Pastor Johns sat on a stage behind a long table. He faced a room full of Green County residents. It was their annual fair and he was the sole judge. He seemed particularly nervous. Two ladies on the front row were glaring at him. Both ladies had had their share of winning the Annual Green County Sweet Pickle contest with six wins apiece. This year would break the tie. These two have not spoken to each other since the first contest.
Thelma Bottoms, wearing her dark green polyester pant suit, was staring at the pastor, as if boring a hole through his head and depositing the words “Pick mine, pick mine” into his brain. She lost last year and didn’t want that to happen again.
Nadine Siddens, with the tiny green pill hat balanced on her curls, sat with a smug look on her face. She knew she’d win again because of the secret ingredient in her green pickles.
Everyone knew, well those who lived in the Green County knew, that for the past twelve years only two jars filled with the deepest emerald green, mouth watering sweet pickles were presented to the judge. No one else ever entered the Sweet Pickle Contest. What was the use? Thelma or Nadine always won.
During the wait, bets were being taken in the back of the hall. Half the crowd laying money that this would be the year those two Pickle Queens would scratch each other’s eyes out.
The chairperson of the Green County Sweet Pickle Contest walked out on the stage carrying a small tray. On the tray sat three pint jars, each with a large paper number taped on the front.
What? Were their eyes deceiving them? Were there actually three jars entered? The two ladies looked baffled at first, looked at each other and then thunder rolled across their faces. Who dare enter THEIR contest?
With great ceremony, the chairperson opened jar number one. A fork was jabbed into the jar and brought forth one pickle. Pastor Johns’ hand shook so bad he almost dropped the pickle. Recovering, he took a small taste. A pickle from jar number two was handed to him and finally one from jar number three. Pastor Johns now had to decide a winner.
The room was so still you could hear dust fall. Any stranger or friend could only imagine the turmoil Pastor Johns was going through. With one sentence, announcing the winner, world war of any number would begin. Each able body looked at the nearest exit and mentally calculated the distance from where they sat so they could escape before the turmoil erupted.
The pastor stood and spoke. “Ladies and gentleman. Thank you for allowing me to be the judge for such a prestigious contest. All three jars were very crisp, sweet and so delicious. But one jar was quite unique.”
A gruff voice in the back hollered, “Just tell who won the dang contest, Pastor.”
“Yes, sorry. As God is my witness this years winner is…”
Air whooshed from the room as everyone inhaled in unison. Pastor Johns tore the number off the jar, turned it over and read, “Anna Waggle.”
Time froze for the residents of Green County. The winner was not Thelma Bottoms or Nadine Siddens. The winner was a greenhorn, the dark horse, or someone with lots of courage. Anna Waggly was jumping up and down, screaming, “I won! I won!”
The silent crowd waited for reaction from the dethroned Pickle Queens. Thelma lowered her head, a hankie to her eyes. Nadine’s smile disappeared and tears streamed down her face. No one was watching Anna who was waving her blue ribbon, and dancing all over the stage. Pastor Johns had simply vanished.
Nadine stood, looking absolutely green as she walked over to Thelma. A voice in the back of the hall hissed a chant “fight, fight”. Others crowded closer to watch.
When Nadine stood close enough she raised her arms and shouted “Halleluiah Lord! I’m so glad its over,” then gave Thelma a big hug.
The teary-eyed Thelma nodded. “Me too, Nadine, me too!”
“How about some coffee and a sandwich?”
Astonished, the crowd watched the ex-Pickle Queens leave the hall together.
Anna Waggly was still screaming, “I won. I won!”
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