by Bethan Jones
Thunderclap Evans preaches hellfire and brimstone from the pulpit every Sunday. Dressed in Methodist black he rages at the congregation like he’s just stepped out of the eighteenth century.
“And there’ll be signs in the sun and moon and stars, you mark my words,” he roars. “And on the earth everyone will be in distress over the roaring of the sea and the surging waves coming up over everything. People all over the place will be fainting from fear, boyo,” he thumps his fist on the lectern, spittle flying from his lips, and the altar boys cringe behind him. “And from the expectation of what is coming on the world, for the powers of the heavens will be shaken. Then they will see the Son of Man arriving in a cloud with power and great glory. But when these things begin to happen,” he pauses, gazes at each one of us like we’re capable of bringing the apocalypse down now if we’re not paying attention. “Stand up and raise your heads, because your redemption is drawing near.”
He shakes our hands when we leave Chapel, grips our fingers tight and squeezes like he’s testing us. We can tell we’ve passed when he nods and smiles, but God help the poor bugger who’s failed.
Thunderclap Evans preaches hellfire and brimstone from the pulpit every Sunday morning, and by every Sunday night he’s out cold in the vestry, communion wine leaking from between his lips. I found him one night, walking past the Chapel on my way home and all the lights were blazing. I got him up and carried him home and never breathed a word to anyone.
He shakes my hand when I leave Chapel but I know I haven’t passed any tests. There’s strong a man who wouldn’t flinch under Thunderclap Evans’ glare, and I am not a strong man.
Bethan Jones is a Welsh writer of flash fiction and science fiction. She is working towards a PhD at Cardiff University.