Dallas Dave

Dr. Fesperman turned to Sister Alma and shook his head.  “No doubt about it, Alma, I’d say you are about two months along.”  The doctor was short and stocky and was always in a three-piece suit.

“Okay Doctor, guess I’ll just have to deal with it.”  She looked hard at him and opened her blouse, loosening her bra.

“These have been a little sensitive lately; could you examine them?”  Her lips were pouty as the good doctor grasped the 38Ds with both hands, kneading and pulling.  Alma sat quietly as he finished.  “Feel okay, in my professional opinion,” he grinned.  “How much do I owe you Doctor,” Alma cooed as she hiked up her bounty and corralled them.

“Not a thing honey,” Dr. Fesperman chuckled.  He was known for his good humor and willingness to take things in trade – bartering he called it.

“But I’ll tell you something, Alma.  I have received as much as two Rhode Island Red laying hens for a thorough breast exam.”

Alma turned to leave, shaking her curvy bottom at him and said with a smile, “You oughta be payin’ me.”  Dr. Fesperman cackled and with a resounding whack on her fine ass sent her on her way.

Alma walked across the gravel parking lot to the Buick, where Polie Maxwell was sitting, smoking a cigar and drinking a Falstaff beer.

“Well, it’s official now,” Alma told Polie.  Polie looked more than a little peaked, kind of like he might throw up.

“Wha, wha, what are we gonna do Alma, you know I’m trapped.  If my daddy-in-law found out about this I’d never get another red cent, and my political future would be in the can and ––‘’

“Damn, Polie, quit your blubbering; a hell of a lot of good your incessant whining is gonna do.  Besides, I’ve got a plan I think will work, and if it does, you’ll be off the hook and I’ll be a saint.  Let me work on it awhile, then I’ll clue you in.”

Alma had her Concordance out, checking the facts.  “It’s gotta be here early in the New Testament,” she ruminated, turning the Concordance to the verse for virgin birth.”  Matthew, Chapter 1,” she cried triumphantly.  Let’s see now, verse 18, if I leave out the early part of the verse and pick up with ‘before they came together, she was found with child of the Holy Ghost.’”  Alma felt like she was on the right track. 

“I am just going to have to pick and choose carefully, not mention anything about Jesus,” certainly not indicate anything relative to the sex of her unborn child – for of course she didn’t know.

“Yes,” she thought, “then in verse 20 it says ‘the angel of the Lord appeared. . . . for that which is conceived in her is of the Holy Ghost,’” Alma read further.

“I will just have to edit out any references to the sex of the child and totally concentrate on the concept of the virgin birth,” Sister Alma thought.

“Here it is, verse 23,” Alma exulted to herself.  “Behold, a virgin shall be with child,” she read, noting not to include the remainder of the verse which referenced bringing forth a son.

“Just gonna have to be real careful with my words, concentrate on parts of verses, and lay it on heavy, super heavy, with the virgin birth stuff,” Sister Alma said out loud to herself.

“Yes,” she thought, ‘Immaculate Conception’ they call it.  Guess there will just have to be room for one more.  Move over Mary, Sister Alma is coming through.”

With that Alma closed her seldom-used Bible.  She had a lot of thinking to do; tomorrow night was tent meeting and she had to get her ducks in a row for the announcement.  It was going to be a bang up meeting on Wednesday.

Russ finished off the last of the potatoes on his plate and drank down the half glass of buttermilk remaining.  Granny and little Lois had finished supper and were sitting out on the front porch.  Russ had been a little late coming home; they were shorthanded since Thomas had quit.

“What made ol’ Thomas quit?” Sarah asked, lookin’ a little funny at Russ.

“Oh, I dunno,” he said, “He was sort of an oddball and never really fit in.  You know he was some of that Lingerfelt trash over near Double Shoals, and he wa’n’t much of a worker.”

Double Shoals was thus named because there were two shoals ‘bout a hundred yards apart there on the South Fork River; there was a cotton mill on the bank that employed a good many Gaston County lint heads – that being the moniker for cotton mill workers.

“Yes, he never really fit in, even Nigger John didn’t like him – Charles was a misfit and we won’t miss him,” Russ said.

Sarah looked at Monk, short for Monkey (her pet name for him because of all his antics) but didn’t say a word; however, she did remember Russ mentioning Charles beggin’ tobacco, and she had noticed that the tin of red pepper had miraculously reappeared in the cabinet.  “Don’t think I’ll scratch that one,” she thought to herself, and asked Russ if he wanted some chocolate pie or a stickie for dessert.

“No Red,” he replied, “you know I ate that half a peach pie you sent with me for lunch.  Mighty good, can’t beat them Georgia Belles,” he exclaimed.

Sarah sat down at the table beside Russ and rubbed him hard on the top of his head.  A good head rubbin’ was one of the things he really loved; another one was getting’ up against the door opening and rubbin’ his back against it really hard.  He would groan with joy and Sarah and Lois, and Granny if she was around, would giggle at his antics.  He was a clown at heart, and a very good-natured one at that.

“You know Red, we ain’t been out anywhere for a while.  I was thinkin’ maybe we could go out for a while tonight – just for a little bit.”

Sarah looked at him and wiped the remainder of cornbread and milk from her mouth and asked, “Well I’ll Swannee, that might be alright; I bet Granny wouldn’t mind, for she could take care of Lois.”

“I don’t think we even need to ask Granny to babysit, ‘cause Lois can go with us.  I was thinkin’ that maybe, just for entertainment, we could ride down to Sister Alma’s tent meeting.  You know Elmer and Bert will be there of course, so Lois and Nan can play together.  Whatcha think?”

Sarah’s eyes brightened.  “Let’s do it; be real interestin’ to see if she says anything ‘bout Uncle Joe Clemmer.  That cure he got two months ago put him in the bed for two weeks – everybody knows it.  Wonder how she would explain that away?”

“Well, I know what Elmer said about it,” said Russ.  “He said Sister Alma figgered he got some kind of moonshine poisoning, and that’s what laid him up.  Elmer and Bert both swear to it.  Claim some shine Hoover Carpenter gave him out in the parking lot before the service did it.”

“Reckon Sister Alma didn’t know nothin’ ‘bout that,” Red said, grinning at the Monkey.

“That’s the word,” he said.  “Let’s wash up a little and go see the show.”

“Deal,” said Red.

Alma looked at the plain white dress.  It came below the knee and rode up high in the front.

“Pure white,” she mused, wondering how the men in the crowd would react to the very obvious absence of cleavage.

“Virginal,” she thought, and picked her plain flats out of the closet floor.  “No flash for this announcement,” Alma said out loud.  “The flash will be in the words,” she shouted in her bedroom.  Alma would often speak out loud when she was alone in her house, particularly if she were preparing for a special healing session, or love offering (she’d truly LOVED those) or a momentous announcement.  Her news to share with the parishioners this lovely evening would definitely cause an upheaval of Biblical proportions – she was satisfied of that.

“Gonna be the delivery, and the right words, and I think I’ve got ‘em both,” she nearly shouted, feeling the fire building in her.

Alma knew she needed to settle herself down a little; it was only four in the afternoon and the tent meeting was three and a half hours off.  She poured half a glass of Oodley Creek shine into a tumbler and took a few sips.  Just then there was a knock on her front door and dressed in her robe she went to answer it.  She knew who it was, for it was time to set things in motion, time to orchestrate.  “Like a God damned Broadway play,” she said to herself as she opened the front door to see Head Usher Elmer standing there in a rather tight pinstriped suit.  Alma had told him tonight was the very most special night in the history of her crusade and that he needed to wear his very best.

“He-hello Miss Alma,” Elmer stammered when she opened the door.  He looked at her in her robe, wondering how much was under there, or not.

“Come in Elmer; my you are my timely man,” Alma cooed, grasping Elmer’s big arm and leading him into the living room.

“Have a seat on the sofa, Elmer and I’ll be right back.”  Elmer sat down, his tight britches riding up in the crotch a mite.  Alma walked into the bedroom and brought out a glass of Oodley Creek’s finest and handed it to Elmer.  He took the drink and watched, holding his breath, as Sister Alma slid onto the sofa beside him.

“My God,” Elmer thought, as Alma sat within six inches of him and started rubbing her shoulder, the robe sliding a little, as the front opened slightly.

“Like the parting of the Red Sea,” he thought, as Alma fiddled with her robe, pretending to close it but actually opening the front more so that Elmer would have something to see.

“You know Elmer, I asked you over here to go over the schedule for tonight, ‘cause this is gonna be the biggest night ever in Dallas – actually the biggest ever in Gaston County.  And I wanted you to know about it before anybody else, because you have been such a faithful supporter, not to mention your dear wife Bert, my wonderful organist.”  As Alma finished saying this she took her right hand and kind of positioned her left breast to a little more exposed position, pushing her tongue between her lips.

“Ye-yep, Sister Alma, I knew it must be important to get me over here.”  Elmer’s head was in a whirl; in fact, when Alma had mentioned Bert his first thought was “Bert who.”

“Well, Elmer, a fantastic and other-worldly event is going to occur, right here in Dallas, NC.”

Alma looked at Elmer earnestly, and he looked back, as much as he dared, his eyes continually traveling back to the partially opened robe.

“Elmer, you know the story of Mary in the Bible, and how she gave birth to little baby Jesus without ever having, you know, been with a man.  Her mate was Joseph but they had never so to speak, had relations.”

 Elmer nodded dutifully, not quite sure where this was going.  He had a vague recollection of the story Alma was talking about, but had never really considered the sexual mechanics of the thing.  “Right interesting concept,” he thought to himself, “getting’ a youngun’ without screwing.”  Elmer made a mental note to do some extensive pondering on the subject later.

Sister Alma looked at Elmer and continued.  “It’s all there in the first chapter of Matthew, in the marvelous New Testament, which exists only to glorify the life and times and preaching and miracles of our sweet Lord Jesus Christ.” 

Sister Alma’s voice had been rising and she leaped to her feet and turned her back to Buford, and as she did she dropped the robe.

Elmer swallowed his snuff and had to take a big drink of Oodley Creek shine to keep from choking.  Alma turned to Elmer and looked at him hard.  She placed the palms of her hands on her belly.

“There is a baby in here, Elmer, and you know I have never been with a man in my life – you do know that – right, Elmer?,” Alma entreated.  Buford did not know what to look at first, so he just looked at everything, for a good minute, taking in the full Alma exposure.

Elmer felt a little light-headed, part from the snuff and part from the circumstances.

Alma turned her back to Elmer and bent over to pick up her robe.  Elmer got his last look, a lengthy one as Alma was bent over a good twenty seconds.

Sister Alma came back over to the sofa, now wrapped tightly in her robe and sat down beside Elmer, not so close this time.

“It’s called ‘immaculate conception,’ just like with the Virgin Mary, ‘cept this time it’s the Virgin Alma.  I know it is difficult to understand, but an angel appeared before me the other month and told me what was going to happen.  Yes, I am going to give birth to a child of God.  Yep ‘immaculate conception,’ just like in the Bible with the Virgin Mary, but now it is the Virgin Alma.  You do understand, don’t you, how it is such an incredible honor to be so chosen?”

Elmer was having a little trouble keeping his lunch down after the snuff ordeal, but he had followed what Sister Alma had said.  He could only nod politely.

“Now, Elmer, I have been chosen, and in turn, because of your undying faithfulness and devotion to the ministry I am choosing YOU.”

Alma’s voice rose on the YOU and Elmer shifted his feet nervously.  “When someone is talking about being pregnant and says somethin’ ‘bout choosing YOU, ain’t no good can come of it,” he thought, but continued to listen.

“YOU, Elmer, I need YOU to help spread the word, the fabulous news of Immaculate Conception.  Ya see, this is such an unusual occurrence, why only twice in the history of the world, that I fear that if I announced it all of a sudden from the stage it would be too great a shock, so I want you to clue in the ushers and have them mention the pending Virgin Birth to some of the community leaders as they come in.  Tell them to say Sister Alma will make the official announcement tonight.”

“Yes, Sister Alma,” said Elmer.  Elmer decided not to think too hard ‘bout this “truncated perception” concept until he had more time for private cogitating; it didn’t matter too much anyway, for he trusted and believed in Sister Alma and would do anything she said.

“Yes, Sister Alma,” he repeated again as he got up to leave.  He was almost to the door when Alma stopped him.

“And Elmer, let’s leave Pasour Rhyne and Hoover out of this loop, as far as spreading the word; I just don’t think their credibility is up to snuff.” 

“Yes, Sister Alma,” Elmer said as he went out the door, wishing that Alma had not used the word snuff. 

It was close to camp meeting time; Elmer had driven home and sat in the back yard under the black walnut tree for a good hour thinking about what Sister Alma had told him and trying to settle himself down in the belly with a glass of buttermilk.  He was trying to come to grips with the “Virgin Birth” issue and not making too much progress; every time he thought he was kinda startin’ to understand it he remembered the unadorned Alma standing in front of him, and then bending over in front of him.

“My God,” he thought, “I guess anything is possible if a poor country boy like me can see a sight like her, naked as a jaybird.”  Somehow it made the virgin birth idea more believable.

Elmer finished the buttermilk and went on in the house.  Bert and Nan would be ‘bout ready to go, and he didn’t want to be late.  There was a lot of prompting to be done with the ushers, so he would need extra time for that.

The throng was beginning to arrive and as usual the ushers came down front to where Elmer was to give instructions.  Elmer was fumbling with a piece of paper on which was written in Sister Alma’s flowing script in capital letters IMMACULATE CONCEPTION.  He had had to go check with her at her little dressing room about the exact words.  Alma had been dressed in her modest pure white dress, makeup toned down considerably.  She had written down the two words for Buford, then put her arm in his and looked at him hard.

“Tonight is the biggest night of our lives; now get those ushers up to speed on what to say,” she had told him. 

Elmer sized up who he had tonight as he fingered the magic words.  There was Bogus Clonger, Preacher Clonger, Joe Beck, and his brother Theodore.  Pasour Rhyne and Hoover Carpenter were present but ignored.

Once Elmer had their attention he began.  “Now all you faithful ushers, you know how wonderful Sister Alma has been to us, and the many blessings she has bestowed upon us through her ministry, RIGHT?”

“Yes, yes Elmer,” they said as one.

“Well faithful ushers, it is time for us to give back to Sister Alma, to return a small portion of faith and devotion that she has given us for so long, RIGHT?”

“Yes, yes, Elmer,” they said again.  Elmer was silent for a good twenty seconds, and just looked at the ushers.  Alma had mentioned that this might be a good thing, taking a page from her own drama book.

Elmer began again.  “Now boys, you know how Sister Alma has performed so many miracles and good deeds for the community; now is the time for us to return the favor.  Like when she cured Uncle Joe Clemmer, did we doubt her then?”

“No, Elmer,” they said.

“Well now she has asked us to have faith in her again, for a most wondrous thing has occurred; now you all would agree that you know that Sister Alma has never been with a man – I know there were rumors one time but we all know it was the Devil’s Work.  Right?”

The ushers looked at each other sheepishly, but eventually said, “Yes, Elmer, we know that to be true.”

“Well, a miracle has happened, and Sister Alma has been visited by an angel, and the Holy Ghost has come to be inside her, and at this very moment she is carrying a child of God inside her.”

Deafening silence from the ushers.

“I am telling you it is true, it is all in the first chapter of the New Testament, Matthew, so you know it has got to be true.  It is called the Virgin Birth, like with Mary and Jesus.  It is called IMMACULATE CONCEPTION.”

At this the ushers were still silent, until Theodore said, “Yep, Elmer, I do remember that, ‘smattersfact it is also in the book of Revolutions, just read it the other night when I was doin’ my Bible study.”

Theodore didn’t usher all that much, but he was respected by all the ushers; he had once been a constable and had packed a sidearm in his duties. 

“Come to think of it, I believe I heard the preacher over at Harden talk about that; fact is, I’m sure I did,” said Joe Beck Clonger.  Joe Beck was also well respected; he ran a store and garage up at Costner in a building he rented from Beeler Froneberger.

After Joe Beck said his piece, coupled with the endorsement from Theodore, the ushers  mumbled their allegiance to the IMMACULATE CONCEPTION idea.  The deal was sealed when T.G. “Preacher” Clonger said “Well, Sister Alma ain’t never steered us wrong, so if she said it it must be true.”

Elmer beamed, and instructed the ushers what to say to the community leaders as they showed them to their seats.

“And say it like you mean it,” Elmer decreed as the emboldened ushers headed off to work.

Elmer reflected a moment, thinkin’ bout how things had come together, and he thought about how as a child and young man he had been soooo petrified to speak in front of a group.  He made a mental note to relate this speech to Sister Alma; he knew she would be proud of him.

“Especially that twenty second ‘pregnant pause,’” he thought, then reconsidered the verbiage.

Preacher Clonger was greeting Clarence and Ila Thornburg and ushering them to their seats.  They were not really local dignitaries, the ones that Alma wanted to be alerted to “Immaculate Conception,” and they actually weren’t even local, living up near Lincolnton – pronounced “Lankern” by the locals.  Ila was a sister to Russ, Elmer, and Theodore.  But Preacher thought he would get in a little practice.  He cleared his throat and said “Welcome to the revival, Clarence and Ila; good to see ya, and I want to tell you that tonight is a very special night and that Sister Alma is going to announce that she is with child, having been visited by The Holy Ghost.”

Ila had just put in a dip of Railroad Mills snuff and she dern near swallowed it, but managed to gain control.  “Okay,” Ila croaked; she really had no idea what he was jabbering about, but thought better of making a comment.  Her husband Clarence just looked at Preacher with his big ol’ googly eyes with the coke bottle lenses in front of them.

“Yep,” said Preacher, “It’s called “Innoculated Perception,” and this is only the second time it has ever happened in the known history of the world, even before Columbus.”  Ila and Clarence just looked at him blankly.

Preacher thought to himself that it went pretty good for a first try.  “Believe I got them big words down now,” he mused as he went on with his ushering.

Usher Bogus Clonger had picked out an actual dignitary to start with, none other than Mayor Polie Maxwell, who had just come into the main area of the tent from the rear, over where Sister Alma’s little dressing room was.

“Welcome, Mayor Maxwell,” Bogus caroled, remembering to wipe his Red Man tobacco stained chin before he proffered his right hand to His Honor.  Polie squeezed Bogus’ hand, noticing it was kinda small, then remembering the missing fingers from the planing affair.

“Good to see you Bogus, I hope we’ll have another oyster roast benefit out at your place this fall.  You know election time is not far off, and I am certain you good Democrats are ready to get goin’ on a rally.”

Bogus beamed a big ol’ Democrat smile and said “Yessir, Mayor, we will surely do it.  You know tonight is a very special night and Sister Alma is going to announce that she is with child, the father being the Holy Ghost, who visited her a coupla months ago after an angel told her it was gonna happen.”

Mayor Maxwell looked at Bogus carefully and said “Well My, that certainly is big news, but remember that miracles have happened before – why what about Jesus Christ?”

Bogus’ eyes got big as he exclaimed, “Why Mayor, you are right on it; this will only be the second time in the history of the world. And ya’ know what it’s called?” Bogus said.

“Well no, I don’t believe I do,” replied Polie Maxwell.  Polie could be rather coy when he wanted to, and he figgered now was a very good time.

“It’s ‘Immersion Menstruation,” shouted Bogus, feeling proud that his pronunciation was on line.

Polie Maxwell stifled a chuckle, and gave Bogus a big bear hug.  “Thanks Bogus,” he said.  “I ‘preciate it and we’ll get together this fall, alright?”

Bogus grinned his big ol’ ‘backer stained grin and waved wildly as the mayor went to his seat.  Polie smiled and thought “Just might work after all.”

Sister Alma was putting the final touches on her toned-down makeup – very light rouge, just a hint of lipstick, and very faint eyeliner.  The push up bra had been eschewed for a simple white 38 D.  The white was perfect with her virginal white, plain dress.  One last look in the mirror hanging off the wire in her little makeshift dressing room and she deemed herself to be ready.

“Remember,” she told herself, “keep away from Jesus and Mary, accentuate the virgin birth, throw in the edited Matthew stuff, sling it against the wall and see if it sticks.”  Sister Alma had a lot of confidence in the gullibility of the people of the greater Dallas area, and the moment of truth, rather believability, was at hand.  With a deep breath she strode through the opening in the curtain and headed to the stage.

As she came into view of the crowed, the biggest ever, Bert lit into “How Great Thou Art.”  Alma thought this would be a nice touch.  “Well, Virgin Birth ought to indicate an air of greatness,” Alma said to herself as she mounted the steps to the stage.

It was the quietest she could ever recollect for an entrance, but that could be good – or not.  The lights had been lowered as Alma had prescribed, but as she reached the middle of the stage the bright spear of the spotlight hit her.  Bogus Clonger had been able to rig up the light once again.  On cue, Bert stopped the music the moment the light came on.  Sister Alma stood in the stark yellow light and looked from one side of the gathering to the other – twice.  Then she began.

“Brothers and Sisters in the legion of the Holy Ghost; I know many of you have been told a little bit about what I have to announce, but some of you don’t know. Let me ask you this, have I ever steered you wrong?”

A low rumbling unison of “No, Sister Alma,” could be heard.  Sister Alma looked at the crowd, her lovely eyes moving from left to right.

“Well if we agree on that, why would I start now, why would I try to deceive you when such an incredible miracle has occurred.  Would Sister Alma do that to you?” she called out.

“No, Sister Alma,” reverberated from the seats, a little stronger than the first response.

Alma paused for a good twenty seconds and looked at the audience.  Chief Usher Elmer was watching intently, and battling back the recollection of his thinking of the phrase “pregnant pause,” although he couldn’t help but grin inwardly at his cleverness.

“Children, two months ago I was visited by an Angel from God.  I know I did not tell any of you about this event; please forgive me, but I was so overwhelmed that I could not act.  But the angel of the Lord told me that I was going to receive a great gift from the Holy Ghost.  Do you hear what I am saying, Children of God?  I am saying that just like it says in the first chapter of our beloved New Testament, that an angel visits, and then the woman bears the child of the Holy Ghost.  We are talkin’ ‘Virgin Birth’ here, and it is going to happen.  Yes, I have been chosen by God and through this magical intervention I am now with child, a child of God.”

Sister Alma stood stock still, and for one of the first times in her years of tending to the faithful flock was at a loss for words.  Fortunately it was momentary.

Then she lit into the clincher, “Children, do you have faith in me?” Alma said.

“Yes Sister Alma,” they said, a little stronger.

“Can anybody say Amen?” she asked.  A deep baritone amen came from the direction of the Honorable Mayor, followed by a chorus of others.

Alma felt it building.

“Faith,” she shouted, “faith, faith, faith.  You gotta believe, it is all in the first chapter of Matthew, it was Jesus and Mary; you know the story.  It has come to pass once again.  Who can say it is untrue?  Who can deny the Scripture?  FAITH, FAITH.  Don’t you see things every day that you don’t understand, children?”

“Yes, Sister Alma,” they said.

“Okay,” said Sister Alma, “somebody stand up and tell me how electricity works.”

She watched as the group looked at each other kind of embarrassedly.

“Well, we use it every day, but nobody has a clue as to how it works.  RIGHT?”  She shouted this out.

The crowd got a little excited, some exclaiming, “That’s right, That’s right,” and others just saying “Yes, Sister Alma,” and looking like they were on the verge of a revelation.

“When you flip that switch, you have FAITH (and she shouted it again) that the light will come on.  RIGHT?”

“Yes, Sister Alma, Yes” they joined in.

Alma stood still again and looked out over the crowd.  Time for the kill.

“Tonight, I am proclaiming to you my friends and faithful parishioners, my Holy Pregnancy, and I want you all to stand up and shout “Hallelujah, Sister Alma.” 

“Yes, Sister Alma,” they shouted, then on cue, with perfect timing, 40A Bert hit the organ hard and started in on “Just as I am.”  The followers rose as one and Sister Alma led them – “Just as I am, without one plea —–“

Alma belted out the words and the crowd’s communal voice grew stronger toward the end, and some of the faithful began to jump up and put their hands toward the sky, ‘til more than half of them were jumping and shouting and Bert, as planned, abruptly ceased the organ playing.  And on cue, Bogus cut the spot light and the house lights came on, Head Usher Elmer at the switch.

Sister Alma looked out at her flock, and said “I know you have never seen anything like this before, RIGHT?” and she shouted the last word.

“Yes, Sister Alma” they bellowed, and she knew she had them. 

She went on – “Well I want you to know that I will keep on preaching, and that  because you are all in my family of the Holy Ghost, I will give you constant updates on the progress of the Divine Pregnancy – and I don’t want you to worry, for I will not abandon you in this time, and our meetings will go on as scheduled, for this wonderful gift I have received must be shared with you, brothers and sisters.”  At that moment the Bogus operated spotlight came back on and the house lights were doused.

“What a well-oiled machine I have created,” Alma thought to herself, just as Bert began “Bringing in the sheaves, bringing in the sheaves, we will come rejoicing, bringing in the sheaves, bringing in the sheaves, bringing in the sheaves, we will come rejoicing, bringing in – the sheaves.”

Alma was leading the singing with her strong soprano, and the crowd thundered along with her.  She slowed the ending down and they went right with it, “bringing innnn, the sheaves.”

The followers then erupted with shouts of “praise the Lord” and “Virgin Birth.”  Pasour Rhyne jumped up in front of the group and started shouting “Emancipation Proclamation,” while doing the Larson Savoney sign over and over.  Everybody knew Pasour was a nut but the machine was rolling, and they continued to shout and exult.

Alma waited for the organ to cease and looked at the group, really hard.  I mean really hard.  A quiet came over them and she began her closing. 

“Brothers and sisters in God and the Holy Ghost, go forth, and never forget what you have heard, the miracle that has been revealed.  Now let us pray.”  All the brothers and sisters bowed their heads as one as she began.

“Dear God and bountiful Holy Ghost, watch over these faithful, and restore them daily in the knowledge and faith in what they have heard this blessed evening.  In the name of the Holy Ghost and our Lord, Amen.”

Bogus cut the light and the house lights came up, and Alma solemnly left the stage.  Near the rear of the tent Russ and Sarah looked at each other.  Rus winked at Sarah and said, “Well, Red, guess we have just witnessed a true miracle.”  Sarah chuckled, shook her head, and said “let’s get little Lois and head to the house, Monk.”

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