applespice: it is a sparkly fairy ([pretty] world below)
How About Them Apples? ([personal profile] applespice) wrote2011-03-04 12:51 am
Entry tags:

LJ Idol - Week 16 - Open Topic - On Time

The Hanikwa County Friends of Jesus Pentecostal Sanctuary midweek services begin every Wednesday night at seven thirty on the dot. Hardy Quitman, the faithful choir director and only church member permitted to touch the platform's groaning old piano (a gift from the pastor's grandmother, a terrifying and particular woman of ninety-eight) slams into a double-time rendition of "Heaven's Jubilee," Tallulah Sloan outfitting the chorus with as many trills as humanly possible and Sister Lillie Jolene Anderson shouting hallelujahs on the front row. The routine is comfortable for the church congregation, a meager collection of fifty-four souls (not counting Sister Maggie Rooney's libertine niece, who only comes because Sister Maggie won't allow her to live at the house if she doesn't and who makes eyes at all the men during altar call), and as the minute hand slides toward seven thirty-five, their eyes turn expectantly to the platform door, from which the pastor will soon emerge.

At seven forty-one, there is a distinct shift in the praise-singing. Brother Hilburn is the source of the Sanctuary's oil-smooth punctuality, insistent on beginning precisely on time and never so much as a minute late to the pulpit. Though his singing abilities rank slightly below those of Laronda Mullins, whose off-key warbling can be heard from one side of the room to the other, the faithful have always taken comfort in his dedication to the praise service. Carrying on without him sets them reeling and before long, "I Have A Friend In Jesus" has taken on a distinctly sour note.

At seven forty-five, assistant pastor Sullivan Rockshell takes the pulpit, his usually immaculate pompadour sinking like a collapsed cake. Obediently the congregation turn in their Bibles to Acts 2:38, but their eyes shoot messages over the gilt-edge pages and Truetta Gibson can be heard hissing whispers near the back wall. Before Hardy Quitman begins to plunk out the trembling notes that signal ending prayers, at least fifteen theories have been formulated, spread, and rebutted by the church family, and there is an edge of panic in the air. Rodrick Swindal makes a valiant effort at tongues and interpretation to get everyone back on track, but his heart just isn't in it. Even Sister Lillie Jolene is quiet, her watery eyes sharp and nervous.

Church ends early that night, for the first time in a decade. The congregation return home, their hearts cold and unfulfilled.

At eight thirty-six, Terry Hilburn boards a nonstop flight to Miami. His white panama hat and brilliantly colored Hawaiian shirt draw a few stares, but he ignores them all with a smile. In his mind, he is already sitting on a beach chair on the deck of his new condo, a sweating bottle of Bud in his hand and some sweet little thing in a black bikini beside him. It has taken him ten years - ten years of tithes, offerings, garage sales and church fundraisers - to afford his dream, and now the time has come. Can they really say he is unfaithful, just because he sees God in tequila sunsets and barely-there beachwear, rather than in a book or a song or a crumbling church building? He doesn't think so.

"Please fasten your seatbelts."

Terry Hilburn winks at the blonde stewardess, buckles his seatbelt, and closes his eyes. Ten years, three Christian children, six affairs, and fifty-five church members (he does count Maggie Rooney's niece, and he'd do a lot more with her if he ever got the chance) in his way, but already those memories are fading. As the jet engines roar him into a blackening sky and a new life, Terry Hilburn hums a few bars of song.

When the shadows of this life have gone,
I'll fly away;
Like a bird from prison bars has flown,
I'll fly away

I'll fly away, oh glory
I'll fly away in the morning
when I die, Hallelujah, by and by
I'll fly away

[identity profile] 2011-03-04 03:05 pm (UTC)(link)
Brilliantly done!

[identity profile] 2011-03-07 12:50 am (UTC)(link)
You captured so many different things here: The nastiness of deception, the flock's need for routine...and I really wasn't expecting it to end the way it did, but on the other hand, how could it not?

[identity profile] 2011-03-04 03:34 pm (UTC)(link)
Oh how the mighty have fallen. Nice!

[identity profile] 2011-03-04 04:20 pm (UTC)(link)
Thank you! :)

[identity profile] 2011-03-04 10:16 pm (UTC)(link)
Ooh, this was great! Very vivid, very believable.

[identity profile] 2011-03-11 01:27 am (UTC)(link)
Thank you!

[identity profile] 2011-03-04 10:21 pm (UTC)(link)
Led like sheep, they were. Excellent tale and so believable.

[identity profile] 2011-03-10 02:02 am (UTC)(link)
Thank you!

[identity profile] 2011-03-05 01:40 am (UTC)(link)
Great piece of fiction!

[identity profile] 2011-03-10 02:02 am (UTC)(link)
Thank you!

[identity profile] 2011-03-06 05:58 am (UTC)(link)
And can we have a hallelujah here. Happens more than we'd like to believe. Well done.

[identity profile] 2011-03-10 02:03 am (UTC)(link)
Definitely does.. I've heard some variation on this story too many times to count!

[identity profile] 2011-03-06 10:53 pm (UTC)(link)
Oooooooooh, I loved this. I was raised Southern Baptist, and this was as delicious as a slice of home cooked pie at Sunday social. Excellent.

[identity profile] 2011-03-10 02:04 am (UTC)(link)
Thank you! I'm glad you enjoyed - I was raised Pentecostal myself (though am no longer part of the church), and the best part of writing this story was referencing back to those silly things I saw every Sunday. And the names!

[identity profile] 2011-03-07 12:36 am (UTC)(link)
Well, at least someone ends up happy. Even if it's not in a way his church would appreciate.

[identity profile] 2011-03-10 02:05 am (UTC)(link)
He's a bit of a dick, my wayward pastor here, but I have a soft spot for him all the same. Not sure he'll get what he wants in the end, though!

[identity profile] 2011-03-07 01:38 am (UTC)(link)
Wonderful! This was excellently paced!

[identity profile] 2011-03-10 02:05 am (UTC)(link)
Thank you!

[identity profile] 2011-03-07 12:16 pm (UTC)(link)
Oh, fantastic. I loved it.

[identity profile] 2011-03-10 02:05 am (UTC)(link)
Thank you!

[identity profile] 2011-03-08 02:33 am (UTC)(link)
Really well written. I love the pace and the character names.

[identity profile] 2011-03-10 02:06 am (UTC)(link)
Thank you!

The names were my favorite part, to be honest. I knew so many people with super-southern names when I went to church... still cracks me up.
shadowwolf13: (Default)

[personal profile] shadowwolf13 2011-03-08 02:53 am (UTC)(link)
I like how you worded all of this, very nice.

[identity profile] 2011-03-10 02:06 am (UTC)(link)
Thank you!

[identity profile] 2011-03-08 04:19 am (UTC)(link)
Oooooooooo wow... Sad... Soooooooo sad... Is this a true story? I have a bad feeling it is. These kinds of stories make me so sad for various reasons. It's sad he left the church and lost his way.

[identity profile] 2011-03-10 02:06 am (UTC)(link)
No, it's not a true story :) So don't be sad!

[identity profile] 2011-03-09 05:21 am (UTC)(link)
fun and clever. :) I enjoyed the twist.

[identity profile] 2011-03-10 02:06 am (UTC)(link)
Thank you!

[identity profile] 2011-03-09 06:28 pm (UTC)(link)
Nice! I love the way you put your words together :)

It may say something about my cynicism levels that I wasn't surprised by the reveal :D

[identity profile] 2011-03-10 02:07 am (UTC)(link)
Thank you!

Hypocrisy is all too common in the world, I'm afraid... so cynicism is to be expected!

[identity profile] 2011-03-10 03:05 am (UTC)(link)
This was fantastic.

[identity profile] 2011-03-11 01:28 am (UTC)(link)
Thank you!

[identity profile] 2011-03-10 02:53 pm (UTC)(link)
Hehe, good stuff!

[identity profile] 2011-03-11 01:28 am (UTC)(link)

[identity profile] 2011-03-10 05:15 pm (UTC)(link)
I really liked the foreshadowing in this - the shift in the praise singing, the whispers, church ending early - I knew something was up!

Very realistic and very well done :)

[identity profile] 2011-03-11 01:29 am (UTC)(link)
Thank you!

[identity profile] 2011-03-10 05:54 pm (UTC)(link)
heheheheheeh wicked wicked man took all those peoples money

and their souls, too

(good job btw, your writing of it)

I ESPECIALLY LIKE THE use of present tense

[identity profile] 2011-03-11 01:29 am (UTC)(link)
Thank you!

I really enjoy writing in the present tense. I don't know why more people don't use it - it's fun!

[identity profile] 2011-03-10 11:23 pm (UTC)(link)
You know, there's really something to be said about sunsets and beachwear.

[identity profile] 2011-03-11 01:30 am (UTC)(link)
Yeah, I can't say that I totally disagree with the blessed reverend, myself.

Nicely done.

[identity profile] 2011-03-10 11:29 pm (UTC)(link)
Short, sweet, and to the point. Not a word wasted. Excellent work.

Re: Nicely done.

[identity profile] 2011-03-11 01:30 am (UTC)(link)
Thank you!

[identity profile] 2011-03-11 12:57 am (UTC)(link)
Nicely done!! I'm pretty sure I know this guy, LOL!

[identity profile] 2011-03-11 01:30 am (UTC)(link)
Thanks! And goodness, I hope he didn't rip you off! ;)