by Benjamin Anastas
The service was over in the Faith Dome and the Reverend Named Dollar had retreated to the comforts of the Executive Suite. Outside the buses were idling with their cabin lights on, waiting to take the Conventioneers back to their hotels, and the parking lots were already beginning to empty of the faithful. It had been a bountiful harvest that night—in newly anointed believers, in the offering buckets emblazoned with the logo of the church. The Seeker walked the grounds slowly, his notebook at the ready, trying to take everything in. The newest recruits emerged from the exits in single-file and volunteers in matching t-shirts were busy ushering them along a covered passageway to a Prayer Room on the second floor of an outbuilding. There were children as young as five or six; teenagers in baseball hats and braces; young couples holding hands; mothers holding infants; fathers carrying empty car seats; single women in business suits and raincoats, typing on their smart phones; there were men who looked dazed and bored, as if their hearts weren’t in it; the elderly in every possible condition, including wheelchairs. The Seeker haunted the walkway for a few minutes, watching the crowd keep coming, and coming. It comforted him to imagine them inside, among the ministers and the volunteers. They would kneel and they would pray. They would be forgiven for their flaws and their mistakes and their unpaid bills. And when they came out again, blinking their eyes and heading in the direction of their cars, they would have something to look forward to. A promise from the heavens, written on the dollar. A payment was due. Oh, yes: their payment had come due.