This article is part of the We Do Battle for the Lord series.
"Naw, I caught bed bugs from a lap dance in Jonesboro," he said and creased the air with a stream of tobacco juice. "I'm not going back to Arkansas after that. Horror Hooks can wait."
Isaac has been all over me to chronicle this stuff, said it'll be like our Book of Eli, but only 'cause he just watched that dang movie twice at the Best Western in Tuscaloosa. I'm just gonna start it here and see how it comes out. Tear the scab off, so they say. We were at the proverbial fork in our road.
What Isaac said about Jonesboro was sound old skeezer logic, and myself also being a middle-aged skeezer I tended to agree. Counterpoint: I had the last knuckle of my middle finger bit off by a dog when we went over the wrong fence chasing after a Scratch Devil in Colorado. I do not have any hurry to get back there. Got it back from the dog all shrunk up like a Lil' Smoky. Yeah, it re-attached, but whenever I touch something with it now it gives me a nails-on-the-chalkboard feeling in the back of my teeth.
Isaac and me were stopped at a Truckso's in one of those little gas station towns along the I-70 corridor. Me? I'm a husky man with blond muttonchops and I'm usually swaddled in a catalog of denim from different eras and different towns. I like jeans, what can I say? I got a big silver and turquoise necklace around my neck with the center stone being carved with the symbol of our secret order, which we are the founders and only members of.
If you were to pick out a leader between us it would have to be Isaac, who was tall and lean, and hid his baldness beneath a beat-up Kansas City Chiefs hat. Lately he took to wearing dark sunglasses and had the grizzled look of a veteran of the motorcycle clubs from days when the worst that meant was a chain across the face, not some jumpin' in business with a knife or a gun. Hell of a guy though. Could talk your ear off about science or politics or world facts or what have you. He watched History Channel and Discovery Channel pretty much all day back before we got into this.
I guess some explaining is in order on account of our unusual circumstance. You see both Isaac and me are dead, or we were dead, or have been dead in the past based on an official hospital certificate. Happened about a year ago. We were fishing together along the Mississippi, not too far from Quincy or one of them other hilltop towns still hanging on after all these years. Storm came out of nowhere and right as Isaac is hauling back to cast his line he gets hit with lightning. Stopped his heart like a bomb going off in there. The boat being aluminum and me being sat less than three feet away I shared his fate.
So there we lay for some time. Our hair was all burned up and our clothes were scorched. I figure we were even smoking for a while, going down the river in our boat like little baby Moses. Eventually a sheriff hauled us in and took our bodies to the hospital. They checked us into the morgue and that was it. Tagged and bagged. We were headed for the big sleep in the dirt.
It was about then that some sort of power or whatever intervened. Now, I got to tell you, I didn't see nothing. The last thing I remember was the mule-kick of a jolt going up my keister from the boat, then waking up on a slab in the morgue. Not Isaac. He came out all different, saying he talked to God in there and God told him all about our purpose. He wouldn't shut up about it. It was uncharacteristic if you ask me. Isaac believes in that Bible stuff, but far as I know the man has not been to church since we was in grade school together.
"These are bad times, buddy. No man can be expected to face what's comin'. But we ain't no men. We got to hunt down all the evil that gets out," he said. "Our past is past. We belong to God now. We do battle for the Lord."
He said something else, some mysterious sort of phrase like you would hear in a Catholic church, but I wasn't half paying attention. I was looking for some sort of garment situation to preserve my modesty. I've got a man rack and I don't like showing it off. Scared the bejesus out of the little old lady that runs the morgue. Got us some white coats and got us out of there.
I tried to ask Isaac some more questions about it all, but he was too busy writing in a notebook, talking about how he had to get it all out of him before he forgot. Eventually he showed me the book. It was all scribbles and drawings, but he said it was a list of where evil was and what we had to do.
"Don't you get it? What we have to understand is it's them or us. It can't be all of us, or one. It's got to be us, or they become it. Then we lose what makes us we."
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Isaac and his buddy died in a boating accident almost a year ago. Since then, things have gotten pretty strange. Messages supposedly from God propel them across the United States to combat supernatural evil.