I didn’t know why Reverend Belcher from the Breckinville Church of the Godly called to say he wanted to see me, but I suspected it was nothing good. “We open at 10 a.m.,” I told him. “Why don’t you stop by around 9:00, and we can chat here at the putt putt.”
I own and operate the Alligator Goofy Golf course on the outskirts of town. Players try to stroke the ball through an alligator’s mouth, avoid a mechanically sweeping tail, chomping jaws … that sort of thing.
There was already a 20-foot fiberglass, upright ‘gator amongst the palm trees at the entrance when I bought the place a few months ago with money from my Great Uncle Waldo’s will. In a tribute to my great uncle, I had a top hat, black bow tie and tuxedo coat with tails put on the fabricated reptile. See, Waldo was a huge fan of Fred Astaire. He was practising the Astaire chair walkover when he tragically tumbled through a picture window and sliced his jugular. He bled out in the rose bushes. At least he died from doing something he loved.
I waited at the entrance for Reverend Belcher and watched the donkeys grazing in the field on the other side of the parking lot. They were being temporarily sheltered by the Breckinville Animal Rights Concern. Under pressure from BARC, the last two donkey baseball teams in the county had disbanded. No longer needed for the sport, most of the donkeys were abandoned and would’ve been put down if BARC hadn’t made arrangements with the farmer who owned the property.
After a few minutes, a red Cadillac pulled in. I recognized Reverend Belcher from his TV commercials when he got out and approached me, another fellow and two women sheeping behind him. I recalled the rumors of him and his flock being snake handlers and fought the image of a writhing rattlesnake when he and I shook.
“What can I do for you, Reverend Belcher?” He was heavy set with bleached blond hair and a gold ring on each pinky.
“Jamison, I’ll get right to it,” he said to me. “We got a problem with this dressed-up ‘gator here.” He looked at the other three folks, who bobbled their heads. At that moment, I noticed a commotion with the donkeys behind the church delegation.
“Problem?” I said. A jack was trying to mount a jenny, who wanted no part of him — especially not that part.
“You’ve humanized this here beast with that hat, tie and coat, Jamison.” My eyes darted back and forth from the preacher, who was twisting one of his pinkie rings with his thumb, to the jenny, who had bolted from the jack and was charging toward the rickety split-rail fence that separated the field from my property.
“Your gator is naked from the waist down,” the reverend continued. “That’s offensive. If you’re going to dress him, he needs pants. The beast may be naked to the world, but Man to only God and wife.” He intoned as if he were quoting scripture, but I wasn’t familiar with the verse.
“Shameful,” said one of the women in the reverend’s contingency. One of the men clapped his hand over his eyes.
As I thought for a moment about how to respond, the jenny broke through the fence and entered our parking lot, the jack and several other donkeys hoofing behind. “What about Donald Duck?” I said. “He also has a hat, coat, and tie but no pants.”
Reverend Belcher stepped back, sputtered, then looked at his companions. “That’s different,” one of the women said, then looked at the other man, who looked at the other woman.
“Donald Duck,” the second woman said finally, rolling her eyes, “was just a cartoon.”
The reverend gave me a take-that smirk.
“Folks, I promise to give your request careful consideration,” I lied. “But at the moment I have an urgent situation to deal with.” I pointed behind them. Just as they turned, the jack mounted the jenny again, successfully this time, and started going at it.
“Lot’s wife!” the reverend shouted. The others spun their backs to the mating donkeys, but the preacher watched till the jack brayed loudly and dismounted the jenny. By now there were probably a dozen donkeys in the parking lot.
“You’ll have to excuse me folks.” I began wringing my hands and muttering to myself “This is horrible. What am I going to do?” Actually, I knew exactly— call BARC. As always when the donkeys got out, a couple BARCers would come and lure the animals back to their enclosure with carrots.
“Put some pants on that croc,” the reverend snapped. “Onward, people.”
I watched as the asses soldiered to the Cadillac, and the donkeys milled about, swishing their tails, twitching their ears and gently nibbling at each other’s backs.