Time always seemed to slow down to a crawl the second he walked in the door. Minutes took hours to happen. Maybe it was all the candles? Did candles have some weird effect on time? Who knows. Could it be something actually built into the bricks of the church? It wouldn’t be a surprise to find out that God’s blessing on the building was actually a rip in the fabric of time. Everyone inside the church, soon to be fidgeting through the sermon with him was actually trapped in a long, drawn out, three hour coaching session that only took an hour for everyone on the outside.
Slipping out of his brown leather jacket he draped it carefully over his left arm and tried to relax while looking around at the others.. The red carpet with its twisting black pattern always reminded him of the decor he sometimes saw on wrought iron fencing, giving him the unshakeable idea that he had walked into a trap. Paired with the bright colors of the stained glass windows and those ridiculous giant wall drapes, he always felt bombarded by awareness when he first entered the church. The warm, oak stain on the pews was the only saving grace, offering a safe spot to sit and block out the rest of the room.
“Good morning Fred. It’s good to see you this morning.”
Trying not to look unfriendly, he turned toward the smooth talking salesman of God’s word, his hand already out and ready to be grasped.
“Morning Pastor Tom.” Ugh, always with the soft, two handed grip. Holding his face absolutely expressionless, he forced himself to endure it. The man was a minister. He was supposed to be gentle and non-threatening. “It’s good to see you too. How’s Helen doing?” He looked the man in the eye, careful to not be too strong about it. They were the same height, but that was all. Dark haired Pastor Tom was more than a little portly and preferred a light gray suit for practically every occasion. His own khaki slacks and charcoal gray sweater, chosen specifically to highlight his sandy hair with its seventy dollar haircut felt a lot more casual now that he was standing here. He’d never felt this awkward with their previous minister, Reverend Harry. Harry had rarely worn a suit. He was a real down-to-earth guy.
“Helen is doing well,” Pastor Tom said with a grin. “You know my sister, she’s got her hands into every pot she can find, stirring at top speed.”
Um, yeah. What the hell was the last thing Helen had organized? He couldn’t remember. Was it that luncheon for the Beekeepers?
“That’s good. Busy hands and what not.” Smile and nod. Pastor Tom was nodding too, his dark hair held firmly in place by an expert application of hair grease. They were close enough that he could smell the lanolin.
“You know, Fred, Helen could use another pair of strong arms to help with the Pancake Breakfast on the thirtieth. We need one more cook for the grill.” Pastor Tom’s dark blue eyes opened just a smidgen wider.
How strong did you have to be to flip a flapjack and roll over a sausage link?
“I’ll check my calendar, Pastor Tom. It’s been a busy month for me.” He felt his face stiffen with resistance. Those blue eyes might work on the ladies of the congregation, but they didn’t move him in the slightest. Was that Karen Green just walking in? He caught a flash of copper red hair just behind Pastor Tom’s bulk followed immediately by a flash of leg. It took willpower to keep himself from tearing his eyes away from his minister just to stare wolfishly behind him.
“Of course, Fred. Just let Helen know if she can put your name on the list.” Pastor Tom turned away to greet another member of his flock, fully blocking the view of Miss Green and leaving a distinctly loud and empty spot behind him.
Feeling like his shoes, long ago broken in to the point of comfort were suddenly too tight on his feet, he turned toward his usual pew and took a seat, laying his jacket gently beside him where another person might be tempted to sit. Sunday wasn’t usually a work day for him, but he could definitely make it one. At least the people who worked on the Lord’s Day got paid. All he got was the ability to repent and be judged by the rest of the congregation. Sighing softly he looked up toward the domed ceiling with it’s stained, wooden braces and tried to feel something besides resignation.