Fiction, Maranatha (novel excerpts)

Maranatha: Chapter 6.

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– Chapter 6 –

Gideon found himself zoning out quite often: in the morning, as he waited on a slice of bread to leap up from the toaster; at stop signs on near-empty residential streets; in showers, where he stood under the steaming deluge until he exhausted his hot water; in roundtables at the agency, while his colleagues cooked up copy for new ad campaigns; in restaurant booths sitting across from lovely women he’d rather drop off than dine with.

But it was particularly bad in churches, where the entire setup—half-hour of praise and worship, twenty-minute pre-offering sermonette, forty-five-minute sermon—seemed designed as a license to let his mind wander.

This was why he still went.

He’d chosen a place that didn’t remind him of home, an emerging church with all-White members, lax interpretations of biblical edicts, and a name ambiguous enough to belong to any number of businesses. It was the kind of place where you’d attend men’s bible study and, afterward, meet back up at bar for beers. Sometimes, rather than preaching, the pastor would screen a short film, shot by his Visual Arts Ministry, and the congregation would laugh and gasp and lift its hands, as actors played out some hardship on a scripture could fix. Once there was even popcorn.

They liked Gideon at The Lighthouse. When he wasn’t there, a twenty-year-old hipster whose actual birth name was Megatron shot him the occasional “Where ya been, bro?” text. When he was there, they worked hard to include him, asking him to offer his opinion on the design of their promotional material or trying to convince him to create an oversee a “Marketing Ministry.”

Gideon assumed the attention had to do with him being Black. This had happened to him a few times since he’d moved to Bellevue. He’d enter an all-white setting and either people were overly enthusiastic about his presence or they averted their eyes when he entered. The Lighthouse seemed really eager to have him there. Sometimes, if he stuck around long enough to have a conversation, he’d zone out while the person was talking, imagining himself grinning on their next brochure, standing between Tron and some bright-eyed girl with pink lip gloss and long blonde hair.

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