You know that strategy where you’re supposed to just agree to everything a job interviewer asks you about any kind of potential situations? Like if they ask if you’d be willing to relocate you say, “yes” and then worry about later.
Then when they give you an offer, you can have them put “no relocations for a year” or something. At least that’s the theory. Which is why I said I wouldn’t mind relocating. But when they gave me the offer, I just took it without really thinking too much about it.
I know, I’m an idiot. I’m easy to take advantage. Which is why they transferred me as soon as I’d finished their training program. They paid for it, but that was it. They said I had a long, four day weekend. Pack my stuff, arrange the flight and the shipping. Find a new place. And be ready for work.
They told me this Wednesday afternoon. I had to be ready for work Monday morning. If I said no, I was out. I guess part of the package I’d signed (without reading) was that the first six months were probationary. Which meant they could fire me for any time for any reason.
And they place they sent me to was at their worst performing office. I guess this was a last ditch effort to save it. So not only was I being sent to some city I’d never been to before, it was for a job where I’d be fired for anyway.
So yeah, I packed up my stuff. Got the first plane flight that was available. Found a room for rent on Craigslist. So far so good right? Except my new apartment was above this Italian restaurant. Not bad, I guess.
I mean it’s busy until about 8 at night, then it kind of dies down. The place closes at ten, and I usually don’t go to bed until midnight. The first week wasn’t so bad. But one Saturday morning, I woke up early.
Not because I wanted to, but because of the singing. It turns out the owner of the restaurant is also a member of this Holy Roller type church. Those Christians that do a lot of singing and speaking in tongues. I assume they are Christians but you never know.
Turns out that one Saturday a month, they have this two hour service in that small restaurant. They pack about fifty people in there. One guy will start doing whole “call-response” deal. He’ll say a bunch of stuff, and then they’ll repeat back the last three or four words.
It’s kind of interesting to listen to. If you forget about the words, and just listen to the sounds. One really loud voice speaking, almost like singing. Then a whole roomful of people shouting back the same sounds.
The tension, the feelings, the emotions just resonate. I suppose it would feel even better if you were in the middle of it all, and if you were a real believer. That must be something. I can understand why they go on so long.
But sometimes it starts to get weird. They don’t always speak in tongues, but when they do it’s crazy. They go in that back and forth, but then it just kind if disintegrates into absolute sound anarchy.
I remember once I took a course in college called “Jazz Appreciation.” We studied all kinds of blues and jazz. There was one period when jazz musicians would get together, and just play whatever they wanted. No plans, no notes. This wasn’t a jamming session, where they would collectively find a melody to cling to and wrap their music around. This was just each musician playing his own thing.
Which is why it didn’t ever become popular, because it was just noise, really. And that’s what it sounded like when they were speaking in tongues. It morphed from this poetic back and forth, filled with resonant energy and feelings, to just random gibberish.
But then it would morph back into that beautiful call and response. I don’t know if they have any kind of system, or if the leader decides the speaking in tongues business has gone on too long, and decides it’s time for some old school preaching.
But after being there only a few months, I started looking forward to those revival meetings. Just laying there in bed, listening to them go on and one was comforting in a weird sort of way. I’d never been religious, don’t even know if I believe in that stuff.
But when they start chanting, I feel like I’m connected to something. Some deeper part of humanity, a collective, ancient part, that I maybe need to be more in touch with. I guess that’s why people join clubs and churches, and I guess even cults.
Funny thing is that my office started doing really well. I’d been meaning to go downstairs and finally meet the owner, I’ve never actually been in the place. I’d hate to go down there, make some friends, and then get fired and have to move. But after the office looked like it was going to stay afloat, and my probationary period was over, I figured I’d give it a go.
The place was not at all like I’d expected. I kind of imagined some old school type of restaurant, kind of like where Michael Corleone committed his first murder against that one cop, but it was nothing like that. Really fancy, but not too expensive.
So about halfway through my meal, I finally decided to ask the cute waitress about the revival group. Maybe I might like to check it out. She got this really weird look on her face. The manager, or the supervisor came over, and asked me why I’d ask such a thing.
I explained that I’d grown fond of listening to them go on and on every first Saturday morning, and I was wondering if maybe I could come down and participate.
He just shook his head, and said owner would come up and speak to me about it. I guess he wasn’t there. I figured maybe it was some closed group, or maybe they’d rented me the place without thinking that I would overhear them. So I forgot about it.
But then a couple weeks later, there was a knock on my door. It was in the middle of the week, Tuesday or Wednesday, I’m not sure. It was the owner of the Italian place. I’d completely forgotten. He asked if he could come in, I said sure.
He asked where I’d heard about that group. Why I was in town. Wanted to see proof of my employment. When I showed him my documents, even showing him our website, that now had my picture since I’d passed probation, he was worried. Really worried.
“What’s up? I didn’t mean to ask about that group. If it’s private, I understand,” I said.
“That’s the thing, “he started. “That group hasn’t been together since the depression.” I looked at him plain faced. If you want me to stay out, just tell me, I thought.
“They were a branch of the Pentecostal church. They’d been kicked out. Nobody knew why, but people rumored that they’d turned to voodoo. Dark voodoo. They hired his place, when this whole street was vacant. They lived down there. Every day they would chant and sing and speak in tongues. But they weren’t angels,” he said. He was totally serious, but I didn’t believe any of it.
“So what happened to them?” I asked, playing along.
“One day, they just decided to commit mass suicide. About fifty of them. They all slit their throats at once. Police didn’t find them until a couple weeks later. Horrible sight.”
He left, and I never mentioned them again. Neither did I go downstairs to eat, although the food was pretty good. I got the impression that the people who worked in the restaurant thought I was a nutcase.
But a few weeks later, during the middle of the chanting and praying and singing and speaking in tongues, I decided to go down and have a look.
And that old guy was right. There wasn’t anybody there. Not a soul. Or only souls. But I went upstairs and listened to the chanting anyway. It still sounds pretty good. I can’t help the thinking that it’s something to do with the chanting, maybe the words I’m letting in without really trying to understand them, that’s helping me in my work so much.
Since I’ve been listening to that chanting every first Saturday, my office is performing the best out of all branches. And they say it’s because of me.
But I think it’s because of the chanting. I know it’s crazy, but I don’t want to mess up a good thing.
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A boomtown on the edge of economic liftoff. An evil lawyer with inescapably psychotic power. When Marcus Canfield, an underachieving bartender realizes his gift has been reawakened, only to have the girl of his dreams snatched away, he knows he must stop the horrific threat to both her and the entire United States before it's too late.