the almighty

(students walk past periodically. a preacher, JONAS, stands nearby berating them)

STUDENT1: What time is it?
STUDENT2: Two-forty.
STUDENT1: Aww, shit, I'm late!
JONAS: Your mouths are as foul as your minds! Keep thinking of excrement and you'll find yourself wallowing amongst it on your way to hell!
STUDENT2: Shut up.
JONAS: What's the matter? In a hurry? Got an appointment for some fornication? For some inebriation? Just can't wait a moment longer to turn your back on God?

(they leave. the following rants are addressed to no one in particular. the stream of students gradually trickles off over its course)

JONAS: You were given a chance! Christ died for your sins and yet you continue to sin! Our Lord Jesus died so that you may be forgiven and when he sees what you have been up to, so angry will he be that you shall be stricken down where you stand! Yea! You shall be cast into the venomous grasp of the serpent! You have no assurances, yea, the Almighty God can cast you into Hell at his quickest determination of your wrongdoing, your sinning...

(ABE enters, carrying two cups of coffee)

ABE: Some coffee, Brother Jonas?
JONAS: (normal) Brother Abe!
ABE: (looking at his watch) It's 2:40. Haven't you...
JONAS: Since eight this morning.
ABE: Without a break?
JONAS: None at all. Ever since Stan left, we've been short-handed.
ABE: This is insane. Personnel needs to hire more people, it's as simple as that.
JONAS: I'll tell you what's insane. I'm in the break room the other day...(notices a student walking by, switches modes) All the tight little tiger-skin skirts in the world can't save you from the righteous wrath of the Lord, harlot! (switches back) And Jed comes in, all angry. I'm just eating a Twinkie and reading up on Revelation, because I've always been a little weak there...
ABE: Good call. That's a big one with students. They eat that apocalypse stuff with a spoon.
JONAS: So I'm just reading and suddenly Jed gets all up in my face saying I ate all the donuts. Which I didn't. I got the damn Twinkie out of the vending machine. You know, I'm sorry if he got stuck with an eight hour shift on the agriculture quad the other day, but it ain't me that does the scheduling. I'm really sick of taking crap for
ABE: (spotting a student) Alcohol is the devil's juice, damn you! It's a straight line from inebriation to fornication! You're like a donkey being led by Beelzebub right into the charnel house of damnation!
JONAS: Man, I almost missed him.
ABE: It's no problem. You can't catch them all. (sees another) Not a one of you will escape the wrath of the Lord! The Lord is all-seeing! He does not miss a single sinful drop of your naked lust! (turns back) Did you get the memo yesterday?
JONAS: No. What'd it say?
ABE: Totally sucks. Overtime is being cut in half for precipitation days.
JONAS: Well, screw that! I can't take Doris and the kids on vacation unless I get a few snow days in.
ABE: Sorry, man. What can you do?
JONAS: (sighs) Yeah, it's a paycheck. I'm not about to go back to the bottle-cap factory, that's for sure. So are you coming (sees a student) The Lord appeared to me! He said "Jonas!" and I said "Lord! Let me serve you!" and the Lord said "They're headed straight for hell on these college campuses, Jonas! Go! Go and I will provide for you! Go and save them from the sins they commit in the name of vanity! In the name of carnal pleasure!" And I said "Yes, Lord! Yes, I will!" (turns back) Sorry. Didn't mean to get sidetracked there.
ABE: Am I coming to what?
JONAS: To the office Christmas party this year?
ABE: You bet I am. Guess whose sorry ass got stuck with organizing it?
JONAS: (laughs) You're kidding!
ABE: No, I'm not. I'm telling you, they have to give us more notice on this sort of thing. Where the hell am I going to find a golden calf two weeks before Christmas?
JONAS: Dude, you can't skimp on the golden calf.
ABE: I know, I know. It's not going to be easy to live up to the kind of parties Stan used to throw. I tell you...(sees a student, begins speaking in tongues) Ahhh! Abb dabb tra glu glu la! Wrrraaaaahhh! Lurk purgle fnn fnnn hhhhhheya luhh! (turns back) That man could throw a party.
JONAS: No kidding. He could mix a seriously mean punch.
ABE: Are you kidding? That punch was so good, even Bathsheba from Payroll was starting to look like the whore of Babylon!
JONAS: (smirks) That's some strong punch.
ABE: You know it. You got any ideas for entertainment?
JONAS: My kids really liked that magician from last year.
ABE: Yeah, he was good. Problem is, this close to the holiday, everyone's booked.
JONAS: You'll find something. You always complain and then you always come out smelling like roses, Abe. (sees a student) There were another group of people who thought they had a lot of knowledge! Do you know who they were? The Babylonians! They thought they were really something special! And do you know where they're at now? They didn't reach the sky with their tower, no...they reached the pit of eternal damnation! Yea! You'll think twice about fornicating when you feel the devil's fire lapping at your sinning appendages!
ABE: Do you really think they get that historical stuff?
JONAS: Probably not. Hell, it's late. I've been working way too long.
ABE: Thank God It's Friday, man.
JONAS: You better believe it. Anyway, just whatever you do, don't get a mime, okay?
ABE: Why? You have something against mimes?
JONAS: Damn right I do. I was taking my kids downtown this summer and one of those antelope fuckers starts doing that "ooh, I'm in a cage" shit with little Ezekiel. Well, Ezekiel gets all freaked out and thinks he's in a cage and won't stop crying the entire time we're there.
ABE: That's a real bitch. I'll stay away from the mimes, then. Maybe we can get some improv comedy group.
JONAS: That'd be fine.
ABE: (sees a student) And there will be no time then for redress! You will bleat and you will whine and you will curse your foolishness and you will tear at your hair but no one will listen as you sink deeper and deeper into the eternal clutches of Satan! The time for repentance is now, sinner! Now! (turns back) Now you didn't hear this from me, but rumor has it that the company's being bought out.
JONAS: Seriously? By who?
ABE: RJR Nabisco. Can you believe it?
JONAS: Stock has been pretty healthy lately.
ABE: There's a dark-horse bid from Greenburg and Associates, too. I'll tell you, I really don't need to deal with another round of employee evaluations. I'm gonna go out of my head.
JONAS: You think that's what it's going to come down to?
ABE: Always does. Almighty profit margin, you know.
JONAS: Damn. Well, I'm going to go clock out.
ABE: See ya Monday.
JONAS: Guess so. Bye.

(a bell rings and a flood of students comes out)

ABE: I see it in every one of your eyes! The lust! The desire for carnal pleasures! The pleasures of the body and the wasteland of the soul! Repent now and give your heart over to Jesus or face the flames! Face the fiery flood! Get ready to face the slow ride into the mouth of Satan!

the almighty by marc heiden november 1998