My Life A Bit South of Normal

Tuesday, July 24, 2018

A Blot of Mustard and a Crumb Cheese

The following morning Jerry decided to get a fresh cup of coffee. Making sure he avoided Mae, he headed for the Starlight Cafe. As he walked down the main street he felt as if he were somewhere between Mayberry RFD and some place created in Tim Burton's mind. True, Gallagher was quaint. He would give it that. And, no doubt, every little southern town had its share of characters.

The wide streets shaded by the large old oak trees dripping with Spanish moss, gave one the feeling of walking under a canopy of green and gray. Few people were out and about. The shops were just starting to open. Then something caught his eye, something moving through the park to his left. He stopped. Whatever it was, had disappeared. He continued walking toward Ed's. It was then he saw it, or rather him.

Standing on the sidewalk in his path was a man looking as if he had not bathed in weeks. His hair was long hair and stringy. To add to this vision, the man was wearing nothing more than a simple loin cloth. But, it was not the man's clothing, stringy hair, or dirty face that caught his eye. It was the huge wooden cross strapped to his back that was hard to miss.

'What the Hell?' Jerry thought.

The silence was broken by Buck's voice shouting, "If Jesus is not in your heart you need to accept him. Only faith in the Lord will save you now. Repent and the Lord will protect you."

Jerry was entranced, speechless, and a bit taken back all at the same time. 'This really is not happening,' went through his mind.

"Repent, for the kingdom of heaven is at hand," Buck shouted as he walked in Jerry's direction. Not sure what to do or where to go, Jerry just stood there. 

Once again Tim Burton came to Jerry's mind, 'One person's craziness is another person's reality' .

As if a savior from heaven, the Sheriff showed up. He walked up to the cross bearing evangelist, "Buck, I've told you before, you need to move along. Yes, you have First Amendment rights, but that doesn't allow you to pester folks around here. Last time I checked with Mary Lou, you did not have a permit to march, so move along."

Buck knew better than to protest. He hoisted his cross onto his back, and slowly moved down the side walk. Jerry could hear him sing as he walked away, "Jesus! the name that charms our fears, That bids our sorrows cease, ’Tis music in the sinner’s ears, ’Tis life, and health, and peace, He breaks the pow’r of canceled sin,  He sets the pris’ner free; His blood can make the foulest clean, His blood availed for me."

The Sheriff seeing the puzzled look on Jerry's face. "Oh, For a 1000 Tongues to Sing."

"What?"

"Obviously, you never got dragged to a Southern Baptist Church as a child," said the Sheriff.

"Can't say I have."

"Then it will be lost on you. Anything else I can do for you?"

"No, Sheriff, but I appreciate your saving me here?"

"I appreciate the thought but, I am no competition for God."

Jerry looked at him, but the Sheriff just winked at him and laughed.

The Sheriff went on his way and Jerry proceeded to Ed's for that cup of coffee. 'Maybe Barbara was right, this is place is nuts. But,' he thought as he walked along, 'this is the south. Everyone knows about their reputation.' He shook his head.

Once again something caught his eye. He looked to his right. Sitting on the park bench was a woman dressed in a long black robe. The purple gele on her head was hard to miss. She was dealing cards onto the bench beside her. It was then she looked up. Their eyes met. Reeza's green eyes were piercing. 'Okay', he thought this is enough. 

Once more he turned toward the cafe. As he made his way, he ran into Mike. "You look like you have seen a ghost. You okay?"

Jerry told him about his run in with Buck. "And then, did you know there is a woman dressed like a witch sitting on a bench in the park playing cards."

Mike laughed, "Do remember a 'Christmas Carol'?"

"Of course, we all had to read Dickens in school. What does Charles Dickens have to do with being here?"

"Oh, it's not being here, it's more like what you think you see when you are here. Perhaps 'You may be an undigested bit of beef, a blot of mustard, a crumb of cheese, a fragment of an underdone potato'."

"It was a man lugging a wooden cross trying to save my soul and a witch playing with cards."

Mike laughed and shook his head. He was loving this. "Are you sure?" 

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