...

"After the first two weeks a childhood habit was disturbingly sparked to life. I started to go through the communion line twice, craving for the toasty cracker-like 'Body of Christ' I was able to curtail this nagging ritual only after breaking into the church after dark and stealing a whole box of 'Bodies of Christ'...."

bodies
fiction by kevin sampsell
illustrations by ivan brunetti


A lady I didn't know showed me some of her poems. It only took me seconds to see that they were religious through and through. There were words like salvation, mercy, and kingdom. There was a line I kept seeing in all the poems-- "He Will Never Leave You..." "He" being God of course, and after reading that line about five times I realized she had some kind of dependency problem.

"Oh God," I said with my ex-Catholic mouth. After hearing myself say that I said "Oh my God" and then I said "Oh Jesus Christ!" and then something like: "Mary Mother of... What in Heaven's name..."

The poems are REALLY effective in a subversive, subliminal kind of way.

She left copies of the poems on pastel yellow paper for me. I read them over and over. "Amazing Grace" droned inside my heart and head as the sky exploded with whiteness and a warm loving wave of light vanquished my heart. It was a miracle!

My corrupt heart was healed from it's vileness-- I was no longer an alcoholic, my gimpy leg was free of it's deformity, I had no desire to listen to Devo records, and my bladder condition was mended.

I resumed going to church every week.

After the first two weeks a childhood habit was disturbingly sparked to life. I started to go through the communion line twice, craving for the toasty cracker-like "Body of Christ". I was able to curtail this nagging ritual only after breaking into the church after dark and stealing a whole box of "Bodies of Christ".

Now I could eat "The Body of Christ" at home while watching TV and drinking Pepsi. I would sometimes dip the sacrament into some warm bean dip or chunky salsa. I put it in my mouth and tasted that it was good.

After skipping church one week the lady paid me a visit. "Are you sick?" she asked me. I went along with it and explained that I had prayed while watching Benny Hinn on TV.

She looked past me and saw the box of "Christs" under my kitchen table. She grabbed the crucifix around her neck and screamed like a person who knew fear too well. I jumped up and blocked the doorway before she could escape. "Now don't go jumping to any conclusions now. That there you see is just a box." I bluffed.

"I knew you were some kind of kook. That there is a box of Jesus!" she yelled.

I picked up a fire place poker and pointed it at her stomach. Her eyes crossed and she looked like she was going haywire. Her mouth went crazy-- "That's a whole lot of Christ you got in your kitchen and it's not right to hog it all yourself. Now put that thing down and go get me the box. I wont tell anyone and there won't be any trouble. You can just go to confession next Saturday. There, there, now let's just have ourselves a little God talk."

I tensed up and poked the lady's stomach with the poker. My face turned red and one of my eyes watched the box in the kitchen while the other stayed glued to the lady nervously trying to calm me. She started reciting one of her poems. One of those wonderful poems that landed me into this whole mess. "...and when you feel the burden of earth, and you don't know what to do, just remember always, He will never leave you..."

I stuck it in. The blood seemed to uncoil from her body down the length of the poker until it dripped coldly on my knuckles. "Sinnnnner...si-si-sinnn..." Her last words fell to the ground with an unsure thud.

My face relaxed and I gazed into the kitchen proudly. I stuck my foot on her chest and pulled the poker out with only a slight interference from the bottom rib. "He will never leave you" I said.

I took the old suitcase out of the closet, dragged the box of Christs next to the living room couch and rested. I felt myself being born again.

(Story and art originally appeared in "Etiquette For Evil," © 2001 Kapow! )


Kevin Sampsell writes, publishes, promotes, sells, and writes reviews for books in Portland, Oregon. He has also taught 8th graders how to re-mix James Tate poems. When he's not thinking about books or watching cartoons with his 6-year-old he follows the Philadelphia 76ers basketball team with a religious enthusiasm.

Ivan Brunetti was born in a small town in Italy; at the tender age of 8, he moved to the industrial South Side of Chicago, where he has been trapped for the last 5000 years, rarely venturing outside of its bittersweet confines. He has worked at a series of unglamorous occupations, gone to college, fallen in love, and then watched his life unceremoniously crumble. He currently makes his living as a web designer and illustrator and has several depressing comic books available from Fantagraphics Books, Inc.


archive index | current issue


©2004 Kevin Sampsell / Ivan Brunetti
a non-commercial, volunteer driven e-zine
all images courtesy of ivan brunetti / kapow!