Working at the shop was the most boring part of my life. The usually day dragged on like a wounded creature till evening and I only started feeling much better when I began to move in our wares for closing time.
A nondescript yellow bus slowed down and a man jumped out looking like he couldn’t make up his mind between Michael Jackson and James Brown. He was definitely a preacher.
His bible cover and his suit must have been made from the same material because they were exactly the same shade of faded black. He gave a new definition to “Man of Cloth”.
He traveled with the usual pentecostal bag of tricks: a white kerchief, a bottle of anointing oil that obviously contained an inferior substitution, and a lousy bell for inviting the world to salvation. What a delight it would have been to know how he’d have pulled off the Eucharist if it were an evangelical necessity.
He looked like he wanted to start preaching but unfortunately for him, there was competition already at work. One self-proclaimed Prophet Jemini was inviting witches and their victims to repentance and he was quite the spectacle also. He wore a gown that had once been white and a funny red hat that creatively combined a cross, a crescent moon and a star into an emblem. He also wore a yellow scarf and rusted jewelery, all bearing the same divine symbol. He had beaten his adversary to the podium by seconds, ringing his bigger bell and gathering a sparse crowd.
“The devil is a liar”, shouted the pastor in an attempt to steal the dim limelight. “Dear Redeemed of the lord, do not be deceived, signs and wonders shall follow them that believe!” “We are a chosen generation!”
The soft drink seller as if on cue, quickly began to share soft drinks amongst the shop owners. My madame was out of the country so I ordered for something different today. The enterprising kid tossed a can of beer my way and I settled into one of the executive chairs on display.
“Rajah! Raaajah! Thou art great!”, the prophet shouted, as he brought out an interesting series of colorful scarves out of the thin air. I was happy because I guessed he was going to work some magic.
My girlfriend arrived just then and I quickly arranged a beer for her too. She was still sulking that I had decided that we were not going to the cinemas. She was immediately took her seat by my side and started nursing her drinking problem appropriately. Seven more cans would follow, and whenever that happened, I became a hero. Besides, with madame away, the day had gone well so I could afford it. I could be a millionaire by the end of the month, over-pricing the wares if this parasite would leave me alone.
“Rajah! Raaajah! Thou art mighty!”, Prophet Jemini shouted as he opened each scarf to reveal a strangely dyed bird. The all flew into random. The last black bird landed on his funny hat as commanded, “Spirit of Rajah! Lead thy servant!” I wondered how the fellow had managed to capture those strange-looking rainbow birds; they had extra long beaks and tails and were as big as small turkeys.
The pastor would not be outdone so easily, he produced something even more ridiculous. We turned to him and watched as he produced a shining piece of technical wonderment and poured the foul looking oil into it. He pulled a trigger and shouted “Receive the anointing!!!!” A perfumed fountain immediately sprang out of the device, leaping seven feet into the air. He didn’t waste a second, “Receive the faayaaaah!!!!” echoed through the area as the same gizmo produced a spark at his discretion and we were witnessing the latter rain of fire and Pentecost. Over a hundred and fifty lost souls gathered in two seconds.
The men of God had their offering boxes open and the fees of salvation began to pour in. I immediately donated, wouldn’t you? The book of Leviticus teaches us benevolence towards men of calling and I didn’t get this kind of phenomenal service at my austere Catholic cathedral.
The competition continued in earnest. The message for the day hovered around how Nostradamus had baptized Jesus in the lake of Babylon. The two clerics were at it for several minutes, attacking the issue from several abstract angles, mesmerizing their audience with miraculous side-attractions in the process. I enjoyed several other epiphanies from my new church of wonderful revelation; I didn’t know that had Judas founded Judaism or that Bob Marley was still alive in Tibet. The crowd had already grown to ridiculous proportions.
With that kind of crowd around, I immediately began to close shop. When I was done, I and a very drunk companion watched from afar. Interestingly, I had been discreet to observe from a distance because as darkness crept upon us all, the extra large crowd would experience the greatest miracle they would ever see in their life time.
A golden cloud, rapture and missing wallets.