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Previous Challenge Entry (Level 3 – Advanced)
Topic: Bold (emotionally) (08/30/07)

TITLE: Jack Parrish
By Katherine Kimbley


As was usual for Sunday mornings, all forty-something of us was gathered in the town’s First Baptist Church. But this Sunday was different than most, on account of who showed up in the middle of Preacher Davis’ sermon. And it wasn’t just any sermon this Sunday, neither. He was ranting and raving even louder and longer than usual and my belly was fixin’ to drown him out if he didn’t quit soon. It was already going on half past one, and I was plum certain I was gonna pass out from heat and hunger. My mama said he was on fire for the Lord, but my daddy said he was just a bag of hot air. Until then, for fear of the Lord and all, I had been agreeing with my mama, but now I was starting to think that my daddy had it right all along.

Just when he was getting himself calmed down, and I was sure it was about time go home for some of mama’s best Sunday fixin’s, the doors swung wide open. Now, everyone in the county knows better than to interrupt Preacher Davis in the middle of a sermon. You might as well take a midnight stroll down the riverbank during gator mating season. Didn’t seem to matter none to this fella, though. He swung that door open wide and loud, and then stood there for a few minutes, like he didn’t know where he was going. But we all knew exactly where he was going. Preacher Davis had told us so lots of times.

You see, this wasn’t no stranger. We all knowed a lot about Jack Parrish. He was famous in these here parts, but not in no Billy-Ray-Cyrus-type of way. No, he was famous for what he done up in Jacksonville. A few years back, the paper was filled up with pictures of his face. Story said he used to be a high school teacher at one of them fancy private schools. He was one of them real brainy types – college and all. Daddy said he taught English, which just goes to show that just about anyone can speak this here language.

Anyway, mama would never tell me exactly what that paper said, but Jimmy Forrester from the hardware store, told me he done some really bad things to a whole bunch of pretty girls. Mama said it ain’t right for me to know about them things. All I know is once he got out of prison, there wasn’t one person who wanted his high-falutin’ criminal mug around their town. Ended up, he moved here. Don’t talk to no one and don’t go to church neither. Guess that’s why Preacher Davis don’t mind using him in his preaching so much. In fact, Jack Parrish was the only person I knew who already had a non-refundable ticket to hell.

Anyway, here he stood, back of the church, just looking around. No one said nothing for a real long time. Finally, Jack yelled out in a real proper voice, “Preacher Davis, sir, I would like to be baptized!” Guess he didn’t know Jesus only hears folks after they walk down the aisle.

I ain’t never seen a man’s face turn so red as Preacher Davis’. “How dare you bring your filth into this church! Don’t you know this is the house of the Lord?”

“Preacher, I’ve been studying the scriptures, and I am filthy no longer. Washed clean by the blood of Jesus Christ and forgiven for all sin. Now baptized with the Holy Spirit, I wish to be baptized with water.”

“Just who do you think you are? Do you really think a righteous God would forgive a man who has committed such atrocities? Your arrogance and boldness disgust me! Be gone with you…you…you, demon!”

“If you won’t baptize me, surely someone will!” he cried. Anyone?”

It felt like hours before another word was said. It sure surprised the heck outta me to hear them words coming from my daddy’s mouth. “I will.”

Now, to this day, I don’t know whether my daddy did what he did just to get under the preacher’s skin, or on account of the fact that he was on fire for the Lord too. But I’ll never forget the look on Preacher Davis’ face as Daddy put his arm around Jack’s shoulders and walked him down to the river. Years later, my daddy said this was his favorite ever day at church.

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Member Comments
Member Date
julie wood09/06/07
I loved this story! Wonderful dialect, characters, and message! The characters came alive--I sure wouldn't want to attend a church led by that preacher!

The title also drew me in--a personal name always sparks my curiosity.

Great job!
Dee Yoder 09/06/07
That would be my favorite ever day in church, too! Why do preachers have to go on and on? I love the voice of the MC, and the revealed hypocrisy of the minister. I suspect he preached so long because he knew his own heart needed grace more than anyone else's. I had a bio. prof. who told me that preacher's reveal their own personal problems in the topics they focus on the most. (He was also an ordained minister.) I like your story and the theme.
Marilyn Schnepp 09/07/07
The first sentence began with a grammatical error of a "was" instead of a "were"...so I was going to by-pass this story; however, THANKFULLY I read on - and found this to be part of the character; so glad I did! Great story - enjoyed the read and held my interest throughout until the terrific ending. Good job!
Ed VanDeMark09/07/07
This is a great story. Your dad and Jack are the unlikely heros while Rev Davis is the villan. You held me from start to finish. If this isn't a top 40 finisher there are either a lot of great stories or some judges with strange taste in literature. Keep up the great work.
Janice Cartwright09/07/07
I can't say enough good things about your story. Bravo! Wonderful in every aspect!
Verna Cole Mitchell 09/08/07
The voice of the mc is just right in this clever, delightful story.
Laurie Walker09/10/07
I too saw 'was' in the first sentence and thought, "Oh dear."
BOY am I glad I kept on reading! I was chuckling almost the whole way through.
What a way to bring your mc to life.
Joanne Sher 09/14/07
Congratulations, Katherine. Your entry has placed 8th in Level 3, and 16th overall. The Lists for the Top 15 in each Level and the Top 40 overall is available in the Weekly Results and Highest Rankings forum of our Faithwriters Message Boards
Brandi Shugart09/14/07
I love this story from start to finish....However, I now miss home :)......Good job Kate!!