It was the usual Tuesday morning meeting of Cloverdale’s Community Church Ladies League. They were good women – not given to slander or malice. They did have what they called sharing-of-the-town-news. This was for the benefit of praying for those who needed prayer.
These ladies loved the close family feeling of their small town. Most had lived in Cloverdale their entire life. Almost the entire town attended church, either there or at the Catholic Church. The usual sharing of news for the purpose of prayer included the few in town who were not church goers.
There was Annabel who had loose morals and a soiled reputation. Then the Olson teenagers who were given to partying on weekends. “I heard they drink beer and smoke that marjowana at those parties,” Louise said with a huff.
“I think you mean marijuana,” Alice corrected her. “A lot of the town kids attend those parties. The difference is the Olsons are the only ones who don’t make their children attend church. Mr. Olson believes when kids get to be teenagers they have the right to choose whether to go to church or not. Pure stupidity if you ask me. When my kids were teenagers, they didn’t have the sense to choose what they wanted for breakfast.”
Other non-church goers included Matt Mulligan, the town drunk. He did attend church whenever he was sober, which wasn’t often. “He just misses Martha,” Carol said. “He drinks to forget.”
“Martha’s been gone fifteen years. That’s a long time to drink to be forgetting,” Amelia replied.
All and all, the ladies agreed that everyone in town had an open heart to redemption despite their wayward ways. The one that concerned them was Claude Morgan. When Alice offered up Claude’s name for prayer that morning, the rest of the ladies felt the need to express their opinions.
“Meanest man I’ve ever seen. Been mean as long as I can remember.”
“That’s for sure. Town kids are afraid to walk in front of his house. Even stray dogs shy away from him.”
“Hates God, I hear. Blasphemes the Lord’s name all the time.”
“Curses God cause his wife died in childbirth forty years ago. The baby died too.”
“Many times people in town have reached out to him, invited him to church. He won’t even come to the church picnics. Says it’ll be a cold day in you-know-where before he’d step a foot in church.”
“A year ago Pastor Watson invited him to the Men’s Fellowship horseshoe tournament. He told our dear pastor he’d attend church when you-know-where freezes over or pigs fly.”
Carol glanced furtively around the room, then leaned forward and whispered, “I’ve heard Betty’s been taking pies to Claude’s house.”
“No, you don’t say!” Bonnie gasped.
“Yessiree! She started about six months ago. He shut the door on her the first two times, but she was persistent. Now she’s a frequent visitor,” Carol said with a nod of her head.
“I find that hard to believe. When did her Harold die? Two years ago?”
“More like three years. I guess she’s lonely. Of course, she’s had to work since Harold died because he didn’t leave her anything. Maybe she’s looking for a man to support her. Claude’s the only available man her age in town.”
“That’s not all,” Carol continued. “Maggie said Olivia told her that Myra overheard Betty in the store the other day ask Claude to attend church with her sometime. He said he just might do that someday.”
There was a collective gasp from the group. “My, my!” Louise exclaimed. “I just had lunch with Betty last week and she didn’t say a thing. Now that I think about it, she did mention how she wished she didn’t have to work so she could attend our Tuesday morning meetings.”
Alice held up her hand. “Now, ladies, this is what we need to do. We must really give this matter urgent prayer. We know Claude’s an ornery varmint and will never come to church. We need to pray for Betty, that God will shake some sense into her before this goes too far.”
“Amen,” they said in unison. They concluded their meeting with earnest prayer. They didn’t give it another thought until Sunday when Betty walked into church with a sheepish Claude. In a suit and a smile on his face, he looked like a different man.
Pastor Wilson shook Claude’s hand and grinned. “I do believe pigs might be flying, Claude.”
Claude chuckled in response.
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