Joseph watched as Case began to undress on the bluff overlooking the rock quarry. Case removed his shirt, then his shoes and socks. He planted his feet on the weathered rock at the edge and leaned over to peer into the water below. The sun was directly overhead, and a breeze riffled through the sycamores lining the old factory road. Case’s chest was a white-marble tone, and the line on his arms where his tan began made him look like a painting someone had only half finished. He removed his watch and tossed it onto the pile. It landed with a click, striking the plastic LDS tag upon which his name was spelled out in white letters. Joseph sat behind him in the dirt of the road, next to two bikes and a parked van, studying Case’s outline against the blue sky.
“Not only does the Mormon Church offer salvation,” Case was saying, “but in addition to your salvation package, you receive a principality in the kingdom of God.” He smiled over his shoulder, then pulled his belt out of its loops and tossed it onto the pile. “Which sure beats the living arrangements you have now, Claude.”
Claude was sitting on the bumper of the van, its back doors thrown open to reveal a stained mattress and sheets, across which were scattered several water-stained romance novels. His face was framed by wiry gray hair that extended down his jaw and collected under his chin, and he was trying to roll a joint on the frayed knee of his corduroys. The reek of mildew and sweat coming from the van was overpowering, and Joseph, who was sitting in front of Claude, wondered how long he could hold his breath.