:: Article

Slimy Pope

By Tom Bradley.

Rome’s being closed to wheeled traffic in the daylight hours for the first time since Alaric sacked the place. Sitting here watching it on television, I have figured something out. It’s about power, prophylactics, and the Pope. I suddenly understand what seduces public figures, what possesses them to make themselves over and set themselves up just like the golden calf that pissed Moses off so bad after he returned from his hike on Horeb.

I begin to understand the groin-tickling sensations that motivated John Paul–John Paul, that balding, husky darling of the airwaves. One of history’s greatest criminals, this guy donned his triple tiara, cross-dressed in his silks and satins, and flaunted himself in front of overcrowded, starving, AIDS-ravished communities, holding up two plump fingers in a meretricious salute, and announcing that simple cream-bags were mortal abominations. It was like walking into a burning orphanage, telling the kids to stand on one leg until they’d learned better than to play with matches, and jacking off on their faces to cool the blisters as they formed.

That applause-ravenous Polack was the reason I never emerged from the car on Sunday mornings. Even on Easter and Christmas–the two days per year when my devout wife steeled herself and held over my head the threat of papally-dispensed annulment to get me into the Real Presence–I could never remain quietly seated in the family pew at that certain point in the service when the priest, our local attorney of nothingness, asked the congregation to say a little prayer in their hearts for the Holy Father in Rome.

Tom Bradley is a novelist exiled in Nagasaki. The five novels that comprise his Sam Endwine Pentateuch have been nominated for The Editor’s Book Award and The New York University Bobst Prize, and one was a finalist in The AWP Series in the Novel.

First published in 3:AM Magazine: Wednesday, August 10th, 2005.