‘Spirituality; With Or Without A Prayer’ by Elmore Leonard

Spirituality; With Or Without A Prayer by Elmore Leonard, 2000

The magic trick:

Satire that’s actually funny

It’s a technique as old as time – or at least as old as Mark Twain. When attacking serious issues and massive institutions, use a little comedy to make your point. It can make your vitriol easier to digest and yet also all the more vicious at the same time. We call it satire.

So, yes, Elmore Leonard writing about spirituality and prayer? You’d be correct to assume this is satire. He is serious. But he is also very funny here. Seriously funny. And that’s quite a trick on Leonard’s part.

The selection:

With six seconds remaining in the football game, fourth down, his team four points behind, Chip the quarterback calls time and jogs over to his coach on the sideline. The coach, his cap mud-stained from having thrown it to the ground several times, stares from midfield toward the goal post. In his Deep South way of speaking, he says to his quarterback: ”Honey, you know what you have to do, throw the Hail Mary. Wing it down there and pray it gets caught by one of ours.”

”Coach, who’s gonna block?”

”Listen to me, son. It’s the same situation Doug Flutie faced back in ’84. Even the score’s the same, Boston College down 45 to 41, the ball on Miami’s 48, six seconds left to play. Little Doug hit his roommate, boy name of Gerard Phelan, and won the game 47-45. Run it off the shotgun, Chipper. Drop back, give your people time to get down there and put it up.”


As always, join the conversation in the comments section below, on SSMT Facebook or on Twitter @ShortStoryMT.

Subscribe to the Short Story Magic Tricks Monthly Newsletter to get the latest short story news, contests and fun.


Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in:

WordPress.com Logo

You are commenting using your WordPress.com account. Log Out /  Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )

Connecting to %s