In the beginning were the words.
The words were the poet’s, and later the priest’s.
And the words the poet wrote were that Malcolm Bodwell was,
“rapacious and repulsive and a fat gloating suet goat of a boy (not man) engorging himself on peat and stone and dregsy water throughout this land, your land, which he cravened for his own land, braying his way from the commission to council to county confabs, charming and chomping his cloven footed way through a field here, a stream there, gobbling as he goes.”
Bodwell had asked if it was dregsy why did anyone else want it, said that goats did not bray, that the term was ‘cloven-hoofed’ and that moreover he pled guilty to being charming.
The poet, a journalist named Frank Chelsea, had said Bodwell had pled guilty to other charges in the past and that as either goat or ass he ought to have been slaughtered long ago, throat slit and well strung up by his fat ankles, bled empty in a cold, dark and ugly bog, such as Orange County would be and become if Malc the Knife were allowed to buy it.
It might have concluded there, but that Bodwell had in fact been found four days later, throat sliced, and hanging by one leg from a rotting rafter of a tenement basement in the part of Santa Ana where they only run the street cleaners twice a month.
Rats had thought to gnaw at the rope holding Bodwell’s ankle, but saw it was a thickish wire instead, so they’d started on his toes and heel.
His ankle was in fact fat. The dirt floor held a shadowed outline of his blood. The dirt itself had absorbed the rest.
Except for what they found on the passenger side front carpet of Frank Chelsea’s car.
So the poet was enjailed.
And the priest came the next day.
“I didn’t ask for you,” said the poet.
“If it comes to that, I didn’t ask for you,” said the priest.
“I did not.”
“You screeched for one as they brought you in here, kicking and screaming,” said the priest. “It’s not a cliché. You were both. After the sedative wore off you were allowed two calls. And you called my church with the second.”
“Who was the first?”
“I don’t know.”
“I don’t want you here.”
“Well, I am here.”
The poet looked at him. There was no collar.
“You’re a priest?”
“I’m a pastor.”
“You said I asked for a priest.”
“Screeched for one. But you called a pastor.”
“I want a priest.”
“You got a pastor.”
“You’re not a priest.”
“You’re not a poet.”
“What does that mean?”
“What kind of pastor are you?”
“The weary kind. What do you mean?”
The poet thought a moment and smirked.
“Are you the one-eyed crazy one, or the hepcat one?”
The priest thought a moment and smiled.
“As long as I’m not a one-legged Bible salesman, does it matter?”