The Machine Gun Preacher…
THE MACHINE GUN PREACHER
It was nightfall by the time the raft eased into the crude harbour.
Other rafts and the bigger pontoon could be seen docked along the lake coast. A landing deck made from wood and boulders allowed a tired Jon Fii to step off the raft straight to the deck without getting his feet wet.
Pastor Kwabla offered to carry one of his bags for him. Jon thanked him and hefted the other two. As he walked away from the lake, he saw many of the people walking rapidly away from him and gesticulating wildly. He smiled in the darkness as it occurred to him that the news of a new pastor in Bosomfie would spread rapidly.
Kwabla hesitated when they got off the makeshift pier.
“Where would you stay?” he asked carefully. “The mission house was pulled down by an angry mob a couple of years ago. There are some guest houses but before they’ll give you a room you have to remove that clerical. When they find out you’re a pastor they’ll throw you out immediately.”
“I have the deeds of church with me, Pastor,” Jon Fii said. “It is still the property of the church, and that is where I’m going. I learned there are some rooms in there I can temporarily use as sleeping quarters.”
“Kakalika!” Kwabla screamed and almost dropped the bag he was holding. “Are you mad? That church had been taken over by the nastiest characters in town! They’re thieves and cutthroats! They’ll kill you this instant if you show your face there! They sell and smoke weed in there!”
“Well, I don’t want to go to a guest house and get thrown out, so please take me to the church. I’ll explain it to whoever’s in there. That’s the house of the Lord, you know, and it is not a den for thieves and weed smokers!”
“Don’t be like a madman!” Kwabla screeched. “I beg of you, son! They’ll kill you.”
“I’m curious, Pastor Kwabla,” Jon said as they resumed walking. “Where do you stay? That Sophia restricted you here. Why? And did they give you a place to stay?”
The man’s voice became sad immediately when he spoke.
“I was excommunicated for drinking and letting a fetish priestess control my destiny, my son, so stop calling me pastor. I’m not.”
“Of course, they would excommunicate you, wouldn’t they?” he said softly. “You’re an embarrassment to them because they could not heal you of this curse, and so they expected you to suffer the evil boil and die.”
“That’s it, my son,” Kwabla said. “As for Sophia, she wants to see me humiliated and punished because I dared to enter her shrine and almost succeeded in freeing her. It is her evil gods who want to use me as a lesson to others. So, I don’t have anywhere to sleep. I usually sleep on the field, or on the veranda of the school block.”
“Holy angels!” Jon Fii said with compassion. “And how do you eat?”
“Oh, Sophia’s parents bring me food, and give me money sometimes,” the old pastor said. “I guess they feel responsible for what their daughter did to me.”
“Her parents are here?”
“Yes, Jon,” Kwabla said. “An elder and Mrs. Manu, who used to be in the congregation. Sophia is their only child. She fell ill when she was six years old, and her parents were told she had to serve as the fetish priest or she would die. They were not Christians then, and so allowed the evil worshippers to keep their daughter. I helped them convert to Christianity, but by then it was too late to save the girl. Her father, Agya Manu, is quite wealthy. Owns fishing boats and buses. He owns some lands and houses in the district too.”
“I see,” Jon Fii said thoughtfully as they walked.
They walked through the darkness for a long time.
There were kerosene lamps mostly, and some were lamps made from tins with that billowed acrid smoke as their carriers moved along. They passed the occasional food sellers, and when they drew near a bar where the local alcohol was being sold, Kwabla paused and licked his lips.
“I need some akpeteshie,” he said suddenly. “Can you spare some coins for me to buy a bottle?”
Jon Fii scowled darkly and set the two bags down. He placed both of his hands on the old pastor’s shoulders and looked intently into the man’s eyes.
“You were my hero, Pastor Bonifius Kwabla Atoklu,” he said softly. “I do not have money to buy alcohol for you, but what I have is the calling of my Lord Jesus Christ to be His servant. What is bound here on earth, by an anointed man of God, is also bound in heaven. In the name of Jesus Christ, Pastor Bonifius Atoklu, receive your freedom from the mockery of alcohol! Amen.”
He turned away and picked up his bags again.
The old man stared at Jon Fii with huge eyes that held sudden wonder, and in the darkness a tear streaked down his face. He picked up the bag and jogged after Jon Fii.
“Kakalika!” he whispered softly. “I can’t believe this!”
Jon looked at him briefly.
“Can’t believe what?” he asked.
“I… I don’t… don’t have any craving for apio anymore!” the man said in an amazed voice.
“Praise be to God,” Jon said with a smile. “Only Him do we owe thanks!”
“Kakalika!” Kwabla said in awe. “Maybe you’re not as useless as I thought, Pastor Jon Fii.”
Jon Fii smiled secretly to himself, but he did not speak.
“Listen, Jon,” Kwabla said in a very worried voice as they approached the church. “I suggest we find a guest house tonight. One of them uses a generator in the nights, and there are ceiling fans in the room. Tomorrow, you can go and see the chief and maybe convince him to help you get these people out of the church.”
“No,” Jon Fii said with a smile. “I don’t have time for all that.”
“But you don’t know what is going on here!” Kwabla cried. “Kakalika! You’re too stubborn! Bobo the Killer uses the church as his house of operations now! He’s a giant, Jon! A huge giant! He’ll kill you if you dare step into that church!”
“Don’t worry, Mr. Atoklu,” Jon Fii said. “Let’s see if I can convince this Bobo to give me back my church!”
And then, finally, they came to the church.
It had once been beautiful, painted with white, deep ash, and green colours of the Eden International Church. It was now drab in the darkness. The building was surrounded by a wall, and the front gates were standing ajar.
It was flooded by bulbs, obviously being operated by the power plant the church had installed. Its forecourt was littered with debris now, and loud music blasted from the insides of the church itself.
Jon saw several men in various states of undress in the courtyard. Some were smoking marijuana. Some were playing card games, and others were playing droughts. He could see many of them taking swigs from bottles in their hands.
The noise was horrible and ear-splitting!
These, he knew, were murderous thugs.
Jon Fii, however, was beginning to bristle with rage at such wanton disrespect for the house of the Lord. He dropped one of his bags and kept hold of the other as he moved through the gates.
“Jon, Jon, oh, damn, kakalika!” Kwabla said with great fear as he tried to stop the pastor, but Jon Fii was already through the gates. Kwabla stopped outside the gates and began to tremble with sheer terror.
The thugs took notice of Jon Fii, and they stared at him with deep scowls as he moved forward. Slowly, they stopped what they were doing, and several of them stood up and glared at him as he mounted the steps slowly and pushed the main door open!
Jon Fii was horrified!
The church room was filled with marijuana smoke!
There was hideous music blasting through giant speakers, and many people were screaming and dancing madly in the centre of the church! Most of the women were in various states of nakedness as they screamed with abandon as the lustful men tried to grab their naked breasts!
And to his left, on one of the benches, Jon saw a huge, muscular giant sitting with his back against the wall. He had a huge head and a scar running jaggedly down his left cheek. His head was bald, and tied to his arms and ankles were several fetish amulets!
Sitting on him was a buxom woman who was wearing only a piece of skirt. She was bobbing up on this giant of a man in frenzy, screaming in sexual ecstasy as they had sex right in the house of the Lord!
Jon Fii had never been this furious and sickened!
He looked at them with great disgust and wrath.
“Oh, you sick, filthy, animals!” he screamed.
The giant turned his head and looked at Jon Fii, and the woman on him stopped riding him.
“Hey, you fucking worm!” the giant bellowed with fury and with a face ripped with murderous intents. “Get the fuck outta here!”
Jon Fii spoke through clenched teeth.
“You get the fucking hell outta my church!” he said furiously. “I’m the new pastor, and this is my church. You have ten minutes to gather what is yours and get the fuck outta of the house of the Lord, you vile fucks!”
The giant roared with rage and pushed the woman from off his laps. Jon looked at his massive penis with disgust as it plopped out, glittering with the wetness of the woman.
Jon Fii turned his head with disgust and vomited wildly on the steps behind him. The loud music had stopped now as the people gawked at what was happening.
Bobo was on his feet, screaming, and he pushed his penis into his shorts as he rushed at Jon Fii, who stepped back from the onslaught of the giant, lost his footing, and fell down the steps of the church.
The people roared with laughter.
Bobo was still yelling as he rushed down the steps.
Kwabla, still hovering outside the gates, saw what was happening, and his heart beat with fear.
“Jon, Jon! You stubborn fool! I warned you!”
Jon Fii saw the giant rushing at him whilst he was still on the ground, but he was not afraid.
These people did not know that Jon’s late father had made his son go through rigorous martial arts training, and that the young, innocent, pastor had also had some military training.
Filled with wrath and disgust, he spun on his back and lashed out furiously with his right foot, catching Bobo squarely in the groin! Bobo groaned as horrible pain shot through his balls, and he hesitated for a moment.
Jon back-flipped to his feet, and then as Bobo rushed at him with huge, swinging blows, he evaded one, parried another, and sank a hard right fist into the belly of the giant. Bobo grunted again and as he bent low, Jon swung a hard left against the point of his jaw!
Bobo crashed to the ground heavily, and there was stunned hush all around as the people stared at their leader who had just been floored by this tall, lean boy!
“Kakalika!” Kwabla whispered with awe.
But Bobo was not done.
He bellowed and suddenly pulled two wicked-looking knives from his back.
He pointed one at Jon Fii.
“Imma cut off your fucking head now!” he growled wickedly.
Jon Fii, breathing with fury, suddenly dropped to one knee and unzipped the bag he had been holding, and then, horror of horrors, he pulled out a long, horrible, machine gun!
“Eiiiii!” Kwabla screamed. “Kakalika!”
Jon fed a long cartridge belt into the slot of the gun and stood up, holding the trailing cartridge belt in his right hand with the gun balanced in his left.
“You have five minutes to clear out of here, you fucking bastards!” he bellowed wildly.
“Anus pastor! You think we’re kids?” Bobo screamed loudly. “You want to threaten us with a toy gun, anus pastor? You will kill thirty people? Go ahead, anus pastor! I’m going to take that toy gun and wrap it around your neck! I’ll spill your intestines out on the walls to let people know that nobody fucks with Bobo, you fucking anus pastor!”
And so Jon Fii shot him!
He could not help it!
He was too incensed with rage!
The machine gun bellowed and roared as Jon squeezed the trigger!
The bullets smashed into the chest of Bobo, lifted him off his feet, and smashed him hard on the ground!
Jon swung the gun around, and the machine gun chattered in a horrible cadence, the bullets smashing horribly into the bodies around him!
“Kakalika!” Kwabla screamed with horror. “Jon! Are you mad? What are you doing? Murdering people? Oh, God! He’s mad!”
There were screams of fear as the people fled from the church wildly and headed for the gate!
Jon Fii grabbed around the cartridge belt from the bag and draped it around his shoulder, and then he roared and charged into the church room.
Kwabla heard the horrible chattering of the machine gun inside the church, and he stepped aside as more people came streaming out of the church with screams of terror!
Already, many people had heard the frightening sounds of the machine gun, and they had come out of their houses nearby to see what was happening! Kwabla watched as the thugs streamed out of the church premises, and soon Jon Fii appeared in the doorway again, tall and mean like some fiend from hell.
Everybody had fled except those who had been caught by the bullets, but Kwabla could see that even though they were groaning with pain, they were beginning to get to their feet gingerly.
Jon Fii stood on the top step and ejected the spent cartridge belt. He took the one draped on his shoulder, fed it into the gun, and shot the bolt. And then he aimed the gun at the stunned Bobo.
“The first one was rubber pellets!” he screamed loudly as his mean eyes bored with relentless fury at Bobo. “That was just a warning, aimed to hurt your body with bruises but not kill. This here, are real bullets. My gun is legally registered! You’re trespassers on legal property of the church, and you’re armed and dangerous! If I kill you in the line of defending myself, with a registered gun, I’ll be a free man! Don’t dare me, Bobo!”
And then he sprayed real bullets on the ground around Bobo’s feet!
The giant’s face was filled with horror and great fear, and then he turned and took to his heels!
The other people who had been felled by the rubber bullets fled after him.
Jon Fii lowered the machine gun and glared around him with the cold eyes of a devil.
All around him, people were gathering, and they speaking with stunned murmurs.
“Who’s that man?”
“He’s the new pastor,” Kwabla said, his voice filled with emotion, passion, and admiration. “Yes, he’s the new pastor!”
He picked up the two bags and moved on trembling legs into the church courtyard and then stopped looking up at the furious face of Jon Fii.
“Are you crazy?” he asked, numb with shock. “Are you mad, Jon? A pastor with a machine gun? Kakalika! You must be out of your mind!”
Jon Fii looked at the older man grimly.
“And He declared to them, it is written that the house of the Lord will be called a house of prayer, but you are making it a den of robbers!”
“Oh, shush, shut up already, Jon!” Kwabla said as he shook his head. “Jesus turned out the robbers from the church by overturning their tables and the cages of the doves! At best, he might have used a whip or a lash! You’re holding a machine gun, kakalika, a machine gun! Are you insane?”
Jon Fii was not moved.
“I envisaged this, Pastor Kwabla, and so I came prepared for something like this. But, you must bear in mind that at the time of my Lord, there were no machine guns,” Jon said softly.
The older man gawked at them.
“Stop blaspheming!” Kwabla roared. “Kakalika, are you trying to say if there had been a machine gun Jesus would have used it?”
Jon Fii shrugged.
“How would I know?” he asked softly. “How the hell would I know, old man? You can ask some fucking questions, you know.”
And, for the very first time in many years, Pastor Bonifius Kwabla Atoklu laughed with genuine mirth.
He mounted the steps slowly.
“You’ve declared a fight, youngster,” he said as he stopped laughing. “Sophia will hear of this, and she is going to give you war, my son.”
“I don’t expect anything less,” Jon Fii said. “Come on in. Are you hungry?”
“Yes, a bit,” Kwabla said sheepishly. “Been drinking too much lately.”
“Good,” Jon said. “Let’s find something to eat, water to bath, and a place to lay our heads. Tomorrow, we face the war.”
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