Just so you know, there’s a guy in town who will write a short story about all your favorite things for a nominal fee. His name is Saab Lofton and he’s a writer who self-identifies as a full time activist. He’s also a comic artist—creator of Silverbullet, the “world’s first black lesbian superheroine”—and a source of an endless stream of political opinions and Star Trek knowledge. He’s not gay, but one time he got gay-bashed by some thugs in Los Angeles who mistook his superhero costume for evidence of cross dressing.
Needless to say, I was intrigued the proposition, so I “borrowed” some cash from David and filled out Saab’s questionnaire on the spot. Three days later, he emailed me a story, which may be described with a number of adjectives, not the least among them awesome. My questionnaire responses and the resulting story are after the jump.
What is your favorite…
movie: The Time Machine (1960)
color: “tail of the peacock”
band/musician: Leonard Cohen
animal: tie between thousand-headed serpent and centaur
dream job: Betazoid high priestess
fictional character: God
sport: Luche libre
What’s your worst nightmare? The American Christo-fascist Walmartocracy
If you had three wishes what would they be?
(1) To be a rock star. (2) To be able to perfectly draw any image that enters my mind’s eye. (3) To help lead humanity to a more healthy and productive relationship with spirituality.
Confess to the Priestess
by Saab Lofton
Your faith was strong but you needed proof
–from the song Hallelujah by Leonard Cohen
Singing and playing guitar always made Leanne Kahn feel like herself, but nothing completed the musical experience like an overwhelming round of applause: It reassured Leanne that she’s doing something which was meant to be (and besides, it wasn’t often that a beautiful woman received a lot of public approval unless sex is involved). This accounted for Leanne’s penchant for performing in small venues — audiences seemed bigger and louder in them …
As usual, Leanne’s Christian rock band Crown of Thorns rocked the crowd of five hundred, and as usual, those who were paying attention could easily discern how radical her lyrics were …
My favorite verse
The man with two coats
Or that fat purse
Must share what he has
Lest things get worse
… referred to by Rolling Stone Magazine as “the religious version of Rage Against Machine,” Crown of Thorns had come into its own as of late. What put the band over the top was its inclusion of a former professional wrestler as a bass player. El Spirito, a luchador who only recently became an American citizen, joined Crown of Thorns after a career-ending injury in Mexico City. And even though the man can no longer wrestle, El Spirito still wears his trademark mask wherever he goes. Leanne is one of the handful of people on the planet who has seen him without it and knows El Spirito’s Christian name.
After playing a rousing set at an out-of-the-way place called The Showcase, Crown of Thorns — Leanne, El Spirito, keyboardist Matt Fink and drummer Rick Allen in all — retired to its custom made tour bus, affectionately dubbed The Sweet Chariot. Imagine their collective disdain when they found a couple of yuppies sitting inside waiting for them.
“This is what we get for not locking the door,” Matt Fink lamented.
“Or for not having a bodyguard,” Rick Allen added.
“Hey, why hire a bodyguard when you’ve got someone who used to be world champion …” El Spirito began to advance menacingly upon the uninvited duo but Leanne stood in his way.
“Now, now, let’s hear what they have to say for themselves,” Leanne then turned to the two men in three piece suits, “this better be good.”
“Right. Well, Miss Kahn, my name is Wally Martin — I’m actually from your hometown of Westmount, Washington, and being a lifelong Christian, I’ve always been a huge fan of Crown of Thorns. This here is–”
“–Mister Ehrlich,” the older, foreboding man cut his more exuberant associate off, “that’s all you need to know about me.”
“Would your hesitancy to disclose personal information be due to your connections with the C.I.A., Mr. Robert Lee Ehrlich from Lynchburg, Virginia?” The pupils of Leanne’s eyes lit up for a moment and glowed bright red. For his part, Mr. Ehrlich seemed visibly shaken and struggled to maintain a stern demeanor.
“Uh, anyway …” Wally adjusted his bow tie out of discomfort “… we’re here to make you an offer. Since you’ve been on the road and don’t have a manager, we figured this was the best way to reach you.”
“And why do you want to reach us?” El Spirito cracked his knuckles to indicate his impatience.
Wally nervously avoided eye contact with the former wrestler and focused on Leanne. “W-We’re from WalMart and we’re wondering if Crown of Thorns would perform at the grand opening of our latest superstore in Bodega Aurrerá, Mexico.”
“OK, that does it!” El Spirito grabbed Wally and Mr. Ehrlich by their collars with the intent of throwing them out of the bus and into the street, but again, Leanne kept his wrath in check.
“Sheathe your claws, Wolverine,” Leanne laid a gentle hand on El Spirito’s 22-inch bicep, “let them finish.”
“You better listen to her before you’re unmasked in court when I sue you for every peso you have, senior!” Mr. Ehrlich barked while Wally cringed in El Spirito’s grasp.
El Spirito let them go, but wasn’t at all delicate in doing so. He then sulked in a distant, darkened corner of the bus and resumed cracking his knuckles.
“I apologize …” Leanne helped Wally straighten that tie — simultaneously, Mr. Ehrlich glared at El Spirito whilst he regained his composure “… my bass player has a problem with corporate bloodsuckers, no offense.”
“None taken,” Wally reached into his jacket pocket and produced a business card, “if you could give me a call before the end of this week, I’ll arrange a time for you to come to our office so we can cut you a check that’ll more than cover all your expenses for the trip to Mexico and back.”
“What’s the matter?” El Spirito called out from his corner. “You don’t have thirty pieces of silver on you?”
Without saying another word, Wally scurried and Mr. Ehrlich stormed out of The Sweet Chariot. Once they left, El Spirito angrily sprang to his size 13 boots. “What the Hell, Leanne? I thought you were going to throw them out!”
“Will you trust your fearless leader?” Leanne mischievously cocked her head to one side and smirked. “Look, I’m as pissed as you are: That bastard says he’s also from Westmount, but he either forgot that WalMart ran every small business there out of business or he doesn’t care — so he’s ignorant or traitorous. Don’t worry, though, I have a plan.”
“Let me guess: The ol’ Trojan Horse routine?” El Spirito folded his massive arms. “We’re going to take their blood money and donate most of it to charity — meanwhile, we’ll be scaring them shitless by playing your most radical song? Well it won’t be enough, not this time! They’re talking about opening another WalMart half a mile away from the pyramids of Teotihuacan! The ruins of an ancient, sacred city! It’s an attack on my heritage! We shouldn’t go!”
“I’m sorry, Spirit,” Leanne sat next to her six foot eight, three hundred pound bass player, “unfortunately, we need that blood money, but I swear I’ll make it up to you … Now that I think about it, I’ve actually heard of Teotihuacan — it’s said to possess a special energy, right ..?”
“Kind of like you, ‘Miss Red Eye’ …” El Spirito lowered his voice until Matt and Rick fired up the bus for the next stop on its tour; once they were in the driver’s/passenger’s seats and out of earshot, he continued “… how did you know that sinister looking old man’s first and middle name — not to mention his place of birth? You keep promising you’ll tell me how you’re able to know things about people one day. Well, I’d say today’s that day, darlin’ …”
A disconcerted look came across Leanne’s face — and after a long pause, she sighed heavily and replied, “All right, Hugo Romero, since I know who you are … But you’ve got to promise not to have me committed to a mental institution after I tell you and you have to swear to secrecy …”
“On my madre’s grave,” El Spirito swore, “God rest her soul.”
“I was still living in Westmount,” Leanne reached back into her memory, “it was one of those perfect summers in the state of Washington that makes up for the horrible winters there. I was sitting under a tree — by a lake I just swam in — drawing the peacock’s tail that’s on the cover of my first album. I was all alone, so there aren’t any witnesses to back me up on this, but I’m telling you, a centaur straight out of Greek mythology appeared–”
“–I’ve heard enough,” El Spirito began to stand and was about to get the attention of either Matt or Rick in the front, “you do need psychiatric help, honey.”
“I know what you’ve never told anyone,” Leanne’s pupils became crimson, “that you’ve always had feelings for me, and you’d want nothing more than to introduce me to your family, but you’re afraid I’d turn you down because we work together.”
An unnerved El Spirito slowly sat back down.
“We’ll talk more about that later. Anyway, this half man half horse creature,” Leanne continued, “trotted up to me and said I was chosen. He wouldn’t tell me what I was chosen for — just that I needed to hop on his back and ride with him. So I did, and not to make you jealous or anything, but once a gal goes centaur, she don’t go back.”
El Spirito grimaced in chagrin.
“Kidding! I’m so kidding!” Leanne assured. “OK, this is when it gets really weird, because no sooner than I got on him does he gallop at top speed towards this swirling light show — like a black hole in space except it was rainbow colored and on the ground; right in front of us. We stepped through and came out the other end back in time — about three or four thousand years …”
Stunned, El Spirito shook his head in the negative. “This just keeps getting better and better.”
“I was taken to a temple on top of a hill and inside there was a woman sitting on a throne — she wore this transparent gown and was surrounded by a golden glow,” Leanne attempted to convey, “she said she was Minerva, the goddess of wisdom. Then she said she looked into the future and saw the need for a priestess in the 21st century. So she gave me a bit of her wisdom — telethapy and empathy, mainly — and then sent me back home on that time traveling centaur.”
It took a moment for El Spirito to take all this in, but once he did … “So, The Cosmic Centaur took you on a magical journey to visit a goddess from Greek mythology, huh? And here I thought you were supposed to be a Christian. I mean, isn’t this a little blasphemous? ‘There shall be no gods — excuse me, goddesses — before me.’ False idols and so forth ..?”
Leanne leaned back in her chair and looked inward. “How did Minerva put it? ‘In my studies of your era, I’ve found that Christian Americans are especially threatened by my kind when there’s absolutely no reason for them to be. There are many gods worshipped on Earth and throughout the multiverse. They are given truth by the strength of faith, and thus, through belief and prayer are all made true. All spring from the same higher power, which means their faith is not misplaced or at risk. No one’s is.’ Wow. I can’t believe I memorized all that.”
El Spirito smiled from underneath his mask and scoffed, “maybe you’re possessed too.”
The next day, Leanne called Wally Martin and asked where she should meet him in order to cut that Faustian deal of his. Since there were so many WalMarts across the country, finding a corporate office that could authorize what he planned wasn’t hard at all. As fate would have it, a board meeting of top level executives happened to be scheduled at an office not far from Crown of Thorns’ tour route, so Wally told Leanne they should rendezvous there.
While the rest of the band waited in the The Sweet Chariot and watched a marathon of Star Trek movies, Leanne walked alone into the lion’s den. When Matt and Rick asked why he didn’t escort her, El Spirito shrugged, “believe it or not, boys, she’s more powerful than all of us put together.”
Wally met Leanne in the lobby and led her to that boardroom where those executives were. “When they heard I had procured the Crown of Thorns, they insisted that I bring you in.”
Leanne muttered under her breath, “I already don’t like this …”
The room was adorned with both a crucifix and a historically inaccurate painting of a white Jesus. Six equally white men in business dress sat around an oaken, rectangular table — dead in its center laid a phone book-sized copy of the Holy Bible with a stark white book jacket and gold lettering.
“Yeah,” Leanne nodded, “definitely not cool …”
“Miss Kahn, I’ll get right to the point,” one of the men in a suit and tie stood from his seat, “we’ve been going over your lyrics and find them to be objectionable. If you’re going to perform at our grand opening, you’ll have to play something purely instrumental or play a song that’s not offensive.”
“Everything in my lyrics is in that book you’ve got there,” Leanne pointed out their bible, “hand it over and I’ll show you.”
“I’m sure you’re very good at taking certain passages out of context and twisting them around for your own purposes,” another man in a tie mentioned, “but we’re not interested in your attempts to use the word of God to advance some liberal agenda. We just want our grand opening to be a family friendly, fun-for-all experience.”
“Translation: Don’t indict the rich and powerful,” Leanne’s eyes burned like twin flames as she began to pace around the boardroom in a manner befitting a caged animal, “Like you, Mr. From, who bribed a governor to veto a bill which would’ve required WalMart to provide health care for its employees. Or you, Mr. Robb, who approved the deletion of time from workers’ timecards and denied them meal and rest breaks. Or you, Mr. Chiles, who hired white truck drivers with less experience and serious driving violations even though there were plenty of black drivers to choose from. Or you, Mr. Nunn, who found a way around the Clean Water Act and oversaw the construction of sites that had a negative impact on streams and watersheds. Or you, Mr. Bayh, who got on FOX News, crowed about how America was being taken over by illegal immigrants, but then used them to clean your stores. Or you, Mr. Ford, who fired a woman for not being able to recite the Ten Commandments on command, but then promised you’d rehire her with a raise if she slept with you.”
“Harold, you did that?” Wally Martin asked in disgust. “That’s nasty …”
“Not only that, but they were both married!” Leanne amended. “Double adultery! What do the Ten Commandments say about that, Hal?” After catching her breath, Leanne’s eyes returned to normal. “Bottom line, gentlemen? You’ll cut that check and my band will play whatever the fuck it wants at this opening or everything I’ve just said will wind up in the lyrics of my next album.”
Bodega Aurrerá, Mexico exhumed a lot of memories for El Spirito — he lost the world heavyweight championship title to El Sierpe (The Snake), a wrestler who happened to be from there, and that match also cost him a key disc in his back, which brought a 15 year long career to an abrupt end. Nevertheless, El Spirito had nothing but respect for the tradition El Sierpe honored — since the inhabitants of ancient Teotihuacan worshipped serpents — and tried hard not to bear him any ill will. Fortunately, like Hulk Hogan, El Spirito also knew how to play guitar, so …
… when Crown of Thorns arrived in Bodega Aurrerá, Leanne made contact with the people there planning on protesting WalMart’s grand opening and arranged for the band to stand with them. On the day the latest superstore was to open, Wally Martin came dangerously close to a massive cardiac arrest when he saw Crown of Thorns performing for and amidst the protesters instead of on the stage WalMart spent a small fortune erecting!
“That’s one Hell of a breach of contract,” an enraged Mr. Robert Lee Ehrlich chafed, “we’ll bleed them bone dry in court.”
The lyrics Leanne sang spoke of Jesus’ last sermon and how it gave a hint as to who would make it to Heaven — and who wouldn’t …
When he thanked them for the meal
They didn’t understand
When did I ever
Feed the Son of Man?
He said, “when you fed
Anyone who’s hungry
It turned out that
You’re really feeding me.”
Desperate to put a happy face on the proceedings, Wally held high a pair of oversized novelty scissors and began the ribbon cutting ceremony. However, at the exact moment the giant bow was sliced, the ground beneath them quaked. It was enough for everyone — activist and elitist alike — to stop what they were doing …
The WalMart which was about to be opened suddenly suffered an explosion from within. Through its center shot forth a hundred foot long, forty foot thick trunk lined with reptilian scales. It rapidly emerged like a geyser would, and when its accent slowed, most in attendance shrieked in horror at the sight of a hissing, thousand-headed serpent. Some ran for their lives (namely the likes of Wally Martin and Mr. Robert Lee Ehrlich) while the indigenous population aware of the region’s history stood in awe as the monstrous ophidian savagely demolished the superstore surrounding it before burrowing back into the bowels of the Earth and out of view.
Utterly astonished, El Spirito and Leanne gaped at each other. “Myths are real,” they echoed.
To the delight of thousands of locals, that creature’s colossal amount of damage sent toys, groceries, items of clothing and various other amenities/appliances flying in every direction — which meant Christmas came several months early for the poor people of Bodega Aurrerá. While the biggest free-for-all of all time went down all around them, Leanne picked a cracked bottle of expensive perfume off the ground and held it up to El Spirito. “What do you think? Should we take part in the looting?”
“It may not be the Christian thing to do,” El Spirito remarked, “but we might as well stock up on supplies. It’s not like we’ll be able to return to America — not unless you want WalMart to sue us.”
“So what are you saying?” Leanne looked at El Spirito as if he was up to something. “That we should spend the rest of our lives in Mexico? I suppose that’d give you a chance to introduce me to your family, huh?”
“You said it, I didn’t,” El Spirito took off his mask and revealed he was blushing.
Leanne threw her arms around him and gave the Mexican wrestler/bass player a French kiss. “I did, didn’t I?”
Democracy is coming to the U.S.A.
… from the staggering account
of the Sermon on the Mount
–from the song Democracy by Leonard Cohen
Dying for a story of your own? Contact Saab Lofton at saablofton (at) hotmail (dot) com.