Jesus Talk Radio
by Eric J. Krause
"And the Lord Jesus Christ shall descend from Heaven and pass judgment upon the entirety of the human race. Those he deems worthy will ascend with him. The rest will be stranded on Earth, forced to deal with the deadly destruction brought by the Four Horsemen of the Apocalypse."
Desmond let out a sigh and glared at his boss. "Damn it, Roy, can't you listen to something else? All this Jesus talk is giving me a headache."
"When you own the shop, you can listen to whatever you want. Besides, a little Church Talk Radio isn't going to hurt your soul any."
"I'm just saying a little hard rock might boost morale."
"I could supply you with hookers and blow and it wouldn't help your morale, Des."
"We should test that theory out." Desmond kept a straight face for about two seconds before busting out in laughter.
"Yeah, yeah, yeah. You need Church Talk Radio, no doubt about it."
"Those who don't worship our Lord Jesus Christ are damned to an eternity of never-ending suffering in the bowels of Satan's Hell. But it's never been easier to ensure your place on the stairway to Heaven. Repent your sins, say your prayers, and keep Jesus close to your heart. When he looks deep into your soul, your very essence, he'll have no choice but to accept you into his flock."
"You hear that, Des? Even you can get into Heaven."
Before Desmond could make a smart-assed reply, the door to the shop banged open. The man standing there brought an unnatural silence to the room. Even the metal-grinding machines seemed to respect him. Or at least fear him.
"I didn't realize deep conversation occurred here," the man said. "I'm impressed. Mind if I sit in and rap with you?"
Roy swallowed hard before he could answer. "No, of course not, Mr. Vargas. Please, take a seat." He knocked some dirty rags off a nearby stool.
Mr. Vargas met that act with a hard backhand across Roy's face. Desmond started to rise, to help his boss, his friend, but thought better of it. Mr. Vargas gave a slight nod that said it was the right decision.
Roy, to his credit, didn't rub his cheek, which was bright red and would probably be bruised in a few hours. "What do you want, Mr. Vargas. I've already paid this month."
"Mr. Bigg has decided payments shall now be made on a bi-weekly basis."
Desmond snorted, as he usually did when someone spoke the mob boss's name. A person who went by the name Mr. Bigg had to be suffering from SPS--Small Penis Syndrome.
Mr. Vargas looked towards Desmond, his hand reaching into his pocket. "Something funny?"
"No, sir. Something caught in my throat."
Mr. Vargas gave a hard stare, but didn't push the subject. Desmond held his breath until the thug looked away. Damn, he really needed to keep himself in check or he might not survive one of these visits.
"Look into your heart. Jesus does not want death, suffering. But neither does he want heathens walking amongst his loyal subjects. It is your job, nay, your duty to spread the good word. Let us get as many people into Heaven as we can. It will never reach capacity, and we will keep our savior from forcing unnecessary slaughter."
"How much does he want?" Roy asked. His eye had begun to swell. What lie would he tell Mary? Desmond knew damn well he wouldn't share the truth.
"How much do you think? Same as the monthly rate." When Roy paled, Mr. Vargas flashed a wicked grin. "But think of all the safety that buys you. Not just here, but at home. Be a shame if something bad happened to your beautiful wife or your lovely children."
"Bastard," Desmond said.
"No, Des, let it be. This isn't your problem."
The wicked grin on Mr. Vargas's face grew bigger. "Oh, no, Des, he's wrong. It is your problem now. Thanks to that smart mouth of yours."
"This has always been about business, Vargas, not family."
Mr. Vargas reached into his pocket and pulled out a pair of brass knuckles. "That's where you're wrong. This has always and will always be about money."
Desmond stood and took the punch. His face cracked, though through the fire, he wasn't sure what broke: his nose, his cheek, or his teeth. Mr. Vargas pulled him up and kneed him square in the crotch. Desmond crumpled, his breath nonexistent, the world an ugly shade of black and red.
"But remember, my faithful followers, the choice is ultimately theirs. If they decide to ignore the teachings of our Lord and savior, they call upon the horsemen themselves. There will be no guilt coming from the glorious throne."
By the time Desmond came to, Mr. Vargas was gone. Roy stood nearby, his bruising cheek now the least of the injuries in the room. "He says you debt is paid if you remember your place in the future. Next time he won't be as tolerant."
"You didn't pay him, did you?"
"Of course I did. I'm not risking Mary and the kids."
Desmond stood and fought the dizziness that threatened to throw him back down. He patted Roy on the shoulder and headed for the door.
"Where are you going? I'll close up and take you to the hospital."
"No need, boss. I have to go see a man about a horse."
"What? I think you might have a concussion, Des."
"Maybe so, but that doesn't change anything." He motioned to the radio. "Your crazy preacher man is right about one thing. A horseman rides tonight. Death is coming for Bigg's family." With that, he left Roy's shop, maybe for the last time.
"Remember, what you do in the name of Jesus, what you do in the name of what is right, will be rewarded. Never doubt that, and you will find yourself amongst the worthy."