Baptized in the Holy Ghost

by Eric Bennett

I'm the brother of the brother who says "brother be good." So I accompany him to the white frame chapel with dogwoods in the churchyard and where rows of Tiffany windows turn the people inside faintly blue.

"Here's the church; here's the steeple; open the doors and see all the people." I knew that when I was young, and then I forgot. But I remember it again this morning. This is holy ground where true-blue people do things they do nowhere else: name babies, bury the dead, and sing psalms.

The service starts and then grows as if members of the congregation are building a fire together, each of them adding something to the blaze so that the light and heat grows. And then the fire gets a little out of control.

Reverend Gunther steps out from the pulpit, off the platform, and palms my head with his broad hands, pressing hard and praying in tongues. He's sweating and booming over and over, "deshikalamarata." I can't see his face, my head is bowed, but I'm watching him tip on his toes, heels hovering just above the powder blue carpet of the sanctuary. He smells like mothballs and brute Faberge. He has nice shoes.

A big-tittied woman is behind me, hot hand between my shoulder blades. She's caught the Holy Ghost and is shaking and crying and singing soft, "iyaiyaiyaiyaiyaiya." Three deacons with white gloves gather round and agree with Reverend Gunther, "More Lord, more." Standing in waves of the Spirit, we're swaying all together.

I'm the brother of the brother who stands by watching, tears running down his face. My legs are tired. My neck hurts. And all I can think is "I have to pee." I'm not even close to speaking in tongues so I melt like ice-cream to the floor in front of the wooden pew. "Praise the Lord," Reverend Gunther thunders, "he's been slain in the Spirit." But all I do is wonder how long I have to lay here with this holy look on my face before I can get up and go to the bathroom.

After, we walk to the car. Without tiffany windows tinting them blue, people look pretty much the same. From the parking lot, everyone looks as ordinary as everything else. Our car doors snick shut and my brother asks, "So, what did you think?" Wide eyed and stunned I reply "shundolashikamatoka."

BIO: Eric Bennett in New York with his wife and four children. He loves fierce wounded things and beginning sentences with the word "and." His work appears or is forthcoming in several online literary and art journals including Foundling Review, The Battered Suitcase, Prick of the Spindle, PANK, and LITnIMAGE.