Lyn tried to imagine what she looked like to the religious zealots with her frayed skirt, jagged black hair and and silver rings—probably a witch. She attempted to smile sweetly, though “sweet” wasn't exactly her normal flavor. "How are you today, gentleman? I’m Lyn. The proprietor of this establishment feels your job here is done. Go with God, but away from here."
The older man didn't move at all, as if she hadn't spoken. The young man stared at the other with big wet eyes. A bird cackled in the distance. After Lyn began to suspect that he was a madman, the older man became more aware of his surroundings and said, "Have you given any thought today about your standing with God?"
"I haven't thought about it today," Lyn said, "but the day is still early."
"The early burly catches the truth will set you free." the old man said.
"What?" Lyn said.
She stared again, this time not at her, but at a billboard of a glittery airbrushed super model holding a can of shaving cream near her obscenely gaping mouth. The paper on the billboard was beginning to peel off, which she only noticed because he, and therefore they, stared at it so intently.
She turned her attention to the boy. He had one of those haircuts one expects was created by placing a bowl over the head before snipping.
Lyn said, “Look, can't you help some other street to righteousness? You're Jesusification is driving away business.”
He responded, “We don't normally do this sort of thing—”
The older narrowed his eyes at his protege.
"We have some information to give you about the true path to righteousness, if you are only ready to repent for your sins." The older one said. He had streaks of gray behind the ears and only the tiniest hint of a receding hairline.
"I don't know if I want the information that badly." Lyn said.
"Repent for your sins and you shall be saved." The old man said with confidence and vigor.
“What kind of sins are we talking about here?”
“Lying, cheating, stealing, that sort of thing.” That was the blond.
“Yeah, OK, I did some lying. Once or twice. Before. A while ago. So what do I get?” She didn't expect him to go for it.
The Hispanic one gestured and the choir boy noted something on his clipboard. Inside his suit coat, he pulled out a small satchel. He handed to Lyn a small slip of folded paper retrieved from the cloth bag, as if she were drawing numbers for a lottery.
“Is that it?” She was eager to get to her drawing journal.
“Oh we’ve got more where that came from. Surely you have more sins to repent.” She was beginning to suspect they weren’t Jehovah’s Witnesses. Maybe it was some sort of political theater. Oakland was full of such things.
Lyn cocked her head to the side and shielded her eyes with her hand. "What would lead you to believe I'm sinning?"
The man scoffed. "Your very demeanor reeks of vanity."
"I don't think that's a very strong pitch. Flattery will win more converts."
"Do you take me for a fool? You've whore coming out your pores." The old man said. The boy remained silent, but put his hand over his mouth while his eyes bulged out.
Huh. She had expected this conversation to be boring, not offensive."Leave. Now."
The young man handed Lyn a flyer which she barely glanced at before shoving it in her purse.
"Sorry," he said, and looked away. “So sorry. Come on Doc, it’s time go”