Good morning, y’all. Well, clearly something in the Florida water is causing the crazies to run amok now. Yesterday a singer, today fifty innocents in a bar. I know the NRA is going to say it was a person that killed the innocents, not the gun. It’s just that the gun made it so much more easy to do. It would be interesting to see if Disney is strong enough to take on the gun lobby. Boycott Epcot until the NRA backs down.
Speaking of boycotts, that’s what the Elders of the Little Church in the Valley were hoping to avoid on the fourth night of Summer Revival 2010. Elder Cheatum entered Tent number one to see the Right Reverend Hap T. Johnstone beginning his altar call and Testament of Faith. While the Elder was surprised to see the Right Reverend behind the pulpit, he was even more surprised to see that the Right Reverend was dressed in black tie, complete with gloves, top hat and cane.
“Close your mouth before you start catching flies”. Elder Cheatum turned to see where the advice was being dispensed from. It was Bubba Hawker, who had slipped beside of the Elder when he entered the tent. As usual, Bubba was grinning from ear to ear, and he spoke directly in to the Elder’s ear, “He’s really somethin’, ain’t he?”
“Yes he is”, the Elder responded, “Do you remember what the sermon was on?”
“Of course I do, ‘The Perils of Prosperity'”, “Reverend Johnstone dressed up like Richey Rich to show us how silly rich folks look.”, ” I ain’t ever seen anybody dressed like that, have you?”, Bubba asked.
“Once or twice”, the Elder answered, “but never a Pentecostal preacher.” “How was the sermon?”
“Real good, I always like the part where it’s easier to thread a camel through the eye of a needle than it is to get a rich man in to Heaven.” “I always think about how big that needle would have to be to get a camel to go through it.” “Did you hear about Hugh Morris?”
“Yes, I did, what did you hear?”, the Elder quizzed.
“I heard that Brother Hugh was asking for help with his arthritis and the spirit just came through that new preacher and gave Hugh such a jolt that it knocked old Hugh out colder than a mackerel”. “They took him to the hospital cause he wasn’t speaking or nothing.”, “It was like the spirit had a hold of him but wouldn’t let him dance or speak in tongues or nothing.”
During the conversation, Hap T. Johnstone managed to get through the Testament of Faith without killing the snake, or anybody else. Folks were lining up for Hap’s blessing and, hopefully, a healing. The Elder wondered if Hap was going to leave the gloves on, and if he did, if there would be any repercussions. The gloves stayed on, and any protestations by the afflicted were drowned out by the Right Reverend’s constant stream of glossolalia. This was not your normal tongues, this was tongues at maximum volume. Like any good magician, the Right Reverend was skilled at the art of misdirection. If anyone complained about the loss of skin to skin contact, they were not heard.
Elder Cheatum slipped out of the tent and walked over to the concession stand setup alongside of Hap’s tour bus. Hap’s stand seemed to be doing a brisk business. The Elder decided to get in line to purchase Hap’s latest book, “Dancing on the Streets of Gold”. As he paid for the book, cash only, the Elder asked the cashier how they were doing.
“Real good, real good”, “I think this has been our best stop so far this year”. “‘Course we’re going to Atlanta next, that’s about forty thousand people, but you’ve got to share them with a bunch more ministries.” The cashier kept ringing up sales while the Elder moved to the side to keep from impeding the customers.
“I heard that”, the Elder replied. “Do you think Hap will be signing books tonight, I’d kind of like to get this personalized.”
“You can leave it if you like and I’ll see to it that it gets signed, or, he should be here in a few minutes if you want to wait.” “He quits at 10PM, and it’s 10 til now.”
“That’s a good idea, I think I’ll wait, there’s some lawn chairs on the other side of the bus, right?”, the Elder nodded in the direction of the other side of the bus.
“Sure, just make yourself at home.”, the cashier said without missing a beat in her sales.
The Elder was surprised to find the other side of the bus was pitch dark. He was even more surprised to see a figure, that he correctly identified as Ms. Crystal Lite, making her way through the darkness. She was coming from the area set aside for the revival ministers campers. By the Elder’s line of site, she was coming from the direction of a Coleman Taos popup trailer painted in the blue and orange of the University of Florida.
Ms. Lite didn’t see the Elder until she was almost on top of him. With a “whoop” she acknowledged the Elder’s presence and then said, “I didn’t see you there, how long have you been sitting in the dark by yourself?”
“Not long, I was just waiting for Hap to finish so he could sign my book.” The Elder held up the book as proof of his story. “I would have thought you’d be back at the tent assisting the Right Reverend.”
“Well, I am assisting.” “Reverend Johnstone has been bathing in oatmeal to help his rash.” “I’m going to prepare his bath right now.”
“Ahhhh”, replied the Elder, “Well I guess you better get to it, it’s five after ten.”
“Yes, I will, let me turn the light on for you, I don’t want you scaring the Reverend Johnstone.”
“That’s ok, I don’t want to have to be fighting off the bugs.”, the Elder replied.
“Oh, the bugs are no problem, we got a zapper that comes on when the lights come on.” “Reverend Johnstone hates bugs.”
“Ok then, sure.” For the next five minutes Elder Cheatum listened to the bugs being zapped until the Right Reverend Johnstone turned the corner of the tour bus in all of his resplendent glory.
“Well, hidi hidi hidi ho, if you don’t look like Cab Calloway at The Cotton Club.”, the Elder said. “What have you got lined up for tomorrow night, a spacesuit?”
“That’s a good idea, I hadn’t thought of that.”, said the Right Reverend, “I guess you’ll just have to come to the show to find out.”
“Not if I pull the plug on this little charade, I don’t.” “I’m sure there’s probably nothing anywhere that says that the laying of hands has to have actual exposed skin come in to contact with actual exposed skin, but it’s certainly the spirit of the thing.” “Come a little closer, I want to see your face.”
“I don’t have to show you my face”, Hap protested.
“You do if you want to keep getting paid”, the Elder responded.
The adversaries moved closer together under the light as the zapper sent another firefly to bug Heaven.
Hap Johnstone had about an half inch layer of foundation makeup starting at his neckline and extending into his hairline. The Elder had to admit, it was a good job, and, the Elder was very familiar with makeup being used to cover up imperfections.
“Satisfied?” asked the Right Reverend.
“For now.”, the Elder replied, “We’ll be discussing this tomorrow at the committee meeting, so don’t get too sure of yourself.”
“Sure, whatever, want me to sign your book?”, Hap inquired.
“Oh, yeah, it’s for a friend”, the Elder replied, “Just sign it, ‘To Hugh Morris, My most healing thoughts for your speedy recovery. Sincerely, The Right Reverend Hap T. Johnstone.’
“That it?”, Hap said as he opened the door to the tour bus.
“For tonight, now go jump into that big tub of oatmeal, I hear it’s real soothing.”, the Elder replied.
Elder Cheatum figured he’d let Hap worry about how he had gained that knowledge. The Elder had secrets too, yes indeed.