Door Preachers and the Sunday Morning Discount

Some years ago, I answered my door and found a strange couple dressed in black.

“We’re here to do you a favor,” the man said. A young woman stood behind him, nodding her approval at my good fortune. “I’m Nathan and this is Sarah. Have you read the Good Book today?”

“Why, no,” I said. “Not today. It’s only eight-thirty Sunday morning—”

“We’re so sorry to bother you, but this is too important to leave for later.”

Are you really sorry, Brother Jagoff?

The upshot was that he wanted to discuss my personal religious habits, my church regimen, how often I prayed—simple things like that.

“Please, come in,” I said.

Back then, I did such CRAZY things to gain a perverse appreciation for those of us with the nerve to sell bibles door to door. I should have taken one from him and started preaching on the Golden Rule.

I led them into my apartment. My living room was small and adorned with little else than a sofa, television and stand, coffee table, and a tall, thin bookcase that had more knick-knacks than books.

“Well, Brother,” Nathan began, “I can see from your extensive library that you like to read.”

I scanned the two dozen volumes on the shelves and wondered if Nathan was cracked. “Extensive library?”

“Just so. Now, there’s no better read in the world than the Good Book.”

“How good is it?”

“It’s the Good Book.”

“Are there any posted reviews?”

“Well, the whole world reads it—”

“The whole world has read Moby Dick but that doesn’t mean it’s any good.”

Nathan blinked. “Well, if you want a ripping good whale story, you need to read about Jonah. He was swallowed by a whale.”

“Tragic.”

“Oh, not so much,” Nathan explained. “Jonah lived for three days in the belly of the BEAST.”

“Three days? With only a pen light? Without Jack Daniels?” I didn’t believe much of it, but who can say? “Sounds like a bad acid trip, man. Hydrochloric acid, that is.” I laughed and looked to elbow someone in the ribs Hee-Haw style, but no biologists were sitting next to me.

“Be that as it may,” Nathan said, still faking his smile of reassurance, “I can offer you a fifty percent discount on the Good Book if you buy today.”

“Does it have to be this minute?”

Sarah piped up. “At your convenience, sir.”

MY GOD, the look on Nathan’s face. The corners of his mouth trembled as he scanned the floor and said, “Well, we have to talk about that—”

“Nah,” I said. “Truth is, I’ve read it. I lost the gist of it around Proverbs, but it had a decent story. Some parts were better than others, you know?”

“Reeeeally?” Nathan drew out the word like a mad scientist. “I don’t see it in your extensive library?”

“I lent it to a friend. She went to Catholic school, so naturally she’s never read it. When I got it back, she’d earmarked all the hot and bothered passages, so I gave it to a local bookstore. They have it locked up somewhere in the Adults Only section.”

Nathan looked at me with the singular expression he owned, like a portrait whose eyes follow you around a room. After I showed them the door, I heard him in the hall lecturing Sarah on why she’d blown the sale.

God Bless ’em.

Stay friendly and healthy.

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