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vol iv, issue 6 < ToC
Godly Business
by
Tylor James
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IceMy Son ...
Pez Dispenser
Godly Business
by
Tylor James
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My Son ...
Pez Dispenser
Godly Business
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Tylor James
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My Son ...
Pez Dispenser
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Godly Business  by Tylor James
Godly Business
 by Tylor James
The body of God fell out of an azure sky on a humid June morning. One hundred and thirty acres of golden Nebraskan wheat contained just enough space for the body. God's head was as big as the nearby two-story farmhouse. A cotton-white beard, now matted with blood, led from the Almighty's chin to the front porch.

Eddie Rednick, fifty-eight-year-old businessman and professional penny-pincher, was jarred awake by the after-tremors. He ambled out of bed and onto the porch. His frown lines deepened. Like a royal carpet, the flowing white beard led him down the steps, around the house and into the field. He wiped sleep from his eyes with the back of his hands and looked again.

A giant occupied his acreage. A shimmery white tunic, now stained Moscato red, clung to the body. Rednick approached the head, around which an ankle-high pool of gore had collected. He could not see the face. It was smashed into the field. Crimson-splattered wheat stirred in the breeze. A tangy odor of copper wafted under Rednick's pockmarked nose. In one direction, long white arms snaked through the wheat. In the other, long, hairy legs and a thick torso claimed the land.

Rednick scratched his balding head and stood before the body of God, pondering what the hell he was looking at.

And what the hell to do about it.

*     *     *
There was something in the blood. A magical, life-giving property of some kind. Eddie discovered this by inadvertently slipping in the blood-pool around God's enormous head. He'd landed hard on his shoulder, half of his face submerging into the pool. He'd lifted up his head, mouth full of blood. The initial revulsion fizzled away, replaced by a pleasant tingling upon his tongue and the roof of his mouth. The blood tasted sweetly delicious. Not salty as he'd expected.

Cupping his palms, he scooped the blood and drank with reverence, as if he were sipping the waters of the Rubicon. Power and vitality coursed through his veins. The decades-old ache in his back was gone. Eddie Rednick, a relatively old man, leapt to his feet. Blood dripped down his face and body. He licked his lips, eyes wide, dilated with inspiration.

He understood everything. He understood who the dead giant was. He understood the power of His Blood and Flesh. Most of all, he understood he was damned fortunate. A goldmine had landed on his property. Now, he thought, good ol' Rednick is going to reap the riches! God, after all, is a rare commodity.

Eddie spent all morning and afternoon cleaning old mason jars and filling them with Holy Blood. He made a run into town, buying out Alma's Antiques' stock of jars, then filled those too.

Around six that evening, he wiped sweat from his forehead and propped his feet upon the kitchen table. Hundreds of blood-filled mason jars occupied the counters and linoleum floor. He made a phone call to town councilman Simon Kohl, securing his selling booth for Jessup Township's Annual Farmer's Market.

Rednick celebrated with a jar he'd stuck in his refrigerator. Sipping cold, refreshing blood, he smacked his stained lips in delight. Then his eyes enlarged and his mouth fell open. A small globe, coated with shimmering oceans and green continents, formed upon the palms of his hands. The planet rotated slowly. If he peered closely, he could see tiny people walking about, driving cars, flying airplanes, setting off bombs, fucking, and fighting each other at a furious clip.

Rednick closed his eyes. When he opened them, the planet was gone from his hands, its presence no more than a vague sensation in the back of his mind, like a hazy dream upon awakening.

He grinned. The blood contained more magical properties than he'd realized. Once people understood what it could do, it was only a matter of time before the money rolled in. He licked the blood from his lips.

*     *     *
Eddie Rednick's Special, Life-Giving Concentrate circled each tin lid in a black, inky scrawl. The Blood of God written at the center. On the back of each jar was a Not FDA approved, but Holy Ordained! sticker.

Operating out of the back of his Chevrolet pick-up, Eddie managed to sell two hundred and thirteen jars, each at the ultra-moderate price of $15.99. Residents of Jessup, thinking the "blood of God" label a gimmick and the stuff was probably a juice of some kind, drank from the sample-sized serving cups . . . then grinned ecstatic, insisting they purchase a jar. Rednick happily obliged. By day's end, he'd earned enough cash to drive into the nearby city and buy himself a top-of-the-line storage freezer.

As a businessman, he recognized opportunity when he saw it. Blood alone would not be the only commodity he capitalized. As ol' Pastor Dan says during Sunday Communion, Rednick thought, watching two delivery men haul his recent purchase into his house, drink of my Blood, and eat of my Flesh.

*     *     *
A moonlit prairie night. God's carcass was pale as the underbelly of a fish. Bats flittered across the stars. Crickets chirruped. The chainsaw's harsh roar soon drowned them out. Wearing a butcher's apron, Eddie positioned the saw over the Almighty's right side. The chain spun, ripping and tearing away flesh to reveal the rare, precious meat beneath.

"Dee-vine rib!" Eddie chuckled as the saw sputtered into silence. He hauled two buckets of bloody meat into the house to clean, package, and freeze. Yet he'd hardly made a dent in God's enormous body. He'd need some assistance slicing up the rest. An extra storage freezer, too. Dunking his hand into a bucket, he fished out a chunk of raw flesh and shoved it into his mouth.

He chewed vigorously, swallowed, then gasped at the beautiful colors suddenly gleaming upon his palms. The planet formed once again; a gorgeous world brimming with life. The Blood had made him aware of the planet's presence. But the Flesh now gave him the power to control the fate of every person, every creature, every aspect about the planet. Eddie didn't know how he knew this to be so, only that he did.

Centering his attention upon one of the oceans, Eddie willed into existence a tremendous tsunami. The cyclone of wind and water moved West, decimating dozens of cities upon one of the larger continents, murdering hundreds of thousands of people.

Eddie spent the rest of the night messing around with the planet. He felt like a child again, sitting atop his favorite anthill to scorch, stomp, and drown the ants. Cocking his ear close to the living sphere, he smiled so big his dentures threatened to pop out. Way down on what remained of the planet's land mass, he heard thousands of people . . . screaming.

"Now this," he told the empty room. "This is money!"

*     *     *
Eddie Rednick wasn't just a man anymore, but a brand.

Hiring ads in Jessup's bi-weekly newspaper were answered within a week. Ten young men, most of them fresh out of high school, came down to Eddie's for a job. Eddie obliged them, begrudgingly paying minimum wage. Nine dollars an hour was far too high in Eddie's estimate.

"But it's the law," the kids insisted.

"Damn unions," Eddie muttered, supervising his employees as they stripped God's flesh with an assortment of chainsaws, butcher's knives, and axes.

It was nearly July. Weather was hot. The body was beginning to smell. A rancid stench of decay cloyed to the humid air. Occasionally, one of the young workers would step away from the body, bend at the waist and puke. Eddie shaded his eyes from the sun, frowning as they worked at the body, grunting and cursing like a bunch of ungrateful slaves.

Over the next few days, buckets, wagons, and wheelbarrows of God's flesh were taken away, cleaned, packaged, and shipped to local supermarkets. As were thousands of jars of blood.

Eddie watched his slavish crew of Gen Z's closely. If he didn't, they'd slack off. The first day they were hired, several took pictures with their smartphones. Instagram selfies; posing with bloody knifes in their hands, the giant body in the background.

But it was their second week now. Instagram was a thing of the past. They'd all had a complimentary taste of the Blood and Flesh. Which meant each had their own, precious planet. One they could manifest into their hands with a little will and imagination.

Jared or Jeremy --- whatever was the kid's name --- stopped work to do just that. Butcher's knife resting atop the back of God's knee, the blonde-haired boy laughed, spinning his planet five hundred times faster than its orbit speed. Eddie could hear the tiny screams from fifty yards away, where he stood in the shade.

"Hey YOU," Eddie shouted.

The kid looked up. Frowned.

"Yeah, you! Put that away. I ain't payin' ya to play God, son. I'm payin' ya to work."

The young man rolled his eyes, then closed them, willing the planet back into his imagination. He picked up his axe and got back to hacking.

"That's better, twerp," Eddie muttered, then went into the house to catch up on Fox News. Several anchors were singing his praises.

*     *     *
Bernard Rednick, Eddie's father, had been a businessman. All Eddie's life, Bernard had encouraged him to embrace the ultra-American values of entrepreneurship and unfettered capitalism. Bernard had made his life in the petroleum business. He was able to retire early. Yet the retirement was short-lived. Plagued by life-long obesity and diabetes, Bernard died of a heart attack. Aged forty-six.

Eddie had expected to inherit his father's millions. Alas, he did not. In Bernard's will, it was stipulated his son would embrace hard work and do it all on his own. Just as his father had.

Eddie attempted to operate several businesses throughout the years. Each failed miserably. A two-year degree in business management hadn't helped in the least. Money was never made, and if by some stroke of luck it was, it was lost just as quickly.

But now, he thought, now it's different. I'm finally getting my lucky break. I'm a successful businessman now, by God! A holy man too. God's Blood and Flesh are mine. And at modest prices, I'm sharing Him with the world.

Tears welled in his eyes. He only wished his old man could be here to see him now. He longed to hear his father's gruff voice telling him how proud he was. Something Eddie never got to hear.

Blinking away tears, he set his glass of blood upon the living room coffee table. He closed his eyes, willing the planet into his hands. He focused on the continent replicated after America, then centered in on Boston, Massachusetts, then 122nd Street where his childhood home had been. Peering into his father's bedroom window, he discovered Bernard sitting at the end of his bed, tying his red power tie.

Eddie whispered his father's name.

Bernard frowned, looked all about the bedroom. "Martha honey? That you?"

"No! It's me, Dad."

Bernard stood, loose tie hanging from his collar. "Edward?" He looked in the closet, then under the bed. "Where are you, kiddo? What the hell you doing in here?"

Eddie laughed boomingly. His father jumped, knocking over the bedside lamp. Eddie ceased laughing. He'd forgotten how large and, consequently, how loud he was.

"Sorry, Father. Didn't mean to startle you. Just wanted to let you know I'm running a business now. A very successful one at that. I'm not as successful as you yet, but soon enough, I will be."

"H-how are you doing this?" Bernard asked, back flat against the wall, sweaty hands pressing upon the floral-print wallpaper. "Where are you? Give up the joke."

"I'm above you, Father," Eddie replied in a whisper. "In heaven, I'd guess you'd say. You see, I'm selling the Flesh and Blood of God up here. I've made myself in his Divine Image. Better yet, I've made myself a businessman! Aren't you proud of me, Father?"

Sweat beaded Bernard's face. He shook his head, mumbled he was going crazy. Looney. Buggy. Hearing voices.

"Daddy?" Eddie's voice suddenly broke, choking back tears. "Just . . . tell me you're proud of me. Won't you? You've never said it, you know. No matter how hard I've tried to please you, both as a child, and as a man. So, tell me. I need to hear it, Daddy. Please."

Eddie waited for a reply.

At last, Bernard scowled. "Whoever you are, you're not my son. You're a monster. A demon. Now get the hell out of my room! Get out of my head! I hate you! Hate, hate, hate!"

Bernard picked up the bedside lamp and threw it across the room. The bulb shattered upon the wall. The shade cracked. Eddie's heart palpitated. Tears dripped from his eyes, fell into the planet's atmosphere, and struck the roof of Bernard's house. In that instant, Bernard was crushed beneath fallen timber. Nails. Chimney bricks.

Eddie's tears dripped from his chin in a literal flood. They splashed down, drowning Boston and obliterating the remains of his father's house. Then Eddie willed the planet back into his head. Even with all his power, will and control, he could not change his old man's heart.

Eddie snatched a bottle of Jack Daniels from the mini bar across the room, drinking until unconscious.

*     *     *
ONE YEAR LATER
Behind the three-story Rednick Mansion, Eddie led a guided tour of a hundred people around his field. First, he showed them God's enormous, hollowed out skull. Parents snapped pictures of their young children hunkered within the eye sockets. Horseflies buzzed thick around the carcass. Few seemed to mind.

Eddie guided them from the cranium to the neck vertebrae, down to the shoulders, arms, hands, torso, legs, feet. Bringing them back 'round to the skull, the tour was complete. The children clamored for a second tour. Their parents informed them it was too expensive, encouraging them to play with their planets instead.

People marveled over the remains, much like they did over the fossils of extinct dinosaurs at the Museum of Natural History. Eddie laughed at their foolishness and pocketed the cash. What was a pile of bones to him?

Money, of course. Nothing more.

He was a businessman, and blood and flesh alone would not satiate his holy, entrepreneurial spirit. Eddie figured the word God was merely a euphemism for Capital. He fumbled with the golden crucifix around his neck, trying his best not to pick his nose with it in front of the crowd.

No more Blood. No more Flesh. But there were bones.

Bones and endless money.

God's skeleton, one might aptly say, was Eddie Rednick's church.

And by the Will of the Almighty Dollar, the congregations flocked.

Eddie was happy to evangelize. All the better without the Bible. Hundred-dollar bills were scripture enough. After all, In God We Trust was printed on each and every one of them.

With God's shimmery, blood stained tunic sold to a European theological museum for billions of dollars, and His cotton-white beard snipped and sold by the baggie, there seemed to be no end to this holy profitable exploitation.

Yessir, Eddie Rednick smiled, from now on, life is going to be nothing but sweet, sweet money.

*     *     *
FIVE HUNDRED AND THIRTY-THREE YEARS LATER
The years had been anything but sweet. When Eddie Rednick turned seventy, yet still appeared fifty-seven in the mirror, he'd been elated. The Blood and Flesh of God had preserved his soul for eternity. He was immortal. No death for Rednick. Nor for the millions who'd consumed even a parcel of God's bounty. What could be better?

Alas. Immortality was not all it was cracked up to be. Eddie sat upon the scorched Earth, over five hundred years old, yet still fifty-seven. Black clouds of smoke covered the sky. The sun rarely peeked through them. For the last seventy years, he'd not seen another living soul . . . except those tiny man-ants upon his planet, of course. They hardly counted.

He spent his time creating people, animals, cities, beautiful utopias. Then destroying them. He did it for the same reason children used to construct elaborate sandcastles, then destroy them. Because it was entertaining. At the very least, it was something to do.

World War Four had destroyed the world completely. Everything was charcoal. Ash. Noxious smoke. Scattered remains. Worse yet, there was nothing to do. Eddie ached for death. His soul was parched. He now knew with dreadful certainty why God had fallen out of the sky that warm June morning in the first place. For God had grown bored and loathsome with His own immortality. He'd therefore killed Himself in the only way feasible for an immortal being—sacrifice himself to the world He had created.

The nuclear bombs had not affected the immortals—the men, women and children who'd long ago consumed the Flesh and Blood. The radiation had not mutilated their flesh, ravaged their internal organs, nor suffocated them like all the others—the mortals. The fortunates.

The only way out was to will the planets out of their minds and into their hands, then will themselves into that world. They'd fall through a smoke-free blue sky before crashing to their death into the land or the sea.

Eddie held back from doing this. He didn't know why. Despite his hatred of immortality, perhaps he was too cowardly a man, too significant an ego, to embrace death.

Yet as the blackness swarmed upon the Earth, as green, radioactive winds flurried from place to place in hot, violent airstreams, Eddie found himself willing his mind and body into the tranquil blue-green planet, the miniature Earth within his hands. He squeezed his eyes shut, focusing, until . . . cool, soothing wind rippled his tattered clothes.

He managed to open his eyes against the pressure, squinting at the beautiful planet beneath. Eddie smiled. It was not as scary as he'd thought it'd be. The roar of the wind sounded in his ears. The green continent below grew very close, then . . .

*     *     *
Tremors ran through the city. Buildings, houses, and streets became rubble. Upon the splintered asphalt, toppled electric poles, and decimated structures lay the body of a giant.

Police, firefighters, and citizens surrounded it. Blood flowed out of the body, pouring ankle-deep through the streets, flooding the gutters, drowning the people still trapped beneath the rubble.

Covered with debris and gore, the people exchanged flabbergasted expressions. They approached the body of Eddie Rednick, of God. In one unanimous moment of realization, everyone smiled.

After endless generations of bloodshed, of worldwide floods, fires, volcanic eruptions, cataclysmic earthquakes, and the ancient, perpetual voice of a deranged Man in the Sky bombarding their ears about money, money, money . . . They understood, at long last, they were free.

Free of the Thing Called Eddie Rednick, Businessman.

Free of the Great Terror in the Sky.

Free!

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