... AND so it was written (and thusly snickered at):
... That Reverend Calvin Dumble had a premonition of the coming apocalypse and spent ten years underground in his backyard bunker. That he believed that while he was bunkered down—eating naught but canned goods, astronaut meals and tabs of bad acid—the apocalypse he had sensed came and went. That the world into which he re-emerged was but a dusty wasteland populated by the lapdogs and whores of Satan. That he spent his remaining days killing the wicked and recruiting the righteous. That he was angry like a nut-struck prizefighter, like a junkyard Cerberus. That he was several steaks short of a barbeque, and that his bad-acid eating ways indelibly warped the parts of his brain that discriminated between the real and the not.
... However, Lily Mudge said that it was all true, except the part about the brain warping. If anything, it had been re-warped into the correct configuration. She also said that Calvin Dumble had Jesus in his ear and thunder in his voice and iron in his fists and a spring in his step like a man a quarter century younger than he was, and who’s to say they were right and she was wrong? When Dumble baptized Lily and proclaimed her not only saved, but also once again whole and now fuelled by the righteous wrath of the divine, she became wet in a way that had nothing to do with the waters into which she’d been dunked. Lily knew beyond a shadow of moral doubt that Calvin Dumble was a prophet and a two-fisted do-gooder the likes of which this earth had not seen since some guy in Jerusalem said it’d be really groovy if everybody just mellowed out some.
... How it all came to pass is a story of note, but the details may be hazy and some events jumbled. What Lily recalled with utmost certainty was the name of the bar (Billy’s House of Shimmy) and the man who signed her checks (Billy).
... Billy was a former trucker who got mildly cashed up running crystal meth all over the Southwest, cash which he invested in perhaps the rankest titty bar you ever creeped your peepers at. Billy was a man of dubious musical taste: a little bit country, a little bit rock ‘n’ roll, a whole lotta garbage. He liked his women lanky and loose. He liked Wild Turkey by the rafter. He was as prone to violence as he was to premature ejaculation. But in the two years Lily danced at Billy’s House of Shimmy, distasteful as it was, she never had a check bounce and she kept every red cent she made in tips.
... Lily didn’t see Calvin Dumble pull the big black ’56 Cadillac Fleetwood hearse that had belonged to his daddy into the lot of Billy’s House of Shimmy, as she was inside with pasties on her nipples and a thong wedged up her ass. She later imagined, however, that it arrived with the very grace and sunny disposition of the vengeful Lord, as did Dumble himself when he stepped through the front doors, the lovingly polished sawed-off held between his hands.
... Upon Dumble’s entry, all members of the Iceman Dan’s Heating and Plumbing bowling team immediately rose and reached for the various sidearms each kept strapped to various parts of their bodies. Everyone knew an Iceman Dan man rolled heavy everywhere he went; their rivalry with Greasy Dick McGee’s Drywall extended well beyond the scarred lanes down at Two Palms Bowl.
... Standing there in the open door, the sun pouring in behind him, Dumble also knew that he and he alone in this titty bar walked with the Lord. The few non-bowler patrons in Billy’s fled to the fire exits, boners quickly deflating inside their sweatpants, trampling over any poor girl in their way who was still frozen in mid-jiggy. This included Ginny Gams, who had long pressed for the unionization of strippers and, had she been successful, would have been compensated for her paralysis instead of being forced to spend her remaining days turning tricks for johns with a thing for female Murderballers.
... Anyhow, Lily—legs locked around the main pole of the side stage, holding herself off the floor with one hand—watched as Dumble racked the sawed-off and heard his prayer:
... “Forgive them, Lord, for they know not who they fuck with.”
... Back then, neither did Lily. She could not recognize the satanic codes embedded in the fine stitching of those white bowling shirts with the powder blue trim, bowling pins erect like obscene phalluses on their backs. As Dumble did not yet know her, biblically or otherwise, Lily had not yet learned the true evil of bowling and of those who practice its dark art. You may scoff at such a notion, but staring down Iceman Dan’s boys, guns held in their ball-fingering hands, even the hardest man the desert ever birthed would agree with what Dumble would tell you:
... Only the deservedly damned doth bowl.
... Dumble shaved three times a day, once after each meal, and the only bearded man he trusted was a Jewish carpenter. Iceman Dan was in a different trade entirely, and if his shaggy, wild facial hair was not enough to further heighten tensions in Billy’s House of Shimmy, just then his tongue jutted forth to lick at his thin lips and the hair of his mustache, a tic that went back to his vocational school days. Dumble saw that the tongue, aside from being peculiarly long, was also forked. This may sound crazy, but Iceman Dan’s own self-proclaimed predilection for cunnilingus was, after all, well known throughout several counties. And several girls he’d gone down on would swear that the pink serpent in his mouth, when unfurled, rivaled the one in his Levis.
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