The Dancing Popes

Pope Joan “dies” and nine months pass.

The first cardinal emerges.

Red! His clothes are red as blood. He has left the white of the Papacy behind.

It dwells with those he has abandoned, in the caves below the Vatican, where the endless Popes must dance.

There is a prophecy too.

Elvis spake it.

The Popes—the dancing army of them—they won’t attack. Not if they don’t have to.

Not unless the day comes when people lose sight of basic neighborly love and kindness.

But when they do, look out.

When they do, that dancing Pope army is going to boil out of its homeland and pour over the surface world. They’ll wash over the petty politicians and the stars, the preachers and the demagogues, and with their sequins and their Popetanks the tidal force of that army will can-can the old regime away.

You won’t really understand until you’ve seen it. No one could. You can’t really know what we’re facing unless you’ve gone down there yourself and seen the army dancing.

But there are a few things that you may know.

People who use condoms should be careful. The Pope army doesn’t approve of condoms. They’ll pass by like a white tide, and if they see someone using a condom, YOINK, they’ll just yank it right off.

And there’s some issue or other with homosexuals. Nobody knows what the Popes will do, not even Elvis, but the wise money says that the Popes won’t put up with it. If you’re having homosexual sex when the army sweeps past, they’ll seize your condom and your shoes. They will not stop to wonder whether what they do is right.

They will clean your floors, whirling and dancing and scuffing and then unscuffing as they pass. They are a floor polish as well as a dancing Pope army. They will be unstoppable because they will transcend our mereology.

They will distract us all with their glitz and their glamor. They will be the newest and strangest calamity of all.

But, scary as they are, we must not let them distract us—Elvis said.

“Look,”

he said, and then he licked his lips, and you could tell his heart was hurting. He’d been trying so hard to be alive when everybody thought that he was dead, and now he had to say bad news.

“Look, the real threat’s the mutant alligators.”

It’s bull, of course, the last bull of Pope Elvis.

“Isn’t it enough they have to live in the sewer? Do we have to irradiate them too?

And there was a splash and a slither and maybe we oughtta’ve listened but people were worried, even then, that they might have lost kindness;

That they’d be swept over, any moment, by the dancing army of Popes.

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