Alone in his jail cell, Christian receives a midnight visitation from a beautiful stranger. She is the messiah and tasks him with solving a series of spiritual mysteries in order to save his immortal soul.
Atmospheric, dreamlike, unpredictable and wise, Gospel Prism is the dazzling debut novel from Gerald Weaver which brings into focus the relationship between literature, language, truth and religious faith.
Title: Gospel Prism
Author: Gerald Weaver
Genre: Fiction / Adult Fiction / Suspense
Publisher: London Wall Publishing
Release Date: May 21, 2015
I had maintained my spot as the only white player on a prison basketball team. I worked at it. I enjoyed it. I also liked defying the normative behaviors in ways that let me feel that I was making more of a mark on the place than it was making a mark on me. And even if that could never strictly be true, I at least wanted to do more in that direction than others or more than I might have thought was possible. But my two month stint in the hole had suspended that activity for too long. The next time I walked out onto the basketball court there was a different scene. The players on the team we were supposed to play against all walked toward me and stood in front of me at half court and told me that I was no longer going to be allowed to play. Everything that I understood or knew dictated that I walk away. There was nothing to be gained except at a cost. I had already been the only white prisoner to have played. But I figured that I still had some personal capital that I could spend. So I said that I did not think that it was fair and that I had been allowed to play before and that I failed to see that anything had changed. If there had been any change, I had improved the prison by effecting the removal of an evil guard and I had done two months in solitary for that. Then one of them suggested that we should just agree to let my own teammates decide.
I turned to look and every one of them was backing away. Some even spoke to me and offered an excuse. I turned back to look at the other team and I had decided that I was going to make one more suggestion before I would eventually capitulate. I was going to suggest that I be allowed to play one-on-one against the other team’s best player in order to settle the question. I would have surely lost the one-on-one game but I would have played. And that would have been my point. But as I was speaking I saw a change come over the faces of the players of the other team. It was as if some unseen force or uncanny being had whispered in their ears an inaudible spell that spread through them like a small weakening virus that settled in their knees. They gradually moved from casual defiance and disregard for me to actually half paying attention to what I was saying. And their body language changed. I could sense that something was now in front of them that had not been there before. It was very curious and I could not take my eyes off of them. And then I heard it.
“I think maybe we ought to let the man play,” said a country voice that was a little high in the male register and which had a slight crack in it, “and I will play on his team too.”
No one else said a thing. I looked back and the black men who were on my team had ceased their retreat and stood somewhere between my back and the edge of the basketball court. And Psycho stood behind them, just on the court.
He was a man of African-American descent, thirty years old, who had grown up entirely among rural white people in eastern Ohio. He was soulful and expressive but very unassuming and every inch a creature of the countryside. Psycho liked to talk about deer hunting and football and fishing. He was one of the men I knew in prison who actually had killed a man or so. He had done so as a practical matter as a part of his employment as a hit man for the mafia in Youngstown.
I would have let Psycho babysit my children. He was just that way.
“Have you ever even played this game?” I asked him.
“No,” he said.
The game was so uneventful as to have been very noticeable. There were no celebrations, no trash talk, no attempts at dunking the ball through the basket, no egregious fouls by the defense, no arguing over calls that the volunteer referee made. It was not at all like a prison basketball game or even a game at any playground. My team played very poorly and almost as if they had all lost a step or two, so we lost the game by a large margin even though our opponents also played unenthusiastically. And even though it had been the very definition of an uninteresting sporting contest, it had drawn a small crowd of spectators and an inordinately large number of them had been white.
The next morning Psycho woke up well before the sun. He took his time in the shower and when he dressed he put on a long sleeve sweatshirt underneath his long-sleeved khaki shirt and he put on a pair of sweatpants under his khaki pants. He also put on a pair of fingerless gloves and a stocking cap. He did all this even though it was a relatively warm Indian summer morning. He took two extra athletic socks out of his locker, placed one inside the other, dropped the locker’s combination lock into the inner sock and placed the whole finished product in his pants pocket. I showed up at his cell just as he was finishing.
“You can’t go with me. You know that. You cannot be a witness,” he said, “because that would put you on the spot with everyone, guards and inmates both.”
“Why did you do it?” I asked.
“It was the right thing.”
“I know you did not do it for me.”
“That does not even need to be said.”
“Are you afraid?” I asked.
“I was scared, once,” he said, “when I was younger. And from that I learned never to be afraid again. No point to it.”
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Meet the Author:
Gerald Weaver received his bachelor’s degree from Yale University and Juris Doctor degree from Catholic University. He has been a Capitol Hill chief of staff, a campaign manager, a lobbyist, a single father, a teacher of English and Latin, a collector and seller of Chinese antiquities and a contributor to the political magazine, George. He lives in the suburbs of Washington, DC, and travels regularly between the United Kingdom and the US. Gospel Prism is his first novel.
His experience of reading challenging literature in order to survive a dark place served as a provocation for this sensitive, atmospheric, dreamlike, compassionate, unpredictable and wise debut novel which brings into focus the relationship between literature, language, truth and religious faith.