Her panties had to match her dress because she was going to be dunked in a horse trough filled with water to prove to the congregation that she was a Jesus fan. The pink cotton panties were clean so she put those on. Then she slipped into a boxy pink dress that concealed her voluptuous ass and plump tits. No one would know she was sexy, they would only suspect. She didn’t put on any makeup, just sunscreen.
“Well, today’s the big day. I made you French toast and bacon,” her husband said.
“Thank you. Coffee. I need coffee. Black coffee,” she said. She took a few bites of toast, ignored the bacon, and drank three cups of hot black coffee.
In his truck her husband played his new Garth Brooks cd. She curled her toes inside her pink cowboy boots and looked out the window at mesquite trees, pumping jacks and abandoned rent houses, battered by the fierce stinging wind. The sky was Easter egg blue. There were no clouds. Buzzards snacked on a dead coyote on the side of the road. She closed her eyes and took a deep breath. Jesus would return someday. An angel would show up on a cloud, a big ass fluffy white cloud. The angel would blow a trumpet. The sky would open and Jesus and all the other angels would spill out, gleaming glorious, filling the air with song. Loud song. Happy song. Victorious song. Jesus won. Satan lost. Jesus fans soar up to Heaven en masse with their matching panties on. That day would come and there would be no more roadkill, no more coyote entrails steaming in the brutal whore sun, smearing buzzard beak. No more Bank of America. No more Chili’s. No more Hollywood and New York City produced mediocrity and blatant idiocy. No more sequels. No more sold-out Justin Bieber and Lady GaGa concerts.
Cowboy church was packed. Nothing new there. Old men greeted them as they walked in the door. She faked a smile and grabbed a glazed donut from the bar. She ate the donut and wiped the sugar from her mouth with a napkin. There was sugar on her fingers. “I’m going to the bathroom,” she told her husband. He sat down in a folding chair and she headed for the bathroom. A teenager with long black hair stood at the mirror applying magenta lipstick to her pouting lips. She wore a purple halter top, tight blue jeans and black cowboy boots. Jesus would approve.
She sat beside her husband with clean hands. There was too much sun, too much light, too many chattering, laughing people. She wished for a cave. Silence. Darkness. You either love someone or you don’t. She did not love her husband. She did not love Jesus. She did not love herself. She did not love any of this but this was here, present, all over her face like so much egg. What was the solution. She did not know.
They sang the same songs they always sang. Love songs to Jesus. People hugged each other and shook hands. People asked her if she was nervous. A little bit. She was a little bit nervous in her boxy pink dress. The preacher was congenial, always smiling in his respectable starched shirt, Wranglers and polished cowboy boots. He asked them to turn in their Bibles to Mark 4. Parables. The words entered her ears but she did not hear them, did not feel them. Where was the poetry? What the fuck did it all mean? She did not know.
Then she was standing onstage with the preacher, Pastor Hank. He put an arm around her, told the congregation the good news. She had accepted Jesus into her heart. She was following through with baptism as was the custom. He spoke the words. His hands were on her. Then she was beneath the lukewarm water. She emerged to applause and AMEN and HALLELUJAH.
“Do you feel different?” the husband asked her on the drive home.
“I am new in Christ. I’m a new woman,” she said.
“I never can tell if you’re being sarcastic,” he said.
She got naked and turned on the radio in the bedroom. Beethoven. This was something she could feel, hear, believe, know. She began painting the first wall. The walls of the bedroom had been piss yellow for too long. She was changing the piss yellow to sea foam green. Someday it would be spring again but first it would be fall and then winter. She felt better already, like a blooming flower of some kind. Not a rose, not a tulip. But some kind of flower. Blooming.