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Previous Challenge Entry (Level 3 – Advanced)
Topic: Phew! (02/11/10)

TITLE: Four Words and Four Hats
By Debbie Roome
02/18/10


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The ladies were on the coach when I boarded; a quartet of big-bosomed matrons with hats pinned to voluminous curls. They snickered as I walked past, eyes sliding up and down my pierced tattooed body. “Looks like something the cat dragged in.” I heard them whisper.

I dropped into an empty row of seats behind them as the driver dimmed the lights and the coach lurched into the night. It may have been bedtime but these women were full of verve. After stowing their hats on the overhead shelf, they started talking in earnest.

“You prepared for the conference, Merle?”

“I surely am, Sadie.”

“And you Janet? Have you made up your list?”

There was a rustling of paper and a squeaky voice penetrated the shadowy depths. “Four things that are a stench to the Lord’s nostrils: being late to church, missing Friday prayer meetings, not putting money in the offering plate, wearing skirts above the knee.”

“Phew, those are bad ones.” cackled Merle.

“I gotta couple more.” butted in another voice.

“Read them out, Connie.”

“Wearing mascara and taking secret nips of communion wine.”

Laughter erupted and I heard the rustle of a paper bag. Peeping around the seats I saw them passing a quarter jack of brandy from hand to hand.

Just then the coach slowed, brakes hissing as it shuddered to a stop. The only passenger to board was a lean black man, almost skeletal in appearance. His polyester pants were shiny and his shirt faded. The whispers started as he shuffled to the back. “Shouldn’t allow the likes of him on the coach.”

“Bad blood I tell you. He’s probably got AIDS.”

“Did you see the state of his clothes?”

Are these really church ladies, I wondered?

“Reminds me of the Jackson family,” came Sadie’s voice. “I sometimes think they’re a stench to the Lord. “Why Albert is back in jail and those girls dress like tarts. Did you see them last Sunday in those black tights and sequined shirts? Looks like they came straight from working the streets.”

“Phew,” drawled Connie. “You wonder why they keep coming to church. It’s not as though it does them any good.”

The four of them kept at it as I drifted in and out of sleep and by 4am I was totally over it. I pulled a notebook from my backpack and using my cell phone as a light, I printed four words in large clear letters. “I don’t know about you, God.” I whispered, “But this is what would be on my list.”

At 5am, the coach paused near a corner in the suburbs – a special request so I could alight near my home. As I slipped into the aisle, I stopped in front of each hat and using the long sharp pins, I attached one sheet of paper to each.

Prejudice
Racism
Gossip
Hypocisy

I could almost smell the stench as I turned towards home, the bus rattling into the distance.


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This article has been read 625 times
Member Comments
Member Date
Laury Hubrich 02/22/10
I love the contrasts of the spiteful church women and the tatooed girl. I really like the ending. Good story with a great message.
Shann Hall-LochmannVanBennekom 02/23/10
Very good message. It's sad how sometimes the church ladies can be some of the scariest members? A very good reminder for me to not prejudge. Thank you.
Rachel Phelps02/24/10
SO heart-breakingly true to life. Wonderful writing and message.
Lollie Hofer 02/24/10
Whoa! A sermon and you never preached a word. Well done even if the honesty of it made me squirm a little.
Beth LaBuff 02/24/10
Ouch! Hypocrites --with a capital "H".... I don't think I'd care to worship with them, or for that matter, to worship their god. Very creative story and a great message!
Sarah Elisabeth 02/25/10
Yay Debbie! Congrats on your EC!
Jackie Wilson02/25/10
Very strong message - loud and clear! Great writing, and congrats on your well-deserved placing.
Noel Mitaxa 02/25/10
Great profile of how so many of God's people are so keen to be witnesses - for the prosecution instead of for salvation. The four words your MC left may have only gone to the ladies' heads, but I hope they went to their hearts as well.