"Shit!" I thought, panic instinctively gripping me. "God Botherers!". There can after all be no other explanation for clean-cut and smartly dressed young men (with, I presume, bible-filled back packs) roaming the streets in these here parts. Although already (and fortunately) partially concealed from the road by our enormous greenhouse (it's got FOOD plants inside before you draw any other conclusions), I moved out of sight lest the vision of my loveliness (sweat-covered polo shirt, black shorts with incredibly reflective white legs sticking out of the bottom) draw them unto me, doubtless speaking in tongues. it didn't occur to me that the 'put-put-put-ring-a-ding-ding' sound of the little two stroke motor was a bit of a positional giveaway, but I did judge that it did at least mean that I had plausible deniability on the subject of the doorbell ringing.
The result of my cunning strategic maneuvering was the lack of any contact with the GBs, and the continuation of my brutal mechanical onslaught against everything yellow and flowering in my garden. There was a flaw, however, in my ill-conceived plan, and it was this: my street is a cul de sac, and the little buggers had to return to their car - just as I had yet to finish off some weeds in front of the house! With the mind-altering influence of forty eight years of soaking up cosmic rays combined with my own quota of free radicals, I completely forgot about the missionaries in my midst (somehow that sounds rude, but isn't), right up until I wandered around to the front of the house, resplendent in blue cotton, black rayon and a thick, dripping film of salty water and clutching the smokey machine in one rapidly numbing hand.
As I did so, there they were - the men in white shirts. As I spotted them, so they (directed by the hand of their god perhaps?) cast their eyes upon me, and were glad. I tried to use body language to dissuade them - I turned my back , even my other cheek, towards them, but on they came remorseless in their feelings of goodness, righteousness and whatever it is that compels them to do what they do.
I decided to be polite - I mean what's the point of picking a fight where one is not necessary?
"Good afternoon sir!" the young man in front called to me as I shut off the engine and dripped a little sweat onto the hot casing. I hoped that the quiet hiss did not place me in the same category as a wicked serpent, standing as I was, next to an apple tree.
"Hi! How're you doing?" I said in what I hoped was a reasonable, friendly tone. Then, in order to avoid any silly small talk I came out with "What do you guys want to talk to me about today?"
Hesitating briefly to allow a mild look of surprise to cross his saintly features, the lead young man (LYM) replied "We'd like to talk to you about the message of god and how he can help change your life." The following young man (FYM) stood alongside his colleague and regarded me with a fixed smile and slightly desperate, bulging eyes.
I stifled my indignation over the assumptions that a) I hadn't heard god's message before, b) that I would like to hear it now and apropos of absolutely nothing, and c) that it may change my life, mainly because each assumption was incorrect and founded on slippery sands.
"Well, let me be clear; I don't believe in any god so I don't want you gentlemen to waste any of your time." I said, with a smile ( a real smile, not a snarl); "I actually admire what you do for your faith but I don't share your beliefs.". I was being honest; I have a grudging admiration for people who do the missionary thing - mostly because I am fundamentally shy and could never do it. On the grounds of spreading religion I am rather more averse to it in principle. It is not a good thing. LYM looked at me, a little taken aback. "You don't believe in god?" he asked, a slight edge of incredulity creeping into his voice. FYM stood alongside his colleague and regarded me with his fixed smile and slightly desperate, bulging eyes...his grin had slightly broadened but otherwise he had not moved.
"That's right." I said "I don't share your belief and I don't want you to waste your time, because that's what you'd be doing. I don't think that the world - and life - works that way."
'Oh." said LYM, clearly somewhat thrown by this expression of non-rapport. FYM, still unmoving, stood and stared at me, and then expressively blinked. He appeared horrified but unsure of what to do next; exorcise me or run for the hills to save his soul.
"No hard feelings lads!" I said, again with a smile.
LYM stirred; "Well...erm..." and he seemed to wrestle with his rehearsed script for a moment; "Would...would you happen to know of anyone else in the neighbourhood who might need to hear god's message?". I felt like either laughing out loud (and with much derision) or giving him a sympathetic man-hug; the type you give someone whose team has just been thrashed soundly in the final. I did neither. It was too hot.
"No." I said; "I don't have those kinds of conversations with anyone." Two pairs of eyes duly glazed over in confusion and acceptance of there being no room at this particular inn.
With that understanding established, we bade one another a cheery farewell and best wishes for the weekend. Well, LYM and I did; FYM, his previously steadfast grin now weakening and drooping in a trembly kind of way, turned away without moving his eyes, something which I found rather disturbing.
Alien hybrid, I surmised.
Next week I'm going to go out hunting Christians down in their homes and offer to bring them the message of common sense and a universe without an invisble supernatural friend.