Good morning, y’all. You listen to the news coming out of Orlando to hear about the latest tragedy, and you find out you’re one tragedy behind. The news that an alligator has carried off an infant at Disney World is just crushing. I know most parents feel like that they should be holding the hands of their toddlers all of the time, but you really can’t. At some point we all have to let our children take a few steps on their own until they are able to completely fend for themselves. I do feel like most parents are justified in their belief that their children shouldn’t encounter an alligator at the world’s most popular theme park. The lawsuit / settlement will be enormous.
Speaking of lawsuits leads us back into our retelling of the history of the Little Church in the Valley. Hoping to head off a lawsuit, Elder Cheatum arrived early that Friday morning at the Blairsville General Hospital. From the nurses station, Elder Cheatum learned that his old friend was doing well and could receive visitors. The Elder peaked through the crack in the door of room 333 and saw his old friend sitting up in the bed watching TV. Pushing open the door, Elder Cheatum greeted his old friend, “How are you doing you old coot?”
Hugh Morris turned towards the Elder and answered, “Who are you callin’ an old coot, you old coot?” They both laugh at the reference to their high school days playing football for the Nunsuch High Cooters. “I’m doing pretty good, they’re going to let me out tomorrow if I don’t do anything funny.”, said Hugh. “I told them I couldn’t promise that, there’s one little red-headed nurse I’d like to make my third wife, or at least take her through the application process.” The old friends laughed again.
Treading carefully, the Elder asked, “What happened?”
“Well, I feel pretty stupid now, but Constance Winer told me that the young fellow Bill Foldes had something goin’ for him.” “She said that she really felt a surge of power when he laid hands on her.” “So, I thought, what the heck.” “My arthritis has been killing me lately.” “It’s been keeping me from the things I love, if you know what I mean.”
At this point Hugh gave a wink to the Elder and then continued, “The young feller took a hold of my head, and I remember a jolt and seeing a white light kind of on the inside of my forehead, and, that’s it.” “It was kind of like when the chiropractor cracks your neck real good, you get this charge, and then relief.” “But I ain’t ever blacked out at the chiropractor’s before, and he ain’t never tripped my pacemaker, so I guess there’s that too.”
The Elder tried to keep his face impassive as he asked, “Tripped your pacemaker, what do you mean?”
“Well, they said my battery was dead when I got here, and so they gave me a new one. It ain’t no big deal, I was going to have to do it anyway in another couple or three years.” “The doctors say sometimes the batteries don’t live up to their warranty.” “I guess my extracurricular activities have shortened my battery life.” Hugh said as he grinned at the Elder.
Elder Cheatum grinned back and said, “What did the doctors say caused your fainting spell?” The Elder was purposefully making light of the situation.
“If they know, they didn’t say, I guess it’s that my battery died.” “They put in a new battery and the old ticker is running like a Swiss clock, so I guess problem solved.” “You know they ain’t got much time to do analysis, it’s just patch up, send you on your way, who’s next?”
“Yeah, I guess you’re right, medicine ain’t what it used to be.” “Oh, I almost forgot, I brought you something to kill time with while you’re mending.” With that, the Elder brought out the autographed copy of the Right Reverend Hap T. Johnstone’s latest book, “Dancing on the Streets of Gold”. “It’s made out to you and everything.”
“Well, I guess if you couldn’t bring that pretty little secretary of his, this will have to do.” “But a real friend would have brought that little secretary.”
The Elder laughed and said, “Let’s remember you just got new batteries, no point in discharging them all at once.”
The Elder leaned over to give his friend a “bro hug” and asked, “Do you want me to pray with you?”
“Naw, let’s save that for something serious, like if the Falcons ever get to the Super Bowl.”
“Well, I guess we’ll never be praying together”, the Elder said as he turned to leave. “I’m glad you’re ok and coming back to us.” “See you Sunday?”
“Sure, I’ll be there,” Hugh said, “thanks for coming by, it means the world to me to have such a good friend as you.”
The Elder was out of the hospital like he had been shot out of a cannon. He hated hospitals, hated everything about them. It was true that the hospitals sent him a lot of business, particularly Blairsville General Hospital, but the financial rewards did not offset the Elder’s acute nosocomephobia. Had it not been for the severity of the situation, and his close relationship with Hugh Morris, Elder Cheatum would have gotten no closer to the hospital than the parking lot. Making a pickup at the ambulance receiving dock had given him the hives the last time the Elder had taken his turn. Fortunately they had hired a trainee to handle all of the more distasteful tasks for them now. “One man’s phobia is another man’s opportunity,” the Elder reasoned as he pulled into the parking lot of the Little Church in the Valley.
As the Elder pulled into his reserved space on the side of the church opposite of the revival, he could see that another distasteful task was being performed. The port a potty people, “Happy Johnny”, were there doing their daily pumping and refreshing. The church was paying extra for the daily care. The port a potty company normally preferred to leave the potties for at least three days, which was completely unacceptable to the church. There were too many visitors and too many children to not have the facilities be as fresh and clean as possible. Even though the Elders were tempted by the offer of half price, when they asked the company to donate their services, they reckoned they would lose more revenue by people being turned off by dirty potties than they would gain from the discounted price. “Sometimes you just have to bite the bullet and do the right thing,” the Elder reasoned.
The “Happy Johnny” employee was arguing loudly with Annie Howe, and Elder Cheatum rushed over to see what the problem was. As the Elder joined the confrontation, Annie exploded before the Elder could even asked what was going on. “He’s a blasphemer and I want him and his company banned!” Annie screamed.
The “Happy Johnny” employee, Tory, looked rather sheepishly at the the Elder and responded, “It ain’t that big a deal, ya’ll just need to get a sense of humor, ya know?”
“Sense of humor, sense of humor?” Annie yelled. “I’m doing my business, and I hear this heathen outside my door taking the Lord’s name in vain, and then I hear him say, and I quote, ‘I always said these snake charmers were full of crap.'” It made me so mad that I couldn’t even finish.” Annie continued, “I want him and his company banned forever from these premises.”
“Ok, Annie, I’m here now, I’ll take care of it.” The Elder said as he put a comforting arm around the shoulders of Annie Howe. “I tell you what, go over to the Rectory and use the bathroom there.” “Tell whoever is inside that I said it’s ok.” “Ok?”
“Yes sir, thank you”, Annie responded and headed towards the Rectory.
“Young man;” Elder Cheatum began, “Tory, you have done my church a grievous wrong, and unsettled one of our most devoted followers. ” “This action will not be forgotten, and you best call your boss right away to let him know what you’ve done.” “I will be calling him later to tell him how we need to proceed in the future, if we do.” “At the least, you are not to return to here after today.” “Finish your job properly, and then be on your way.”
Tory started to respond, but the Elder had already spun on his heel and was headed for the Rectory.
“Day five is starting with a bang”, the Elder thought as he opened the front door to the Rectory.