Morning Thanks

Garrison Keillor once said we'd all be better off if we all started the day by giving thanks for just one thing. I'll try.

Tuesday, June 27, 2017

Jonah and the Visitor--a story (ii)

(continued from yesterday)

When finally that bat found a roost on a beam, he hung there, wings tucked, upside down, like a fat blot of tar. I was on the whale itself just then, Melville-like in my thoroughness, I might add. No matter--I could have just as well been out to sea. Once that bat stopped its swooping, every last eye was glued to the ceiling. Women pulled hankies over their heads, turned what was left of my sermon into something that resembled a funeral.

Every minute of what I’d written got lost. Jonah comes up out of the belly of that whale a changed man, but nobody in my church even heard the truth. Jonah takes the good news to the wicked people of Ninevah, and nobody heard a word.

When it was over and I was standing at the door shaking the hands, some of the people chuckled about that infernal bat; some of them, giggling, told me it was surely the Devil come in to wreak havoc.

Slim Murphy, perfectly poker-faced--excuse the expression--said to me, “Heckuva sermon, Pastor Angus.” That’s exactly what he said, “a heckuva sermon.” I could have held forth on the plague of toads, and Slim Murphy wouldn’t have stayed awake.

Some of them didn’t say a word, either, just skedaddled.

My righteous indignation stole away my better sense away when it was all over. I found my Jimmy’s old pellet gun in a corner of the basement, one of those air rifles you pump with your arm, and I marched back to church, slapped on just a few lights, even took a flashlight along to find that miserable thing--and when I did, I took aim.

Could well be I’ve lost some of the ability I once had to hit the mark with sermons the way I did when I was young and full of dreams, but I still have a steady trigger finger. So he came down in three shots--flop, like a dead bird. I picked him up in my handkerchief and deposited him just on the other side of the parking lot, where, if I’m lucky, some varmint will come along and help himself to a wicked lunch.

That’s what I did. I say you got to take the Devil down yourself if you’re going to beat him. You can’t wait for others if their out puffing on a LaPalina.

Burt the janitor said to me this afternoon, “Wonder where that bat went? I looked and looked and I couldn’t find him anywhere. Must have a secret place.”

I didn’t tell Burt I shot him. I just said, “I don’t want that bat ruining any more of my sermons, Mr. Blankenship. You find him, hear?”

So all afternoon Burt looked, neck stretched up like a goose. That’ll teach him not to skip out for a puff of his month-old cigar. That’ll fix my janitor. Dirty, cancerous things anyway, those cigars.

And a perfectly good sermon, too, just ruined. Maybe I'll just preach it again this week. Why not? 

Lord, have mercy.

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