I've lived in Clearburg my whole life, and I've been attending services at Holy Christ Almighty Lutheran Church for about as long as I can remember. I know my Bible stories, because Mom and Dad saw to it that they raised me right. I figure I'm about as faithful of a 17-year-old high-school kid as there ever was. There's one thing I don't understand, though: It seems like practically every week, Pastor Clayman goes off again about the dangers of harlots and jezebels, and how I shouldn't allow them to tempt me away from the path of the righteous. But as far as I can tell, I've never met a so-called "loose woman." I'm starting to get really curious about where they're all supposed to be.

I'm not saying I want to associate with loose women—far from it. All I'm saying is, I wouldn't mind just getting a chance to find out for myself where these loose women might be congregating. So far, all I have to go on is Pastor Clayman's assurances that they're tempting us from everywhere. The guy really gets going with his descriptions of the painted faces, the beckoning leers, the naked, perfumed flesh undulating to the throbbing beat of secular music—but they don't match any of the women in this town in any of the numerous places I've checked.

I know plenty of women, but I don't believe any of them are "loose." There's Karen Marckell, who works down at her daddy's liquor store, for example. She wears a belt buckle that says "Born To Raise Hell," and I've heard some of the church ladies describe her as "trouble," but she appears to be a downright healthy-looking woman to me. Especially her hair—it's real pretty. I ought to know, too, because I've scrutinized every inch of her—sometimes for minutes on end. In my mind's eye, I can picture her contorting like a harlot, but whenever I talk to her, she just smiles and rings up my soda. She never even offers me reefer or makes provocative motions with her hips or anything.

There's girls at my high school that are supposed to have "bad reputations," but whenever I try and approach them, they just ignore me or call me "Geek Bundle." Here's how many times my soul has been enticed into sin: none.

I drove out to Kendall, Prior Bluff, Plovis—once all the way out to Mitchville—and I didn't have any luck finding loose women in any of those places, either.

Pastor says they've got a whole lot of them in the big city, and you can bet that when I went there for the national Youth League conference last fall, I was watching for them like a hawk. But most of the city women I saw were just riding the bus and staring straight ahead with blank looks on their faces. The last thing they seemed interested in was luring me into the sordid back alleys of vice and hedonism. I mean, they didn't even make eye contact with me, to tell the truth.

Maybe these loose women aren't as bad as Pastor Clayman says. Maybe if I just got a chance to talk to one, I could convince her to come with me to Sunday services and pray for Jesus to enter her. Maybe she'd even let me hold her hand while we prayed together. Sure, there's some risk—I admit that—but I'll bet I could probably keep her from talking me into doing anything really bad.

I'll bet I could resist a loose woman, no problem, if I could ever find one. Sometimes, I imagine myself resisting as many as three or four at a time. Abraham was commanded by the Good Lord Himself to sacrifice his own son as a trial of his faith, and Abraham almost did it, too, before the Lord stayed his hand and told him he'd passed the test. Well, if Abraham's faith was as strong as that, you'd think the least the Good Lord could do is send me one loose woman and see how I stand up in a real-life test of faith.

Just a couple of loose women, leaning lasciviously on the hood of a sports car or something, like in my cousin's hot-rod magazines, would be more than enough for me to feel my faith had been adequately proven before the Lord.

The last thing I want is to burn in the flames of perdition and retribution for all eternity like I've heard Pastor Clayman talk about until he's blue in the face every single Sunday since the day I was born. In fact, when it comes to big, long-winded speeches that really fix every detail in your mind's eye, the eternal agonies of Hell are probably the only thing Pastor Clayman talks about as much as these loose women supposedly lurking around every corner, forcing me to fight them off all day and night, continually attacking my soul with their constant barrage of temptations.

Well, maybe that's what Pastor Clayman's life is like, but mine sure as heck ain't.