I was at the gas station on one of the few days where my shift has me actually pumping gas. Sunday’s are never really busy, so most of my day was spent in the warm booth save the few times I had to go outside to serve someone. In the early afternoon, a relatively new white Hyundai Santa Fe, maybe an ‘05 or ‘06, pulled up to the pump. The paint was dusted brown from the dirty winter roads. It had a bumper sticker on the back that read “One Woman + One Man= Marriage,” but other than that it was unscathed by any adhered messages. I don’t give a shit about peoples’ hate declarations. As far as I’m concerned, everybody’s got to hate something, so if it makes you happy to express your anger by fucking up a paint job, then by all means, be my guest. It was obvious that the lady driving the car was big into fag-hate, so I just let her be her. The sight of that sticker should have clicked the switch in my brain that tells me I’m dealing with one of the saved. However, on that cold Sunday afternoon, it did not. Whether it was the frigid January air numbing my fingers or the stale smell of spilt gasoline frozen to the ground, my mind was dull and unreceptive.
I went up to her window and asked her what she wanted.
“Fill it up, regular,” she said.
I took a few steps over to start the gas and heard her mutter something from her window. I returned to her window figuring she wanted me to check the oil, and I asked her to repeat herself.
“How are you?” she said with a furrowed brow. The ‘how are you’ had a deeper intention buried inside of it, kind of like a drunk guy spotting out a hot chick at a bar, walking up to her, and drunkenly (but smooth in his own clouded up mental), dropping the line.
“Fine,” I said, raising my eyes to return her pleasantry. She was about fifty and her face was caked with concealer. Her lipstick was the deepest bright red I had ever seen. Her hair was dark brown but salted with long grey strands. She wore her Sunday best, a navy blue power-dress with a tuft of white protruding from her frigid bosom. She had a small, weathered, pocket bible opened up in her hands which had whole passages highlighted yellow, overpowering the grey-white pages. She must have been in the middle of a great passage when she left church and just couldn’t wait to get home before rereading it for the hundredth time.
Then I looked into her eyes. Oh, friends of the Latchkey, even my enemies, what I saw there I wouldn’t wish upon any of you. I saw the intentions of a Jesus sorceress and I will never be the same.
Her eyes started with a barrier of glassiness that quickly turned soft to sucker me in. I became lost in the black of her irises. I saw a beach-ball comet flying through outer space at hyper speed, then crashing onto an endless ocean where it was swept up by the wind and current, forced to bounce atop the waves until it landed onto pointed rock jutting out from the water and exploded. Behind the debris of falling multi-colored plastic lie my fate if her hook caught my jaw.
It was me. I was walking up to her car, just like I had already done. I started to pump her gas and she beckoned me over with a ‘how are you.’ Only in this vision, teardrops fell from my tortured green eyes. I was a sheep who had wandered too far from the flock. I looked at her and said, “Save me, Jesus Lady. Save me for I have sinned.”
A malicious smile crept onto her gooey white face. She put a hand to my cheek and wiped a tear away with her thick thumb. “Get in and be saved,” she said.
I got into the car.
We drove back to her house, me in the backseat. Hymnals recorded from her day at church played over the stereo, the baritones of the choir booming through the speakers. Her route took a lot of twists and turns and before I knew it I had no idea of my whereabouts. Finally, tucked behind a forest, was a small Colonial house, the white paint faded grey and chipping off.
She brought me in through the front door and I was met by a dozen or so guys, my age, who had been saved just like I was about to be. All of them wore black dress pants and white, button down, collared shirts. Some of them held feather dusters, others wore latex gloves on their hands. Her little house was filled with Precious Moments knick-knacks and wooden models of windmills. The wall paper was faded white, but had a floral design along the top trim. The whole place had a smoky flavor to it which I attributed to dust and old books she had on an oak case by the stairs. When we went to the staircase, I looked to see what she had. They were all bibles, the bindings on all of them worn through.
She brought me up to her bedroom and put some soft chanting on her phonograph. I looked to her double bed. It was made well, the corners tight. Then she sat in a rocking chair and began reading the bible. I stood before her, my hands clasped in front of me, the signature of my shame. I didn’t know what the words meant. She could see in my eyes that I was confused.
“Let’s take a break from the lesson for now. It’s time I cleansed you of your sins. Take of your clothes.”
I did as I was told, figuring that Jesus would want me to be naked, you know, for purification purposes. Then she had me unbutton her power-dress. I guess Jesus wanted her to be naked so that we can double the purification in the room. And then she reached out her pale, icy hand and…
The click of the gas finishing snapped me out of the Jesus trance. I pulled my eyes away and finished the job. When I collected the money from her, I could see the lustful Jesus passion in her eyes, as if all of her sinful thoughts were tattooed on my pale, young skin. I walked away from the Jesus Sorceress with nervous haste and looked into the cold, blue, January sky, letting the bright sun blind me so that I could sneeze away her evil and remain one of the condemned.