Flumes Vol. 5: Issue 1, Summer 2020 | Page 29

Once inside, it became all the more evident that this was not a real church, and that the two old-timers were not each others parents at all, or even siblings, but the great-grandparents of a big happy family whose photos lined the long hallway that led past a fancy dining room to a den set up like some sort of classroom.

The room was spacious and brightly lit and had dark hardwood floors with five rows of six brown metal foldout chairs divided in half to form a pathway to a plain-looking podium at the front of a small carpeted stage. On the wall behind the stage hung a small wooden cross minus the poor soul that usually accompanied it.

About half of the seats were empty, the other half occupied by a half dozen mostly middle-aged white couples along with a few loners around Dad’s age. Some of them looked and smiled as Sister Cheryl ushered us down the aisle to two empty chairs in the last row.

I took the aisle seat and scanned the room to make sure Dad wasn’t lying about a movie and sure enough found a plastic ring that hung down from a rolled up projection screen. Then I spotted a loaded projector sticking out of a closet in a back corner of the room.

“Dad, look! Like the ones at school!”

“I know, son.”

“When are they going to play it?”

“After the sermon,” he said under his breath.

“What’s a sermon?”

“The service,” he said with a little less patience.

“What’s that?”

“The mass!” he hissed.

“Oh,” I sighed, my butt remembering the countless sermons it had already suffered through.

Then the young freckled man from the porch mussed my hair on his way down the aisle on his way up to the stage, and the friendly chatter that had begun to fill the room ceased.

* * *

"Do not forget, Brothers and Sisters, that we are fighting a holy war,” continued the pastor, loosening his tie and unhooking the top button of his shirt, the blood that turned his orange spots brown flowing back down to his heaving chest.

“Amen,” said an older man seated in front of me, the woman next to him nodding big and slow.

“A very real war against the minions of Satan.”

“Absolutely,” said the woman, the man now nodding.

“Against the Antichrist,” he said, pausing to look at each and everyone person in the room, including me, “and the false light he brings to those that believe in man’s hell paving intentions. We are fighting against those who believe in the inherent goodness of man.” “Amen,” nodded another man seated across the aisle from me. “But we here, tonight, in this congregation,” the pastor continued, closing his big black and gold Bible and picking it up with his right hand, “believe only in the one true God, Jehovah, who gave his only begotten son so that we sinners could be given another chance at eternal life!”