while shopping with their mother on “good friday”

the kid got caught shoplifting &

after being dragged into the secret room with the plain-clothed cop &

after totaling up what had been stolen &

after the whole pretending-to-cry-buckets episode

failed to succeed in gaining any kind of leniency on behalf of the embarrassed &

fuming mad christian mother,

the two left the store with a new order arising---

the child in question was to be grounded,

was to be swatted like a fly who’d taken too long to run off with that itty bitty piece of

fruit,

was to have their hair cut &

was to be twisted & shaped in a last attempt to make them a

good christian soldier---

so off to church camp they went that summer

on the tail end of the grounding stint

which on top of accomplishing nothing

only drove that wonderful nail of disbelief deep into the face of

that fictional character who

didn’t die for anyone’s “sins”

who didn’t get “resurrected” &

who didn’t fly on up to “heaven”

so that he could “come back to judge the living & the dead”---

no, this child’s punishment did the exact opposite of

what was supposed to be accomplished,

for church camp

(an isolated cult compound buried out in the middle of the fucking woods)

was full of kids who’d been sentenced by their parents

for lack of any better attempt at discipline &

once the parents were gone,

kids were kids, just as they had been before,

regardless of the few truly brainwashed zombies who stumbled around all day

with their “holy book” in hand,

pretending that their hormones weren’t driving them insane,

while the others who had smuggled in some pot, condoms &

liquor,

did their best to keep those comforts of home life relevant

amidst the insanity of what spun round their heads for a week

like a gnat just asking to be

obliterated against a wall

with the palm of a hand growing ever more angry

as time went by.

 

inevitably, one night a few of the forced occupants decided that they had had enough &

took it upon themselves to try & leave the church camp---

they made their way out of their dorms & down the dirt road,

only to remember then

(as even they whose minds were the least warped by this whole exercise in futility,

had forgotten exactly where it was that they’d been taken)

that the road to the church camp led to a major highway

of which not even a cricket did frequent &

the though of hitchhiking or

just strolling on home

was ludicrous at best.

 

frustrated, they made their way back to the camp &

when they got onto the grounds,

floodlights illuminated their path

as if coming from some ship seeking Mulder on the X-Files,

zooming down to intimidate &

in the morning,

when they were all sitting at the cafeteria tables,

a minister sitting at the head of the table of which the few failed escapists sat,

turned their head casually & said

“we know you tried to leave last night…don’t do it again.”

 

 

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