The Christians knock on the door.
What am I hiding? I’m hiding 21 years.
One black lady, holier than thou—because her husband’s impotent I’m sure—and one white lady who believes poverty can be fixed by her local community of housewives who themselves know nothing of poverty. They believe abortion is the obliteration of a divine soul but food stamps are for degenerates. I haven’t brushed my teeth.
The magazine in Holier than Thou’s arms reads “Protest.” The slick image of a black man with a shouting horn has nothing to do with neoliberalism or the gutting of the commons. Moralists always cure the blister but not the cancer. Protest the aimless but not the overlords.
“Do you believe in God? Of what religious denomination are you?”
Immediate assumption is, this being the South, I’m an unemployed drunk who needs salvation and will pay lip-service to any God who will take me. Of course I have a religious denomination. Otherwise I’d be degenerate.
“I’m an atheist.”
Not atheist: an atheist. A member of the dismembered tribe.
A restrained gasp, quiet, a response to an unexpected answer. They have never heard of Schopenhauer but they know Nehemiah.
“How do you think all this got here?”
“It doesn’t matter how it got here. It matters what we do with it.”
Bet they never heard that from their flock. They’d have better luck selling meat door to door. But that’s for degenerates.
“You have a nice day,” I say. Three months ago I was sixty-nining with my roommate.
“It’s hot out there.” They’re in Hell wasting their time and I’m in here, where the air-conditioning is, where the Nietszche is, writings in the margins, the little-heard groanings of a man who would applaud the rich getting richer and the poor getting poorer while middle class women convince the disenfranchised it’s their fault.
Holier than Thou didn’t even show me the magazine.