The Machine Gun Preacher
THE MACHINE GUN PREACHER
Jon Fii drove for three more hours before arriving at Konkoncherede, the town before Obosomfie, and there he found himself faced with a dilemma.
A great lake separated Konkoncherede and Obosomfie, and there was no way he was going to get across it.
According to the locals, there used to be a road to Obosomfie, but the bridge across a ravine between the two towns had collapsed, and so cars no longer went to Obosomfie.
The huge ferry that could have taken his car across the lake had also broken down, and there was no way his car could get across until the ferry was repaired.
There were rafts and pontoons that ferried passengers and goods across the lake, and the last two rafts were now loading.
It was late afternoon, and darkness would soon catch up on him.
As he leaned against the car trying to reach a decision, he saw a potbellied little man wearing only huge baggy shorts coming towards him. The man was bald, and he was not wearing any footwear. He was holding a green Schnapps bottle in his right hand, and he took a swig from it as he walked drunkenly towards Jon.
When he was near enough, Jon Fii had the unpleasant feeling that the man was familiar, but he could not place where he knew him. Maybe it was just coincidental.
The man, quite drunk, wiped his mouth with the back of his left hand and squinted at Jon Fii.
“You’re confused,” he said with surprisingly good English diction. “Truth be known, you’re flabbergasted and flummoxed!”
“Indeed, I am,” Jon Fii said with a smile. “I need to get across the lake to Bosomfie. And evidently, I can’t take my car along.”
The man looked at the sleek Mercedes Benz S-Class and nodded appreciatively.
“That, indeed, is a beautiful car, aye,” he said and took another swig from his bottle, and then proffered it. “Care for some apio?”
Jon chuckled and shook his head.
“Holy angels! Thank you, but I don’t take alcohol,” he said.
“Are you a pastor, perchance?”
“I am,” Jon Fii said.
“And you’re going to Bosomfie, or Obosomfie, as it is actually called? Are you a TEIC pastor?”
“The Eden International Church, yes, I am,” Jon replied, intrigued. “How did you know?”
“Ah, only that crazy church keeps on sending pastors into the hell that Bosomfie represents!” the man said bitterly. “But, don’t sweat. I’ll find the police sergeant here. He would allow you to park your car in the police yard and he would take good care of it for you. Then you can go to Bosomfie. Should I go and bring him?”
“No, sir, let’s drive there together,” Jon Fii said. “It would save us time.”
The man, he noticed, was quite old, nudging close to his late sixties, and it broke Jon’s heart to see a man like this so dedicated to alcohol.
“Anyway, I’m Pastor Jon Fii,” he said casually. “Are you a residence here?”
“No, I stay at Obosomfie, or Bosomfie, whatever, names are interchangeable now anyway,” the man said, and there was a sudden note of sadness in his voice.
“And your name?” Jon asked.
“You can call me Kwabla,” the elderly man said.
When he sat in the car, he reeked quite strongly of akpeteshie, the local alcoholic drink, but Fii simply rolled the windows down to let in fresh air, and then they drove to the police station.
As it turned out, the Sergeant Ato Assifuah was quite friendly, and agreed to take the car under his care. Jon had to convince the man to take a little money, and then the sergeant drove them to the lakeside where the last raft was loading now.
Jon Fii, holding three bags, boarded the raft with Mr. Kwabla.
The raft was made from several measured logs of timber lashed together expertly and the middle caulked with a local material to keep the water from coming in.
The operators expertly distributed the weight of passengers and goods to keep the raft in balance. It had no sides, and was fitted with an outboard motor.
It was not anything Jon had ever seen before, let alone ride on, and he felt very uncomfortable standing so close to the edge where he had been instructed to.
He was wearing his clerical, and he saw the people giving him very dark looks as they stared at him. Jon smiled at them as best as he could, but they met him with very dark scowls. The children were quite friendly, but their parents prevented them from coming near Jon.
“Holy angels, quite an unfriendly lot,” Jon Fii said to Kwabla.
“Because they’re convinced that any person that speaks to a pastor will die suddenly and in great pain. Pastors are considered the worst curses in Bosomfie,” the old man said as he tilted the bottle and drank the last bit of alcohol in the bottle, and then he stared morosely at it.
“Oh, but why?” Jon asked with shock.
Kwabla looked at him with sad eyes.
“Why did you come?” he asked coldly. “Don’t you know that Obosomfie means the house of the gods? This is the hub of the mightiest principalities, demons, and evil spirits! People come from across the globe to receive evil powers here! False pastors come here for powers! People who want evil money, or want to commit murder, come to Bosomfie. My dear young man, you’re going into hell on earth. And I ask you again, why did you come?”
Jon Fii took a long, shuddering breath.
“I had no choice, Mr. Kwabla,” he said softly. “God sent me here, and here I am.”
“Vanity!” the old man said with heated passion and for a moment it looked as if he wanted to smack Jon in the face with his bottle. “A vexatious spirit dwelleth within you, I daresay! You’re consumed by madness, yes, the madness of a young pastor who thinks he’s special, filled with anointing and power, able to tread where angels fear to look! My young friend, that place on the other side of this lake is not meant for pastors! Every goddamn pastor that went there suffered calamity! Wait, I’ll tell you a story!”
Jon smiled briefly.
“I don’t lay claim to powers, Mr. Kwabla,” he said softly. “I don’t have the power to combat evil, or to triumph over them. Indeed, I daresay my sojourn in that town over there is going to be filled with strife and a dose of something I’ve never encountered in my life. But I have only one weapon: the name of Jesus. You see, God sent me to go there, and I know that once it is by the divine wish of God, I’ll have the grace that goes with it, and the name above all names that will lay waste to any claim of the surreal by any entity in that district.”
“Fool!” Kwabla screamed violently into Jon’s face, and the young pastor was horrified to see tears brimming in the man’s eyes. “There was once a powerful pastor from TEIC, who demanded to be sent to the Bosomfie District to deliver them! This pastor had so much raw power from God! He could heal the sick, make the blind see, make the lame walk… even make hunchbacks normal again! Oh yes, he had so much divine power! And so he was posted to Bosomfie! Do you know what happened to him in the first six months he was there?”
Jon Fii shook his head.
“You tell me, Mr. Kwabla,” he said calmly.
“Yes, yes, I’ll tell you, fool!” he said fiercely, blowing fumes of alcohol into Jon Fii’s face. “He confronted a ten-year-old fetish priestess in that town. A young girl the damn gods were using to wreak havoc. This fool of a pastor wanted to set her free. Yes, it was a fierce battle when he went to the house of the Deity where this girl was. This pastor had three daughters and a son he loved above all else! After he came out of the Deity House, his son was kidnapped inside that vile district for seven days, and when the son finally showed up, he was in a basket, dismembered! His arms, legs, head, torso, were in pieces inside that damn basket!”
“Oh, my God!” Jon Fii whispered with horror. “Holy angels, yes, I remember that horrible story. Happened about ten years ago, right? I was around fifteen years old then!”
“Ten years ago, yes, you’re right!” the old man cried bitterly, and now his tears were falling unheeded down his cheeks. “That pastor buried his only son in pieces! The boy rested in pieces! But that was not all, no! He was transferred from Bosomfie after his ordeal, and when he went back to Accra, he developed a horrible boil on the crown of his head, the one the locals call pompo-kontua! It festered even when he was in the hospital! And he was dying! But, that fetish priestess, that little horrible girl of the gods called Sophia, she appeared to the pastor in a dream, and told him he would die if he did not return to Bosomfie!”
“My God!” Jon Fii whispered.
“Yes, my son, yes,” the old man continued. “So, the pastor left the hospital with a boil that was rotting in his head, and came back, and Sophia told him his punishment would be to remain in Bosomfie forever for daring to oppose her. As long as he stayed in Bosomfie, he would be alright. If he left Bosomfie for more than a week, the pompo-kontua would return and kill him. So, he stayed in Bosomfie, and the boil healed miraculously. Several times he went back to see his wife and daughters, and the boil resurfaced, but when he came back to Bosmofie, the boil healed! So, his wife and daughters begged this once-powerful man of God to stay here and save his life… and he is now a wretched, scared, drunk of a man!”
“Oh, my God!” Jon said with horror. “Yes, I remember you now! You’re Pastor Boniface Kwabla Atoklu! Yes, the powerful pastor we all revered! Oh, my God! But why, Pastor? So, for ten years, you’ve been living like this?”
“Not Boniface, please. My name is Bonifius, yes, Bonifius. Bonifius Kwabla Atoklu, once a powerful man of God, now a drunkard in Bosomfie because he’s scared of pompo-kontua!” the old pastor said and sat down slowly on the raft as tears racked his body.
“But I don’t understand!” Jon Fii exploded with compassion and fury. “Why allow yourself to be subject to the powers of darkness? The apostles and evangelists and prophets should have put their hands on you and prayed, because God puts power into His anointed! They should have prayed to break this yoke of the devil on you, pastor! Your simple faith should have set you free from this evil!”
The old pastor who was quite drunk looked at Jon Fii and burst into laughter.
It was a macabre sight indeed!
He was still weeping, but he was laughing too, and on his face was a mixture of pity and fury.
“Faith indeed!” he said softly. “She was only ten years old when I confronted her, that fetish priestess Sophia. She’s twenty years now, and waiting for you. Faith indeed! Go, you just go there! You’ll see what will happen to you!”
He pointed at the groin area of Pastor Jon Fii.
“Nowadays her favourite attack is the penis of men she detests!” Pastor Kwabla said, still laughing. “She makes the penis rot and worms and pus and goo spill out of it. Kote-proyi, they call it, the rotten penis! Oh, you fool, Jon Fii! It will be better for you to jump into the lake and swim back the way you came, my son, and that is the best advice I can give you. Continue to Obosomfie, and you’ll know that real power lives!”
Jon Fii stared at the cold, furious, and evil faces around him, and he looked at the shattered retired pastor sitting morosely at his feet. He looked across the great lake towards the dark, cold land in the distance, and he felt the pull of evil in the coldness of the wind across the lake.
Evil lurked there, yes.
And it was breathing with malevolent wickedness, filled with the rottenness of evil, reaching out to grab, tear, and pillage.
And then Pastor Jon Fii did a most unusual thing.
He smiled broadly, and Pastor Kwabla stopped weeping and gawked at him.
“Yei!” he whispered. “What’s wrong with you, my son? Have you gone mad already?”
“No,” Jon Fii whispered, still smiling. “This is going to be fun.”
“Ayoo!” old Pastor Kwabla said and wiped tears from his eyes. “You don’t know! Hmm, you don’t know! Yes, you don’t know, but you think you know, yet you will know, and when you know, you will know that you don’t know! Hmm, kakalika!”
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