Abraham and Townsend lived in an apartment on the south side of Colorado springs. Companionships were required to share bedrooms. Abraham slept on the bottom bunk. The modestly sized bedroom had one of those wide, shallow closets that encompassed most of the small, rearward wall. The closet doors were made of mirrored glass. But they were lined with laminate, perhaps for the purpose of preventing serious injury in case one missionary throws the other into the closet door.
In truth, threw is a bit of an embellishment. Towsnend pushed Abraham into the closet. Elder Thomas Jesse Abraham was about 6’2” and 240 pounds. And if you ask Townsend, Abe leaned into the fall, embellishing a bit. Neither were planning on the closet door shattering.
Prior to throwing Abe into the closet, Townsend was dubbed Anal Townsend by his fellow missionaries. This was because of his strict adherence to the rules. What the others didn’t know was that this was the first time Townsend strictly adhered to anything, for months-at-a-time anyway. Townsend was just being a missionary, as he was taught.
Townsend was Anal as in obedient. Anal as in wake up at 6:30 just as you were told you would when you were by the grown-ups as 5-year-old Sunbeam. Anal as in not calling home, not watching TV, not listening to Blink-182, not reading books. Townsend did all that- or didn’t do all that- he obeyed. And to his surprise, after a few transfers, he found he was one of the most obedient missionaries.
When he grew privy to this name, Townsend asked himself, why are these missionaries out here? Go back to college, go back to the girls, the freedom. Why are these fellas here if they don’t take it seriously? He didn’t get it. Anal Townsend. As if his apostate peers were outlaws. In his mind they were all Jesus Freaks. All of them in the monkey suits with the nametags. Any sort of punk display in this context was silly, he thought. That was when he was still trying to believe or whatever. He wasn’t anal before his mission. He was obedient now because all his life he was told this time would be wasted if he wasn’t obedient.
Towsend’s mission was his opportunity to perform for the first time in his life. After what he considered a failed high school experience- no girlfriend, no baseball team, no University, the mission was a fresh start. His chance to succeed at something. He eventually discovered that he did it more devoutly than anyone other than the vaunted Assistant the the President, Elder Astor. Elder Astor was rumored to have obsessive compulsive disorder. In addition to his obedience, his hands were always dry and flaky because apparently he washed them doozens of times a day. The fact that the only missionary in the mission whose level of obedience was satisfactory to the mission president gave Townsend pause.
When Townsend pushed Abraham into the door, the glass shattered, but it mostly stayed in-tact, remaining underneath the laminate. Except of course for the tiniest shard Abraham extracted from his big, white, pimpled back. After minutes of focused, strained searching, Abe shot out of the bathroom like a rod, exhibiting evidence high in the air. Proof of Townsend’s menace lied between Abraham’s thumb and forefinger, and he indeed had a tiny prick on his back. Blood.