Reverend Rattler
by Carol Pariss Krauss, 3.24am July 10th 2021

He was an out-of-work snake preacher.

Owned one dead snake and one with a nasty boil directly above his rattler.
His wood-trimmed station wagon, that he affectionately called Zeus, had expired
and rested rusty under a Cypress tree. A tattered briefcase sat on the TV tray
located to the left of the portrait of Jesus. The case was a faux leather vessel
filled with empty and unanswered prayers and pleas. He blamed that little girl
from Pumpsville.

He banged the cracked and tape-repaired remote on the side of his recliner and flipped
channels until he found Preacher Joel. He could have been famous with a comely wife
and slicked back hair. Pearly whites. Beady eyes in front of millions of people. The girl
had twitched and foamed. Some thought she had been overcome with the Holy Spirit.
Joel’s offering plates were teeming with bills and checks.

Rasmus, the ornery rattler, watched the TV sermon. Flicked his tongue at his oozing, inflamed boil. His aquarium sat by the front door and the sun painted a halo on his triangular

head. Then her legs had shot straight up and her lace petticoat spread around her prone body. The bottom of her Mary Janes shoes were scuffed and one had a penny sized hole in it.

Swanson makes a mean spaghetti dinner which our out-of-work rattler reverend
had ingested before the sermon. He was now belching garlic and coca-cola
to “When the Saints Come Marching In.” There weren't too many traveling serpent
preachers left. A dying breed. Doc Kyle had come over from Bear Creek to tend to the child.

He was too late. Rasmus had already crawled back into his case. Curled up and was taking

a snooze.

Archie Bunker would follow Preacher Joel on Channel 3. Now there was a good man. One
who knew who he was and where he was going. He sure showed Edith. Reverend reptile
had sprinted out of that church and scooped up the dollar and change offerings
by the vestibule. Managed one last run out of Zeus. Sand was spitting and tires
were screeching. I’m not saying she was the last nail in his career, but I am saying he
was the last nail in her pink and pearly white coffin.