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Chapter 7

The next week is absolutely miserable for Chris; not only is he trying to deal with the aftermath of being humiliated on live TV, but he slowly realizes that his teachings have been shot down and exposed for the errors they contain. Chris begins to feel the deep emptiness that once haunted him return in all of its devastating horror, and he has no idea where to turn… so he takes the Captain’s advice, and he prays.

As Chris sits down to pray in the corner of his apartment, he suddenly sees the error in his ways. He realizes that his Calvinistic ideas of predestination and of God favoring the rich and despising the poor are incompatible with Christianity, and he comes to the understanding that God loves all people and wants to draw everyone closer to Him. Chris sees that the supposed Biblical idea of ‘faith alone’ being all that’s required for salvation is neither Biblical nor Christian, and he suddenly despises Preacher Arroganté for spreading such horrible messages to him and his family. In this prayerful moment, Chris feels deeply sorry for abandoning his family, and he yearns to be back at home with them. But more than anything, Chris yearns for God.

As Chris continues to pray, he becomes more and more attracted to Catholicism. He sees the goodness in its teachings, and he wants to learn more about it. In the blink of an eye, Chris sees himself giving up his selfish lifestyle, using his wealth to help others, and apologizing to all those whom he has hurt… Chris sees himself changing his life around.

But suddenly… Chris snaps.

“What is coming over me?!” Chris yells out loud, realizing that he is unexpectedly turning his back on everything he has preached about during the past few years. “There… there is no truth in Catholicism! It is a religion of ze heathens, a religion of fools! I will live however I please! God wants me to live abundantly… so be it!”

In denial, Chris brushes over the fact that his beliefs are not supported by true Christianity. He doesn’t have the courage to stand up and change his life around for the good, even though he realizes that he is living in error. In this moment, Chris rejects the more fulfilling lifestyle he briefly caught a glimpse of and chooses to plunge himself more deeply into his Calvinistic ways. He retreats further into himself, wanting nothing to do with anyone in the world unless he can get money or some other sort of use out of them.

Distressed, miserable, and weary due to the unbearable weight of living a life in error, Chris takes the elevator down to the bar located at the bottom of his apartment. He sits down at the bar and orders a beer. He sips it… and then he chugs it, attempting to drown his sorrows, and orders another one. Chris is fed up with life. Halfway through his second beer, he slams his fist on the bar in a fury, knocking his beer over and causing it to spill everywhere.

“What the hell is wrong with you?” says the man sitting next to Chris. “You just spilled your damn drink all over my suit!”

“So zen wash it!” Chris barks.

The man’s face fills with rage… but then he suddenly chuckles.

“I suppose I would be saying the same thing if I was in your shoes,” the man says, finding a bit of himself in Chris.

“Oh yeah?” Chris says, intrigued, breaking a bit of a smile himself. “You don’t look familiar. Do you live around here?”

“Oh, no,” the man says casually as he pulls his black Fedora to the side, “I’m an American. I’m just here on business.”

“Who are you?” Chris asks.

“The name’s DeGreedio… Richard DeGreedio.”

Yes, the man whom Chris is now speaking with is the same man who will one day be the father of Dick DeGreedio.

“Peculiar name,” Chris says. “I’m Chris, but you can call me Calvinist Chris.”

“You think my name’s peculiar?” DeGreedio Sr. says jokingly as both men snicker. DeGreedio Sr. loosens up a bit as he wipes off his top-of-the-line pin-striped suit with a napkin. “I thought you looked familiar. You’re the televangelist, aren’t you?”

“Yeah, zat is right,” Chris says, pleased with the fact that DeGreedio knows who he is. “You watch my shows?”

“Me?” DeGreedio Sr. says condescendingly, laughing at the thought of watching a televangelist show, “no, I’m not the religious type.”

“Oh,” Chris says, insulted. “I see.”

“But I’ll tell you,” DeGreedio Sr. continues, “I do like what you have to say about money… I LOVE money! It’s what I live for.”

“Hm, Richard DeGreedio,” Chris mumbles to himself as he tries to remember where he’s heard the name ‘DeGreedio’ before. “Are you… you’re the wealthy business man that’s always on the news, aren’t you?”

“Wealthy businessman?” DeGreedio says, a bit offended, “Ha! I am one of THE wealthiest men in the world.”

“Yes, I’ve heard of you,” Chris says, recalling how impressed he was upon seeing news reports of DeGreedio Sr. that highlighted his vast wealth. “You own large amounts of land in America, don’t you?”

“Not just any land,” DeGreedio says with pride, “I own some of the most valuable property in the world! I am the owner of numerous mines located in Utah and other areas of the western United States… but these aren’t just any mines. My mines are full of uranium.”

“Uranium?” Chris asks, puzzled. “What’s so good about Uranium?”

“Are you kidding me?” says DeGreedio Sr. “Uranium is used for making nuclear weapons. Ever since the beginning of the arms race right after World War II, Uranium has been one of the hottest materials on the market.”

“I see,” Chris says, “and what do you do with all of zis Uranium?”

“Sell it to the highest bidder,” DeGreedio Sr. says as a snide smile reaches its way from one side of his face to the other.

“You’re my kind of guy,” says Chris, relating to DeGreedio Sr.’s lust for money and the good life.

 “You see,” DeGreedio Sr. continues, “not only do I own the land on which various Uranium mines are located, but I also own DeGreedio Drilling Company. I have hundreds of prospectors working for me. Once they mine some of the Uranium in my property, I take it and give most of it to the United States government so that they can build their precious atomic bombs.”

“Vell,” Chris says, “ze US government cannot possibly pay you zat much, can they?”

“Well actually,” DeGreedio Sr. continues, “the US government does pay a pretty penny for my uranium, but you’re right, they don’t pay nearly as much as I would like.”

“Then how are you so rich?”

“Well,” DeGreedio Sr. explains, “while I sell most of the Uranium to the US in order to avoid suspicion, I also sell a decent amount of Uranium to military factions in India, Pakistan, Israel, China, and Korea who are trying to build their own atomic bombs. And let me tell you, those guys are willing to pay millions upon millions… and luckily, I’m one of the only sources they have for Uranium.”

“Genius!” says Chris, impressed.

“I know, I know,” DeGreedio Sr. says, smugly.

“But, uh… isn’t dealing with such people a little dangerous?”

DeGreedio Sr. hushes his voice. “Yeah, but… not if you have the right connections.”

“Hmm… I see…. So, what are you doing in Germany?”

“A couple of disgruntled Nazis left over from the big war want to build a nuke of their own in retaliation.”

Chris’s face tightens. “You’re going to give some former Nazis ze materials they need to make a nuclear bomb?”

“Hey, if the price is right… why not? Besides, it’s not like any country I’ve given Uranium to has figured out how to actually make nukes aside from the US and Russia. None of these other countries know what they’re doing. Meanwhile, I’m sitting back and profiting from their feeble attempts.”

“You,” Chris says in awe, “are truly a genius! You American businessmen really know what you’re doing!”

“Listen,” DeGreedio Sr. says, very pleased with himself, “I have to turn in for the night, I have a meeting very early in the morning. But let’s chat again tomorrow night, same time, same place.”

Chris smiles. “Vell… sure, why not?”

The two men shake hands and depart.

Chris is very pleased at having made a new acquaintance. He likes the way DeGreedio Sr. operates… he lives as he likes and doesn’t care about the effects of his lifestyle on anyone else. That’s the way life should be… right?

 

 

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Chapter 8

The next evening, Chris sits at his desk reading the Bible to find some new material for his next speech. He is infuriated at what the Original Captain Catholic had done to him at his last show. Chris had gotten so used to being viewed as the best preacher around, so the fact that his last audience had abandoned him for Captain Catholic enrages him to no end. Furthermore, Chris cannot believe that his followers ended up turning away from his teachings in order to live a more Catholic lifestyle. As a result, Chris absolutely despises Captain Catholic and his Catholic ways, and the only thing he wants to do is get revenge on Captain Catholic.

In order to take revenge on Captain Catholic, Chris decides to criticize the Catholic Church in his next speech. He wants to teach his followers that Catholicism is nothing more than a false interpretation of Christianity. But as Chris sits there reading, he can’t help but remember that it is actually his beliefs that are in error. The fact that his supposedly Christian beliefs turned out to have no support in any of Jesus’ teachings whatsoever continues to trouble him. He tries to suppress this truth, but it keeps coming back to haunt him. Frustrated once again, Chris storms down the hallway of his apartment to meet DeGreedio Sr. at the bar.

“The deal went over wonderfully!” DeGreedio Sr. exclaims. “The Nazis offered me even more money than I had thought they would. I’ll be giving them their precious Uranium in a few days.”

“Vell, looks like you are one lucky guy,” Chris says, a little bitter.

“What’s wrong with you?” DeGreedio Sr. says, noticing Chris’s sour tone.

“Vell, let’s just say zat work is not going so well.”

“You seem a bit tense, Chris. You should lighten up a bit, have some fun.”

“Fun? I don’t want to have fun. I just want to make that Captain Catholic pay for what he did to me!”

“Captain who? What are you talking about?”

Chris proceeds to explain what happened with the Original Captain Catholic at his last show, but DeGreedio Sr. only half listens; he usually isn’t very interested in things that don’t involve him.

“Look,” DeGreedio Sr. interrupts, “all I know is that you need to relax. Listen, I know this girl, Jainy. I think she could help ‘distress’ you a bit.”

“What?” Chris says, puzzled. “How could a woman make me relax?”

DeGreedio Sr. simply looks back at Chris with a dirty smile.

“Oh,” Chris says, not sure of what to think. “I get it. She’s a prostitute, isn’t she?”

“Well, I wouldn’t put it that way, Chris, that’s not a very nice word. I give Jainy a call every time I’m in the area. She’s cheap, well worth the money and a lot of fun. Here,” DeGreedio says as he writes Jainy’s number down on a napkin and hands it to Chris, “you should give her a call.”

“Richard,” says Chris, reluctantly, “I don’t know, I’ve never done anything like zis before.”

“Come on,” DeGreedio says as he smacks Chris’s back, “like you always say on your shows, it doesn’t matter how you live. Live however you like! Why not have a little fun?”

After departing for the night, Chris heads back to his room all alone. He sits down on his bed just as miserable as he was before he went down to the bar. He stares at his Bible for a bit before turning his gaze to his phone.

“Vell,” Chris says to himself, “why not?”

Not wishing to abandon his self-centered and indulgent lifestyle, Chris calls Jainy. She ends up staying the night with Chris, and it certainly wouldn’t be the last night she did so.

As Chris walks down to the bar of his apartment a few nights later to meet DeGreedio Sr. once again, he fakes himself into thinking that he is truly happy. After all, he’s living life the way he wants, isn’t he? Isn’t that all that matters?

“So,” DeGreedio Sr. says, “what did I tell you about Jainy? She’s fun, am I right?”

“Damn straight, Richard,” Chris says with a chuckle.

DeGreedio Sr. laughs and snorts a little bit like a pig. “Yep, she gets the job done, alright. Once you’re through with her, you just kick her out in the morning. That’s the way to do it.”

“So when are you meeting with ze Nazis again?”

“Tomorrow morning. In fact, I better get going. But hey… you can have your fun tonight, but make sure Jainy is free tomorrow, alright? I want to celebrate my new business transaction… with another business transaction! Hahaha!”

The two men howl in laughter as DeGreedio Sr. departs from the bar. Chris, however, sticks around to order just one more drink before heading to his room to give Jainy a call.

“Zis is ze life,” Chris mutters as he sips his drink. He continues trying to make himself believe that he is happy… but every morning after Jainy left his apartment… Chris was the most miserable man alive.

 

 

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Chapter 9

The next afternoon, Chris decides to take a walk around the city to clear his head. Many things went through his mind. He wasn’t sure where he was going in life. He was just sort of drifting. As he walks into the entrance of his apartment, he suddenly hears the sound of shattering glass coming from the bar. He runs into the bar to see DeGreedio Sr. in a fit of rage as the bartender begins to clean up the broken shot glass that DeGreedio Sr. threw against the wall only moments ago.

“That FREAK!” DeGreedio Sr. screams, pounding the bar with his fist. “I can’t BELIEVE this!”

“Richard,” Chris screams, “get a hold of yourself! What’s going on?!”

DeGreedio’s eyes bulge. “It’s that damned cape-wearing freak that foiled your silly show!”

“Captain Catholic?”

“Yeah, him,” DeGreedio says a bit more calmly, trying to get a grip on things. He orders another drink.

“What happened?”

“Well, I met with the Nazis this morning. I brought their silly Uranium to them, and they brought me my money. Just as we were about to make the exchange, Captain Catholic appeared out of nowhere and yanked the bag of Uranium out of my hands.”

“Zat rat!”

“Yeah, no kidding. It was a lot of Uranium. The damn bag weighed 70 kilograms. I had to drag the thing on the ground when I was taking it out of my car, but he just ran away with it! I’ll admit, his physical strength is impressive.”

“Why would he steal ze Uranium?” Chris asks, puzzled.

“Because those peace-loving Catholics believe that all nuclear weapons should be disarmed. As he ran away, he yelled something about taking the Uranium to a place to dispose of it… DAMN IT!”

DeGreedio Sr. slams his fist on the bar once again, causing a bottle of vodka to fall off the back wall of the bar and explode into a dozen pieces.

“Hey, watch it!” the bartender says. “I’m sorry that you’re having a bad day, but you can’t just take it out on this place!”

“SHUT UP!!” DeGreedio Sr. is now roaring in an outrage, beside himself. “I’LL DO WHATEVER I PLEASE!”

“Richard,” Chris says as he puts his hand on DeGreedio Sr.’s back and leads him to the door, “why don’t we step outside?”

DeGreedio Sr. continues to yell as people outside begin to stare at him. “That FREAK ruined my entire business deal! Naturally, the Nazis didn’t pay me a dime and don’t wish to deal with me again. I want him to PAY for this!”

“Richard,” Chris says quietly, “everyone’s looking at you. Come now, let’s go for a walk.”

Chris and DeGreedio Sr. start to walk toward the local city park. As drops of rain bounce off their heads and a rain storm begins to take its toll on pedestrians, the air is filled both with the cool dampness of a spring rain shower and with the cold darkness of two selfish men looking to get their way. Chris and DeGreedio Sr. begin to develop a plan to get rid of the Original Captain Catholic.

“Look,” Chris says, “I’m speaking again on TV zis weekend, but I’m not just giving any talk. I’m going to criticize ze Catholic Church. I’m going to rip it to shreds! Captain Catholic will show up for sure.”

“Great,” DeGreedio Sr. says with deep sarcasm rooted in his voice, “but I’m not interested in some silly theological debate.”

Chris clamps his teeth together. “No, damn it, don’t you get it?! Captain Catholic will be at my show!”

“And? What do you want me to do, get his autograph?”

Chris’s frustration grows as he sighs heavily. “Didn’t you say that you have ‘connections?’”

DeGreedio Sr.’s face breaks into a malicious smile. “Yes… are you saying…”

“Bring your mob friends to my show and bump him off!”

DeGreedio Sr. frowns. “Chris, it’s not quite that simple. We can’t just kill him in the middle of your show, not even backstage. The whole thing will be on the air, and I’m not about to get caught for murder. With the cameras rolling, there’s no telling what they’ll catch. It’s too risky.”

“Yes, yes, I know… but if zis weekend’s show is anything like my last show, we’ll have to cut ze tape and go off the air in ze middle of ze thing. After Captain Catholic and I debate for a bit, he’ll leave. But once he’s on his way out, make sure zat your ‘friends’ are there to say goodbye to him.”

DeGreedio Sr. chuckles. “Well… I suppose if they do it quietly after the cameras are shut off… it just might work.”

“Yes,” Chris says, “it will work, and we won’t have to worry about our little Catholic friend disrupting our plans anymore.”

The two men laugh and continue to talk about the specifics of their plans before heading back to their apartment high-rise.  Chris’s next show would indeed be quite the show.

As the first weekend of early May 1950 approaches, Calvinist Chris prepares for the show of his life. Chris is going to rip apart Catholicism in what would be the greatest speech he will have ever given… or so he thought.

 

 

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Chapter 10

The night before his speech, Chris is about to kick Jainy out of his apartment after another visit with her when he suddenly gets the urge to ask her a question.

“Hey baby,” Chris says to her, “I’m giving a very important speech tomorrow. It’s going to be just marvelous.”

Jainy couldn’t care less. “Is it?” she says as she puts her clothes on.

“Yes, ze crowd is going to love me,” Chris says, as proud of himself as a schoolboy after winning a spelling bee. If it were possible, Chris would have everyone in the entire world tune in to watch his ‘masterpiece’ of a speech. He wants anyone and everyone to see the speech he has worked so hard on. He wants everyone to know that he is the best preacher on Earth.

“Well,” Jainy says with disinterest, “that’s good for you. Now can you give me my money? It’s late enough and I want to get back home.”

Chris frowns as he hands her a couple of bills. “Yes, yes, here you go.”

Jainy coughs. Chris sighs and gives her a few more bills.

“You know,” Chris says, “you should come to my speech tomorrow.”

Jainy rolls her eyes. “Should I, now?”

Chris raises his voice, insulted. “Don’t you want to see how good I am at my job? You should be honored zat I even give you ze time of day!”

“Oh, I am honored, trust me,” Jainy says as hatred for Chris grows in her heart, diseasing it like a cancer.

“Don’t you give me your sarcasm,” Chris barks.

Jainy’s eyes suddenly become misty. “You know, you could show me a little respect sometimes.”

“Respect?!” Chris laughs. “You’re nothing but a filthy street whore! Why do I care what you think, anyway? I must be tired, ha! The thought of inviting you to my show. You don’t appreciate how great I am! You’ll be lucky if you ever hear from me again. Now get OUT of here, you tramp!”

Jainy runs out the door, slamming it behind her. She bursts into tears as she walks down the hallway of the apartment. She feels used, unappreciated, and unloved. She has never felt emptier in her entire life.

“I,” she mutters to herself, “I… I can’t go on like this any longer. Something has to change.”

Perhaps a little bit of religion was just what she needed.
 
 
 
 
 
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