Joining a religious cult was definitely not on my agenda when I woke up, nor was the run-in with the law which followed, but when you’re fighting just to keep a roof over your head you can’t always be picky about your choice of hobbies.
“Jimmy Merle, wake up!”
“What time is it?”I mumbled, pulling myself out of a very satisfying sleep.
“Twelve-thirty,” Kevin said.
“Dammit, Kevin.That’s the middle of the night.Lemme sleep.”
“Twelve-thirty in the afternoon, asshat.How much did you have to drink last night, anyway?”
“I had two gin and tonics.” I pushed the blanket aside and sat up on Kevin’s couch, squinting and rubbing my temples.“And then I had nine more.”
He stared at me, open mouthed.“You had…how many?”
“I just told you,” I said irritably, putting my face in my hands.“I feel shitty.”
“I thought you didn’t get hangovers.”
“I don’t.But waking up feels like climbing out of a coffin.I’m so depressed I feel like stabbing myself in the face.”
“So, you have emotional hangovers,” Kevin mused.
“Exactly,” I said.“How am I supposed to build CFM and save the planet when all I feel like doing is digging myself a shallow grave, laying down in it and heaping dirt on my face.I can’t keep doing this.I’m never drinking again.”
“That’s Morning Jimmy talking,” Kevin replied.“Later today Afternoon Jimmy will show up and he’ll be slamming ‘em like there’s no tomorrow.”
“Afternoon Jimmy is an asshole,” I replied.“Next time you see him you tell him I said he’s a twat waffle, and he’d better not drink because Morning Jimmy is the one who pays for it.”
“I’ve told him,” Kevin said.“He just says that Morning Jimmy is a big pussy, and to tell him to fuck off.”
“Goddammit!” I exclaimed.“Afternoon Jimmy is a fucking dick nose.He gets to have fun partying all night, but I’m the one that feels like shit the next day.You tell him if I ever see him I’m gonna kick his ass.”
“I do,” Kevin said.“He just laughs and pours us another drink.”
“Motherfucker,” I sighed.“Now, what’s so important that you had to wake me up?”
“Well, Jimmy Merle, we need to talk.”
I finally noticed that Kevin was wearing a suit.“What’s with the white shirt and tie?”
“That’s what I wanted to talk to you about.”
Then I saw the Book of Mormon in his paw.“Oh no, not again.”
“I’ve decided to join the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-Day Saints.”
“A Mormon?!” I said aghast.“For crying out loud, Kevin!Last year you joined the Rajneeshes.After that it was the Moonies, then Scientology, then Amway.What is it with you and religious cults?”
“Mormonism isn’t a cult, Jimmy Merle.It’s a highly respectable religion, with a membership boasting many respected dignitaries.”
“What ‘respected dignitaries’?”
“Well…Mitt Romney…Rosanne Barr…”
“Roseanne isn’t a Mormon.She just lived in Utah for a while.”
“That still counts.”
I shook my head, trying to clear the cobwebs.“I didn’t know Mormon’s allowed gorillas to join their church.”
“They didn’t used to, but the Prophet got a revelation from God, and now we can.Anyway, I want to talk to you because you’re still sleeping on my couch.”
I sighed.“Kevin, we’ve been working hard on Civilian Fuck Monkey.It’s going to take off in a big, big way, and as soon as it starts making some money I’ll get my own place.”
“You’ve been saying that for months.Besides that, I still haven’t seen a single fucking paycheck for all my work at CFM.”
“We’ve run into some snags…tech issues, website glitches, that FCC investigation and whatnot—”
“Wait…what FCC investigation?”
“Oh…uh…it’s nothing,” I said quickly.“Just a little misunderstanding.Besides, I’m handling it.The other problem is we haven’t generated as many followers as I’d hoped.”
“I told you not to name it Civilian Fuck Monkey.Everyone hates monkeys.They’re low class and they’re stupid.”
“Everyone loves monkeys, Kevin.”
“No they don’t.”
“Yes they do.”
“No they don’t.I wanted to name it Follow Your Bliss.”
“Now that’s stupid.”
“It’s aspirational,” he snapped.“You’re stupid!”
“Okay, okay, calm down.One month, two at the most and the cash will be rolling in.Then I’ll be able to move out.I guarantee it.”
“It’s going to have to be sooner than that.”
“Okay, okay, you win.I’ll stop washing my man-thongs in the dishwasher.”
Kevin put his face in his paws and slowly shook his head.“Why do you do that?”
“They’re delicates.The washer will tear them apart.And American Man-Thong is CFM’s first paying sponsor.I’m contractually obligated to use their product in a conspicuous manner, so I have to wear them around the apartment pool a lot.That means frequent washing, but I promise I’ll start doing it by hand.”
“That’s disturbing on so many levels I don’t even know where to begin,” Kevin said.“But that’s not why you need to move out.The Church requires its young men to go on a two-year mission, usually to another city or country—”
“Wait…you’re leaving!?” I yelled.“But we’re finally getting sponsors, and charities are begging to partner with us.CFM needs you more than ever right now!You can’t leave!”
“This is terrible,” I moaned.“First, I get pulled away from CFM with the forced visitation with Dolores bullshit, and now you’re leaving!”
“Dammit, will you shut your pie-hole and let me finish!” he snapped.“I’m doing my mission locally.Apparently when you ship animals overseas they have to go into quarantine, get certified by a vet, and all sorts of other species-ist bullshit. So, the Church is having me stay here.”
“Not so fast.Mormon missionaries always go out in teams of two, so they’re assigning me a partner.The teams also have to live together, so my partner will live here with me, and he’ll need the couch to sleep on.”
“But…but where am I going to live?”
“You could move back in with your parents.”
“I already told you that Daddy won’t let me.Besides, if I move back in Mom might go through with the abortion.”
“I thought she was back to being pro-life.”
“Then she’ll put me up for adoption.”
“Can’t say I blame her,” Kevin mused.
“Oh, very funny, ass hat.”
He was silent for a moment. “Well, there is one other option.”
“Join the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-Day Saints, Jimmy Merle.Then you could do your mission as my partner and just stay here.Not to mention you’ll save your eternal soul and stop being such a fucking reprobate.”
“Goddammit, Kevin, I’m Fundamentalist.I can’t become a Mormon.Mom would kill me.”
“You drink, you smoke weed, you cuss, you don’t flush the toilet.If you’re Fundamentalist, I’m the fucking Pope.”
“I was raised Fundamentalist.I went to Fundamentalist Sunday school.Mom says I’m Fundamentalist.I’m Fundamentalist.”
“I bet you don’t even know what Fundamentalist means.”
“It…it means…really loud church services, with lots of shouting and crying and people speaking in tongues, and a scary, scary man on a stage yelling at us that God is really pissed off, and we’re all going to roast in Hell forever if we keep being bad.”
“That’s your definition?How old are you, anyway?Twelve?”
“Which means it’s about time you quit being such a big pussy about church.Besides, Mormons aren’t like that.And”—A warm smile split Kevin’s simian face—“they are the one true religion.”
“Kevin, every religion says they’re the one true religion.How can they all be the one true religion?”
“They can’t.Because Mormons are the one true religion.So, you might as well join.”
“And then I can stay here and keep sleeping on your couch?”
“Oh, alright,” I sighed.“But don’t tell Mom.”
“Slow…down…Brother Kevin!” I rasped, pumping the pedals on my ten-speed.
Kevin and I had just completed our three-week Mormon Missionary Training, and we were on our first day of door-to-door missionary work.We were climbing a big hill on our bikes to get to the first neighborhood we’d been assigned.My suit was wrinkled, my tie was choking me, and my white shirt was sticking to my back.I was struggling desperately to keep up with Kevin, but he wasn’t even breaking a sweat as he pedaled happily along.His suit still looked freshly pressed, and he was clearly excited to spread the good news of Mormonism.Me, not so much.But I needed a place to sleep, and Kevin’s couch was my only option unless I wanted to try to move back in with my parents and risk being aborted or put up for adoption.I couldn’t decide which would be worse, so I kept pedaling.
“Gorillas…have…nine-times…the strength…of humans,” I panted. “Not…fair…Brother Kevin.”
“We’re almost there!”He called back, pumping the pedals with ease.“Quit being such a goddammed pussy, Brother Jimmy Merle.”
I finally made it to the top of the hill where Kevin was standing by his bike in front of a white house at the edge of a large subdivision.
“That took you long enough,” he said.
“Fuck…you…Brother Kevin.” I was bent over, hands on my knees, trying to catch my breath.“So…what do we do…now?”
“This is our first house in this neighborhood.Since you’re new to the Church, I’ll take the lead on this one.”
“I hope they don’t hate Mormons.”
“We’re the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter Day Saints, dumbass.We don’t call ourselves Mormons anymore.”
“Oh, right.I keep forgetting.”
“If you’d paid attention during our missionary training instead of constantly sneaking out to smoke weed you’d know that.”
“Well, pardon me all to hell.It’s like I’m doing missionary work with my Mom.”
“Just don’t embarrass me,” he snapped.
“Okay, okay.We’re the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-Day Saints.Can we get this over with, pretty please with a big fucking cherry on top?”
As we walked up to the front door I straightened my tie, wiped the sweat off my face with my sleeve, and tried to smooth out the wrinkles in my shirt.To tell the truth, I was pretty nervous.I’ve resorted to some desperate measures to keep a roof over my head, but until that day going door-do-door proselytizing strangers wasn’t one of them.I just hoped nobody harassed us too badly.
We reached the front door, and Kevin stood there for a moment collecting himself.He seemed nervous, too.Finally, he took a deep breath, leaned forward, and gave the door three quick raps with his big, gorilla knuckles.
“Remember, you don’t need to say anything,” he whispered. “Just watch and learn.”
We waited for what seemed like a long time.Kevin leaned forward and this time rang the doorbell.We waited some more.
I leaned over and whispered, “It doesn’t look like anybody’s—”
Just then the door was jerked violently open.The man who answered was a giant.He was at least six-four, and I pegged him at about three-hundred pounds, some fat but mostly muscle.His beard was big, black and wiry.He filled the doorway, his hands the size of canned hams.His stained Guns N’ Roses t-shirt was stretched over a massive chest.He stood glaring at us for a few moments.His expression was that of a man who, upon seeing two cockroaches, was carefully calculating the most efficient way to stomp them.
Finally, the giant took a long drag on his cigarette, blew a cloud of smoke in Kevin’s face and—with a voice that sounded like boulders grinding together—growled, “Whaddya want?”
“Sir,” Kevin said, waving away the smoke, “we’re missionaries for the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-Day Saints, and—”
“Not interested!” the giant barked, and slammed the door in our faces.
I didn’t need to be told twice.“C’mon, Brother Kevin,” I said, turning away, “let’s get out of here.”
“We’re not leaving yet.”
“Kevin, this guy clearly doesn’t want to talk to us.Besides, he looks dangerous.”
He reached out and rang the doorbell again.
“What the hell are you doing?!” I hissed.
“Sharing the gospel,” he replied calmly, straightening his tie.
The door opened.The giant was glowering now, fists clenched.“Are you assholes deaf?I told you I’m not interested.”
“Sir,” Kevin said, “if we could just have a moment of your time.We have good news we’d like to share with you, and—”
The door shook in its frame as it slammed in our faces again.
“Alright, let’s get out of here,” I said.“There are plenty of other—”
Kevin rang the doorbell again.
“For fuck’s sake!” I hissed.“Are you insane?!”
“Clearly this good fellow is lost and confused.He needs our help.”
“Who cares!Let’s go!”
The door banged open.The giant’s face was crimson this time.
“If you godammed cocksuckers don’t get the fuck off my property I’m going to tear off your fucking heads and shove them up your asses!”
“Sir,” Kevin said, “clearly you’re lost and in need of salvation, and we have good news we’d like to share with you.Now…may we come in, please?”
He stared at Kevin like he’d lost his mind.“Since when do Mormons let monkeys join their church?”
I put a restraining hand on Kevin’s shoulder.I could feel his massive muscles tensing.“Sir, he’s an African Silverback Gorilla.I wouldn’t call him a monkey if I were you.He doesn’t like it.”
The giant stepped onto the porch.“I’ll call him a monkey as much as I want, fuck face!”The next thing I knew I was tumbling backwards down the porch steps.I landed hard on my back, the wind knocked out of me.“Now get the fuck out of here!” the giant yelled.I heard the door slam.
“You okay, buddy?” Kevin said, crouching down next to me and patting my shoulder.
“Wh…what happened?” I gasped, trying to catch my breath.
“That fuckstick shoved you down the steps.And he called me a monkey.”
“Asshole,” I gasped.
“Wait here,” Kevin said, standing up.“I’ll be right back.”
“Wh—where are you going?”
“To share the gospel,” he growled over his shoulder.
I managed to sit up as Kevin climbed the porch steps and stood in front of the door.
“I AM AN AFRICAN SILVERBACK GORILLA!” he roared.“AND NOBODY FUCKS WITH MY FRIEND!”
He reared back, fists over his head, and with a mighty heave slammed into the door.The entire frame splintered as the door flew off its hinges and crashed through the wall behind it.Kevin stepped through the ragged opening and disappeared through the cloud of drywall dust.There was a moment of eerie silence.
Then all hell broke loose.
Crashing noises, from what sounded like sofas being thrown through walls, filled the yard.I could hear the giant’s yelps and cries over the sounds of shattering glass and splintering wood.Then amidst the tumult came Kevin’s shouts, each phrase punctuated with a sickening thud which I could only assume was the giant being repeatedly slammed into the floor.
“Is closer to chimp DNA…”
“Than chimp DNA…”
“Is to gorilla DNA!!”
“YOU’RE THE FUCKING MONKEY!!”
Then I heard Kevin grunt like he was throwing something, and a split second later the front picture window exploded outward as the man blasted through the glass.He flew through the air, bounced once off the ground, tumbled through the front yard, across the sidewalk, and finally rolled to a stop in the middle of the street.He lay there in an unmoving heap.I could hear him whimpering softly.
Kevin emerged through the front entrance.He dusted off his suit and straightened his tie.
“Now we can leave.”
“Technically, chimps are apes, not monkeys,” I said, taking a sip of my gin-and-tonic.
It was later that evening and Kevin and I were relaxing after our first foray into missionary work. However, we wouldn’t be going door-to-door spreading the good news of Mormonism anymore.Mainly because within an hour of Kevin nearly killing our first prospect, the Church called and politely invited us to leave and never come back.Apparently, they have a strict ‘no assaulting prospects’ policy.It’s just as well.I’m really not cut out for missionary work.
“What are you blathering about?” Kevin said, sipping his gin-and-tonic.
“I’m talking about today when you were beating our prospect to a pulp.You told him that his DNA was close to a chimp’s DNA, thus making him a monkey.”
“Chimps aren’t monkeys.They’re part of the great ape family, like gorillas.”
“My guess is that picky biological distinctions were not foremost on that prick’s mind right then,” he replied.“By the way, Morning Jimmy said to tell you you’re an asshole, and you’re not allowed to drink because he’s the one that pays for it the next morning.”
“Morning Jimmy is a big pussy,” I laughed as I mixed us both another drink.“You can’t take anything he says seriously.Next time you see Morning Jimmy, tell him I said to go fuck himself, and if I ever see him I’m kicking his ass.”
“…go fuck yourself, you’ll kick his ass, period,” Kevin said, writing on a note pad.“Got it.I’ll relay your message.”
“Good man,” I said, clinking my glass against his.“By the way, I’ve got some good news.You know who John Suthers is, right?”
“He’s Mayor of Colorado Springs.Why?”
“He called me this afternoon and left a voice mail.”
“Why would the Mayor want to talk to a nit-wit like you?” Kevin wondered aloud.
“He heard about how we stopped the mall shooter, and he wants to give us the key to the city.”
“You’re shitting me?” he exclaimed.
“Nope.He said they’re holding a big ceremony next week honoring the first responders, and that’s when they’ll present us with the key.Pretty cool, huh!”
“Holy fucking shit,” Kevin said.“I’ll bet there’ll be a lot of press covering it.”
“You’re damn right.This could be huge for Civilian Fuck Monkey!Cheers, Kevy!”We clicked our drinks, and drank a toast.
Just then the doorbell rang.
“I’ll get it,” I said, walking to the door.I opened it and four Colorado Springs police officers stood there.“Uh…can I help you?”
Kevin had walked over and stood behind me.
“Are you two Jimmy Merle and Kevin DeGuerilla?” the one in front said.
“Yeah,” I replied, “that’s us.”
“You’re both under arrest for aggravated assault.”