Good morning, y’all. Feeling hot, hot, hot! For some reason that song keeps playing in my head. It could be the sweltering temperatures in the area. It seems odd to have a silly little song be buzzing around in my head, as if it could offset the discomfort of these steamy conditions. I wonder if Buster Poindexter was suffering from heat prostration when he wrote the song. That might explain the repetitive lyrics.
Some things bear repeating, like the history of the Little Church in the Valley. When we left our story, night had fallen on day two of Summer Revival 2010. As the followers of the Little Church in the Valley began preforming their chores on day three of Summer Revival 2010, their was a real sense of calm about the grounds. The mountain stillness was undisturbed except for the occasional starting and stopping of the generator on the Right Reverend Hap T. Johnstone’s tour bus. Church members moved about the area picking up trash, straightening chairs and just generally sprucing up the area. Most of the workers had been taught from infancy that any little issue put off today was going to be a much larger issue tomorrow, so they did their dead level best to spiff the area back up to opening night standards.
The Ladies Auxillary was hard at work tracking their inventory in food stuffs and bric-a-brac. Doubling the first night’s food purchase had been a good idea. While there had been sellouts in certain items, like nachos, there were remaining stocks in others. The Ladies wanted to walk that fine line of selling out, but not missing any sales. The Ladies in Waiting were sent into Blairsville to restock from the Walmart, being careful to watch for any “Blue Light Specials” that might be applicable.They were also given the shopping list from the Right Reverend Hap T. Johnstone’s personal chef. Looking at the variety of items, the Ladies in Waiting thanked God they had access to one of Walmart’s super stores.
There had been a lot of requests from the crowds for healthier food than the usual carnival fare, and the Ladies were going to try to incorporate fresh fruit into their offerings. It was determined a fruit cup could be cobbled together from the free cups donated by Pepsi Cola. The cups would be filled with assorted melons and berries purchased at Walmart and lovingly sliced and diced by The Ladies. The fruit cups would be sealed with saran wrap and placed in wash tubes covered in ice donated by the Hawker’s General Store. At $2.00 a cup, the profit margin should be about eighty percent. The Ladies Auxillary was extremely proud of their high record of profitability.
One area of concern was the screen painter charged with personalizing the various clothing items sold at the T-shirt booth. After painting a record number of items on the first night, the artist returned the second night complaining of carpal tunnel syndrome. After discussing the situation with the Elders, and offering the healing hands of any of the revival minsters, up to and including the Right Reverend Hap T. Johnstone, the Ladies located a backup from the North Georgia Technical College. The backup painter was enrolled in the school of cosmetology, and was entranced with the idea that there might be some future makeup and nail work generated by the exposure. The Elders were delighted that they had a viable backup for one of their more popular attractions, and, they had reduced the possibility of being held hostage by an artist. Not that the Elders were thinking the worst of the painter.
The Elders had much bigger fish to fry. Shortly after beginning their daily “mop-up meeting” around the kitchen table in the rectory, the Right Reverend Hap T. Johnstone burst into the room with two of his larger security guards in tow. In language that was unbecoming a drunken sailor on leave in a port in the Philippines, the Right Reverend unloaded on the collected group of church officials. Exactly, “who did this upstart redneck from Florida think he was”, and, “did he think he’d ever preach again” after Reverend Hap had spread the word, was the jist of the message. Hap queried each church official as to what they knew, and when they knew it, regarding the reiteration of the Right Reverend’s number one sermon. All denied any prior knowledge. The collected church officials let Hap blow off steam; there was no sense trying to stop him anyway, and after about five minutes the tirade was finished.
When he finished his rant, the Right Reverend asked for a glass of water, and then proceeded to bend over and scratch his ankles and calves violently under his socks and his pants. Once Hap had scratched to a state of satiety, he turned and asked Elder Cheatum, “what’s my cut?”.
Elder Cheatum replied, “we were just about to hear the treasurer’s report”. “Mulva, will you tell us what the collections were in Ten number one last night?”
Mulva Lite ran her finger along the ledger book until finding the right entry and reported, “Two thousand nine hundred and seventy five dollars”. Elder Cheatum asked the treasurer to count out two hundred ninety seven dollars and fifty cents and give the cash to the Right Reverend.
Hap took the cash and then asked Elder Cheatum, “I’d like my daily fee now, please”.
Elder Cheatum smiled at Hap and responded, “I’d like to keep to our original agreement. I’ll be by with your fee one hour before you’re to go on”. “Things can get confusing sometimes, and I think we’ve got a system that works fairly for everyone”.
Hap, looked perplexed. He didn’t hear “no” many times, and he needed to process the news before responding. “Oh, okay, if that’s how you folks do things up here in the hills, well I guess that’s how it’s got to be”.
Hap turned on his heel and out the door he went, with his two security guards following behind like the trailer doors on a semi truck. Elder Cheatum looked about the kitchen and said, “Now, onto other business”.
The treasurer gave her complete report. Collections were six thousand and eighty dollars for the second night. The net to the Little Church in the Valley was twenty nine hundred dollars and some change after paying all of the ministers. Treasurer Lite could hardly contain the smile one her face when she reported that the concessions brought in close to nine thousand dollars. She had not gathered all of the receipts from the Ladies Auxillary yet, but Mulva felt certain the net profit from concessions would be close to seventy percent. The Ladies in Waiting would be back soon to help with lunch preparation for the assorted entourages, and Mulva would collect receipts then.
The meeting was turned over to Reverend Daniel and he began to question the assembled Elders for their opinions about the revival ministers. The Reverend Dale E. Bread was getting high marks. Opinions varied as to whether poaching Hap T. Johnstone’s sermon was “kosher” or not; but to those who had heard both sermons, Reverend Bread’s was felt to be more powerful, more spirit filled. The only other standout was Reverend Bill Foldes who seemed to make up in healing power what he lacked in oratory and serpent skills. Acolytes who had requested healing from the Reverend Bill Foldes reported feeling a “heavenly charge” when Reverend Foldes commanded them to heal. The ability to heal was very important to the mountain community, and the congregation would be well disposed to wait for a true healer to develop his other skills while taking advantage of his gift of healing.
There being no other business, Reverend Daniel charged the committee to go and get a plate filled with the bounty provided by the Ladies Auxillary, and break bread with him. The committee returned to the table with plates heaped with fried chicken, mashed potatoes and gravy and fried okra. Reverend Daniel said the blessing, and asked the Almighty to give the committee the wisdom of Solomon in selecting the right shepherd for His flock. By mutual, silent agreement, it was determined that the meeting was over. It would have been discourteous to try to talk business while their mouths were so full. The Elders would meet later that afternoon anyway, and the cornbread was hot right now.