Sheikhs and mullahs (all the important robes) wait in the conference room. Attention on the infidel in his Western business suit.
Lucis’ smile is disarming. His words are a rearmament program.
“‘Prophet Jeans’! I can see the slogan now… ‘Sightly in the eyes of God’.”
Interpreter talks to emissaries. Emissaries erupt amongst themselves. Emir hands down verdict to interpreter. Interpreter feeds Lucis verdict.
“Mr. Ferre, there is much… uh… opposition to this. None of the Eminent Ones like this. Especially Esteemed Shareef al Rahman.”
“Shareef don’t like it?”
Interpreter shakes head.
“Well, does Shareef like hearing his own echo in the mosque? Or the kids quote more gangsta rap than Koran? Does Shareef like watching the glorious roar of his religion wither into a whisper right in front of him?”
“None of you like it. That’s why I’m here. I started off selling fruit to country bumpkins. Now look at me, a global name. I’m the best in the field. And here’s the proof.”
Lucis delivers unto them the PowerPoint. And PowerPoint’s glossy aura fills the room; it sells the dream slide by slide.
First doom coated in gloom. Bar graphs of low quarterly turnouts. Pie graphs of end-of-year predictions. It was raining down down-arrows.
Then the testimonials. The before and after of the Christian church showed them the power of integrated marketing communications. The numbers for “Blood of Christ” Cabernet (now in communal baptism size!) stagger their minds. The “Hot Body of Christ” concert series made Corpus Christi Texas THE premiere spring break destination… right under Cabo. Returns for the “Jesus Sees Us” clothing line drop jaws.
Even some of the fringe groups were reaping more converts, thanks to an underground guerrilla marketing campaign for “Holy Roller” roller blades.
Lucis never chances things to slideshow alone.
Release the demos!
Product lines roll out. The jeans are high quality, with stylized key sura verses stenciled on the pockets. Five Pillar pops promise the heavenly reward of cherry, mango, grape, strawberry, and lemon. The packaging for the turkey salaami laikum is downright mouthwatering. And in the center of it all, the Kaaba Soap Stone, with its exclusive blend of moisturizers and exfoliates, scientifically designed to win the jihad on offensive odor.
Oohs… aaahs… grunts.
Headshakes. Nods. Murmurs.
Talks, crosstalks, finger-points.
Scoffs! Yells! Shouts!
Silence. Murmurs. Nods all around.
Emir hands down question to interpreter. Interpreter feeds Lucis question.
“Mr. Ferre, are you sure this is… uh… what the youth wants?”
“Did you say ‘want’? What’s a want? I don’t deal with wants. They need this.”
Interpreter translates. Eyebrows raise. New question comes.
“Mr. Ferre, are you sure this will work?”
“Are you kidding? I’ve turned crap into miracles. And what we’re selling here is definitely not crap. You guys have something great here. Eternal Paradise. Peace. There’s even girls in Heaven! No, it’s a great message. The only problem is the packaging. The packaging is thousands of years old. It needs to be freshened up a bit.”
Lucis speaks to slay opposition.
“You have to speak to the youth, not preach. To speak to them, you have to talk in language they understand. The Christians got that; anything it takes to get the Message to the people.”
It only took a month to see an appreciable increase in the numbers. It was no wonder; the Word of God was out in the street and walking both in low rise and boot cut. DJ Muezzin’s “Booties on my 72 Virgins” was out and requests were blowing up the airwaves.
The imams smiled at the returning of the flock. Then they put on the call to prayer, MC Jinn Ridah’s “Hot Ramadan” dub mix, to regenerate the faithful with that crazy casbah sound.
The story behind the story: This was inspired mostly from The Clash’s “Rock the Casbah”. That and thoughts of “what would happen if the crass commercialism that affects Christmas was present in the whole of Christianity… and started invading Islam?” I had no illusions that finding a publishing house for this one was nigh impossible. I wrote it in an experimental, direct style. Plus, while not intending to offend anyone but merely pose a what if, I’m pretty sure editors didn’t want to bank on none of the followers of two major religions NOT getting miffed. As always, I hope you enjoy your gristle… all comments are appreciated!