TOPEKA, Kans. — Pastor Fred Phelps, the leader of the ultra-right wing Westboro Baptist Church, was found dead in his home Tuesday morning, the victim of apparently self-inflicted wounds. Earlier in the day as the Pastor, famous for his church’s “God Hates Fags” campaign, was waiting in line in a Topeka Starbucks, Phelps was allegedly drawn into conversation with Allen Feldspar, a local insurance adjuster, who, unbeknownst to Phelps, happened to be in a long-term, committed partnership with another man, Terry Morgan, who was not then present in the line. Phelps and Feldspar began conversing about how slowly the line was moving, and ended up sharing a laugh when both ordered a “Grande Decaf Carmel Macchiato, no whip,” a drink that both claimed was their “usual.”
Phelps and Feldspar then agreed to sit together while they enjoyed their “coffees” and continued their conversation, addressing topics such as the unusually dry Summer, how bad Topeka traffic had become, and their shared preference for Kansas University over Kansas State University athletics. It was not until Morgan arrived and joined their table that Phelps realized that he had been conversing with a homosexual, and those at the scene report that Phelps looked “bewildered” and “shocked” that not only was he talking to a gay man that whole time without realizing it, but also that he found him pleasant, engaging, and sympathetic on every issue that they discussed.
Phelps became visibly upset when the couple shared an inside joke and Feldspar patted Morgan’s knee while the two looked at each others faces with love and contentment. “He started getting real red-faced, and it looked like he was about to start crying,” said Starbucks barista Angela Ryder. “At first I thought he was mad because he was having to look at – you know – gay stuff, but then I started thinking that maybe he’s just never actually met any. Terry and Allen are in here all the time. Nice guys, good tippers – a little boring maybe, but a really sweet couple. I think [Phelps] just didn’t realize that the group of people he calls “abominations” could be just as lame as the rest of us.”
After the couple left the Starbucks to go visit Morgan’s parents in Lawrence for the day, Phelps remained behind with his head in his hands, and witnesses report that he was crying and muttering phrases under his breath like “What have I done?” and “But he seemed so cool.” Phelps left the coffee shop after 15-20 minutes, stopping to give Ryder an excessively large tip of $28. “It was really weird. Usually he doesn’t tip at all, but this time he took all the cash out of his wallet, pressed it into my hand, and just held it for, like, a weirdly long time… It looked like he wanted to say something, but then he started to cry and ran out.”
That was the last reported sighting of Phelps until his son, Fred Phelps Jr., found his remains floating in the shark tank of the Phelps castle, which Phelps Sr. apparently entered naked while clutching two raw steaks that he had been planning to grill for dinner. “Those sharks really went to town on the old cuss,” said Topeka sheriff Gavin Anderson, “I’m not surprised though – pretty much everybody hates him, and I can’t imagine those cold blooded killing machines were any different.” A note was found outside the shark tank, where Phelps wrote that he felt “ashamed for what I’ve done. I cannot believe how fucking stupid and cruel I’ve been… I know that this does not heal any of the pain that I have caused, but I cannot continue to live with myself knowing what a miserable, evil, hate monger I’ve been, and how completely I’ve failed my God, my family, and myself.”
“I loved my father,” Phelps Jr. said in a press release on behalf of the Westboro Baptist Church, “but his death has shown us what a colossal waste all of our lives have been. I guess he’d just never met a real live queer couple, and his shock at their normalcy and the compassion that they showed to each other led him to conclude that he’d spent his time on earth blanketly hating an entire group of human beings that were no better or worse than any other group. From this moment forward, the WBC will be changing its mission to be more in keeping with the true teachings of Jesus. We will quit being such pathetic, evil-mongering shits, and actually start trying this whole “loving others” business.”
Reporting by David Sharp. Twitter: @DavidAndSharp