Resurrection 73

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.

The Byrd Rule

The Byrd Rule is a senate rule allowing senators to block bills that would significantly increase the US budget deficit for a period longer than 10 years. In practice this means any legislation the GAO projects will have a negative impact on the deficit for longer than 10 years is going to get blocked by the senate.

George Bush was elected President in 2000 based, at least in part, on his promise to ease the tax burden on middle-class Americans. In 2001 he signed the first of two bills aimed to deliver on that promise and colloquially known as the “Bush Tax Cuts.” Due to the Byrd rule, these tax cuts expired in early 2010.

In response to public demand, Barack Obama reinstituted the cuts, with minor changes, at the end of 2010 with his “Tax Relief, Unemployment Insurance Reauthorization, and Job Creation Act,” extending them for an additional two years, then made a compromise bill permanent in 2012 with the “American Taxpayer Relief Act.”

Buried in the 1,500 legalise of the Bush cuts were changes to the inheritance tax provisions. These changes expired at the beginning of 2010 and were modified and reinstated again starting January 1, 2011 under Obama.

That left 2010 a particularly unique year where the inheritance tax no longer existed.

Jon Langston was a practical man. While inwardly grieving and unsure of himself contemplating his father’s rapidly approaching death, he still was conscious of the financial consequences. He met with his estate planner, Jeff Albertson, who was graduate of Harvard Law as well as a CPA, to find out how the estate would move forward after Dick’s death.

“Well, while none of us want to see Mr. Langston pass, if any person of means could choose the year of their death, this would be it” the Albertson said.

It was October 15 and Langston was pretty sure his father could not live out the year. He wasn’t sure he could live out the month. But Dick Langston was not to be underestimated. Jon had seen others do that many times before. He had a tenacity allowing him to often beat the odds. Jon mentally noted he might have to call Mr. Black into duty come December, if it came to it.

During their meeting, Langston felt the vibration of the second phone in his pocket. He didn’t bother to check who was calling.

“I need to take this,” he said to Albertson. “Give me the room.”

It was a command, not a request and Albertson felt a bristle of anger shoot through him. He showed no visible emotion as he rose from his desk and exited his office.

“Mr. Black,” Langston answered, trying to sound calm and authoritative. He was anxious. Tab Carter scared him, possibly more than the predicament he currently found himself in with the preacher.

“You need to get Reeves out on bail. Arraignment is this afternoon, Roy White is his attorney.”

Langston started, “Now just a minute….” but Black had already disconnected.

Langston gave himself a second to catch his breath and get his emotions under control. He returned his burner to his pocket, noticing the slight tremble in his hand. He exited the office and through the lobby, not sharing a glance or a word as he passed Albertson.

He climbed in his black Mercedes and pulled out his “legal” phone, telling Siri to call Jack Thorton’s private number.

“Mr. Langston, what can I do for you today?” Thornton had a measured, pleasant tone.

“Tell me how I can get Reeves out on bail today without anyone knowing it’s me.”

“Certainly, Jon. I already looked at the docket. He should be arraigned this afternoon on the charge of murdering a deputy. The bail could be up to $2 million, maybe more.”

“Shit.” That was a lot of money. Langston felt his was already spending far too much on this debacle and this was many times what he was willing to part with. He also didn’t have $2 million laying around he could just access unnoticed.

“Of course,” added Thornton, “if Reeves never made it to trial, any money you put up for bail would be returned to you by the court.”

Langston was processing how he could access that kind of money. He had about $250,000.00 in his secret “rainy day” fund, syphoned off slowly over the years. He was pretty sure Dick didn’t even know about it.

“I’m not sure I can come up with $2 million on short notice without drawing unwanted attention. Attention neither of us wants,” replied Langston.

“Well, he will probably be given cash or bond. You can do a $2 million bond for $200,000.00, but even if there is no trial, the bondsman will keep it for his fee. You’ll never see it again, no matter what.”

Well, fuck, thought Langston.

“Let me make some calls and see what I can put together quietly. I’ll call you back. His attorney is Roy White. Is he someone we can work with?”

“I don’t know him, but I checked up on him already. He’s a small town criminal attorney. Pleads out almost all of his cases. He hasn’t been in front of a jury this year. One thing about criminal attorneys, they are all a little bit criminal themselves. I’m sure we can get him to work with us.”

“What about the Judge? Can we get to him?”

“Judge White is up for reelection and this case is making state headlines, maybe national. We’ll have limited influence unless we give him something big.”

“OK, well Jack, play through the angles. I’ll call you back soon once I figure out how to put together some money.”

“Jon, we’ve got this. It’s all just details,” replied Thornton.

“We better” replied Langston, disconnecting.

Jon started the Mercedes and began the drive back to Langston Farms. He drove without thought through the beautiful hills and painted fall trees. His mind was processing how to put together the money he needed. When he arrived, he didn’t respond to Mary’s greeting and retreated to his office, closing the door behind him.

 


Voyeur IV

Warning: This is an erotic story and not for anyone under 18 nor those with a heart condition. You can see the chapter index here.

The pattern of Watcher’s seduction continued every few nights. Pam found herself longing for his 10pm texts. She wondered if on the nights he didn’t text if he were pleasuring, “watching,” some other woman. It made her jealous.

Watcher would tease her for an hour or more and Pam would pleadingly text “please let me come.” Often, when she did, he would tease her longer, not allowing her release until he chose the time and method.

Then after two weeks, the texts stopped. For ten days she heard nothing from Watcher.

“What’s wrong with you?” Emily asked across the table at Barney’s.

“Nothing…” lied Pam. Watcher made her feel young. Sexy. Desirable. The whole part of her she had put away when she got pregnant and married at 18, she now was experiencing with him.
“You’ve been so happy lately. Heck, it seems like Shae’s promotion didn’t even phase you. Now, tonight, you seem pretty down. Actually, you’ve seemed down for the last few days.” Emily was perceptive about her friend.

Pam didn’t know what to say, and couldn’t tell her about Watcher, but her emotions were close to the surface. “It’s just…well…I met someone and we’ve been texting and now he’s…disappeared.”

“I’m so happy to hear you’re trying to date! He’s probably just busy. You’re a catch, he’s not going to find anyone like you. Who is he? How did you meet? Dish, girl, dish.”

“We aren’t dating…we’re mostly, well, just texting.” Pam was trying to figure out what she could say and still appear she wasn’t being reckless with some ax murderer.

“‘Texting’, huh? You mean you’ve been sexting with some guy? That’s kinda hot.” Emily didn’t miss a beat.

“Well..I guess the texts are a bit sexual.” Pam wanted to change the subject before she got in any deeper. She looked down at the menu. “Do you want to order one entree and split it?”

That night she went to bed early, trying to put her mind at rest and stop thinking about Watcher. At precisely 10pm, her phone alerted.

“I want to see you.”

“Where have you been?” Pam typed. Thinking how out of control she was being. Watcher was obviously manipulating her.

“I want to see you.” Watcher repeated.

Pam was frustrated and angry, there was no way she was going to meet a man she had never spoken to, she didn’t even know his name. She did something she had never dared before. She clicked “Call” on his number.

The phone went to voicemail.

“I don’t want to talk to you, I want to see you.” Watcher replied.

“I am NOT going to meet you.” Pam was defiant.

“I don’t want to meet you, I want to see you.” Watcher clarified. “Go to the balcony.”

Pam’s house was in a lightly wooded area with a few more homes, all spaced a hundred yards apart or so, with the small patches of woods between. Outside her bedroom door a balcony overlooked her living room with a vaulted ceiling. The opposite wall was windows, looking out to a small wooded area with a neighboring house behind. The lower windows had blinds, but the upper windows were unshielded.

For the first time Pam realized any time she was on the balcony, like when she walked from her shower naked to her bedroom, anyone in the woods below could see her.

Had Watcher been there, seeing her? The thought both terrified and excited her.

“NO!” Pam texted back, realizing just how vulnerable she was.

Pam waited anxiously for Watcher to reply. She wasn’t sure if she wanted to tell him off or experience the pleasures again. She stayed up until midnight.

There was no reply.


Voyeur II

Warning: This is an erotic story and not for anyone under 18 nor those with a heart condition. You can see the chapter index here.

When she woke the next morning, Pam checked her phone once more to assure it was truly a wrong number. No new texts. She felt relief.

She dreaded going into work today. She knew she was a hot topic of conversation, and she wondered how people would view her situation. Would they see Shae as the conniving bitch or would they just assume “Reliable Pam” just wasn’t suited for the job?

She stood in front of her full length mirror after getting out of the shower, giving herself a pep talk.

“You look good. The 23 pounds you’ve lost have given you back your figure. Your breasts are firm. Two grown kids and you still look good.” She wanted to look young, desireable, to turn men’s heads again as she had when she was younger.

“Hell, I’m going to turn some heads today.”
She pulled out a pair of pants she had never worn. She was a size 10 now, but she had bought these in a fit of optimism and they were a size 8. They were snug and made her butt look good. She put on her push-up bra, the pretty one she had spent too much money on and rarely wore. She pulled on a sleeveless top she had worn a few times before, but always with a sweater and scarf. It was too low cut.

From the back of her closet she pulled out her black heels, normally reserved for holiday parties.

Once she fixed her hair and makeup, she apprised herself once more in the mirror. “Damn, I look good. Fuck the haters,” she said to the reflection.

As she walked from her car to the office, she saw two delivery men unloading paper supplies by the door. She managed to sway her hips a bit as she walked by and could see them watching her pass in the reflection of the glass door.

She smiled to herself.

All day she noticed the reactions of the men. More than one of her male coworkers looked at her cleavage before catching themselves and looking her in the eye. She still had it.

Work was still hard, the wondering what people were thinking, saying behind her back, but today she showed them. She was more than “Reliable Pam,” she was a sexy, smart, accomplished, young woman.

She was still feeling the sexual buzz from the day as she readied herself for bed. Just as she turned off the light, her phone buzzed a text.

“You looked sexy today.” It was the same number as the night before.

Pam was paralyzed. It wasn’t a wrong number. Was someone stalking her? As she tried to figure out a reply, another text: “I enjoyed watching you.”

Is this Em trying to boost my confidence? Is this someone else from work? One of the men? It was frightening and yet a little bit exciting.

“Who is this? You need to stop!”

“You wanted to be watched and wanted today. I watched you. I want you.”

“Emily, is this you? This isn’t funny.”

She called Emily.

“It’s late for you to be calling, what’s up?” Pam had the habit of being asleep by 9pm most nights. Emily sounded concerned.

“Have you been texting me?” Pam tried to sound calm.

“No, why, did you get a text from my number? I haven’t texted you since this morning. Maybe someone hacked my phone!” Emily had no understanding of technology and lived in a perpetual fear of being “hacked.”

“No, it’s not that…” Pam wasn’t sure she wanted to tell Emily what was going on. “It’s nothing, I just got a text from an unknown number and I thought it might have been you. Probably a wrong number. See you tomorrow.”

Pam disconnected.

“You can call me Watcher.” The text lit up in her hand.

“Watcher? Really? That’s the best you can do?” Pam still thought this must be a joke. She wasn’t going to show fear only to find it was some co-worker messing with her.

“It seems we’re both watchers. You have observed from a distance your whole life, now it is your turn to be observed, seen, appreciated, lusted after.”

“Who is this?” Pam wasn’t sure she wanted to know.

“I’ve told you.”

“I’m going to block you.”

“You can, but then you’ll never experience the pleasures I will lead you through.”

“I’m not responding. Goodbye. Don’t contact me again.”


Voyeur I

Warning: This is an erotic story and not for anyone under 18 nor those with a heart condition. You can see the chapter index here.

Pam Hardisty was at the end of a difficult day. When her friend Emily asked if she wanted to go out for dinner, she readily accepted. She pulled into the lot of Barney’s at 6:15 and struggled to find a parking space. She finally spied one at the far end of the lot and pulled in her Camry.

Emily was already at a table in the bar when Pam walked in.

“I need this tonight,” said Pam, sitting at the table.

“I’m sure you do,” replied Emily, “I can’t believe they gave Shae that promotion over you.”

Pam had been assistant comptroller for the last five years. At Earnest & Lowe for twelve. It was common knowledge she was promoted from “Tug” Lowe’s administrative assistant to assistant comptroller for her to “learn the ropes” and take over for him when he retired. While it wasn’t in stone, it was spoken of often. At least, in the first couple years.

Shae Reeder was brought on just two years out of college to be Tug’s new administrative assistant. She was competent enough, but she was young, and a bit flirty with the men. She enjoyed their attention. Her skirts we often too short, with high heels showing her young, fit legs.

It had been 10 years since Pam felt like she turned heads.

Pam had shown her how to do her job in her first months. She did well. She was smart, caught on quickly. Pam was willing to put up with Shae’s flirting as long as she did her job.

“I thought she was my friend, Em.”

Pam could see clearly now Shae’s plan stretched back years, maybe from the time she was hired. She excelled at everything Tug asked her to do. Then she became indispensable to Pam – helping her by often doing the heavy lifting when things became hectic. They both relied on her.

Pam would praise Shae to Tug, often commenting on how helpful and smart she was. She felt as if she were a mentor to the young girl.
All the while Shae was privately saying things to Tug about how overwhelming the job was for Pam, how she needed so much help.

Today, when Tug’s formal retirement was announced, along with his replacement, Shae got the job. Pam pretended to be happy as she willed back the tears.

Tug even reminded Pam of how much Shae would need her. “Shae will rely on you, just like I did, Pam. You guys will make a great team.”

“Reliable Pam,” that’s what people thought of her. Not smart, not pretty, not a leader, just “reliable.”

And Shae was young. Fifteen years younger than Pam.

“She is a snake,” replied Emily. Taking a sip of her wine.

“I don’t want to talk about it.” Monday Shae would be her boss.

“What can I get you?” the waiter had popped up without Pam noticing.

“I think I’ll start out with a martini, extra dirty,” answered Pam.

“Like a Catholic school girl” mouthed Emily, it was their joke.

“Another glass of wine, ma’am?”

“Actually, yes,” Emily replied. This was a good night to get buzzed with a hurting friend.

As Emily and Pam talked, they noticed a young couple, probably in their 20’s, at a booth in the corner. They sat close to each other, making out as if no one else were in the bar.

“That looks like fun,” remarked Emily, nodding to the couple.

“God, I haven’t been kissed like that in years,” said Pam, remembering her youth and feeling a longing she had dismissed. “I don’t miss being married, and I don’t want a relationship, but I could go for a good ‘workout’.”

When their waiter brought their meal, they were both buzzed. Pam took time to apprise him with her eyes, taking in his large arms, muscular build, strong jawline. When he walked away she didn’t mind staring at his round, firm butt.

“I could use some of that,” she remarked, only loud enough to for Emily to hear.

“You know, the first step is probably going on some dates, Pam.”

“Like I said, no relationship, Em. That’s where things get messy. I’m not good at relationships. I just want a roll in the hay on occasion.”

“How long has it been?” asked Emily. “It’s been over a year for me. I could use it.”

“Well,” Pam did the math out loud. “Two years since the divorce and then we didn’t actually have sex for the last five, so seven years or so.”

“Sista, that’s too long. We need to take a trip and go make out with some boys.”

It was almost 10pm by the time Pam walked Emily to her minivan and then made the long walk to her own car. As she sat down in the seat, she thought about the waiter, making a mental note to think about him again, later.

She placed her key in the ignition, then something caught her eye. In this deserted end of the parking lot she noticed an SUV. She could see somewhat clearly inside. The young couple from the bar were in the back, she could see the woman moving rhythmically up and down, while his hands hungrily fondled her breasts and flowed over her body.

Pam was transfixed.

Between the martinis, the talk, the waiter and the couple, her libido was in overdrive. Watching them, she began to rub herself through the thin fabric of her pants. As their thrusts became more intense, she undid her pants and slipped her fingers beneath her panties. She imagined being the woman, riding the waiter, feeling him hard inside her while his hands, lips and tongue worked over her body and breasts.

She moved her hand faster as they did, matching their movements.

When she came, she writhed involuntarily, crying out in pleasure. Once her pulsing had died down and she was able to move again, she hurriedly collected herself, wondering if the couple had heard her. It was the best orgasm in years.

When she got home, she dropped her things in the entryway and stripped before heading up to the bedroom. Just as she was plugging in her phone on the nightstand a text alerted.

“I saw you.” was all it said.

A shot of anxiety cleared any liquor blur Pam was feeling. Saw me? Someone was in the parking lot watching me? Oh, hell. She checked the number. (865) 555-9384. Not in her contacts and she didn’t recognize it.

Must be a wrong number and a weird coincidence, Pam consoled herself.

“You must have the wrong number,” typed Pam.

After five minutes with no reply, she assured herself it was most definitely a wrong number. She thought about the waiter and the couple once more before drifting off to sleep.


Resurrection 70

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.

The Weight

J.W. stayed doubled over for what seemed to Ray White an eternity. Ray was not a particularly empathetic guy, years practicing law had beaten that out of him, but he felt for J.W. He went over and grabbed the trashcan and placed it at J.W.’s feet.

J.W. had stopped retching now and just sat immobile, his torso folded against his thighs, his arms hugging his lower legs. Ray sat back down, also silent. Despite Ray’s newfound empathy, he had no words.

After a few minutes, J.W. sat back up. He didn’t look at Ray, he didn’t seem to be looking at anything, he just stared off into space.

Over the years as a criminal attorney, Ray had seen clients break down, cry, scream their innocence. This was different. J.W.’s mind was just not there. The shock of so much, so quickly, had left him completely stunned. Uncharacteristically, Ray just waited in silence, hoping for J.W. to come back from wherever he was and rejoin him.

When Ray could stand the silence no longer, he said, “J.W.? You OK?”

J.W.’s mind was processing but couldn’t seem to pull all the pieces together. This past week had been unbelievable. He wanted to pray, even in his mind, but he couldn’t mentally form the words. He sat there in shock, not hearing Ray.

Finally, Ray slammed his hand to the metal table. “J.W.! Snap out of it!”

J.W. turned to look at Ray, his eyes blank. “J.W., you gotta snap out of this. Are you OK?”

“No” J.W. replied.

“Look, you have to snap out of this. You don’t want to let them think you’re suicidal, they’ll put you in the hole, and that’s a lot worse than any of this.”

“The Hole” was a single cell in the White County Jail. It was normally used for prisoner discipline and had a toilet/sink combination bolted to the wall, a cot and nothing else. It had a solid metal door with two slots, each with a sliding metal shutter. One was at eye level and one was used to uncuff, cuff prisoners and pass them their food. There was no light so once you were in there and the shutters were closed, you were forced into darkness. Prisoners were placed in there for 23 out of every 24 hours.

When a prisoner was deemed a suicide risk, the law stated they had to be placed into a room where they could not harm themselves. In White County, the hole became that room. The COs would unbolt and remove the cot. The prisoner was stripped down to his underwear and placed in the cell with no blanket he could use to hang himself.

More often than not, when the COs wanted to punish a prisoner they didn’t like but who had not committed an infraction, they would “observe” him engaging in suicidal ideation, note so on his file, then throw him in the hole. “For his protection” they would say.

J.W. appeared broken already, thought Ray, and putting him in the hole would just make it worse.

“J.W. I need to talk to you about this case and what is going to happen. Can you communicate with me?” Ray wasn’t sure he could.

J.W. pulled his mind back from the brink and replied, “yes, I mean, yes, I think I can. I don’t understand any of this.”

“Well it is a shock. I want you to know we’re going to do all we can to make this as easy as possible. I need to talk you through what will be happening to you over the next day.”

“I need you to get me out of here.” J.W.’s eyes were pleading. It took all of his will to not scream.

“We’re going to see about getting that done. Let me tell you what’s going to happen. You’ll be arraigned tomorrow afternoon….”

J.W. interrupted, “You can’t get me out of here tonight?”

“I’m sorry, but it doesn’t work that way. Judge White will do arraignments and motions tomorrow at 1pm, that’s the earliest you can get before a judge.” Ray had become used to referring to his brother as “Judge” having done so for many years now.

“So far you’re only being charged with one murder, Officer Canada, but you’ll likely be charged with two more tomorrow. I will be speaking to the Commonwealth Attorney in the morning.”

“They can’t believe I killed anyone.” Replied J.W. flatly. The fight had gone out of him.

“Look, I’m sure you didn’t. But Chief Dalton seems to think you did and we won’t see the evidence until discovery. Tomorrow at the arraignment I will file a motion with the court to show ‘probable cause’ which will, if the Judge grants it, force the police to show they had probable cause to arrest you.”

“So it could get, what, dismissed tomorrow?”

“Technically, yes, but I wouldn’t hold your breath. There is a police officer dead and it’s unlikely you will get out that easily.” Ray failed to mention his brother was facing reelection and that meant more to Judge White than justice.

“It might tell us whether they have any real evidence though. By now they’ve searched your house and turned up anything they can. Is there any reason they would find a weapon or other incriminating evidence in your home?”

“Over the years I’ve shot many guns, but I don’t own any. I can’t imagine anything in the parsonage being a problem.”

“Good. That’s good. Did they swab your hands when they brought you in?”

“No, they didn’t. It all seemed so fast. I was just talking to the chief and the next thing I knew he was arresting me for murder.”

“OK, I will ask the court to check your clothes for gunshot residue. The prosecution will want to explain it away, but it can’t hurt.”

“Now, let me walk you through your arraignment…” Ray then talked through the steps J.W. would go through Monday afternoon.

When he finished, he got up to leave.

“Please, don’t go.” J.W.’s eyes were pleading.

Ray placed his hand on J.W.’s shoulder and leaned down close to his face. “You’ll be okay, we’ll get you through this. Pray, meditate or whatever you can do. The next day will be hard, but you’ll make it.”

Ray walked to the door, called for the guard and he was gone.

 


Resurrection 69

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.

The Most Reverend Harry Reynolds

Bishop Harry Reynolds had grow up in Burlington, Vermont. He attended Asbury in the 70s and had been placed in a key church in Lexington upon his own ordination. His goal had been, from the start, not to be a pastor, but to be Bishop. After 35 years working his way from Associate Pastor, to Pastor, to District Superintendent, he finally achieved his goal.

Rev. Reynolds was a large man with a small heart. He knew how to use people for his own ends and did so deftly. It often took one of his victims years to find they were pawns all along. Being in “ministry” gave him ample opportunity to find the naive who were innocent enough not to question his motives.

“Aggie,” barked Reynolds from the doorway, his 6’2″ 300 pound frame filling the space.

In the United Methodist church, newly ordained ministers in Kentucky are typically assigned to one of two career tracks, though they are never referred to by that term formally. The Bishop and District Superintendents would each take time to meet those to be ordained, supposedly a spiritual examination, but in reality it was more of a personality quiz.

Those initial meetings would give the leaders a good idea of who was fit for the Leadership Track or the Chaplain Track.

If a candidate showed great people skills, spoke well, was intelligent and ambitious, they were selected for the Leadership Track. If a candidate was slower, possibly having poor people skills, he would be subjugated to the Chaplain track.

The chaplain track meant a new minister would be sent to a smaller, rural congregation where he could do baptisms, confirmation classes, weddings, funerals and visit the sick. If one were placed on the chaplain track it meant they put you where you could do the least damage. Chaplains were not “spiritual leaders.”

For those on the “Leadership Track,” there was a different procedure. After seminary, those pastors would be moved into an Associate Pastor position at a larger church. The place the District Superintendent and Bishop agreed new pastors would “learn the ropes” under a successful Senior Pastor.

When it came to J.W., they saw he was an intelligent, driven young man. A man who himself would make a good replacement at a large church for a retiring senior. They had his career all mapped out for him. He was young, good looking, great family, great personal skills and they knew any church he pastored would grow.

They assigned him to Christ United Methodist in Lexington. The Senior Pastor, Walt Campbell, was due to retire in six years. Walt was a dynamic speaker and well known for his humorous stories. Not only had the church swollen during his 20 year tenure, with two large building expansions as well, they had started televising the services and he was now well known all over the state as “Kentucky’s Pastor.”

Replacing him would mean finding the right candidate and giving him several years to become a part of the community, learn to speak well, get to know the congregation. J.W. and his young wife would be welcomed and in just a few years would certainly be a wonderful replacement for Walt.

Once the assignments were made, the group of newly ordained ministers, the District Superintendents and the Bishop would then gather together for a day of prayer and fasting over the assignments. This traditional time was meant to confirm in their own hearts the decisions they made were consistent with the leading for the Holy Spirit.

Reynolds thought the tradition a bit dated and trusted more in his own plans than a “move of the Spirit,” but he paid it lip service nonetheless.

J.W. fasted and prayed over his assignment, as did the other newly ordained pastors. During that 24 hours, he became more and more convinced he wanted to work with the poor, the needy, the people he had seen struggling just to survive in White County. He was reminded of John 14:12 where just before his crucifixion Jesus said:

“…whoever believes in me will do the works I have been doing…”

Christ UMC was the path for J.W. to become an “executive pastor.” Someone who primarily prepares sermons, leads the church through example as well as administration. A  public face for a large church. Executive pastors, J.W. knew, weren’t too involved with the individuals. They weren’t out touching the poor one to one. They weren’t involved in the messy lives of the needy. Those tasks were left to associate pastors and paid staff beneath him.

J.W. wanted to do the things Jesus had done, not run a television ministry. He felt a call, much like he had at the Student Union those years ago, to go to a small church. A church where he could do the things Jesus did.

When the day of fasting and prayer was over, each ordinant had a private meeting with all the district superintendents as well as the Bishop. Typically this was more of a “rubber stamp” where the ordinant simply came in and confirmed the decisions already made.

When it came time for J.W. to meet, he was completely convinced Christ UMC is not where the Holy Spirit was leading him.

His voice trembled a bit as he explained. “I believe God is calling me to a smaller, rural church.”

Reynolds was the first to speak. He had experienced this before, a young pastor, maybe lacking confidence, being fearful of going to a “prime” church.

“Now J.W., we believe you can do incredible ministry at Christ. The Lord needs you there.” It was somewhat interesting how Reynold’s desires and God’s always seemed to be the same.

“With all due respect Bishop Reynolds, I know I ‘can’ do good things for the Lord there, but there are many who are willing and able to go to an established church like that and make a difference. I want to go to a place where I can truly work with the people. Get my hands dirty. Do the things, deal with the people, that Jesus did. The poor, the needy. Not everyone is willing to throw themselves into that kind of work.”

Reynolds didn’t feel respected. Who did this young kid think he was speaking to? The men around this table had over 100 years of combined experience. They were Godly men who made this decision. Who was he to question their judgment?

Before the Bishop could answer, DS Carl Willcox, D.Min. spoke up. “We don’t want to hide you under a bushel, J.W. We believe you have tremendous potential for the Lord and that’s the reason we want to send you to Christ.”

Willcox would be J.W.’s DS.

“I don’t know how much potential I have, or don’t have. But sir, if you’re correct, shouldn’t those with the greatest need receive the best possible care?” J.W. was rapidly painting himself into a corner.

Reynolds had enough of this insolence. He seethed inside, though through years of practice he had learned to hide that fact. He spoke in measured tones. “You believe so strongly you need to be at a small rural church you’re willing to stake your ministry career on it? We only want the best for you and for your wife as well as for the church.”

It was a threat not lost on J.W. nor the other district superintendents. Most of the DSs have experienced Reynolds threats before. They may fear God, but many feared Reynolds more.

“I do, Bishop.”

“Fine,” Reynolds responded, “you’re from Silerville and Silerville First is open. we were going to send Harrington, but we can shuffle things around. Be blessed in your ministry there.”

Reynolds managed to say the last without sounding sarcastic, though he certainly was. Sending J.W. to his home town meant he would likely fail. “No prophet has honor.” He would be seen as the kid who grew up there by the older members and as the kid they went to school with by the younger. They would never treat him as a spiritual leader.

Reynolds decided in that moment he would do whatever he could to see J.W. fail.


Resurrection 68

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.

Inez

Early Monday morning, Chief Dalton set out, subpoena in hand, for the Baptist Children’s Home main office in London. He retrieved copies of all the adoption documents then went to the Shoney’s to see what he could find out about J.W.’s mother.

Her name was Romona Farmer, he read, and she had twin boys when she was just 16, no father listed.

As he read, he talked to his coffee.

“Twins, that’s what I thought.”

“Kept one. Need to find out what the name is.”

“Wonder if she still lives in Inez.”

He dialed his cell, calling the White County Clerk.

“Vicky, this is the Chief. Can you look up a DMV record for me? I’m looking for…” and he rattled off Romona’s details.

Vicky called it up from the Commonwealth database, giving the chief her current address and car registration.

“Thanks, Vicky. Tell your mother ‘hey’ for me.” Vicky’s mother and Dalton had gone to school together.

“I will Chief.”

Dalton disconnected, finished his coffee, gathered his papers and set out on the two hour drive to Inez.

Inez, Kentucky has been through many incarnations over the last 200 years.

James Ward first explored the fertile, wooded area surrounding Rockcastle Creek, making it his home, in 1810.* In the 19th century the valleys carved by the snaking waters of the Eastern Kentucky hills were called “bottoms,” so Ward decided the name the area Arminta Ward’s Bottom, as a joke poked at his, Arminta.

In the 19th century Martin County had few opportunities. The land was rugged and roads, if one could call them that, were sparse. The nearby Tug Fork, leading to the Big Sandy River could take supplies and out, otherwise there was isolation. The people survived by ringing every last measure of food from the rocky soil, raising hogs and using the common coal outcrops as fuel for heat and cooking.

In the mid 1800s John Warfield established the Warfield Salt Works and began mining the salt from the limestone caves surrounding the area. He also began to market the plentiful coal in the area, mining it and moving it down the Tug and Big Sandy. He eventually renamed the business the Warfield Salt and Coal Works.

The civil war ended Warfield’s ambitions as well as his Salt and Coal Works.

In 1873, the area around Arminta Ward’s Bottom was added to the newly created Martin County. Because it is a beautiful, lush valley, it was renamed on the occasion Eden, Kentucky until a year later when the postmaster found an Eden, Kentucky post office already existed. He changed the name to Inez after Inez Frank, the daughter of the postmaster of Louisa, Kentucky. He hoped to marry her and what better way to woo his love than to name the city after her.

While coal mining brought jobs over the years, they were subsistence jobs in mining camps where the men worked hard in the dark, risking their lives, to survive.

Poverty was always a heavy millstone around the neck of the people of Martin County. The area was always rugged and isolated, survival difficult. The poverty there is so extreme Lyndon Johnson used Inez as the visual representation of poverty in Appalachia, visiting Inez in 1964 to launch his “War on Poverty.” At the time 60 percent of the residents lived far below the poverty level.

Today Inez “boasts” less than 500 residents. Most of the available jobs were in coal, natural gas or oil. Some work at the Big Sandy Corrections Center just outside the town. Still about a third of the population still simply subsists.

People who grew up in the ease of the middle class have trouble understanding the way people who have lived in poverty their whole lives think. Outwardly, they are exactly the same as those who have never experienced it. Internally, they are far different.

Hardship is accepted as the norm. They have all experienced hunger. They have all experienced an illness they did not have the resources to care for adequately. Every day the minor inconveniences easily dealt with by those of greater means often meant temporary or even permanent disaster. An unusually high electric bill, a car repair, a case of the flu could jeopardize the financial house of cards they live in daily.

The constant fear means vigilance. Looking for both opportunity and threat.

This is where Romona Farmer was raised. Threats were everywhere. Opportunities were sparse. When she saw Chief Dalton’s Explorer drive up to her trailer, her heart jumped.

Dalton approached the trailer. The skirt was missing over half of it’s length. The sidings were covered with the dirt from years of neglect. As he climbed the wooden steps to the door, he felt as if they might give way.

When she heard Dalton’s knock, she almost didn’t answer. Romona did an inventory of the petty crimes she might have committed, wondering if there might be an arrest warrant out there someplace and this policeman was here to collect.

But it could also be about Ricky.

She willed herself to the door.

“Can I he’p you?” She asked, leaving Dalton on the porch.

“Are you Romona Farmer?” Dalton asked with some authority. He had found being commanding was almost always the best choice.

“Yes, I am. What’s this about?”

“Ma’am, can I come in please? I need to ask you some questions.” Dalton didn’t intend to tell her about the body yet, too soon to even know if it was her son.

Romona let him in and offered him a seat on the couch. At one time it had been a light brown, but now the armrests were black and the tops of the rear cushions were the same. The trailer had the stale smell of cigarettes and mold. He was sure the roof leaked.

“Mind if I smoke?” asked Dalton, hoping the smell would be overcome.

“Sure,” said Romona, pushing a butt filled ashtray he direction. “Can I get one too?”

Dalton handed her a cigarette.

“Ms. Farmer…” Dalton began.

“You can call me ‘Ro’, everyone does.”

“OK, ‘Ro,’ I’m from Silerville and I’m investigating some occurrences there. In my investigation I came across some information. Is it correct that you gave up a child for adoption?”

Romona’s eyes began to tear. “Yes, yes I did. I’m so sorry.”

Dalton ignored her emotion.

“Do you know what became of that child?”

“No,” she lied, “I have no idea.” Romona, despite her flaws, was a convincing liar.

“And it’s my understanding you kept one of the twins, is that correct?”

“Yes, my Ricky. He’s my pride and joy. Mamaw Eddie wanted me to give him up as well, but I kept him.”

“I see, and where is Ricky now? Do you know?”

“He’s got hisself a girl and they lives over at Cabin Creek. I don’t know if they’s home, though. I ain’t heard from them in a week. That’s not unusual or nothin’, we isn’t close like we was.”

“Ro, now I need to ask you a difficult question.” Romona stiffened. “The birth certificate doesn’t mention the father’s name. Do you know who the father was?”

Romona’s eyes became a flood and her chin puckered and quivered. Dalton took that as a yes.

“I need to find him, it’s important. I need you to tell me his name.”

“I guess it ain’t matter now,” replied Romona, trying to talk through her tears, “he ain’t got a wife or youngun any more. He’s an important man, and all those years ago having babies with me, well, would have ruined his life.”

“Who is he, Romona?”

“His name is Richard Langston.”

 


* Kentucky’s Last Frontier, Henry P. Scalf, 1966, p. 142ff