin. I have to watch myself like a hawk.” And I launched into “Purging Pride”, which ran for 47 minutes to allow for commercial breaks in an hour long format.

At the end of the service I stood with Reverend Jackson greeting the congregation as they left. Almost every single family said they would help with my campaign when the time came.

We stayed over and made appearances at the mid week services in Tulare and Clovis. And also at a range of church spaghetti dinners, AA speaker meetings, Bible studies and such. The three main cities in the district, i.e., Tulare, Clovis and Visalia, counted less than 250,000 people between them so it was easy to make a big splash with nothing but personal appearances. TV and radio would come later.

That Sunday I planned to introduce ourselves at the largest church in heavily Hispanic Clovis. The Catholic Church of he Sacred Heart. Rollo, inexplicably, seemed reluctant to go.

“Why?” I asked. “Are you afraid of Catholics?”

“No, I'm afraid of Priests.”

“Why?”, I again asked. “Is it the “Exorcist” or something?”

“No, that's horse shit”, he said. “Stuff from people who didn't know what the moon was.”

“Then what?”

“I'm little”, Rollo explained. Three and a half feet tall. What if they think I'm a choir boy?'

“You're invisible.”

“Not one hundred percent of the time. Too risky.”

“You're afraid of Priests? Ha!, you're supposed to tempt them.”

“Bull F'in Shit”, he answered. “What if they take me up on it?”

“No, I mean tempt them with other stuff. Trick them into spanking the monkey or cheating on their taxes.”

“I want nothing to do with them.”

Reluctantly I went alone. Ascending the steps to the cathedral I was greeted by Father Landsborg, a tall aesthetic who resembled some species of wading water bird, one that might perhaps eat a toad like reverend Jackson. He recognized me after I introduced myself.

“You're a bit of an Evangelical star”, he noted. “You'll be attending our Catholic services today?”

“Actually, I'm very non-denominational”, I replied. “I try to meet new church groups whenever I come to a new place. I may be a bit of a heretic, but I feel a lot of the division between churches is often based on trivia. The core beliefs are usually the same.”

Father Landsborg seemed taken aback by the answer, and he responded, “I find that admirable. I often feel the same myself. You are most welcome here Miss Henderson.”

And that was that. I then spent a very boring hour in the back of the cathedral listening to Father Landsborg drone on in Latin, of which I understood nothing. Also, there was a great deal of moving about during the service, you'd no sooner get comfortable sitting when you would be called on to kneel or stand. Leaving, I received nothing more than a polite nod from Father Landsborg. I found myself peeved at Rollo as I returned to the hotel. If he had been along, he might have thought of a way to get me in front of the congregation and drum up some votes.

We returned to Santa Barbara that Sunday afternoon to begin planning for our big tent revival in Clovis the following month.

The Angelic Chorus would of course appear. They were salaried and their performance would cost nothing more than transportation, housing and per diem expenses. And nothing goes over better with a pack of rapture monkeys than an angelic choir singing about that old time religion.

“We need more”, said Rollo. “This is a festival and so far you're the only star. We need a constellation of stars telling the marks to praise Jesus and vote for you.”

“How about T-Bone Glock, that rap guy you know?” I asked Rollo. “He's an entertainer and he's got an interesting come to Jesus story with all those drugs, the car wreck and that house fire.”

“Nah, won't sell up there”, Rollo replied. “His latest religious thing is a rap prayer that invokes the Lord with the words, “Listen Up Niggah!”. Might go over good in some parts of LA, but not in Clovis.”

“Rollo, here's an idea, Stormy Daniels is looking for a new gig. Why don't we get her and let her have a come to Jesus moment on the first night of the show. Right after my sermon. I can let people know who she is when she arrives at the alter. And the next night she can speak to the crowd about her false ways and how she's amending them. The rubes will love it.”

“How do you get her to come to Jesus? Asked Rollo.

“How do you get her to hump Trump?”

“Might be talking about a lot of money”, Rollo observed.

“Maybe not”, I replied. “She's 38 and near the end of her career. How much longer can she work as a porn star?But as an Evangelical minister she's just starting out. A perfect age to start.  Attractive, sexy, a little worldly. And with lots of juicy stories to confess and atone for. She's a shoe in. We just have to convince her that coming to Jesus on that first night is her foot in a door. And saving souls is a hell of a lot more lucrative that being a porn star.”

Rollo lit up, “And she can tell the hicks that you're the type of candidate Trump would really like. And who's to contradict her? Trump won't come within a country mile. He's glad to be done with her.”

“Call her agent Rollo, invite her to spend the weekend. We'll give her a taste of how God fearing folk live. Take her out on the boat, jet up to San Francisco for lunch, you know.”

Rollo got on it with a vengeance. Stormy's agent saw the value of the plan immediately, but noted it was radically different than their normal shtick and he would need some time to sell it to Stormy. To allegedly sweeten the deal, he angled for contract where she would work as our protege. A sort of saved soul that we were bringing into full spiritual flower. Rollo felt this was giving away a big chunk of our brand and nixed the idea.

Rollo countered with series of sermons in all of our primary churches, a guaranteed number of television hours and a set number of appearances on stage with us. We would produce the sermons and coach Stormy's delivery in our studio. Stormy would own the rights to both the final studio tape and the live taping in the church. Rollo argued that if this wasn't enough to launch her, she couldn't be launched.

With the deal at the handshake stage, we sent our Lear to Dulles to retrieve Stormy and her agent. We could have just wired them first class tickets on Frontier, but both Rollo and I thought the Lear was a nice touch. We didn't meet them at the Santa Barbara airport, we sent a limo instead and then had drinks and hors d'oeuvres on our dining room balcony. Dinner was served on the top deck of the boat as it cruised up the coast at sunset. T-Bone Glock and a couple of other music people joined us and it was discovered that both Stormy and her agent shared their taste in drugs.

The next morning we had a cozy, private breakfast on Rollo's deck. T-Bone and his friends slept through it and the help had instructions to feed them on the main balcony, where they couldn't see us. If they woke up. Rollo had made himself visible for the occasion and resembled a four foot high troll wearing a leopard skin sport coat and ascot.

“Stormy, you have so much potential”, I began as I poured the coffee all around. I felt this was more intimate than having the help do it. “You're successful with you films and other activities, and now it's time to really harness that success. And we can help you do it.”

“But Merriam”, she replied. “Can I call you Merriam? I've never been a religious person. Maybe a little spiritual, but I gotta tell you, I don't know much about the Bible and the rest of that rigmarole. And it just scares the crap out me getting up in front of a bunch of religious nuts who do know that shit. What if they see right through me?”

“You're not expected to know all that Bible stuff. You're but a poor child who has just found the Lord. Who has just found a better way. That's all you need to know, and that's all the marks really want to hear about. They'll be more than happy to teach you how to honk the Bible. They'll relish it.”

Rollo leaned forward, “Just speak from the heart. Talk about how wonderful it is to leave that life of sin and come into the light. They'll eat it up like Alpo.”

We retired to studio to rehearse the come to Jesus moment. It was probably the most important part of the production and we wanted to get an early start. Stormy was very impressed with our studio and loved seeing herself on camera.

The studio guys had set up a cardboard alter with a podium out front and an alter rail. They'd unrolled a carpet to represent the center aisle of the revival tent and Stormy was seated on a folding chair at the far end of the carpet. We planned to start filming the event just as my sermon wound down, catching Stormy in her first tearful awakening. To this end we had her practice emoting while sitting in the chair and listening to the tail end of one of my sermons.

“Cut”, shouted Rollo. “Stormy, you gotta remember that your head's about the size of a postage stamp on the TV screen. Facial expressions aren't enough, dab your eyes and shake your head. Maybe put your head in your hands for a moment. We can't do a close up. This is supposed to be someone's phone video and a high quality close up would give it away.”

It took a few takes, but it didn't take that long to get it right. I then stepped in and we rehearsed the coming down the aisle part. As the sermon ended, I called for all who wished to accept the Lord to come forward. Stormy slowly and uncertainly stood, and with a hopeful look on her face, pointed to herself as if to ask if she too could be accepted. A second camera caught me beaming from the alter and motioning to her to come on down. She haltingly made her way down the aisle, overcome with emotion and daubing her eyes. When she knelt at the communion rail I placed my hands on her shoulders and we were suddenly surrounded by a golden glow.

Rollo called out, “OK, before we go on, I want you guys to be sure you can get that lighting right in the damn tent. And if you're not sure, then by jolly work it out now. I'm gonna want that golden glow and not some lame excuse about how the tent ain't the studio. OK, now go ahead.”

I looked towards heaven and, in a loud voice, called out to the Lord to accept this repentant sinner. The Angelic chorus started in with a heavenly “Ahhhhhhhhhhhhhhhhhh”. Stormy beamed at the Lord above. She then broke down with emotional impact of it all and I helped her through the alter railing to a back door of the tent where she could collect herself.

“Hey Stormy”, Rollo cried, “the first thing you're going to want to do out back is light up a cigarette. Just don't. OK? There's probably going to be people from the revival coming around and we don't want them seeing the new Mary Magdalene sucking on a butt.”

“Jeez”, replied Stormy. “You gonna tell me how many breaths to take coming down that aisle?”

“yeah, I might. If we need that to make it work.”

It was getting testy and I suggested we all go up to Rollo's balcony for a drink. And do a start to finish when we were fresh again. T-Bone was awake by then and he begged to witness his conversion at the upcoming revival.

“It's not a music event”, noted Rollo. “You're not going to be able to perform.”

“That's OK”, replied T-Bone. “Just want to talk. I got a message inside that gotta get out. It's important to me.”

“Ok, but no profanity”, said Rollo. “The 22nd isn't LA. It's a bunch of rubes who think saying “dang” is bad. And this is our show not yours.”

“I gotcha”, said T-Bone.

We returned to the studio and decided to warm up by letting T-Bone practice his address. He moved to the podium, bowed his head in thought, looked as if he was about to begin, and then asked, “The cameras rolling?”

“They are”, said Rollo.

“Ok!” T-Bone seem to swell and he boomed out, “Yo mothafuckahs. I gotta tell you about something wonderful that happened to me!”

“Hey!”, shouted Rollo. “No profanity!”

“What?” Asked T-Bone. He had moved away from the podium mic and his voice sounded small and genuinely confused.

“Motherfuckers is profanity”, answered Rollo.

T-Bone looked thoughtful for a moment and then replied, “Yeah, I guess people could see it that way. I'll watch it.”

T-Bone was used to studio work and he kept at it until he had, what I thought, was a really great address. His rapper talents came through and as he got it down, the talk took on a rhythmic, poetic, almost hypnotic aspect. Really powerful stuff. He wanted drums to come in midway and that seemed like a great idea. He played with the drum machine until he had what he wanted.

“Hell, you should have been a preacher”, said Rollo as we were wrapping up.

“I might do that after I turn thirty”, said T-Bone. “That or become a wino.”

“Maybe you oughta come down and be saved at the end of Stormy's first sermon”, I said, “that would add some drama. Then you could give your testimony the next night. We could have you on first, after the warm-up, the night after you got saved.”

“Why, I'd be honored”, said T-Bone, with a grin formal bow. I then realized how tough it was for him to just stand at the sidelines and watch the show, without having his finger in it.

T-Bone and Stormy spent most of the next three weeks in our studio honing their appearances. T-Bone knew his way around a studio and he taught Stormy. What we got at the end were two polished performances that we could easily use in any of our TV productions. T-Bone as a stand alone and and some great footage of Stormy where my work at the alter could be easily edited in. Things were beginning to work out.

Steve and the Angelic Chorus were revival veterans and they handled most of the logistics. Our big revival tent weighed over a thousand pounds and came in a 4'x4'x16' plywood box with eight big casters on the bottom. It had to be extracted from a storage area under the house and pushed off our loading dock into an 18' truck rented from Penske. An aluminum ramp and come-along would be used to download the box into the field where the revival would be held. Sheets of plywood would allow it to be rolled across the grass. Our usual crew six would be brought in from the temp agency and transported to Clovis for assembly and disassembly of the tent. They loved it, five days of per diem and getting drunk.

The studio techs loaded in the sound systems, lighting and video gear. We used a Los Angeles agency, “Street Team”, to handle the permits and publicity. There were no photo shoots as the agency already had plenty of stock photos of me on file. Both Stormy and T-Bone objected to not being in the publicity, but how could they be a part of it? When they wouldn't even get saved until the first and second nights of the revival. But after days of listening to T-Bone whine about his wasted star power, I finally agreed to allow him a small corner of the poster stating that he would appear as a special guest.The people who liked him would notice and those that didn't probably wouldn't.

Our permits required tickets to control crowd size, but Rollo and I agreed that the tickets should be free and distributed at all churches in the 22nd. Our goal was a full house for our political stuff and not profits. And we figured that after we got their names and addresses in exchange for the tickets, we could hose them for campaign contributions later.

As major operators in the 22nd, both Reverend Jackson and Father Landsborg were invited to speak. We immediately got Jackson's slobbery acceptance but Landsborg was different. He declined, stating that he wasn't good at such events, which I found worrisome. We didn't need enemies in the district, especially ones with big churches for Hispanics, one of the voting blocks we had targeted.

As a background task, Rollo was drawing up a list of fat cats in the 22nd district and preparing an information packet on my upcoming run for Congress. There were pictures of me on various pulpits and one of me on Rollo's deck lounging in a tank top and shorts. Rollo felt that most of the fat cats were dirty old men who would appreciate this one. Within the packet was an invitation to a “Retreat” to be held at the house the month after the revival. A retreat that would include excellent dining by the sea, deep sea fishing trips on our boat and golf at Santa Barbara's finest course. In addition, tickets would be provided for performances at the Granada theater. Transportation would be provided by our private Lear Jet at the Visalia Airport.

We had worked on my sermon for weeks. It was difficult given it's duel purpose. It had to uplift and excite the rubes while tugging enough heartstrings to make Stormy's emotional conversion seem real. There were many rehearsals and Stormy, to her credit, sat through most practicing her crying into her hankie.

Rollo got us press coverage in the day prior to the revival. The press showed up on the grounds after the tents were up, but while the interiors were still being completed. I was interviewed in front of the bustling scene and invited all to the event, reminding them that it was free and encouraging even the non-religious to attend, as there would be plenty of good family entertainment. The concessions were arriving and, to keep the prices down, we were taking a very small cut. Again, we wanted a feel good event, and not necessarily a lucrative one.

The gates opened at 4:00 PM on Thursday and we were jammed. We had the forethought to lease hundreds of folding chairs which were set up around the main tent after we had raised the tent walls to open up the tent. Reverend Jackson was charged with warming up the crowd. I'd watched him in action and knew him to be competent. I had explained that I had wanted upbeat at the opening and he understood. We mounted the stage together.

“Hi people, I'm Merriam Henderson and I'm welcoming y'all to my revival meeting!” This was greeted with cheers.

“I'm not here to preach fire and brimstone to y'all. I'm here to celebrate the Lord”, I yelled, almost at the top of my voice. “This here is a party for the Lord and I want y'all to make sure he has a good time.” The crowd went nuts.

“And now, here's a guy who needs no introduction, Reverend Jackson of the Valley Fellowship for the Lord. Take it away Rev!!”

And I had to admit that the Rev did a passable good job of warming up the marks.

At the end of his talk, I appeared in my gown and slippers, my normal TV attire, and again mounted the stage. I thanked Reverend Jackson for his guidance and, as he left the stage, I screamed, “let's hear it for the Rev!!” and was greeted with wild cheers and whistles.

Mounting the podium and adjusting the mic, I said, “The Reverend Jackson really inspired me there, really put some ideas in my head that I'd like to talk about that if I could”. I then launched into the sermon that Rollo and I had so carefully crafted.

The sermon, which had begun on a boisterous and lighthearted note settled down at the end to a discussion of the values of a life of virtue. During the last ten minutes I could hear Stormy audibly sobbing from her seat in the back row. It was catching and several others joined in.

At the end of the sermon I called out, “Is there anyone here who is without Jesus tonight? Anyone who is alone and would like to join with the Lord in eternal companionship and bliss? You never have to be alone anymore for the Lord is always with you. I'm asking you to come forward and accept him.”

I looked out over the heads of the audience, and focused on something in the distance, to get them to turn around. The Angelic Chorus, who was standing behind them, had been instructed to let out with a heavenly “Ahhhhhh” if the crowd didn't turn, but it did. Stormy stood and humbly pointed to herself as if to ask permission to come down. I didn't direct my words to her, but to the room.

“Everyone is welcome, but I would like to see those who perhaps feel they are unworthy to come first. For you are wrong, you are worthy and you deserve to come.” I wanted everyone but Stormy to hold off so Stormy wasn't lost in the mob. Stormy made her way down the aisle with the whole tent watching.

“Everyone, this is Miss Stormy Daniels, who you have no doubt heard about on the news, coming forward to accept the Lord.”

A gasp went up from the crowd. Stormy knelt at the alter railing, I put my hands on her shoulders and we were suddenly surrounded by a golden glow.

I lifted my eyes to heaven and shouted, “Lord, accept this repentant sinner!”

A load of gold glitter drifted down from the top of the tent. I hadn't expected that, but it seemed to work. The Angelic Chorus let go with their heavenly “Ahhhhhh”. There was lots of reverb to give it that ethereal sound. We stood there for several moments letting the crowd suck it up, and then Stormy broke down.

I shouted, “Excuse me for a minute people. This is a tough moment for her.” I escorted Stormy to the exit behind the alter. Rollo was there.

“What did I say about cigarettes?” He interjected.

“Fuck you, you ugly little Troll”, answered Stormy. She indicated the first joint of her little finger to show the size of something.

We were only there a few moments when the crowd arrived. Rollo was invisible to them. Stormy shifted gears and began sobbing again. The crowd surrounded her and began to comfort her. It went over great. Stormy ended up at the coffee concession with several of the more severe, and insufferable, matrons in the area who were more than happy to give her pointers on how to live her new life. She'd been warned of this and coached to let it pass. To sit there and just go, “Uh huh, uh huh”. It worked.

I invited Reverend Jackson to have lunch with us at the Mad Duck in Clovis. He accepted before I could finish the invitation. I got the feeling he really liked to associate with stars, myself, who was the old tried and true TV minister, and Stormy, who was now the talk of the revival - and of the Clovis, Visalia and Tulare religious communities in general.

“Stormy is going to testify tonight”, I sad over my Spicy Shrimp Stuffed Baguette, a specialty of the Duck, “and I was wondering if you could introduce her.”

“I would be most honored”, the Reverend replied.

“You might mention that she was a friend of Donald Trump, the crowd likes Donald.”

“Oh they do indeed”, replied the Reverend.

“And let them know that I wasn't really raised a Christian, and there's a lot I don't know yet. About the Bible and stuff. But that my heart's in the right place, and I want to learn.” Stormy added. “And let them know I'll be joining, your church, the Valley Fellowship of the Lord.”

“You will?” Said the Reverend. “That's wonderful.”

We wanted Stormy on to testify right after sunset. When the people were still fresh, but with enough darkness for dramatic lighting. Reverend Jackson mounted the podium just as darkness was setting in.

“And now we have something very special ladies and gentlemen. A young woman who has just come to the Lord. Just last night at this very revival, at the end of Miss Merriam Henderson's sermon. I've spoken with her and she's a little bit nervous about getting up her to testify. She feels that you know the Bible better than she does and you know the ways of the church. And she's never been taught these things. But I told that's the reason we're here, to teach her what she needs to know and I told her that the words of a sinner who has recently come to the Lord are an inspiration to us all, and that's what we want to hear.” There was a small titter of appreciation from the audience. “Let's welcome the newest member of the Valley Fellowship of the Lord and a special friend of our President Donald Trump, Miss Stormy Daniels.” This was greeted with hearty applause from the crowd.

Stormy strode onto the stage and was again bathed in a golden light. The Angelic Chorus let out with a reverb inflated “Ahhhhhhh's”. She was dressed in a white linen dress that reached the floor, demurely buttoned to the neck. Perfect attire for a repentant sinner.

Adjusting the mic, she began,”I'm kind of embarrassed about getting up here and speaking, like I know more about the Lord than you do. 'Cause I know that's not true. I was never raised religious. I didn't come from a religious home. In fact, until today, I've never been a religious person. I've pretty much lived in sin my whole life. I'm going to tell you some stories up here, and I hope I don't offend anyone, but I have to explain what I was before the Lord touched me.” The crowd leaned forward in anticipation, this is what they had come to hear.

I feared the hours of rehearsal might kill the spontaneity in the testimony, but Stormy was good. Lots of tears and chocked back sobs while the crowd sat on the edge of their seats. She ended with a call to her fellow sinners.

“And if there is anyone out there without the Lord in their life, and who feels lonely and abandoned the way I did, and who longs for a better way, let them show themselves for this gift that I received has to be shared.”

T-Bone stood up in the back row and, somewhat off script, boomed out across the audience, “Stormy, I'm here. A real project for ya'. I needs to mend my ways.” He beamed about at the audience with his encore smile.

“Are you T-Bone Glock, the rapper?” Stormy asked from the podium.

T-Bone extended his arms and did a 180, then continued, “I am, and I've been living a life I can't live no more. Sex. Drugs. Greed. I can't take it. I need to find my way back.” His raw voice was louder than Stormy with the PA system. His grin was infectious and the audience grinned back.

“Will you come to the alter and pray with me?”

“Hell yeah!,” boomed T-Bone and he made his way to the alter rail.

T-Bone knelt and Stormy placed her hands on his shoulders as I had done her.

“Do you feel the Lord Mr. T-Bone?”

The Lord landed on me like a duck on a damn june bug!”

We were way off script at this point.

T-Bone rose, raised his arms to heaven and shouted, “Hallelujah, the Lord be praised. YEAH!” He then turned to the audience and boomed, “I gotta thank each and everyone one of you good people for being here today. Being here to help me get right with the Lord. HAVE MERCY!”

Not knowing what else to do, Stormy took T-Bone through the alter rail and out the same back door that she herself had used. As they left, T-Bone turned back to the audience, and shaking his fist in the air shouted, “YEAH!”

Outside Stormy hissed, “You did it all wrong!”

“I done good. I could feel it. And the people could feel it. That's how I work. It's synergy!”

The local TV crew arrived about the same time I did. A simple shoulder held camera and a guy with a mic.

“Mr. Bone, that was quite an emotional moment in the tent there.”

“I felt the Lord. And that get anybody emotional. But it feels good. I can tell you that.” He grinned at the camera and not at the guy with the mic.

“Will this change the trajectory of your career?”

“I believe it will, there's a lot of good to do in the world and I gotta get on top of that.”

The interview made the nightly news in all three cities and made rap fans out of a pack of redneck farmers. I had to admit, T-Bone did have star power.

T-Bone was scheduled to give his testimony at 8:00 the following evening. Both Stormy and I were to introduce him. We'd gotten about half way through our prepared statements when T-Bone mounted the stage, pushed his way between us to the mic and shouted, “Hey, there's someone talking about me!”

Making eye contact with the audience, he continued, “How you doin' folks? You here to hear the T-Bone? Well, you not gonna be disappointed 'cause here I am. YEAH!”

We stepped back to let him have the stage.

“Yo mothafackas, I'm gonna tell you about something wonderful that happened to me!” And he then launched into his sermon. The drum machine came in on cue and he held the audience spell bound. When he finished, you could hear a pin drop in the tent and in the fields around. T-Bone bowed his head and the audience exploded in applause and whistles.

“Thank you, thank you. I am the T-Bone! I am the T-Bone!” And with this he exited the back door.

The TV crew was there again and a big group of people seeking autographs. Someone placed a blanket across his shoulders in the manner of the old James Brown cape. It was pretty obvious that T-Bone had conquered another venue.

Returning to Santa Barbara, we stowed our gear and then started getting ready for the arrival of the fat cats. Most had been culled from public lists of Republican donors. The senior staff members of all the local industries had also been invited. Two PAC's had approached us in support of our primary challenge to the district's current Republican Congressman, who now had the taint of Trump about him.

The actual visit was a bit anticlimactic, the fat cats,being mostly old fogies, were about as tedious as the Interfaith Council. But they did know how to entertain themselves, golfing, eating and boating with great abandon. The business end of the meeting could have been handled on-line. Basically, they gave me a list of things they expected and I promised to do my best to deliver. Here is the list as Rollo and I understood it:

No illegal Mexicans allowed in the district except those working in the chicken processing plant, the fertilizer plant, agriculture, local landscaping operations, construction or janitorial services.

A tax on marijuana.

No displays of homosexual activity except for youTube videos of girl on girl stuff.

Discontinue the Washington Post's newspaper license.

Suspend all regulations on all commercial operations.

Suspend all environmental regulations.

Stop investigating Trump's criminal activity.

 

On going over the list with the old codgers, I tried my best to project a “Can do, Will Do” image.

We were surprised that T-Bone and Stormy hadn't shown up. In fact, we were disappointed. Their performance at the revival had made them minor celebrities in the Visalia area and they would have been helpful with wooing the fat cats.

Rollo looked into it and learned that T-Bone was busy setting up his own church in an old 1920's movie palace in downtown L.A. In addition to a huge seating capacity, it would feature a Chicken and Waffle franchise, a discotheque with DJ's and liver rap performances and an extensive gym and pool complex. Like us, T-Bone was balking at the expense of re-covering thousands of worn out movie seats. Stormy was with him and helping with the nightly worship services.

Rollo and I immediately went down to L.A. to keep the members of our flock in the boat. I began holding nightly worship services and sunset services on the beach, with the full Angelic Chorus, on weekends. These beach services were a permitting nightmare requiring us to hire off duty cops, garbage services, street cleaners and a hundred plastic, blue water shitters. Everyone in L.A. wanted backsheesh, including the winos on the sidewalk.

This effort was a great burden as we really needed to be in the 22nd campaigning for our Congressional seat. But, as Rollo noted, if you have enough rubes throwing money at you, anything is possible. And if you're broke, you ain't got squat. And for once, our humble Lear proved practical. Allow us to shuttle back and forth and keep all the balls in the air.

We did our first campaign commercial. In it, I was working on an assembly line installing wheels on lawnmowers when a group of MS-13 gang members entered the factory and began ejecting the American workers out the back door. And replacing them will illegal aliens. An actress that looked like Hillary Clinton chuckled and encouraged them. I then pulled an AR-15 from a locker behind me and engaged the gang members in a running gun battle - until they fled. I then stood in front of a dead gang member with the smoking rifle and said, “I'm Merriam Henderson and I'll fight for you. No illegal alien will be taking your job when I'm in Congress”.

It was hard to keep the rifle smoking. They kept pouring chemicals down the barrel but it would only smoke for a few minutes. And this was a pain as we ended up doing many takes on that scene.

We began running the ad that spring and got the first stats back within a week. We were blowing both the the two Democratic challengers and our rival in the Republican primary away. We won the Republican primary hands down.

Rollo's next ad was absolutely brilliant. The ad started out showing a normal women's bathroom, but the stalls around the toilets dissolved and the toilets themselves appeared to move to the center of a large basketball gymnasium. A young woman walks up to use one of the toilets, but feeling uneasy, she first looks up a the bleachers. And there sit thousands of transexual kids eagerly leaning forward to watch her pee. I then step up to the camera and say, this is how my Democratic opponent will configure your high school bathrooms if he is elected. Vote for Merriam for privacy in your bathroom.

We made many more ads. One showed me shooting animals as I plowed a corn field on a tractor. Another showed Jesus leading me down from my pulpit on Sunday morning and installing me in the Congressional Office Building.

Rollo said the goobs all smoked and that they could better identify with me if I did too. He pointed out how well this worked for Rush Limbaugh. I began appearing with a cigarette in my mouth, but refused to light the revolting thing. I would now do my Sunday sermons in a James Cagney sort of way with the butt hanging out of the corner of my mouth. I encouraged the congregation to light up and the did, making the elevated pulpit in the various churches insufferable without a gas mask. But I persisted.

And the reward came that November. By eight o'clock on election night it was clear that we had won in a landslide. My opponent succeeded and I mounted the podium for my victory speech.

“I'd like to thank you folks for your hard work and the victory you gave me tonight. I'm humbled, I'm filled with the Lord and I'm determined to not let you people down. Hillary Clinton won't be taking your guns away while I'm in office. No sir. And Barack Obama won't be letting guys into the women's john to watch you pee, even if those guys are wearing a wig and a dress. And no illegal aliens will be taking your jobs or trying to move into your houses. And we'll ban those books that the liberals wrote to turn your kids gay. No sir, they won't be reading them anymore. It's going to be a new world. A new day is dawning. The government will no longer try to force healthcare on you. Cheap loans and grants will no longer tempt your kids to go to college. We'll keep your income taxes low by restricting your salaries. Anyone who wants to make more than fifteen dollars per hour is a lousy, freeloading communist anyway. And you won't have pointy headed liberals working IT or financial jobs. We're shipping all those to China. Let the Chinese work them. Finally, we're going to shore up the Appalachian coal industry and the New England whaling industry. These real American jobs ain't going nowhere. So thanks for your work, thanks for your vote and help me get this country back on track.”

We mingled for an hour at the campaign headquarters and then Rollo and I headed to the airport for a late flight back to Santa Barbara. Inside our Lear was a bottle of Wild Turkey, and we were pretty drunk by the time we landed. Drunk and happy.

 


Submitted: February 03, 2018

© Copyright 2021 MissFedelm. All rights reserved.

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hullabaloo22

Have to say, Miss Fedelm, I really enjoyed this....but bear in mind that I'm an atheist. Seriously though, you did a great job with the phoney religious sermon spouters!

Sun, February 11th, 2018 8:40pm

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I was mostly worried about the rapper. I can do some really funny stuff with him, but I was afraid some might find this racist. I knew the story will offend religious people. I've already got some complaints here. But I don't care about that.

Sun, February 11th, 2018 1:35pm

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