People said in a hundred years of church life there had never been an official excommunication. Eventually people just left the church if they were angry or if they didn't feel like belonging anymore. But it was like a Vreeman to be stubborn about it. There was no way anyone could understand what was going on in his head because he pushed the church to act, almost as if it were a dare a test of the will of the righteous.
"That's the church I always been in," he told any of the dozens who tried to work with him, just like he told Ed that morning out back on the job.
Dickie didn't turn up for the service. The church was vacant just then, so they had in a preacher from somewhere up north, an old man who did everything he could to make it seem as sweet as an excommunication could be. What I remember best is the irony of talking about Dickie Vreeman (the preacher called him Richard because that was his christened name) without Dickie being there to hear it. That morning he was with Penny and the kids. Maybe he wasn't even thinking about finally being thrown out. Maybe he didn't care.
I walked home that Sunday with a neighbor kid, son of a big contractor. "First time that's ever happened that I remember," I said. "I never saw anything like that before in this church." I wondered what a kid no more than twelve thought about throwing somebody out the way we did that morning.
"My old man says there comes a time that you got to toss out the rotten apples," the kid said.