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Turning Tables

August 30, 2012

“…and we thank the Lord for that little number. Give a big round of applause for the Angelettes!

“Let’s throw in an ‘amen’, praise Jesus!”

There was a quick advert on the jumbotron. Drinks and snacks available in the lobby or from the ladies…, young and old, roaming the aisles.

“And don’t forget to pick up your Jesley Praiseworthy CDs. Only $10.95 for church members at the little booths on your way out or you can check the box on your attendance cards and we’ll email you a coupon so you can download it on the iTunes. VISA and MasterCard only! Praise His holy name!”

The screen went back to it’s default text: WELCOME TO JOSHUA’S PEAK MEGACHURCH, which slowly dissolved into a passion play in tri-color silhouette.

“You know, folks, it’s that time again…”

The reverend Turner was beginning his big roll into the threats that the church faced, especially during election season. There was banning bibles, there was the murdering of unborn babies, and of course, the reverend’s favorite, the threat to marriage.

What happened next started small. The man, an older man in his late 50s or early 60s, had conspicuously not taken his seat like everyone else. At first, the security team and ushers had assumed he had just lost track of his family, had dropped them off and lost track of them while finding a parking space and making the long walk of shame any latecomer would face in a parking lot of the size of JPM’s.

But when they asked to help him, he quietly and politely gave them the brushoff. “Oh, I’m fine, thanks.” They let him alone, let him stand in the back by the entry doors, but the men watching the security cameras in the booth above zoomed in on him and kept a close eye. They stayed in touch with the guards at the doors via radio, sending the occasional update to their black earpieces with the curly wires running down to the walkie-talkies at their belts.

There was relief all around when the man turned and walked out the doors. Whatever tragedy had been looming was averted. The man who refused to sit down had left by the power of his own legs. God had shown him the way out, and that was fine with them.

The crashing sound was loud enough that those in the back five to seven rows heard it over Turner’s political speech. The guards immediately threw the doors open and rushed forward. A few of the men in the congregation did likewise.

In the lobby, the music CD booths, really just some cardboard sitting on top of cheap folding tables, were turned over. A few boxes of the CDs were likewise. Shiny, shrink-wrapped rectangular pictures of Jesley Praiseworthy were strewn about, but not far, and reflected sunlight from outside. The older man was now trying to knock over more boxes, much to the horror of the blond woman who had been sitting down at the booth when he started his comically slow, almost tragically sad, assault on the makeshift record store.

The first guard grabbed the man by the back of his jacket and threw him to the ground. The second shouted some orders into the microphone in his sleeve. As more came, one put a knee on the man’s chest to hold him still. A third searched in vain for some form of ID.

“We have a John Doe, I repeat, John Doe!”

There really wasn’t much more to be done. Police arrived and took the man away. He was charged with vandalism and terrorism, though the latter charges were dropped once the security video hit YouTube and got enough hits for the public court to decide the man clearly simply was crazy, maybe had something personal against the popular Godrock musician. Out of sympathy over the offense, the church sold every CD once they were all returned after the trial. Things went back to normal, the way they wanted them.

They were safe again.

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