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God’s Work
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God’s Work

Blaze had run a septic cleaning companyfor fifteen years, called Blaze’s Sewer Review.His emblem? Dead skunk in a crosshairsabove the motto Dirty deeds done dirt cheap!His only son, name Cody, had almost finishedhis Associate’s in maybe becoming a teacher or a cop,but now was taking an accidental gap yearwhere he’d forgot to renew his grants (and made two Ds).Blaze pretended to be displeased, but truth be toldwas happy to have his son around again.Cody had lived at his mother’s housefor almost all of high school, since Blazehad kept his place outside the good school district.So Blaze moved back from the hose to the truck cab,and Cody went to vacuuming up poop, taking backhis sixteenth summer’s work for his twenty-first.The sun was hot and the shit stankand the pay was never low but it wasn’t highand only certain kinds of women didn’t minda man who had that station of employment.But the two made a tolerable living,and knew where to find those women.But then that Glade tornado came and tore Glade up.If nobody had died, it’d have been something to gloat about:two square miles of short circuited crap bombsand them sitting right there, rolling in it (so to speak).But people did die, and others wished they had,and more than that lost Mommy’s house and all her things.The trees looked like the hairline in a razor ad. [End Page 70] So they didn’t like the work they took,and took some cheap, for dinner or beer.Sometimes they had to do stump removal,or spend a half day moving furniturebefore they got to shoveling out the tank.They didn’t put that on the bill. Almost allthey got paid full for was Jobsite Johnny cleanup,and it seemed to rain about half of the festivals out.But nothing was worse than when that church group cameto take the trash and trees from Gladys Lamie’s yard.Jerusalem Church of Jesus the Servant youth group:twenty-five neon t-shirts strong from St. Jean-Baptiste, Iowa.Everyone picking up trash with one hand, cell phonesin the other; everyone mixing up the names of tools,asking folks about their accents, not getting jack shit done.Mrs. Lamie’d double-booked the day; so Blaze and Codyhad to watch all this and try to work around it.Everything done something they could have done in half the timewithout the trouble, everything not done somethingkeeping them from getting to their work.But the kids were doing God’s work, Gladys said;she held their hands then cried as they prayed for her.So Blaze and Cody kept their mouths shut for a whilebut before the kids were halfway done cleaningthey’d stopped for lunch and pictures.The girls duckfaced in Jesus name,with those matching neon shirts: big heart in a houseread Spreading His love to the whole world! [End Page 71] Preacher’s lady clicked that Nikon camerawhile the girls duckfaced and the boys got a chainsawstuck in a stump, and flooded out the engine.Finally it all just ate Blaze up too much.If a man came in on that stump at angleshe wouldn’t have that problem, he hinted to the boys.Do ya’ll want it I could get that out for you?We’re sorry, sir, but we can’t let you do that,the preacher said. You have to be approved to volunteer.Ah, I think we know how to work with tools.Well all the same, we best get this alone.And that was all the two said to each other.The preacher preached and the shovelers shoveledand neither spoke to the other one again.But later, heading home, Blaze turned to Codyand said, My daddy only ever told me one thingabout religion: ‘You do God’s work, but never call it that.’And that’s the only thing...