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Word Count 1,625
Tiptoeing and peeking nervously over his shoulder, Johnny stealthily made his way across the Great room and slipped out of the French doors, with a wadded mass of black fabric clutched in his arms. He had been allowed to play on the patio by himself because it was within sight and hearing of his father and grandfather. However, for the last twenty minutes he had been sneaking in the house retrieving various items. The toddler had been preoccupied with setting something up.
“Did you see that?” inquired Murdoch, without even lifting his head.
“Yes, indeed I did. I wonder what he’s up to, that he needs my black coat,” Ha replied.
“If he took Ha’s black coat then he must be playing church,” Scott informed his family from his spot on the floor where he was stretched out reading. The little blond began to giggle, and then sat up, “You should hear Johnny preach. He remembers the Bible stories Ha reads and that they talk about at church but he gets the words wrong. He just says words that sound like the right ones.”
Intrigued by this revelation, Murdoch sat forward and questioned his son, “How did you find this out?”
Eyes twinkling, his eyebrows arching up to be hidden by the fall of his golden blond bangs, a wide smile split Scott’s mouth, “He invited me to his ‘sir man’ a couple of weeks ago, but he made me leave when I couldn’t stop giggling. Now he preaches to his teddy bear, a corn husk doll and any of the animals he can make sit still.”
The two adults and child quietly moved to the French doors to secretly observe. Muffled snorts and chuckles could be heard as they took in the scene on the patio. On the bench near the fountain, Johnny had his teddy bear and corn husk doll, along with Patty Pat, who was chewing on a steak bone. There was an assortment of kittens under the bench enjoying a pan of milk, their mother Mattie, a pale buff yellow colored cat with blue eyes sat on the edge of the fountain cleaning her paws. Johnny was standing behind a tall bushel basket that he had turned upside down to serve as a podium, and he had his apron cape draped over it, with a dinner bell sitting on top. He was wearing Ha’s coat which was so long on his short body it was pooled around his feet. Johnny was struggling to fold back the overly long sleeves of the jacket, once he managed to get them out of his way he stepped up into his pulpit and picked up the bell. RING RING
“Hear me…hear me. It’s time for church. Welcome everybody to the house of the ‘O Lord, what now’. We come here together with the spirit of the ‘Holy Spit Goat’ so we can get saved and not burn in hellfire with other bad people like Zach Culpepper.” Johnny intoned solemnly.
The sermon stopped abruptly as Johnny chased after one of his escaping congregation. He stumbled and wobbled as his feet kept getting tangled in the excess fabric trailing about his feet. His family had to step back quickly from the doors to avoid detection. Their eyes glittered with the moisture of suppressed mirth as they waited for Johnny to leave the vicinity. Soon, Johnny struggled back by the door with the errant sinner kitten clutched in his arms. He deposited the kitten by the pan of milk, and then made his way back to his pulpit.
“Now everybody stay there and listen. Johnny gonna tell how God Harold in Heaven made the world. In the beginning, that was the start, it was really really dark and Harold said let there be light, and then Johnny think Harold strucked a match cause it got light.”
Ha’s heels beat out a tickled tempo on the floor as he danced about fighting the laughter that threatened to overwhelm him. Murdoch hid his face in the drapes and Scott tapped his head against the glass pane as he giggled.
“After God Harold made the light, you could see Adam and Eve was naked but it was alright cause they didn’t have no mirrors in the Garden of Eating. But then they had to leave cause they ate a bad apple cause a snake told’em to. Johnny think maybe it had a worm in it.”
The sermon was interrupted again as Johnny rushed to the bench to save his cornhusk doll from kitty cat claws. As he was separating prey from predator he was unaware of the fact he was dragging the tail of Ha’s coat through the pan of milk. He arrived back at his altar with a small kitten suckling the ends of his milk soaked coat tail.
“What happened next?” Johnny queried aloud as he patted a finger against his lips. His eyes lit with holy glee as the answer came to him. “Adam and Eve had a bunch of kids, so Noah built a boat to hold all the beasts. And then ‘Hesaw’ sold his brother J-Cup a birthmark for some beef roast, but Johnny don’t know if he gave him potatoes too. Joseph wore this really ugly coat of colors that his brothers hated so they throwed him down a well.”
“What are you looking at?” questioned Maria when she entered the room to set the table.
“Shush…come here. You have to hear this. Johnny is playing church,” Murdoch informed the housekeeper.
Maria rushed to the door. Scott scooted over so she could observe from the area above him.
“Moses got born and floated around in a basket until he got too big for it, so then Moses went walking in the dessert with some ‘Real lights’ and they ate manners that fell from heaven. When they gotted to the Red Sea, Moses parted it. He must have had a really big comb!”
Johnny was so absorbed in his preaching, he missed the departure of several of his congregation. Nor did he hear the stifled sounds of mirth from his clandestine audience hidden behind the drapes of the French doors.
“While Moses was out looking around he found a burning bush with Ten Commandments in it. Now the commandments are God Harold’s rules. But he don’t spank you or send you to the corners if you break them, Harold sends you to hell. Moses was the first one to break them all cause he got mad and threw the stone, Harold wrote them on, down. Moses was mad cause he saw a gold cow that was molded.”
“See how Johnny’s dancing around, that’s the peepee dance. You watch he will go pee in the flowerpot,” Scott informed his family.
True to Scott’s word, Johnny whirled about, the overly long coat tail twirling around his short legs. He rushed to the big stone planter filled with zinnias in many vibrant colors. He fought with the long sleeves as he tried to work the fabric of the oversized coat out of his way. He finally accomplished the task and proceeded to water the flowers. He finished and straightened his clothes, and then marched back to his podium to carry on with his preaching.
“Okay…after David killed a giant by knocking him in the head with a rock, like Zach did Johnny, some ‘Prop-its’ went around writing things down. Then Jonah got swallowed by a whale, but then the whale throwed him back up. After all this happened God Harold decided he needed a vacation so he made Jesus be borned so that there would be Christmas. Jesus was special cause his mama Mary was an ‘urging’. Jesus could heal the sick by touching them so he healed a lot of leopards, but Johnny don’t know what was wrong with them.”
Harlan wheezed through his hands as he struggled to keep silent. Murdoch crammed a piece of the drapes in his mouth. Maria had her apron pressed to her lips and Scott held his face against his father’s pant leg, as they all tried to stay concealed.
Johnny had paced away from his pulpit as he talked to his congregation. Making his way back to the podium, he placed his tiny hands on top the basket and leaned forward, with a serious expression on his face.
“Here’s the important part. Jesus growed up and he got twelve opossums to help him tell everybody about his father Harold and about how to get saved to go to heaven. One of those possums was really bad; his name was ‘Jew Dust Asparagus’. He was really mean at the last supper he got invited to. So the rooster crowed three times and Jesus died so he could go get heaven ready for anybody that gets saved. He came back at Easter to tell people that. Now who believes the word of God Harold? If you believe you can be saved by getting bathtized.”
Johnny looked out upon what was left of his congregation. The kittens were busy batting a June bug around. Patty Pat was sleeping with her head resting on her steak bone. Cornhusk dolly was too shredded to be saved and Teddy just looked at him with shiny black shoe button eyes. Mattie still sat on the edge of the fountain in a patch of sunshine. She meowed loudly, not understanding she had just accepted Jesus as her savior. Johnny reverently approached the feline. Reaching out he wrapped both arms around the middle of the cat.
“Johnny bathtize you in the name of Murdoch, Squat and the Holy Spit Goat!”
In the water of the fountain went the startled cat and all hell broke loose in the First Church of Johnny.
August 27, 2008
The Brat Pack Series AU
Author’s note on the Brat Pack here
My Brother, The Brat
Another Day in the Life
Breakfast: A Proper Way to Start the Day
Taking the Town by Storm
Home Again Home Again
Itching to Break Out
Lions and Tigers and Bears, Oh My!
Gifts of Love
The Easter Bunny Cometh
Just a Victim of Circus’Stance!
Ask and You Shall Receive
The Gospel According to Johnny
Serving Up Trouble
No More Monsters Under the Bed
Wrinkled Potatoes and Old Tomatoes
O Come Let Us Adore Him
Carving Out Fun
Look Before You Eat
Cover Up (written with Kit)
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