Photo Credit: Line Olsson
His name was Nathaniel Round and he constantly struggled with his belief. Voices in his head kept him from sleeping many nights. He slipped out of bed, quietly so as not to disturb his wife, crept into the kitchen, made a pot of strong coffee and wrote sermon after sermon. On Sunday mornings at the Church of the Coveted Glen, he delivered these sermons to his small but faithful flock.
As he looked out over the rows of faces, his eyes lingered momentarily on the glowing countenances of the women in his congregation who’d come to him for counsel and had returned home with an inner calm and moister thighs.
He never meant it to turn out that way, but looking deep into their crying eyes as they shared stories of loneliness, isolation and woe, when they fell into his arms and their breath became hot little gasps, he knew it must be the will of God.
His wife, Greta, never suspected. Any desire for sex, any lust in her soul had died with the death of her children and the onset of her illness. Why God lowers tragedy on the pure of heart is the never-ending dilemma of the ages.
The accident, the spilling over of the rowboat in the dark cold lake, was sudden. When the twin girls were drawn up from the lake bottom, their eyes were open but the light of life was gone. As gentle fingers closed the eyes of the lost daughters, Abigail and Rebecca, at that same moment the light in Greta’s eyes flickered. From that moment on, in the eyes of the mother, the shadows lengthened and dusk held dominion over her mind and spirit.
Pastor Round of the Church of the Coveted Glenn found solace by throwing himself into what he called God’s work and into the willing arms of his female parishioners. No problems arose until he became consumed by a newly arrived member of the church, a comely nymph who went by the name of Lucille Pharr.
Dressed all in black, with the exception of a red scarf tied around her neck, she made her first appearance at the church in the middle of a sermon on a day when the skies had been rent asunder by a storm of almost biblical proportions. Pastor Round was stomping from one side of the pulpit to the other, his dark brown eyes flashing, his curly brown hair matted with perspiration, the sweat flying from his shaking head, spittle popping off his lips as he strafed the rapt congregation with his tongue of flames when, suddenly, a flash of lightening split the stained glass window just above the entryway of the church.
Almost simultaneously, the heavy wooden door flew open, spewing rain and wind into the stone church, and almost as if the storm had spat her through the doorway, Lucille entered the church. As she turned and slammed the great door shut, a thunderclap rang like the shot of a double-barreled gun, ending with a sound like the anguished growl of some strange beast slouching its way across the heavens. Then quiet fell, heavy as despair.
Only for a moment. Lucille Pharr moved like a wraith down the aisle of the church to the very front row and took the seat next to Greta Round, who appeared to be resting her eyes. Pastor Round, momentarily shaken, peered down upon the visitor to his church, cast his eyes upward and began to speak once more.
Lucille did not take her eyes from his face. On that Sunday, just after Ash Wednesday, that is when it began.
The storm abated as quickly as it had come yet the clouds lingered for many days. At the close of the service on that day, Lucille approached Pastor Round.
“I just arrived in town today and I plan to be here for a while. Might I join your church?” she asked.
Pastor Round, quite taken by her flashing eyes, which, strangely enough, seemed to have totally black irises, welcomed her in with open arms.
Greta watched her husband and the new arrival chat. As they spoke, a low moan, barely audible to human ears, oozed from her normally silent mouth. One of the parishioner’s dogs, sitting faithfully just outside the church door, began to whine and scratch its ears.
For the good pastor, it was as if no one else was in the church. Some of the other women sensed the intensity of the communion taking place and left in a bit of a huff. After all, they had had plans of their own.
“Ah, Pastor Round,” she breathed directly into his face, “you may call me Lucy.”
“And you, my dear,” the pastor said while he struggled to keep his balance, reacting to her sweet breath as if it was smoke from the opium poppy, “may call me Nate.”
Needless to say, Pastor Round and Lucy soon found each other entwined in a moist, heated embrace at the rustic cabin which served as the office where the Pastor undertook his most intimate counseling of his beloved brethren. (To Be Concluded Next Issue).