David Knepp was a very stressed man. He had a job that paid well enough for a semi-detached house and two cars, but not well enough for him to ignore that his wife was sleeping with his boss. His children, twin teenagers Seth and Ben, both hated him for no apparent reason other than David’s refusal to let them attend drunken raves on school nights, and had recently received matching poor
reports from their teachers. And the Mollie the pug was due to give birth to eight puppies in the next few weeks. It was an unplanned pregnancy, and the father was unknown. If the pups came out with long snouts and spots, then it was the neighbour’s collie, and if they had long ears it was most likely the basset hound that Mollie took a liking to in the park.
The only member of the Knepp household that was not troubling David was the goldfish, who David had threatened with a flume-ride down the toilet if it did not behave. To worsen matters, David’s hair was rapidly disappearing, he broke his thumbnail trying to do some DIY, and the other neighbours had a child who had just discovered their untrained love of the tuba.
But otherwise, David said to the checkout girl at the local shops, he was just fine. The girl had nodded politely, counted his cash, and pressed the little button under the counter to alert security of the paunchy balding man who was telling her his woes. Just in case.
Unpacking his shopping, David realised how far he had sunk. He had filled his basket with tinned sweet corn and jellies, and for some reason had chosen a ladies deodorant for himself. On the front of the pink can read the words ‘Feel fresh and fragrant’ and below them in a curly style was the word ‘jasmine’ with an illustration of the flower. David did not know what a jasmine flower smelt of, but it
probably was not enough to mask the stink of his manly underarms. He sighed, and considered what he could possibly make for dinner. Seth would want bolognaise, Ben would want pizza, and David’s wife would want nothing at all because she would have restarted her diet for the twenty-third time this year. David would make a curry to try an bring the family to the table, and end up eating alone
with Mollie who loved anything but had pretty poor table manners. To be fair though, she was eating for nine and did not have any opposable thumbs. Distractedly, David tossed the aerosol between his hands. Up it would flip and then fall back into his outstretched palm, then up again, then down, then up, then the doorbell rang and David missed his catch.
The can clattered to the lino floor and rolled under the refrigerator. David watched it disappear into the dusty dark beneath the fridge and then decided to answer the door before trying to extract it, because who knew how long that would take.
At the door was a young man. He had a white shirt, a black tie, black trousers that he wore high up his waist, black shoes, and a little badge that David did not have his glasses on to read. The young man also looked suspiciously clean and smiley. “Yes?” asked David, suspiciously. “Hello, I’m Elder Whitley.” the
young man said. He had managed to introduce himself and keep his perfect grin on his face. David thought he was a bit demonic. Without waiting, Elder Whitley continued, “Would you like to change your life?” David considered this for a moment. A family that ignored him at best, a terrible job, balding… He tried to remember the last time he had weekend
that he actually enjoyed and found that he could not cast his mind back that far. At last he answered, “No. Go away.” “But, but sir,” said the young man, wedging his foot in the door that David was trying to close, “Have you considered the teachings of Jesus?” “No.” “Would you like to?”
“No.” “Here, I have some readings, sir. Here.” He waved them in front of David, who was still attempting to shut his door. “I don’t want them. Go away. I’m busy.” But Elder Whitley had not stopped smiling and managed to forced most of his neatly ironed body across the
doorstep. “Sir, if you just take a look. These could really help you." David sighed and let the door swing back. The young man seemed to inflate a bit and fixed his tie, which had gone askew by all of three millimetres. “If I take these, will you go away?” “Oh, yes.”
“Fine,” said David, who snatched them from the Mormon’s hand, which was perfectly manicured. David wondered whether the church had its own beauty treatment place – a spa, a hair dressers, a herbalist boutique… “I can see you are already interested,” said the Elder. “Faith in Christ is pretty powerful stuff.
David stared at him for an uncomfortable length of time, and the young man held his gaze, unblinking. “Go away,” said David, and shut the door on the Mormon. He held his breath, listening for the holy man with the demonic smile to do ask he asked, and then went back into the kitchen.
He tossed the pamphlets on the table and then slowly made his way to the floor to fetch the deodorant from its lair. It was only after David had pushed his arm under the fridge all the way to his shoulder that his fingers finally brushed the aluminium can. Cursing, he flattened himself some more and pushed further. At first the can rolled this way and that but not really going anywhere, but on the third try, rolled towards
David enough for him to snatch it and drag it out, covered in dust and old dog treats. David inspected the deodorant. Apart from a small snick in the plastic cover it was undamaged. Jasmine lived to tell another day. He set it on the table next to the pamphlets, and started to prepare the curry.