Locate me in the back row of the church choir. It’s not difficult. Since it’s rehearsal night, there aren’t that many of us, and even fewer if you are looking at the men’s row. That’s me, younger than the geezer profundo over to my left. I’m young enough to be the the son of the forty-something tenor to my right. He sings ahead of the beat. I was pressured to join because I play the piano. Never let them know you can play the piano, by the way—free advice. This is one of my first (respectable) adult activities: the church choir.
How all this got started was there was this guy Lee, I don’t think anybody remembers his last name. He hadn’t been in Springdale long. Quiet guy, late 20s. Decent looking. Beard, muscles, longish hair, bit of a mountain man way about him.
The Almighty was taking a bath. It had been a long week with the creation of the universe and whatnot, and He felt he was due some respite. The water was perfect, the temperature set just so. The tub big enough that he could stretch out and rest his head on the rim while playing with the two ornate gold taps at the far end with his toes. And of course, the bubbles. The good lord could never have too many bubbles. A small rubber duck bobbed up and down, it’s bright yellow head briefly appearing above the waves of suds before vanishing once more. Closing his eyes, he soaked in the pleasure of a good bath and a hard weeks work, and slowly but surely, he drifted off…
“One dollar,” young Earl C. Calder said and looked at the farmer before him transfixed on the small the blue vial Earl held in his hand.
Earl didn’t blink in the mid-day sun, all 110 pounds of himself holding steady next to Ida. The vial of elixir they had emptied the night before still floated through him, but he didn’t flinch, not Madam Wilma T.’s son, born in a brothel and groomed for greatness.
The baby had gone to sleep and the boys and Eva, her daughter, had gone to watch Manton drill with the other men in the exercise/muster the village held each month. She cherished the silence. It reminded her of the quiet of the convent—not a pleasant memory, but she did experience some beautiful moments in the years she lived there. She hurried to the kitchen table, wiped it clean, dried it, and spread out the fine linen cloth she had spent too much money on, opened a bottle of ink, got out a stylus, and began to write.
In this year of unrest, Daniel Luis was sharing a small house with his mother, sister, his pregnant wife, and daughter. He needed work.
“You will be the new janitor at the Municipal Theater,” his uncle said, “It pays little, but the work is easy. Clean up after every performance. Do your work and be invisible, and maybe in time, I can find you something better. Here is the key to the door. They say the theater is haunted, so wear your crucifix.”
“Cardinal Mahoney, this is your official interview for acceptance into Heaven. I will ask you questions, give you time to respond and close this interview by giving you a chance to make any corrections or to add any information. Cardinal, do you understand this process?”