The parson was absonded in the back booth of his favorite dinner. Today he was paying tribute to his doctor by limiting the meal to cereal and fruit along with the usual mug of decaf. His Kindle was turned on. He’d put “The Girl Who Kicked the Hornet’s Nest” on his “to do” list for the week. Just after the doctor had removed the small caliber slug from the brain of the heroine and was delicately picking out the fragmented pieces of skull, he heard his name called.
“Parson, good morning to you.”
It was John Jewell Jordan, 3J to many. He was a pastor at a church in the next county and
ranked about seven hundred and fifty-seventh on the parson’s list of favorite pastors.
“Morning, 3J. What brings you to this neck of the woods?”
“I’m meeting some of my members over here. We’re looking at some land to open a new campus here. It’s going to be a wonderful addition.” As he spoke John Jewell Jordan eased himself into the booth opposite the parson. John Jewell Jordan was never hindered by the lack of an invitation. “We’ll be having some independent services here but mostly I’ll be tele-preaching via an Internet connection. It’s going to be wonderful. The Lord just keeps on blessing.”
“Where’s the land you’re looking at?”
“It’s over on Valley of Roses Highway. We’re looking at about forty-two acres, big enough of a 800 seat worship center to begin with and a Christian elementary school. We’re going to take an option on another hundred acres adjacent to this area in the case we want to build a high school later.”
The parson said nothing.
“So, you little congregation is still hanging in there?”
“My little congregation is hanging in there, 3J. In fact, we’re the biggest little congregation in the region.”
“Whatever that means,” said John Jewell Jordan.
The parson was saved from responding to the rudeness by the vibration of his phone. Normally, he’d not have answered the phone in the middle of a conversation, but in the case of John Jewell Jordan he made an exception. The parson withdrew the phone from his pocket.
“Hello.... Yes, it is.... How long have you been out of work?.... You’re going back next week? .... Okay.... Ah, how old is the baby?.... Well, what’s the amount of the bill?.... Give me the account number....” The parson pushed the button to bring up the “notes” apt on the phone. He punched in a series of numbers. “Okay, I tell you what, I’ll go by there tomorrow and bring the bill up to date..... That’s okay.... You can do some work around the church if you feel that way, but let’s get the bill paid so you’ll have some heat with the baby in the house.... You’re welcome.... No problem.”
The parson turned the phone off and placed it back in his pocket.
“Got suckered again, huh, Parson?” said John Jewell Jordan.
“I don’t think so,” said the parson. “I got an opportunity to help someone who’s working his butt off to provide for his family in difficult times.”
“You got suckered, Parson.” John Jewell Jordan insisted. “It won’t be long before that church of yours gives every dollar the Lord provides you away.”
The parson took a quick sip of the remainder of his coffee, picked up his Kindle and rose from the booth. As he turned to walk away, the parson said, “One can only hope, 3J. One can only hope.”