“I used to belong to that one church...you know the one. It's the church where everybody has a different type of wildlife they specialize in. I specialized in fish.” This was Billy Durbin, the nine-toothed, wild-eyed butt smoker, and he was telling David all about his “church.”
“So while I specialized in fish, there was this woman who did crustaceans, and there was a guy who was a serpent specialist – not like in handling them, though...just in knowing about them. We all just had our specialty. You know that kind of church?”
“Ummm...no,” replied David, “I really have never heard of such a thing. Where was this?”
“Oh, back east,” said Billy Durbin, his nine teeth clacking wildly against one another. “In Massachusetts. Or Maine. Or something like that. They had a law, of course, the state did...there had to be an equal distribution of different types of wildlife. That is, you had to have a crustacean church here, and then a fish church there, and then a serpent church and maybe even a moose church or something like that. You know how that goes?”
“Sure...it sounds kind of like Massachusetts, I guess.” David glanced at his watch, noting that he was getting a little hungry and that Billy Durbin had been holding forth for at least ten minutes regarding the wildlife churches of Massachusetts.
“Yeah...when I had this building...” Billy motioned to the empty store in front of them, “I had it full of aquariums. I was really into studying fish, you know. When I started growing gills I knew that I was getting serious about it, and so did everyone else at church. Then I had an accident.”
“Hell yeah. I had the finest gills in Massachusetts or Maine I think. When I sang you could see them flap wide open all pink and fleshy. Boy Scouts used to take field trips just to come and look at my gills. I would sit real quiet like I was dead and then when those Boy Scouts got in real close I would open my eyes, scream and flap my gills at 'em. The Boy Scouts would scream and then I'd take an old seven-iron that I had cut off, and brain one of 'em with it!”
“Brain a Boy Scout?”
“Sure as hell. The scout master didn't like it, but I figured it would give 'em something to talk about back at the scout camp.” Billy Durbin was enjoying this storytelling, and there was frothy saliva clinging to his nine teeth.
“Brain a Boy Scout?” David asked again. “You can't go around braining Boy Scouts...you just can't do that...that's against the law.”
“It's OK,” said Billy Durbin, the nine-toothed, wild-eyed butt smoker, “I did it as outreach for the church. Those scouts were for atonement. And I was the high priest of the seven-iron...”
David just stared at Billy, open-mouthed and unbelieving.
Billy Durbin smiled a rather vacant smile, “but then I got religion.”