As I grew, the men of the church respected me more and more. Rose was in a hurry to tell me every time word got back to her about how they felt or how they thought about me.
Brother Justice took me and Nozzle to a car show once. He had a vintage automobile and took it to Lebanon for a show. I wanted to be right next to him the whole time, get introduced to his car buddies, have him walk around with me and show me and tell me what he knew. But Nozzle was not impressed at all and did not want to sit still. He did not want to look at cars, and I was forced to walk around with him while he bitched about it all.
Brother Lion was a survivor from the Pearl Harbor battle. He had a Purple Heart and was one of the most well-respected men I ever met. He tried to give me a trade one day when he made me come with him to a few of his jobs. He was a plumber and had visions of making a plumber out of me and getting an apprentice, but it was not meant to be.
Brother Farm led the church men in the job of getting the parsonage ready for Destiny’s family before they moved in. I worked right alongside the men, dusty and dirty from hanging dry wall. I worked until the day was over and we had built three new rooms downstairs. He took me home and told my mother how good of a worker I was. He told her what a good job she was doing raising me.
Brother Justice needed help hanging runners in the Sunday school rooms in the upstairs western wing. The backs of the chairs were hitting the wall and leaving marks and dents in the drywall. They brought long planks of wood and hammered them into the wall where the chairs met it. They needed help doing that project, and I was the one standing with them making it happen.
Every time Harmony needed me, I was there. My mother would mention they had a job, or a man from the church would come tell me what they were going to do, and every time I was there. I believed in that church. I went to the Wednesday Business Meetings when my mother would take me. I was there every time the doors opened.
When Brother Gryphon became the youth leader, I was all in.
He was a short, trim man built of muscle, and tan. He was a soldier at Fort Leonard Wood and it was quite a drive to get to our church, but he was there every weekend. He taught me so much, and made me feel like a son. He took me to visit Kit when we were still dating. He taught me about driving by talking me through the things I needed to know, even though I wasn’t behind the wheel. He had four kids and his wife was bubbling with the fifth. But he took the time to be everything I needed him to be.
He gave me a goal to shoot for, a way to shape myself into a man, and was the first father figure I really had who could teach me to be honorable and upright, and strong. He taught me to be strong.
Mumble was a man manipulated by Rose every day and in every way. But Gryphon taught me how and what to stand up for.
When he was stationed in Germany and had to leave Harmony, I was shattered. I helped him move and watched him drive away. He hugged me, told me he loved me, and that it would be okay.
Then he was gone.
When Harmony decided they needed to get us a youth minister, a committee was put together to do the job. I was at the Business Meeting when the topic came up and Brother Faith nominated me as the youth representative for the committee.
Brother Will stood up. “Now wait a minute on that. All of us admire and respect Jesse, but I think the youth group should vote in their own representative.” This is our actual youth leader at the time. And Misty’s father. When he gives this suggestion, the men of the church grumble about it, but they can’t argue its wisdom. They agree and we are supposed to have the vote as soon as possible.
The next Sunday in Youth, I ask when we are going to have the vote. Brother Will tells me they have no time. That they will have to do it another time. The next Sunday, the same thing. It is six more weeks before the vote was held, and it was a night when I wasn’t there.
Brother and Sister Will made the rule that no one who wasn’t present that night could be nominated or voted for.
So Misty was our youth representative.
Mumble was a guitar player. He loved to play folk or country, old country, “The Good Stuff.” And he played until Rose divorced him.
When we moved to Waynesville and started going to church, Rose wanted to sing gospels. She told Mumble to pull out his gospel music, which he had a little, and that was the prime thing we played after that. Every few months we would do a “Special.”
A Special is when you bring your guitar, your bass, and your gospel singing mother to the church and sing a song before the message. I hated it with a passion because I was not good enough on the instrument to be playing in front of anyone. Also, I knew I wasn’t good enough, so playing in front of people made me nervous and made me a worse player.
But my mother liked to say that God didn’t care what we sounded like. We were going to “Make a Joyful Noise,” and God would be happy with us.
Those words pissed me off just to write.
As the years went by and Rose became more aggressive about her rhetoric. As my relationship with Destiny got strange, and as the message from the pulpit started to make less and less sense to me, I started coming less and less.
Once I was out of the house and a grown man, my lifestyle did not allow for church. It was not until Dixon Baptist that I became a church-goer again. But by then it was too late. And Harmony was about to explode in sin and rage.
But that is for the next chapter.
In this one, I will wade for a while, because here I have a church. Here I am respected by honorable men. Here I have guidance.
This chapter is from Reality of the Unreal Mind, Vol. 3: The Keep.