Inside the Lawrence P. Fenwick Building are many unexceptional businesses. An unexceptional tailor, for instance, plies his trade unexceptionally on the fourth floor, while on the floor beneath him an unexceptional travel agent helps send her unexceptional clientele to unexceptional locations for what can only be unexceptional vacations.
On the sixth floor is the United Church of Satan.
Though let me say right off they do not refer to themselves as such anymore.
The reason for the change is Berry, Indiana is right on the edge of the Bible Belt, so it stands to reason that Satanists wouldn’t be all that popular here. According to their receptionist, Danica, in the past they’ve received numerous death threats, had their cars covered in animal (they hope) excrement, and their front door egged. The last and most notorious act of vandalism was when somebody broke in—a farmer, they think—and let loose an angry pig that ran around and tore everything up. In addition to unleashing rampaging swine, the farmer copied out the entirety of the Book of Revelation with two tubes of Danica’s lipstick (and her eyebrow pencils—all stolen from her desk) on the office walls.
Seems excessive to me, but perhaps the farmer couldn’t make up his mind where the zing parts were and so kept going and going, hoping the sheer volume of scripture would get his point (whatever that might have been) across.
Not sure why he didn’t choose something pithier, nor do I believe there’s an easy explanation for the use of lipstick, but it could be he was looking to distinguish himself somehow.
I can sympathize.
The retaliation for this persecution wasn’t what the townspeople feared. No evil eyes were drawn on doors. No babies were kidnapped and sacrificed. There were no wild, defiant sex rituals in the streets. The UCoS didn’t even take legal action, bring in the American Civil Liberties Union, start a hubbub in the courts.
They simply changed their name.
A week after the farmer and his holy hog destroyed their office, the UCoS vacated the Lawrence P. Fenwick Building and disappeared without a trace. Then, just as untraceably, a month later (after the townspeople had finished celebrating their victory over the Devil with more ribs, rice-crispy squares, and rotgut), the Satanists reappeared and posted this sign above their office door:
The Church of Epistemological Emendation
“Everybody thinks we’re Scientologists now,” Danica said.
“Wouldn’t that be as bad?” I asked.
“Not at all,” she said. “Every month I get calls asking if we’ll pitch the town to Hollywood as a location to shoot a movie. They think if one of those nutjobs out there can use it, they can turn this part of Asshat, Indiana into another famous getaway like Madison or Nashville.
“All they really care about is getting a slice of that bed-and-breakfast pie,” she added.