Saturday, September 04, 2004



When the rapture mud swept in, everything changed.

I could move--but only in extremely slow motion, as in a ghastly dream.

I could smell--but my nostrils were assaulted by the stench of Sunday School and the reek of the collection plate.

I could taste--but my mouth was filled with clayey hashy mud, and my taste buds, strangely, were assaulted with crumbled wafers in wine sauce.

I could feel--but mostly I felt like shit.

I could see--but what I saw made no sense. A giant Mississippi catfish--here, in the Mud of the Tribulation? With the Leg of the Limper in his maw? Could it be--the Catfish of Doom? And this turbaned mullah selling pornography and smoking a joint, grinning and dancing around on a surfboard that he rode on the waves of mud ... could it be ...

I could hear--but the only words I heard were from the porn-vending mullah's mouth: "The warp and the woof of creationist theology," he was saying as he danced around and around like a dervish on that surfboard, "weave the blindfold that blocks out the light, but it’s what the Qur’an calls the four birds that block your love."

The four birds? Could this be--Rumi? The Persian poet Jalal al-Din Mevlana? He was a dervish!

"Mullah Jalal!" I cry, choking on mud.

"Did I hear someone call my name?" the mullah says, squinting into the mud.

"Mullah!" I cry again.

"Say Bismillah," he instructs me, without quite spotting me, "and wring those four birds’ necks!"

"Bismillah?" I say.

"'In the name of God'," he explains, and starts ticking off Bismillahs on his four fingers: "Bismillah the crows of the cocks of the desire for pussy. Bismillah the caws of the crows of the desire to own stuff. Bismillah the screams of the peacocks of the desire to be famous. Bismillah the quacks of the ducks of the desire to get things done right now."

Right now? That didn't seem particularly pertinent to someone about to get raptured! But, I thought, hey, if it's Rumi ...

"You’ve got one of those ducks inside you right now," he goes on, "her bill never still, poking through the wet and the dry of you, like a burglar upstairs while the owners are in France, stuffing your stuff in his sack, quacking away, 'No time! No time! I’ll never get another chance like this one!'"

Well, he had a point there, in an extremely odd sort of way ...

"God’s fire in the marrow of your bones is death to ducks, death to cocks and peacocks, death to crows. Let God set your bones on fire and you’ll not worry about interruptions. Let God burn in your bones and you’ll binge on the balm of the birdless."

"Mullah Jalal!" I cried, thinking: what's this about birds, look out for the catfish!

But at that moment, as the Catfish of Doom reared up over Mullah Jalal to swallow him, he danced into position and gave the Catfish a little sissy kick, and Bismillahed that fucker over the Goalposts of Heaven. Both arms shot straight up over his turban.

"Field goal!" he cried. "Three points! Sufis win!"

And then I thought I was on fire ...

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