For the next six days, I will be posting an original piece of fiction. Enjoy
All hell literally broke out when Felipe Santiago, the star of such action blockbusters as William Shakespeare’s Henry the Fourth: The Musical, Part II, declared, first privately, then openly, that he, once a lover of many women and occasionally men, had accepted the grace of Jesus Christ and become a born again Christian.
Satan was pissed. Big time pissed.
Satan, understand, built his postmodern empire in Hollywood. He cleared the industry of any overt Christian propaganda over the past century, and filled the highest places at production studios with questionable Jews, outcast Catholics, and self-centered spiritualist. He had long since managed to rid the industry of Biblical epics and morality tales. To have one of his highest paid and most known actors openly declare a commitment to Jesus Christ made him feel both angry and threatened.
The tragedy had been in the works for months, but it had gone completely unnoticed until it was too late. Felipe Santiago, it seemed, had fallen in love with the web master of his Internet homepage, who was a Christian and also trying to sell a screenplay, and whom he had never met in person. The two had written hundreds of long, exaggerated emails about love and life in the course of a year. In one email, his Web master directed him to a site offering a cyber look at who Jesus is. He committed his life on that site. The Website was flashy and full of several catchy Christian jingles and rhyming evangelical messages. He was most impressed by a picture of Jesus dressed like the Terminator with a caption that said, “I’ll be back.” But ultimately it was the picture of Jesus dressed like Uncle Sam with a “I want you” caption that made him commit his life to Christ. “Everyone has always wanted me because I can make their film gross fifty million in the first weekend,” he later said in his testimony, “But that picture made me feel wanted because he loved me—I saw it in his cartoonish eyes and his pointy finger.”
So now all hell had broken loose. Dark angels, who had been hard at work on scripts for HBO dramas and miniseries, had been recalled to brainstorm. And the stars of NBC’s highest rated situation comedy agreed to stay on one more year just to preserve Satan’s cause, and insure there would still be a plentiful number of films requiring tasteless stars on the lookout for good exposure. But no efforts from Satan’s elite could put him at ease, and he ended up spending the entire night pacing, complaining, and being downright confused. “He can’t be a movie star anymore, that’s for sure.” Satan told his secretary and occasional lover, Billy. “There’s no telling the damage that can do.”
“There’s already an unauthorized biography about his life as a Christian,” Billy pointed out while fixing Satan’s morning cup of tea, “And Felipe Santiago t-shirts, coffee mugs, and inspirational CDs go on sale tomorrow at Christian bookstores around the world.”
“Mugs! Already? And it’s so close to the holidays.”
“It’s worse then I thought.”
It was rare for Satan to feel so uneasy. He had led a tranquil life since the start of the Cold War had put renewed interest of carpe diem themes into pop culture. One might even say that Satan was a humble man seeking to capture the essence of the American dream. Recent examinations of Satan’s work have in fact shown that he had become very western. But he still led a simple life. In a recent interview, he had commented, “For the past twenty years I’ve been on a vacation of sorts. There doesn’t seem to be much good in getting all stressed out trying to scheme—humans, especially in recent years, have created quite lovely vices that essentially do my job for me. Post-modernism is a beautiful thing.” Living in semi-retirement, he shared a three bedroom corner track house in Garden Grove with Billy, who on top of be being Satan’s secretary and occasional lover was also his butler and driver. He enjoyed gardening and recently had put up a white picket fence to keep the high school kids from walking on his lawn. Just as a fun job, he commuted to Hollywood once a week to do a voice on two separate animated series. He frequently told friends that he had never been so happy in his entire life.
Not long ago, an actor offered to give Satan his Brentwood estate because he was moving into a larger home in Santa Monica, but Satan declined. Whenever he was in the estate of a Hollywood star, there was always a feeling of detachment. He liked the smell and sense of community he found in Garden Grove; he also made a point of not getting too personal with clients. Satan once shared a condo in Huntington Beach with Dennis Rodman. The whole time they shared the home, Rodman kept pestering Satan to produce his movie, and Satan kept saying no in the name of good taste. It left their friendship shattered, and the two hadn’t talked sinse, although Rodman did send Satan a lovely fruit basket and a fifty-dollar gift card to Ross when he heard about Felipe’s unfortunate conversion.
Meanwhile, in the mist of Satan’s crisis, Felipe Santiago was having the time of his life living the Christian life. His first Christian photo shoot was a success, and photos were available on his Web page for a small, nominal, fee. Sunday, after a meeting with the press at a Irvine mega church, he would go to Sea World for his public baptism. Tickets for the baptism sold out at Ticket Master in fifteen minutes. Later that same day he would go to Tijuana and serve as the U.S. representative for the national cock-fighting tournament. And he was feeling more spiritual and Christian-like every breath he took. He was even thinking about forming a Christian punk rock band. The only problem he had in the past week was really only a small misunderstanding. A pastor caught him dancing inappropriately in an empty park and made a fuss over the immorality in his “loose swinging hips.” But it turned out that Felipe had accidentally lit his pants on fire while trying to burn a trash can full of suggestive books that he had once collected in his personal library, and he was only trying to put out the flames. So everything ended okay, and the confusion was cleared right up.
Satan’s woes, however, did not stop with Felipe Santiago. Felipe was a busy man and learned the power of evangelism quickly and forcefully. A week after Felipe’s spectacle of a conversion, while eating lunch with George Sanderburg, the director of Santiago’s academy award winning film Do They Shoot the Gorillas In China, Santiago became very vocal about his newfound love and Satan’s newfound curse.
“I found Jesus, and I want to tell everyone how wonderful my life is.” He said as Sanderburg licked off the ranch dressing from his salad. “That’s why I asked you to have lunch with me.”
“I’m happy for you. My brother’s brother-in-law is an assistant pastor at a Christian church in Minnesota.”
Felipe crossed his arms and reclined in his chair. “And what are you?”
“Nothing? An atheist, then?”
“No. Nothing like that.”
“Nothing. I go to church and all. I’m just not a part of anything.”
“What kind of church is it?”
“I don’t know. It’s just a church.”
“They must believe in something.”
Sanderburg shook his head. “I’m pretty sure they don’t.”
“What do they talk about, then?”
Sanderburg shrugged. “Just stuff—how to live a better life and stuff, I guess.”
Sanderburg Nodded. “And we go to shelters and feed the homeless. This year I’m also going to Mexico with the church to build a home for a family.”
“But there’s no Bible or anything like that at the church?”
“It’s there, but we don’t use it.”
“And you’ve been going to the church for how long.”
“About twenty-five years now, I believe.”
“Well it sounds to me like a church that hasn’t come out of the closet.”
Sanderburg was alarmed and sat uncomfortable in his chair looking around the restaurant to make sure no one was listening. “Do you really think that?”
Felipe nodded. “And you’re so close to being a Christian.”
“A prayer away.”
Sanderburg was confused. “You mean all I’d have to do to be a Christian is say a prayer?”
“And mean what you pray.”
“That doesn’t sound so bad—and then I could say I was a Christian, too?”
“I’ll do it.”
Sanderburg, after being led to a prayer to accept Christ, began to weep like the 20-year-old out-of-luck lounge singer who discovered her mother is dying of terminal foot cancer in his latest dramatic tear-jerker feature Foot, Etc.
But Satan’s problems only started there. In the lobby, after his lunch with George Sanderburg, Felipe tripped over Mary Megan Metford, one of his former leading ladies and casual lovers, whom he left for not wanting to experiment in a Ménage A’trois. He turned an awkward encounter to the glory of Christ. In five minutes, he explained to Mary Megan Metford, who had heard of Felipe’s conversion but thought it was just a publicity stunt (like the time Felipe claimed he would make love to a tiger at the L.A. zoo to satisfy a director that he was the right man for the role in a movie) that she needed Christ in her life—that he came for the sins of all and he would take away hers too if she accepted him and believed.
“You’re serious about this then?”
Mary Megan carefully considered what Felipe had said, while scratching nail polish from her thumb.
“What do you say? Do you need Jesus?”
“If something can change you this much, then maybe I should at least try it out.”
“You can always give it up if you don’t like it.”
Mary Megan gave her best Hollywood smile, “Okay then—I’ll try it out.”
Felipe instantly grabbed Mary Megan and attacked her with a Christianly hug.
And if Satan’s problems ended with Mary Megan Metford’s conversion, it would have ticked him off but it probably wouldn’t have ruined his day. He would have done a lot of complaining, but he would have just tempted his next door neighbor to cheat on his wife, and finish the day on a good note. But it didn’t end there.
On his way to his to his car something happened that Felipe Santiago would forever call a direct act of the Holy Spirit. He found Matthew McMillan passing out rosebuds to people passing by the restaurant.
Two years ago, Matthew McMillan was the biggest movie star in the world. His last two pictures made one billion each worldwide. He was such a good actor that he once got the part of the leading lady in a romantic comedy, didn’t bother to dress up like a woman, and became the first man to ever win an Academy Award for best actress. Then McMillan discovered he wasn’t enlightened, shaved his head, converted to Theravada Buddhism, left the film industry, and became a monk. In a rare recent interview, McMillan, who went by the Buddhist name Fen Fin, claimed that he had achieved Nirvana while listening to Nirvana’s greatest hits album in Tibet over the winter but stayed on Earth because he felt called to teach. Which is how Felipe Santiago found him selling blessed rosebuds in front of the restaurant.
Santiago had worked with McMillan in the eighties on a documentary that showed the unfair treatment of dogs in Yemen. Both had been outraged when they heard about a family who had eaten their family dog because they could not afford food and were dying of malnourishment. Santiago and McMillan did everything they could to protect the rights of the dogs and had remained close after the project.
When the two reunited in front of the restaurant, McMillan offered to sell him a rosebud, and Santiago offered to sell him Christ.
“With Christ, everything is about God,” Santiago explained, “it’s no longer about you.”
“But with Buddha it is the same.” Matthew argued.
“But did Buddha die for you’re sins?”
“No—when Buddha received enlightenment, he decided he would rather stay alive and teach, then die. He believed dying would have been the selfish thing to do.”
“With Christ you can live forever.” Felipe pointed out.
“With Buddha life is a cycle.”
“With Christ life is eternal.” Felipe added with more drama in his voice, “You will never die.”
Matthew looked at BMW driving towards them, and by the time the BMW past, he had decided he needed Christ.And that’s how Satan’s afternoon finished off—with McMillan, his biggest defender of all things being about “me,” accepting a doctrine that would make him passionate about witnessing about Christ, exposing the dangers of evil, and caring for the helpless. And that’s how a famous Christian bond established and began between two of the biggest Hollywood actors in the world who could easily change the way films are made.