Chapter Nine

[You can always start from Chapter One here.]

By the time Ron had brushed himself off and picked himself up off the floor, Gus had maneuvered the curtain sash around his robe in the fashion of a Franciscan monk’s tassel. Ron stood in the entryway determining his next move. Gus crossed from the living room to the kitchen coming back with an array of herbs, matches and oil. He began to light some sage and spread the smoke out into the corners of the room. Ron knew exactly what to do. Gus had gone crazy. He would have to call Mom.

The head of the household was really Mom Lukenglasse. Her first name was Theresa but she insisted that everyone call her Mom in the house including Ron and Gus so as to reinforce to Miranda who her mother was. Most people might find this absurd, being that Mira should already recognize who her own mother was, but since Mom was rarely home it wasn’t a bad idea all together. Ron would have preferred to call her Mrs. Lukenglasse, but he was continually reminded by Gus and Mira that it was “Mom.” Ron was rather nervous about calling her at work. In fact, Ron hardly ever spoke to her at all. She came home after he was in bed for the night and left before he was up in the morning. As the phone rang, Ron wondered when the last time he saw her was when he was interrupted by the receptionist.

“Used and New Toyota and Buicks, how may I help you?”

“Um, I’d like to speak to Mom…I mean Theresa Lukenglasse, if I could.”

“She’s with a customer right now, can I take a message?” the voice said on the other line, her voice like crystal across a table linen, smooth and without any emotion.

Ron watched as Gus took a rag, covered it with cooking oil and began smearing it around the frame of the door.  “I actually really need to speak to her, it pertains to her husband and her daughter. It’s very important,” Ron attempted his most professional diction.

“As I said before, I’d be more than happy to take a message but she’s out on a test drive and I do not know when she will be back,” the crystal had a slight ding in its pitch.

Gus spun in circles like a dervish holding the sage in front of him and letting the smoke plume up in a spiral above his head. He chanted under his breath making a low guttural sound that Ron could not distinguish.

“Look lady! If you have to take a message then let Mrs. Lukenglasse know that her daughter has been taken captive by a strange man and her husband refuses to call the cops.”

“Thank you very much sir. Now may I please get your name and telephone number for where Mrs. Lukenglasse can reach you.”

Ron looked down at the phone with disgust as if it were the receptionist herself, “I told you, this is Ron. I live with Mrs. Lukenglasse. I have very important information.”

“I already took down your message sir but how am I suppose to deliver it if I don’t have your contact information.”

Before Ron could respond, he felt a tug on his shoulder. It was Gus and he had a strange grin on his face and held a bar of ivory soap in his hand.

“You know what, never mind. I’ll just wait for her to come home,” Ron hung up the receiver and looked back at Gus with fear in his eyes. “What are you doing with that soap, Gus? Cleaning up after yourself. I see you got some oil all over the walls.”

“I was preparing the house for The Rapture. Anointing the thresholds, clearing out the bad spirits, when I realized that our bodies were not clean,” Gus looked Ron up and down and shivered with disgust thinking about the millions of evil spirits that must fill this pagan’s body. “You must come with me.” Gus grabbed Ron’s shoulder and pulled him into the kitchen where a tub of water was waiting in the middle of the room. “Hop in.”

“I’m not getting in there,” Ron pulled his arm away from Gus’ grasp.

“Oh yes you are,” Gus wrestled Ron into the tub and pushed him down into the water. “Stop jumpin’ around like a rattlesnake and let me clean you.” Gus grabbed one of Ron’s arms and held it over his black head of hair, shoving the bar of soap into the armpit of his shirt and lathering it up. “Body odor is a sign of the devil, boy.”

“This is ludicrous. You’re crazier then sin. Let me go,” Ron yelled. As Ron attempted to shout out again, Gus pushed the soap into his mouth.

“Now I won’t be hearing any of that tarnation. We got to get that mouth of yours cleaned out with the good Lord’s soap.” He rubbed the bar back and forth on Ron’s tongue while the boy tried to lurch back and spit the bitter taste out. “Yessa, Lord! I see the ways of my sins now, Lord” Gus spoke to no one in particular. “I have gone down a long path of hedonism that has lead me nowhere but I see what I must do to make this right-ta. I will clean the sins from this youth, oh Lord!” Gus’ voice began to vibrate with a low tenure, “Amen Lord!”

Ron splashed the water back at Gus and jumped from the basin letting the water drip over the kitchen floor.

“Whatcha think your doin’ over there? I’m not finished with you yet.”

“I think I’m clean enough thank you very much. I’ll be leaving now.”

“Shush son, God is with us now and he has told me what to do. I must cleanse you of your sins. Hallelujah Lord! Jesus Christ Almighty!” Gus took the sponge from the water and reached for Ron’s arm.

Ron jumped back, “But…but…what have I done? Why don’t you go clean yourself?”

Gus paused. He cocked his head to the side and looked at Ron with the blankest of stares.  He dropped the sponge back into the basin and let his arms fall to his sides. “Ah, from the mouth of babes…You make a right good point there boy,” Gus bowed his head in submission and raised his hands to the prayer position. “Yes, I see the error of my ways. You may leave me now boy.”

Ron was rather amazed. He hadn’t expected that to work, but rather than sit there pondering the results of his hypothesis, he dashed out of the kitchen as fast as he could before Gus could change his mind.

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