Riding with Jesus Part VI: a badbadbad tour blog
Editor’s Note: Jesús Ángel Garcia, author of badbadbad, is blogging his book tour. This is his sixth installment.
Arrested in Virginia Beach
Hell is Real. Billboards in the Dirty South tell us so. Jesus is hope. If you’re pregnant, we can help. I’m a baby, not a choice. Adult Superstore next exit.
Here’s our statement from a Virginia Beach jail:
It was a beautiful night. I expected to be in town for just a few hours en route to Baltimore. Leah’s an old friend from elementary school. We hadn’t seen each other since eighth grade. She suggested the boardwalk for freak-preaching from my badbadbad novel, a story about identity politics and hypocrisy. There’s this Reverend character who gives fiery sermons. The Word of God on sexual morality. I sometimes do these live performances with a bullhorn. We thought we’d entertain the tourists, maybe sell some books. DIY tours are expensive.
This Christian group was proselytizing on “works of the flesh” and eternal damnation. Hatred and anger were said to be no-no’s alongside sorcery, drunkenness and fornication. I like to drink bourbon and make love to Harry Potter audiobooks. One of the Christians handing out pamphlets said we were all sinners who would never get to heaven when we died unless we were born again in Jesus today. I tried to explain that the Kingdom of God, as I understand it, lies in the here and now. The Kingdom of God is helping the poor and the afflicted. It’s loving-kindness on Earth. Jesus was a Buddhist, I said. This made the Christian angry.
1. Good Christian soldiers on the Virginia Beach boardwalk. 2. What compassion looks like in the Dirty South
I got up on a milk crate next to a stack of books a few yards downwind from the evangelists. They said, “Fornication is an abomination in the eyes of God.” I said, “You have to get naked to be clothed in the Lord.” They said, “You will burn in hell unless you are reborn.” I said, “It’s hell-hot out here. Let’s take off all our clothes and be sanctified in the Spirit.” They said, “Idle hands are the devil’s playground.” I said, “Touch me and be healed.” That’s when all hell broke loose.
One of the pamphleteers pushed me off my soapbox, yelling about how I was a blasphemer and he was a soldier. My friend Leah, who’s a rollerderby pro and former security guard at a methadone clinic, bodyslammed the guy. He flipped over the boardwalk railing. She said she was sorry. I begged everyone to relax: “Violence is not the answer.” While Leah tried to help the fallenangel to his feet, another guy came up and knocked the bullhorn from my hands. The batteries spilled out. His eyes were wild, his face beet-red in the lamppost light. The promenading tourists dead-stopped and watched. I felt violated and told him so. He said I was violating the Word of God. I know what I said next was wrong, but I was caught up in the moment. Something about circle-jerking on the Scriptures. He tried to tackle me. I kneed him in the diaphragm and twisted out of his clutch. This was one-hundred-percent self-defense. I almost spun into a police officer on a horse. He pulled his gun and told me to put my hands up. I followed his command. I believe in the American justice system. We did nothing wrong. We were the ones attacked. I swear it on the bible. No, I don’t have a lawyer.
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Playlist highlights: Reverend Horton Heat, Charlie Daniels Band, “Disco Inferno” and “You’ll never get to heaven when you die, little girl”:
Next up: Dancing in the Streets: Baltimore & D.C.
— Jesús Ángel García’s U.S. summer tour is sponsored by Sergio’s Bail Bonds of Virginia Beach. Check out the Baltimore launch party with special guests Adam Robinson, Stephanie Barber & Nik Korpon tonight at Cyclops Books & Music. Details on the Google map here