the painful truth about the worldwide church of god

Four Strange Men And A Futon

By Dana

 Not to long after my Date With the Dog, my life was miserable. I tried to bury myself with my work at the Pocket Rocket sling-shot factory (no pun intended, such a place really existed!) but I could think of little else other than the fact that I had been summarily dismissed from God's One and Only True Church, and had probably lost my only chance to be with God Himself because I "knew too much" and blew it by annoying God's anointed local representative.

 My dear, dear friend was not only a church member, but a fellow Pocket-Rocket employee as well. Her efforts to cheer me, and offer some semblance of hope were gathering little results. Never one to give up, she said, "Let's go out tonight, and have some fun. We'll forget about everything tonight. We'll laugh, maybe dance and start out with a brand new tomorrow!"

 So, even depressed as I was, I said, "You bet. Let's do that. Who knows? Maybe tomorrow will be different."

 After she procured a babysitter for her kids, we went looking for a place to lighten the load. There was a place nearby that a lot of people we knew would go to dance, so we decided to go there. When we got to the door we found out that only twenty-one years old or better were allowed in. I looked at my friend and said, "Hey, I'm going to the Lake of Fire anyway, so what's one lie going to do? Turn up the thermostat?" So I just walked past the bouncer like I belonged there, and we found ourselves a table. At the time I had no idea of the irony of my words, as I was soon to learn.

 Several people came over and made their introductions, some requesting dance, others offering libations. Most were gently rebuffed with ego softening excuses, but one or two seemed so polite and gentlemanly that we felt comfortable, even as church girls to dance with them.

 Mostly we stayed to ourselves and talked, drank a few drinks, and finally we laughed. The alcohol had done its magic on my mind. Things just didn't seem so final. I was beginning to think, "Hey, maybe there is a tomorrow for this girl after all." We laughed a little more before we decided it was time to go relieve the babysitter and pack it up for the night.

 The cool night air reached my face like an old friend as I smiled a friendly "good night" to the attendant at the door. I watched my girl friend's face smiling, laughing and joking about irrelevant issues as she drove the short distance back home and I thanked God that such people existed. I didn't know if I had drank too much, or was simply emotionally drained, but I felt extremely tired and was eager to get home and go to bed.

 I shared the apartment with our deacon's daughter. As apartments went, it wasn't a bad place. There were a few small things wrong with it, but nothing worth making a fuss over, or so I thought.

I tried to slip in quietly so as not to disturb her. She was already in bed, but her door was open slightly. My roommate was (is) an extremely thrifty girl and the apartment was much warmer than she was usually willing to allow, but I didn't give that much thought. I quietly pushed her door open a little further to confirm that she was asleep. The light from our hallway was shining dimly on her. I stood there for a moment leaning against her door jam to take it all in. She looked like an angel, with her carefully brushed soft brown hair falling across her cheek. She would lay with the palms of her hands pressed together on her pillow as if praying herself to sleep. She was everything I should have been; a domestic goddess under construction. She loved to cook, she loved to clean, she loved to alphabetize her recipes. Why, I wondered, could I not be more like her? I knew Mr. Royer would like me if I could just be more like her.

 But I was feeling slightly dizzy now and just wanted to go to bed. I quietly shut her door, and retired to my room. "Mercy! I am HOT!" I muttered to myself as I started to take off my street clothes getting ready for bed. "That's what I get for drinking," I thought to myself as I rebelliously threw each piece of clothing to the floor. It seemed strange that she would want it so warm, so maybe she wasn't feeling well. Heck, I wasn't feeling so well! "Man! It is HOT! Even... for... a... girl.... like....... me," I thought as I struggled to hurl my last piece of clothing into the air.

 Then before I could even reach for my jammy sleepers I began to fall helplessly face down onto my mattress (on the floor, because at $2.35 hr. I could not yet afford a frame for my bed).

 There I lay on my mattress, spread eagle. I felt as if my entire body was swirling around and around like water going down an endless drain, but the water was boiling. I couldn't tell how much time had passed. Then I realized that I wasn't going down a drain. I must have died and was traveling though the bottomless pit on the way to the Lake of Fire. Yes! I was in the Lake of Fire. I could hear the trumpet of the Lord blaring in short bursts. I really could. I heard the shouts of my unlucky companions. I began to see blurry flashes of Then I heard the voice of the Lord, or perhaps an angel, or somebody quietly say, "Hey, come check this out." I squeezed my eyes tightly shut hoping to postpone my fate a few more seconds.

 Then, a miracle! There was Liz' voice breaking through the murmuring, "Excuse me! EXCUSE ME! Do you mind? Let me pass." If that was Liz' voice I knew I couldn't be in the Lake of Fire. God had spared me. Maybe it was all a dream, I thought, as I tried to go back to sleep. But I was not to be so lucky.

 "Wake up!" Liz was demanding as she hurled a blanket over my sweat soaked body. "Liz," I said, "leave me alone. Please!"

 "No!" she insisted, "get up!" So even though my head was swimming I tried to open my reluctant eyes, only to shut them tight again.

 "Open your eyes, Dana!" she demanded again. "No, I can't," I feebly answered. "WHY can't you open your eyes?" she said as she was trying to shake my shoulders. "Because I seem to be hallucinating," I answered desperately.

 "You're hallucinating?" she said. "Just what are you hallucinating?" she demanded to know as she pried both my eye lids open with her thumbs and index fingers. There she was, above and before me, ever so neatly framed like a photograph by her own rigid fingertips. Her lips were pursed together in a look of determination one would dread to see in an adversary, much more a friend. What happened to my sleeping angel!? And as I focused, the worst was yet to unfold for me. "Aughhhhh!" Standing behind her were four firemen jammed into our small hallway all offering any and all assistance to my ever so capable roommate.

 Modestly wrapping me in my blankey, Liz pulled me to my feet, and with the assistance of I don't know whom, hauling me outside to the cool night air with my feet dragging behind. I heard an unfamiliar voice whisper, "help her, she has been overcome by the heat!" I groggily looked at my roommate, and she looked, well, may I say it? .....steamed.

 It was a mad house out there. The buildings were surrounded by three fire trucks, and every resident of the sixty plus apartment complex was standing outside in their pajamas with excited children running up and down the sidewalks as the firemen checked each unit to find out what set off the fire alarms. Our ever-so-nosey neighbor in the church was standing there in her bathrobe and curlers glaring at me as if she just knew that somehow, in some way, I was at the bottom of all this. She began to sniff with that large nose of hers that seems to dwarf her receding chin, and declared, "I SMELL ALCOHOL!"

 My head was still spinning when I heard a fireman shout from my bedroom, "Got it! I found the problem!" As it turned out, one of the seemingly unimportant defects of our apartment was that when the new thermostat was installed, instead of fishing the wire through the inside of the wall, someone just drilled a hole from the living room to my bedroom and let the wire follow the wall right past my door jam to the heater. So every time I opened and shut my bedroom door I was unknowingly wearing the insulation on the wire thinner and thinner every day. And wouldn't you know it? This would be the night that the wire breaks creating a short circuit, making it impossible for the heater to go off, setting off all the fire alarms throughout the complex.

 Now the rest of this is mostly fiction, but this is how I imagine the story got back to Mr. Roaster, er, I mean, Royer the way it did:

 Leaning against the guard rail I turned my head to my girl friend and said, "I just can't seem to get a break!" Someone in the crowd asked, "What did she break?" Then my ever so unfriendly church member answered, " She says, SHE broke it."

 And when I said, "Oh, dear God!" Someone said, "What did she say now?" to which my large nostrilled neighbor responded, "I distinctly heard her say, 'I DON'T FEAR God!"

Well, to make a long story short, I wasn't to see the inside of a church service until Mr. Royer left us for his next unlucky pastorate. And me? It would take me twenty-two more years to find out that God was probably trying to do me a favor that night....but as we all know, stubbornness is as the sin of witchcraft.



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