Friday, March 14, 2008

Sunday Scribblings - Anticipation - 3/16/08

This week Sunday Scribblings allowed us to pick from past prompts that we did not, for whatever reason, respond too. I chose Anticipation, from SS #38, December 2006. This prompt was assigned before I started blogging. I offer the beginning of a short story I am working on. I am hoping that this creates an anticipation for me to finish the story. That is probably the only way it will ever be completed, to satisfy my few faithful readers. Here goes:

It was a hot, humid late Sunday afternoon in Coastal South Carolina. The kind of day that only exists in the Deep South. The women of the all black congregation of a nondescript country church busied themselves with the final preparation of the fried chicken that would be the centerpiece of this evening’s church social. Though they never slowed, there was still time for gossip. The men-folk were grouped by age and involved in spirited conversations. The older men’s talk centered on the weather, crops, the upcoming fried chicken and collards, and lies about fishing. The younger men, mostly in their late teens, were primarily discussing music, sports, and lies about women. Younger children ran amok in the churchyard.

Though they advertised this monthly event both in the local weekly newspaper, a banner facing the rural route that fronted the church, and even a handmade sign out on Highway 17, it was seldom that a visitor would drop in to share in the fellowship and drop some “outside” money in the sweet grass basket that served as a collection plate. Occasionally, members of another local African Methodist Episcopal Church would stop in with the pretense of fellowship, but in actuality, to partake in some of the “finest yard-bird in South Carolina.” But for the most part the partakers of the feast were the same people whose joyful voices had resonated with Gospel song, just this morning, from within the confines of this very church.

They could hear the arrival of the stranger well before they could see him. The unmistakable thunder of the ancient Harley Davidson Flathead resounded through the pines, lining the seldom-traveled rural route. As the lone rider approached, the pitch of the mighty engine’s growl changed as the Hog slowed. The obvious deceleration caused conversations to be suspended in mid-lie as non-verbal questions were raised throughout the congregation. Even the play of the children abruptly halted as they sensed the sudden uneasiness among the flock. In a puff of dust, the interloper piloted his bike off of the pavement and onto the sandy drive. Maneuvering between parked cars, he steered the powerful machine to a stop at the edge of the churchyard. All eyes were on him as he dismounted and secured the motorcycle on its stand. Had he been a Martian disembarking from a flying saucer, he would not have generated more curiosity. Though he was tanned and dusty from many hours of riding, he was obviously white, and most certainly out of place. The younger men of the congregation knew he was white before he was even in sight, as the guttural sound of his motorcycle was distinctively different from the high-pitched squeal of the Japanese-made crotch-rockets that were favored by most brothers.

As the leader and protector of his small assembly, the Reverend Jacob R. Johnson left his comfortable seat in the shade of a stately oak tree as quickly as the summer heat would allow, walking to intercept the stranger. “May I help you sir?” the Reverend offered in a tone neither unfriendly, nor overly welcoming.

“The sign says you have fried chicken, and I was hoping there’d be collards too,” the stranger smiled showing white teeth contrasted by his weathered face. When he smiled, the only pair of blue eyes within miles smiled too. A genuine smile that Reverend Johnson noted and responded to with one of his own. The newcomer shook his shoulder length sun bleached hair and ran his fingers through it, brushing the curly locks back out of his face. “I also wouldn’t say no to a glass of iced tea.” .

A voice from behind the minister called out before Jacob had a chance to respond. “This is a private dinner, we have nothing for you.” This interjection came from a young man of about 18 wearing a FUBU jersey and sporting a do-rag. He looked to be the informal leader of the younger group of men who had followed him to the parking lot and were assembled behind him sporting a semi-menacing demeanor.

The newcomer’s smile never wavered as he turned his attention to the youth, gestured to the banner and replied, “then why have a sign, Leroy.”

Sensing the tension and hoping to defuse the situation, Jacob, looking over his shoulder to the young man, quickly offered, “son, all are welcome to share in God’s bounty.” Extending his hand to the outsider, he turned, “I am Reverend Jacob Johnson. Please excuse us, we don’t get many visitors out here.”

The man took his hand and they exchanged a strong, but cordial handshake. Jacob felt an almost electric, but not unpleasant, power surge up his arm. “Pleased to meet you Jacob.” He then offered his hand to the younger man. “Nice to meet you too, Jamal.”

The teenager stiffened and glared. He did not shake hands, but replied curtly, “The name is Curtis, Motherfucker.”

“Nice to make your acquaintance Curtis Motherfucker. Unique family name. You might consider changing it if you go into show business. Unless you are going to be a rapper, it might work for you.” There were several laughs from the group that had gathered behind Curtis. He turned and scowled and the laughs were quickly stifled.

“You know better than to use that kind of language, particularly on this sacred ground.” Jacob admonished Curtis, but it was apparent that the reprimand was also directed at the visitor. “I didn’t catch your name, sir,” Jacob probed.

“I didn’t toss it, Padre” the outsider retorted with a smile. “My friends call me Poet. Are you my friend, Curtis?” Again there were giggles from the group. This time Jacob turned and threw visual darts into the group.

“Well, Poet, you are welcome to join us, but supper won’t be ready for another half-hour or so. Would you like to sit with us in fellowship?”

“I have been sitting for hours, but I will be pleased to stand with you in fellowship. Lead the way Rev”, Poet put his hand on Jacob’s shoulder. A pleasant warmth again passed between them that Jacob did not mind or question. There was something about this man that was different. Jacob was sure of it.

All eyes were on Poet as he followed Jacob to the long table under the shade of one of the many oak trees that shaded the churchyard. Curtis and his posse followed, sitting directly across from the position Poet chose, leaning casually up against a tree. All eyes were on Poet, but there were few friendly gazes, more like defiant glares. Curtis’s being the most fixed and hateful. Poet returned his glower with friendly eyes that caused Curtis to involuntarily lower his. This exchange was not missed by Jacob. He wanted to find out more about this strange visitor. He would find out much more.


Lucy said...

You've got yourself a very intriguing,well told intro to what IS going to be a Great short story Rick.
I ♥ the characters name! EXcellent!
I hope you are inspired to finish your thoughts. I can't wait to read the rest. :)

keith hillman said...

Hi Rick - what a great piece. More please!

paisley said...

i swear to god he better not turn out to be jesus.....

but i am anxiously awaiting finding out who he is....

Robin said...

I'm definitely intrigued, and the Curtis Motherfucker comeback had me smiling right along.

Little Wing said...

I like the name Poet.
I think this Poet is going to teach a message here.
I look forward to the ending.
I am always for the underdog.

shammi said...

argh, it finished just as I was really getting into this story!

gautami tripathy said...

Damn! Here was waiting to know more....

The books I would write

tumblewords said...

Great piece - your writing soars in this one - keep it going!!!

giggles said...

More please! Much anticipation here!
Well done. Love it!

In response to paisley he sounded more like Fabio!

Hugs Sherrie

myrtle beached whale said...

I think making him Jesus would be too easy. I like to lead you all that direction though. But you know that Jacob realizes he is not just an ordinary man.

Remiman said...

He comes in many guises to many people. Nice story telling!

Curtis Motherfucker popped into my mind before I even read it....good go.

Patois said...

Yes, yes, yes. Keep going. Don't stop now.

jadey said...

Excellent piece.

Anonymous said...

Peaking interest can't wait to get some more of this tale. Is this going to be continued soon?
Alright weekly at least. Or is it already written in you mind's eye?
Miss Rose

Anonymous said...

My church would invite hime to ride Harleys with them? Ha!
What a story.

Anonymous said...

Okay Mr. Grace I knew it.
Now I Know. You have great boldness in your stories.
Your writing projects confidence
and knowledge of Creative Writing.
:)Miss Rose

paisley said...

i l-o-v-e that song cover of the roalling stone.... the ultimate feel good classic music !!!!!!!

Michelle said...

Okay, must we beg? Please finish this?!? I'm sitting on the edge of my seat!! Really!