The waitress raddled a steaming cup of hot water onto the table in front of me. Honestly, I feared she was going to spill it onto my lap before it reached the starched table cloth. I uttered a “whew,” when the cup finally landed. The cup was followed by a tea bag and spoon. My associate had selected coffee, which in retrospect, was a much simpler delivery for the waitress.
“No faith in waitresses?” Mary, my table-associate and editor teased me.
I chuckled. “Guess not, just afraid she would spill water on my precious manuscript.”
My latest edition to a series, was in a brown envelope, to my right.
“I haven’t seen it yet, maybe a good soaking would do it good.”
I grimaced, “Now, who has no faith?”
“So, I suppose this new book has a plot, character, and device, or is it a continuation of the old ‘saw'?”
“Here.” I pushed the envelope across the table. “You decide. When can you get to it?”
Mary picked up the manuscript and stuffed it into her shoulder bag. “Give me a couple of weeks.”
The waitress tapped my shoulder. “Are you a writer?”
Mary glanced up at the young woman. “He says he is.”
“I write Christian mysteries. Would you like to read one, I can give you an ISBN number so you can buy it at the bookstore.” My usual reply to the curious folks who learn my profession.
“Oh, that Christian stuff is too preachy for me.” She took her hand from my shoulder like the cloth was on fire.
Mary laughed. “You haven’t read any of the new Christian writers have you?”
The waitress finally moved into my sight line. “No I haven’t.”
Mary reached into her shoulder bag and produced one of my early books. “Here, this is a quick read; short stories and essays.” Mary put her card between the pages. “Read it and let me know what you think.”
The young woman looked a little concerned, so I said, “You can keep it.”
“Oh, wow, thank you. And, I will give you a reply. Promise.”
Two weeks passed and Mary and I met again in the same tiny café. I opted for an iced tea this time.
The same waitress approached our table. “May I join you for a minute?”
I pulled out a chair at the end of the table.
She was carrying the short-story book in one hand. “I read these stories, and laughed until I had tears in my eyes.”
Pride was stroking my ego and I could tell that Mary was about to squash my thoughts.
“The short stories have done well, much better than his novels.” Mary gave me an over-the-top of her glasses glance.
“I wonder,” said the young woman. “Do folks really have that much fun in church?”
“All the stories were taken from church events.” I must have smiled broadly.
“However, the point of the tiny book,” Mary emphasized the word “tiny.” “Is to show the Christian love of a congregation. How people care for each other, and how they relate as a family.”
The waitress looked somewhat confused. “I haven’t known that in years.” She brushed her hair back and leaned in the chair.
“Well, it’s there.” Mary had a habit of being blunt. “All anyone has to do is join in.”
“But what about all the guilt preaching?”
“Our church is about love, the love of Christ for everyone, who simply claim Him.” I tried to join the conversation.
The waitress shook her head. “Jesus wouldn’t want me, divorced as I am.”
Mary reached over and put her hands in front of the young woman. “On the contrary, you are who Jesus is looking for. And, that is a fact.”
“Maybe I will look into it.”
I pushed a proof copy of a book toward the waitress. “Here is my new novel. I’ll make you a deal. You take this and read as much as you want. Then Sunday, I’ll meet you here and you can go to church with me and my family; and return the book.”
“Well, I guess.”
“I’ll be there too.” Mary sipped her coffee. “We can all sit together.”
“Praise service starts at ten, I will be here at nine thirty.”
“Okay.” The waitress was smiling. “By the way I am Jenny, and don’t worry I won’t spill anything on you.”
I laughed. “Cool.”
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