Sunday, May 10, 2015

The Cardboard Box Chapter 20 "Holy Rollin" by Julianna Rowe (Property of Diane Ogden)

Chapter 20

“Holy Rollin”

                Tom and I were still singing “Bringing in the sheaves” when I pulled the Cadi into the driveway of the most beautiful little church on earth.  To us anyway.   Tilton was sitting in his fancy sports car reading a book called “The Best Way to Invest." Money that is, which certainly set off a couple of alarms in my head.  

               Old Tom was beyond speechless to say the least.  I kept hitting him in the arm to get him to come back to earth.  But all he could do was turn toward me and stare. 

                I told him, “What are you waiting for, come on my friend, get out, let’s go have a see.”

                Tom told me he wasn’t sure he could walk just yet.  He was feeling a bit overwhelmed and that was my fault.  I should have given him more time to digest the church deal.  Tom had been struggling for a long time after the loss his wife, his job, then getting kidnapped all because of me.  I apologized for being so inconsiderate of his feelings and then I scruffled his hair and said, “Let’s go check her out Tom!”

                He smiled as we climbed out of the Cadi and walked ever so slowly across the beautiful green grass. The grass complemented the perfectly manicured bushes which hugged the sides of the building like a woman wearing a green velvet gown.  I could almost feel what Tom was feeling.  That little church viewing was like a birthing experience to him.  He had waited all his life for such a day as this one.  Yet there was a veil of fear it may not be real settling over his mind trying to steal his glory day.  I reached for his hand and whispered in his ear, “Don’t let satan steal your joy!”  

                Tilton unlocked the double doors of the little diamond in the rough church. He told us maybe we should leave the old dog outside.  Wrong answer!  I sternly looked into his light gray eyes and asked him if he was truly interested in selling this church he might outta let the dog come along.  Tilton made a sarcastic smacking noise with his thin lips and southern gentlemen charm as he agreed.  That means he really didn’t agree but went ahead anyway for business reasons.  

As we all entered the doors Tom held his hands high in the air giving all the glory to God and then he knelt on the red carpet praising and thanking God with a passion and heartfelt love like I hadn’t often experienced in my life.  I guess that is what people often called God’s love and boy was it rubbing off on me.  I wanted to fall on the floor with the old man but I held myself back for business reasons. Not Duke, he was down on the carpet with Tom praising God proudly.

                I turned to Tilton and said, “We’ll take it!  How much is it?” 

                I think old Tom almost peed himself on the nearly newly purchased red church carpet.  I really needed to stop doing that to him because he was older and could have a dang heart attack or faint and hit his head on a pew. 

                Tom abruptly stood up, eyes as big as saucers.  Have you ever seen a Negro get excited or scared?  Tom looked like he had plugged himself into an electrical socket.  I almost started laughing but decided not to for this was a business meeting after all.  I touched his arm and calmly urged him to relax I had it under control.  I asked him if he would mind checking out the rest of the church building as well as the plumbing and electrical areas while Tilton and I talked price. 

                Before Tom and Duke walked away, he said. “Messies Julie, how youse do dis?  I don’t has the monies to buy dis church or keep it up.  Maybese da people won’t like my preachin’ or my cala?”

                Again, I put my hand on his shoulder and said, “I guess I forgot to tell you Tom.  This is a Bible toten, tongue talkin’, Holy Ghost rollin’, Pentecostal shakin,’ Negro Amercian church! Now go check out the guts and see if she is worth taking on.”  Tom smiled me a smile the size of Alabama, that would be another Bible belt state. Then off the two of them went like two kids at a church Easter egg hunt.  This was what my travel was all about.  I had thought for a while I wasn’t going to get to enjoy the happiness of others but here it was in living color. Literally. 

                Tilton asked me if I was finished playing childish games and if so we could get down to business. I wanted to cold clock that arrogant you know what, but instead I told him we could call this a day and I would be contacting a different Realtor faster than he could say NO SALE.  He readily apologized before I decidedly told him I didn’t have very much money.  I had to squash all the fun I had been having which was opening me up for a price increase.  Actually Tilton said the only thing that was needed for purchase was payment of the back taxes because it had gone into foreclosure.  The bank owned it and they wanted it off their books.  It also needed some electrical and plumbing work of which I would be responsible.  The reason the yard was in such good shape was because the parishioners had taken turns keeping it up as well as the cemetery out back.  Again I asked him how much?  And I would like to do a walk-through also.

Then I said, “Wait a minute, why did we have to drive to the mansion to fetch the key on our last attempt to view this little slice of heaven if the bank owns this property?”

He answered in a calm business like voice.  “Miss Rowe, things have changed since our last appointment.  That is all I am allowed to share with you.”

My mouth was open so far he could probably see that little dangly thing in the back of my throat.  Obviously I wasn’t being cool but his response was just the pits of an answer.  It had only been days since the murder suicide at the mansion we still weren’t sure about.  We had gone there for the key to the church.  Now he says the bank owns it.  So whoever owned it must have died.  But it would go to an estate, not a bank I thought.  Did Pam own it?  Shit, maybe the mafia owns it!  I was so confused again.   Suddenly out of what seemed nowhere I heard a loud voice.  It was Tilton trying to reign me back in from the abyss of Amarillo-ville.  I had been in one of those self-induced trances that took me away from reality.

                “What?”  I said. “Jeez.”

                “Julianna, seven months of back taxes are owed.  At $152.00 per month times seven months, you can have this old run down Negro church for $1,064.00 cash.  Plus you are responsible for the utility bills during that period as well as the plumbing and electrical repairs which have been estimated to be close to $6,500.00.  Oh, I almost forgot it needs a new roof and there has been some vandalism in the cemetery from the local teenagers.  So do we have a deal?

“I will have to have my lawyer look at your paperwork on this so called deal Tilton.” I said with some reservation not knowing what reservation, but it was there alright.  The spiritual thickness in the air told me something was stinking.

“Sure, I can drop these papers off at Timothy’s office on my way home.” He said.

I wondered if that was what I smelled.  I sure didn’t want the deal to go sour.  Tom was so happy and I could just see Shamika sitting at the organ singing like the sweet little innocent flower from God she was.  Shamonta propped up at the front side pew for all to pray for all week of every week until he was healed of that dreadful disease. But what was that smell of deceit trying to take our joy.  Sulphur smell from hell it was. 

With controlled strength I said, “No thank you Tilton, I am having someone else take a look at the paperwork along with the building itself. Actually my Grandfather and the Governor of Texas, Jack Connally have the same lawyer.  I have a hunch this deal calls for some bigger guns than Tim Haines. And that is all I can share with you at this time Tilton.  Copies of the papers please?”

And this time I could see that little dangly thing in the back of his throat.  Funny how a couple dropped names can change things in an instant. It’s not something I use unless a last resort. I guess the old “it’s who you know” gets my vote this round.  And at least I wasn’t in jail this time when I had to use the Gov’s name.  Seems times were on the up and up for me maybe.  And then I quickly looked for a piece of wood to knock on or is that salt over the right shoulder?

Meantime Tom had been listening behind the baptism room door to Tilton and my conversation.  He hoped I didn’t mind.  Heck no I told him I was glad he listened.  I asked him if he smelled the same rat I did?  He agreed with a saddened face.  I assured him not to worry this was just a small fluke we had to get past along with several other flukes like  who shot at me? Who kidnapped him, who is Joe Ben Waller, and are Tilton and Tim Haines in cohoots too? So many unanswered questions.  And by the way, why isn’t the FBI protecting me dangit?  Suddenly I wondered if maybe they weren’t after all.  Remember the Johnny Law trooper outside of town.  He would have arrested me for shooting at Joe Ben if a rancher really did call that situation in.  Humm.  This time Tom put his hand on my shoulder and calmed the tornadic winds of my mind.

 Tilton said to stop by his office for the copies.  He would have them ready within the hour.  He actually left the key to the church with us so we could take our time checking everything out properly.   As a matter of fact he became more businesslike and kind hearted after my “little” name dropping showdown.  I won!  I won!  I always liked winning especially over an arrogant man or I should say person.

 I thanked Tom for his caring and suggested we get back to enjoying his new Church home.  I asked him what he wanted to call it.  He suggested maybe we should wait and see because there was that dead rat hanging close.  I told Tom no way Jose, this will be your new church.  If I’m lyin’ I’m dyin’!  Now let’s go call it home.  And so we did.  Tom stood at the podium telling me all about the Holy Spirit.  It was like he truly was home indeed.  I sat in the front pew with my arms outstretched to the Lord until they got too tired as he filled me with wisdom beyond what I had ever known.  It was then I knew Tom’s wisdom came from the heavens for sure.

As he stood with the pride of Christ he preached like he was preaching to the multitudes with the voice of ten radio announcers in unison.  Duke and I sat still as church mice taking in every word!

He preached on, “There is an endless river of love that flows from My Spirit who live inside of you. My river of living waters brings life where there is spiritual death, healing where there is sickness, peace where there is strife, forgiveness where there is sin, absolution where there are grudges. (II Corinthians 3:18)  My Holy Spirit exchanges beauty for ashes, restoration for disagreements and love where there is hatred.  My Holy Spirit, who is My river of living waters, constantly delivers life and love to everyone within whom He lives and with whom He comes into contact.  He cleans the vessels He lives in and He seeks to cleanse all people they encounter.  He is life, He is love, He is forgiveness, He is restoration and peace.  His presence makes peace with everyone. He is My life, the generator of My power. It is through Him that I created the heavens and the earth.  (John 7:38-39) It was through the power of My Holy Spirit that Jesus rose from the dead and lives with Me.  It is through Him that I created a new life within you.  It is through Him that I teach you, coach you, guide and direct you onto the paths which will cause you to inherit all of my goodness.  I am My Holy Spirit. (John 16:7-11)

    The power of My love enters into the life of a person through My Spirit. 

    My wisdom enters into your mind through My Holy Spirit. (Ephesians 1:16-17)

    My new spiritual life enters into the earthly life of a person through My Spirit who empowered Jesus, giving Him the power over death and all darkness. (Romans 8:11)

    My Holy Spirit reveals to My children all of the principles and keys that Jesus taught but the people are unable to understand because of the blindness in their minds.  (John 16:12-14)

     Come to My water and drink from the well of love, wisdom, knowledge, mercy, kindness, forgiveness and goodness.  You will be constantly renewed with My pure, unadulterated, clean Waters of life.”   

Tom continued, “Amen brothers and sisters.  Now let the Lord lead and guide you in safety and protection until we meet again this Tuesday evening.  Now everyone is invited for our Sunday PotLuck in the basement visuals room near the kitchen.  Feel free to invite your friends and neighbors to our friendly worship events Sunday mornings, Tuesday, Thursday, and Saturday evenings.  Today is sister Esther’s 104th day of birth.  Let us all lead her in prayer to her 105th.  Now if anyone of you needs a hand laid on them for healing let them come forward at this time.”

I got up and Tom and I danced around in circles of happiness for a long time.  I told him I couldn’t wait to bring Shamika, her daughter, and Shamonta to see their new Church home.

Tom said, “There’s a rat.”

Tom, “There is a rat in every situation everyday of our lives.  This rat will be easier than most because I have “Rooster” people in high places who have large rat traps.  These little drug dealing peon’s have picked on the wrong Hen!” I giggled.

                Tom asked me why I hadn’t called my “roosters” sooner.  I told him I do not usually call on anyone. But this was a money deal and I really needed some expert help outside the Amarillo box of dutiful businessmen.

               After we checked out the kitchen and found someone had unplugged the refrigerator with food in it we added it to the replacement costs. The parishioners would have taken care of the inside of the church also but had no way of entry. The toilets were useable….they flushed anyway. The place needed some fresh paint and the love of the lost congregation.  I knew Tom would gather that flock like the shepherd he was.  God would bless his new Church for sure.  I seemed to have more faith in this deal than Tom did but then I knew he was understandably scared.

             We stopped at Tilton’s office for the copies of the contracts and yes mini Marilyn was present and accounted for in all her Hollywood red carpet glory.  I swear she had someone make her a likeness of the white Marilyn Monroe dress she posthumously attempted to depict in the small Amarillo Realtors Office that day.  She even had a fan blowing on high to make sure the dress blew all about her body when she purposefully passed it.  I was almost gagging in an attempt to refrain from busting a gut laughing.  Tom on the other hand was probably praying that personal rat away from her life.  Good Christian man that he was. We took the papers and left the building graciously.  I was faking. Tom was not.

            We were quietly cruising Polk Street toward Tom’s house when out of the blue said, “Christ the King.  We will call her Christ the King Pentecostal Church.  Miss Julie, I is perty sure dis  will be one of da first of her kind in da area.  We will renovate her wont we?”

            I said, “You dang right we will Tom Baird, Pastor and owner of Christ the King Pentecostal Church of Amarillo, Texas.”  And then Duke sat up and barked in his two cents.  Tom told me he may never sleep again until this is in the bag.  And I understood completely. 

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