You never know who will answer that Craigslist ad. We got a lot of weirdos but Kristin was a gem. Jenni liked her so much this was her sole pick for the Pushcart Prize 🙂
The Death of the Dinosaurs
“We’re taking the dinosaurs back!” proclaimed the bumper stickers, and the window decals, and the buttons, and naturally the t-shirts—so many t-shirts, so many colors, so many styles (sport-t and casual-t, which due to a memo from management was about to be renamed, and feminine-t, which was simply abbreviated as…you guessed it), and so many sizes, but no insulting L or XL or XXL, and even no S or M (this had also merited a memo from management), but having been newly christened, as it were, in these ascending motifs: Innocent (baby sizes), Quester, Apostle, Samaritan, Penitent, and most comfortingly for those who were struggling to cut their food portions in half, Solomon.
Each of these items, the bumper stickers, decals, buttons, and shirts, also featured a laughing dinosaur flanked by Biblical characters in clothing drawn from a screencapture on the news that could pass for Middle Eastern dress, and all were also for sale (as were the action figures complete with sandal and Moses staff accessories) behind the recently-installed glass of the gift shop. Small dinosaur action figures were for sale there, too—they had names such as Leviathan and Enmity—as well as books that “proclaim that absolutely inerrancy and scientific accuracy of the Bible.” There were Jesus chemistry sets, complete with a “spontaneous generation vial,” into which one merely poured water in order to watch the miracle of God creating tiny sea horses out of nothing, and which looked to the cynical eye much like the “Sea Monkey” kit ads that had smiled from many a comic book of the 1970s. There was, however, no complementary vial to mimic the special cocktail shaker Christ used at the wedding at Cana. There were the ubiquitous copies of that homeschool textbook favorite, Of Pandas and People, with its updated supplemental text, Panda Thumbs and Personal Theories, plus videos that debunked evolution and the Big Bang, guides for parents on how to raise morally upright, evangelical teens (“Even staring into the eyes for too long of a member of the opposite sex—what we call ‘making eye-babies’—can be a sin”), and refrigerator magnets with catchy phrases (such as “Pray, or prey?” “God is my co-signer,” and “If it’s SUNDAY, you must be GOD!”).
The gift shop was not yet open for business, and neither was the museum. The museum’s lobby, its halls, and its exhibits all reposed during the day in a gray twilight which was slanted through with milky shafts from the windows, but at night the place fairly simmered in a greenish security light. Vague, still semi-formed four-footed figures pantomimed for a future audience, as if rehearsing for the museum’s upcoming opening day, a silent and tragic spectacle: their formation by God out of dust, every one of them a separate and special creation; the presentation of them to Adam and his naming of them; their amiable, peaceful, carefree, and vegetarian coexistence with the couple, the upright, standing male and female human figures who, at the conclusion of this tableau, raised their arms above their heads as if to clutch at the hands of the unseen God as He drove them out of this garden and into the nightmare of necessity, where their former four-clawed friends now stalked and preyed upon them in a fallen nature red in tooth and claw.
Apparently, the creators of this full-scale model of Eden were disobedient to the order of the first of the two Genesis stories, for most of the animals in this series of boxed vignettes had been only partly completed, each needing a final coat of paint or a touch-up with whiskers, but the couple, this man and this woman, Adam and Eve, were already finished—and this was only Tuesday.
The bland, low-slung cinderblock building had as yet no sign to announce itself. But on its website, the homepage banner jauntily announced, “Welcome to the Genesis Museum! The Genesis Museum is an outreach of Questions of Creation, a non-profit ministry located in Gallileville, eastern Kentucky, USA. We offer a walk through man’s history from his Creation, through his Sin and Fall, to his Redemption by the Death and Resurrection of our Lord Jesus Christ. This 25,000 square foot facility will strike the first blow against the dogmatic, evolution-driven, atheistic natural history museums that are turning countless minds against the authority of the Scriptures. We proclaim to the world that the Bible is inerrant, the supreme authority in all matters of faith and practice, the basis of all morality, and the origin of all true Science.”
The large entry was flanked by cuddly-looking dinosaurs, huge and lumbering, definitely of the vegetarian kind, not unlike Barney. Just beyond the entry, inside the lobby, a smaller, lither dinosaur stood upright on its hind legs, dangling its front limbs—and it wore a saddle. One expected there to be a coin machine attached to this cute, harmless-looking Barney twin, as there had been coin machines beside the galloping horses outside of the Jubilee Foods of old Gallileville before all the Wal-Marts rose up like giants among the sons of men. However, it would seem that Christ had already descended to this particular temple to shake hands with the power-suited director of the Genesis Museum, Dr. Kenneth Loin, for there was a painting of them both—The Lord in his robe, and Ken Loin in a suit and tie—shaking hands, just as He was also doing in the painting on the main wall of the Gilead Bank just down the road a mile, where “Biblical-based investment counseling” was advertised, along with interest rate prayers and credit-healing sessions, in traveling red letters on the jumbletron at the edge of the parking lot.
There was Jesus in that painting just inside the glass doors—there was the Lamb of God Himself in his modest robe and beard, shaking hands with the man in the three-piece suit, the bank’s head moneychanger, William Tremplaux, who was also the best friend and financier of Kenneth Loin and the Genesis Museum. “Follow me,” said the quote on the scrolled brass plaque beneath the painting, “and I will make you golfers of men.” William Tremplaux, like Kenneth Loin, loved golf, and together they had formed the Genesis Golfers Outreach Platoon which sought to “Go ‘Fore!’ into the world to save souls.”
* * *
The Genesis Museum’s grand opening was not scheduled for another year, but a publicity release offering a special tour of the premises, by invitation only, did reach the desk of the metro section of the Gallileville Spectator. It landed on the desk along with the yearly press release from the DNR, which urged Kentuckians to obey the law this year and remember not to burn wood in their yards, or to burn off the brush on their property, or even to burn trash in barrels, for fear of starting a grass fire. “People think that burning off their property will get rid of the snakes. They actually believe this,” a DNR official was quoted as saying. “Rainfall levels were especially down this year. The conditions that we are seeing now are just the sort of tinderbox that we feared to encounter earlier in the summer. We urge all citizens to remember that starting private fires are not only dangerous—they are illegal.” The metro section of the Spectator led with the headline, “State Officials Seek to Prevent Fall Forest Fires,” but the second headline in the smaller font was accompanied by a photo, provided with the press release, of the burdened dinosaur in the entryway of the Genesis Museum.
The metro section would later devote its entire front page to the publicity tour of the Genesis Museum, much of it cut-and-pasted from the press release sent out afterward by the museum itself to head off any nasty rumors that the tour had in fact not gone well.
One of the visitors on this pilgrimage, a reporter writing for a major men’s magazine—who took the tour along with other reporters, local homeschool advocates, Intelligent Design theorists, Young Earth scientists, HIV-to-AIDS deniers, global warming deniers, and assorted veterinarians who scouted, freelance, for the chupacabra on month-long sabbaticals—later noted dryly in his unauthorized article about the tour that the dinosaur in the lobby was, in truth, wearing an English saddle, a particular style of saddle which lacked a horn, indicating that the huge reptile was not really meant to be ridden, or even to be yoked, but was rather a show dinosaur of sorts, perhaps trotted out for stakes races at the local Mesopotamian equestrian ring. This writer’s sarcastic review of the museum’s exhibits, the sole review that was not lifted from the Genesis Museum’s genial press release, prompted several Christian bloggers to take his article seriously, and they had a lot of fun exchanging their speculations of how the ancient Israelites might have utilized the various species of dinosaurs for different purposes, such as for shows. These young bloggers, pious and pierced and goth like so many teens, traded various theories on where and when man first domesticated the thunder-lizards—when Adam first named them, what he had named them (“I think he would have called him Joyosaurus—I know I would have,”), whether he and Eve had ridden them out of the Garden after the Fall, or if Cain had made his quick getaway on one and if so, had the beast erased its own huge footprints with its 1950s-textbook-era kangaroo tail? This online discussion attracted so much local attention that a noted evolutionary biologist from the University of Kentucky, when asked in a television interview on the local news about the date of Adam’s domestication of the dinosaur on a local news show, answered in disgust that the dinosaurs were first domesticated in present-day Gallileville, Kentucky—and had also become truly extinct on that same day, as had common sense.
The other visitors on the tour, the parents and the members of the clergy who been invited as “seed members” for their having donated money (there were various levels of monetary contribution, from “mustard seed” on up to “all I have”) noted that the differences between various dinosaurs roughly paralleled the differences between the makes of cars. One “noted biblio-paleontologist,” a dentist by day, wrote an article after the tour stating that the variety of dinosaurs exploited by Biblical man broke down according to ethnic and social class: Pontius Pilate, for example, used the—but, guess!—Tyrannosaurus Rex on which to yacht himself, with a muzzle on its humongous snout of course, easily removed to terrorize the Israelites like a Doberman on a leash, whereas Abraham rode on the gentle Brontosaurus, “the first SUV,” as the author put it, “to accommodate his growing family.” Apparently, when Abraham, that great patriarch, threw his mistress, a pregnant and weeping Hagar, out of his house, Hagar and Abraham’s unborn son (who would later father the whole race of Arab peoples and thus become the patriarch of petroleum, blessing us all with a liquefied dinosaur in every gas tank) searched for water in the wilderness with the help of another dinosaur, Diplodocus, a sort of lanky, living divining rod.
A former President was asked by a reporter quite off the cuff one day as to what kind of dinosaur he would prefer to ride on, if he could, if it were possible, and if he had the choice. Genial as always, the man replied, “I am aware of the good work done by the Genesis Museum. Being a President that has to fly a lot, you know, in the air, above the ground, I would need one of them trapezoids, you know, or teriyakis, whatever they’re called—no, not—not a chicken, that was a bad slip! [laughter] but the kind of bird, of dinosaur, you know, that flies. I mean—yes.”
The fact that the former President had tried to say that he would use a Pterodactyl in place of Air Force One led the news all that day. A prominent cable news comedian gave it a full fifteen minutes. Some left-wing bloggers snickered about the threat of avian flu from the former President’s new mode of airborne transportation. Some bloggers—perhaps right-wing, perhaps serious, or perhaps parodists—became seriously worried, or pretended to be, about the issue, asking if avian flu could leap, or jump, or hop from bird to lizard —oddly enough, no one thought to use the verb “fly” in their effort to avoid the word e-v-o-l-v-e. What about all of those snakes and scorpions that could threaten our troops in Afghanistan? Could our troops catch reptilian flu from desert lizards? The online discussion went on fast and feckless for quite some time before a noted biologist sent in a caustic reminder to everyone that the poor Pterodactyl was extinct! Avian flu could very well be a danger to us all, and it could be spread around the world on cargo planes, rather than migrating birds, or indeed it could be spread by migrating birds, but it had not yet mutated into a form spread airborne from human to human, but being that there were no more Pterodactyls, there was absolutely no danger from Air Force None.
* * *
About a week after the official press release came out from the Genesis Museum, some actual tour footage, shot by a hidden body camera that had been smuggled in by one of the reporters from the mainstream press, was posted on YouTube. It revealed that the press visit to the Genesis Museum had been a near disaster for the organizers. The reporters had entered the museum with all good intentions of being polite, smiling at the emasculated dinos in the lobby and at the plaster “fossil reproductions” (“No actual dinosaurs were harmed in the making of Jurassic Snark,” one of them joked in a low voice)—but they were soon overtaken by incredulity, particularly when escorted into the exhibits area and shown the newly-completed vignette of Adam and Eve enjoying their innocence in the Garden of Eden.
“Why are they white?” asked one of the reporters, putting up his hand and interrupting the guided tour given by the museum’s director, Dr. Kenneth Loin. “Why did you make Adam and Eve white?”
“What?” asked the director blankly.
Fingers from the group of reporters pointed at Eve, who stood smiling, vapidly enjoying the stream that ran through the garden, its conspiratorial depth covering her up to her waist, her hair trailing its mermaid-ingénue tresses conveniently, and presumably, across her breasts, which, as one reporter discovered when he hung back from the group and lifted her rayon hair with a fake cattail pulled from the Astroturf bank, she proved not to have. “She looks like she’s in Behind the Green Door, not in Mesopotamia,” sneered another of the reporters.
“Wrong hair,” retorted another reporter.
“But a snake.”
“More like The Devil in Miss Jones,” cracked another reporter.
“Well, we don’t know what Adam and Eve looked like,” Loin retorted, in a tone of voice that implied that he enjoyed a quiet evening writing sermons against baristas in bikinis.
“Wouldn’t it have been more accurate to portray them as African?”
“We represent them as ordinary people, so that our audience can identify with them. The point is not to show any bias. We are asking you to use your imagination.”
There was a flurry of writing at this—the reporters had been forbidden to bring their cameras, or their phones, or their “biases,” with them. “White people are ‘ordinary’ people?” someone else demanded. “Portraying Adam and Eve as white is not showing any bias?”
“Did she have a double mastectomy, too?” asked the guy on the bank, the looky-loo. All of the reporters turned to him, and back to Eve, in renewed interest. The reporter hurriedly stuck the purloined cattail behind his leg.
Director Loin chose to ignore the last remark. “We are choosing not to represent Our Parents as being of any race.”
“But you did!” insisted the only female reporter, who had been told to wear a skirt that reached below the knees. She perched awkwardly on the Astroturf in her high heels.
“Look at Adam, while you’re at it,” sniggered another, as he swung his finger from Eve in her creek to Adam, bearded Adam, as he reposed tepidly on the stream bank on his back, one arm outstretched, the other behind his head, and with one knee strategically bent to cover his privates. “Take a look at him from this side. Adam has no penis!” Head craned to look, while the visiting parents hurriedly clamped their hands over their children’s ears. There a chorus of fascinated gasps from the reporters, and some snarls from the parents about modesty, and a few outright guffaws. Someone snapped a photo, and promptly had his camera taken away by a guard dressed in a Security Angel costume. The reporter was hurriedly escorted past the Tree of Knowledge and out the exit.
The reporter on the bank above Eve shoved the cattail into the Astroturf behind his leg in order to free his hand, but the cattail fell forward and propped itself against his left buttock. “God, Dr. Loin, even my daughter’s Barbie Dolls have tits!” he said in disbelief. “Maybe they don’t have nipples, but still!”
The reporters, having tried valiantly to hold back their laughter while Dr. Loin was speaking, now collapsed into hilarity right in the answering silence that had descended upon the group like a godly finger from the clouds.
“Hey, Ken! Why doesn’t the Ken-doll have a wee-wee!” The reporters were practically falling on each other in mirth. The angry murmur from the assembled parents swelled into a shout of impatience, and Dr. Loin turned beet red. The kids, with their heads held like steering wheels between the hands of their parents, just stared, some with their thumbs in their mouths, other slack-jawed, like the “DNA proves you’re the father” guests on daytime talk shows that some of them were sure to grow into.
“He is Adam,” retorted Ken Loin. “He is not a doll, but a sacred symbol of the First Man. You are mocking our First Parents!”
“But didn’t Adam have a dick in the Garden, Dr. Loin?” asked the female reporter. “That is hardly ‘Paradise’ to me!”
“He used the snake,” guffawed someone else. There was more tittering among the reporters.
“No, look—he’s petting the little dinosaur next to him. Knowledge of Good and Evil?” The owner of this voice pointed out how Adam’s hand reached toward the tiny dinosaur beside him, and there even were more sniggers. “It’s Jungle Fever!” bellowed another reporter.
At this point, the director angrily motioned to the guards, all in their angel suits, complete with wings, complete with bobbing halos anchored to the headbands on their heads, and the guards terminated the press tour. All of the reporters were turned out of the Garden and deposited without ceremony in the parking lot, thus missing out on the fruit cocktail and coffee that was served in the neighboring commissary, which featured an Assyrian-inspired deli counter prepped with Red Seafood Salad, Manna Sandwiches, and Bethlehem Bread Pudding. It was perhaps a week later that a friendlier reporter managed another visit and noted that Adam and Eve had been painted, it seemed, a safe and inoffensive caramel.
* * *
After a full week of worldwide snickering at the former President’s remarks about the Genesis Museum, during which the former President’s library tried desperately to counter the publicity, the President’s latest Press Secretary appeared before the press corps like a man punching a malfunctioning Coke machine one last time on his second-to-last dollar. This newest hired hand, haggard but unbowed, held his chin up before the assembled reporters, most of whom had already appeared in those framed squares on cable news television shows to speculate that this latest incarnation was close to resigning as well. The room was hushed as the publicist issued a statement saying that, since it was the President’s position that “the jury was still out on evolution,” the question as to what kind of dinosaur a sitting President should ride, and indeed the larger controversy of whether or not a public figure endorsed the kind of science pursued by the Genesis Museum, had been “posed in the context of an ongoing investigation,” and therefore, the former President’s library had, or should have had, but at any rate had now, “no official comment on the matter.” The President himself had not helped things by trying to explain again his position by invoking the “Why are there still monkeys?’ question. The President’s beleaguered Press Secretary hurriedly improvised that most of our ancestors had fled Europe to escape the “secularist leadership” of the divine right of kings for the freedom that everyone enjoys in this country to worship God in his or her own way. He was then asked by one of the reporters that, if most religious Americans came from secular Europe, why was there still a secular Europe? Laughter erupted in the press room, whereupon the publicist angrily terminated the press conference.
* * *
This video at YouTube of the visit to the Genesis Museum provoked a furious response on talk radio. The group of visiting reporters was referred to by Dr. Raymond Gaumier, the intelligent design theorist from the Institute of Discovery in Seattle, as “plants”—that is, as atheistic agents posing as mainstream reporters, brought in by some nefarious secular lobby, probably by the famous biologist and atheist Professor James Marden of Oxford University, to spy on Dr. Ken Loin and to ridicule his project. The reporters were referred to by many conservative radio personalities and by other sympathizers with the well-funded Institute of Discovery as evolutionist “snakes in the grass” without an intentional pun. The “snakes” metaphor was used so many times by so many creationists that Professor Marden himself finally weighed in—a rare event—and pointed out with sarcastic glee that everyone seemed to have forgotten that even the Bible portrayed the serpent as actually once dominating the treetops, not unlike our own distant ancestors! Fundamentalists howled at such desecration of biblical inerrancy. Moderate Republicans squeaked that “this destructive controversy” was detracting from their “centrist” position that American schools should “teach the controversy.” Liberal theologians sidestepped any controversy altogether by refusing to defend the actions of the reporters, the statements of Professor Marden, or the biological fact of evolution itself, to the continued frustration of the scientific community.
But one intrepid blogger posted his own streaming video, in reply to the video of the Genesis Museum visit, in which he parodied the teen-age Luke Skywalker “light saber performance” video which had likewise enjoyed its own long trajectory on the Net. In this version, the anonymous blogger, masked and dressed in Skywalker boots and nothing else, whirled and flailed like a dervish in his own penciled Eden that was taped to the walls of his bedroom, which had been pimped with small plastic dinosaur models set up on the floor, table, chairs, and bookshelves—Tyrannosaurs and Brontosauruses and Triceratopses and Diplodocii, all of which he felled with the deft strokes and jabs of his own unsheathed, erect, and natural, er, light-saber. The video enjoyed fifteen thousand hits in one hour before being taken down as porn.
This joke garnered the appreciation of a certain niche of online mammals located all around the American continent and the world, who laughed at the video of Luke’s leg show, and laughed at the video of Ken’s dolls, and created online “$1000 for the Most Intelligently Designed Post-Mastectomy Reconstructive Surgery for Eve” contests, and put up parody Facebook pages such as the one devoted to the group “Tremplaux’s Gofers and Out of Touch Buffoons” with the motto, “Go Whore into the World!” and to advertise Panda Thumbs in People’s Bums, a satirical electronic book written by several of Professor Marden’s colleagues about the leaders of the Intelligent Design movement. The mainstream media in the U.S. largely ignored this ribald hilarity as these online creatures laughed unapologetically at the increasingly strident claims of the creationists, and applauded, via their many comments, the statements of Professor James Marden. They posted unapologetic blogs championing the teaching of evolution in public schools in the United States, traded snide comments online about Dr. Raymond Gaumier and Dr. Ken Loin, photoshopped the painting of Ken Loin shaking the hand of Jesus so that it looked like Jesus kissed the Godfather’s ring, and kept on laughing, while around them the right-wing media giants stomped, growled, bared their teeth, and geared up for another season of the War on Christmas.
As it was, it was almost Halloween. This year, a small but vocal Wiccan group in Dayton, Ohio launched its own pre-emptive “Stop the War on Halloween” salvo by quoting, and parodying (though it was hard to tell one from the other), various fundamentalist denunciations of Samhain. Smaller battles were launched by other Neo-Pagans and Druids, such as the declared “War on Apollo,” “War on the Goddess,” and “Battle for the Mystic Barrier,” but not being very catchy they did not get snapped up by the major news media, and neither did the larger story about a supposed boycott of the national knock-n-snack by fundamentalist Christians. It was just too difficult to pick on Halloween, being that it still emptied the shelves at Wal-Mart every year, and was big with the local churches besides. However, one group of charismatic Catholics, who shouted in tongues and brandished brochures clutched in their fists, did manage to get on “Good Morning America” by disrupting a group of dumbfounded parents in Agape, Ohio, who had taken their children Trunk-or-Treating in the local megachurch parking lot. Trunk-or-Treating was a sort of substitute Halloween celebration, in which the trunks of cars were decorated as tiger mouths or treasure chests, into which the costumed children reached for treats.
“Stop this satanic worship! The wildfires are proof that God is not mocked!” the Catholic charismatics cried, on cue and on camera, referring of course to the drought-fed grassfires that had started a week ago in Texas, Oklahoma, Missouri, and Kansas. God, unlike His performance in Japan during World War II, was apparently firing a bunch of practice shots before aiming square at those snakes in the grasses of Kentucky, for then, inexplicably, He had paused—for a thick mist had enveloped the eastern state of Kentucky, temporarily, weirdly, and ironically, just in time for Halloween. Therefore, the Catholic charismatics formed their human chain between the children and the trunks in a Roger Corman-like mist that wilted the decorations and sogged the kid’s masks, and made the on-location local news reporter look like she was delivering her spot at an Angel concert.
Soon enough, a few days after Halloween, the wildfires in Kentucky were burning off the fog. The DNR blamed the first grassfire on a Tarshish County man, a freelance evangelical minister and poet, who had stored a huge pile of tires next to his grain elevator on his farm, but a group of local citizens charged that the DNR had actually started the fire to overplay the danger from yard burning and to buttress the federal government’s protection of endangered snake species. If the DNR had let property owners burn off their lands sooner, they asserted, no one would be seeing the present conflagration. However, the subsequent discovery of the remains of a meth lab in a shed right at the foot of Mount Goodyear tended to favor the DNR’s theory—though of course, no one had been there to witness the making of meth, and after all, there was no way to prove that the charred fossil remains of glass beakers and tins of battery acid could not have been deposited by a great flood that had swept through the area several years earlier when a creek burst its banks.
A week after the parking-lot performance by the Catholic charismatic protestors, one of its leaders agreed to speak on the local radio show in Agape about the perils of Halloween, but she soon became sidetracked in a tangential debate about whether or not America should be made English-Only. That was appropriate, since the only reason that the woman had been invited to speak at the radio station in the first place was due to the fact that the show’s producer had mistaken this group for another one, a cult of born-again and virulently anti-Catholic evangelicals from Waco, Texas, who performed exorcisms armed with “soul rosaries” and had elected their own “pope.” It had certainly been easy for anyone to confuse these Catholics who spoke in tongues, and who passed out pamphlets quoting prominent Protestants on the issue of Samhain, with the rival group of evangelical Protestants who waved beads and claimed to have performed exorcisms. “Jesus spoke English,” justified the woman who led the Catholic charismatic group, in a tone of voice that made four out of two and two, and seventy-five out of seven times five.
“Ma’am,” said the radio talk show’s host, “Jesus didn’t speak English.”
“Were you there?” she demanded. She began to sing, “…When they crucified my Lord…”
“Look, he couldn’t have spoken English, ma’am. English didn’t even exist at the time in which he lived.”
She hesitated. “English—” she said, and stopped.
“Wasn’t even around in Biblical times,” finished the host. “It evol—” and he caught himself in time. He didn’t believe in evolution, himself, but now he suddenly realized how often people in the media, including himself, used the word. The Evolution of Hurricane Katrina. The Evolution of African-American Literature. The Evolution of a Painting. That’s weird, he thought. That’s really weird.
“That doesn’t matter,” the guest replied, recovering. “Jesus could do miracles. He could speak English if He wanted to.”
“Well, maybe he could have, ma’am, but no one else would have understood him even if he had. No one spoke English then. So there was no reason for Jesus to speak English, even if He could have.”
“What did they speak, then?” she demanded.
“Everyone in the area of Galilee, including Jesus, spoke Aramaic…”
“Jesus wasn’t a Muslim!”
“Not Arabic, ma’am—Aramaic. It’s a dialect of Hebrew.”
“You’re insane,” asserted the woman.
The host allowed humor to creep into his voice. “Didn’t you see The Passion of the Christ? The Mel Gibson film?”
“Yes,” she replied.
“Well—that film was in Aramaic. The film was made in Aramaic. Mel Gibson made the movie in Jesus’s own language, to be as historically accurate as he could. Understand?”
“Well, okay,” said the woman. “Okay, maybe He spoke in Aramaic, but what about those English words, too?”
“I beg your pardon?”
She gesticulated excitedly as she spoke, nearly knocking her hand into the microphone. “There were English words in the movie. Jesus spoke in Aramaic, but God translated his words into English, so that everyone who heard Him could understand Him. Just like in the movie.”
The host audibly huffed into the mic. “What are you talking about, ma’am?”
“The words at the bottom of the screen! God was translating Jesus’s words—into English!”
There was some muffled, incredulous laughter from the other guests in the studio who were waiting for the upcoming spot.
* * *
As the grassfires rose around them, the citizens shouted for the DNR to save their property from the very people who were “saving” all of Kentucky from the snakes, but the DNR had to defer to the Department of Homeland Security, who sent a runner to FEMA, while, in an act of divine sarcasm, a fire rainbow hovered all day over the still-clear skies of Gallileville, which stood directly in the path of the flames, a hapless, oblivious rainbow like some four-year-old Christmas angel that had emerged proudly, but too early, from the wings of the stage to appear before the surprised Owner of the Inn at the Sunday school holiday pageant. By the time that a state of emergency had been declared, the Kentucky National Guard sent its regrets via their computer terminals in Afghanistan, while the citizenry finally piled onto the buses that FEMA supplied or commandeered their own cars off the highways and over the terrain in a collective mad-dash that would have gratified Lot. As it was, Dr. Kenneth Loin was the only one to look back, for his Genesis Museum was burning along with whatever Sodom and Gomorrah one could have found in the mauve-carpeted three-season porches, and the refrigerators stocked with Lean Cuisine, and the “We’ve got Wifi!” church marquees, and the businesses advertising “Bring Your Bible to Work Day.” And though he did not turn into a pillar of salt, Dr. Loin did emerge pale and ashen, as it were, staring out with bloodshot eyes from under a government-issued blanket at a bus station in Memphis, Tennessee, as the uprooted newscaster from the parking lot newscast on Halloween in Agape, Ohio stood before her grime-caked camera man, shooting and re-shooting the account of their miraculous escape in Loin’s private plane, which was dotted with Bible verses and had been painted to look like—but this had been over ten years ago, and so was a coincidence—a Pterodactyl.
And then the end was the beginning, and the beginning the end, for at last dawn broke amid the smoldering ruins of the museum, and of the man and the woman there remained no sign at all, and no paper-maché rock or tree had given shelter, for all of the dinosaurs were now nothing but bones, just bones, just skeletal chicken wire and metal scaffolding without flesh, lying shattered among the ruins of a lost world beneath a burning red sky.