Maybe it's just me, but I never thought of The Gideons as people.
Think about it--who do you know has ever actually SEEN a Gideon? I've never passed The First Full Gospel Gideon Missionary Church On The Rock on the drive to work. I've never seen flocks of Gideons on bicycles descending on Suburbia, all drab in their black and white clothes, backpacks full of The Watchtower. And I've most certainly never been overawed at the sight of a towering Gothic Gideon cathedral.
I didn't realise there even WERE Gideons. People, I mean. I always just assumed, like so many other people, that "Gideon" was just a giant supercooled computer somewhere, in sole charge of a warehouse-sized printing press, a Master Control Computer over a whole fleet of unmarked delivery trucks which unerringly find their ways to brand new hotels and motels, there to deliver, like a hardbound faux-leather-covered bottle of milk, a single Bible to each and every chest of drawers.
So imagine my surprise when, a few days ago, a very nice Chrysler drove up and two old ladies step out. No, that wasn't the surprise, though honestly anyone spotted alive out this far in the Middle of Nowhere is a bit of a shock. I mean, we get salespeople out here, usually for medical supply houses or such, and people lost in the desert dying for water, but those people (the sales reps, not the dying people) are always younger than 20, and either blonde and bouncy or tanned and lantern-jawed. This was two monkey-wrinkled little ladies in flower-print dresses and no-nonsense shoes, with nametags on, and they certainly weren't starving.
What usually happens is the rep brings us some form of goodies; candy or fruit trays or note pads and pens, I tell them "No soliciting, just like the sign says," they hand over the goods and a card and I show them the door. Only problem is that you can't just shoo out very old ladies, especially when each was carrying what looked to me like a half-kilo brick of cocaine in their withered little hands. It bore further examination.
So, I let these _____ in.
See? I don't even know what to call groups of Gideons. I mean, are they priestesses? Deacons? Drones? Are they Right Reverends or Worker Gideons? Delta Minuses? What does one call a pack of Gideons? A group of whales is a pod, a flock of crows is a murder, and a gathering of Catholic priests is called a molestation, but what do you call a couple of Gideons? A complimentary?
So anyway, I let them in, and all I can see is their hands full of these little gold and white packages. For one brief, near-orgasmic moment I think they're carrying pounds and pounds of homemade White Divinity Fudge and are going door to door doling out huge blocks of it, but then my sugar-starved brain made the connection--it was a different kind of Divinity. These were God People.
I had let proselytizers into the building! On my watch!
Before I could get out the tazer and give 'em a nice jolt of old time religion they told me they were from the Gideons, and asked if they could leave a free Bible here. Realising that I might just get off easy, with none of my office-mates the wiser, I say "Sure." Then, foolishly, I let their little-old-ladyness get through my layered anti-sales defenses, because when one asked how many employees we had I thoughlessly blurted "Oh, eighteen or so."
You should have seen their little beady eyes light up. You'd have thought one of them had bingo'd on Big Screen Giveaway Nite.
They started stacking white and gold paperback bibles on my desk, and just kept piling them on. Nothing I could say would stop them. It quickly became a sort of horrific octaganarian magic show as they kept reaching into thin air to pluck bibles from behind my hutch, under my phone, and behind my stapler. All they needed was a covey of white doves and a pair of double-breasted suits to be an Old Testament Penn and Teller.
When I was awash in bibles, wishing I could pull a Moses and part the white flood, they stopped as suddenly as they had begun, spun on their Stride Rites and headed out the door without a word. I couldn't help but notice that, under their perfect beehive hairdos each bore a short, black rubber whip antenna that was mounted on the side of their skulls. That was what sewed it up for me.
I hadn't been beaten by ordinary people, I had been bested by the best of all clever mechanical constructs, automata sent by Gideon Himself to test His World Domination By Bible Plan, whereby mind-controlling literature is left in public places worldwide, thereby enslaving the already slack-jawed public.
Fiendish! And I'm stuck with eighteen copies.