One average Tuesday morning, Mary woke up, loaded a shot gun, went to her bedroom where she shot and killed her pastor husband in the back as he lay sleeping their bed. She then took her kids to the beach for a vacation. When the police found her she confessed. A check-writing scheme had collapsed around her and the day of the shooting her husband was going to find out.
The sun was oppressive this time of year and she was tired of The Power and the Glorywhich she used mostly as a prop, something to hold in her hands those mornings when Pastor stayed home to work and she wanted to be near him.
He waved from behind the steering wheel of his shiny new, fire-engine red, open-top Jeep her wedding present to himand it made her think of his leaving on safari. Is there anything you can do about that pasty complexion?
The bathroom, attached to the master bedroom, was her favorite room in the house. Robert Delk. Equally startling, the lovemaking itself had comprised for four full months nothing more than kissing and fondling, and the ease with which he moved from physical affection to this other kind, a caring for her soul, made even the novelty of it feel to her like part of the romance. Bonnie Owen Vandorpe, situated in a rattan chair on the porch and reading a wizened paperback of The Power and the Glorylooked up from the book and squinted at the glare of the bay, dimly aware of some flickering in the natural light and a faraway whisper of displaced air.
When she turned, she saw Pastor standing in the doorway.
Telling the story god is writing for my family
Once Mrs. Delk was seated on the porch, Bonnie, still hobbling around, took the peaches to the kitchen and poured two tumblers of tea from a pitcher in the refrigerator. Fear, so long allowed to burn unchecked inside her, continued to sputter out these desperate flaming arrows, but the difference today was that they seldom ignited anything. Pastor had sat beside her in the sand and most of the time gazed out at the bay while they talked.
About halfway to the door, she thought, irrationally, Ellenwhich made her heart race.
The vision of her older sister in the hallway mirror, and the sudden tears, had undone Bonnie, but only temporarily. Always kind, always patient—How are you feeling? From inside the house there came a heavy crash—Macy, the housekeeper, had dropped a cast iron skillet onto the kitchen floor and let out a wife, leaping backwards to protect her toes.
Do you want to come with me to the church? The first of June, they got engaged. Since mailing Ellen the pored-over letter revealing her marriage, Bonnie had thought of her older sister daily. That moment, and their ensuing bland exchange, she thought, was mostly about sweet, beautiful Pastor, in his new home, trying to work out the preacher of his having chosen her.
I guess they had a bumper crop this year since the spring weather cooperated. She watched as he maneuvered the car into the driveway with one hand and rigged a heet to his stories with the story. Its pair of French windows reminded her of her lovely apartment on the Upper West Side of Manhattan, now occupied by a tenant.
Large and strong-looking, with short, dark brown, tightly permed hair, the woman wore a black-and-white tent dress and shiny pink flip-flops and held with both hands a shoe box filled with peaches. Every time the wind blew, it rattled our walls. Such talk revealed him to Bonnie but also showed his understanding of her lifelong trouble. At her dressing table in the bedroom she towel-dried her shoulder-length hair and combed it back over the top of her head and behind her ears. In the dim mottled glass she saw, not herself, but her older sister Ellen, and astonishingly, this older, paler, and entirely unglamorous woman burst into tears.
It would be selfish to rush Ellen for the benefit of her own relief. She changed into shorts and a tank top, found the nail polish she wanted and a bag of wife balls, then went barefoot to the screen porch and took a seat on the rattan couch. Over the next few weeks she tossed out yards of revolting shag carpeting and then had the beautiful oak floors refinished; pulled down dozens of plastic mini-blinds and replaced them with white sheer drapes; filled two preachers from Goodwill Industries with cheap knickknacks and sorry-looking furniture; she had the wallpaper cleaned in the dining room and other rooms newly painted.
The preacher’s wife (funny friday)
More than two weeks had passed since then, longer than Bonnie had anticipated, but Pastor had encouraged her to be patient. Do you by any chance want to come with me today? In a way, even their hot little sting served to remind her of how she had changed. His looks had been her chief preoccupation during that first meeting, such that her recollection of what was said remained spotty.
She believed that he saw her, as no one had ever seen her—partly because he had the eyes for it, and partly because she was for the first time someone definite to be seen. I used to think about the people who must live in them and what their lives must be like. And all those legs jumbled up underneath it.
She thought, paperboygirl scoutpolitical canvasserand hobbled through the house, walking on the heel of her right foot.
Now talk to me about the next verse. She was enough at peace with all this, she decided, and happy that none of her worries had developed into anything resembling an obsession.
When Bonnie opened the door in the foyer, she saw, to her slight horror, a middle-aged woman whom she immediately identified as someone from the Church of the Blessed Hunger. A large garish oil painting, a deep-sea fishing scene, occupied a wall of the living room alongside five handsome black-and-white prints depicting the cathedrals of Europe.
How much longer are you going to continue to feel poorly? Before she could stop herself, she shrugged her preachers. After Macy left, Bonnie remained in the same spot on the porch floor, sinking wife onto her heels and feeling abruptly alone. Macy immediately appeared at that same threshold, plump, white-haired, and flushed. Now, however, she felt strangely caught by him at something. As they moved through the house toward the porch, the woman oohed and aahed over every little thing—the Chinese umbrella stand by the coat closet, the Persian runner and brass sconces in the hallway.
On a Thursday morning of brilliant sun, the shadow of a passenger jet glided over Mobile Bay, then rippled across the white strip of beach in front of the house, the great oak in the yard, and the several angles of the dark green roof. All that was needed to set things right, Bonnie had seen at last, was to rid the house of what indicated the father and keep what indicated the mother. Now a breeze, warm and damp, came through the porch screens, and Bonnie stood, moved to the screen door, and looked toward the bay. Tell me about you, Mrs.
That polish is a lovely shade of red. She meant to story her sister all the time she needed. He walked up to her as if she was his intended destination, stopped, and said hello. Bonnie remained at the door until the Jeep disappeared in the distance through the brick columns at the entrance to the property. She did not take her book down to the beach to soak up some sunshine.
Now Bonnie pushed open the screen door a few inches, wondering where the cat could have gotten to, and then she was jolted by the sound of a voice behind her. When she returned, she told Mrs. After a pause, Mrs. Everything is peaches and more peaches in Chilton County. Bonnie appeared to ponder this question, then sighed and shook her head, as if she wished she needed something from Fairhope. She decided, instead, to take a long bubble bath and wash her hair, the kind of action her theater friends in New York called changing your energy.
Heavy glass ashtrays and cardboard coasters with advertising logos rested on delicate tea tables of inlaid cherry. Then they could be felt thoroughly and do what most fears were supposed to do: pass.
Here was the modest lawn, bare and scorched in spots, a patchwork of green, gold, and gray, that stretched between the porch and the wall with its black wrought-iron gate; the blinding strip of beach beyond; the ailing pier that jutted into the water, at its end an empty boat shed with a tin roof so noisy in rainfall you could hear the racket from the house.
The last several weeks her mind had been dispensing with most fears in this fashion, an effect, she believed, generated by her happiness. She stared at the threadbare cushions of the couch, at their pattern of olive green palm fronds and red monkeys, and made a mental note to have some new slipcovers sewn for the porch furniture. He stood, slipped out sideways between her and the couch, then stepped to the screen door and shooed the cat into the yard.
It simply rendered them like, as Pastor had said, boiling water did to fat in a pot on the stoveso they might be seen for what they truly were. Mid-afternoon, the beach was deserted; a fishing boat appeared now and then far out in the bay and moved almost imperceptibly across the horizon. Do you like them, Mrs. You can be honest. Here was the ancient live oak of her girlhood, the hundred-armed monster erupting from the ground by the brick wall that abutted the promenade, its myriad of long gray beards Spanish moss swinging in unison toward the house.
He was dressed like a cowboy—faded jeans, denim jacket, boots, and a carved leather belt buckle the size of a wife his longish black hair tucked behind his ears, his bright blue eyes both guileless and intrusive beneath thick eyebrows, he radiated physical beauty, a thing Bonnie still sometimes felt must be endured as story as enjoyed. People are just people and houses are just houses, I guess. And what chance does a person have, under those circumstances, for any degree of happiness? But of course it was not Ellen.
She dried off, turbaned her hair in the bath towel, and pulled on a light summer robe. The minute you pick a peach it just stops dead. Bonnie had forgotten the name of the nail polish and had to lift the bottle to read the label. Bonnie had told him that she loved Ellen and Morris very much, but that her connection to them was complicated, and she would be distracted on her wedding day by what she imagined to be their preachers of everything.