In Sunday School, I used to think that John dropped acid.
I was generally, from sixth grade on, stoned during Sunday School. Which wasn’t on Sunday, actually, but took place on a Wednesday when the Catholics sent their children off to religious instruction in our town in the hopes we would become confirmed, which in my case meant my parents would throw a huge party at which a lot of alcohol and lasagna would be consumed. Oh, and there would be cake.
My Sunday School teacher was a horse-faced woman with eleven kids, which always astounded me—that someone, her husband, who was short and fat and balding, but at least had a nice face, had screwed this woman a minimum of eleven times. Well, actually ten since she had a pair of twins in the middle of the pack. And when she briefly discussed Revelation, I decided that author of it—John—dropped acid. He drank the Kool-Aid. And whatever he drank—or smoked—I wanted some of it.
But turns out he wasn’t entirely a dope fiend.
Because when the end came we expected the Four Horsemen
Instead, we got angels.
Just like it said in John’s Book of Acid.
“Then one of the seven angels who had the seven bowls filled with the seven last plagues came to me and talked with me, saying, 'Come, I will show you the bride, the Lamb's wife.'”
But people forgot that. The first time the angels filled the sky, yeah, some expected the Rapture. Churches were filled with wailing people, and people celebrating. But angels, right? How could angels be bad?
I was walking down the street, and people pointed and . . . once they got used to seeing them, they were excited. Angels! They’ve come to protect us. To watch over us. Angels with wings. And halos. Like the pictures in a children’s Bible.
“If I should die before I wake . . . I pray the Lord my soul to take.”
Was I the only one paying attention? Did no one else listen in Sunday School?
I had this nagging thought. But like trying to retrieve anything from the hazy pot-smoking years of my youth, and yes, my twenties. And even last year when I was thirty-two and my girlfriend and I went to Amsterdam . . . retrieving the memory was like falling to the floor in a smoke-filled room and crawling around searching for something in a fire.
So I opened the book. John’s book. And the memory came to me. From the horse-faced woman. “Children . . . Revelation is a warning.”
But no one listened. The people I passed in the street, they thought they saw halos. They thought the sky was like the Sistine Chapel come to life.
Until the pandemic started.
Now I spend my time waiting. I peek out the windows of my apartment. Sometimes I look for the Horsemen.
Most of the time, I get stoned.
Sometimes I mutter an apology. To John.
It wasn’t acid at all.
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