Home
Editor's Page
YM Artists' Page
"Skeeter", the Official YM Mascot
YM Guidelines
Contact Us & Links to Other Sites
Factoids
Phantom Pain-Fiction by Phillip Thompson
I'm a Fat Policeman-Fiction by William Kitcher
The Mass-Fiction by Rick McQuiston
Circle Quirk-Fiction by John J. Dillon
Every Night I Tell Him-Fiction by Bobby Mathews
Closure-Fiction by Kenneth James Crist
All That Glitters-Fiction by Bruce Harris
Klepto-Fiction by Cindy Rosmus
Big Nasty-Fiction by J. B. Stevens
Pendelton Products, Inc.-Fiction by Michael Dority
The Apprentice Thug-Fiction by A. Kanach
The Invitation-Fiction by Michael Steven
Your Time is My Time-Fiction by Walter Giersbach
Charity Begins at Home-Fiction by David Hagerty
Stay on the Path-Flash Fiction by Daniel G. Snethen
Killer's E-Mail-Flash Fiction by Andrew Ricchiuti
The Family Business-Flash Fiction by James Blakey
Weird Reasons to Be Grateful-Flash Fiction by Dini Armstrong
The Disappearance of Snethen-Poem by Daniel Snethen
Boom FM-Poem by Mark Young
Dwindling Knight-Poem by Michael Keshigian
Landlord-Poem by Michael Keshigian
A Day-Poem by Marc Carver
Idiotka-Poem by Marc Carver
Kent Railway Station-Poem by John Doyle
Jennifer-Poem by John Doyle
The Door in the Old House in Bizarro County-Poem by Dr. Mel Waldman
The Season of the Apocalypse-Poem by Dr. Mel Waldman
A Boy in a Graveyard-Poem by John Grey
Poem by the ManWho was Shot by His Wife-Poem by John Grey
The House on Wellington Court-Poem by John Grey
Close Your Eyes-Christopher Hivner
Say My Name-Poem by Christopher Hivner
When the Sun Turns to Sorcery-Poem by Christopher Hivner
Fading Twilight Sky-Poem by Ayaz Daryl Nielsen
Landlocked in Dry Dock-Poem by Ayaz Daryl Nielsen
Like a Child's Drawing-Poem by Ayaz Daryl Nielsen
As a Dark Shadow-Poem by Ayaz Daryl Nielsen
Cartoons by Cartwright
Hail, Tiger!
Angel of Manslaughter
Strange Gardens
Gutter Balls
Calpurnia's Window
No Place Like Home
ALAT
Dark Tales from Gent's Pens

85_ym_allthatglitters_lthomas.jpg
Art by Londyyn Thomas 2021

All that Glitters

 

by Bruce Harris

 

The thermometer showed triple digits. Tolerable, if not for the rising, oppressive humidity. The thirty some-odd gathered under the tent sat on folding chairs, sweating. Most fanned themselves with whatever paper or cardboard scrap they scrounged. The swirling heavy August air around their faces brought little relief.

“I hear he cures ar-thur-i-tis,” an elderly woman sitting in the front row said to her husband.

“Sure as heck couldn’t do no worse than Doc Pettigrew,” he replied. “Only-est thing he good fer is handing out a bill. He couldn’t cure a ham.”

A frenetic young woman cradling an infant rushed in, searched for a seat. A young man stood, waved her into his chair.

“Oh, thank you so much,” she said, breathing hard. “God Bless.”

“It’s nothin’, ma’am, I assure you. How old is he?”

“She’s a she and she’ll be six months next week.”

“I’m sorry. I didn’t –”

The mother, in her teens, didn’t hear the man. She was consumed with the child. “She’s burnin’ a fever. I tried everything. I’m hoping Father Huggs can cure her. I hear he’s got powers from the heavens.” She rocked the baby. “Good girl. You’re a good girl,” she said. “Father Huggs will take care of you, you sweet little thing you.” She craned her neck. “Where is he? When is he starting? This here heat isn’t helping none.”

George Huggins III billed himself as Father Huggs. Despite the heat, he looked fresh in a crisply pressed all-white suit, heavily starched white shirt, and white bowtie. The outfit’s color, in stark contrast to his coal-black eyes, was custom-made. The ensemble was one of three identical, made for Huggs by an Alabama tailor in exchange for the preacher’s promise of eternal salvation. Appearances were important to Huggs. A massive faux gold cross hung against his chest. An ostentatious gold-plated wristwatch indicated start time. He took a deep breath, found the tent’s opening and with hands raised, exploded onto the scene.

“Hallelujah brothers and sisters! Hallelujah! Let us pray!” He placed palms together, his long fingers formed a steeple, and lowered his head.

Everyone sat in prayer, eyes closed. Everyone that is except Father Huggs. As was his ritual, he scanned the audience through slit eyes, his out-of-control libido having taken over. He spotted her on an end seat, holding an infant. So young, he thought. So pretty. Yes, pure, but not too pure. George Huggins, this is going to be a good night.

“Who believes in Jesus?” his voice loud, surprising the crowd.

Some in the crowd raised their hands. Others screamed, “I do!” Many did both.

“He is our savior. He died for our sins,” Huggs solemnly proclaimed, before holding up his hands. “Shush…listen carefully…don’t make a sound…there… there it is…can you feel it? Can you feel the earth move? Can you feel it? It’s the Lord’s magic! It’s the Good Lord’s hands reaching out…to you…to me…touching us all. Do you feel it my brothers and sisters?” his voice a feverish high pitch.

“Amen!” screamed the tent dwellers. He continued sneaking glances at the young mother holding the baby. The arthritic woman in the front row stood. She repeated, “Amen!” and walked toward Huggs with outstretched arms.

Momentarily annoyed at having to divert his gaze from the attractive mother to the elderly approaching woman, Huggs recovered quicker than a lightning strike. His toothy grin elicited a perception of empathy, warmth. He said nothing. His eyes served as a baton. With a conductor’s skill, he directed the crowd to quiet down.

Huggs took the woman’s hand in his. “Tell me…tell everyone…how can the Lord help you today? Praise Jesus!” he shouted.

“Praise Jesus!” the gathered yelped in unison.

“It’s my ar-thur-i-tis, Father Huggs. I got me so much painful joints and elbows and fingers and knees and…oh…everywhere in my body.”

“And did you go see a doctor?” Huggs asked.

“I surely did,” the woman replied.

“And?”

She rubbed her hands together. “And I still got me my pain everywhere.”

The crowd grumbled. “Come closer,” Huggs implored. He engulfed the woman in his arms, gave her a hug. He pictured himself hugging the young mother. He stole another look at her pristine beauty. He had her, and everyone else’s attention.

“Do you believe in Jesus?” Huggs asked, his gaze boring into the older woman’s cloudy eyes.

“Amen!” she declared.

Huggs stared upward. “Do you hear that, Lord? Do you hear one of your devoted followers?” Huggs waited, then began shaking. His movements initially imperceptive. With sloth-like speed, he worked himself up into a gelatin frenzy, all the while embracing the woman. The two appeared to be engaged in some sort of a Kabuki theater, a macabre-like dance. They moved, as one, around the tent. When the pair returned to the front, Huggs released his hold and stepped back.

“Thank you, Jesus! Thank you for your healing powers!”

The woman began flexing her fingers, bending her knees and elbows. A wide smile replaced the serious look on her face. “I can move again! Look!” She moved every body part capable of moving. “There’s no pain! I’m pain free! God Bless you, Father Huggs! God Bless you!”

“Hallelujah!” Huggs shouted. “Don’t thank me, my dear, thank the Good Lord above. All it takes is a little belief…and confidence in Father Huggs…for great miracles to occur.” He looked over his flock. “Who’s next?” he asked as he escorted the woman back to her seat.

The young mother with the sick child stood. The preacher’s pecker did the same.

“The babies,” Huggs said. “The Lord’s miracles at work. He approached the young mother, extended his arm, and led her to the tent’s front. He liked her smell. The infant cried, her skin red. Huggs feigned deep concern.

“Brothers and sisters, this is a special case. This precious baby, this gift from the Good Lord, isn’t well.” Huggs sighed. “I fear this is going to take everyone’s effort, everyone in prayer, one voice speaking to Jesus. Close your eyes.” The congregants complied. “Now, pray like you’ve never prayed before in your lives.”

Huggs looked around. The young woman’s eyes were closed. He took the baby, admired teen’s chest. Huggs loves them jugs, he said to himself. Out loud, “Sweet Jesus!” he yelled. “Do you hear our voices? We put all our faith in you to heal this beautiful little girl as only you can do.”

The preacher could control a room, but not the goddamned little head in his pants. “Brothers and sisters,” he continued, “I must ask you all to leave, right now. This baby needs my undivided attention. Please, before you all go, stop at the basket and give what you can. The more gifts you give to God the more He will bless you and this beautiful child.”

The crowd stood. One by one, they stopped at the basket, dumped spare change and bills in. Some wished the young woman the best. Others stopped to touch the baby’s head. Most thanked Father Huggs. When the last person departed, the room became still. Huggs, holding the baby, stood next to the mother.

“You must have faith,” Huggs said to her. “Do you?”

She nodded.

“Good. Faith in the Lord. Faith in me. Do you understand?”

Again, the woman nodded her agreement.

“There is only one way. You must trust me completely. We must become one. The Lord will see the strength in our total commitment to each other.” He forced himself to avert his eyes from her chest. He gently placed the infant on the ground. “Come to me,” he said. “Come close…into my arms.” She complied. Their clothes were off in seconds. He entered her. Displaying no self-control, he went balls deep, pounding hard. The infant, sucking a pacifier, watched.

“It will take time for the fever to break,” Huggs said when it was over. The woman appeared numb, unaware of what just happened. She placed a few dollars into the basket. A satisfied Huggs smiled, nodded. He watched her disappear into the sticky night toward town.

 

***

Like his father and grandfather before him, George Huggins III took to preaching early in life. Tent sermons gave way to services at small churches dotted throughout the south. But Huggins III, his avuncular appearance coupled with a booming voice that for some reason people trusted, began attracting more followers. He led regular weekday bible study classes in college before landing a job on a religious radio talk show. His reputation for sticking strictly to scripture morphed into fire and brimstone diatribes. “Every word, every page, every verse is God’s lesson that must be learned!” He became a frequent guest on Christian television shows. It was only a matter of time before a network signed him to his own show and he became the preacher America tuned into Sunday mornings, drawing the ire of pastors and priests who watched as their Sunday faithful stayed home to view Huggins’ television extravaganza.

He married and had a daughter. He swore to himself and to God to remain faithful. He tried. But the man who preached the gospel and criticized the craven men and women who turned away from The Lord was flesh and blood himself.

It wouldn’t harm to look, he’d convinced himself. In and out, he figured, necessary research for an upcoming sermon. He’d still have time to appear at his daughter’s sweet-sixteen party. Hell, my days of infidelity are past. The Lord will steer me away from sin, he thought to himself. I’m stronger now.

He’d driven by the place dozens of times, wondering of the debauchery within. The Lord understood his purpose for entering this day. Club Heat’s parking lot was nearly full. He turned up his collar and walked in. Darkness. Good. No one would recognize him, not that anyone in this sin den followed the gospel. Huggins took a seat against the back wall. On the circular stage, Misty, exhibiting Olympic-like gymnastic skills, twirled around a pole. Huggins diverted his eyes, but focused on Misty when the cheering suddenly increased. The now topless dancer swung her bikini top on one finger before tossing it into the crowd. It was as if a zookeeper hurled raw steak into a lion cage. Huggins prayed for the young girl, as well the men, now pushing their way to the stage, reaching out, stuffing dollar bills in the performer’s garter belt.

Huggins checked his watch, thanked God for the illuminated dial. He better split if he wanted to get to his daughter’s party. He’d promised her he’d be there. One dancer led to two, three, and then four. From the stage, the twenty-something stripper introduced as Skye, eyed him. Huggins knew he should get up and leave. He promised himself Skye would be the last performer. But following her set, she approached the preacher. In a weak moment, he bought her a drink. They talked. Under the pulsating colored lights, Skye sparkled. Her glossy pink lips mesmerized the normally confident Huggins. Maybe, he told himself, he could rehabilitate the young woman. God would reward him for saving her soul, he rationalized. But when Skye took his hand and placed it on her bare breast, George’s thoughts dive-bombed south, from his head down to the little horny brain between his legs. Skye led George to a semi-private room. The normally loquacious evangelist was momentarily tongue-tied. Skye convinced him to accept a lap dance. He asked for a second one. He needed more.

“How much money you have?” Skye asked.

The old feelings returned. Sweet Jesus, it felt good. “Plenty. Enough to make you glad you were born a woman.”

 “You’re filthy.. I like filthy men.”

The intoxicated Huggins wagged a finger. “Let’s see now. I got 7-inches ready to go down here,” he said, grabbing his crotch. “I’m 6-feet, and an inch. So…let me see…that makes me only 9.5 percent filthy! The rest of me is pure Christian!”

Father Huggs, also known as “America’s Sunday Moring Preacher,” completely forgot about his daughter’s birthday party.

 

***

 

Blue. Green. Red. Yellow. He also saw pink, purple and orange. It resembled rainbow dandruff. Father Huggs swiped at the glitter, to no avail. It was as if glue had secured the tiny sparkling particles to his shirt. If that wasn’t bad enough, “America’s Sunday Morning Preacher” reeked from Skye’s bodily fluids. He snorted, a feeble attempt to rid his nostrils of the unwanted invasion unleashed by her buck a bottle perfume.

“Father Huggs?” The motel clerk immediately regretted saying it. He pretended not to notice the man standing before him. “Let’s see, mister, I can give you room 110. Walk back outside, hang a right. Can’t miss it. It’s the only door that doesn’t have a broken or missing number.” His attempted joke fell flat.

“I won’t be long,” Huggs murmured. “I’m not spending the night. How much?”

“Um, that’s fine. Many guests here don’t require overnight stays.” The motel clerk told him the cost, grabbed the cash. “I guarantee you’ll find a Bible in your room. Yes sir,” he proudly said, “No room is ever without a Bible. That’s been our policy here at the Rose Shack Motel ever since this place opened.”

“Good to know,” Huggs said, smiling weakly, turning for the office exit. Skye’s aroma, the Chanel Number minus-5, or whatever the hell she wore, embedded into his pores like an ingrown hair cyst. The stench left a comet-like trail. Enticing and sweet an hour earlier, the odor now nauseated Huggs. He again tried wiping at the stripper’s glitter clinging to his shirt.

Room 110 was standard. King-sized bed, nightstand, double dresser, and bathroom. Huggins pulled open the nightstand drawer and grabbed the Bible. For several minutes he read scripture, Corinthians first. Flee from sexual immorality. All other sins a person commits are outside the body, but whoever sins sexually, sins against their own body. He flipped pages, stopped at Hebrews. Marriage should be honored by all, and the marriage bed kept pure, for God will judge the adulterer and all the sexually immoral. Exodus was next. You should not commit adultery. Spiritually satisfied, he clutched the book to his chest before returning it to the battered nightstand. He stripped and showered. Now he needed to physically rid himself of Skye. He cursed the lukewarm water’s weak pressure as well as his own personal weakness. Huggins scrubbed his skin until raw, picking shiny particles off his balls. He then aggressively massaged shampoo into his scalp. George Huggins III stood in the shower over 30-minutes. He would have stayed longer, but the initially lukewarm water had turned cold. Huggins needed the cold shower hours before.

He sniffed his own skin. Satisfied, the preacher got dressed. It was impossible to rid his clothing of Skye’s colorful glitter. The hell with it, he thought. By the time he got home, his wife, Eleanor would be asleep. He’d toss the clothes into the bottom of the laundry basket, apologize for missing his daughter’s party, and slip into bed next to her.

“Is that you, George?” his half-asleep wife asked. “Poor dear, working so late. I’m tired. I’ll tell you all about the party in the morning. Sleep well, George. God Bless.”

George Huggins III lay still. It didn’t take long before he heard Eleanor’s rhythmic breathing. He pulled it off, he told himself. In the morning, he’d apologize to his daughter, Lillian. He’d buy her something special to make up for missing her big day. Huggins closed his eyes. He tried clearing his mind, but a certain Proverbs Bible verse played on a continuous loop in his guilt-ridden brain.

He woke to Eleanor’s muffled voice, on the phone in the hallway off their bedroom. Huggins looked at the clock, 7:00am. Eleanor had to be speaking to her sister in Mississippi, anxious to tell her about Lillian’s sweet-sixteen party. Huggins heard the sound of the washing machine. Eleanor had the laundry going. Perfect, he thought. Wash away the last bit of evidence off his clothes. He moved closer to the bedroom door, listening to Eleanor’s side of the conversation.

“…I don’t know. He wasn’t at the party. Oh, and get this, guess what I found all over George’s clothes…glitter. Can you believe it? All different colors…”

Huggins pressed his ear harder against the door. She knows, he thought. Bible verses ran through his brain. It was too late for forgiveness or repentance. Eleanor would divorce him. He’d sinned. Adultery! Huggins had broken one of the sacred Ten Commandments and his promise to God. He’d never be able to look himself in the mirror again. He listened.

“No, he doesn’t know I know…I’m going to tell…Oh, he’ll be surprised…”

Huggins put on a pair of slacks, grabbed his keys, and quietly headed toward the garage. Eleanor, engrossed in conversation, didn’t see or hear him.

“Where else could he have gotten covered in glitter?”

Those were the last nine words Father Huggs heard his wife speak into the phone before he drove out of his garage without bothering to fasten his seatbelt. The pesky Proverbs verse, But a man who commits adultery has no sense; whoever does so destroys himself, beating relentlessly in his head. He floored it. Death was instantaneous following impact with the tree.

Eleanor continued her conversation, “…He’s such a good man…Yes, I agree…Imagine, despite having worked late he stopped off at the party… He must have been so disappointed missing it…Yes, Lillian picked out the glitter colors herself…Ha…Yes, you should have seen it…right, the glitter was everywhere…it’ll probably take several washings to get it out of all our clothing…and God knows how many showers to get the stuff completely out of my hair.”

Bruce Harris writes western, crime, and mystery novels. His work has appeared in Mondays Are Murder, Shotgun Honey, Flash Fiction Offensive, and Over My Dead Body!


Londyyn Thomas resolutely eschews any mythologizing of an artist and so avoids discussing personal life and relations.

In Association with Black Petals & Fossil Publications 2021