KYSO Flash
Knock-Your-Socks-Off Art and Literature
Issue 7: Spring 2017
Micro-Fiction: 344 words

Becoming a Christian Soldier

by Dan Gilmore

My mother told me that misery seeks salvation, that God’s soldiers are here to make sinners’ lives so miserable that their hearts open to Jesus. Every Sunday afternoon we stood outside the Grange Bar. I still remember the odors of urine, stale smoke, and sweat. At first, the men inside hooted about her red hair, freckled face, and big breasts. But we kept showing up and she kept praying. They sensed her power and resolve. Most learned to keep their mouths shut.

Then one Sunday a young drunk came outside. He faced my mother and said words like raw meat and fresh pussy. She pushed a curl from her forehead, then moved within an inch of the man’s face and whispered, Kneel and let us pray for your damned soul. When he hesitated, she yelled, Kneel, you sumbitch! I wanted to run, but she pinched my shoulder and I let out a loud, Praise Jesus.

The power of her will and the claw hand she pressed against the man’s face buckled his legs. And there he was on his knees before her, tears streaming down his cheeks, and begging her forgiveness as she prayed not for his salvation but his eternal damnation for calling a woman of God fresh pussy. She told God to curse him, his wife, and all his children and their children.

Three weeks later he joined the Church of Christ and was baptized. That same day, on his way home from church, he ran his car into a tree and died. My mother praised God he’d been saved before hitting that tree.

I never became a Christian soldier. I tried. I pretended but never felt the pull. One evening while my mother prayed, I stood on the ridge watching a slow train cross the length of the valley and vanish into the darkness. I looked up at the sky thick with low-hanging stars, heard the train’s whistle in the distance, and knew for the first time that something in me existed that didn’t belong to her.


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