Theo Love and the Frightened Canary
By George Gagliardi
It was Monday, late afternoon, about twilight. The sun was like a big orange ball, lazily but deliberately performing his daily disappearing act. There was a kind of nice, warm, amber blanket covering the city as the shadows made dark, jigsaw-puzzle patterns on the grey, stone faces of the skyscrapers.
Looking out my third-story window I could see the bright red blinkin’ neon “Repent or Die” sign high atop the Temple of Perpetual Guilt (and 24-hour bookstore).
Quite an operation, that place. I could tell you stories … and every one of them true.
You’d be surprised how many people wind up there. Why?
Because it gives them a chance to feel bad so they can feel good about feelin’ bad so they can feel good again … at least until their next visit.
You figure it out – but then again I’m not surprised by much in this crazy world, especially when it comes to religion. I’ve seen ’em come and I’ve seen ’em go, and let me tell you, people will do just about anything to discover the answer – whatever that means.
How do I know so much? It’s my business to know – I’m Theo Love, spiritual troubleshooter.
Like I said, nothing shakes me for very long, so when this lovely, lean blonde glided into my office, I took it in stride.
She took it in about two or three strides, but then I have a small office.
Let me describe her to you. She had a set of physical blueprints that would prompt Solomon to rewrite his song or at least add a sequel. One look at her up close and my brain was playin’ hopscotch with my libido. My sex drive was in fourth gear, and …
Well, you get the idea, don’t you?
After I stopped salivating and managed to slow my heartbeat down to normal, we talked a while. The more we talked, the more it became clear what was wrong. The girl was in trouble, “Big” trouble.
Seems someone was slowly but surely tryin’ to pull the plug on her self-image and he was usin’ the oldest trick in the book – The Put Up and Shut Up Scam.
Pretty simple, really. Some guy with a pickled set of presuppositions and a misguided mission convinces his victim that she’s bound by God to put up with his particular brand of spiritual mumbo-jumbo. Then gradually he gets her to begin believin’ that her place in matters of leadership is to simply shut up.
Poor kid, my heart went out to her, and I promised I’d do whatever I could to help her out. I meant it too.
She gave me a name, Rev. Billy Bob Coldheart. It wasn’t much of a lead, but at least it was a place to start.
As she got up to leave, I took her hand, looked deep into those beautiful “baby blues” and in my best Sir Galahad manner told her not to worry, that I’d take care of everything.
She was walkin’ out the door when I said it. Nothin’ planned, just a crazy kind of phrase that came to mind in that moment –
“He’s lookin’ at you, kid.” I’m not sure, but I think maybe she smiled … and so did I.