Good morning, y’all. The news of the sniper shooting and killing five Dallas police officers saddens us all. The shooting should come as no surprise to any of us, and not because of the traditional concept of vengeance. It shouldn’t be a surprise because of the numbers of veterans returning from war zones that need specialized help assimilating back into society; and the help is not available to them. It shouldn’t be a surprise because of the easy access to military weapons in this country to everyone, regardless of mental state. It shouldn’t be a surprise because the media serves the powerful and rarely pursues justice for the victims of police shootings.
Speaking of surprise, brings us back the retelling of the history of The Full Gospel Original Church of God. It was Thursday, September 24th, and Elder Cheatum thought he detected a touch of Fall in the air. It couldn’t come quick enough for the Elder. The older he got, the less he was able to tolerate the heat that was now everywhere. It was cooler still in the mountains than it was in the city, but when it’s in the 90’s in the mountains, it is still intolerable. Elder Cheatum pulled into his reserved spot in the parking lot of the Full Gospel Original Church of God. Alva Bread was rocking on the front porch of the rectory with a couple of her babies scattered about the porch. The Elder tried to not look her way as he entered the church.
The rest of the board was already sitting in the office, along with the choir director, Ophelia Bottoms.
“Sorry I’m late”, Elder Cheatum said as he took his chair, “Have I missed anything?”
“Well, Ophelia here has been telling us that she and Reverend Bread have been ‘close’ since she joined our church last year,” said Elder Wiley. “Reverend Bread discovered Ophelia singing at the ‘Rise and Grind’ coffee shop over in Helen and recommended that she come here and apply for the job of choir director.”
“They’ve been meeting three or four times a week”, Elder Wiley continued, “and some of the time they’re working on choral arrangements.” “Is that about right?” the Elder asked the choir director.
“We’re in love”, replied Ophelia, “can’t nothing you all say or do will change that.”
“No, I guess you’re right”, said Elder Cheatum, “but we can keep you from practicing your ‘love’ on church grounds.” “You’re fired, but, I guess you already know that from Dale.” “We have a check for you for one month’s severance, and some paper work for you to sign.”
As Elder Wiley slid the check and the contract across the table to the choir director, he began to speak. “The paper work says that you will not reveal the conditions surrounding your termination to anyone.” “No running to the paper, no running to the state looking for unemployment.” “We’d be happy if you and Dale ride off into the night and are never heard from again, understand?”
Ophelia looked at the check, and the contract, and then the check again.
“We’d be happy to”, she said as she signed her name to the bottom of the contract. “You know, you all ain’t as holy as you like to think you are”, she said as she pushed the contract back to Elder Wiley. “I hear things.”
“I’m sure you do”, said Elder Wiley as he folded the contract and put it into the breast pocket of his suit. “That’s why you signed the contract, whatever you’ve heard, whatever you know, stays in that pretty little head of yours.” “If it doesn’t, we’ll come after you with the full authority of the state of Georgia and God Almighty.”
Elder Wiley rose from the table. “We’re done; Mulva will go with you to gather any personal items you might have about and to escort you to the door.””Mulva?” he said as he looked at the secretary/treasurer.
The ladies left the room and the men breathed a collective sigh. “Will that contract hold up in court?” Elder Diggum asked.
“A contract is as strong as the parties believe it to be, is what I always say,” Elder Wiley replied. “If she believes we’ll pursue her until Gabriel blows his horn, she won’t give us any trouble.”
“Well, I guess it’s always good to have God on our side”, replied Elder Diggum. “Now what are we going to do about Dale?”
“I don’t know”, Elder Cheatum answered, “he truly has ‘made his own bed’, and now I guess we’re going to see how he likes sleeping in it.”
“Hang on to that thought”, Elder Wiley said, “I’ve got to take this.” “Ben, what’s up”, Elder Wiley said into his cell as he walked out of the room. The two remaining board members made lunch plans while waiting for their partner to return.
“That was Ben Weinberg”, the Elder said as he returned to his seat. “Guess who was in his office first thing this morning, Dale Bread!” “Apparently after finding out that Bud Jr. wasn’t going to lock up Alva, Dale has decided to file a civil lawsuit against her.” “He’s got his mind wrapped around the idea that Alva’s actions caused him to lose his job, and therefore injured him financially.”
Elder Wiley took a breath and continued, “I guess he’s hoping for some sort of verdict that gets him clear of alimony.” “I reckon he figures paying child support for his seven little ones is going to be punishment enough for his dalliance.”
“Well”, began Elder Cheatum, “I guess Dale must be feeling pretty overwhelmed by the prospect of losing his life’s work, his calling if you will, at the same time that his financial burdens are going to skyrocket.”
Mulva Lite returned to the room and the Elders gave her the latest news. “I just feel sorry for those babies,” she said, “it ain’t their fault that their parents are a train wreck.” “I wonder if Alva’s family over in Helen will help out.”
“That’s good, Mulva, why don’t you check on her plans while we cogitate on what to do about Dale”, said Elder Cheatum. “Are we adjourned?”, he asked as everyone got up to leave.
“We are”, replied Elder Diggum.