As I walked into the dining room, I found Mom sitting at our dining room table with some strange looking character, papers & sticky notes spread out covering every inch of our table.
"I'm so glad your home, Son." Mom began. "I was just about to start dinner and I didn't want to leave poor Jason here all by himself. We are working on the Church newsletter and then planning the Annual Summer Carnival after dinner. We have so much work to do, I certainly hope we can get it all done."
Before I proceed, I should probably let you know that my Mom is very involved with the church and in almost every activity that they may have going. She has worked tirelessly for years, helping organize & raise funds for numerous worthy charities and also has a deep passion for all these events. She has always attempted to get Dad and myself involved, however with very little success. Both Dad and I only ever attend services at Christmas time & even that is way too frequent for both of our liking.
I had never set eyes on this 'Jason' character before, but by the looks of him he was the typical short little nerdy guy that one would expect to be involved in church newsletters, creepy summer carnivals and the likes.
As I stuck out my hand to introduce myself, a rather evil thought passed through my brain. This Jason was obviously new to both the neighbourhood and the church so I would make up a few stories to see if I could scare him off.
I really had no reason motivating me to do this other than it would probably be kinda fun. Anyway one less wimpy 'God squad' member running around here would be
a benefit to everyone, I figured.
"So Jason, you must be new to town. I haven't seen you before. Did you just move to Calgary?" I asked, pretending to be mildly interested.
"Well I am only here for a couple of months." Jason responded politely with one of those monotone voices that could put the dead to sleep. "I am very excited to be involved in all these church activities. I am quite grateful for all the help your Mother is providing in showing me around."
"Yes, Yes." I replied quickly, attempting to cut off his annoying rambling. "A true saint, she is. Always helping others."
Jason stared at me silently for a moment. The look on the little Dweebs face was one of confusion. He obviously had no people skills whatsoever and continually kept looking towards the
kitchen door hoping Mom would return to the room and save him from having to converse with me further. Finally realizing she was still preparing dinner, he spoke.
"Your Mother tells me you are not much of a church goer?" He inquired boldly. "Is that because you are not a believer or perhaps you may have other reasons.?"
I was somewhat surprised that this nerd was being so direct with me, I didn't expect it at all. But I would certainly make short work of the goof, no problemo!
"Well Jason." I began. "To be honest, I really don't share Mom's views on the church one bit. Although I am a believer, I feel that the church these days is nothing more than a excuse to pick a mans' pocket and offers nothing to those who really need it the most."
"Take our last minister at the church 'The Old Reverend Green' for instance, he was there for over fifty plus years before retiring and really did absolutely nothing aside from living 'high on the hog' off all of his parishioners donations during his dirty reign of corruption."
Nerdy Jason suddenly interrupted me, not allowing me to finish my rather excellent narrative of bold faced lies.
"Well I've met the elder Reverend Green and his wife just this past week." He protested. "They are good, simple living people and he is very well regarded within the church. They certainly are not living beyond their means, let me tell you."
I deliberately lowered my voice for dramatic affect and responded. "Jason, can I tell you a secret about the Old Reverend Green? There were rumours going around years ago, when I
was just a kid, that the old Reverend was pretty fond of the boys - if you know what I mean?"
"That is preposterous!" He replied in wide-eyed disbelief. "If these allegations held any truth, why were they not brought forward at the time & thoroughly investigated?"
"All covered up." I lied, responding in a near whisper. "No one has spoken of this since. Nothing was ever proven, just a lot of talk & rumours."
I sat back and closely observed the reaction of nerdy Jason to my total deceitful statement. Even though Old Reverend Green is now retired and his son is the current minister, the
old man still hangs around the church quite frequently helping out. That should scare away the twerpy Jason. But just to be safe, I figured I better 'pile it on' a little bit more.
"Butt bandit" I covered my mouth and coughed as I said it, just clear enough for him to hear & comprehend the words. I turned away quickly so he would not see the obvious huge grin on my face at this. This was too good!
I noticed a look of great agitation & tension on poor foolish Jason's face. A small bead of perspiration now appeared on his temples. My words had obviously shaken him. But still this was not enough. I needed to get in my "knock out punch".
Suddenly, Jason himself conveniently presented the next subject to me, when this foolish little worm awkwardly tried to change the topic of our conversation.
"I heard you made a rather large donation to the church yourself a couple of years ago." Jason commented, his voice trying to regain its' calmness. "Has your opinion of our church changed so much since then?"
Jason was technically correct on this point. I had made a rather large donation. Unfortunately it was extorted from me and I foolishly paid it, however only as hush money. I was still furious, suddenly recalling the incident that occurred two years ago. I realized that there was still a great deal of bitter resentment left within me and it was now suddenly rushing forth.
I painfully recounted that horrid day and events to Jason ( You can read it here ) and then cleverly added the comment of "I am surprised the church saw any of the donation. My understanding is that young Reverend Green has a 'thing for the prostitutes'. It's nice to see that not all of my money was used in such a vile and ungodly manner."
Sweat was now very evident on Jason's face and I could tell he was ready to bolt at the first opportunity. He sat silently in his chair, refusing to make any further eye contact or conversation with me.
My work here was definitely done, he would soon be long gone and I would not have to listen to any more "Bible Thumpers" wandering around the house. Victory was mine and a very easy victory it was, I must say - bloody nerd.
Just then Dad arrived home from picking up some stuff at the grocery store. Mom ushered him into the dining room where a now visibly shaken Jason and myself were still sitting.
"Simon" Mom started. "Dinner will be served in about 15 minutes. But let me first introduce you to Jason Banks, he will be joining us for dinner. Jason is the new Reverend at the church, temporarily filling in while young Reverend Green is on his two month sabbatical this summer."
As Dad was shaking Jason's hand, the words Mom had just spoke hit home with me like a 'ton of bricks'. This 'Dick' Jason was actually a Reverend - damn it, why me? Why can't these Dicks wear a uniform or a badge or button to identify themselves to us normal people. There really should be a law on this. Damn!
"Not again." I unconsciously muttered aloud as my heart began to beat fast and I started to sweat uncontrollably.
Dad looked over at me strangely without responding. He then looked over at Jason and then at Mom.
"Both these young fellas look like they are roasting in this house. Lets open up a window and go out on the patio for a cool drink before dinner."
As I tensely sat at the patio table expecting the worst, Mom turned to Jason and asked what his first sermon would be this Sunday.
Jason was silent for a moment and then spoke, picking his words carefully. "I had been mulling over many topics to discuss however after talking with your son, he gave me some very good feedback so I think it will be on 'The Truth and Giving of Yourself to the Church', a topic which truly can touch an entire community."
As he spoke these words his piercing gaze rested on me. I moved uncomfortably in my patio chair, but continued to remain silent.
"Well that sounds very interesting." Mom replied excitedly. "I am really looking forward to your first sermon here. I am sure there will be a huge turnout tomorrow as well to welcome you."
Dad then turned to me and said laughingly "I imagine you won't be attending the sermon, boy. Being a Saturday night I'm wagering you will be out on the town tonight late, spending all your money and then sleeping it off all day Sunday?"
I could now feel everyone's looks peering right through me and judging me. I knew right then and there that I was a beaten man.
"No bar tonight for me, Dad." I finally responded sounding totally dejected. "I'll be at Reverend Bank's sermon tomorrow, front and center to welcome him to our community."
Silently I muttered to myself "Anyway, I can't afford to go out tonight now. Once I write another cheque to the #$#@%%% church, I am totally broke."
Damn! I really need to break this ill-fated habit of mine.