Over the next few days, Martin’s attitude seemed to improve in spite of his mother’s death, and we assumed that someone must have put up the money to get his mother’s body released to the funeral home. He didn`t come by to attempt to chip away at the pile of work we`d paid him to do that he hadn’t done, but he called regularly to give us updates of his whereabouts and daily activities. However, we didn’t mind his scarcity because a tornado of restless energy tagged along with him whenever he came around, and I think we were exhausted just from his awareness that we were alive.
Then, the day before his mother’s funeral was scheduled to take place, I was at work in Jackson when he called my wife and asked if she could give him a ride so he could take care of a few errands. Feeling pity for him, she told him she could take him wherever he needed to go after lunch. He thanked her and asked if he could come on inside and get a bite of lunch since he was already standing on the front porch on his tip toes trying to see through the glass in the front door.
After he’d eaten a few of the frozen meals I was going to eat for lunch at work the next week and polished off the rest of the cheesecake I was anxious to make out with later that evening, she was ready to chauffeur him around town.
The first stop was at his “cousin’s” house across town. As she drove down Martin Luther King Drive in her charcoal-colored Impala with its dark tinted windows, he told her to drop him in front of the house he pointed out and asked her to give him 2 minutes. He then told her to go down the street and turn around, but “don’t drive too slow ‘cause your car looks like you’re a narc, and I don’t want you to get shot while I’m in here.”
After avoiding any incoming ordnance and picking him up, she took him to 3 or 4 other houses and businesses around town before telling him she couldn’t be gone all afternoon. She could take him one more place, and that would have to be it. He thanked her and said he just needed to go see the preacher. Then, he asked her to take him downtown to First Baptist.
When she pulled in the parking lot of FBC Vicksburg, it was full of mothers picking up their little bundles of joy from the church’s kindergarten. She pulled in a parking space and he hopped out. As he strolled past the mothers picking up their kids, my wife said she got funny looks from all of them. To her relief, he came back to the car after only a couple minutes, but instead of getting in to leave, he said that the preacher wanted to see her.
Shocked, and not dressed as she would normally have been to visit with the preacher, she reluctantly followed him through the doors of the church, past the kindergarteners and their mothers to the preacher’s office where he was waiting. He motioned for her to take a seat across his desk and said that Martin asked him to pray for his mother. Martin then added that he wanted the preacher to pray for his family, his friends, my wife and I, and, with exceptional gusto, his son’s balls.
I’ll let that sink in.
Apparently Martin had a son, and his son had some trouble of some sort in his upper thigh/ lower bellybutton region.
My wife said the preacher must have met Martin before because he didn’t look as shocked as she thought he would. She, on the other hand, said she was praying that the whole day was just a dream.
Then, the preacher looked at her and asked if there was anything she wanted him to pray for. Still in a state of shocked confusion, she shook her head “no” and couldn’t make a sound. So, the preacher said, “Let us bow our heads in prayer. Lord Jesus,…” yada yada yada “…and please place your hand of healing on Martin’s son’s…. on his son. Amen.”
to be continued…