As he walked towards the top end of the Queen Street Mall, Ralph noticed a street preacher. He stood there and did his thing, just like a busker. He looked forty-ish, was taller than average and had flaming red hair. His enormous beard was the same colour, so that his face seemed to look through a ring of fire. Fire and brimstone were in fact his favourite themes. Occasionally though, his voice would smoulder down to become a soft ember as he tenderly spoke of the love of Jesus and pleaded with the passers-by to save their souls.
Ralph noticed that although the preacher was a lot like a busker, he was different to the others. He was the most enthusiastic of the buskers; certainly more so than the old man sitting down playing the same old riffs on his saxophone. He also seemed immune to the disinterest of the passing crowd. This was fascinating, really. The other buskers fed off even a small gathering of the idly curious, and became visibly despondent when that their audience dwindled away. The preacher, however, had barely anybody stop in front of him. Ralph supposed that people were afraid to encourage him.
The biggest difference that Ralph noticed between the preacher and the other buskers however, was the most disturbing. It stayed with Ralph for days as he pondered the meaning of it. The preacher didn't have a hat, or a bowl, or a guitar case for people to put money in. The preacher didn't do it for the money. Clearly then, he was just plain nuts. Clearly.
Ralph couldn't dismiss the preacher that quickly. The fairest test was to listen to him. So Ralph stopped by one Friday evening, and listened. What he heard cut him to his heart. He took the preacher aside and bought him a cup of coffee to drink while they talked. The preacher introduced himself as Stewart. Stewart worked as a salesman at a menswear shop in the city as his day job. This surprised Ralph; but he wasn't sure why.
It was about another year before Ralph was ready. He was nervous but determined as he took his Bible and some notes he'd written and found himself a good spot at the bottom end of the mall. And then he began to preach.