THE MACHINE GUN PREACHER
The following morning was a Sunday, and as usual some young people in the church came to make it ready for service.
Those who had been put on sweeping duties at the Mission Manse were taken aback to hear the new born crying so hard. One of them, a Deaconess, felt something was wrong and ventured into the house. She eventually found the pastor holding his son to his chest and sitting beside the dead body of his wife on the bed.
She noticed that Pastor Jon Fii’s knuckles were bruised and swollen, and his eyes were also swollen and almost closed from the tears he had shed. He did not respond to her when she spoke to him, and would not let go of his bawling son, and so she ran outside screaming for help.
More people were drawn by her screams and soon the Mission Manse was filled with people.
Elder and Deaconess Manu, Sophia’s parents, always came to church early, and they were among the first people to reach the house. Soon, there was wailing everywhere. Deaconess Manu finally managed to take her grandson from the shell-shocked pastor who still refused to speak to anybody.
The news spread through the district quickly.
Elder Bobo soon arrived and made arrangements with the hospital, and soon they carted the body of Sophia to the hospital. He sent some of the young deacons to go and inform the Circle Head and Pastor Atoklu of what had happened.
Pastor Jon Fii just sat in one position with his eyes fixed on one spot, and he never uttered a word.
Apostle John Sencherey and his wife arrived with their daughter Serwaa, and soon afterwards Pastor Bonifius Kwabla Atoklu also arrived. The Circle Head made them group around the stunned and grieving pastor, and then prayed for him.
In the middle of their prayers, Jon Fii finally got off the bed and entered the bathroom. They looked at each other with a mixture of puzzlement and fear, but the Apostle urged them to continue praying.
They had to leave the room, however, when Fii came back with a towel around his waist; obviously, he had showered.
They waited in the plush living room and almost an hour later, he came out.
He was dressed in an expensive and beautiful black suit with a white shirt and silk tie. His feet were in polished shoes. He did not look at anybody as he walked past them towards the front door.
“Pastor!” Bobo cried in anguish as he followed the man. “Please, pastor! Don’t do this! Speak to me, your friend! I’m Bobo the Killer, remember?”
He held Jon Fii’s hand, and the pastor spun around and crashed a fist with such devastating impact into the huge man’s jaw, dropping him flat on his back.
All of them began to shout in alarm, with Serwaa weeping and begging him to stop.
Jon Fii sat in his car, started up, and drove furiously out of the yard!
“You should stop him!” Deaconess Manu screamed and handed the baby to Serwaa. “Why did you let him go?”
“He could die, he could do himself harm!” Mrs. Sencherey shouted. “Where’s he going to? Oh, Lord!”
Apostle Sencherey wiped tears from his eyes.
“The hand of the Lord is on him,” he said gently. “Whatever happens to him now is in the hands of his Lord. All we can do now is wait, and pray for that young man. His pain is great!”
He drove like a madman!
His pain was a living horror that dug into his guts and wrenched the very air he breathed out of him with sickening violence. There was a heat wave on his face that threatened to consume him!
Jon Fii drove across the new bridge and left Obosomfie behind, speeding recklessly as he tried to put that vile place behind him, for eternity!
Well, to hell with it all!
What was the use?
Why should he lose her?
There was no use in Christianity if such a fate could befall him!
What was the use of dedicating his whole life to God in exchange for such wanton cruelty? Such an act of savagery?
There was no sense in it!
No sense at all!
Why on earth should he be suffused with such pain?
Just look at how his son had been wailing! Poor soul!
He would grow up without a mother!
This was wickedness!
And so he drove away from Obosomfie, speeding up until he ran out of fuel.
He pulled into a fuel station and filled up his tank, and then he hit the road again!
He did not know how long he travelled, or where he was going!
Jon Fii just drove!
The pastor slept in his car when night caught him, or he checked into any hotel he found, and drove again!
It continued for a week. His beard began to grow, and he began to grow restless. On one night, when a storm was threatening, he pulled into a restaurant and ordered food. He ate till he could eat no more, and then he bought himself a huge bottle of scotch.
He cracked the bottle open and forced himself to drink the fiery liquid, grimacing as the alcohol burned down his throat, but he kept drinking, giggling, and sloshing the drink on his clothes.
The people in the liquor store stared at him with varying expressions of disgust, pity, and puzzlement. His head was already reeling from the unfamiliar sensations of being drunk, and as he paid for the drink and turned away towards the door, thunder boomed, and lightning slashed!
A heavy rain began to pou heavily!
Jon Fii cackled fiendishly and drank from the bottle.
“Whooheeee!” he screamed. “Do you people know where I can find a prostitute in this godforsaken town? I want to do some styles!”
A man in a police uniform approached him with a concerned look on his face.
“Look, sir, I can’t let you go out like that!” he said desperately. “Obviously, you’re not used to alcohol. You’re drunk, and the weather forecast says this storm will be a really bad one!”
“Can you get me some sweet, warm, wet pussy?” Jon Fii asked him as he drank from the bottle again, pouring more of the drink on his body. “Do you have some cunt for me?”
The police office shook his head.
“Hand me the keys, sir,” he said grimly. “I’ll have to keep you at the station!”
Without warning Jon Fii swung his bottle into the skull of the policeman, and the man crashed to the floor with a grunt of pain as a gash opened on his forehead and blood slowly seeped down his face.
Jon cackled and fled through the doors.
The rains hammered down on him immediately, soaking him to the skin as he rushed to his car, clambered in, and then drove drunkenly out of the lot.
He hit the main road singing at the top of his voice, making up a profane song that said he was done with Christianity and would forever live inside a vagina.
The rain was hammering down heavily, making visibility poor. The powerful wipers were moving rapidly across the windscreen as he drove drunkenly and at top speed, causing the car to skid dangerously forward. He was approaching a huge bridge now, and he leaned forward in his seat, peering through the windscreen as he neared the bridge.
And then he saw him!
The tall, masculine, powerful figure of that man!
That hateful Unblind!
That despicable Yaw Boat!
He was standing in the middle of the road dressed in all black. Black jeans, black polo shirt, black combats, and a black peaked cap! He was standing still, like some sort of foe.
“You fucking bastard!” Jon Fii screamed. “You caused all this, you bastard! Die, die, die!”
He aimed the car at the big man and gunned down the accelerator!
The Mercedes Benz shot forward with renewed violence, bearing down on Yaw Boat!
And then, just before it was about to smash into the man, the car stopped!
Jon Fii’s foot was still stepping on the accelerator, but the car was dead!
The engine just died out, and the car stopped a hair’s breadth from the knees of that hateful man!
“No, no, damn you, bastard!” Jon screamed and turned the key in the ignition over and over, but the engine remained dead. The Unblind walked around the car almost lazily as the rain beat down on him.
Just before he reached for the door of the passenger seat, a powerful lightning struck a huge oak tree on the side of the road, and the tree suddenly keeled to the side and smashed into the road with a horrible impact!
Jon Fii screamed with horror as he stared at the huge tree lying across the road!
If this man had not been standing in the road, blocking him, making his car stop, that tree would have fallen on his car!
Jon Fii could have died right here!
He was still gripping the steering wheel, stunned, as Yaw Boat opened the door and sat down beside him. There was rage on his face as he turned and fixed those cold eyes on Jon Fii.
And that was when Jon noticed something else that was absolutely shocking:
The man was not wet!
He had been standing in the drenching rain, but his clothes were dry!
Jon Fii looked at him with awed eyes.
“Who exactly are you?” he asked with horror. “You… that tree would’ve killed me!”
“You fucking asshole!” Yaw Boat growled furiously at him. “How dare you question the God you serve?”
Jon Fii looked at him defiantly.
“Because my wife died!” he screamed with pain at Boat. “Because my new born son does not have a mother! Because God, my God, the Lord I worship, chose to take away the only thing that mattered to me most! Don’t you dare sit there and judge me!”
“You want your wife back, right?” Boat asked softly.
“Yes, yes, damn it, yes!” he screamed. “If God will resurrect her, bring her back, then I’ll go back and do His work! But if Sophia really is dead, then I don’t want to spend another second worshipping God! Never!”
“Fair enough,” Boat said calmly, and then he reached over suddenly and touched Jon Fii’s forehead. “Now, if I be the servant of the Most High, filled His divine power, grant me this favour, oh Lord, to let thy servant see what would happen if his wife had lived!”
Fii felt a jolt through his head, and suddenly he seemed to be in a trance, and suddenly he found himself in the Mission Manse at Obosomfie, with Sophia in his arms, just as he had last seen her alive!
And then, Jon Fii began to smile as he saw what would have been with his wife. His face was serene, filled with happiness.
Yaw Boat folded his arms across his broad chest and leaned back in his seat and then shut his eyes.
It took exactly forty-five minutes for Jon Fii to live life in a form of blissful vision, life that he would have had with his angel, his wife, his darling Sophia Nana Yaa Ahoufe Manu!
And then, quite suddenly, Jon Fii began to scream.
“Sophia! Dear Lord, no! Nooooo! Save her! Oh, Lord, oh Lord, nooooooo! Please save her! Somebody help us! Sophieeee! Naa Yaaaaa! Somebody save me! Save us, dear Lord! Forgive us our transgressions, dear Lord! Save us! Pleaase Lorrrrrd!”
Boat opened his eyes and turned his eyes on the screaming pastor!
His hands were shaking the steering wheel in anguish, and his legs were thrashing violently in his great fear and agitation.
Yaw Boat reached out and touched the young man’s forehead again.
“If I be the servant of the Most High Lord, regain thy senses, in the name of Jesus Christ!” he said softly.
Jon Fii’s eyes flew open and he looked around with horror!
His whole body was drenched with sweat, and his face was wet with his tears. With a groan he opened the door and stumbled out of the car, and then he grabbed his stomach and vomited horribly on the ground with great heaves of his stomach as the rain beat down heavily on him.
He knelt on the ground and wept silently and with great relief.
“Forgive me, Father, for I have sinned against you,” Jon Fii whispered. “You know best, my Lord! Forgive the foolish talks of my passionate heart, the whimpering of a grieving soul! Create in me a new heart, my Lord, and renew a right spirit within me! I know Sophia is in a better place now, and you saved her, for my sake, and for the sake of her parents! Forgive me, Father, and restore your glory in me, in Jesus’ name… amen!”
A mighty thunder ripped across the sky, and then the rain stopped suddenly.
Jon Fii looked up slowly.
Yaw Boat was standing beside him with a handkerchief in his hand.
Trembling, Jon took the handkerchief gratefully and wiped his mouth.
“So, you want your wife back?” Yaw Boat asked softly. “You can have her back. Just say the words.”
Jon Fii shook his head numbly.
“She’s at the best place she could ever be,” he said softly as silent tears fell down his cheeks. “I cannot let what I saw happen to her, no. Thank you, Yaw. Thank you very much.”
Boat’s face was grim as he looked down at the young pastor.
“You’re glowing again,” he said quietly. “The spirit of the Lord is once more on you. I’m tired of coming for you, boy. I have better things to do than babysit you.”
Jon smiled weakly.
“You didn’t come to me out of your own accord, Yaw,” he said gently. “God loves me enough to send His best Unblind to keep an eye on me. So, when I need you, God will keep sending you.”
Boat scowled darkly.
“I’ll beat the shit outta you if I’m sent back to you for lack of bloody faith, Pastor Jon Fii,” he said ominously. “Are we clear?”
Jon smiled weakly and held out his hand.
“We’re clear, my brother,” he said with a nod. “My faith has received the necessary unction to function.”
For a moment, he thought Boat would ignore him but the big man reached down and shook Jon Fii’s hand.
“All the best, Pastor Jon Fii,” he said.
“Thank you, Yaw,” Jon said and watched as the big man turned from him and walked towards the huge tree across the road, and he was not particularly surprised when lightning smashed into the tree suddenly, and it separated into two halves that moved off the road, leaving the road clear.
Jon Fii saw a huge, black car parked in the distance on the bridge, and Yaw Boat was heading towards it.
Jon slowly got to his feet and smiled.
“Hey, Boat!” he shouted.
The Unblind stopped and turned.
“What now?” he shouted back.
“You forgot to say it!” Jon said.
“Say what?” Boat asked, confused.
“You forgot to say fuck you!” Jon shouted.
And, to his amazement, Yaw Boat smiled broadly at that, a smile that turned his face into something sensational, something spectacular.
“Be good, Jon,” Boat said and continued walking.
Jon laughed softly when the big man suddenly lifted his right hand without turning, and stuck his middle finger in the air.
Jon waited until Boat got into his car and drove away, and then he got into his own car, started up, and made a U-turn.
“Thank you, my Lord, for counting me worthy,” Jon said softly as he began playing a soothing gospel song of worship. “Use me as You will, my Lord, I’m ready.”
He began the long journey back to Obosomfie… to his son.
And to his calling.
A sweet, beautiful, lovely wife to say goodbye to.
Yes, his God always knew best.
She was in a far better place… and yes, Sophia had been saved in the truest meaning of the word.