A Hog a Day Part 15

 

Against his better judgment, when Billy was about eleven or twelve, Daddy relented and gave him permission to sit with his friend Kenny in church one Sunday.  He’d always had an iron-clad rule that we had to sit together as a family way up in front on the third pew, but was somehow, Billy convinced him he could handle the challenge that day.  Neither had reckoned with the devil super ball hiding in Billy’s pocket as he ecstatically took a seat next to his friend about five rows back.  All was well till that devil ball started sending psychic prompts a few minutes into the sermon.  Billy took it out, inspiring awe in Kenny.  They passed it silently between them a few times keeping their eyes straight ahead.  No one was the wiser.  Temptation got the better of Billy and he bounced the ball between his feet, catching it on the return.  There was a small plunk, but no great disturbance.  He was emboldened by success and had to try it again.  The slight plunk on the hardwood was noticeable, but since the boys kept their composure and stared straight ahead, the sermon continued.  It was going so well, Billy bounced it another time or two.  Of course, luck finally ran out and the hard rubber ball bounced and rolled down the slightly inclined pine floor, bumping a few supports and bouncing joyously along the way.  Daddy knew immediately who the culprit was, turned, and shot Billy the “look of death.”  Kenny, who enjoyed much more casual parenting struggled to stifle his hysteria.

That ball rolled and bounced, bounced and rolled.  The sound seemed deafening, though Brother Robert, the preacher, never faltered in his sermon.  As the ball neared the dais, he stepped down, and scooped up the ball mid-bounce.  I had to admire the smooth move.  I could see he had some natural athletic ability.  Without hesitation, he continued the sermon, walking in front of the dais and bouncing the ball.  Brother Robert held my attention as never before. Never missing a catch, he pocketed the little ball and went straight to altar call.  I truly prayed for Billy’s life.  I couldn’t imagine what his fate might be.  We finished church as always, filing out to greet the preacher at the door.

Surprisingly, Daddy didn’t kill Billy as I expected.  Maybe it tickled his funny bone, though he never let on.  The next Sunday, Billy was in his usual seat on the third row, right next to Daddy.  He never got his superball back.

 

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A Hog a Day Part 13

With eons of sermons stretching out before me, life looked grim.  Occasionally, there was a bright spot.  Sometimes the preacher told a joke.   I truly enjoyed church music, especially if it was something lively, like “Onward Christian Soldiers” on the hymn list.  I sung along enthusically, though lots of the words did’t make sense.  For the life of me, I couldn’t fathom why we sang about laundry, as in “Bringing in the Sheets (Sheaves).” There was also a Christmas carol about laundry.  “While shepherds washed their socks by night (watched their flocks by night.)  I thought it odd, but so much adults did seemed odd.

One special Sunday, God had a startling surprise in store for me.  Mrs. Simmons, the pianist, brought her brother Eddie, a handsome young man, along to play the organ.  His boogie-woogie style hymns were a vast improvement over sedate hymns.  I could see some of the old ladies exchanging shocked looks, but  I was entranced.  I was practically bouncing in the pew when suddenly he dropped to the floor in a seizure.  Mrs. Simmons shrieked and rushed to his side.  He rallied and they trooped out, along with the rest of her family.  I was so jealous.  The preacher made an anemic attempt to salvage the service, but his flock was clearly anxious to get out and enjoy a good gossip.  I genuinely enjoyed church that day.