the church ladies
come around
once a week now
looking for my
daughter. she
made the mistake of
talking to them
once or twice,
opened the door,
and now she’s
on their list
of souls to be saved.
but she’s hiding
in the other room
so they get me
instead. they
are nice enough
if a bit intense, but not
pushy, not
preachy, and
I can’t bring myself
to be mean to them. so I
take the pamphlet,
listen politely as they
flip the well-thumbed pages
of their bibles to
read me a verse that
talks about this very topic
(whatever we’ve been discussing),
allow them to make
their low-pressure pitch.
I’m nodding yes, muttering
“uh-huh, uh-huh”,
as if I was
paying close attention,
which I’m not. and they
anticipate that anyone
on the receiving end of this
would be getting antsy by now,
and without my having to
give them signals to that effect,
they cut themselves short;
they’re respectful
of my time, they
know better than to
press too hard,
only stay about
five minutes total. they
are masters at this
game. I’m
not even playing the game; I’m
cutting them a lot of slack. we
both know
they’ll be back
next week and
every week after that until
one of us is dead or
I’ve joined up with
their group (they
never mention it but
I think they’re
Jehovah’s Witnesses).
my patience
isn’t even
beginning to be tested and
yet they’re already
saying goodbye,
walking back
down the steps.
and I go inside,
start re-heating my
leftover chicken wok dinner,
and I ask myself:
what would
Bukowski do
in this situation?
curse them
to their faces? make
an obscene proposition?
offer them each a beer?
would he
take the pamphlet
of bible verses if
only to wipe his
ass with it?
would he
haggle theology
with them?
brag that he could
kick Christ’s butt? play
devil’s advocate by
elucidating the Blakean wisdom
of indulgence in
carnal excesses?
and would the
church ladies
keep returning, stoically,
week after week
for this vile abuse,
invigorated by
the near impossible
challenge of
converting him?
I really wonder how
he would handle these
church ladies. I’ll probably
just keep answering the door
until one of us dies
or moves or
gives up. I’ll
try not to insult them
but I can’t guarantee
that won’t happen. maybe
they’ll catch me on
a bad day and I’ll
let them have it, or,
in a fit of perversity, I’ll
act insane, make
loopy prophetic claims,
citing the Book of Revelations and
mixing in some of
Philip K. Dick’s Exegesis for
good measure. or
maybe I’ll take a cue
from my daughter and
learn to hide when
they ring our
bell, something
I can’t picture
Bukowski ever doing. he’d
think it’s a
show of
cowardice. no,
whatever Buk did,
it would be a statement,
and a big one at that. whatever
I end up doing will probably be
an evasion, some quiet, non-committal act,
and they’ll never really know
if they were close
to snagging me
or not.