Hiram didn’t strike Jones as the type of man to have ribbons laying around his house. Still, he felt he was an interesting man who had secrets and as thought before, stories to tell.
For several weeks every Sunday, Jones had heard the rhythm of a bass drum in the distance. He understood church bells but not drums. He decided to walk up the street and investigate.
A large antebellum house stood on the corner and from inside, he could hear the singing and the drums loudly beating in perfect cadence. “Why not go in and have a look?” he thought.
As he opened the double doors, he saw a rather tall man with a Chartreuse green Mohawk, standing at a pulpit. Like a balladeer, he was singing the teachings of whoever you perceived to your God to be.
The congregation consisted of young folks who had every visible inch of their bodies tattooed, to a little old lady with snow white hair, sitting all the way in the back by herself. Being an old-timer himself, naturally he gravitated toward her.
Before he could take a seat, the preacher interrupted his sermon to announce a loud welcome to the newcomer who had just wandered in. A bit embarrassed, Jones sat down beside the old lady. He could see that every day she had experienced in her life was etched into her face when she glanced his way just long enough to offer a smile. He felt a bit guilty, hoping the service would soon be over just so he could talk to her.
It was a non-denominational church that welcomed Protestants, Jews, Catholics, Buddhists and Muslims. Even self-proclaimed agnostics and atheists, if for no reason other than partaking in the free coffee and doughnuts at the end of each sermon, were more than welcome.
“Whether you’re a believer or not, the word of your God reaches us all,” the preacher sang. “The word of God reaches us in ways we may not see, hear or understand but believe me when I tell you, it reaches us.”
Jones would have at one time given those statements a hearty “Amen,” but through the years, he had become so angry with God, he didn’t speak to Him anymore. He reasoned that God had His favorites and he also reasoned that he was not one of them.
The sermon ended and Jones was anxious to talk with the old lady. Quicker than a fly on stink, the preacher descended. Throwing out a hand he said, “welcome brother. I haven’t seen you here before.” Jones shook his hand and told him that he had heard the music, or rather the drums and had more or less only come to explore.
“That’s alright,” said the preacher. “My name is Reverend Deutch but everybody calls me Deuce. I know I look like a freak of nature but God doesn’t care what color our hair is. He only cares what color our soul is.”
Before he could catch himself, Jones quipped, “I’m sure He does and I’m sure He understands that sometimes a soul is too dark to ever be light again.” Before Deuce could offer any soul-mending sermons, Jones excused himself and said “I need to get on.”
He ran outside, hoping to catch the old woman. To his dismay, he saw her getting into a taxicab. The decade old joke of getting into another taxicab and saying “follow that car” crossed his mind but there were no more taxicabs around. Who took taxicabs anymore? He guessed she did.
Jones had already decided that he would be going to church again the next Sunday and he would be going early enough to catch the old lady before the service began.
Next Sunday came around and Jones walked up to the church with his devious plan to hijack the old lady. Much to his chagrin, she was already there…sitting in the back of the church…all by herself.
He walked over and sat down beside her. “Hello,” he said. “My name is Jones.” She looked at him and said “my name is Flossie Mae Tinsley. And you are?” Jones laughed as he once again introduced himself. “May I call you Flossie?” he asked. “No you may not,” she said. “We have not been properly introduced.”
Jones was at a bit of a loss as to exactly what she meant. He wondered if maybe he could get the Reverend Deuce to “properly” introduce them. He sat through the sermon, half listening and half wondering if he had made a mistake or had perhaps fallen through the looking glass.
Finally, the sermon was over and once again, with lightning speed, Reverend Deuce was in front of him. Jones asked if he could properly introduce him to Ms. Tinsley. Deuce laughed and said “it’s Miss. Never refer to her as Ms. or Heaven forbid…Mrs. She’s a throwback to a time when women were ladies and men were gentlemen. I’ve never been sure how she ended up coming to our church but as I said…all are welcome and yes, I will be happy to introduce you.”
They walked over to Flossie and Reverend Deuce formally introduced them. Jones didn’t miss a beat when he said “I was wondering if we might we talk a bit, Miss Tinsley.” She looked at him and said “of course but not without the proper supervision.”
A puzzled Jones asked “and what might that be?” Miss Tinsley said “there must be a chaperone present. I am a single woman and I must protect my reputation.”
The Reverend Deuce offered to serve as her champion and the following day was set for the meeting, which would be held at the church.
There was an extra step in Jones’ step as he walked back home. He had so many questions and he was hoping Miss Tinsley had answers.
To be continued_______________________