Church, Pt. 2: A Good Father Makes a Decent Pun

by Dillon Hayes

The Howells strolled into Hands of the Lord Church of the Rock for the Sacred Heart and took a gander at the ornamentals. The crown molding was baroque, the pews were lacquered in a shade that Keith could agree with, and the programs for the sermon were very tastefully done.

Keith wore his Sunday’s best: cuff links, a bow tie, and some wing-tipped dress shoes. Otherwise, he was still naked. He walked in behind the rest of his family, feeling anxious for the first time in a while about public nudity. Those who saw Keith walk in were astonished at what they perceived as audacity, but were unable to act on their desire to kick him out of the building.

Keith hadn’t been inside of a church since he was a kid, and his children had never been. Joseph and Sonya kept tugging on the ornate tablecloths and asking questions about what a God is. No one really knew, so Keith deferred to Marcia, and Marcia deferred to the priest.

The Howells took a seat in the back row of pews: the best place to get reacquainted with the Church, Marcia and Keith thought. After getting situated, Keith looked down at his son and whispered.

“Is this what you need?” he asked Joseph, not letting Marcia hear him.

“I don’t know. Mom thinks so,” he whispered in reply, feeling confused as to how church would affect his behavior.

“Listen, Joseph. This is a good thing we’re doing, regardless, but I don’t want you to stop being yourself. Just do it when it’s appropriate.”

“Okay, dad.” Joseph smiled at Keith.

The priest approached his pulpit and said a thing or two. He was old and wily and truly enthralled with his discourse, but the sermon was easy to lose interest in. That is, until about 30 minutes in, when the priest shined a spotlight on Keith.

“And here! We have this man, who could not even afford to buy clothes, but still managed to bring himself and his family to church. Sir, how good is God to have brought you here today, in spite of your struggles?!”

Keith felt so weird. He adjusted his cuff links and tugged at his tie a little bit. “Uh, yes, yes it is good,” he said just loud enough for the priest to hear him.

The crowd turned to look at Keith, and those who were once glaring now looked on him with pity, having not thought about his obvious poverty before.

“How good, brother?!”

In about a second-and-a-half, Keith looked down, muttered, “Shoot,” and looked back up and replied, “Yes, very good.” Marcia looked at him, a little frustrated with his lack of participation.

“’Very good’ he says! And ‘very good’ is right! Amen, brother!”

The crowd echoed “amen” and returned their attention to the pulpit. Keith caught his breath and came down from the anxiety of being the object of spectacle. Joseph looked up at his dad and told him he “did good.”

At the end of the sermon, the Howells walked toward the end of the pew, hoping to make it out to the car quickly. The front pews led, however, and the line to get out was long. When the Howells made it to the door, they were stopped by the priest.

“I haven’t seen you around before, guys. Thanks for coming.” Turning his attention to Joseph and Sonya, he asked, “Did you guys learn anything good today?”

Joseph said, “Yeah, I learned a lesson about not making fart noises in class. If coming here is what happens after I do that, I’m done.”

Keith and the priest both laughed. Marcia took the reins on fixing Joseph’s reputation with the Church. “We were all captivated,” she said. “Joseph especially learned some valuable lessons.”

The priest looked Keith up and down and shook his head with a smile. “Well, I sure do hope you guys can keep abreast.,” the priest said. “You guys look like you really could use the body of our Lord, ya know?” And with that, the priest walked away, happy with his puns.

Before the Howells walked outside, Keith pulled Joseph close to him, kneeled down, and asked, “Hey, is the reason you make fart noises in class because I haven’t been able to go on field trips with you and stuff like that?”

Joseph was surprised to hear his dad say that. “No way!” Joseph exclaimed. “It’s because fart noises are funny!”

Keith smiled at Joseph, and then Keith put his face in his elbow and blew. Joseph laughed and joined, and Sonya laughed and joined. Then Marcia realized the futility and ridiculousness of her attempt to influence the behavior of a 10 year-old and put her face in her elbow, too. After a few seconds of that, everybody jumped on top of Keith and put their mouths on his naked body and blew. Keith crumbled to the floor and laughed hysterically as his family assaulted him with raspberries, and the church rang with the sound of the Howells’ laughter.

Attention then turned to the pulpit, where the priest was blowing into his wrinkly inner elbow, spit flying everywhere. He did it right next to his microphone and struggled to maintain his composure as he intermittently burst with laughter.

As the confused church-goers (they were really grappling with whether or not their respect for the priest should waver) filed out of the building, the priest came back down and said, “You guys don’t know how much I love that stuff. When you get a microphone and a room designed to carry sound all to yourself, you make a lot of fart noises. I try and keep it at a minimum during the sermon, but it’s a pretty easy cover for incontinence and the kids love it.”