Like a Thief

The following quote is drawn from The Book of Bebb, comprising four novels having as their central character Leo Bebb, who presided over a religious diploma mill in Florida as well as the Church of Holy Love, Inc. 

HE SAYS, "ANTONIO, he comes like a thief in the night, like a bridegroom to the bride he's got waiting for him with flowers in her hair. You should see how they turn pale when he comes, some of them. The cheaters of widows and orphans, for one, and the lawyers they pay to make it legal. The flag-waving politicians with their hand in the till. The folks that run the sex movies and the smut stores that poison the air of the world like a open sewer. The whole miserable pack of them. He doesn't do a thing in the world to hurt them because just standing there seeing him go by is hurtful enough, all that glory galloping by they missed by being spiteful and mean. Their hearts just break against the sight of him the way waves break against a rock." 

Bebb said, "But it's the others that's the real sight to see, the ones that aren't any better than they ought to be but not all that much worse either. That means all of us pretty near. He comes riding up so fast on them there's no time to put on their Sunday suit and go wait for him in the front parlor with the Scriptures laying open on the table. The midwest farmgirl that run away from home and don't have any other way to make ends meet, she's sitting all painted up on a bar stool trying to look like she knows the difference between a martini cocktail and a root beer float. The middle-age drummer that hasn't made a sale all day is stretched out on his bed in a cheap motel staring at the ceiling with the TV on. The big-time executive is bawling out his secretary for coming back from her dinner ten minutes late, and the old waitress with varicose veins is taking the weight off her feet a few minutes in the help's toilet. Of that day and hour knoweth no man, Antonio. Therefore be ye also ready, for in such an hour as ye think not the Son of Man cometh."  

Bebb said, "You ever looked at somebody's face sitting in the window watching for his folks to come home? Say it's gotten dark and the roads are slippery and there's been some bad accidents come over the radio. One by one he watches the headlights of cars come winding up the hill. He's got his heart in his mouth hoping this time for sure it's going to be the one to slow down and pull into the yard, but one after the other they all just keep on driving past till his face goes grey waiting for what looks like it's never going to come. Antonio, that's the face we all of us got when we're not doing anything special with our face. You look at somebody the next time he's just sitting around staring into space when he doesn't know anybody's watching.  

"Then finally when he's about given up hope and maybe dozed off a minute or two, he hears the back door open. He hears footsteps in the kitchen. He hears the voice out of all the voices of the world he's waiting for call out his name. Then you watch his face. Antonio, all over the world there'll be faces like that when the rider comes." 

- Originally published in The Book of Bebb

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