When I was a child, I thought I knew what truth was. It laid in science textbooks, it laid in order, it was embedded in a glorious structure that one day man would know whole, forwards to backwards. Then I fell in with the snake handlers.
I won’t go into details about how it happened, but let’s just say I made some incredibly poor decisions in high school about my friends. And motorized transportation. And Hefty bags full of gaseous simple compounds.
Their preacher, “Mad” Gary Indiana, constantly impressed upon us that physical and mental pain were the only two valid routes to salvation in Christ’s eyes. In fact, the more miserable all existence was, the better off you would be in the next life. I thought that was the craziest shit I had ever heard. But then he brought out the snakes.
Each and every Mustang Cobra he presented to the flock was studded with massive horsepower, enormous slicks out back, and looks that would thrill exactly the wrong kind of women. I was confused. Surely this is not misery - it must be temptation. He was testing me.
“Get in,” he said, with stern eyes. I obeyed, feeling some strange external pressure to avoid making a spectacle of myself. It was then that I discovered an unyielding horror that took root in my soul and will never leave.
Within the Mustang was a 1990s Ford Interior. I became quickly overwhelmed, and swam with panic in an ocean of conflicting grey hard-plastic ovals. I looked into the preacher’s eyes in terror, and saw only the burning righteousness of pure hate as he slammed the door. I was trapped. Trapped in a 1990s Cobra. There was no worse fate.
Controlling my breath, I felt the panic sink in my throat, and started to take stock of my situation. It wasn’t easy, but I managed to locate the confusingly-oversized ignition key and turn it. A Ford power steering pump leapt to life, its agonizing scream untraceable to either belt or pump, and the preacher began bleeding from his eyes and ears, but with a strange smile. My luck continued as I found the door release, swinging the massive iron coupe doors into the holy man’s legs.
The abruptness of the Ford’s huge doors slamming into his legs shocked Gary Indiana. It was then that the preacher turned to me, his muscles already tensing with the sheer effort it took to stay alive within the whirling sea of patented Ford noise, and he thanked me for showing him what suffering truly was.
“Perhaps in Heaven,” he croaked as his eyes rolled back in his head, “it will all be strongarm steering.”