Resurrection – 61Posted: December 5, 2016
This is a chapter of the book I am writing for NaNoWriMo. If you want to read it from the start, click here for the chapter index.
Treva Barnes arrived at the church at her normal 8:30am to prepare for the 9am pre-service. She was the organist and choir director and she was typically the first after J.W. to arrive. She was surprised the church wasn’t already unlocked, and was about to go over to the parsonage to raise J.W., when she saw Ben Garrison pull into the lot. “He’s early,” she thought to herself.
Ben came up the steps and pulled out the keys. “J.W. won’t be able to be here today,” Ben said stoically.
“Oh, is he sick?” Asked Treva.
“No, it’s nothing like that,” was all Garrison said, opening the door and letting Treva in ahead of him.
Treva wasn’t particularly fond of Garrison and didn’t push. He obviously didn’t want to talk.
As the worshippers filed into First United Methodist they couldn’t help but see the police cars blocking the street just a half a block up. The officers had wisely put up screens so no one could see Canada’s car nor his body, which was still waiting for the final release from the Laurel County Coroner.
People are by nature curious. As they came into the church, the ladies took seats and began asking each other if they had any idea what had happened. Most of the men stayed outside, talking and observing, having the same questions. A few of them smoked their last pre-service cigarette as they talked. In Kentucky it wasn’t uncommon for the church to have a butt disposal right by the church door and First UMC was no exception.
Ben Garrison climbed into the pulpit at 9am and the congregation at First UMC became quiet. It was the usual 80 or so parishioners, but he figured once word got out the crowd next week would be larger. “Good,” he thought, though he made sure his face stayed somber.
Office Harlan was Ben’s wife’s nephew, so once the interview with Reeves had ended, Harlan wasted no time calling Ben and filling him in. Ben knew Reeves was now implicated in at least three murders and the investigation was just beginning. According to Harlan, who speculated to Garrison despite the Chief’s warning to stay mum, that Reeves was having an affair with Polly Henderson and had killed her to cover it up. Somehow the body at Bonhollow was also his work, though they were not sure the tie-in there yet.
Garrison, despite how much he disliked Reeves, was dumbfounded that Reeves was a killer. Sure he was a little over-sympathetic with the poor and needy, spent too much time with them. Have an affair? Yeah, that didn’t surprise him either. The idea he might have killed three people seemed beyond Reeves, but then again preachers are an odd bunch.
Garrison cleared his throat, “I need to make an announcement. Reverend Reeves will not be with us this morning,” Garrison considered his words carefully, “I can tell you he has been arrested.”
Gasps could be heard throughout the congregants.
“Now this is a small town and you all know how quickly rumors spread. I am asking you, as Lay Leader, do not encourage rumor and speculation. This is a shock to all of us and all we can do is pray for Reverend Reeves, his wife and child and pray that God will make sure whatever has happened, the investigation will bring about justice.
“We trust our law enforcement and trust God will guide them through this investigation.
“I think the best course of action for us today, right now, is to take a moment to pray for Reverend Reeves and his family, then we will have a brief service with no sermon.
“I would ask that after the service, members of the Pastor Parish Relations Committee stay behind for a brief emergency meeting.
“Let’s all bow our heads and pray.” After an appropriate time of silence, he said “Amen.” and the congregation echoed.
Garrison turned and whispered to Treva, who was behind him at the organ, and she began playing “A Mighty Fortress is Our God”.
“Now let’s turn to number 149 in the Hymnal” said Garrison, leading the congregation in song.
The mood for the rest of the service was somber. Everyone wondered what had gone on, and they couldn’t wait for the offering to be completed so Garrison could pronounce the benediction so they could tap into the gossip network.
Garrison had played this well, and he congratulated himself. He had encouraged everyone to seek out whatever gossip they could find while appearing as if he encouraged just the opposite. Finally, whatever Reeves had or had not done, he was never again going to be their pastor.