This is a true story and it happened in a place called Pahrump in the North American state of Nevada, which just goes to show you town planners the dangers of giving weird names to a) babies and b) towns.
How would a kid like it if you named him Pahrump?
Any guy with half a literary bent would immediately tell you that it rhymes with Harumph and that, surely, cannot be good.
I digress, however, and you must forgive me for it is an occasional hazard of growing old.
As I was saying, the picturesque town of Pahrump had a brothel and it had a church and the twain, as you can imagine, heartily disliked one another.
It was, however, a cordial dislike bordering on indifference and based on the sound economic principle of – shall we say? – static market share between the non-warring but coldly antagonistic parties.
But Rita “Here They Are” Diamond, the splendidly endowed owner of Diamond D’s, the said brothel in question, had the keen business sense of a Mark Zuckerberg and thought nothing was too big for this business: she was looking to grow her stream of recurrent earnings.
In three words – ok, four – she wanted to expand.
So you can imagine the consternation, nay, the unparalleled rage of the pious parishioners of postcard-picture-perfect Pahrump when they discovered that Rita “Nice Lungs” Diamond was beginning construction on an expansion of her brothel.
“The wages of sin is death,” thundered Pastor Billy “Fire And Almost” Brimstone on the Sunday following the revelatory discovery. But Pahrump’s tax department disagreed, sadly noting that the wages of sin was actually unreported.
Pastor Brimstone was a deeply religious man who agonised over the minutiae of religion – could Noah possibly have included termites on the Ark? – and believed his flock should fight fire with fire.
So his local Baptist Church started a campaign to block Diamond D’s from expanding – with morning, afternoon, and evening prayer sessions at their church.
Old Billy was smart. The pious prelate may have known which class – Smoking or Non-Smoking – the luxuriantly endowed Ms Diamond would inhabit in Eternity but he was taking no chances in the Here and Now.
And, lo and behold, It Happened and It Was Good. Work on Diamond D’s progressed right up until the week before the grand re-opening when lightning struck the whorehouse and burned it to the ground.
Perhaps the brethren should not have been that smug, so self-satisfied. Well, they were as proud as pea soup and you know what they say: you should never be proud of your humility.
“I’ll show them power of prayer,” growled Rita “Big Jugs” Diamond and proceeded to hire America’s Demon of Damages Melvin “Be Afraid” Brezinski to sue the piety out of Pahrump’s pleased-as-punch parishioners.
According to Associated Press, Ms Diamond sued the church, the preacher and the entire congregation late last week on the grounds that the church…” was ultimately responsible for the demise of her building and her business — either through direct or indirect divine actions or means.”
In its reply to the court, the church vehemently and vociferously denied any and all responsibility or any connection to the building’s demise.
And now I leave you with the end of the AP story and it is reproduced verbatim.
The crusty old judge read through the plaintiff’s complaint and the defendant’s reply, and at the opening hearing, commented, “I don’t know how the hell I’m going to decide this case, but it appears from the paperwork, that we have a whorehouse owner who staunchly believes in the power of prayer…. and an entire church congregation that thinks it’s all bullshit”.
Does that deserve an Amen or what?