The Pumpkin Cult Clerk

He was too drunk to just run out to the sand and feel the grains between his toes and the softness on the soles of his soul and jump out into the ocean like a madman to play and eat jellyfish sandwiches.

For Pumpkin Cult Clerk.

Jehovah Pumpkin worked in an oceanside souvenir shop in Myrtle Beach, South Carolina. His job title was that of clerk and his basic duties consisted of stocking merchandise, helping customers, and operating the cash register. He liked the job but hated the people that came in and complained about the most mundane things. He also liked the job because he could come to work looking like a beach bum and no one really cared. He was part of the “atmosphere,” his boss had said, and so it was okay if he resembled a hippie surfer dude who was high on more than just life.

But the one thing that Jehovah Pumpkin always got heat for was his name. There were a great many people who upon looking at his nametag emblazoned with JEHOVAH became very accusatory in the sense that Jehovah Pumpkin was somehow making light of the name of God, or worse yet, impersonating the good Lord. His persecutors — and wasn’t that strange, persecution for the persecuted — said words like “Sacrilegious,” and “Blasphemous,” and “Scandalous,” and “How dare you,” and “You should be shot, and then shot again.”

Jehovah Pumpkin would try to explain, if they would listen, and some did, that he had no choice in what his name was because he was raised in a cult that lived in a pumpkin patch in Colorado and that their Prophet had bestowed all names upon the newly born, for it was his law. Jehovah would always add, “And I have a brother named Yahweh.”

Many of the people he told this to would just scoff and shake their heads in disgust. Some would spit on him after purchasing big towels or beach balls or plastic pails and shovels and molds for sand to build sandcastles with.

It was his crazy mother, Ruth the Baptist, that decided to stay with the cult while his father, Roger Hemingway, (Hemingway being the secular surname he returned to) had escaped to a semi-normal life in Denver when Jehovah and Yahweh Pumpkin were just young gourds (or boys). There had been much fighting and hot-headed quarreling between the mother and the father, especially when Roger Hemingway discovered that the Prophet had taken his wife as his own… Without even asking first.

And seeing that Ruth the Baptist had no intention of protesting the arrangement, in fact, it seemed she was quite in love with the Prophet, Roger Hemingway could no longer take life there in the pumpkin patch. He decided it was time that he left the compound, to leave behind the bland adobe buildings, cell blocks really, and metal fences, and wild dogs, and bizarre rules and rituals, and so he packed one bag and stole off into the night without even saying goodbye.

Jehovah Pumpkin was haphazardly rocked by Parrot Bay rum as he looked out at the ocean and the clouds above that were like purple haze marshmallows. He was sitting out on the deck of his beach bungalow, it needed fresh paint, and he was listening to the waves crash as he rearranged his mind with the strong drink. The sliding glass door was open and music from the radio inside was filtering out through the screen, something from the Yield album by Pearl Jam. He had recently cleaned the kitchen and the dishwasher was running and so he heard that, too, the machinery and the water. It was somehow soothing and satisfactory to him as it mixed with the mainstream rock licks.

The wind blew his hair around and there were people running and playing down in the sand. Someone was flying a kite. He could hear the distant sounds of people laughing and speaking inaudible words to each other. He reached for the binoculars on his patio table and zoomed in. There was a woman who had taken off her top and her oversized breasts were jiggling almost grossly. It was unsatisfying to him. The tourists clot the cream, he thought.

He set aside the binoculars and bemoaned the fact that he was too drunk to just run out to the sand and feel the grains between his toes and the softness on the soles of his soul and jump out into the ocean like a madman to jungle dance and eat jellyfish sandwiches as a windsock screamed a scalding warning about a coming storm called IGNORANT MAN… So it said on a banner trailing from a small plane in the sky.

The phone rang. Jehovah Pumpkin clumsily got up and drunkenly shuffled inside to answer it. It was his boss from the oceanside souvenir shop wanting to know if he could come in and cover the evening shift, 4 to 9 p.m.

“No. I can’t do that.”

His boss got a little upset and wanted to know why.

“I have to go to my uncle’s funeral.”

His boss wasn’t convinced and wanted to know when his uncle died.

“A few days ago,” Jehovah Pumpkin answered. “His heart exploded.”

His boss wanted to know why he hadn’t mentioned it before now.

“I was to upset… And I didn’t want to place any unnecessary emotional burden upon my co-workers, dude.”

His boss sighed and asked him to call tomorrow with an update on the status of him being able to work.

Jehovah Pumpkin hung up without saying another word. He looked out the sliding glass door and saw that storm clouds were beginning to develop. He was happy about that because he liked a good rain, he enjoyed the sound of it as the drops hit the world and discolored it. He was suddenly hungry for pizza. He dug through a small pile of paper coupons and found one for a good deal at Volt’s.

“Volt’s… Shockingly good pizza,” Jehovah Pumpkin said aloud with a laugh. “Hell, man. I like that. That’s a billion-dollar idea.”

He dialed the number and ordered a large sausage, pepperoni, and pineapple pie to be delivered. They told him it would be about 45 minutes.

“Dude, time has no meaning to me. Just bring it when you can,” he told the young man on the other end of the line.

He hung up and walked outside. The wind had picked up and the temperature dropped, and he thought that was strange. “Maybe it will snow,” he said to the clouds.

A while later there was a knock at the door and Jehovah Pumpkin nearly fell on his way to the door. He pulled it open hoping to see the pizza delivery guy holding a big white box and a pleasing smile. But his heart quickly sunk when he saw the Prophet from the pumpkin patch in Colorado standing there, looking much older than he remembered, but it was definitely the Prophet. There was a large man standing on either side of him, big muscular arms folded across their torsos, squinting scowls upon their faces.

Jehovah Pumpkin poked his head out a bit and looked around. “What the hell… Have you seen the pizza guy?”

One of the large men quickly put a cloth sack over Jehovah Pumpkin’s head while the other grabbed him up and carried him to a waiting white van with the side door open. He was thrown inside, and the door was quickly slid shut with force. The van sped off.

Just as the van had completely disappeared, the pizza delivery person from Volt’s Pizza arrived and knocked on the halfway open door of Jehovah Pumpkin’s beach bungalow. “Hello… Pizza delivery,” she called out. She waited. “Hello,” she repeated. “I have your Volt’s Pizza order.” She waited a little longer. “God damn it,” she mumbled, and she went back to her car, tossed the white pizza box through the open window and onto the front passenger seat. She went around and got in on the other side and drove off with a bucket full of anger in her guts.

The pizza delivery girl, her name being Emmanuelle, stopped at a convenience store and bought herself a lemon-lime soda in a plastic bottle. She drove to a park overlooking the ocean and watched a thunderstorm give birth far out over the Atlantic. She ate Jehovah Pumpkin’s pizza and drank the lemon-lime soda. When she was done, she put her hand down her pants and touched herself for a while. Then the rain came in thick sheets, and she felt it pool in her heart for the rest of the day.


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