Harley Keck

When I was in high school in Green Bay, a guy rolled in to town and said he was going to start a true Christian church. He said his name was Harley Keck, and a lot of people glommed on to him right away. He recruited high school kids, including my one of my best friends. The preacher was a greasy little white guy with big rings on his fingers. He drove a brand new bright red Buick Electra convertible with white upholstery. I hated that fucker from the first time I met him. He had this thing written on paper, and if you recited it out loud, then you would be saved and would be guaranteed to go to heaven, regardless of any other acts on your part. Then you could be part of their little club, and recruit others. If you didn't recite the lines in front of them, they said you could never get into heaven. The lines were some home-grown version of "I accept Jesus as my personal savior, etc, etc.." which sounded pretty harmless. If you were saved, they put your name on a list. Anyway, I would never recite the lines in front of those damn stooges. I'd try to weasel out of it and still keep my heaven option open. I tried telling my friend that I'd say the lines to myself in privacy, but that was never good enough. You had to do it in front of these guys. They acted like they were god's personal chosen messengers. Harley collected a lot of money from good-hearted people to build a church. He said that he had already purchased the land. After this went on for a whole summer, Harley split town with the cash. Nobody knew where he went. It didn't seem like he had actually purchased any land.  A little while later I left town and never thought or heard about him again.

To make a strange ending, about 35 years later, my friend's mother died and I heard of her funeral arrangements but I was unable to attend.  She did a good job raising a nice big family. And she was always kind to me, too.  Anyway, Harley Keck was presiding over the funeral as the pastor of a church in Green Bay!  Maybe I was wrong about him.  All things change.  I found myself glad to hear that he was still in Green Bay doing his thing.