Saturday, November 13, 2010
Milton Hollinsworth’s best friend Puddles went missing earlier in the afternoon after a good swatting with Cloverdale’s Weekly Newspaper, The Confederacy Times. Puddles, keeping true to his name, did what Puddles does best - he wet on Lady Hollinsworth's white parlor room carpet.
Milton heard Puddles’ yelps from his bedroom, followed by the maid’s swearing in Spanish. He jumped off his bed and raced down the stairs to save his dog but it was too late. Puddles was out the front door and down the street.
Lady Hollinsworth was visibly upset as she stood over the maid.
“Scrub harder,” she said sternly. Rosa, the family housekeeper, was on her hands and knees doing her best to restore the carpet to its pre Puddles state.
“Just look at how my hands are shaking. That dog upset’s me so.” Lady Hollinsworth held out her quivering hand, weighed down by the largest diamond Rosa had ever seen. Rosa stopped to look.
“Back to work before that stain sets in,” Lady Hollinsworth scolded. Rosa shrugged her shoulders and return to the carpet.
Milton waited for Puddles to return. At 9:00 P.M. he was ordered off his watch and to bed.
The next morning Milton was up all the earlier. He didn’t wait for Rosa to set his school uniform out. He dressed himself, poured his own bowl of cereal, burned a piece of toast, set off the smoke alarm and heard his mother shouting for Rosa from her bedroom. She sounded upset for having been woken up before 10:00 A.M. Rosa said something to Milton in Spanish as she raced up the stairs. Her foul appearance helped Milton understand that whatever she said wasn’t complementary.
Milton rushed outside, found his scooter next to the garage and set out on a mission to find his dog Puddles. If Milton read the time correctly, he had 30 minutes before the first bell rang at St. Bartholomew’s Primary School.
Milton heard barking as he scooted down the High Street. He stopped, jumped from the scooter and looked behind him. Puddles was on the other side of the street barking around the feet of the Postman making his morning deliveries. Milton was relieved but thought it best to hide his joy at finding his dog. He needed to show Puddles that running away from home was bad.
“Puddles!” Milton shouted, mimicking the tone his mother uses on him whenever she is upset and has a headache. The dog stopped, saw his master and darted into the road. Milton shouted at the dog to stay. Puddles disobeyed, which wasn’t surprising. The screeching of brakes was followed by a stillness. Milton stood by his scooter in disbelief. Once again, Puddles was true to his name, in a very unfortunate way.
On Milton’s insistence, Lady Hollinsworth agreed to a burial near the back garden gate. She gave permission for Rosa to call the Priest but declined to attend the dog's burial. She was in bed with a headache. She had a dinner party to prepare for and needed her housekeeper to do the shopping and ready the house. The funeral service was not on her agenda and the inconvenience was upsetting. Yet, on Rosa’s insistence, she released her long enough to hold Milton’s hand during the burial prayer.
Sunday, November 7, 2010
Eight year old Jonah Jeremiah Meeps is giving a talk in church this Sunday. It will be his first since the incident two years ago when he gave his first talk at age six. On that Sunday in 2008, little Jonah Jeremiah Meeps stood before the other nine children making up Cloverdale’s small LDS (Mormon) Primary and bore strong witness that Jesus was his Savior. What Sister Peau, the President of the Branch’s Primary, forgot was that Jonah’s family were recent converts to Mormonism, having converted from a sect of Christians that fed off hell, fire and damnation sermons in a small Evangelical church at Dibley in the Downs.
“Are you washed in the blood?” Jonah shouted in his young soprano voice. “If not, then the devil himself - Yes, I’m talking about Lucifer, Son of the Morning, Father of the Antichrist will have your soul and take you down to burn in a lake of fire and brimstone!”
Sister Peau squirmed in her chair. Two of the other three adults in the room did the same. Jonas mother sat in the back of the room with a bible in one hand and a Book of Mormon in the other and vocalized many “Thank you Jesus’s” at the end of every sentence in her son’s sermon. She knew Jonas was bringing the children’s attention to their multiple sins. She could see the fear of Hell etched in their little faces.
“If you want salvation, then you must come up to me and repent. You can do it. Don’t let the Devil take you away because he’s coming. Yes I hear him at that very door,” Jonas said pointing to the closet where the chairs and hymnbooks were stored. Jonas paused for a moment so the children could listen. The room was silence for a moment before his mother shouted a “Thank you Jesus” from the back of the room.
Jonas smiled at his mother and continued. “Do you feel his claws on your shoulders? Save yourself, Come to me,” Tears of joy ran down Jonas’ face as he clutched his bible and looked up into the blinking florescent light fixture over head.
At that moment six year old Molly Stringer screamed in terror. Ten year old Marcus Stump had grabbed her shoulders from behind, giving the young girl the fright of her life.
“The Devil ain’t getting me,” Milroy Crombie jumped from his seat and moved toward Jonas, knocking over every chair in his path. The other eight children followed quickly. Two of the youngsters fell and were trampled in the rush to get away from the closet door. They suffered minor bruising that resulted in more crying than the injuries deserved.
It took Sister Peau, and a member of the Branch Presidency, several minutes to calm everyone down. Jonas was asked to sit down. Sister Meeps sat in the back showing obvious joy that Jona’s ministering had had such remarkable results. She didn’t doubt their new Mormon faith had the truth, she just felt they needed to get off their backsides and proclaim it to the world the way they did in their old congregation.
Now, two years later and much the wiser, Jonas will give a talk in Primary on the importance of baptism. His mother helped write the talk, then had it reviewed by Sister Peau for LDS political correctness. Sister Peau crossed out several passages outlining the importance of Grace in the salvation process. Sister Meeps was OK with that, remembering her new Mormon friends seemed overly fixated on Works over Grace. Why they all wanted to work out their own salvation was beyond her, but it was something she could live with.
Jonas practiced the talk over and over until he could deliver it without notes. Sister Meeps was so proud of her son she took him down to the local Piggly Wiggly to have his picture taken in the 3 Minute Passport Photo Booth located near the mechanical horse and fire engine rides.
“He will make a fine missionary one day,” she said to the store manager who had come over wondering why a crowd of shoppers was blocking the store’s entrance. He was surprised to find Jonas standing in his store’s photo booth giving a sermon on baptism. Mrs. Meeps and Jonas took advantage of the three minutes it took to develop his pictures and spoke to the shoppers about their salvation. They returned home with a wonderful picture of Jonas preaching with his Bible and the names of several shoppers for the missionaries.