Synthetic Messiah

            It was hot beneath the huge, billowing tent that served as the nomadic home of the Lord’s Fire revival as it worked its way slowly across the south in a serpentine path as crooked as its leader.

            Carson James stood amongst the faithful, the gullible, and took note of beads of sweat as they moved from his hairline to his eyebrows.  The sheep wore lighter cloths than he, breathable fabrics that allowed the humidity within the temporary sanctuary to mix with that of their own sweaty bodies.

            Carson did not.  He wore a black suit, a blue shirt with black pin-stripes, and a blue tie.  His clothes were like a bio-dome, keeping him separate.  His moisture was his own, as was his truth.

            He, like those who surrounded, him had always been one of the faithful, the credulous, the susceptible.  His mother had raised him to believe, to trust that the flock was watched over, even after her husband had abandoned her to care for their newborn child alone, even as the cancer painfully devoured her, turning her bones to splinters and her own blood to poison. 

            Thinking of his mother always brought tears to his eyes, tears that in these settings were doubtless misconstrued as ones of joy, as a mark that he’d been touched and that Jesus’ invisible print had been etched onto his soul. 

            The Reverend William Flemming quoted from the book of Revelations from his place at the pulpit, his exalted place on high, on the stage at the center of the tent like the ringmaster of a circus with only a single act, surrounded by his legion of freaks who would swallow almost anything.