DEEP CITY in Times Roman

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Evading the Facts

The Reverend Yung Sung Ghuune was a man in trouble. Big trouble. The United States Internal Revenue Service did not feel satiated with the amount of income the reverend claimed on his 1983 W-2 form. In fact, the IRS was certain the reverend’s income was ten times what he’d claimed, which set him $1.6 million in arrears of funds he owed the U.S. Government. Thus, it was not a lilac season for the Reverend Guune: Instead, 1984 was very much a ragweed year. Yung was imprisoned for “tax fraud, perjury, and obstruction of justice” in November 1984.

Such a blow sent Yung into tears. The Ghunnes had made a mint once they relocated to Simi Valley. And Yung had made powerful friends—friends in the U.S. Government, friends in the U.S. President’s Cabinet, and surprisingly, friends in other U.S. religions. Yung was very generous to those friends, too, because he understood, at least, after Yunu’s counseling, how much those Americans loved money—and how much they needed stacks and stacks of money to carry on in styles befitting their public images. Yung also understood that those images had also come from those persons’ images of themselves. So indeed, he became shaken when he discovered how quickly and drastically his luck changed.

Shortly after he’d become incarcerated, Yunu visited him. She hugged him, ran fingers through his thinning hair, and tried to sooth his solemn spirit with whispers. “Do not worry, my love,” she’d cooed. “You are merely being martyred. Your reputation as God’s servant will not suffer.” She smelled of iris, blended with Patchouli oil, and her fingertips were salve to Yung’s balding head. Even though her voice was soothing, and even if Yung didn’t like to display emotion, when the prison guard glanced away, Yung collapsed into sobs.

“That isn’t it,” he blubbered. His tears dripped onto his silk tie and his pudgy frame quivered. “We just lost $775,000 to Terry—he was going to get me out of this mess. The liar!”

“There. There.” Yunu patted Yung’s nape. “Perhaps Oshi To can work with the Secretary to straighten out everything.”

Yung shook his head till it vibrated in sync with his quivering body, and blubbered more. “You don’t even know your oldest son.” He wailed again.

Yunu withdrew her hands. “What’s wrong with Oshi To?”

Yung dropped his face into his hands. “He’s joined the Catholic Church. He’s been attending Catechumen secretly for the past nine months.”

“Certainly, we can find someone within that church, too, some--”

Yung raised his face and his sobs grew louder. “Yunu, you don’t understand. That’s the one church where we can’t buy out leaders.”

Yunu chuckled. “Don’t be silly. Everyone has a price.”

Still crying, Yung took Yunu’s hands and squeezed them inside his. “You don’t understand, Love. It’s the only church with more cash than we had.

Yunu frowned, sighed loudly, then lowered her eyes. “But maybe if—”

Yung shook his head. “Forget it. The leaders are already celibate. They revel in celibacy. We’re doomed.”

Yunu pressed one of her cheeks against Yung’s chest. “I’ll talk with Oshi To,” she whispered, then smiled and breathed into Yung’s right ear. “Sometimes, it takes a woman’s touch.”

Yung shook his head. “It’s too late.”

“Machiavelli says—”

“Forget it, Yunu. This time, that won’t work!”

Yunu drew away from his chest. “Why?”

“Oshi To’s in love with a nun.”

“Tut. Just last week, I saw him walking along the beach with a long-haired girl who wore Bobby socks and a short, red skirt. They pecked each other’s cheeks—”

“He was with the nun. She’s very contemporary.”

Then, for the first time, Yung saw a look of terror creep across his wife’s face. “Why did you not tell me?”

Yung shrugged, leaned back and looked down at his shirt-swaddled navel. “I thought it was merely infatuation. I didn’t want you to worry about trivialities.”

Yunu again lay her head on Yung’s chest. Then she murmured, “Do not worry. I will talk with the Secretary myself.”

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