Her name was Milicent Jolene Cooper McFadden, and she screwed our pastor on Halloween while dressed as a Pez dispenser. The reason I know this is because she told me, like she’d been telling me everything since we were teenagers, whether I wanted to hear it or not. I don’t inform her that she’s the biggest hypocrite I’ve ever known. After all, she’s the one who’d declared to me soon after we stole Kiss Me Quick lipstick from Goodman’s Department Store that I had to ask Jesus Christ to be my Lord and Savior if I hoped to be raptured with her and the rest of the faithful before God smote the poor wretches left behind. Now, here we were, both of us long ago saved and dunked, and I’d become her human confessional because, to be brutal but spot on, she’d always been a slut. She didn’t feel a bit bad about it, either, which I could never figure out because the holy scriptures clearly stated that deceivers and fornicators will be cast into the lake of fire to fry for all eternity. She claimed that the blood of Jesus had her covered, but I had serious doubts and told her so.

It wasn’t but a week after Halloween that she was back at it with Pastor in full Pez regalia, with spike heels thrown in because he’d said it really turned him on in a way his wife’s sensible shoes never had. They carried on throughout the holiday season, changing the theme of their trysts, and she came (no pun intended) to his office dressed as Mrs. Santa after every Wednesday night prayer meeting. One week he asked her to dress like a reindeer because he’d always fantasized about doing it with an animal. She told me the experience did not disappoint.

The night before Christmas they were going at it when Deacon Earl happened to pass by on his way to get the little cardboard thingies that attach to the candles for Christmas Eve services. Earl, concerned that Pastor might be having a medical emergency, hightailed it into the room where he found Pastor doing it from behind with an elf in high heels. He cursed himself for overindulging in peppermint schnapps earlier and closed the door, blinking profusely to clear the screen of his imagination.

Millicent howled when she told me this story. She just got such a kick out of sin, all tidied up by Jesus’ blood. I was not amused. On Christmas morning I pulled up our church’s Facebook page and posted the video I’d been recording with the camera I’d hidden in Pastor’s office. When he arrived to tell the story of the Holy Infant perched beneath the Star of Wonder, the deacons were waiting for him. As for Millicent, we never saw her again, but I’m confident that she latched onto someone like me to tell her secrets to. I wonder how long that fool will last.

12 Comments

  1. Benjamin Niespodziany

    Such a great story! Laugh out loud funny and so damn vivid. “She just got such a kick out of sin, all tidied up by Jesus’ blood.” Wow! I love how you use costumes and festive characters to move through the holidays and push the story further. Felt like being at a bar and being told a story that’s stranger than fiction.

    I’d like to read a bit more about the narrator’s relationship with Millicent. Their lengthy friendship – good and bad along the way, of course – but why was this what finally made her fold?

  2. Saxon Baird

    Great story and I love the opening, it had me laughing and sucked in. I think everything you presented is great and so my only actionable comment involves the narrator. I’m not sure of her motive to out Milicent and the pastor. Of course, I can infer…jealousy, maybe? Or maybe for scriptural reasons— save her soul and all? I’d like to see just a small gesture or opening that at least hints at her motives and in the process, maybe a little bit more about her — who is this person telling the story, making the judgements, etc. Great story, tho. Super fun.

    • Traci Mullins

      I’m so appreciative that everyone’s comments pretty much point me in the same direction: giving more insight into the two characters’ relationship and a clearer motivation on the “moral” one’s betrayal. I look forward to the revision process!

  3. Jack O'Connell

    Very energetic and I liked some word choices: “dunked” was awesome. I think the mix of high-toned religious language and low-toned sex language drives a lot of the energy. I wonder if you could get more (or less) out of going into those extremes… more on theology of sin, bible stories, or more on brand names, sex poses. “No pun intended” slightly stuck out for me. Why not intend your puns?

  4. Bud Smith

    Hello! This is so funny and so imaginative. I don’t really have any developmental notes on it just that I thought it could end a touch before, just a sentence or two … I am almost tempted to want Star of Wonder to be the final sequence of words but I don’t want to fuss with your sentence. I did do some line edits pasted below. Same story, just a tiny bit more efficient. Oh, I do have one note. I wanted the sexy outfits to escalate. So it could go elf, and then Mrs. Santa and then finally reindeer, so the sins increase. Escalation is the biggest thing for me in any story, I want it to get wilder, and worse, as it goes and heads towards some release, which you nail perfectly with the hidden camera and the insinuated rapture of the pastor and the friend from the parish. Such strong work

    Milicent Jolene Cooper McFadden screwed our pastor on Halloween while dressed as a Pez dispenser. She told me, like she’d been telling me everything since we were teenagers, whether I wanted to hear it or not. She’s the biggest hypocrite I’ve ever known. After we stole Kiss Me Quick lipstick from Goodman’s Department Store she said I had to ask Jesus Christ to be my Lord and Savior if I hoped to be raptured with her and the rest of the faithful before God smote the poor wretches left behind. Now, there we were, long ago saved and dunked, and I’d become her human confessional because, to be brutal, she’d always been a slut. She didn’t feel bad about it, either, which I could never figure out because the holy scriptures clearly stated that deceivers and fornicators will be cast into the lake of fire to fry for all eternity. She claimed the blood of Jesus had her covered, but I had serious doubts and told her so.
    A week after Halloween she was back at it with Pastor in full Pez regalia, with spike heels thrown in because he’d said it really turned him on in a way his wife’s sensible shoes never had. They carried on throughout the holiday season, changing the theme of their trysts, and she came (no pun intended) to his office dressed as Mrs. Santa after every Wednesday night prayer meeting. One week he asked her to dress like a reindeer because he’d always fantasized about doing it with an animal. She told me the experience did not disappoint.
    The night before Christmas they were going at it when Deacon Earl happened to pass by on his way to get the little cardboard thingies that attach to the candles for Christmas Eve services. Earl, concerned that Pastor might be having a medical emergency, hightailed it into the room where he found Pastor doing it from behind with an elf in high heels. He cursed himself for overindulging in peppermint schnapps earlier and closed the door, blinking profusely to clear the screen of his imagination.
    Millicent howled when she told me this story. She just got such a kick out of sin, all tidied up by Jesus’ blood. I was not amused. On Christmas morning I pulled up our church’s Facebook page and posted the video I’d been recording with the my hidden camera. When the pastor arrived to tell the story of the Holy Infant perched beneath the Star of Wonder, the deacons were waiting.

  5. Rachel Pollon Williams

    Okay, if this is based on a family story then your family must be very fun. 😉 So much great stuff. I wonder a bit about why this narrator is telling the story. What’s her beef? Just high and mighty morality police? I don’t know enough about the inner workings of Christianity but maybe there is a character in the teachings that this person relates to in contrast to the sinners she’s reporting on? So she kind of becomes the – not this – Mary Magdalen of the story, telling it? Just spitballing. And you may not need any of it. Just wondering what the difference might be if she loved the sin vs. hated it. If she thought it was fun that her friend got up to no good, maybe was even jealous of her free spirit (more religious imagery.) But staying with the judgmental distaste for all of this, I’m sure there could be some juiciness in knowing more about their dynamic. Ha – my husband just put on Bob Dylan’s “Serve Somebody” – good inspo perhaps!

  6. Greg Oldfield

    Traci, I enjoyed the casual tone in this piece, the twisting conflict in the sins committed by the pastor and the narrator’s friend, and the deception at the end where it all comes crashing down. The opening line provided an incredible hook. There’s no chance a reader is turning away after that. I did give some thought to the motives at the end as others have said, something that adds complexity to the story and justifies her revenge. Could it have been more than religious purifying or revenge for something shared in their past? I do agree that the escalation of acts would be great, going to a reindeer, a gingerbread man, using the nativity candle wax, the hay from the manger, some extra details that take it to another level. This takes what could be a classic holiday story and turns it upside down, which I absolutely love.

  7. Ben Saff

    Traci, your piece is excellent. I love that every character here has a vice and how those vices are contrasted against the religious imagery throughout. I immediately lol’d at your two opening lines. The guts of this story are glorious and I admire the unrestrained style of your writing. I’d recommend just two things to improve:

    1) comb through this, there were a few clauses or lines that I felt could be tightened up or nixed. E.g. the no pun intended line can go – there’s pure situational comedy in that paragraph that stands up better on its own.

    And 2) I want to be more convinced of the betrayal at the end. Maybe adding a line in the first half that communicates that the dynamic of the friendship, that the narrator is really sick of her, not really her friend at this point but just bored, etc. It would make the betrayal finale more believable.

  8. Bill Merklee

    Traci, I love reading your work. Especially details like the “Kiss Me Quick lipstick” and peppermint schnapps. Would love to know what character Pez dispenser Milicent was, and if she bothered to change that up. Agree about escalating the Christmas costumes. Interesting that they’re all “secular” holiday characters. (Would she dare dress up as Mary Magdalene?) I understand the impulse to out the hypocrites, but agree it might be fun to have some incident, either by Milicent or the Pastor, directly aimed at the narrator that pushes her to finally act. Nicely done.

  9. Kara Vernor

    Chiming in to say this was so funny and so much fun to read. I can basically say ditto to the earlier comments, Saxon’s in particular. There’s so much greatness here already, but I’d love a little more emotional depth, which I think will be provided when you explore the friend’s stake more. Thanks for this!

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