Author Mark Allan Gunnells answered a call to help fill an open post in the blog for the week. He sent me what I’m calling a warning on being careful of what you eat. I also consider this another way of saying if you have strong enough belief system things you pray for may come. Either way, don’t let this title scare you off the story is worth the read. I want to say “Thank you Mark” for sending this to share and helping to show that authors find motivation in the oddest places even TV evangelists. The biggest thing I can add is do NOT let the title scare you away. Just one more note, there is some violence in the story, but don’t worry life has a way of coming full circle.
Home Page: http://markgunnells.livejournal.com/
Without further comment here is the story:
THE HOLY BOOGER NAPKIN
Eileen was watching another one of her damn Church shows. Seemed like that was all she watched these days. This here one was her favorite, the old guy with the fake tan that made him look a little like he was mixed and a huge pompadour of silver hair that added at least three inches of height to him. He always wore expensive looking suits, off-white just like his teeth, and he had a tendency to go into fits where he’d start babbling gibberish. “Speaking in tongues” is what Eileen called it. A bunch of bullshit was Gerald’s take.
Gerald sat in the recliner across the room, nursing his fourth beer in a row, listening to the fella hooting and hollering about God. He was waving a hanky in the camera like he was one of them magicians about to do some kind of trick. Turn the hanky into a bird or some such shit.
Instead, what the fella said next actually made Gerald spew out a little of his beer and start coughing. Eileen had the gall to shush him. Normally this would have pissed Gerald off something terrible, but at the moment he was too distracted by the crazy preacher man on the TV screen.
“Brothers and Sisters, do you want God to bless you? I know you do, I know you want Him to answer all your prayers. For a 100 dollar love offering to Jesus Christ on a Cross Ministries, I will pray over this cloth, anointing it with God’s blessing, and ship it out to you.”
“Am I crazy, or is that kook charging a hundred bucks for a fucking booger napkin?”
Eileen shot him a nasty look. “You need to stop cussing so much. And it ain’t no booger napkin neither; it’s a genuwine Prayer Cloth.”
“A Prayer Cloth. The preacher prays over it and then sends it to you, and then God will answer your prayers.”
“I don’t even go to no church and I know that sounds crazy as shit. You saying God won’t listen to you praying unless you got one of those holy booger napkins?”
“I suwannee, sometimes I wonder how I coulda married such a heathen like you.”
“Because I knocked you up in the bed of my pick-up when we was seventeen. You wasn’t such a God-fearing lady back then, though you was calling his name an awful lot, if I recall correctly.”
“You dirty old coot,” she said. “No wonder our boy ended up in prison, with you as a role model.”
“I ain’t taking all the blame for what happened to Earl. You didn’t exactly win no Mamma of the Year awards yourself.”
“Just don’t talk to me no more, let me finish watching my program.”
Gerald finished off his beer, crumpled the can and let it drop to the floor with the rest of them. Leaning forward, he fixed his stare on his wife. “Eileen, don’t you get no ideas in that empty head of yours.”
“What you going on about?”
“You know exactly what I’m going on about. There ain’t no way in hell you’re gonna send that quack preacher none of my hard earned money for a damn booger napkin.”
Eileen didn’t answer, just sat rigidly staring at the TV.
“You hear me, woman! If you so Godly, remember the commandment to honor thy husband!”
“First of all, that ain’t no commandment, you old fool. And second, maybe if my husband wasn’t such a lousy drunk there’d be some more honoring going on in this house.”
Gerald was up in a flash, rushing across the room and delivering a vicious slap to his wife’s cheek. The sound was loud in the dim room like a gunshot and her head rocked back. Right away she started in with the waterworks, and after all their years together, she should’ve known tears only made Gerald madder.
“Stop your caterwauling, bitch, and go fix me a turkey pot pie!”
She just sat there for a moment, a hand to her red cheek, bawling like a baby.
“Don’t make me ask you again.”
Still sniffling, Eileen got up and hurried into the kitchen.
Smiling like he’d just nailed Swedish twins, Gerald turned the television to WWF.
Three weeks later Gerald found the package in the mail. It was small, almost flat, addressed to his wife. It was the return address that got him boiling over with rage.
“Eileen!” he roared as he stormed back into the house. “Get your ass out here right now!”
Eileen came slinking into the living room, wiping her hands on a dish towel. “Why you screaming? The neighbors are gonna hear.”
“I don’t give a fuck if they do. What exactly is this?”
Seeing the package her husband held, Eileen went as pale as a ghost, now wringing the towel in her hands. “Um, I’m not sure.”
“That so? You ain’t sure? Well, let me enlighten you. It says it’s from Jesus Christ on a Cross Ministries. What could they be sending you? Huh? Cat got your tongue?”
Eileen looked ready to bolt from the room, but she knew better. Running would just mean she’d get it twice as worse once she was caught. So she stayed put, though she still didn’t say nothing.
“You went behind my back and sent that quack preacher money, didn’t ya?” Gerald said in a low growl. “You sent off for that goddamn booger napkin.”
“Gerald, it’s a Prayer Cloth, and I—”
He didn’t let her finish. No slap this time; this time he flat-out punched her. She fell to the floor in a heap, blood gushing from her nostrils. She cringed away from him, already doing that whole pleading bit.
Gerald tore the package open, and sure enough, the hanky fell out into his hand. “Here it is, the Holy Booger Napkin!” he said with mock reverence. “Oh, Holy Booger Napkin, please tell me the lotto numbers and who’s going to win this year’s Super Bowl.”
“Don’t blaspheme,” Eileen said.
“What, you think God’s gonna send down a lightning strike or something. I tell you, God ain’t gonna do shit. I’m the one you need to worry about. I’m your God! So you know what I’m going to do with your special magic booger napkin?”
“Please, don’t throw it out.”
“Throw it out? Wouldn’t dream of it, this thing cost me a pretty penny. More than a steak dinner at the Sizzler. So maybe I should eat it.”
Eileen screamed as if he were kicking a puppy to death when he stuffed the hanky in his mouth, making “Mmmm” sounds as he chewed on it. He planned to get it nice and shredded then spit the slobbery wad right in her face. Her look of outrage and hurt was hilarious and he started to laugh…
Which proved to be a mistake. It caused him to inhale sharply and the hanky got sucked down his windpipe. He tried to spit it back out, but it seemed lodged there, cutting off his air. He clawed at his throat, hoping to make himself puke it up or something. The thing was stuck good, and he stumbled toward Eileen, holding his hands out to her. She screamed again but backpedaled away from him. He dropped to his knees, sticking his fingers in his mouth, snagging the tail end of the hanky and trying to yank it out. It held fast, as if it was caught on a rusty nail down in his throat.
He keeled over onto his side, the world starting to go gray around the edges. Out of the corner of his eye he saw Eileen crawling back toward him. Finally, the bitch was going to help.
Only she didn’t. Instead she raised her hands and her face to the ceiling and shouted, “Praise Jesus, the Prayer Cloth works! My prayer is finally being answered!”
The last thing Gerald saw before everything went dark was Eileen smiling down at him.