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The Condition of Marjorie’s Feet

by Jason Teal

MARJORIE IS TELEVISED. She is a divining rod for all miracles, the plants and the animals and the crude oil. See Leo stand again, once paralyzed from drunk driving. He hasn’t walked in fourteen years. It’s all there on video, sermons from $9.99 plus $5.99 for shipping and handling. One hundred years from now, the Lord will tarry, and we will sing “In Christ Alone” in the same church at Christmastime, our resolve tested by plagues of war, disaster, famine, and death. Marjorie has foretold the exact date of his second coming, and we request off work.

Marjorie’s nephew Simon is possessed after school: The exorcism is filmed same day before a live studio audience, and Marjorie only speaks in tongues. Subtitles are unavailable on the title menu. Later, she begs his mother to pull him out of school. We believe in the power of ritual, and we believe in Marjorie. See her tongue loll out like a plump snake: Right there, look, the demon invades her spirit. Her nephew is fine and Marjorie’s convulses on stage like an epileptic. You don’t believe me, you aren’t looking. I hope you too can be saved.

Marjorie is a divining rod for weather, routing storms to remote islands full of heathens. Those people do not know grace but they will learn. Apply for missionary work. Send us your money, and Marjorie will pray, and God will break up marriages between friends and coworkers. His grace alone comes through faith alone in Marjorie alone. We love homophobes. We love gay people. We love black people. We are homophiles. We will take anyone transformed by the message of the spirit. Our church welcomes all people, regardless of race, creed, or gender. Bring a credit card and a valid photo ID or proof of residence. Our members are exceptional. Our facilities are tremendous. We await salvation here, digging in for the long haul, we each have our own bunker for the apocalypse.

We are stewards of Marjorie. Stalwarts of tradition. Marjorie has the penthouse suite, and she will deliver us unto Heaven. We are unworthy of such grace. We grovel at Marjorie’s bare, unwashed feet, kissing her corns. She walks everywhere, and we are not surprised. Marjorie says we don’t need money to be happy. She has the governor’s ear, palmed and wriggling on stage. Marjorie is magic. We don’t question results. Marjorie will return the country to glory, glory. She names progressives who reject core doctrines and we burn down their churches.

Marjorie has three marriages in three years because her partners failed to see God’s all-knowing light. It wasn’t murder. All debts are forgiven on death. All life matters, Marjorie roars on, using member testimony, and during sermon we agree, life begins at conception. We burn down the clinics. We don’t use contraception, we move to South America. We don’t tell our families, and we won’t be prosecuted. Send us your money, and Marjorie will pray, and God will buy Marjorie a private jet. She charters flights for senators to expensive resorts. We will hide in the mountains, asking God to forgive Leo, and of course he will beat cancer.

Our church stateside has less than three hundred members. We don’t listen to praise metal, we don’t use light shows or smoke machines, and Marjorie isn’t a celebrity in the tabloids. We don’t read the tabloids. Instead we marry, we bury lovers, we baptize sinners—we hope to love our politicians as we love ourselves. Listen: What you see on television is not who we are.

Jason Teal is a writer and editor living in the Upper Peninsula of Michigan. He earned his BFA in Creative Writing from Bowling Green State University in May 2012, and is pursuing a Master of Fine Arts degree in Fiction at Northern Michigan University. He edits Heavy Feather Review and hosts the 2016-17 Bards & Brews Creative Reading Series. His work appears in Quarter After Eight, Knee-Jerk, Vestal Review, SmokeLong Quarterly, and Big Muddy, among other publications.

What surprising, fascinating stuff can you tell us about the origin, drafting, and/or final version of “The Condition of Marjorie’s Feet”?

I wrote the piece in a short burst, maybe an hour or two, thinking writing wasn’t going to happen that day but doing research on evangelicals as I was talking to my roommate. He was sharing a story he’d seen on television, a commercial in which the pastor was requesting money for prayers to break up marriages. This, commingled with my detest for the current administration, reading somewhere about the evangelical right and its ties to politics and the electorate, presented the occasion for the piece. It had a more bulbous shape in the first draft, but like anything, I went to it with an X-ACTO knife over the next day and cut maybe 200 words from it to achieve the 600 word count for Matter Press. This restriction for submission helped the piece so much: I had to engage with compression in order to submit to the publisher concerned with compression, go figure. I don’t think the piece would be what it is without that small initiative!

News

Congrats to Christopher Allen for having a work from HOUSEHOLD TOXINS being chosen to appear in BSF 2019 from Sonder Press.

Check out the write-up of the journal in The Writer.

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