When he was seven his father took him to church for the first and last time, if only to show him how many fools you could find per service, as if they gather there because only fools would sit and stand, sit and stand, listen and sing, sit and stand, and come twice on a Sunday to do just that, fifty-two weeks out of a year and sometimes more; but the beer-swilling agnostic was idiot enough to command a denomination, he thinks later, after he’s forgiven the man for a lifetime of sitting on a porch complaining about the heat; maybe if his father had been somehow better than the religious simpletons he’d have ended up a staunch defender of a person’s right to be free from God, not tied to a tree, not having beer bottles thrown at his head by those determined to defend his right to be dead sooner than later; maybe if his father had revered the scripture as a good text by good men he wouldn’t be seeing his copy of that good book drenched in vodka and set alight while one of his kidneys ruptures; maybe if his father hadn’t beat him as often in merciless, drunken rage, he wouldn’t be able to understand peace in his mind screaming war, and wouldn’t be able to conceive how this painful, painless final gasping for breath is so eternally worth every moment.