10 Feb 98

Dialogue Between the Missionary and her Seducer

"You listened to me."

"Sure. You had a lot to say. You have to tell me when are services."

"Sunday night. Oh, God, I feel so weird."

"What are they like? What people do?"

"Nothing, just singing, sermon. The pastor's terrific. He's got a low voice, he's tall. Inspiring. Very honest about himself. Oh, God. I feel so, I don't know. How do I witness?"

"But that was so good, it really was. And you'll see me at service. You did a good job recruiting me, even before this. It's been a long time for me, too. Since I've been to church, and..."

"Recruited through raw sin. I wanted to give you a pamphlet. That's all I'm supposed to give you. It's just I'm out there and no one ever listens."

"You looked so alone. A woman in uniform."

"They just walk past, all of them. The first person to talk to me all day is you, and...these are goose feather? I guess so. I'm actually allergic to synthetic pillows, I'm glad you have these. I like the blankets too, scratchy. I don't know. I have some faith. I have a good job. I'm glad for what I've got. Why am I here? I don't know your last name."

"You feel guilty?"

"No. Illuminated of my own failings. I was so convinced I could be good. I was getting proud. This takes me down a notch."

"You were great, splendid, wonderful. You could be proud."

"Not that way. Oh God, it's such a hard trade to be good. I like the church, though. I like the pastor."

"Don't feel guilty. You made me a convert, really. In two hours. You're doing your job."

"Oh, Jesus, two hours, two hours. From born again to unrepentant sinner in two hours. Was that all it took?"

"It's nine. I got out of work at five. I met you at five twenty. Coffee at five thirty. We got on the train at six. By seven you were on my lap. It's now nine thirty five PM."

"Your soul might have been looking for real deliverance, and I just dragged it down. They'll all know right away, too, all the other people in city mission. They'll see it on my face. They expect you to be kind of crabby."

"Like you're not getting any?"

"If you're single, yeah. They can always tell. They got my friend Alice on it the other day, she broke down crying and confessed."

"Will they kick you out?"

"They'll lecture me. They won't outright ask. They'll just needle me."

"I'll come Sunday night. Show them you're a good proselytizer. I haven't been to church in years. Where is it?"




"Come on. It can't be Flatbush. Who goes to Flatbush?"

"You're kidding. I live in Flatbush. It's a train ride, for you. Or a walk."

"I want to see you again, but not in Flatbush."


"Go ahead, flip over; I like the back of you, too. Stuff to hold onto. Why Flatbush? I shouldn't came. I don't know Flatbush. You yelled out God's name plenty of times. That's like church."

"I won't respond to that."

"You have to convince me to come to Flatbush."

"Oh, what could I do to convince you?"

"Lots of stuff. Something a little less, you know, missionary."

"Oh my God. I've got to hand out leaflets tomorrow after work. It's so humiliating. This is really awful. I'm awful. I mean, this is sin."

"No, no, no. Come on. I was kidding. Where are you handing out?"

"Fulton Mall, probably."

"I'll come by, if you want me to."

"Oh, I don't know. I'd like that, of course, I guess. What's your last name?"

"It's on the doorbell downstairs. I'll take you to dinner, if you want."

"Yeah, I do want. And then kiss me and drop me off at home."

"With conversations? Do you live with your Mom?"

"Yes, conversations, and then come to church on Sunday. I live alone. Not that it matters from here on."

"Will we drink ice cream sodas with two straws?"

"Yes, please. Where's my bra?"

"Foot of the bed, I think. Right on top of the Bible."

"Oh God."

"That's it, exactly."




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About the author: I've been running this website from 1997. For a living I write stories and essays, program computers, edit things, and help people launch online publications. (LinkedIn). I wrote a novel. I was an editor at Harper's Magazine for five years; then I was a Contributing Editor; now I am a free agent. I was also on NPR's All Things Considered for a while. I still write for The Morning News, and some other places.

If you have any questions for me, I am very accessible by email. You can email me at ford@ftrain.com and ask me things and I will try to answer. Especially if you want to clarify something or write something critical. I am glad to clarify things so that you can disagree more effectively.


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© 1974-2011 Paul Ford


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