Running a floating brothel had never been easy, but the profits had always been worth the effort. As Bruce Valmont pored over the figures one more time on the adding machine he knew what the answer would be before he pulled the handle: the business was definitely making a loss. There had been lean times before, but the seemingly new predilection of every two-bit major in every one-horse town to demand a cut of earnings for using their airspace was costing him dearly. He reached into his desk drawer for a nip of whiskey but found his hip flask empty. With a sigh he rose and headed towards the bar in the public area to replenish it.
“What can I get you, Colonel?” smiled the barman, putting down the glass he was diligently polishing.
“Either a new way of making money, or a whiskey,” Valmont muttered.
“I can give you both,” answered the barman with confidence.
Valmont looked at him sceptically. “Better start with the whiskey.”
The barman carefully filled the proffered flask without spilling a drop, and then handed it back to his employer.
Valmont nodded his thanks. “So, what about a new way of making money?”
“Religion,” announced the barman.
“It’s already been done,” Valmont replied flatly.
“But can you give me an example of a poor religion?” the barman challenged.
“Probably not,” Valmont conceded, “but I don’t think I’m going to be made a saint anytime soon.”
“I’d say not!” laughed the barman.
After serving together throughout the whole of the war and having spent the last four years in the airborne brothel, Valmont knew he had a point.
“So,” asked Valmont, “how can religion fill our coffers?”
“When our steam-driven dirigible appears in the sky above a town it always creates a great deal of amazement, wonder and speculation. And we work the towns of the most industrialized country in the world, full of smoke belching factories, airships, and steam wagons. Imagine what the reaction would be in places that haven’t seen modern technology; this flying bordello would be a thing of worship. They’d see us as supernatural beings. All we’d need to do is accept their precious offerings, then fly onto the next settlement and repeat the process,” explained the barman.
“So where in the world do you suggest we start?” said Valmont, trying not to sound too disparaging.
“We need to go to places off the beaten track, with superstitious inhabitants who’ve never seen anything like us before and would worship us as gods. Places like the Sahara desert, central Mongolia, Papua New Guinea, or even places nearer home like Sykesville, Maryland!”
“I’m not sure if I could stomach Maryland,” Valmont mused, “but I follow your thinking.”
“We bamboozle them with the horseshit of our glittering technology, and maybe even introduce the village elders to the delights of our sporting girls. There’s a fortune waiting to be made out there.”
“It sounds like a fun type of religion,” said Valmont, taking a nip from his hip flask. “I’ll give it some thought.”
“Always happy to help, sir,” smiled the barman.
Valmont nodded and left the barman to his glass polishing. He strolled out of the quite bar and climbed up to the starboard viewing platform to get some air. The barman’s scheme was starting to grow on him, and with profits at an all time low he knew they had very little to lose. He needed to start working on the idea, and getting the name right would be a good start.
“The Church of...” he mused out loud to himself, gripping the platform’s railings he looked around for inspiration.
The dirigible resembled an ancient living creature bathed in the light of the full moon. Below he could see a client eagerly licking the pudenda of two of his girls like they were the last edible things on earth, clearly visible through the glass roof of their room. Valmont considered the vista for a few moments before nodding sagely to himself.
“The Church of the Living Moon of Edible Glass,” he mused to himself, liking the name straight away.
With a smile he picked up the voice communication tube to the bridge.
“Helmsman!” he shouted. “Plot me a course to Sykesville, Maryland!”
thirty years at sea, Ross Baxter was made Professor of Disposable
Culture at the University of Hard Knocks. The work not classified as
subversive by the government can be found listed on his Amazon author page.