Preacher Perkins on the Mainline—Elaine Bonow

Preacher Perkins on the Mainline

            The Right Reverend “Preacher” Perkins paced the short proscenium of the pulpit his swirling white robe exposing glimpses of sweat stains around the armpits and crotch of the red velvet jumpsuit. He strode purposefully, haranguing the festively dressed, Christmas morning worshipers.

Preacher Perkins channeled his heavenly Santa dressed in this seventies style tailor made suit complete with black patent leather boots and matching belt. The white cape enhanced his James Brown soul brother credibility. On cue, Deacon Brown would gather the cape from the floor where Preacher Perkins tossed it and reverently drape it around his shoulders at the end of an especially poignant exclamation.

The Reverend stopped dead in his Cuban heeled tracks as the front door of the church swung open as a young woman, blown in by a gust of frosty wind, the taste of snow cooling her path, bundled herself into the back pew. Preacher Perkins quickly brought the congregation back to attention as he swung into his main message. “Let me tell you what the Lord wanted me to share with you today.”

“Come on.” The congregation urged.

“In the club you hoot and holler but in the church you say Amen.”

“Amen,” they clapped and repeated in unison, “Amen, Amen, Amen.”

The Reverend Preacher Perkins worked them into a frenzy. “God gave me this revelation.” He high stepped to the rhythm as the corpulent drummer picked up the beat with his bass drum.

The microphone crackled. “G-O-D,” he says it again. “G-O-D,” emphasizing each letter like a song.

The congregation joined in the chant shouting encouragement to Preacher Perkins. “Come on, Come on.”

The guitar player soloed high piercing notes. The bass player thumped a fierce bass run. The choir joined in with the Curtis Mayfield refrain. “Amen. A –A- men, A-amen, Amen.”

Three church matrons dressed in matching red outfits traverse the aisles waving  smoky frankincense joss sticks above their heads. The overhead lights dim and flashing Christmas lights strobe the dramatic tableau.

Preacher Perkins stops suddenly, quiets the band with a sharp wave of his hand and hushes the congregation with a series of sharp staccato claps. Everyone stops, perched on the edges of their pews breathing heavily except the girl at the back of the church who stands up slowly, dropping her coat to the floor and stares at the Right Reverend Perkins.

He whispers into the microphone “God hates the sin but loves the sinners.” He moves slowly down the center aisle towards the girl. “I said God hates the sin but loves the sinners.”

The drummer starts a slow, steady heartbeat. The girl moves towards him mesmerized. He fixes her with his eyes, holds out his arms to her and embraces her, pressing her face close to his he whispers so only she can hear, “Meet me in my office after the service.”

The band kicked into a rousing version of “Jesus on The Mainline.” The choir sang in harmony “Tell him what you want, Tell him what you want.” Preacher Perkins dismissing his flock, stood at the back of the church where he could easily see how much money each person dropped into the collection boxes, the last tithes of Christmas morning.

During the final frenzy of music and well wishes for a Merry Christmas Evealynn was able, she hoped unseen, to find her way to the Reverend’s office. She was tired and in the cozy inner sanctum dozed a while on the white leather sofa as she waited for him.

Her thoughts turned around her life these past few months of terrifying consequences. The spiral downward left her unable to control her various addictions.  What was is that made her more depressed even as she took more and more of the pills prescribed by her state sanctioned doctors? She hadn’t worked in over a year now unless you count sitting in the bar until some dude paid her bar tab in exchange for a quick blowjob in the bathroom.

She woke up when she heard the Reverend tell someone in the hallway that he was going to close up and to get home before the snowstorm closed down the city.

”Well, well, who do we have here?” He sat down in the chair next to the sofa. “Did Tonya send you to me?”

“She said you could help me like you helped her and I didn’t have any other place to go and it’s Christmas and I …” The room was warm and as she sat up he reached over and helped her out of her coat and then her sweater exposing her breasts, his fingers gliding across her nipples.

“I’m going to save you, girl but first you have to help me.” He pulled her gently by the arms and pressed her face into his sweat damp crotch. She didn’t resist as he unbuckled the black patent leather belt and slid the oversized zipper down guiding her head gently into his promised land.

She expected no less. All men are the same; all men are equally guilty of wanting an easy release, especially when promising to help a poor girl down on her luck. These thoughts kept her busy during this routine excursion deepening her depression. After this I am going to need a good stiff drink. Glad I got those pills renewed. I wonder how long he will take. I hope he can put me up for the night. I’d hate to be out in that freezing mess. I don’t think I could take it. Tonya told me he would help me. Maybe I could stay here. Oh what am I going to do next? Why am I so fucked up? Thank god he’s gonna finish now. I need a drink bad.

“Well, well girl, you give mighty good head. What is your name anyway?”

“They call me Evealynn. Tonya told me to come here. She said you could help me. Where do you keep the whiskey?”

He pointed in the direction of his desk while only zipping up half way in anticipation of round two. “You’ll find some glasses and a bottle in the bottom drawer.”

She poured a couple of straight Courvoisier’s and brought it to him. She fished her bottle of pills from her coat pocket and took two Zanex as prescribed. She reached into the side pocket of her purse found a loose Vicodan and swallowed that too with a big gulp of brandy.

Preacher Perkins watched her with an amused expression. “You girls never cease to amaze me. You look so fragile but are the baddest dope addicts around. I’m always wondering how the Lord knew that you women just need a good man to tell you what to do. And this is the ministry the Lord put me in charge of, the management of wayward women.”

Evealynn waited for her own release, the dream like state of drug reduced depression. Soon she would almost feel good, almost human and soon she wouldn’t give a good goddamn what the future might bring.

“Girl, oh yes, I am going to save you. I am going to give you a place to live, food to eat and work of the Lord to do. I will be in charge of your drugs your alcohol and most importantly your body. Your body will be a temple of G-O-D, a temple to be used by men, good God-fearing men. You’ll start tonight. After I finish with you I’ll take you up to the house. Now praise God girl and get back over here we have some business to conduct, in the name of the Lord Jesus, you’re gonna take a ride on the Mainline.”


About bbcstudiowrites

This blog is me archiving the BBC Studio Writers Workshop.

Posted on January 18, 2013, in Uncategorized. Bookmark the permalink. Leave a comment.

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