Since I wasn't actually prepared to show him my Pokémons, I quickly added, "So did Dad ever make it to Oregon?"
"Only part of him," he said a silent prayer and a sign of the Wagon. "My mother and my brothers and sisters simply needed too much food to make it all the way to Oregon. The trail was dangerous. Andy died of dysentery, little Matt died of cholera, Grandma got measles and Sarah died of a broken arm. There were other problems, too. One of the oxen wandered off and we lost a lot of time trying to trade clothes for spare wagon wheels.
"We spent seven years in Utah before Father pushed ahead on his own. But before he left, he built the First Church of The Trail, based on his vision of the Promised Land. He left my mother and me here in Utah. Later, we heard that he'd been cut in half in a tragic log-raft accident while trying to ford a river in his Subaru on the border of Oregon. We were forbidden to look for him or discuss his death with any policemen who showed up. At least that's what the letter from the Police Department from their headquarters at the Hotel 9 in Trenton, New Jersey said."
I hesitated, but then continued my questions, "What sort of rules does a church based on a videogame have? How do your conventions differ from more conservative churches?"
His eyes lit up, "We ask that supplicants to pick one of three professions, there's the farmer, the carpenter and the banker. They all represent a religious figure from the book of Oregon. Most people pick the banker, though; it really is the best profession.
"We do have strict laws. No smoking, swearing, drinking, sweets, coffee, no sex until marriage. You have to pay a small tithe of 10 percent of all your income so that the congregation can continue to bring good to the community. Would you like to join us?" he said, smiling creepily. "Come, join the Church of the Trail. I see that you have heard our message before, perhaps you've even lost family members to dysentery while trying to reach the Promised Land of Oregon. The Trail has much to offer you, poor soul. If you become a member you will marry two of the finest virgins of the flock and get to wear magic toe-socks. And free lazer-pool."
I excused myself to use the bathroom, briefly considering his proposal while planning my escape. "Virgin threesomes, but at what expense?" I asked myself. I pulled out my only friend, Mr. Flask. "What would I do without you, my friend?"
As I climbed out the bathroom window, I decided that coffee, cigarettes and alcohol were really the only things keeping me sane. Reverend John Smith Jr. could keep his wacky religion. I wasn't about to get roped in, no matter how many virgins they dangle in front of me or how many times The Oregon Trail saved me from having to go to science class.
Marion Cox never spent all his time on the Oregon Trail hunting.