May flowers

Church01.jpg picture by pemerytx

Photo © Getty Images

 

After the rousing final hymn, the congregation seated themselves jubilantly to receive the Reverand Doctor Silbus McInnery’s benediction.  They bowed their heads and holy smiles under the protective ark of his raised arm, and they waited within a collective inner peace, as the Reverend Doctor paused to receive his words from God.  And at last the glory of them came. 

The Reverend Doctor’s booming voice filled the cavernous sanctuary, washed over the congregation to complete this Sunday’s cleansing and send them forth with freshened godly vigor.  “May you receive and extend the blessing of the Lord.  May you be faithful and trustworthy in all things.  And may you serve with full devotion the God of All things, His hands and feet in a world of desperate need.”

 

There was a pause, and then the organist broke loose with his postlude, all stops, full organ.  Some parishioners stayed seated to listen to it in its entirety, despite the titillating incident of a bombshell named Val strutting into the service dressed like a hooker.  But despite the benediction, most of them were abuzz with unwholesome curiosity as they filed out from their pews, chomping at their worldly bits to press Miss May for details.

 

Plain, bespectacled and makeup-less May sat dazed on her pew.  She put a skinny, pale hand tenderly on the place where Val had sat before she’d left in a panic during the final hymn.  May could still feel the fullness of Val’s femininity, could still hear it whisper of its power over men, could still smell a hint of lavender in the essence of Val’s female eternity.  And despite Val’s inappropriate makeup and flesh-tight, flashy red attire, May bloomed with love for her, for entering her church world and awakening her to her own feminine potential.  May was as a bare tree in the dead of winter compared to the wild flowering of Val, and she knew without question that she desired to flower, too.

 

May felt a shadow press down on her, felt the unpleasant sensation of a heavily powdered face too proximate, and she jumped from the grating sound of old Mrs. Bird’s voice, “Will you be joining us for fellowship presently, Miss May?”

 

“Yes, Ma’am,” May answered low, perturbed.

 

Mrs. Bird withdrew her face and patted May’s shoulder.  “Good girl,” she said, and tottered on her way to the fellowship hall, delighted, in anticipation of firsthand news of “the hooker.”

 

Other of the church ladies were heading May’s way with the same looks of evil delight and anticipation on their faces.  Normally, these ladies wouldn’t give her the time of day.  They saw her as odd, devoid of qualities and interests that might endear her to a man.  And without a man, there would be no family and without a family she was considered a lesser being in their eyes.  Here she was at age twenty-six, a member of the church’s singles group for five years now, and the fruit of a marriage had not been produced.  She was deemed hopeless, a poor, mousy thing only Jesus could love.

 

May braced herself out of duty and stood up, weary.  She shuffled to the aisle, and let the sea of ladies overtake her, all of them working exceedingly hard to be friendly to her and to conceal what they really wanted to know.  But once they’d crossed the threshold to the fellowship hall, they didn’t even bother with coffee or cookies.  They commenced immediately to closing in on her and barraging her with questions with respect only for each other’s status within the church.

 

Mrs. Bird was one of the oldest deacons and therefore was allowed to go first.  Beads of sweat on her forehead were threatening to roll down and make mud of her face powder.  She fanned herself madly with her church bulletin.  “May, dear, do tell us about this flashy red Val person!  Was she a real, live hooker?”

 

“No, Ma’am, she was not,” May said.

 

The ladies paused in wait for more.

 

Mrs. Kline couldn’t stand it.  She was next in status and jumped in, her lips quivering with her questioning.  “Well, what was she like?  Did you have a chance to talk to her at all?”

 

“She was polite, Ma’am,” May said.  “And really, we had little chance to talk.  We did talk a bit about salvation and then the service began.” 

 

May fidgeted.  She wanted to tell the ladies that she and Val had looked kindly at each other, and in their exchange of smiles had made a genuine connection, that she could tell Val had a good heart.  But the ladies’ desire for lurid details was palpable and she thought it best to keep her thoughts to herself.

 

Mrs. White exaggerated a sigh and stepped closer to May, put a hand on her arm and smiled artificially.  “May, dear, surely there is more to this whole thing,” she singsonged.  Then she stepped back and blustered, “Now, do tell!  What all was running through your mind when this Val person left in the middle of the final hymn?  And do you think she’ll be back?”

 

May had had enough.  She answered hurriedly, “I don’t know if she’ll be back, Ma’am, and I suppose she was late for an appointment.”

 

Mrs. White said snidely, “With one of her clientele?” then she tittered, and all the other ladies followed suit.

 

May looked at the clock and feigned alarm.  “Ladies!  I’m actually late for an appointment myself!  Please do excuse me.”

 

You have an appointment?” Mrs. Kline raised an eyebrow.

 

May smiled.  “Yes, Ma’am, I do.” 

 

She didn’t tell Mrs. Kline that it wasn’t an existing appointment, but one she’d only just decided to make.  May dug in her purse for her car keys, found them and smiled politely at them all.  They stood, shocked and unmoving.  Only until May took a step forward did they begin to part like the Red Sea with each of her steps. 

 

May walked quickly to the side door and burst out into the sunshine.  She clutched her bible to her breast and ran to her car, got in and started the engine.  It had come to her that God had brought Val to her to effect this awakening in her.  She joyfully turned her car onto the main drag and headed toward the mall.  It was time for an extreme makeover.

 

Fin

 

 

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This fun little ditty, “May flowers,” was written with the Sunday Scribbling prompt “#197 – Extreme” in mind and is a spin-off from my story “The Salvation Skits,” that was published in the online literary journal, “disenthralled,” on January 1, 2010.  See Special #3 in “disenthralled” for the full story.  And click here for more on prompt #197 from other Sunday Scribblings participants.

 

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15 responses to “May flowers

  1. oh you sly thing you – I didn’t anticipate that at all. Well, the ladies were no surprise. I have met them and they scare me. Not that they can diminish me but that they can diminish the world, the Val’s, the May’s, until there is nothing but dark and the lingering fragrance of Ponds cold cream. Made me think of Sister Bertha Better-Than-Thou in the Ray Price song :)
    Go May – I’d give ya my credit card darlin!
    and you? It was worth the wait…

    • Dee, WTF are you doin’ up at this hour??? Hey, I’m glad you were, though, because I loved this comment! The Ponds cold cream bit and Sister Bertha Better-Than-Thou and “I’d give ya my credit card darlin!” gave me such a good laugh. And I needed it after this day! You go, Dee Darlin’ :-D

  2. Same thing happened to me as May, just about! I was sitting in the truck stop having a cup of joe when in comes this trucker dude down off his Peterbilt, orders a double plate of cheesy fries with a side of mayo. I was so impressed I called my plastic surgeon right away. I’m getting hip augmentation on Thursday. Aww I couldn’t help it It’s a fine story you got going there, Miss A, I wonder if your a PK?

  3. Excellent Missalister, this is an organic outgrowth of what has been latent in the skits all along. I always sensed May’s salvation was going to be brought to her not by any dogma or creed but by her sense of smell and all it engenders in her soul.

  4. A recurring theme around these here parts is that grace is a burglar, she steals in, breaks in, rocks us down out of all our thought we were…Freddie King sings it, and you play it well here. I love “Val’s female eternity”; I notice that you preface that gem with your “essence.”

    I know that there are plenty of the chittering birds about the parish halls of Amerika, but their chatter seemed a bit canned; that’s a lot of salvation for May to have to carry all by herself. Not that what they said wouldn’t have been said, but maybe not just only. There’s bound to have been some old bird’s old dowdy feathers preening in the grace of Val’s explosion, memory of past lives detonating in her body, too. I find this kind of unexpected grace a common enough occurrence, too.

    As you well know, there’s plenty of life left in the Skits. They ain’t finished yet, Flan. Good on ya.

  5. What you should do, Miss A, is write a novel using the service as a focal point, tracking the main characters immediately before and after to show how each has been affected.

    If you have a mind to.

    What would you recommend as a substitute for Ponds?

  6. This really is great Missalister please write more you are too modest.
    Thinking of Walter’s comment, I can see May going on a journey, the flush on her cheek glowing and a strange magical mad blossoming happening inside her all at once like some insane whirpool or bursting into life a rare plant that has now been fed with the very thing it needed for it has struggled out of a barren soil and in the background maybe a supernova imploding somewhere and her destination: standing at the Elizabeth Arden counter.

  7. Yes, love the title. I like how the Reverend Doctor adresses the congregation with may….may….may. Hammers home the focus. Miss May feeling the heat of Val’s love-furnace, hoooweee!! That shit is ON FI-YA! That there was the perfect set-up to what was still a surprise ending. I can’t wait to see the new May! Keep ‘um coming, Alicat!

  8. ALL
    I do hope no one’s miffed that I didn’t show up to the after-party, didn’t even show up to your places begging for coffee or beer or whatever you got. I’m wanting to, I’m working my way there, I swear… You see, I’ve been spending valuable time working to prevent a cosmic explosion that hostile countries might interpret as a nuclear strike and subsequently push their “red buttons.” Long story short: all is well…

    BASS
    Eww, gross!

    Christ…

    No, I’m not a PK, just microscopically observant : )

    LISA WRIGHTSTUFF
    “…keep trying to guess…” You would know, Lisa! I gave your SS#197 piece a quick look and you got me in that same regard.

    RICHARD GODWIN
    You are ever kind, Mr. Godwin. Paschal had a good point. There could have been more—and there might well be more forthcoming, since I hadn’t purposed to extend a view of May—but I was only needing to get back in the writing saddle, hence this small snapshot. I consider it “mission accomplished” and that’s all… So many missions accomplished this week!

    Truly, your mention of organic outgrowth and salvation by scent is bang on, to use your term ; )

    And you so closely nailed everything I had in mind for May—it was the Lancôme counter—that I’ll give it to you. You win, I win…the extent to which is not yet known, but I sense that it’s to-the-sun-and-moon-huge : )

    PASCHAL
    I know. Ain’t Grace great? But I gotta tell you, and you’re gonna love this, maybe roll on da flo’ laughin’ over it, but the words you picked out that caught your eye? They’re not mine. They’re a nod to Richard Godwin’s piece on A Twist of Noir, “Bloodshed and Roses,” used with permission of course. Paschal, you’ve got one hell of a nose for good writing and this confirms it. Saw Godwin’s work on “disenthralled” and been studying it ever since, hoping it’ll rub off on me. He’s gracious about being stalked, thank Grace.

    Now, on all the stuff I coulda done. Yeah, yeah, that nose of yours, I wouldn’t trade it for the world : ) And well, you know the saddle story now since I already s’plained it in my comment to Richard.

    Love that you love the title…that nose again : )

    WALTER
    I’m with you, man. Your advice is, always has been, golden. And I’ve a mind to. Trouble is, my mind was dethroned in a coup and now a monkey rules.

    And the monkey sez: Instead of Pond’s, I recommend a foaming, soul-baring cleanser to richly soften the ego and amplify the spirit.

    Me again: Don’t believe a fucking word the monkey sez…that was me talkin’ ’bout the spiritual stuff…

    MICHAEL O
    You once said I notice things in your posts that you didn’t see. May…may…may… Didn’t see it. You perceptive guy, you… You musicians, don’t miss a… Yeah. And I’m smiling, I hafta tell you. Because I also haven’t been in touch enough to see another thing you brought up: what in hell is May gonna look like next Sunday in church? Oh, sweet Jesus!

    Thanks for this shout, dear friend. You know what Mr. Harrison says (in so many words): if not for you, my head might still be up my arse ; )

    • You are one major mode of support these days, Q. Don’t get around much anymore. Goin’ thru a spell like you are. Trying to get my priorities set right. Seeing how Twitter goes. Wishing I had more time. But thoroughly glad you enjoyed this ditty. There will be more on May, I’m sure of it : )

    • We are two sorts, aren’t we? I have a stretch with your mode of expression, but surprise myself with the easy appreciation of it. And I’m glad you’ve appreciated this. Thanks for stopping by : )

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