The Boy and the Preacher,
a short story by robert williams
A small boy with a oversize head, stood up in a rowdy, rambunctious Baptist church one day and shouted, “This is phony.” The choir’s sounds of a marching band halted, holy spirits which had driven women into frenzies scattered for cover. The well-dressed preacher jaw drop below his pockets.
Silence, eerily silence took over the church, one which come before storms. Even the young sister who never seemed to shut up, was silent. The small boy did something no other would ever think to do, challenge the spirit of God; in church no hap.
As the paralysis of his proclamation diminished, the preacher slowly descended from his castle known as a pulpit. The boy by now in the tightly gripped hands of church elders, still but flowing with emotions. A few slaps upon his head did not repel his mouth however, again with the stomp of his tiny foot,“This is phony.” Women shouted in tongues, inaudible as it was, the young boy heard preparation of a crucifixion.
Insuring his congregation repeatedly, as he approached the confident boy, “The devil sits among us, praise the Lord,” the preacher reassured his flock. This was meaningful venom such as the kind southern whites had against Negroes, spilling onto the boy, “Get his behind out of here, throw him out, shut him up, the congregation shouted.” Nevertheless, “This is Phony!” the boy repeated again and louder,” surely now the boy has fit his coffin.
The hotness of July heated the church alone with this child of the many faith-base converts. The volcano named, ‘Spoken Word of God’ has been erupted, by a boy with an oversize head and worn out shoes. How could a preacher be pitted against one so small in stature, of puberty. The boy now adjusting his discolored shirt after each finger of the elders loosen, was all but 100 pounds. At only eleven, he stared deliberately into the eyes of the preacher, without fear or caution, his head tilted back so far he nearly fell over.
What is your problem boy?
Where’s your Mother? “I come here with my sister, our momma send us, but I hate to come. Its phony, I told my Mother but she insist God will answer her prays. She’s lost, and so are you.” The preacher, desiring to slap the taunting pain in the ass asked, “Do you not believe in God?” “Mister, isn’t it obvious I don’t,” the boy use proper language when addressing elders, his Mother taught him that.
The preacher now smite recoils, “Tell us why you don’t believe in God, if you’re so smart,” the preacher figuring to make a fool of ‘boy’.
I have a better question the boy shot back, “Why do you believe?” You take our money our Mother gives us, although we’re poor. By the way, ‘boy’ long since stop giving his 40 cents. Now he simply hits the bottom of the basket with the false sound of coins being deposited. Subsequently, he did this to deceive his sister’s watchful eyes, she would tell when he kept the money and buy candy with it. His Mother would hear this and curse him undressed, “He would mumble silently under his tears, I hate that damn church.”
The boy’s gaps teeth voice, “Preacher you drive a Rose Royce, but my family has barely anything to eat, you’re a thief.” “Watch your mouth boy,” the preacher’s anger visible now. His car salesman’s smoothness lost quickly to a child, although a mouthy one. The boy’s reputation in his neighborhood, one of inquisitiveness, ‘Ghetto description,’ “He talk to damn much, always asking fucking questions.”
Now as would have it, his outrageous statement, “This is phony,” has stopped services of a reputable church and razor-sharp teeth of retribution gnaw at him. As the hungry mob edges more behind the preacher, for surly, a boy or not you don’t insult a pastor, nevertheless, his younger sister push in behind him.
“I”m Telling Momma”
He angered his young sister many times, often on purpose, but he always stands up for himself and her. He never allow bullies to bring harm to her, and so she encourages him now. “Say what you want,” she yells at the top of her squeaky voice, “No ones going to do anything to you.”
“Shut the hell up, both of you,” the mob spits out. Both understanding now knowing where exits are in a fire is so important, never will they complain as the practice exercise plays out in school. Consequently, her brother started a church fire, that will only be extinguish with their behinds. Neither however, feared the empty mob, they did however find the exit of their own accord.
Walking home, he wondered how his Mother’s going to whip him, extension cord or belt. His sister hadn’t said a word since they left church, and he knew what that meant, “I can’t wait to tell momma what you did.” ‘Boy’ always question people this he did not fear, but the ass-whooping for questioning the preacher could be severe. However, this was his fear, a Mother cursed-bitten believing she is cut off from her God, by her big-mouth ‘Boy’.
As their apartment came in view, his sister takes off, running so fast her plastic church fails about the sky, she didn’t bother to pick it up. Why? Because, she had the news of the day and only she could deliver it. The confident footsteps of the boy slowing nearly to a halt now, hoping to run into friends to stall time, but he knows, its Sunday morning; everyone’s in church or sleep.
Before he enters the small second floor apartment, that holds five siblings, a dog and not much furniture, he wonders “How did I get myself into this one.” As a rule, his sister never tells until both are in front of their Mother, this was her code of honor. I guess she figured this was always the best impact for Mom to give it to ‘Boy.’ Often, he would think she would not tell and wham, hit walks into the room, “Mom, boy broke Ms. Smith window!” Unfortunately, she always told on him, this he knew.
As a result, their mother with her beautiful smile, which will soon turn to scorn asked, “How was church, you guys back early? The boy’s young sister hearing her cue comes running out her room, faster than usual, and blab, “Momma, boy did not put his money in the basket again!”
Mother cursed him undressed, “He mumble silently under his tears, I hate that damn church.”
written for the boy’s
younger sister Barbara Williams