Patrick C. Crowell
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Only one employee was stationed outside the candidate's suite later that night. A pretty young woman with dark eyes, skin and hair, she looked as though she was from Pakistan or Afghanistan. Sitting at the special concierge's desk, she blended well with the mid-Eastern decor.
She couldn’t help but study the two sexy women as they wiggled toward her on either side of Isaiah Davila. Quickly surmising what was happening, she watched them accompany him to the candidate's suite. Stifling her impressions, she of course allowed the evangelist—her ultimate boss—to do what he pleased, without uttering a word. Having seen this type behavior before, she knew to be discreet.
Davila was unabashed as the three of them passed the young concierge. Mah, Mah, he thought as he eyed her up and down. Ah don’t remembah seeing this one. He winked at her.
What a jerk, she thought as she saw him purposefully licking his chops.
The candidate had relieved his campaign manager and chief of staff for the night and was alone, waiting anxiously. He pranced to the door with heightened expectancy, knowing what was to come and enjoying that he could partake as much as he wanted and no one could do or say anything about it … save, obviously, his wife, his opponents and the press. But none of them would know.
As they went inside, the tall brunette in lime green glanced over at the gawking concierge and kicked back the lower half of her leg and giggled, as the blonde pulled her inside.
"Let me formally introduce y’all," the evangelist said to the candidate. "This is Candi, and this is Brandi. They lahke to pahrty," he said, his voice turning lascivious. "Girls … this is the next President of the United States … Mistah Immanuel Powers!"
"Oh, Ah’m delighted to meet you, Mr. President!" the blonde Candi said in a genuine, albeit seductive, Southern accent. She slinked forward and hugged him about the waist.
"Me too!" Brandi said, also in a very real Southern dialect as she nestled against his other side.
Davila laughed at his friend, who suddenly seemed like a greedy child with free run of a toy store. He closed the door behind them and flashed a final wink at the young concierge, who was still in disbelief.
I sure won't vote for that guy, the concierge thought.
"Girls, please,” Powers said inside. “The election is a long way off.” It was indeed the summer before the election year. “Now, what can I get you?"
"Bourbon and coke will be great," Brandi said.
"Ah have some blow, man," Candi said. "Let's do it!"
Powers smiled, as he and Candi moved to the bar. "The usual?" he asked Isaiah Davila.
"Scotch and water."
The candidate mixed drinks while Candi made lines, and then the four of them snorted and drank like warthogs at a watering hole.
"Is the Cross still operating?" Powers asked.
"Whah, yeaz," Davila replied. "The Cross and its bearer are always operating." He was feeling buzzed. His intense eyes focused on the candidate, mocking him.
"Save it for your sermon. Can we go there?"
"Verily," Davila replied, "come on … this way. Follow me to righteousness," he said.
Momentarily serious, with drinks in hand, he led them out a back door specially designed for high-powered politicians. "The ops manager is still there doing test and adjust. He's all right, if y’all know what Ah mean."
From the hotel penthouse, they descended six flights down a stairwell and the men delighted in watching the sprayed-on fabrics and heels negotiating the steps. "Mah father taught me to always let the women go first," Davila smiled, "and this is the reason why."
Powers laughed, never averting his eyes.
The foursome giggled and flirted on the way down as the cocaine took effect. Leading them to a hotel storage facility where he borrowed an electric cart used for arriving guests, the evangelist drove while the two girls began playing with the candidate on either side of him in the back seat.
Envious, Davila forged ahead, knowing his turn would come. He drove across a parking lot to a road leading to a back-gated entrance to the Cross. The group left the cart and walked through the gate; and the crisp early-May air invigorated them.
The beauty of the theme park at night struck a chord in Brandi. The walkways were meticulously landscaped and manicured, and soft ankle lights amid thick border grass guided the way. The cropped weeping willow trees sparkled with dots of light, and the humble melody of "Amazing Grace" drifted through the air from the park's PA, like a subtle shroud of goodness blanketing a congregation. It was … wholesome.
Candi grabbed the evangelist's arm as they walked and melded it into her ample bosom, making sure he fully enjoyed her naturalness. The taller Brandi followed suit on the candidate, hoping he found her attractive.
"Oh, baby, Ah'm ready!" Davila said, it appearing that he was going to lay Candi right then in the grass.
"Wait a second," Powers said. "Ah want to go through the Cross. Ah didn't get to earlier. You can just wait a while, you horny bastard."
"Ah've got an idea," Candi whispered to the evangelist, hot now, too. "Let's do it on the ride!"
"Now you're talking." The two of them stretched their gait.
"Let them do what they want," Candi said, smiling. "We follow the Golden Rule, right?"
Davila smirked, not really interested in anything holy at the moment.
As he led the group around a landscaped corner, where they beheld a full view of the Cross, Powers eyed Brandi, wondering why she suddenly seemed aloof.
Brandi stared up at the imposing Cross. Its base housed queue-lines, restrooms, a gift shop, the ride-control computer room and a break room, and she was awed at the sheer mass of the foreboding symbol of so much of her Alabamian youth.
The trio followed Davila to the employee entrance on the southern side of the structure. He nodded to the ops manager behind the glass window in the computer room, who smiled, and then resumed watching his monitors.
"The guests go up the escalator here to the staging area where they board the cars," Davila explained. "They ascend and then go across, up and then across, and so on, through the inner workings of the ride as they view significant scenes from the history of Christianity. First, there’s a movie scene of Chaos with laser light effects depicting Creation, a scene with an audio-animatronic Abraham about to slice Isaac's throat, a scene with Moses and Aaron leading the Hebrews through the parted Red Sea, a scene showing David and Goliath and, later, with his son, Solomon, standing before the Ark of the Covenant in Jerusalem, a scene at the Manger, at the Sermon on the Mount, of Jesus carrying his cross, and then of the Crucifixion. That's a powerful scene, bursting with the wrath of the Lord!”
“Then,” he continued, “we have a scene done with the Helsinki effect, that is, computer imagery without a screen, where the guests can actually see Jesus' spirit rising from his body, and we solve the great mystery! Jesus himself pushes away the rock! It's fabulous! Then the cars turn upward for the last time and the guests make an ascent to Heaven with Jesus, upon the wings of angels. Just imagine! Guests depart into the top level of the arms of the Cross, in virtual Heaven, again done with computer imagery ? then go down, where they find our inviting restaurants and gift shops."
"So that's what Heaven is like," Candi joked. “Ah always knew it would involve shopping!”
Powers and Davila smiled. Brandi didn't.
"Oh, yeah, baby!" Davila replied. "We take tickets at the Pearly Gates and sell concessions in Heaven. What a racket! Ah love it!"
"What happens to the guests then?" Brandi asked. She was solemn, unsure of her feelings.
"They can walk around the observation deck and view the entire park from that lofty height. They can eat, shop, spend money ? and then go down by elevator," Davila boasted.
He continued, pointing out that if they viewed a crosscut plan of the superstructure from the top, they could see the walls connecting the four tremendous, structural steel posts. Just in-set from those were spacious transitions for maintenance walks, and two code-required stairwells on opposite sides that ran the entire height of the building. Next was space for the numerous inclines necessary to elevate the ride cars up through the attraction. Bordering that were catwalks for mechanics and ride technicians, which ran parallel to the ornate, audio-animatronic show scenes and numerous elevator shafts on either side.
Davila explained that if they viewed a slice-cut of the arms of the Cross, they could see four levels, connected by elevators, escalators and hidden stairwells. The highest level was the ride exit ... the virtual version of Heaven. Serenely decorated and equipped with the latest computer technology, eliminating the need for a traditional computer screen altogether, an ethereal video of cloud vapor was projected onto thin air, making guests think and feel that they were actually in Heaven. Of course, piped-in harp music was a must.
The level below contained the incredible observation deck for the public, where guests could enjoy the spectacular panoramic view from four hundred feet in the air. The observation level was enclosed for safety, and glazed with massive sections of thick, double-paned glass. The shops, one level below, were the cash cow. Hungry guests needed to travel down just one more floor to the food court and restaurants, where the designers had become so carried away that they had even created the “Two Loaves of Bread Buffet,” providing “all you can eat” seafood and baked goods. Thinking their irreverent joke would never survive design review, they were shocked and amused when Isaiah Davila actually liked it.
"Wow," Powers exclaimed. "The whole thing’s incredible."
"That's why it had to be so gigantic."
"Well let's go!" Candi said, her enthusiasm shared by the men.
They went up an escalator. The black ride cars, linked in groups of four, were in the shape of upright half-eggs, and could each comfortably seat three. The ride was a common omni-mover, that is, a rotational people-moving system with a uni-train, chain drive to which the car groupings were attached by steel rods and seating platforms. In the darkened boarding room, the evangelist and Candi stepped onto the black rubber turntable and entered the second car to the last in a group. Brandi and Powers stepped into the car that followed. As they sat down, the automatic safety bars emerged from the bottom front of the cars and closed over them.
By the time Creation was over, Eve had on more clothes than Candi, as she offered her ample breasts to the evangelist's mouth. By the time Moses and Aaron led the Exodus, her legs were parted like the Red Sea. The evangelist entered her and pumped with heightened vigor as easily as he could fill a pulpit with fire and brimstone.
The candidate could see what was happening in the car ahead as they twisted around bends in the track and he couldn’t help becoming aroused. The little blue pill he’d taken was amazing. But Brandi was still aloof, watching the ride scenes like a reverent child in Sunday school. Trying to kiss her to generate some action, she squirmed to avoid Powers and resumed watching, and he felt like a frustrated schoolboy in a movie theater with a reluctant date.
"What's with you?"
She hesitated, watching Jesus carry his cross. "I just don't want to. Not here."
"You don't want to! What the hell do you think this is?” he asked, not appreciating the irony. “Get your damn clothes off now!" He wouldn't have minded waiting, but for the fact that it wasn’t his idea. The alcohol had mixed with the cocaine, and he lost his temper.
"No! I'm not going to right now," she said, as the car rounded a curve and the Crucifixion came in view.
"God damn it!” he yelled. “Is this what you want?" He backhanded her beautiful face across the mouth. Her head jerked to the side and smashed into the back of the car. "Now, get your damn clothes off!"
"No! Leave me alone, you bastard! I'm not going to do it here!"
He smacked her again and she screamed as her mouth spurted crimson liquid. "Leave me alone!"
She struggled with the safety bar as the car began its ascent to Heaven along with the computer image of Jesus, but it wouldn't open. As she started to squeeze through the side, purposely narrow so that guests couldn’t easily do just that, he grabbed her and yanked her down while the car climbed further. Her head and back fell hard as the car accelerated upward. Mustering her wits and strength, she turned and punched him in the groin with all her might. He grimaced and yelled, doubling over in excruciating pain.
She tried again to escape the moving vehicle and almost made it through the narrow gap between the safety bar and the side of the car, onto the black running board, but her heel caught, causing her to plunge head first onto the side of the steeply inclined track mount. In a tortuous moment as the car climbed and she struggled to pull herself free, her ankle turned and then ? it snapped. She screamed from instantaneous pain and jerked her long leg free, causing more damage to the broken bones. But she fell off of the running board and began slipping, feeling the cold metal of the track mount under her body.
She slid down the incline until she was able to grab the track near its safety skirt. Pulling herself up, she tried to get away, but her dilapidated ankle collapsed and she fell again. Suddenly rolling down the incline until her body met the next group of climbing cars, her left arm slipped under a section of track skirt as she bounced to the side, and her flesh became caught in the heavy drive chain. Feeling her arm, and then her upper body, stretched and jerked upward, she screamed in terrible, final horror as she felt her left arm contact a sharp metal crosspiece and steadily become severed from her body by the cold steel. Mercifully, she blacked out as her body, having been released from her arm, fell further until it came to rest at the base of the incline, her head striking a piece of fixed ride-steel like a melon on a knife, killing her upon impact.



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