It is the hottest day ever. The footpath along the Fascine buckles in the heat; the concrete thrusting upwards into a sauna-blue sky. My bicycle has a flat tyre, the tube has simply burst from the extreme temperature. Boyle's Law. As i push it slowly up Hill Street, a crow falls dead out of the thin air. I lean the bike against the peeling verandah post in front of my oven-like room. I go inside, switch the airconditioning to full, and throw my backpack onto the tiled floor. I have a backpack-shaped patch of sweat on my shirt. I strip off my sweaty clothes, throw them into the washing basket and close the lid. I walk around to the front door of the baking hot house, grab a cold Coopers from the fridge, and try for a cold shower. The water comes out warm. The beer, at least, is cold.
The heat eventually gets to me. I dress and go out in search of Salvation. Johnny Lee Clary, a former Ku Klux Klan Imperial Wizard turned professional wrestler slash used car salesman slash civil rights advocate slash marilyn manson-hating evangelist, is preaching at the Church on Butcher Street tonight. This should be interesting, i think. He has come all the way from Oklahoma to save me. A walk across town is the least i can do.
I am met by an assembly of sweaty freaks with interesting dress sense. The Congregation. They seem friendly enough. I pull up a plastic chair in the pew and watch the ceiling fans circling uselessly. I sit and sweat like a dog-faced pig. As i bow my head in silent prayer, electrolytes drip from my nose. Oh Lord, i beseech thee, grant thy godforsaken worshippers some fucking airconditioning. A sweaty woman wearing a yellow headband (sweatband?) comes up to shake my sweaty hand. I have apparently published her photograph in the paper. "Are you here for a story?" she asks. No, i am here for salvation, i reply, with the sincerity only a true sinner can muster.
Johnny is late, so we have to stand and sing. There is a band of sorts up the front. I can just see a child, seated behind an oversized drum kit. His twin brother places an acetate lyric sheet onto an overhead projector. A man stands to the right of stage with a bright red electric guitar. His guitar strap is blue and white checks, emblazoned with the words "Crime Scene". This has me baffled until i hear his playing, which is criminally bad. Although much better than the drumming. The child bats at the kit with all the energy and panache of a dying man swatting flies.
We stand, crucify some songs about Jesus, and wait for Johnny.
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