I ended up in Vietnam after meeting a guy at church with a strange name. It gave me the idea for a short story about a worship leader from a mega-church named, Glorious. He was going to get so caught up in the emotional throes of “spirituality” that he was going to hurl himself into the arms of the congregation in a stage dive. The story would end with him landing on the floor and staring up through the fog machine at the stage lights as the congregation peered down at him.
It was going to be a sarcastic commentary on marketing Jesus—selling emotional highs as a superior form of “spirituality.” But Glorious decided that wasn’t his story at all. I tried again and again to rewrite it the way I saw it in my head, but Glorious kept saying, “Nope, that’s not what happened, if you would just listen.” So, I decided to trust this new character I created and follow where he led me.
It started with his name. How did you get your name, Glorious? It’s pretty out there for a boy. His parents were hippies—-specifically Mom. His father was just going along for the ride. When she gets pregnant with him, it turns out to be twins. She has a vision.
“My mother had a vision of two siblings rising arm in arm, in a glorious revolution against the institutionalized powers bent on destroying any hope their generation had of finding peace—like the war destroyed the bodies of the boys it dumped from helicopters by the thousands through the green canopy of Vietnam.”
Glorious for the sister. Revolution for the brother. Fraternal twins, just like her and her twin brother. But they aren’t. They are twin brothers, identical. But Revolution has birth defects and is a shrunken version of Glorious—who took up all the nutrients in the womb.
Okay, where the hell is this going, Glorious? Even for a hippie, those are bizarre names. Why is your mother so worked up about the Vietnam War and finding peace? I mean, your Dad protests and does acid with her, but he’s not obsessive like she is. She had to have some personal skin in the game or she’s a cardboard cut out of a hippie. Did her brother get drafted? Maybe he died over there? Close. Missing in Action? Presumed dead? Warmer…
My story took off from there. The more I researched the hippie movement, the Vietnam War, and the stories of soldiers who fought in Vietnam—the stranger the twists and turns became. Truth really can be stranger than fiction.
I have to let Glorious tell the story. He lets me know when I’m off base, or I’m restricting him because I’m uncomfortable with what he’s telling me. He tells me when to dig deeper and when to back off. I’m going to hear him out—follow him to the end. So far it’s been quite the ride.