Copyright is held by the author.
IN THE sweltering heat of Alabama he rode his bike door to door. Adam used to accompany him but he left three days ago for a mission trip in Ethiopia. Now Samuel was on his own, spreading the good word to those who didn’t want to hear it.
Samuel always dressed in a freshly ironed button-up, accented by a playful tie. On this day it was navy blue with dark brown crosses. Sweat was pooling underneath his arms, dampening his white shirt. His bike helmet trapped the sweat on his forehead and his hair was matted down. It was 101 degrees and he only had a few droplets of water left in his canteen.
It was 2 p.m. and he had another three hours to go. He thought about going home, peeling off his business casual look and taking a cold shower. His mother had made a gallon of sweet tea the night before and he was fantasizing about a tall glass of it. His parents were at church, teaching marriage preparation courses to freshly engaged couples. They wouldn’t know if he came home a few hours early but God would.
Samuel shook his ill-intentions from his mind. Jesus survived in the desert for 40 days and nights. He could make it until 5 p.m. Samuel pedalled up to the next house and propped up his bike with the kickstand. He retrieved his pamphlet and bible from the basket on the front of his bike. His hands were so sweaty that the leatherback of the bible was slipping through them. He tucked the bible between his knees and wiped his sweaty palms on his pants. He remembered that his Paw Paw always said sweat was just sin leaving the body.
Samuel walked up the driveway and toward the front door, mentally rehearsing his spiel. He’d uttered it so many times but it was difficult without Adam by his side. Before they’d taken turns and had specific parts that they were each responsible for relaying. Now it was all on Samuel’s shoulders.
He’d fudged up the first few times earlier that morning, which resulted in the door being immediately slammed in his face. He was used to having doors slammed in his face. Over the past three months, he’d learned not to let it affect him. In fact, every night before he fell asleep he said an extra prayer for the door-slammers. He asked God to forgive them for their harsh actions and their atheism. Samuel didn’t want to be the reason anyone’s soul was damned for eternity.
Samuel wrapped on the front door. His knuckles were sore from knocking and this knock was weak. It was Saturday afternoon and everyone was at the mall or the movies or the pool. Not many were opening their doors so knocking loud and confidently felt futile. Sometimes everything felt futile.
To his surprise, the door creaked open. A boy who looked to be about 10 or 11 stood before him, playing on a Nintendo switch and barely glancing up.
Samuel smiled at him. “Hi. Are your parents home?”
The boy shook his head no. “My stupid sister is. Cara,” the boy called, “there’s some dude trying to sell bibles at the door.”
Samuel tried to correct the boy but he walked away, leaving the door wide open.
“Tell him to fuck off!” Samuel heard a female voice. Cara’s he assumed.
“Tell him yourself,” the boy replied.
Samuel wasn’t sure what he should do. In his training, their youth pastor had drilled persistency into their minds.
He heard footsteps bounding down the stairs. A young woman, roughly his own age, stood before him with only a thin pink towel wrapped around her.
Her blonde curls were still wet and water rolled down the ends of them, disappearing between her cleavage.
She placed a hand on her hip and the other on the door frame.
“Look, whatever you’re selling, we don’t want it.” Her voice oozed like caramel.
Samuel stammered for words. “Do you have a moment to talk about our lord and savior Jesus Christ?”
Cara scoffed and gestured toward the towel wrapped around her. “I’m kind of busy here.”
Cara’s younger brother crept up behind her and yanked on her towel. It fell to the ground, revealing every inch of her ivory skin.
“Ben!” she screeched and scrambled for her towel.
Ben cackled behind her.
Samuel knew he should look away. It was the pure and modest thing to do, but he could not tear his eyes from the curve of her breasts or the width of her hips.
Cara stood up and quickly wrapped the towel back around her.
Samuel stared, mouth gaped open and eyes wide.
“What? You’ve never seen a naked girl before?”
Samuel absentmindedly reached for the promise ring he’d had since seventh grade, swearing to remain abstinent until he was married.
Cara smirked. “Typical Jesus freak virgin.” Then she slammed the door in his face.
Samuel started back down the driveway to his bicycle, leaving his dignity on the doorstep.