Luther Hough considered himself a righteous man. From an early age, he had always felt a nearness, a closeness with the God of his experience. Indoctrinated by his parents, he was a born-again Christian to the core. His father had been a Pentecostal preacher, with a small congregation in a small county church just outside Kapuskasing, in the northern part of
When Agnes Hough passed away, she left a healthy fortune to Luther. At 20, he decided to invest some of his inheritance to further God's will. He knew he was required to spread the Truth, life had shaped him to this end. God had moulded him for pure evangelization. With some of his windfall he bought an abandoned building in the tiny town of
Whether he cared to admit it or not, Luther Hough was a sexy beast. Just as God seemed to ooze from his being, so too his appearance, coupled with his charisma, allowed him to use attraction to further God's purpose for his life. He stood tall as a man of God. At 6 foot 2 inches, he was a monument to perfection. His smile, his physique, every part of him screamed of God's favour. Women floated in his deep blue eyes. Children trusted in his gentle touch. People were drawn to him and he didn't even have to speak a word. His dark brown hair was chiselled, his beard over-groomed. His body was tight, lean and reeked of vanity. The glasses he wore during his performances were only cosmetic in their nature. Not one for casual appearance, his expensive suits and well-shined shoes only added to the overall sculpture. He was hot and he knew it. He had never really had an interest in marriage or sexual gratification. Any urges he did have were passed off as the consequence of original sin. When he was overcome by his carnal nature, he simply prayed to be made worthy and rebuked his mortal flesh. He chose not to give in. He never had. Despite his success, he felt like he had not achieved his true calling. It was one thing to be a preacher, but Luther wanted so much more. In the silence of the morning, he could often be found praying at the alter he had created, begging God for direction. It was not that he felt underused or taken for granted. He wanted to make a greater difference for Jesus, to help prepare a way for His kingdom.
God works in mysterious ways.
Yonge and Wellesley Streets cross near the center ofAround 9 AM, without fail, Luther would find himself immersed in
downtown core. The streets are well travelled either by day or by night. People
bustle about shops and pizzerias, chatting on cell phones and walking on
garbage. Luther's regular corner was at the heart of this section of the concrete
jungle. To the north just off Yonge sits Yorkville, a snazzy district aimed at
the financial elite. Luther always purchased his suits from a tailor just beyond
the main thoroughfare. To the south a few blocks sits Toronto Dundas
Square. This Canadian version of Times Square in is so bright that
it lights up the daytime. To the west of his weekly spot, young male
prostitutes trade their wares at the side of a McDonald's restaurant right
across the street. In his mind, he would pray for each boy as they sold their
Happy Meal in some nameless old man's car and then sped away together. It was a
drive thru. To the east, just by one city block, New York crosses Wellesley Church
Street, deep in the center of hell itself. On the outskirts of
the gay village, Luther practiced his wares. Around 8 AM, on the sixth day of
the week, Luther would set up a meagre stand on which to place his papers and a
large leather-bound copy of the King
James Bible. Weather permitting, he always wore a tee shirt. It was always
brightly coloured, tight to the skin and completely flattering in the most
revealing way. He wore his denim jeans
in exactly the same titillating manner. They left nothing to the imagination. Whenever
he felt convicted about his appearance, he would tell himself, "You get
more flies with honey!"
"For the wages of sin is death
but the gift of God is eternal life
in Christ Jesus, our Lord."
God will punish you for your sins
but can find forgiveness through Jesus
An abomination will always be an abomination
His Kingdom is at hand
Through Jesus Christ Church of Redemption
Luther noticed him almost immediately. On a hot August morning, his attire stood out like a sore thumb. From head to toe he was covered in darkness. A pitch black Fedora, midnight pants and a black shirt and tie, all seemed so out of place. The oversized ebony leather trench coat he wore looked stifling as daintily clad passersby didn't even seem to see him standing there. The stranger would smoke a cigarette, then flick it onto the pavement below only to light another in the very same gesture. From a distance, he looked taller than Luther. His frame seemed swallowed up in that sea of black. From what Luther could tell, he was just another aging eccentric, lost out on a sea of sin and immorality. He appeared to be around 60 years of age. He had appeared across the street at the same time Luther had set up his hospice earlier that morning. Since then, all the man had done was stand and watch him. The pastor could feel the man's eyes following him as he darted out into the flow of people, handing his message to anyone who would take it. Just as he was ready to confront him, he disappeared while Luther turned to organize his station. Reverend Hough went on with his business.
Luther stood frozen, the combination of shock and shame and embarrassment was almost more than he could stand. Anger grew from inside of him when he realized he had been stirred by this abomination's vulgarity. He had to position himself behind his meagre pulpit to block a clear view of his oversized reaction. Luther closed his eyes and he began to pray. He seethed over the situation in which he had been placed. He was furious with that creature who had dared to incite him. Like a bolt of lightning it hit him. He finally knew. All the years of standing in one spot, hoping to save just one, he would now leave behind. God had given him a calling, a specific center for his ministry. He packed up his collection and left this den of iniquity. He would never return.
From the across the street, the man in black stood, smiling softly.
When the television cameras came in, Luther went from Pastor Hough to Reverend Tough. His sanctuary out in the country became a haven for anyone who stood strong against the homosexual agenda. Luther had always felt it was his mission to speak to this foolish horde of sinners, but after his experience on the street corner in
went from appealing with love (if you can call it that) to demanding with
hellfire and scripture and condemnation. He used his own inheritance to payroll
his own agenda. Every Saturday morning, he broadcast from his pulpit on a national
Christian television station. Across the country, people tuned in to see the
spectacle. Some saw wisdom in this approach. Others condemned him for casting
the first stone. He beseeched anyone involved with the LGBT community to join
him and save themselves. He was diligent in his own authority, proclaiming
(like a bad cliché) that God hated homosexuality, and without the Blood of
Jesus, anyone partaking of this "lifestyle" or helping to promote it
would be sentenced to the pit of hell. He would scream God's orders,
vacillating between God's anger and God's wrath. Most of all, it was the curse
he placed upon all those who had not seen the light or refused to follow his,
which defined him. Toronto
"If your life is miserable and you are always unhappy, God is punishing you.If life seems unfair and your days are full of pain and sorrow, God is punishing you.
You have no one else to blame for your lot in life other than yourself.
God is punishing you for what you have done.
God will punish you even more. Get used to it.
You are being prepared for your place in hell where your punishment will sit forever.
Repent or get what you deserve"
Luther fully believed that those who do not submit to the will of his Lord will be penalized for their treachery. God will strike and chastise each one now, not just in the afterlife. He never backed down from this position. Luther may have been controversial, but the camera loved him. His television program, Redeemed with Luther Hough, was a bonafide success. He used social media to gather the faithful and crowd control to help picket at LGBT events. He made appearances on local radio and his growing ministry became somewhat of a focus for both conservative and more left wing media sources. He was a regular on the national newscasts and even the Americans caught wind of him. His ministry spread throughoutAs Luther sat waiting to address the masses that had gathered for an outdoor Sunday service at his church, he spotted the man in black. He was standing in the far back, near the information kiosk which was housed inside a blue tent. Midnight stood out against this azure sky. You couldn't miss him. Throughout the entire event the stranger lingered, watching Luther. The minister had to ask himself, "How did this man get all the way out to the country?"
America and his popularity among conservative Christians seemed
impenetrable. Suddenly, Luther Hough found himself quite the celebrity. Any
money he used to finance his projects was easily recouped and then some. Once a
fledgling pastor, he was now The Pastor. Despite his tyrannical approach to
salvation, audiences paid to see him. Each interview and each news feature he
allowed was simply another line from his agendum. In a world where homosexuality
was considered normal, and mostly accepted as such, Luther was a voice in the
wilderness. When questioned, Reverend Tough would lay it on the line. It was
God, after all, not him who made the rules. Don't shoot the messenger.
He wondered why he was here and what he wanted. After a fiery sermon, as the brimstone settled all around, Luther looked to him and waited for a reaction. Slowly, subtly, they seemed to make eye contract, even from across the sea of people. The man nodded, tipped his Fedora and lit a cigarette. By the time Luther had alerted security to a man smoking on the property, the dark figure had disappeared.
"The devil," Luther proclaimed somewhere inside his head.
There was nothing more refreshing, more rejuvenating for Luther than to take an evening drive to clear his head. Life had become very complicated for the successful hatemonger. It was this time alone, free from the press and the patrons, that Luther felt a communion with his God. The sense of speed he experienced on his drives was cathartic. The race was exhilarating. Luther was happiest during moments like this. His white, 2007 Porsche 911 GT3 Coupe convertible with Bi-Xenon headlamps didn't hurt his sense of pleasure. County road 88 was perfect for his indulgence. In the shadows, he would fly through open air. The back roads of southernLuther slammed on the brakes the moment he saw him. His eyes had only been closed for a moment of heaven when out of nowhere the man in black appeared. Standing in the middle of the road, mingling with the darkness, the stranger did not flinch, even slightly, as the car sped towards him. He lit a cigarette as it quickly approached. Luther swerved to avoid him, further engaging the brakes in a futile attempt to slow down. The car skidded, flipped onto its side and then rolled over several times more, recklessly spinning out of control. With no seatbelt on, Luther was thrown like a toy ball in some game of chance. The high speed which accompanied his race propelled the Porsche into pieces and Luther into thin air. Debris flew everywhere as Luther soared across the road, rebounding off the edge of the asphalt, then bounced like that toy ball down into the gully at the side of the road. He landed hard onto his back. The car rolled into the ditch, then ricocheted twenty feet beyond the pastor and rested in a cornfield. There was no explosion, no boom or thunder beyond what the accident itself conveyed. The night swallowed up Luther and the devastating fortuity. He laid conscious, fully aware, staring up at the clear night sky. He was not counting stars.
offered little hindrance once the
sun had set. Luther took this time to think, to analyze and to bask in the
glory of the Holy Spirit and the rush at 120 kilometres down a dirt road in the
middle of nowhere. He felt free for the
first time, every time. He didn't have to be the perfect example. He didn't
have to wear a mask. For brief seconds, he would close his eyes and imagine he
was flying up to heaven, with angels as tour guides welcoming him home. He
found a brief moment of bliss in the darkness, a surrender to his God. Ontario
There was no music to score the scene. One would find it hard to hear any sound at all once the chaos had settled. It was a kind of hush. All the silence met the darkness and the darkness took any light. At first, Luther thought he was dead. He soon realized this was not the case. As he slowly became aware of the tragedy around him, he started watching for angels, praying to God for help and assurance. He resolved himself to heaven. Once the fog had cleared from his brain, he tried to get up. He tried to move his arms. He tried to move his legs. He tried to move at all but he could not. There was no pain, there was nothing but numb. He quickly realized he was paralyzed, that he had probably broken his back. Any cry for help was muffled by his very own weight. In his mind he called out to his God, "Have you forsaken me, Jesus?"
The flame from the lighter broke the blackness. Standing just to his right side, dressed in the night like a monster, the stranger who had caused all this stood and lit a cigarette.
"Luther," he said. "You've been a bad boy."
Luther looked up at the entity with great fear and trepidation. He knew he was broken, frozen into this place. He barely found it within himself to pray but pray he did. He rebuked the demon over and over in his head, calling on Jesus to take this from him. Before extinguishing his flame, the creature snapped his fingers and the headlights from the demolished automobile shone down into the pit with both men.
"Help you," he replied. "Why would anyone help you? This is the punishment you deserve for your sins."
Luther tried to gasp, he tried to scream.
"Devil," was all he could utter.
"The devil?" the man asked. "The devil is in the details, Luther."
The man then reached inside his coat and pulled out one of the pamphlets that Luther had once handed out so cavalierly. Luther laid staring up into the halo the headlights had formed around the demon's head. For a moment, he seemed angelic. Stars and blackness coated the background and Luther started to fade into the dimming. As the man in black read from the page, pieces of the life he had lived flashed before his eyes. All the condemnation, all the judgment, all his secret sins rushed throughout his body and permeated his mind, but he could not find any peace with it. The being let the page drift slowly to the ground and began to walk away from the broken man of God."When you get the chance, you should read it," the ghoul laughed.
"Rebuke you," whispered Luther.
"Don't shoot the messenger, Luther," the stranger teased.
"Satan!" Luther accused softly.
"Satan," the stranger scoffed. "Who said anything about Satan?"
It seemed like days that Luther remained in that ditch, placed carefully at the side of the road like a shattered work of art. Each moment lasted longer than the first. Every second brought torment and hopelessness and much suffering to his mind. Luther Hough had found his hell. In fact, it was less than an hour before the ambulance and the police arrived on the scene. The waling of a fire truck seemed to wake Luther from his delirium. When the ambulance drove away, blaring like a banshee into the night, Luther believed that he had left any previous life he once led at the edge of that strip, in that gully, at the side of County Road 88. Come the morning, two policemen watched as a tow truck flipped the Porsche onto its wheels and hauled it onto a flatbed. It pulled away with little fanfare and no media to report on this fate. As the officers scoured the area for evidence, that plain white piece of paper fell under one's foot. He bent down and thought to himself that it must have flown out of the preacher's car during the accident. He read it quickly, then placed it in a plastic evidence bag. He thought to himself, "How ironic."
"Do not judge
For you too will be judged
For in the same way you judge others
You will be judged
And with the measure you use
It will be measured to you."