“Faith! Come here, baby!”
“FAITH BAILEY JONES! Don’t you go nowhere near that miserable, pants-always-to-his ankles, no self control−”
Young Faith looked up at her mother who had just gotten off her night shift at Burger King, and followed her mother’s shaking arm from the shoulder to the chrome gun she was attempting to steady on the man standing on the other side of the glass coffee table. Her favorite song, Upside Down, by Diana Ross was still playing on the record player. She just wanted to dance in her Strawberry Shortcake nightgown.
“Come on, Virginia,” his voice was calm, “I told you that it ain’t like that. We was just playin−“
“SHUT UP!” Faith’s mother, Virginia, screamed. “Just shut your lying mouth before I shut it with the barrel of this .38.”
“Faith, tell your mom we was just playin’.” As his feet inched forward, his smile inched wider, a smile that once upon a time could resolve any situation. His nappy chest hair and legs still glistened from the baby oil he had been rubbing on himself.
“She’s six years old, Joe! All these floozies you got ‘round town and you can’t keep your hands off a six year old! You’re sick. Sick, sick, sick!”
Faith didn’t understand why everyone was so riled up. She had seen her mom and Joe smoke on the pine cone smelling cigarettes Joe often rolled up and then play the same game. Her mom always seemed to like it. Joe had even played it with a few other women when mom was away at work, but then there were some big fights when she got home and caught them.
“I’ve been puttin’ up with your B-S for way too long, Joe. I make the money! I pay the bills! I own the car! I cook! I clean!”
Joe had narrowed the gap by easing passed the table. Virginia pulled Faith behind her and then used both hands to reduce the trembling in her gun wielding. She took a couple of steps back, but her eyes never shifted from her target. The small white dot at the end of the barrel didn’t drift off Joe’s bare chest.
“Stop right there!” Virginia used a forceful tone and lowered her aim to his crotch. “One more step and I blow it off! How about we put an end to playtime!”
Joe stopped in his tracks and held both palms high toward Virginia. “Easy now, baby.” His tone was more stern than sensitive.
“Don’t call me baby!” Virginia yelled, cocking the hammer back on the shiny revolver. “You don’t respect me. You don’t respect my daughter. And the way you’re willing to stick your little thing in anything moving, clearly you don’t respect yourself.”
“It’s not like that, V.” Joe reached out, though he was still about an arm and half away. “I told you, I’m tryin’ to be a better man. You know this mess goes back to how my mom raised me and old skeletons I gotta clean out.”
“Maybe your mama didn’t raise you right. Maybe she didn’t love you. But my daughter sure as hell ain’t the therapist to fix that. Skeletons or not!”
Joe gave a menacing look then without further hesitation lunged toward Virginia. The scowl on his face petrified Faith so much she stumbled and fell. She tried to grab her mother’s leg for support, but little did she know, Virginia’s nervousness had sucked all the strength from her own balance. Her mother went flailing backwards as Joe attempted to tackle her. The sharp, quick blast of the gun firing preceded the thud of everyone falling to the ground.
Faith popped up and looked around quickly. She rolled her neck to work out a stinging cramp.
Time to admit it
I’m so addicted
See he’s taken my heart and
Shown me the right way!
The deep tone of Bebe Winans interchanged perfectly with the graceful sound of his sister CeCe as the dynamic gospel duet’s hit single, Addictive Love, filled the air.
“Sorry, I didn’t mean to wake you, but this is my favorite song right now!” Pastor Thompson removed his hand from the steering wheel to press and hold the rewind button on the van’s cassette deck; his knuckles wore the weight of hard work. He counted a few seconds and then released the button. The song wasn’t quite at the beginning, but he was pleased as soon as the speakers emitted the first note.
Faith turned her attention from the crown of the rising sun outside of her window and looked over her shoulder at the empty rows of bucket seats in the passenger van, then faced Pastor Thompson. “You must not be a very good pastor.”
Pastor Thompson looked over his shoulder to the back seat. “Maybe I’m just an untrustworthy chauffeur?”
“I don’t know, maybe. But you don’t think it’s weird that people would rather sit in jail than go to your church?” Faith had begun a very inaccurate count of all the cattle in the dairy farms they passed by.
“True, but they’re also not attending the millions of other churches across America, so I shouldn’t have to take it personal. Besides, there are lots of reasons people don’t want to go to church. Most don’t even have jail bars to use as an excuse.”
Pastor Thompson wheeled the van into a parking lot that housed a small unassuming building. “Welcome to Fellowship Christian Center.”
There was no giant cross hovering over the entrance. No big marquee. No hot air filled inflatable Jesus that swayed back and forth, just a small sign near the lone parking lot entrance that carried the title, Fellowship Christian Center.
“I admit it’s not much on the eyes, but there’s a lot more spirit in there than those physical walls would have you believe.” Pastor Thompson backed the van up into a designated space near the door.
“Ok, I came to your church. Can I go now?” The throbbing in Faith’s lip had subdued, but she still touched it tenderly. “I mean, I could just walk away. It’s not like you can force me to stay.”
“Wouldn’t want to force you to do anything. I’m not the one to challenge God’s gift of free will. But for the record, I did say, ‘church service,’ and not church as in building. Besides, could sitting in here listening to an old man talk be so much worse than what got you put in that holding cell?”
Faith didn’t care about Pastor Thompson or his church. She rarely even thought about God. She knew he kept her breathing, but she kept herself fed. As if on cue, she grabbed her stomach. It had grumbled so loud even Pastor Thomson looked down at her.
“We always have lunch after service, and I’m sure there is a little breakfast back in the kitchen. You’re welcome to grab a bite for your walk. Or−,” Pastor Thompson scratched his temple as if deep in thought. “You could eat, sit through one small service, eat some more and then I could drop you off back where you need to go. Free will.”
Faith looked at her reflection in the side mirror. “Is there a bathroom inside?”
“Hey, Pastor T.”
“Yoooo, Pastor. What you know?”
Given the hour, the church was still relatively empty, but the greetings were non-stop as Faith followed behind the pastor through the small church. She imagined how long it must take him when there were more than just a few early birds. What she needed no imagination for were the stares and raised eyebrows being hurled at her. She had been in courtrooms with less judgment. She felt her skin crawling as a few older women whispered to one another without taking their eyes off of her. The rage was beginning to boil. If she were a tea kettle, Faith would have been whistling louder than a
construction site watching Salt n Pepa pass by in the “Push it” video outfits. She looked back at one woman with blood in her eyes.
“Is there a−”
Before Faith could continue, Pastor Thompson suddenly stopped, removed his coat and wrapped it around her torso. The surprise move quieted her as she searched for a reaction. He was much taller than her, so it covered everything from her neck to her knees. She recognized the scent of High Karate cologne.
“C’mon, Faith.” The pastor smiled and took her hand. “If I don’t get some breakfast before service, the communion bread won’t be leaving the pulpit.”
Chapter 1 Link | http://ow.ly/RMTfn
Rickey Teems II is an acclaimed author, but that probably wasn’t too difficult to figure out since this is, well, a publishing website for books. What you may not have known is that his creativity spans all age groups and he has won awards and received recognition for both his children’s books and fiction novels. Teems obtained both his Bachelor’s in Psychology and Master’s in Marriage and Family Therapy with honors, and actively works with adolescents in mentoring and counseling programs in South Central Los Angeles. Teems is an Air Force veteran, active church member, and father to two beautiful daughters.
His award winning and faith filled works for adults include: Regression, The Healing of Love and Laughter, Fighting for Glory, Unshakeable Faith and Can I be Frank. His young adult and children’s books are: Keep it 100: Real Talk on being a Real Man, You Can’t Eat Toes for Breakfast and Why Can’t We See God (book 1 in the Harry and Sherry Discovery Series). To contact Rickey, be sure to visit: www.noguilebooks.com or find him on FaceBook and Twitter and say 'what's up.'