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* Chisel - To buy at one price and sell at another.

* Black Rattler - A long watermelon with dark green stripes.

* Crimson - A long pale green watermelon with light red meat.

* Baby bumpers - breasts

* Grass-widow - A divorced woman.

How I Met The Saviour

by Allen Rolf

I met the Saviour the summer I took off for some serious drinking. I had a room down by the river and turned cash chiseling* watermelons on the side of the road. It was a good drinking job.

I would spend the mornings with Pete at the Green Door. Pete and I went back to Korea where we nearly froze to death. When we came back, Pete bought the Green Door. He installed a gas heater behind the bar and kept it blasting even in the summer. Pete always wore a heavy wool sweater. Pete couldn't seem to get warm after that winter at Choson.

As beer joints go, the Green Door was a pleasant place to spend the morning. It was cool, except back behind the bar; the beer was cold and there was always regulars to talk with. I usually stayed until noon, then would load my pick-up with melons, Black Rattlers* or Crimson's*, and peddle them out by the roofing factory.

On this particular morning, I was sitting at the bar talking to Pete when there was this motorcycle racket outside. Then thislanky dude walks in with a black shiny helmet under his arm. He blinked a moment as his eyes got used to the darkness.

"Hi, pardner!" said Pete.

The young guy smiled and walked slowly up to the bar. He put his helmet on the bar and took a stool. He had on scuffed boots, dirty jeans and was wearing one of those crummie T-Shirts they sell in New Orleans. It read: "Jesus is coming and is He pissed!"

"Hi," said the young fellow. "You got martinis?"

Pete looks at me, then back to the stranger. "Naw, buddy, this is a beer joint, not a high class bar!

"How about a brew?"

"No, thanks," answered the kid. "How about just a glass of water with some ice, please?"

"Sure, sure," answered Pete. He shoved a glass of ice water down the bar. "You're new around here, huh?"

The stranger reached into his jeans pocket and pulled out a small bottle. It was full of olives. He popped one into his ice water and swished it with his finger.

"Yes, just passing through. Looking for a job actually."

"What kind of work do you do?" I asked.

"Oh, I'm a student Saviour!"

Pete gives me another look. "You're a what?"

"A student Saviour .... it's by correspondence .... I get the stuff in the mail and then send the completed lessons back in."

Pete stepped back and wiped his hands on his apron. I know he's looking for his baseball bat. Pete didn't let psychos hang out at the Green Door.

"Hmmm, seems like there should be a lot of jobs for Saviours these days," I observed.

"Well that's what they said when I signed up, but I sure can't find any Saviour work around here."

About that time, the door to the Green Door flew open and in came Mabel. I have to tell you about Mabel.

Mabel was the neighborhood hooker and a regular at the Green Door. Mabel and I always got along fine and sometimes she and I watched television at her pad on Sunday night. Mabel never worked on Sunday.

When I first met Mabel she was a checker at the Safeway store. That was before her no-good man left. She couldn't make it on twenty hours a week at the grocery, so she turned her natural talents into cash.

I gotta say that Mabel had one of the best pair of baby bumpers* I'd ever seen and she liked to run around in hot pants. Right below the left hem of the left leg of the hot pants you could see a little multi-colored tattooed butterfly flip about when she wiggled her rump. If you watched real close it would drive you crazy. With her long red hair, Mabel made a nice package.

"Hey, who's that Hog belong to?"

Pete poured her a brew. "It belongs to this fellow ... he's an unemployed Saviour!"

Mabel took a stool next to the stranger. "You don't say," she said. "Gee, I've never met a real live Saviour before. How are you this morning, honey?"

I could tell Mabel's perfume and braless baby bumpers were having their effect. The Saviour looked down and blushed.

"Fine, Ma'm," he choked.

"He's an unemployed Saviour," repeated Pete.

Mabel took the Saviour's hand. "Why, honey, there's nothing wrong with not having a job. I suppose Saviours can be unemployed, too. It'll work out, you just believe me."

The Saviour really started squirming. It was the perfume. I wondered what would happen when he saw the little butterfly.

"Where you looked?" asked Pete.

The Saviour blinked and took a couple of deep breaths. "Well, on the way in town I stopped at that large church out on the highway."

"You mean the one with the big sign?"

"Yeah, they said they needed a stand-in devil this Sunday."

"A stand-in devil?"

"Yeah, at Sunday school last Sunday they let the kids chase the devil off the grounds. The kids were supposed to throw their Bibles, but one kid brought a brick."

"My gosh," said Mabel. "What happened?"

"Well, the fellow is still in the hospital. It was so successful, though, they wanted to do a repeat and they needed a stand-in for this Sunday .... but I don't know ... I have a low pain threshold."

"What about that big church downtown, the one with the big cross?" I asked.

"Stopped there," said the Saviour. "There was a sign on the door saying the church was closed for the next two weeks."

"Oh, that's Rev. Dlawso's parish," said Mabel. "He and that grass-widow* down the street went on vacation to Arizona for a couple of weeks."

"Well," said Pete. "How about being an evangelist ... you know .... get yourself a tent, a good rock band, a couple of good-looking girls that can sing?"

"Oh, Pete," answered Mabel. "That takes money. You have to have klegg lights, big billboards, a tent, a thousand watt PA system! This Saviour's broke!"

"That's right," I said. "Well, how about being a radio evangelist, like on one of them high-powered Mexican stations?"

We discussed that, but the Saviour said it would be another three lessons before he got to radio evangelism.

We couldn't come up with a single thing the Saviour could do right away.

Finally, Mabel gave the Saviour a big hug and a kiss on the cheek. "Now, honey, you don't let this get you down. There's a place for everyone in this world, even unemployed Saviours. Everything will be O.K.!"

That's what I liked about Mabel. She had a strong mother instinct, in spite of the butterfly.

The Saviour finally got up. "Well, thanks, folks, maybe I can find something over in Bentville."

We sat there feeling sorry for him. Imagine, a Saviour without a job!

"That Saviour needs a muffler," said Pete as the Saviour roared down the street.

"I bet there's some work for a Saviour over in Bentville," said Mabel.

Pete picked up the Saviour's glass. He gave it a funny look and then lifted it to his nose.

"I'll be damned," he muttered as he headed for the door.

He came back and handed me the glass. There was a little liquid in the bottom. I took a sip and it was the best darn martini I ever tasted.

I left to sell my watermelons. It was a long time before I thought of the Saviour again.

30

1998 Allen Rolf