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Thursday, May 10, 2012

The Day a Naked Man Walked Into the First United Methodist

He didn't streak the congregation or call attention to himself in any lewd or scary way. He just slipped in the back of the chapel and took a seat  in the last pew, by the aisle.
At that moment, we all happened to have our heads bowed and (most of) our eyes closed in prayer for the healing of  Teeny's uncle Wade who'd fallen out of his bass boat within snacking range of a gator. As soon as we said 'Amen,'  Preacher Terrell told us all to stand up for the singing of Hymn 44, "He walked on the water."
Teeny leaned over and said, "Too bad uncle Wade didn't try that."
Her Momma cuffed her one and Teeny picked up her hymnal.
The church organ had just sounded the opening chord when a  whole bunch of screaming started at the back of the chapel.
"God have mercy!" hollered Louise Ann Fluker.
"Well, Amen!" we answered, thinking that the spirit had taken her.
Her sister, Mattie, was more specific.
"Help! They's a nekkid man in the church!"
Preacher Terrell nearly knocked over his lectern racing to the edge of the stage.
"He's a-right cheer," Mattie yelled blue murder. "I can see his PECKER!"
Oh, boy, me and Teeny wanted to scamper down the aisle something awful. We were both having our best church day ever. Someone had said the word 'pecker' in the First United Methodist!
The naked man stayed standing, unfazed by the two stout, large-hatted women hollering in his face. He looked calm, almost sweet, even.  And then, in the middle of all the brouhaha, he began singing the slow, gospel song.
"Walk on the water, walk on the water children.
Walk on the water, Jesus done walked on the water."
For about ten seconds, everyone shut up. The naked man went on singing. Meanwhile, four churchmen were hustling toward him, bent on rescuing the Fluker sisters from the trauma of naked buttocks and genitals.
The first man to get there removed his jacket and tied it around the naked man's waist by the sleeves, rendering him somewhat less naked.
The remaining three crowded into the pew and started ushering him towards the door. Preacher Terrell mostly just stood there, patting the air in a downward calming motion. The organist struck the opening notes of Hymn 44 again, but no one was in the mood to sing.
"Who was that?"
"What was he doing here?"
"Did you see him come in?"
"Let's send the children downstairs to the social hall in case he comes back."
Five minutes later, me and Teeny and the Cortez twins and Billy Lapham and three of the Davies girls were herded downstairs to the social hall where the after-service cakes and iced tea were laid out.
We divided up all the cakes equally among us, because kids are fair that way, and ate as fast as we could until we heard engines starting and tires crunching gravel out in the parking lot. The adults would be downstairs any minute.
 Billy Lapham left a note on the refreshments table saying "The naked man ate everything," and we ran for our lives.
(The naked man was not heard from again, although, as Teeny pointed out, "He could be amongst us now. Nobody ever gonna recall his face cuz that's the only part of him no one looked at." )

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